Friday, December 16, 2011

A Homeschool Christmas

Last week, in addition to our usual curriculum, Caleb and I studied Christmas long ago and Christmas today. We looked at how the pioneers celebrated Christmas, we talked about the very first Christmas, we talked about the ways we celebrate Christmas today. And then we did something I though was really fun! We looked at the history of our Christmas traditions. We read the book The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne and learned about where Christmas trees came from. It was a great book and very Christ centered. We learned how the first evergreen tree brought inside was by a monk named Boniface who used it to teach about the trinity (triangular shaped tree with three sides, yet one tree) and how Martin Luther brought an evergreen tree into his house at Christmas to teach his children about Christ. He lit the tree with candles and taught his children that Jesus was the light of the world. After we read the book, we marble painted some Christmas trees. Super fun and very much not messy (which I loved).

 This is what the box lid looked like when we were done. Kinda neat!

The finished tree- we used dots of glue and glitter to add "ornaments."

While the paint dried, we read the book The Legend of the Christmas Stocking also by Rick Osborne. Again a great book and very Christ centered. This book helped us learn where the tradition of hanging stockings by the fire came from. We read the story of Nicholas, who heard about a poor widower who could not pay for his daughters' doweries to get married. So he threw bags of gold through their window, one of which landed in the girl's socks hanging by the fire to dry. And after we read the story, we colored some Christmas stockings.

Then we read the book The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg. It is the familiar legend about the candy cane being shaped like a J for Jesus and a shepherd's staff and having red stripes for His blood and white for the righteousness we receive in Christ. But at the end of the story was the actual history of the candy. Originally, mothers used sugar sticks to sooth fussy babies. Then a pastor in the 1400's added a crook to the stick so that it would look like a shepherd's staff- he used it to tell the story of the nativity and then gave it to the children to occupy them during the Christmas service. The peppermint flavor was added in America. And it is not known for sure, but most historians believe that one particular candy maker (I can't remember his name!) added the red stripes to tell about Christ's death. After we read the story, we made candy cane cookies.

Finally, we went on a field trip with our homeschooling buddies, the Chambers. Just about 15 minutes from here is Historic Brattonsville- a revolutionary war battle site (The Patriot was filmed here!) and homestead from the 1700's and 1800's. They had an event for Christmas that was really neat. We walked a candle-lit path around the homestead from the 1700's and actors dressed in costume reinacted what Christmas would have been like then. And then we followed the path to the 1800's homestead for a view of the slaves and plantation owners (pre-civil war) Christmases. The kids got to make candles and there was a man dressed as Santa would have looked in the 1800's (there was no Santa in the 1700's in America). He gave the kids a treat and talked about the legend of Santa Claus and when and why he was changed to look as he does today. It was a really, really neat event! The kids had a great time and learned a lot. Christie and I thought it was awesome, too!
 Talking to Santa- When he started to tell about Saint Nicholas, Caleb interrupted with, "I know!" And proceeded to tell the story of Nicholas and the shoemaker's daughters. Santa was quite impressed! (As was I!).

 Candle Making

 We burned our candles at dinner

It was a really fun week. I loved getting to weave fun family activities into their education, I loved getting to teach them the history of our Christmas traditions and show how Christ is at the center of it all. How blessed I am to be able to stay home and teach our children!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Gratitude

Last weekend marked our one year anniversary of moving to Rock Hill and our second ChristmasVille! We started our Christmas festivities by going to the Christmas tree farm Friday afternoon to get our Christmas tree. The weather was much nicer this year- pleasant and sunny. We really had fun choosing the perfect tree and cutting it down. Friday night we had the Rock Hill Christmas Parade. We bundled up and I packed snacks and thermoses of hot chocolate. After the parade, Grammy and Pop-Pop arrived with Owen and Hayden in tow! What fun we had with our cousins! Saturday we spent the morning enjoying Christmasville festivities- we made crafts in Santa's workshop, played mini golf, watched a dog show, rode a trolley, and roasted marshmallows. After lunch the three big cousins- Hayden, Caleb and Noah- played outside while we decorated the outside of the house. We enjoyed a nice dinner and then went back up to Christmasville to look at all the lights! We walked up and down Main Street checking out the lights, voted on our favorite gingerbread house and played a little freeze tag. Sunday Grammy, Pop, Hayden and Owen had to head home. But after church, we decorated our Christmas tree. I made our usual fare of pigs in a blanket and sausage balls and cookies which we ate while we hung ornaments on the tree. It was such a wonderful weekend filled with much, much to be grateful for.

401. wagon riders

402. bright skies
403. snuggled up in the wagon

404. my best girlfriend

405. all decked out in christmas finery

406. many helpers

406. my strong men with their kill

407. fun on a mound of mulch
408. caleb- "these trees are too small mommy"- a son after my own heart
409. my two biggest boys pulling the wagon
410. siah waving at every float

411. all bundled up

412. a shooting star
413. small town fun
414. her sweet disposition

415. best friends

416. looks of glee
417. the five with their christmas buddies

418. a sticky mess

419. history
420. grammy love

421. hanging lights

422. a sleepover

423. all of the ornaments hung in one spot

424. our christmas tree

425. a sixth stocking hung with care

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Four Months Old


Eden turned four months old and had her well-check with the pediatrician right before Thanksgiving. Four months old already! Where has the time gone? She is doing great! She is off the charts just like her brothers. Eden, here are some interesting facts about you at four months:

  • You weigh 16 lbs 2 oz which is in the 90th percentile! By comparison, at four months, Caleb weighed 19 lbs (over the 97th percentile!!), Noah weighed 18 lbs. 14 oz. (over the 97th percentile!). Josiah weighed 17 lbs. 3 oz. when he was five months old (we missed his four month appointment because of Christmas!).
  • You are so long! You are 26 inches long, also in the 90th percentile! At four months, Caleb was 25 1/2 inches long (75%), Noah was also 26 inches long, just like you! Will you and Noah be the tall ones? Don't worry, sweet girl, I am already praying for a tall husband.... :)
  • You wear size 9 month clothes! It's because of your length. Your toes are busting out of 6 month clothes and 9 months fits just perfectly. 
  • You have rolled from your tummy to your back and are almost rolling back to tummy.
  • You love to play on the floor with your brothers, and they love it, too! You have started to really giggle when they come playing with you. 
  • You have figured out when people leave the room and you do not like it! There's no leaving you in the swing while we all go to the other room!
  • You still sleep swaddled at night. I know you are probably too old to still be swaddled, but you have figured out how to pull your paci out, but you can't get it back in! I have to keep you swaddled to keep those hands away from your paci! 
  • You don't sleep as good as your brothers did, but you are starting to do really well! You have been sleeping about 11 hours, from 8:00-7:00, but I usually go in and feed you before I go to bed at 11:00. 
  • You took your first trip to the beach and you did a great job! Like your oldest brother was, you hate your carseat! But you have been doing better lately and Mommy stood in a long line on Black Friday to get you a DVD player! You love to watch Praise Baby.
  • You are the star of this family! Your brothers cannot get enough of you, your Daddy thinks you hung the moon. He cannot stand for you to cry at all! People stop me in stores to say how sweet you are. And I think everyone is right. You are a sweet baby girl and I love you!!

 Here are all four at 4 months old!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jesse Tree Devotion

There may be no one interested in this, but I have taken all of the Jesse Tree devotions that I have written for our family and converted them into a pdf document. The documents contains all 25 devotions with scripture references as well as the ornament templates and a supply list. I have written the devotions and created simple ornaments with young children (preschool-elementary) in mind. So many of the excellent devotions I have found for the Jesse Tree are too advanced for my kids, so I wrote my own. If you have children in this age group and if you want a free copy of the Jesse Tree Devotions, just comment with your email address and I'd be happy to pass it along to you! It has been such a blessing to our family and I'd love to share it with yours!

Advent Begins

Today we finished our Tree of Thanks

and we begin our Jesse Tree, our 25 day advent devotion, our eagerly anticipating His birth.

I love the Jesse Tree! It is one of my most favorite of our holiday traditions. I love how it traces God's plan of redemption from creation to Christ's birth. I love how it is a tangible way to keep our focus on Christ, everyday. I love how much our kids love it. If you are not doing an advent tradition, you need to do a Jesse Tree. Here is a link to the devotions we use for our Jesse Tree. If you are interested I can email you the templates that I use for our ornaments. Just comment with your email address. Do it! You will not be sorry. Tonight we begin!

Monday, November 28, 2011


We spent our Thanksgiving at the beach! A very sweet and generous family here in Rock Hill offered us their beach home for free. And we invited our friend Ruth and her brother Eiji to join us. Ruth and Eiji's parents are IMB missionaries in Japan, so no going home for Thanksgiving for them. And we were to thrilled to have them join us. We had an absolutely wonderful week at the beach. The weather was amazing, the kids were great, Ruth and Eiji were great company, the food was yummy. We got to relax and enjoy one another. And Ruth even came shopping with me on Thursday night/Friday morning for Black Friday craziness. I can't think of a better way to spend Thanksgiving.

Ruth and I have been reading One Thousand Gifts together this semester and we finished the book at the beach... so appropriate. A week filled with so many gifts. A holiday that we no longer celebrate once a year, but everyday, every moment, every breath. A way to love a God who constantly, faithfully, unconditionally, undeservingly showers us with His love.

"Crazy, I know, but until eucharisteo had me write the graces on paper, in my own handwriting, until it altered my mind to see the graces in the details of my very own life, I hadn't really known. With every grace, He sings, "You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you" (Isaiah 43:4). "For you are a chosen people.... God's very own possession" (1 Peter 2:9)..... He chose me- us! To be His bride! True, that's the intellectual premise of the Christian life, but only as the gifts are attended, not as ends but as means to gaze into the heart of God, does the premise become personal, God's choosing so utterly passionate. So utterly fulfilling." One Thousand Gifts p. 204
 "Is there any greater way to love the Giver than to delight wildly in His gifts? (p. 219). So count the way He loves, a thousand, more, never stop, that when you wake in the morning you can't help turn humbly to the east, unfold your hand to the heavens, and though you tremble and though you wonder, though the world is ugly, it is beautiful, and you can slow and you can trust and you can receive each moment as grace." (p. 224).
376. warm sun on skin

377. the sound of the surf

378. the greatness of the ocean and sky

379. they can't resist the ocean

380. walking hand in hand on the beach

381. her first time at the beach

382. warm ocean breezes

383. nightly card games

384. three monkeys in a king sized bed

385. watching them love our kids

386. siah in the sand

387. the flavors of thanksgiving food

388. a generous family

389. a kind stranger named phylis

390. a hot pink sun hat

391. my four together

392. perfect, unadulterated joy

393. talking God on the beach

394. building sand castles

395. an explosion of color

396. reading a good book

397. the sound of their laughter

398. christmas music on the ipod

399. listening to guitar music

400. the three brothers at sunset