Foot Prints Across the Year

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I thought this turned out adorable but in hindsight I would not use a black background.

Children grow up so fast and it really is true that the ‘days are long but the years are short’. As the mother of a 12 year old I can tell you that the years fly by and I’m sure that will become even more a reality as he continues to grow up and gets ready to leave home. I am blessed to have four children ages 12, 10, 4, and 10 months and I want to make sure that I utilize the perspective that comes from having older children to really enjoy the moments with all of them. This doesn’t mean that every moment is going to be fun or that I’m going to be any less exhausted (teething anyone?) but I want to make sure that I capture the memories while they are at each new stage.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

When my oldest was a baby I thought I would always remember with vivid clarity each moment, each new accomplishment, each different stage, but time has a way of making some of those memories quite blurry. I think this is especially true for busy moms that have so much going on with just keeping the house running and making sure everyone is clean and fed. I wanted to be intentional about watching the baby grow up even in the midst of the hustle and bustle so I decided to create a keepsake each month that would remind me how much he was growing.

Each month I’m going to do a foot print project that goes along with the month/season and at the end of the year I will have a fun collection and be able to see how much his tiny feet grew over the course of a year. My four year old LOVES anything related to paint so he will probably also participate although I don’t expect to see as much of a dramatic difference in the size of his prints. I may use his hands instead of his feet. I had originally thought about using hands for both of them, but attempting to make a hand print using the 10 month old taught me that it was not the best plan.

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The hand print did not turn out well as he did not want to relax his hand.

I hope to be able to create some kind of book or keepsake at the end of the year to commemorate the growth.  While you have the paint out and the children messy you can even create a duplicate project that you can send to grandparents or other relatives that might enjoy the keepsake.

For January I found this footprint snowman that was super easy to complete. For the baby I just helped him make his foot print and then I finished the project. I let my four year old see the example of this cute snowman project using a hand print and he loved the idea. However, I made the mistake of leaving him alone with his hand print and his new paint sticks and the results were not quite was I was expecting.  We may try again later this  month with a little more guidance.

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If painting isn’t the right fit for you, you could do some other fun craft, a series of pictures, or a program like Qeepsake which sends you a question each day to answer and create a journal of memories. I hope this post encourages you to have fun capturing memories of the hectic but wonderful time when your children are small and growing and changing rapidly. I would love to hear your ideas in the comments for how you record those memories and mementos.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Make meal planning easier with done-for-you meal plans and a variety of recipes that will keep your menu full for years with the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle. Get recipes for every type of eating style for $37 during this 6-day sale!

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

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Are you looking for a free Bible study that your whole family can enjoy? The Proverbial Homemaker is offering up a study of James that is FREE for a limited time.

Join the FREE Get Active Inside Challenge!

Over the course of 5 days, we’ll discover ways to allow physical activities indoors, get your child’s energy out when it’s too ❆ cold ❆ to go outside & keep your kids busy so they’re not bored and asking for cartoons.

 

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Be Still and Be Present: Week 4

James 1:17

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

James 1:17 probably is not the first verse that comes to mind when you think of the Christmas season. Most people thing of the story of the birth of Jesus as told by Luke or Matthew.  However, during this time of gift giving and receiving it can be so easy to lose sight of the true gift of the season. Sure we know that Jesus is the reason we celebrate, but do we really live that out both in our hearts and our actions?

I want to spend the next week really focusing on all of the gifts and blessings that are in my life. We celebrate not just because Jesus was born but because he died for our salvation. No matter the stresses and frustrations of today, the gifts not yet wrapped, the child who is sick, the dinner that isn’t going to cook itself, the house that still needs to be cleaned; we celebrate because Jesus became flesh and was born to a virgin in order to die for our sins. When I put things into proper perspective there is so much for which to be thankful and joyful.

For many of us the next few days will be busy and it may seem that we do not have time to ‘be still’ but I encourage you to try very hard to carve out a bit of time each day to focus on Him. Sing hymns as you travel to visit family, read the story of the birth of Christ together on Christmas morning before you open gifts, pray over each person with whom you exchange gifts.  You may not be able to hide away and have thirty minutes of uninterrupted time but you can still take a few minutes to focus on the reason that we celebrate.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17 (NIV)

 

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Sometimes our best laid plans just don’t happen. We had some fun times and did some great things this week, but other things did not go according to plan.  On Friday my four year old woke up with a fever. This is never a good thing but was made worse by the fact that Friday was supposed to be a fun day out with friends.  After much deliberation on my part, he stayed home with my husband and I took the other three to meet up with our friends.  This time of year can be hectic and it was nice to spend an afternoon hanging out with friends and enjoying fellowship with no obligations. We tried a new burger place, had some yummy cupcakes, and then spent a couple of hours at the aquarium where most of us have memberships.

It would have been very easy to decide not to spend the day with our friends due to all the things on my to-do list. I could have said that I was too busy to go and no one would have argued with me, but sometimes we need to put the lists aside and just spend time with our people. My first priority in ‘be present’ is my family, but I also need to take the time to pour into my friendships as well. Friday we were able to ‘be present’ not only as a family but with our friends.

We have not yet done our graham cracker nativity scenes because I want to wait until my son feels better so that we can do them together. We did do some more puppets because he has decided he is really into the puppets. Another activity that we did this week with our 4H club was a five senses activity with these blooming tea balls. It was fun for all ages and simple to do. It is also easy to adapt for one child or a group of children. I simply unwrapped one of the tea balls and had them look at it, feel it, smell it, and listen to it. Then we dropped it into a pitcher of very hot water and they watched it bloom. Once it had steeped they were able to taste it.  It would make for a nice low key activity this week after the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

If you didn’t finish all the fun crafts and activities that you wanted to do, do not despair Tuesday is only the first day of Christmas. I have found that the days following Christmas often bring a slower more relaxed pace and we can enjoy those activities without the pressure of long to-do lists hanging over our heads.

Take some time this week and ‘be present’ with your immediate family and if you can with extended family. If you are not close enough to visit for the holidays maybe you can spend time with neighbors or use technology to virtually visit those that live far away. Take the time to bake the cookies, get on the floor and play with the new toys, read the book, or just sit and chat.

How are doing with this challenge? I pray that it has blessed you and brought you closer to God and your family. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. While this challenge may be wrapping up, it is my hope that you will continue the habits of ‘being still and being present‘ into the New Year.

 

Be Present Resources:

Blooming Tea

Free Printable Nativity Coloring Pages

Hands on As We Grow (If you have young kids and struggle to come up with easy activities to do with them, this maybe a great resource for you. She has some free challenges, e-books, and a membership plan full of great activities that are easy to implement.)

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Amazon is doing it again! $5 off $20 Book Purchase. Use Code GIFTBOOK18. If you aren’t sure what book to buy you might want to check out this new book by Sally Clarkson that is on pre-order right now: Girls’ Club.

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

Christmas Traditions: Breakfast (and a Recipe)

For the first 33 years of my life I went to my grandfather’s house each Christmas morning for breakfast with my family. My parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all gathered together to enjoy breakfast, fellowship, and gifts. I have so many fond memories of those Christmas mornings. My grandfather passed away a few years ago and that first Christmas morning was bittersweet. I missed my grandfather dearly and it seemed so strange not to be there for Christmas morning. However, we started our own Christmas tradition as a family.

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*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

I honestly do not remember what exactly we ate for breakfast when I was a young child, but for all of the Christmas mornings that I could remember we had sausage, eggs, bacon, and most importantly ‘cat head’ cheese biscuits. For those of you that are not from Eastern North Carolina, I want to clarify that a cat head cheese biscuit got its name from the size of the biscuit not the contents. These are large round biscuits filled with gooey melted cheese, like the ones on our plates in the picture at the top of this post.

While I still miss my grandfather, we have settled into a new family tradition that incorporates some of the old tradition and makes it our own.  When I was younger my grandparents house was only a few minutes from my home, but by the time I had my own children we were living almost 45 minutes away which made for a rushed morning to get there in time for breakfast. Now we have a slow relaxed morning before heading off to visit with family for lunch.

We get up Christmas morning and myself or my husband put an egg casserole and some homemade frozen cheese biscuits into the oven. The children can enjoy looking at their gifts, we can read the Christmas story from Luke, and then enjoy breakfast together around our kitchen table. The time together and the slower pace is nice. By choosing foods that can be prepped ahead of time we are able to have a nice yummy breakfast with minimal effort on Christmas morning. This helps me to be able to focus on my family and not spend my morning cooking and cleaning.  I have included my breakfast casserole recipe below in case you are looking for a simple breakfast idea for Christmas morning.

I hope that my children grow up with as many fond memories of Christmas as I have from my childhood. While it is sometimes fun to change things up and there should be no pressure to keep doing things that aren’t working for our family, traditions can be a great way to build family unity and memories. I would love to hear about your favorite family traditions or how you have incorporated old traditions into new ones as family dynamics have changed over the years.

Christmas Morning Egg Casserole

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Amazon is doing it again! $5 off $20 Book Purchase. Use Code GIFTBOOK18. If you aren’t sure what book to buy you might want to check out this new book by Sally Clarkson that is on pre-order right now: Girls’ Club.

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

 

 

Crafting with Noodles!

We had some fun with noodles this past week and I wanted to share in case you were looking for a fun easy activity to do with your children. I did this activity with my four year old in mind but my ten year old joined in and had lots of fun as well.

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*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

I chose this activity in part because we had all of the supplies on hand and it would be easy for the four year old to do with minimal help. He loves anything that involves paint and had been wanting to make some decorations to go on the small Christmas tree in his room.

First we chose our paint colors. Since we were looking for a Christmas theme we did red, green, and white. We split the noodles into three bags and put a squirt of paint into each bag (one red, one green, one white). Then, close the bags up and gently move the noodles around in the paint until they are fully covered. Next, spread the noodles on a cookie sheet to dry. We chose to cover the cookie sheet in parchment paper for easy clean up, but old newspaper would work as well.

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It took a couple hours for them to be fully dry. If you have little ones that take a nap or rest in the afternoon you can paint the noodles in the morning and let them know they can finish their project after rest time as an incentive.

Once the noodles are dry you can get creative with them. We were stringing them to make a garland for my son’s Christmas tree. He wanted to do a simple green, red, white pattern. I tied the first one onto the end of the string to keep the others from falling off and then let him go to work. He enjoyed stringing them on but did get a little bored towards the end, so I agreed to help him string them as long as he was giving me the colors in the pattern.  When he was done, I tied the last noodle to the other end of the string and we had a garland for his tree. He wrapped it around his tree and was quite pleased with this work.

While we did Christmas tree garland, you could also use these to decorate a mantle or window, small sections of yarn to make necklaces or bracelets, or have them removable to practice a variety of patterns or color recognition. If you have extra painted noodles left over just stick them in a Ziploc bag until you are ready to do another activity.

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What fun and simple crafts have you been doing with your children?

 

Supplies:

A variety of  washable paints

Ziploc Bags (1 for each color of paint)

Noodles (can be different kinds but need to have a hole in the middle)

Yarn or String

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Amazon is doing it again! $5 off $20 Book Purchase. Use Code GIFTBOOK18. If you aren’t sure what book to buy you might want to check out this new book by Sally Clarkson that is on pre-order right now: Girls’ Club.

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

 

Be Still and Be Present: Week 3

Joy

 

Some weeks ‘Be Still’ is much harder than others. It felt like last week was a lot of ‘go, go, go’.  It was a really busy week for us as a family, with our business, and our church volunteer obligations. However, I’m pleased to say that my goal of being still didn’t just ‘disappear’ out the window as it has in the past when things got too busy. Using the app on my phone to do my devotional and spare minutes here and there to be intentional about prayer meant that I was able to spend some time focused on Jesus each day.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Sometimes I think God uses a variety of ways to reinforce that which he is teaching us. This week he used the lesson I was teaching to our middle school students to reinforce that focuses on Jesus in this season is the key to true joy. When I focus on myself and what I want or need it is easy to be disappointed. Maybe we didn’t get to do some fun activity I wanted to do, maybe I’m not going on a cool vacation like my friends, maybe money is tight and I don’t put everything under the tree that I would have wanted. If I am focused on me those things are disappointing and frustrating, but if I turn my focus to Jesus it is much easier to be joyful over what I do have, eternal life, because he came as a baby to grow up and die for my sins. When our focus is on what we have because of Jesus the joy flows naturally. It may not erase all of our problems but it will bring joy to our hearts.

Over the past couple of weeks we have focused on peace but this week I want to focus on joy! John 15:11 tells is that our joy may be full in Him and I want us to hold on to that promise this week and focus on Jesus and the joy he brings. You may still have sadness or grief in your life, there still may be stress and frustration, but if we focus on Him there will also be great joy.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:11

 

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We had a lot of fun this week as I was intentional about ‘being present’. Some things were small and some a bit more time consuming but all time well spent. We had the privilege of stopping at two large light displays this week on our way home from a field trip. The first one we rode though and enjoyed but the second one you can get out and walk through. The baby was asleep so it was just me and my three older children. We all enjoyed it, but the excitement that my four year old had for the experience was amazing. I have seen these lights every year for the past 12 years and while I always enjoy them I had forgotten just how amazing they are to those that are not familiar with them. My four year old had forgotten being able to walk through them last year and was absolutely enthralled, running for display to display squealing with joy. Looking at those lights through his eyes brought me to a new appreciation of that great display and I loved making those memories with the children.

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I mentioned last week that my four year old wanted to do a puppet show. I had planned on printing out puppets and doing a show with him. I found these cute printable Christmas puppets and we colored them but then he and his siblings decided to change things up a bit. They ended up using some nativity masks that we have and doing a show together depicting the nativity story. It was cute and hilarious.

Another fun and easy project that we did this week was making Christmas tree garland out of noodles and paint. It was so easy because we simply put noodles and paint into ziploc bags to cover them, let the paint dry on the noodles, and then the children could put them onto a long string to make a garland. Check the blog later this week for a quick tutorial of this fun activity.

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I used to have grand plans and dreams of us baking and creating our own gingerbread house.  I’ve come to realize that in this stage of our lives that just is not going to happen. My oldest has an intolerance for food dye and so we cannot use most commercial kits. Some years I get a chance to go to Trader Joe’s and pick up a kit that he can eat but with the closest one being two hours away that does not always happen. Luckily I have found a variety of tutorials for cute little graham cracker nativity scenes that are lots of fun, easy to make, and I can accommodate his food restrictions. This is one of the family activities that I hope to do this week. I will link to a couple of different ideas for these in the resources below.

We are also going to spend some time this week making cards together to give to friends and neighbors. I have already sent out our ‘official’ Christmas cards but I know it will be fun for us to share homemade cards with some people that are close to us and a good time for us to spend crafting together. We can all work on them and spend some time talking and listening to Christmas music while we work.

How are doing with this challenge? I would love to hear about the progress you are making or the challenges that you are having so that I can try to help you overcome those. I pray that this challenge is bringing you closer to God and your family.

 

Be Present Resources:

Edible Nativity Scene

Another Simple Version

Gingerbread Nativity

Hands on As We Grow (If you have young kids and struggle to come up with easy activities to do with them, this maybe a great resource for you. She has some free challenges, e-books, and a membership plan full of great activities that are easy to implement.)

 

 

Sign-Up Here For Be Still and Be Present Weekly Emails

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Amazon is doing it again! $5 off $20 Book Purchase. Use Code GIFTBOOK18. If you aren’t sure what book to buy you might want to check out this new book by Sally Clarkson that is on pre-order right now: Girls’ Club.

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

Christmas Traditions: Cousins and Cookies

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Christmas elicits so many emotions, both positive and negative.  Our goal as family during this season is to create many fun memories without going overboard and adding to the stress and overwhelm; all the while keeping our eyes on Jesus. Our family culture values time spent together and with those we love and we especially tend to gravitate towards that during the holiday season.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Two years ago we decided that we wanted to do something fun with my children and my cousins’ children. We didn’t set out to start a tradition, just give the kids a chance to play and us a chance to visit and enjoy each other’s company. However, we did it again this year and decided that it was so much fun it needs to be an annual tradition.

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Most of our family lives with-in about a 45 minute radius of each other but we also have a cousin and her precious son that are many hours away. We try to schedule the cookie party when everyone can come but that is not always an option. If all of our little ones can make it we have eight children four and under. This can make for an exciting but messy event.

We always get together at Thanksgiving and Christmas for dinner and visiting but we really wanted an event that focused on the children and let them play and have a good time together. I originally thought about having them bake cookies together but quickly decided that might be a bit too much. If you have older children or fewer children, baking cookies might be a lot of fun. I let my four year old and ten year old help me bake the cookies the day before and my ten year old make the homemade icing.

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On the day of the cookie party everyone gathered at my mom’s house, (hers is closer to most of the family). First we let the children play outside and burn off a little energy. Then we brought them inside and let each of them choose one of our cream cheese cut out cookies to decorate. We had paper plates to put them on, plastic knives to spread the icing, and a variety of sprinkles and colored sugar to finish them off. My son is allergic to food dye so we made most of our own using India Tree natural colors.

Once they decorated their cookies they either ate their cookies or decorated other cookies for the adults in the room. It was really messy, there was probably some double dipping, but they had so much fun. There were smiles and giggles and lots of proud faces showing off their creations.

 

 

We did a quick craft using foam shapes and stickers, thanks to an inexpensive kit from Hobby Lobby.  Then we finished up the party with pizza and fruit. It was several hours well spent making memories. Aside from making the cookies the day before (and you could buy them in you wanted) there was very little preparation time and the only costs were the food and the $5 I spent on the craft kit. Sometimes it can feel like you spend so much time and energy on something and it is over in no time and not really worth this hassle, this event felt very low stress and my son is still talking about it over a week later.

You might not have a gaggle of young cousins that need to get together but this party could easily be adapted for different groups. You could invite friends, neighbors, or even a Sunday School class to attend your party. If you have older children, the children could actually bake the cookies and maybe even donate some of them to a local nursing home or fire department. When the children are a little older (i.e. have a bit longer attention spans), I want to add reading the book The Gift of the Christmas Cookie to the tradition. I already read it at home but thought it would be a little too much for the youngest ones to sit through.

I hope I have inspired you to add a cookie party to your list of fun Christmas traditions. If you have tried something similar or have other fun traditions that you would like to share with us please let us know in the comments. Stay tuned next week for more on another Christmas tradition, my daughter’s Christmas tea.

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Amazon is doing it again! $5 off $20 Book Purchase. Use Code GIFTBOOK18. If you aren’t sure what book to buy you might want to check out this new book by Sally Clarkson that is on pre-order right now: Girls’ Club.

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the sries are less than $1.

Be Still and Be Present: Week 1

peace

 

 

 

Welcome to week one of the ‘Be Still and Be Present’ challenge. I am so excited for us to take this journey together. I didn’t do this challenge because I have it all together, but because I felt that I needed to work on these things as well. I am excited to see what God can do in my heart and my life through this challenge. I will be praying each day for all of you that are participating with me in the challenge.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

‘Be Still’

This week I chose John 14:27 as my focus verse. Many times throughout the Bible we hear about God’s peace. I want to remember that God is not a God of overwhelm and rest in his peace this week. My goal is to memorize this verse by the end of the week and use it to remind myself when the season gets hectic.

In addition to my focus verse, I am going to be working my way through the advent reading plan from Not Consumed and coloring or journaling either in the Max Lucado Christmas Coloring book or in my Beautiful Word Coloring Bible. You can use whatever Bible or materials you have available to complete this challenge. I choose to use a coloring Bible because the act of coloring the pictures and words helps me to slow my brain down and really focus on God’s word. If I am just reading and trying to sit quietly, my brain has a tendency to wander. I found my coloring book (and one for my 10 year old) at Ollies for only .99. If you do not have an Ollies there are some other options on Amazon.  Another good free option for your study plan is to use these Names of Jesus printables and verses and study through the various Biblical names of Jesus.

Another resource that I want to share with you are Bible apps. If you do not have a Bible or if you find it more convenient to read from your phone or device the  YouVersion Bible App is a great free app. It offers a wide variety of translations which can be very beneficial when you are studying a particular passage of scripture. While I find that I focus best while I am coloring or journaling, I know others that like to listen to the Bible while they are driving or maybe while out in nature or taking a walk. The Daily Audio Bible App is only .99 for Kindle and free for Android. This app reads through the Bible in a year.

‘Be Present’

I often hear people talking about how important family is during the holiday season, but I know that in reality I often neglect the focused time with my family because of the hustle and bustle. We spend lots of time together doing school, going from place to place, crossing tasks of the to-do list, but we don’t always slow down and just spend time together. I encourage you to spend at least 30 minutes a day being present with those that mean the most to you. Some of you will need to spend that time focused on your children, others may feel you have been neglecting time with your husband. I am hoping to be more mindful of time with both my children and my husband over the next month.

This time does not have to be an elaborate activity, costs lots of money, or even be something new and exciting. The goal is simply to spend time being fully present with those you love. My daughter and I recently started working through a Christmas coloring book together. We can sit at the kitchen table and spend 15 or 20 minutes coloring and chatting together. This is relaxing for me and it is encouraging for her.  You could take a walk with your children or your husband, build Legos with your children, color a picture, or make a Christmas craft.  One of our favorite ways to connect is to pour mugs of hot cider or cocoa and gather on the couch for me to read a book. We also enjoy playing ‘Would You Rather ‘ type games.

I have included a downloadable sheet that will allow you to plan each week’s devotional time and your ‘Be Present’ activities as well as a sheet where you can check them off as you complete each day. Some of you may prefer to take each day as it comes, especially with the ‘Be Present’ activities and if that works for you that it totally fine. In my life I have found that having it planned out makes it more likely that it will actually happen so I plan to sit down each week and plan out a flexible list of activities.

Please share with me in the comments some fun activities or great devotional tools that you have and I look forward to hearing how this challenge is effecting your life.

Be Still and Be Present planning

Be Present Check List

Be Still Check List

 

Sign-Up Here For Be Still and Be Present Weekly Emails

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Our Christmas School Plans

 

Last week I shared about all of the books I wanted to read during December. As much as I want to focus on reading lots of good Christmas books, we will also be doing some other fun and simple activities.

First, as I thought about independent reading I decided that each of my older children would read a different Christmas or Hanukkah book each school day during December.  We have a multitude of great picture books that will be easy for them to read in one day but still provide great reading practice. Over the course of each week they will choose two that they really enjoy and write a paragraph reviewing the book and telling why they enjoyed it. They will also come up with one or two extra activities that could be used to supplement the books they are writing about (a recipe, a model, a research project, etc). My goal is to publish these on the blog.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

For musical studies we will be doing a hymn study of O Holy Night (coming soon to the blog) as well as enjoying a few fun activities to go along with other Christmas Carols from At Home: Where Life Happens. I love that her ideas are fun but simple to implement.  I know my children will love the marshmallow creations to go along with a couple of her song choices.

For art studies we are going to choose one lesson from our ChalkPastel.com lessons each week. I’m really excited about Away in a Manger. We will also be making a few Christmas crafts and pictures to send to grandparents,aunts, and uncles that live far away. This time of year seems to lend itself to lots of creative activities.

I have noticed that my children have been a bit lazy about their handwriting lately and I wanted to get back to doing copywork to help address it. I found this great set of Christmas poem copywork at Schoolhouse Teachers. I am going to have them complete one poem each school day.  They also have lots of other resources, lessons and videos in their Christmas Corner. If we have extra time we may enjoy some of the videos or other activities that are included in that section.

Christmas Schoolhouse2
A few of the activities and lessons included in the Schoolhouse Teachers Christmas Corner.

Bible study will be an important part of our December studies. We have really enjoyed using the Unwrapping the Greatest Gift advent study in the past. I also really like the free advent printables from Kim at Not Consumed. I am still praying about which study would be most beneficial to us as a family this season. I want to keep our focus on the Bible and not get into a system that becomes overwhelming.

This year we will continue with our normal math programs for my older two children (Math For A Living Education and A+ Math) in order to help make up some of the time we missed due to Hurricane Florence. However, my four year old will enjoy using pattern blocks and some fun free Christmas math printables.

My goal is to be able to continue making academic progress while focusing our attention on Christmas. There are so many things that keep us busy this time of year and want to minimize the stress of trying to ‘get it all done’ while still incorporating many fun holiday activities. My prayer is that this plan allows us to enjoy the holiday season, keep our focus on Jesus, and have time for rest and family fun.  Speaking of rest and family fun, I will be sharing later this week about a December challenge that I have given to myself and I would love to have you join the challenge. I plan to spend time each day focused on being still and being present. I will share my simple (and free) plan for spending time each day with God and my family.

What are you planning to do for school in December? Is it business as usual or do you change it up for Christmas. I’d love to hear what resources you love to use.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

YWAM has a special 50% off collection on some really great biographies now through December 15th!

Amazon has some great Cyber Monday Week all week long! Including some great deals on Kindles.

Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime this is a great time to try it for free for 30 days! Get your Christmas shopping done with free shipping, enjoy Christmas music and more.

 

Happy Thanksgiving and Deals and Freebies 2018!

We have enjoyed reading Cranberry Thanksgiving, passing out some sweet treats to folks who serve us, sending cards to family members, and filling up our scarecrow with all the things we are thankful for.  Tomorrow morning we will enjoy Cranberry Cream Cheese French Toast  at our house and then spend the evening celebrating over turkey with all the ‘trimmings’ with our extended family.  However, you celebrate I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

There are so many great deals and freebies going on this week for the ‘Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales. I wanted to go ahead and get this information in your hands today as I take tomorrow off to enjoy a time of Thanksgiving and fellowship with my family. There are some great deals going on over the weekend on various homeschooling and family related items. I hope that you enjoy some time with family and friends, good food, and much thankfulness. I am thankful for my readers and all of your support as we journey together. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Your shopping through our affiliate links blesses our family greatly by helping to fund the blog.  Please feel free to share this list and add any other great sales in the comments. You can also check out the sales thread on Facebook at Dawn Peluso, Schoolin Swag for the latest sales as they come up.

Black Friday-Cyber Monday Deals (be sure to read my comments some of these deals are only active on certain days over the weekend)

My personal favorite is the great sale we are running on my husbands book! Purchase any two directly from us for only $18 including shipping in the US and they will be autographed.

Small business saturday sale flyer

 

Homeschool in the Woods is having a great bundle sale starting Friday and going through Cyber Monday! I’m really tempted by the file folder game library!

You Are An Artist is having a 25% off sale on all video art courses and ebooks (excludes memberships) from 11/20-11/27. We love their courses. They make great gifts for your little artists.

Chalk Pastel Art Gift Guide

YWAM has a special 50% off collection on some really great biographies now through December 15th!

Fit2B is having an AWESOME 60% off ecourses, $30 off 1 year memberships and more sale for Cyber Monday Nov. 26th and 27th! There are some great online classes and memberships to help you as a mom (even classes you can do with a baby). They also have an excellent class that I recommend for health education for girls. This course talks about various aspects of growing up such as hygiene, menstruation, etc. but DOES NOT get into physical intimacy.

Cyber Monday At Fit2B Studio!

Educents has some deals and sales going on toys and educational gifts. We are particularly fond of the Maestro Classics CDs. Classical music combined with great stories are a wonderful (and easy) addition to our homeschooling. We can listen at home or in the car. Sometimes I use them as a formal lesson and sometimes we just listen for fun.

Square_Educents

Not Consumed is having a great sale from 11/20-11/26. I have not tried all of her products but we love her hymn studies and have used and enjoyed several of her Bible studies. My children are currently working through the sibling challenge journals that are on sale.

Black Friday Deals Christmas Gifts

Save 60% on your first month’s subscription of KiwiCo! with code CHEER60

Amazon has some great Black Friday deals all week long! Including some great deals on Kindles.

Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime this is a great time to try it for free for 30 days! Get your Christmas shopping done with free shipping, enjoy Christmas music and more.

Notebooking Pages is having a big BOGO sale on their memberships!! We love using their pages as an addition to our history curriculum.

Apologia has a great gift guide with many items marked down!

The 2018 Lego Advent Set is on sale right now for only $21.97. If you are looking for one grab it soon because they typically sell out!

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Homeschool Buyers Co-op is running some great specials on Heros Then and Now book series. If you have not tried these books I highly recommend them. We use them with our missionary studies as well as our history studies. The children beg for me to read more each time we read them aloud. We read George Mueller last year and are currently reading about Mary Slessor.  You can also get a FREE Homeschool ID card to use for discounts at various stores that offer teacher and student discounts.

40% off Online Rehab with Tummy Team. This sale runs from 11/22 at 9PM through Noon on 11/24!  This one isn’t specifically home school related but so many mamas are struggling with this that I wanted to share. Please feel free to message me with any questions and share this post with anyone that might be interested. If you are struggling with diastasis or pelvic floor issues the Tummy Team has some great online PT programs. I did their Core Foundations and saw a huge improvement and I’m going to do the prenatal crash course. I know this can be an issue for a lot of mamas so I figured I’d share. I’m happy to answer any questions about my experiences.  (ref)

The Green Ember is only free on Kindle or  with a KindleUnlimited Trial

$10 Sign-Up Bonus for Ibotta and they are doing some major savings and rebates starting today. Great way to save money on the things you are already buying.

$40 off your first HelloFresh Box

If you are looking for some maps to help extend your geography check out these from Knowledge Quest Map Trek (including a free sampler).

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Educational Christmas Ideas (that don’t feel like school supplies)

When I start thinking about gifts I want to choose things that will bless the person that I am giving them to and not just take up space. We love to include educational items in our gift giving but I don’t want them to feel disappointed or like they got stuck with schoolwork for Christmas. If you want something they can really use and learn from without feeling like they got ‘stuck’ with something educational check out these art and music resources.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Art supplies and classes are top on my list for this type of gift. It encourages creativity and most children tend to love the chance to express themselves through art. Over the course of this year I’ve had the chance to review four different types of art products that would all make great Christmas gifts.

First are You Are An Artist Chalk Pastel Lessons. These are so much fun and so easy for a beginner to get started while being varied enough to keep a more skilled child interested. They offer seasonal courses, themed courses, history related courses, and our personal favorite a Clubhouse Membership which gives you access to new projects each month. They also have recently branched out and started included acrylic lessons! My oldest enjoyed the lessons except that he really didn’t like how the chalk pastels got on his hands. We had been adapting by allowing him to use color pencils but I recently discovered these chalk pastel pencils that I’m going to get him as part of his Christmas to give him the ability to blend and shade like the pastels but still keep it off of his hands. (They are having a 25% off sale this week so its a great time to check them out.)

The second art lesson/projects that we tried and loved are the Kidzaw Master Kits. We reviewed the Starry Night kit and the children really enjoyed it. The box came with enough supplies for two completed projects (the same project done twice) and the project took less than an hour from start to finish. They recreate a famous work of art and get the opportunity to learn  a little more about the artist.  They have lots of other kits and even this fun party kit that makes up to 12 pieces of the art work. That would be a fun and inexpensive alternative to doing a birthday party at one of the art studios.

Zirrly Super Beads are another great option. These low mess beads are easy to put together with a bit of water and a lot of fun for a variety of ages. My four year old did them with a bit of help from his sister but my ten and twelve year olds still enjoyed using them and doing some of the more complicated designs.  The fourth fun art option we reviewed this year were Pencil Grip Magic Stix Markers. These were great options for older children (old enough to be careful and not write on things they are not supposed to). They do not dry out like many markers and have a dark strong color that is great for a variety of projects.

Not a specific product but another idea that my children have loved is a ‘bucket full of art’. You can gather a variety of supplies and put them together in a bucket full of art supplies that they can use to create whatever they can imagine. We always like to include the basics such as scissors, paper, crayons, and glue. Then we find some other fun items like stickers, clay, paint, beads, yarn or glitter glue. You can order these items online or check out your local craft store. They can provide hours of fun for a very reasonable price.  For older children you could include supplies specific to a hobby or supplies for making slime and goo.

Some children prefer music to the arts and there are lots of options for musically inclined children. I am not musically inclined but my children have been showing interest in various musical instruments.  My four year old really wants to learn to play the harmonica. I’m not quite ready to help him learn but I did find this great harmonica and book with video lessons for when I think he is old enough to get started. The great thing is I could get both for under $20 total.

My twelve year old has been learning to play the guitar using Guitar 360 Method and really enjoying it. These online video lessons are significantly cheaper than in person lessons and give us the flexibility of being able to complete them whenever he has a few minutes. If you have a student that is interested in learning to play the guitar, but you do not have the time or finances for in person lessons this is a great option. Since he is already taking the lessons I am purchasing this collection of guitar picks as a stocking stuffer for him this year. (Check out the blog post for a 20% off coupon.)

Elizabeth is learning the violin. In interest of full disclosure I prefer listening to guitar practice than violin but she loves it and is showing great progress. I will have a full review of that product coming in January but if you are interested in giving violin lessons as a gift check out Practice Monkeys.

Schoolhouse Teachers also has a great variety of music classes available with their family membership. In addition to all of the other core and elective classes they offer both guitar and violin courses that have video components. They also offer music theory, voice, and recorder classes. In addition to those instruments there are a variety of musical unit studies and classes. One membership covers all of the courses for an entire family so this is a very economical option. (Check below for a great sale on Schoolhouse Teachers)

I hope that you found some fun and educational gift ideas to support your budding artist or musician. Please share in the comments any additional ideas that you have for fun gifts that are also beneficial.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

A Christmas Carol Audio Book Only $.66 (Amazon prices subject to change)

Amazon has put Heroes Next Door: Hornet 24 on sale and there is a coupon on the page to make it even cheaper! This is a great Christmas gift.

Free I”m Thankful For…. Book from Amazon! (Always check prices as they are subject to change)

The 2018 Lego Advent Set is on sale right now for only $21.97. If you are looking for one grab it soon because they typically sell out!

2018-fall-harvest-special-ban-240x400-2

FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

The World of Peter Rabbit and His Friends Only .99 on Kindle! We love Beatrix Potter’s stories and this one includes her original illustrations.

Sunny Under the Sea  Free (always double check because Amazon changes prices regularly!)

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Writing About Books: Book Reports And Beyond from Write Shop!
Not Consumed is having a great sale from 11/20-11/26. I have not tried all of her products but we love her hymn studies and have used and enjoyed several of her Bible studies. My children are currently working through the sibling challenge journals that are on sale.

Black Friday Deals Christmas Gifts