ThanksLiving

Thanksgiving clip art
It’s a Thanksgiving tradition to make a list of all the things for which we are thankful. Here’s my list so far:  
God
Hubby
Kids 
Family & friends
Sweet tea
Russian friends
Automobile DVD players
Tummy panel in slimming jeans
Target clearance aisles
MacBook
Magic eraser
iphone
Mac n cheese
Poison control
Novasure
Tweezers
My home
Pet doors
Padded braziers
Garage sales
Peppermint shakes & coffees
Church
Laughter
Things to laugh at
Clairol gray hair coverage
Cool weather
Naptime
Having more than enough
Santa following me on Twitter (it helps with the bribery)
Wii
Toenail polish
Chocolate
Warm pajamas
Hot baths (and especially the last 4 together)
Fiber
Favaunt
Tiny feet
Butterfly kisses
My parents
Concealer
Blogworld
You

What’s on your list?


Visit Kelly’s to see some other great holiday traditions!

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

I can’t think of another attribute I’d like to develop in my children more than thankfulness. 
Nothing makes me heart smile like an unprompted ‘thank you’ or an uninhibited burst of gratitude.
I believe thankfulness is the mark of a great person. A grateful heart does not complain or compare. A grateful heart does not grumble or gripe. A grateful heart is a beautiful thing.
And it is rare.
I want to teach my kids to be thankful. I want them to see the good in their lives as blessings. I want their perspective to mirror their grateful hearts.
I want them to see gratitude in me. 
Here are five thankful actions I’m trying to put into practice:
  • Serve It-In our every day lives, my hubby and I try to make service a normal part of our routine. We ask our kids to help each other out as a way of serving one another. We have also recently implemented acts of service towards others (One Day to Give). There is a new excitement in our home about serving others. My kids have innovative ideas and together, we are working on servitude. 
  • Say It-I think one of the best ways we can show gratitude is with our words. Saying thank you at restaurants, to teachers, clergy, neighbors and friends is crucial. Our kids are taking their cues from us. And sometimes the people in our own homes have the most un-thankless jobs. I’m aiming to thank my hubby every time he takes out the trash or lends an extra hand around the house. Kids need to be verbally thanked too.
  • Sacrifice It-In our society, we don’t hear much about sacrifice. It’s not popular to give something up. But it’s still a valuable lesson to teach our children. I think true gratitude is born in sacrifice. Seeing others needs as greater than our own is what thankfulness is all about.
  • Show It-Sometimes the best way to show gratitude is through tangible means: a hand-written note, a gift from the heart or a thank you note for a birthday gift. These simple acts sometimes get lost in our high tech world.
  • Search for it-Life isn’t always easy. And during difficult times, it’s easy to focus on the negative. It’s during these moments, we have to look for the silver-lining in life’s trials. Perspective often changes our attitude. I try to remind my kids that they are blessed.
Food for the Soul:
Philippians 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.


For more great tips, visit Works for Me Wednesday.

Our Family Advent

Advent is a time of waiting for the arrival of Christmas.  


And even though we are still more than a week away from Thanksgiving, the holiday spirit is in the air.  Or maybe it’s just weather below 70 degrees (which puts Texans in a festive mood).

This year, I really want to slow down the faced-paced hustle that is the American Christmas and capture each day with my family. And so I’ve purposed in my heart and my calendar to do so.

I’ve been working on creating a special Advent calendar and I wanted to share it with you. 

Our plan is to ‘open’ each day in the early evening hours after dinner, so we will have time to focus on the activity for each day. For this coming Saturday’s Do-It-Yourself Project (DIYP), I will show you exactly how I made mine look fun and festive. If some of my ideas won’t work for your family, use what you can and come up with creative ideas to fit your family.

I planned our days with my calendar in my lap. Some activities are time consuming and perfect for the weekends, while others can be done during the school week.

Many activities are just plain old fashioned fun that will help us spend quality time together. I hope some of the other events will remind my children the true meaning of Christmas. I also think it’s important this time of year to focus on others: those we love and those less fortunate.

At the end of this post, I’ve included a pdf of the advent calendar. Please feel free to print it out and enjoy it!
Sshhhh! It’s a secret from my kids…each day will reveal the following:

{December 1} Send a letter to our Compassion Child (Don’t have one? Talk about getting one in the New Year. I highly recommend sponsoring a child. It’s such a great way to teach your kids about others). Read I John 4:10 

{December 2} Visit Santa at the mall or make a list.

{December 3} Let your light shine!  ask: How can we do this? Read John 1:5

{December 4} Build a fort from blankets & sheets/ Read a Christmas book in the fort!

{December 5} Lay on the trampoline and stargaze, talk about your dreams for the future.

{December 6} Fill a shoebox for a needy child (Samaritan’s Purse).

{December 7} Go ice skating!

{December 8} Make paper snowflakes (here’s some great patterns) Read Ecc. 3:13

{December 9} Play a board game.

{December 10} Pray for poor people.

{December 11} Work on  teacher’s gifts (we’re making these).

{December 12} Leave little notes of encouragement all over (i.e. the mailbox, grocery story, park, etc)

{December 13} Make hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows! 

{December 14} Watch a Christmas Movie

{December 15} Give $5 to someone (find a needy person) Read Rom. 5:8 

{December 16} yle="font-size:medium;"> Make cookies

{December 17} Pray for The Persecuted Church and Uzbekistan (You can join us in this one. Our Russian friends would appreciate it!)

{December 18} Make a birthday card for Jesus. Put it under the tree.

{December 19}  Fix Mom’s hair/give her a massage (my 36th birthday!)

{December 20} Go look at Christmas lights.

{December 21} Christmas Carol at someone’s house.

{December 22} Make a spinner  www.thetoymaker.com

{December 23} Take bubble baths with Christmas confetti (recipe).

{December 24} Read Christmas story from the Bible (children’s version).

Open Christmas Eve gift from Mom and Dad (snowman pajamas)

{December 25} Go visit NICU (Every year we visit the Neonatal Intensive Care and drop off cookies to the nurses and doctors who watched over our third child on Christmas a couple of years ago).


Click this link to print out a copy: December 1pdf

Here’s how I’m displaying my advent ‘tree’.  It’s a fun, easy DIY project!


My Frugal & Festive Holiday Tips

December is my month.

I was born the week before Christmas. I got married two days before the day I was born. I had my first baby eight days after the end of Christmas month. And my third baby was born one day before the day I was married and three days before the day I was born.
Got all that?
It’s a busy month for THAT family. And my hubby? He doesn’t have a chance. He starts fretting about gifts in the summer. But he always comes thru (i.e. kitty door).
When I think of Christmas I think of Jesus. There’s that, of course.
I also think of presents. The giving and the getting. Call me carnal.
But in these economic times, I want to be as frugal as possible. Join me every Tuesday in the month of December for my ideas on creating handmade gifts for friends and family.

Here are my tips for a frugal, but festive holiday:
  • Start as early as possible. I don’t think you can prepare too far in advance. My favorite time to Christmas shop is after Christmas. Yes, you read that right! I set aside a little money and shop the deeply discounted Christmas decor after the holidays. It’s such a thrill to find things 75-90% off and to rediscover your deals 12 months later! Christmas toys are also generally marked down to at least half off after the holidays and I shop for upcoming birthdays for the New Year. I just rediscovered these adorable nutcracker stocking holders that I got for $1.49!

  • Shop smart: Target reduces their holiday decor 50% the day after a major holiday. 5-7 days later, the remaining merchandise is reduced to 75% off. Around January 2nd or 3rd, all leftover Christmas items are marked down to 90% off! I call the store and ask. {Please note: if you live in my area, I have been known to get aggressive with a shopping cart}.
  • Shop used: Garage sales and thrift stores are a great place to find Christmas decor. Since decor is only used once a year, you can find some great treasures! (I started a nesting Santa collection from thrift and garage sales!)
  • Go artificial! I love for my home to smell good during the holidays. But since the kitchen isn’t my forte and since we use an artificial tree, I depend heavily on yummy smelling candles to do the job. Yankee candle is my favorite, but they are costly. TJMax, Marshalls and Ross stores, carry the Yankee brand at just a fraction of the price. And if you don’t have one of those stores, here’s a recipe for some pretty amazing stuff I like to simmer on my back burner.
  • Shop for the unexpected on the clearance aisles. Most stores have them and I keep a cabinet in my house full of discounted items for birthday parties, stocking stuffers, and treats. It’s so great to pull out a small gift when something comes up unexpected or my month is longer than my money.
  • Shop nature: We live in a wooded area with tall pine trees. Our family loves to collect pine cones, red berries and even branches. I display them in vases, on the mantel and throughout the house. Here are some fun pine cone projects.
  • Be creative! Make gifts for family and friends (check back on Tuesdays in December for easy, frugal projects!) But here’ s one, if you just can’t wait: Love to cook? Create your own recipe book. Love photo gifts? Here are some great ideas!
  • Shop your house for decor. Use candlesticks and plates as a cake platter to display a special ornament. Re-purpose glass vases to hold pine cones. Fill a glass bowl full of shiny ornament balls.
  • Write down a gift budget. I do this every year, usually in the fall. I write down everything I’ve already bought (like toys from the clearance aisle or books I bought in July) and I set a budget per person. We also do a certain number of gifts for our kids and since they are still pretty young, I try to make that number even. Here’s a printable holiday budget form.
  • Get it together! Partner with family members for BIG gifts or draw names for extended family members. Buy a family gift: one gift for the whole family: membership to the zoo, family movie pack, skating night for four.
  • Think about it: Suggest having your extended family gatherings after Christmas (the week between Christmas and New Year’s) and benefit from the last minute shoppin
    g.
  • Practical stocking stuffers can still be fun-character socks and underwear, fun toothbrushes, hair clips/bows, Chapstick, be creative and fill it with things they will actually use after Christmas morning!
  • Go sentimental...I love giving sentimental, heart-felt gifts like a Blurb book to grandparents, a family tree with collected photos or silhouettes of your children. I think handmade gifts are appreciated and you can save so much money!
  • Don’t go overboard or into debt on any of it! Kids usually end up with too many toys and we have to un-decorate whatever we put up. Keep it simple. Use what you have. And remember, the best message we can teach our kids is that it’s really about Jesus and others.

Grab my cute button and I’ll see you back every Tuesday in December!



What I’m Getting My KIds for Christmas *GIVEAWAY!

*UPDATED TO ADD* Congrats to Everyday Mom on winning $25 in books! Email me! If you didn’t win, please feel free to shop at Usborne books on my sidebar!

Something wonderful has happened in my home.

Something I’ve wanted for a long time.
My kids have fallen in love with reading.
And books are at the top of their Christmas wish list.
(This is one of my favorite gifts to give and better than any toy!)
YiPPeE!
My daughter wants adventure novels. My son wants chapter books about pirates. 
As a matter of fact, they both sold their well-loved Leapster’s on eBay and used the money to buy books. Because they couldn’t wait until Christmas. And because their poop business didn’t pan out.
I know. Prayers are heard, y’all. Especially since that first grader of mine whined and complained about reading only months ago! (And because I was never a fan of the poop idea).
So, you can imagine my excitement when Tressa of Usborne Books (my first sidebar sponsor!) offered one of my reader’s $25 in books today! 
This is what I’m getting for my kids:  My son would love this set. My 3rd great would think this is cool! And I’m going to throw this one in for my toddler. Because I’m thinking we need all the help we can get!
And so, now it’s your turn!  Go and visit this great online book store. There’s great curriculum and activity kits too. Come back here and leave a comment about what you’d choose and Mr. Random Number Generator will choose a winner by Thursday at noon.
This is the beginning of many wonderful giveaways from creative, working moms. I have awesome giveaways planned from now until the week before Christmas, so stay tuned!
Check out Works for Me Wednesday for this week’s special Kid’s Christmas Toy Edition!