December 12, 2017

Advent Halfway Recap

I can't believe December is almost halfway over, and we are at our halfway point for our advent activities! Here are the activities we've done so far:

December 1: Jade opened her Christmas pajamas and we watched Christmas movies together.

December 2: We read Little Golden Books, "The Christmas Story" and got out our Little People Nativity set.

  December 3: We made snowman donuts for breakfast.

December 4: Jade opened her ornament for this year. Each year I want to get my kids a special ornament for them to open and hang on their tree, so this tradition officially started this year! We did this growing up and it was so fun. 

December 5: We made Rudolph ornaments...I think they were intended to be made with thumb prints, but Jade's thumbs are still so tiny that we used her big toe. ;) The link that I pinned to my Pinterest board is currently not working, but you can see the concept by looking at the picture I pinned. It's also on my Instagram with some of our other activities. 

December 6: This was St. Nicholas Day, so I filled Jade's shoes with some fun snacks.

December 7: I found some nativity scene foam stickers at Michaels, so we played with those and talked about the characters. She LOVES stickers! 

December 8: We took Jade to see Santa and then ate breakfast for dinner at Cracker Barrel. We did this last year as well and it was so fun. She actually bit her tongue really badly while we were waiting in line. That was her first big "boo boo" with blood and it broke our hearts. She took it like a champ though, and still enjoyed herself afterwards.

December 9: This is the only day we haven't done. We were set to make Santa pancakes, but Jade was finicky with her food, due to hurting her tongue the night before. I also knew the strawberries would potentially hurt it due to the acid, so we are going to try to do this one this coming weekend instead.

December 10: We had a "Christmas Music Dance Party." Okay, we've actually done this one quite a bit and will continue to do so. :)

December 11: I cut a little Christmas tree out of some green felt and gave Jade some tweezers and pom-poms she could use to "decorate" it. She tried the using the tweezers at first, but realized using her hands was way faster! This was one she really enjoyed. Here is where I found the idea. 

December 12: We made this snowman out of an old coffee creamer container and cotton balls. Jade came down with an ear infection last night and we were up all night! I stayed home with her today and we rested up with meds, Christmas movies, and this activity. Idea found here. 

Hope everyone is having a lovely December and a wonderful start to the best time of the year!! :) 


November 24, 2017

How To Plan A Christmas Advent Schedule For Your Family

This year I decided to start an advent tradition with Jade. The idea came to me back in October and I immediately got excited. Christmas traditions are so special. They create lasting memories and there is a sense of security in a child when they know that they get to do the same thing each year. Obviously, Jade is still really too young to understand the spiritual significance of Christmas or to even know that we are starting a tradition, but you have to start somewhere, right?! So I thought this year would be the perfect year to start. We are all set to begin December 1st and I am so excited! If you are thinking about starting one, there's still a week to get one going! Here was a planning process that worked for me!

1. Figure out the purpose, or the focus, of your advent. It might be strictly devotionals, books, acts of kindness, little chocolates, or simply just a countdown to Christmas. I had several purposes that I wanted to incorporate into ours. The biggest one is quality time with Jade. She is still too young to really "get" the spiritual component of Christmas, and while that will be incorporated, quality time is our main focus. We will do activities that allow us to spend time together, create memories, learn about the birth of Christ, and show love to others. 

2. Create a Pinterest board. I went through and searched for age appropriate Christmas activities and saved them all to a board. This helped me narrow down my ideas and keep them all in one place. 

3. Map out a mock schedule on your calendar. I had to do this because as a working mom, some activities are best done on the weekends. I also had to plan around parties, weddings, events, and traveling to see family. I put tentative ideas on each date to help me plan realistic activities. 

4. Get an advent calendar, finalize your ideas, and write them down! Originally, I was just going to do something completely, probably just write down our activities on notecards and string some brown paper bags up...nothing crazy. I was talking to my mom about my plans and she offered to sew us an actual calendar! She made a beautiful one that we will use for many years to come. I am so obsessed with it! I wrote down our activities on card stock and placed them in the pockets. They are ready for us to start on December 1st! 

Some of our activities are super simple, like reading a Christmas book or having a "Christmas Dance Party" to our favorite Christmas songs. Others are more elaborate, like planting magic candy canes, passing out goody bags, and making peppermint play-doh. Some of them are activities to practice fine motor skills. Some activities we will do for advent every year. Others will just be on a year to year basis, so they stay age appropriate. I found most of my ideas on Pinterest. 

Here are some other advent links/ideas I am loving: 

1. This downloadable advent devotional...this is a downloadable format of 26 ornaments and devotionals to go with each. I definitely want to do these with Jade when she gets a little older! 

2. This diy advent calendar. This is the format my mom used to make mine. 

3. This is a great list full of ideas you can do. The ideas are broken up by categories, which is great. 

Did you grow up doing advent? Who does advent with their little ones?! If you celebrate, please let me know how! 

Thanks for reading!


October 05, 2017

Five Ways To Work Through Discouragement

Discouragement comes in many forms. Everyone faces it at some time or another. This post is specifically for the follower of Jesus Christ, but even if you don't claim to follow Him, I hope you'll find something here worth trying or relating to! 

1. Put your hope in the Lord! 
Whenever I feel discouraged, I really have to do a gut check and ask: What am I putting my hope in? My success? Whether or not I'm well liked? The things in my life I have to look forward to? None of these things are assured. It's fine to aspire to be successful, well liked, and to have fun things planned, but they can never replace the unwavering hope we have in a Sovereign Lord who has all of our days planned out, good and bad. (Pslam 139:16-"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.") Anything painful or even simply annoying that happens to me has to go through His plans first. That gives me so much peace. My hope rests in the fact that He created me for His glory, that I am looked upon with the Righteousness of Christ, and that He has prepared a place for me to dwell with Him forever in Heaven. If everything in my life falls apart, then I have enough with these things alone. 

2. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
I'm convinced that well roundedness gives our life meaning and depth. I'm also convinced that it helps fight discouragement! If you only have one focus in your life, whenever you face hardship in that focus, you're going to have a hard time. As a mom, if you put your entire identity in your kids, then things won't be very pleasant when one of those kids starts living a life of rebellion. If you're a business owner without outside hobbies, when trouble and challenges inevitably come, it might be hard to be motivated to pick up the pieces. If you're an athlete and you get injured, what else do you have to put time and energy into? I think having multiple hobbies and passions where you can hit goals is key. That way when you're not making the progress or having the success in one area, you have other goals you can reach. I once read something that encourages you to have at least three hobbies: one hobby that keeps you healthy, one hobby that makes you money, and one hobby that allows you to be creative. I love that! Without over extending yourself, find a couple of completely different hobbies where you can see yourself make progress. 

3. Practice gratitude. 
Gratitude helps us be content. Discouragement isn't always because of discontentment, but discontentment certainly won't help you overcome discouragement. Discouragement feels like you're losing. Gratitude feels like you're winning. Choose to feel like a winner by counting your blessings. Gratitude will turn what you do have into plenty. I also think God is so glorified when we practice gratitude because it reminds us that all good things come from Him. Thank Him for the big things and the little things...especially the little things.

4. Remember that your story is YOUR STORY. 
Your story is going to look differently than other peoples! It is for your uniqueness, but even more so for God's glory. Celebrate the uniqueness of your story because the hiccups and the plateaus are what make your story yours. The timing of your success is going to look different from others. Work hard and use your gifts in service to the Lord. (Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.") Instead of constantly dwelling on everyone else, stay focused on Him and what He wants to accomplish in you. It's like what I tell my little darlings who are always worried about what everyone else is doing, and are little tattletales as a result..."Worry about yourself." Don't compete with the flowers next to you...just bloom. :) 

5. Keep an eternal perspective. 
This is key. Simply knowing that the Lord can take anything I face and use it for a greater purpose, a purpose I might not even know until I stand before Him one day, makes so many things seem trivial. The truth is, we all will stand before Him one day. Whatever suffering you are facing will be nothing compared to the Kingdom those who are in Christ will inherit. Suffering lasts for a season (sometimes a long one, but nevertheless, a season). The future glory far outweighs the current struggle. (Romans 8:18 "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.")

Discouragement sucks. But you got this, girl. And He's got you.