December 19, 2013

Advent Mats Giveaway Winners

The winners are posted on the post below in the widget! Winners, you should have received an email from me by now.

Thanks, everyone, for entering! If you didn't win, but would like to purchase one, you can buy one here.  The mats will be $4 for a little bit longer, until I have a chance to change them in the shop.

December 12, 2013

Giveaway: Advent Activity Mats

We love advent. Most of you probably know that already. After moving to the Pacific Northwest from Texas just a little over two months ago, we are a bit more behind on preparing for Christmas than I'd like to be. By a bit more, I mean my Christmas decorations are still sitting in tubs in the middle of my living room.

Yet, the Christmas story reminds me that Jesus entered this world in the meekest of manners. Not after the ornaments were hanging on the tree. Or once the stockings were fastened on the mantle. Or after the Willow Tree nativity scene was perfectly stationed the first time, only to be re-arranged and maybe even dropped and chipped by curious, clumsy hands...

Even though most of you are more than likely almost halfway through your journey through advent, we have an activity to share with your family that we've been working on:

Over the years, we've tried various ways to engage our children during this season. Involving toddlers can be challenging. Through trial and much error, we've learned it's best to keep it simple. Having some who are more mature and engaged plus toddlers that we'd like to involve, presents different challenges.

We created something that is working quite well for us. When we set out to create these, originally, we were just going to make play-dough mats. I mean, no matter your age, who doesn't love to fiddle with play-dough? 

It occurred to us that, our older kids, who really love to draw, may like the option to doodle with dry-erase markers. (You know, incase 'play-dough' was too 'baby-ish'.) Thankfully, they're not too cool for play-dough yet; they've enjoyed using both with these mats and have often used a combination while working on them. 

As they've listened along to the Christmas story (this pack comes with a script, if you aren't the kind that likes to wing it) from the accounts of Matthew and Luke, they've been busy working, really listening, thinking about the story and dialoguing with us.

To be honest, Charlie and I have been surprised at how much we've enjoyed these, too. Whether it's a collaborative effort with our kids.. (I won't admit which wise-man's face I drew above, and which my five year old did!) Or whether we've wanted our 'own' mat.

These can be used in multiple ways with the little people in your life:
  •  gradually re-tell the coming of Jesus in several days or one mat/day on twelve different days.
  • given as a gift paired with play-dough and/or dry-erase markers.
  • in your Sunday School or Preschool classroom.
  • as you gather together with loved ones on Christmas, share these with young and old alike, for a complete re-telling of the Christmas story that will allow the whole family to take part in an activity together.

For the first week, (until 11:59 p.m. PST, December 18th) we'll be offering the pdf file for $4. (After that, they'll go up to $6!) Here's what's included in the 16 page pdf download:

  •  4 scripted pages telling the Christmas story from the gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke that coordinate with each activity mat. 

  • 12 Colorful activity mats: to be used with play-dough and/or dry-erase markers

All images are high quality. They are ready to print, re-tell and play!

Purchase the pdf of our “Advent Activity Mats” here. You will be emailed a link to download the file immediately after purchase.

How to Use:
  1. Print each page in color.
  2. Laminate for strength and durability. (Or put into page protectors.) 
  3. Decorate the mats with play-dough, dry-erase markers or both as you re-tell the Christmas story! Then, re-use over and over.
(If you purchase this pdf for gifts or classroom use, please do not directly share the pdf in an email. It is intended for you to save on your computer, print off and use in your home, classroom, or given as hard copies to your loved ones.)
Giveaway Details

We're also going to give some away! We'll announce 5 winners next Thursday morning, December 19th. The giveaway closes at 11:59 p.m. PST on Wednesday, December 18thWatch the countdown on the widget to see how long you have left to enter!  

To enter this giveaway simply leave a comment below. For additional entries follow the directions on the entry submission form.  If you can’t wait and decide to purchase the download before the giveaway is over, we will reimburse you if you are selected as the winner!

May your family be drawn, in the simplest of ways, to fall on your knees in worship before our Emmanuel.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 1, 2013

Repost: How we celebrate Christmas

This a repost from last year:

This is a collection of some of our favorite ways to celebrate and prepare our hearts for "the coming" of Jesus at Christmas during Advent.

If you click on each picture, it will take you to the post where I've previously blogged about it over the years. I hope your family will enjoy these as you expectantly await the celebration of our Savior's birth!

Handprint Nativity Animals
Christmas Book Countdown (includes list of books)

Our favorite Christmas album (kid-approved, but not really made for "kids")

Shepherd's Pouches
A list of Advent Activities
(Another list of advent activities.)

And a few others we'll be doing this year:

KatherineMarie is the best!

November 2, 2013

Little Red Crew ::: Halloween 2013

I love doing family themes for Halloween. And so far, so do my kids. I am wondering if this will be the last year, though. We'll see how long they continue to let me manipulate persuade them. I just love watching them in character all night--it makes dressing up extra fun and all the effort worth it. 

This girl was made to play the part of Little Red Riding Hood. The theme for the group this year was birthed when I found her cape at a thrift store. I sewed a simple pinafore apron to go under it.

Asher spotted a vest in the girls's section at Target that inspired the Big Bad Wold ensemble. Paired with Great Wolf Lodge ears, grey sweats, homemade embellishments and the perfect face-paint job by Char, he was ready to sneak up on Little Red.

Once Little Granny nailed the gummy grin, and heard everyone's reaction, it was history. I could hardly get her to make another face the rest of the evening. This accessory-loving granny was thrilled with her glasses and sleep cap.

The woodsman adored being 'a man' with his manly beard. He was trying to intimidate the Big Bad Wolf with his tough-guy face and loved that for once big brother was weaponless in a standoff against him.

Oh, and holding their Halloween candy hostage is a great motivator for getting day-after Halloween pics. I must remember this for years to come. For some reason, I never quite have it together for pics the day of. I know how bad my memory is and I'd better have documentation after all the work put into their costumes.

August 9, 2013

Chicken Salad

Mel's chicken salad-to be exact. Because no one else's recipe quite compares.

First, make yourself a batch of Tony's seasoning, hold the MSG please, to have on hand for dozens of batches of chicken salad.

Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning

-Just a little less than 1 cup of sea salt
-1 Tbs. ground red pepper
-2 tsp. black pepper
-1/2 Tbs. garlic powder
-1/2 Tbs. chili powder

Combine spices in a mason jar. Put the lid on. Shake it all about. Store in pantry to season meats, eggs, and other dishes.

Chicken Salad:

-1 whole YWF chicken, cooked on low in a crockpot for 6-8 hours with s&p only (depending on the size) and shredded.
-1 batch of Clothes Make the Girl Mayo (be sure to follow her directions exactly on the light olive oil and room temp ingredients.)
-grapes, washed and halved
-pecans, chopped
-creole seasoning, to taste (start with a little, adding more as needed)

Combine above ingredients and store in the fridge for a few hours. Serve on a bed of spinach. Behold the wonder.

July 18, 2013

Five year Fairytale Shoot

My friend, Lynsey, tagged me in this pin quite some time ago to show me not only how much this little girl looked like McKlayne, but also to tell me how much she thought she'd like this fairytale-like shoot. And, boy, does she know my girl.

Like most things in my life, it only took me almost two years later to actually get around to it. I wanted to do this over a year ago but with 'twin' one year old walkers, I just didn't seem to have the energy. Her five year old pics were just the occasion!

My girl loves to pretend, so we took the pinspiration, grabbed some of her favorite dress-up clothes and ran with it. McKlayne is almost always either in character or trying out a line she's heard on this was really fun--for both of us. I loved watching her so naturally come alive in this shoot.