Proud little-boy smile on a man’s face
Grease-smeared, skinned-knuckle hands display
An object immeasurable in its mediocrity
Changed tire, fixed washer, working toilet
It matters not the object
The gift is in the giver
And love makes it extraordinary
My hubster is at it again, giving me one of his extraordinary gifts (in addition to the tires, washer, and toilet, lol!).
Watch this site to see this…
Become a hybrid between this…
He’s at this stage right now…
Mechanics are in place and working, and the basic structure is done. Now he’s working on the platform to support the seats for our two littlest ones. I’ll update with pictures of his progress. What a man!
Hubby hard at work
Hubs is building the seats as I write this! He’s made everything removable so we can pop it in the back of our 15 passenger van and head for the trails without having to mess with a trailer. So resourceful!
Almost finished! We’ve been taking it on the trails for a few weeks now as my hubby tweaks the mechanics, and now he’s working on the enclosed topper (to keep the sun off of little heads and the bugs at bay, lol!).
Me with my two youngest
Multi-tasking mama…babywearing and breastfeeding while bike riding! And that’s my talented hubster in the background.
Parenting involves lots of creativity, yes, but wouldn’t interacting with our children (i.e. playing basketball with them, setting boundaries, communicating about health and fitness, cooking together, taking hikes, bicycling, etc.) be better than stealth and trickery? I’m all for playing outside, but these PSA commercials by Let’s Move.org and the accompanying catch-phrase, Mom Was Here, seem to be the exact opposite of involved parenting, or parenting at all for that matter. Mom actually isn’t there…she’s too busy skulking around in the basement, carrying out her nefarious plans, and cackling bwahahaha with a sinister smile.
Here’s the latest PSA in the series:
Wouldn’t this be better…
And here are some interesting statistics:
- According to the formula the U.S. government employs to measure weight, any person with a BMI over 25 is classified as overweight. BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a number that shows body weight adjusted for height. BMI can be calculated with simple math.
- The B.M.I. doesn’t tell you the percentage of body fat you’re carrying, or how your fat is distributed. According to this measurement, half of the National Basketball Association is overweight or obese. [Muscle mass weighs more than fat, so the more muscular you are, the more likely you'll be labeled obese!]
- Until a weight-loss industry funded report by the National Institute of Health in 1998, “overweight” was defined as having a BMI greater than 27 and “obese” meant your BMI was greater than 32. After the 1998 NIH report, suddenly tens of millions of Americans became “obese” even though they had not gained a pound. Shifting the BMI down two points helped turned obesity into moral panic.
I’m thin and active and healthy. I have friends who are also super active and healthy, but would be considered obese by these standards. Should we be placed in separate ‘classes’ for insurance companies to have an excuse for not providing coverage? Who is all this stealthy number-shifting benefitting? Does tweaking the standards really serve the American public? Does making healthy people feel bad about the body God gave them seem like a good plan to you? And why does tricking our children instead of parenting them seem like a good idea to anyone? What do you think?
[Reprinted with permission from the introduction to The Gentle Parent: Discipline Tips, Tools, and Techniques by L.R.Knost available November 2013; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages now available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]
Challenging behavior in our children can be really…well, challenging! How do you ‘handle’ a child who suddenly refuses to wear shoes or sit in her carseat/seatbelt or eat, period? Here are some tips to help you regain that snuggly, loving relationship you used to enjoy before your baby became a…shudder…PERSON!
1.) Remove the word ‘handle’ from your parenting vocabulary entirely. Your child isn’t a lion to be tamed or a dog to be trained! He’s a person, an individual with thoughts, interests, concerns, wants, and needs that are totally separate from yours. Respecting him as a separate individual not only models the value we need to place on others in our homes and communities, but also sets the stage for a mutually respectful relationship in his teen years and beyond.
2.) Slow down! Often simplifying our lives is the key to simplifying our parenting issues. Rushing a child from one activity to the next doesn’t expand her horizons; it stunts her creativity and inherent zest for life, which are the building blocks of a life-long love of learning. When she digs her heels in, pay attention! She’s trying to communicate a very deep need for time and space to learn about the world, to play and grow, and to just ‘be.’
3.) Small children have very little control over their lives, and the more powerless they feel, the more likely they are to make eating, getting dressed, going to the potty, etc. a battle of wills. Giving choices, engaging your child in making plans, and being flexible and responsive on a daily basis are good ‘proactive’ parenting, but little people are notorious for their awkward timing in deciding to suddenly assert their independence! Be prepared for those challenging moments by deciding ahead of time how you will respond. (See below for some ideas!)
4.) Listen, listen, listen! The first question parents ask me is almost always, “How do I get my child to listen?” And my first response is usually, “How well do you listen?” As Ralph Waldo Emerson so aptly put it, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” In other words, our children learn best by imitation. If every time our little ones ask for our attention we say, “Just a minute,” then we cannot expect instant attention from them. If when they speak to us our eyes constantly stray back to our computers and iphones, we should not be surprised if they have a hard time looking at us when we ask them to. Listening is a two-way street that starts and ends with us, the adults.
5.) Boundaries are our friends! Many people believe that Gentle Parenting is a form of un-parenting, but nothing could be further from the truth. Gentle Parenting is involved parenting~interactive, engaged, active parenting. It takes focused attention, planning, participation, research, and so much more to be an empathetic, responsive parent who is in tune with their child’s needs and who is prepared to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to meet those needs. That said, in any home, like in any civilized society, boundaries are necessary for everyone’s safety and comfort. It is in the choosing and enforcing of those boundaries that Gentle Parenting distinguishes itself. In a Gently Parented home, boundaries are focused on guiding rather than controlling children and are enforced through empathetic and creative resolutions rather than harsh punitive consequences. (See below for some ideas!)
6.) Watch your attitude! Do you have angry eyes? A sharp tone? Do you issue commands and demand compliance? Do you sigh and roll your eyes when frustrated with your little one? All of these things contribute to creating resistance in children. Really, who wants to cooperate with someone who is demanding, impatient, sarcastic, angry, etc? Does feeling like a burden or a failure ever motivate anyone? Is a desire to please rooted in correction or connection? Think about how you like to be treated by authority figures (supervisors, law enforcement, etc.) and then treat your children the way you want to be treated! This not only reduces challenging behavior, but also models The Golden Rule~Do to others as you want them to do to you…an excellent life lesson!
Here are some ideas for your Gentle Parenting toolbox:
- Little one refusing to put on shoes before leaving the house? First, ask him why he doesn’t want to wear them. A toddler most likely won’t be able to/want to explain, but you’re modeling courtesy and opening up a dialogue, both good connection points. A three year old, though, might just surprise you with a very logical, in their own mind at least, response! Second, don’t react; just scoop the shoes up, and take them with you. If the refusal to wear shoes continues at the park/in the library/at the doctor’s office, etc. calmly tell him he can sit in your lap or in the stroller and hang out with you until he’s ready to wear his shoes.
- If a tantrum results, remember to stay calm (deep breathing, counting silently, and saying a quick prayer for guidance are all helpful!) and remain present. Some children respond well to a parent quietly talking, offering words to express what the child may be experiencing (i.e. “It’s frustrating when we have to do things we don’t like. I can see that you’re angry, and that’s okay. Let’s just sit here together for awhile.”), while other children become more upset when a parent attempts to interact with them during a tantrum and are comforted simply by your quiet presence, a gentle back rub, or playing with a Calm-Me-Jar . Getting to know your child is an important part of Gentle Parenting and will help you to ‘read’ these situations so you can be responsive to their unique needs.
- A place for Time-Outs. Typically, I advise parents to use Time-Ins instead of Time-Outs in order to connect-to-correct, but there is one area that I advise the use of Time-Outs…the ‘Time-Out Toy Box!’ When a toy is misused (i.e. thrown, used to hit, drawn on, fought over, etc) and a gentle redirection has been given, the next step for the toy is to be put in the ‘Time-Out Toy Box.’ Little ones generally find the concept of a toy being put in Time-Out rather humorous and go along with the removal without a fuss (the toy can be returned after an exaggeratedly stern warning to the toy letting it know what is expected of it and that it must listen to ‘the boss’ ~the child, lol. They love that!), but remember to communicate, listen, and be flexible. If the removal of a toy brings about a strong negative response, it may be that the inappropriate behavior was more than just over-exuberance, in which case a Time-In might be needed. Again, being in tune with your child will help you to ‘read’ the situation and respond appropriately.
- The most challenging, independent children tend to be the ones who need the most intentional parental reconnection. Strong will=Strong need! It is often the strongest-willed children who identify most closely with their parents, oddly enough. While there is no denying how difficult it can be to raise a strong-willed child, seeing the purpose behind the behavior can make the journey much more manageable. Try to view their seemingly constant testing as them doing ‘research’ on you, seeing where your strengths and weaknesses are, and discovering all the ins and outs of being you. Also, taking the time to explain why you make the decisions you do, why you said this, why you didn’t say that, answering the endless questions patiently and openly, can alleviate some of the challenging behavior by offering them insights into who you are without them having to ‘dig’ it out of you!
~The Story of Us~
A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby~Journey to Gentle Parenting
Many, many years ago (25, to be exact!) a small, scared, pregnant, teenaged girl walked down the aisle to her tall, scared, clueless, young man and they said their “I do’s.”
But what were they going to do? No earthly idea! They didn’t have the internet to surf for blogs about parenting and marriage, couldn’t afford the few paltry magazines available on those subjects at the time, and weren’t convinced the way their parents had raised them was exactly what they wanted for their unexpected little blessing. So, they just joined hands and hearts and figured it out the old-fashioned way…through trial and error.
The young girl gave birth prematurely and, after a terrifying NICU stay, brought home her barely 5 lb baby boy. Since the young couple were living on one income and barely able to feed themselves, it made sense to them to breastfeed their little one. Neither one had ever even heard of a lactation consultant and no one at the hospital had mentioned breastfeeding at all, so the two young people just kept working through the cracked, bleeding nipples, engorgement, over-supply, and other issues until they got it figured out…and then they were breastfeeders!
Neither one of the young couple had ever read a parenting book or had ever even heard the words ‘cry-it-out,’ and the young girl discovered their first night home how much easier it was to simply take her baby boy into bed with her and breastfeed him when he was hungry…and then they were cosleepers!
‘Self-soothing’ was another term the two young people had never heard, so the two of them just did what came naturally and picked up their baby when he fussed or grunted or just looked cute and finally found it easier to just pop their little preemie into a baby carrier and tote him around with them wherever they went…and then they were babywearers!
As their precious little guy got bigger and began to explore his new world, the young couple delighted in everything he did and simply moved him and/or distracted him with songs and toys if he got into things. They couldn’t bear the thought of hurting their son, so just pulled him into their laps for a time-in cuddle and chat if he got upset or needed to settle or be redirected…and then they were gentle discipliners!
As time went by and more children entered the family (six, to be exact!) other issues such as education and vaccination decisions had to be made, and, while at first the young couple followed the norm and the first two of their children started out in public school and fully vaccinated, it just didn’t sit well with the parenting style they’d developed. Neither one of them had ever known anyone who homeschooled, so that was a truly scary idea, but public education wasn’t for them and they were just too ’economically challenged’ to afford any kind of private school. So, they did what they’d always done and withdrew their children from school and figured it out as they went along…and then they were homeschoolers!
After a terrifying pediatric intensive care unit ordeal following vaccination-induced seizures in one of their little ones, the young couple ran head-long into the medical establishment’s refusal to report the reaction, and that prompted them to start researching vaccines…and then they were non-vaxers!
Now, this journey might sound like an easy one when summed up this way, but I can assure you it wasn’t. The young couple, my amazing husband and I, encountered strong criticism of our parenting choices over and over through the years from many, and a refusal to accept or accommodate those choices from some.
- We were warned that our marriage would suffer at the very least, and our babies would suffocate at the worst, if we slept with them in our bed instead of putting them in isolation to sleep.
- We were informed that my breasts would look like deflated balloons and reach my knees by my thirties if I breastfed beyond a couple of months (if that!).
- We were admonished that our children would grow into spoiled brats if we responded to their needs instead of teaching them to ‘deal with it’ and ‘self-soothe’ their own, and would end up criminals if we encouraged and guided them instead of spanking them.
- We were advised that our children would be uneducated social outcasts (i.e. homeless or still living at home at forty!) if we homeschooled them instead of putting them into the institutional public education system.
- And we were cautioned that our children would be at risk and put other children at risk for dread diseases such as chicken-pox if we didn’t vaccinate them.
These challenges to our parenting style were difficult at the time, and they sometimes even resulted in people choosing to de-friend us (not facebook de-friending, in real life!), but that had the powerful positive effect of making us really examine what our beliefs were and, as a result, strengthening and solidifying our values, our marriage, and our family.
As for the dire warnings listed above:
- Our beautiful, strong, loving marriage is in it’s 26th year.
- Our children all survived cosleeping (our littlest, 19 months, is still safely and contentedly sleeping in our bed).
- My breasts are, well, normal except for being a couple of cup sizes larger at the moment since I’m breastfeeding a toddler, lol.
- Our children are, in order, a 24 yr old pastor (he’s our firstborn son mentioned in the story above who just welcomed his first son eight weeks ago!), a 22 yr old family therapist, a 17 yr old in his third year of pre-med at university, 12 and 5 yr old beautiful and well-behaved homeschooled girls with lots of friends (soooo not social outcasts!), and a sweet and happy 19 month old baby girl. Not a brat or criminal in the bunch!
- All of our children are healthy despite (or because of?) being unvaccinated (and I would contend that considering them a danger to vaccinated children calls into question the efficacy of vaccinations and the validity of the herd immunity theory, period!).
Our journey to Gentle Parenting has had another, somewhat unexpected, effect. While we may not agree with others’ parenting choices, we have been on the receiving end of criticism far too long not to have learned this lesson: Gentle parenting is for parents, too! We have learned to respond gently to our friends who don’t agree with us, even when they don’t respond gently to us. Responding with harshness and criticism doesn’t work with adults any better than it does with children! Responding gently to those who disagree with us may or may not affect their parenting choices, but what it does do is model respectful behavior and conflict resolution to our children and, most of the time, preserve dear friendships.
So there you have it~our journey to a breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing, gentle disciplining, homeschooling, nonvaxing, happy family of eight! Well, including our awesome son-in-law, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and brand new grandson, I guess I should say family of 12! One boy, one girl, and one baby have come a long way, Baby!
It’s hard to believe that tumultuous young love story has now spanned a quarter of a century, surviving lay-offs, loss, injury and illness and embracing life, love, joy and oneness. Two became one, then blossomed into a family of eight, now expanded to a family of twelve (with more to come!). We really have come a long way, Baby! 25 years down and a lifetime more to go, God willing!
~The Story Continues~
Our Big, Happy Family!
You’re sitting in a restaurant waiting the prerequisite 10-15 minutes for your food to be served, chatting quietly with your spouse and two-year-old, when it happens…the dreaded moment suddenly hits, and life as you and every patron, staff member, and passerby know it is turned inside out and upside down. That moment that every parent fears, the sudden switch from table companion to terror, aka ‘Toddler Time’, is, in fact, toddler time. The insignificant 10-15 minute waiting period for food to arrive is actually eons in toddler time, eons of hunger, eons of boredom, eons of stillness, eons of being expected to act like the adult that they are years and years (eons!) away from becoming. But you really don’t want to be housebound for all of those eons, right? And yet more and more public places are becoming child un-friendly with snarky signs saying they’ll give your child an espresso and a pony if you don’t control him or charge you extra if you dare to enter their establishment and support their business with your hard-earned money or even flat out ban you altogether if you bring ‘the beast’ out in public with you!
And what about those hazy, lazy summer days at the park with the laughter of children floating in the air, mommies packing babies in their carriers while they chat and keep eagle eyes on their precious little monkies dangling from brightly colored jungle-gyms, when it happens…the dreaded moment suddenly hits, and all goes quiet as every eye turns toward the poor soul who called out those awful, awful words, “It’s time to go!” The words echo against the lowering sky, which has conveniently decided to threaten rain just to add to the sheer madness of the moment, and then the shrieking begins. In toddler time, an hour at the park is gone in the blink of an eye, and fun things like being strapped into carseats and baths and naps awaiting at home are just adding insult to injury.
So what is a parent to do?
Here are a few preemptive tools for your parenting toolbox:
1.) Gather a few special ‘quiet’ toys and keep them in a Quiet Bag in the car. Only get them out when you go into a store or restaurant and let your little one play with one toy at a time until it’s time to go, saving one last special toy for the car ride home. Some ideas for stocking your Quiet Bag:
Here is our Dr Seuss Quiet Bag we put together for Dr. Seuss’ Birthday…
I found some excellent Cat in the Hat crafts on clearance at Michael’s. We have a felt board with felt Seuss characters and lots of colorful felt letters and numbers and symbols. And we’re making a felt board with a piece of metal, too, so we can use magnets on it. The foam Seuss stickers I found on clearance and the foam pieces to the Cat in the Hat mosaic will go on a magnet sheet and be cut out with an Exact-o-knife. All of the items went into labeled Ziploc bags for easy storage, and then were packed away into the Dr Seuss backpack I found at a thrift store. My little ones love it!
This is our new Scooby Doo Quiet Bag. With all of the back-to-school sales firing up, this is a great time to stock up on Quiet Bag supplies, and since we found this super-cool Scooby Doo lunch bag on sale we decided to just make a whole new one so we could alternate them out. Toys-R-Us had a little party favor area with mini boxes of clay and mini water paints and stress balls and fun little smiley-face bendable figures for $0.50-$1.00, so we stocked this bag with those along with some Scooby action figures, zombies, and mini markers. Then I just printed out some coloring sheets to fit the theme, and our Scooby Doo Quiet Bag was done, no crafting necessary!
2.) We made Calm-Me-Jars with these round, plastic bottles for our Quiet Bag. So far, we’ve made Starry, Starry Night, Goodnight Moon, Nemo Under the Sea, And Hello Kitty Princess Ballerina. Can you tell which ones my little ones named, lol? (click here for detailed instructions on how to make them and ideas for how to use them to help cope with or even prevent tantrums!)
3.) Consistently keeping your little one in a highchair (or carrier/cart in stores) will help with any running around, disturbing people, and getting into things issues.
4.) Your best offense is a good defense, so keeping your little person occupied is always a good place to start, but if yelling/screaming become an issue, try responding with a whispered question or two. It’s pretty much irresistible for little ones to quiet down to hear what you’re saying, and even better if what you’re saying is super silly…”I think my nose went outside for a walk.” (conspiratorial ‘shared secret’ look) ”Could you check for me to see if it’s back yet?” (crossing your eyes to see for yourself)
5.) With the dreaded leaving-the-park issue, try bringing snacks your small one loves, and instead of saying “Time to go” try saying “Snack time!” and describe the yumminess waiting for her, all the while gently shepherding her to the car.
6.) Don’t forget to pack your ‘funnybone’ for a back-up plan! Humor is a powerful parenting tool, and carseats presented as rocketships to the moon, shared naptimes (parents can always use the extra sleep!) on marshmallow planets, highchair-bound movie directors with mommy and daddy as the actors, and shopping carts cars that continually stall and need to be fixed by their little riders are all inventive ways of keeping little people too busy and happy to meltdown. (Not to mention that these are great ways for parents to reconnect with their little ones and remember just how adorable they really are!)
7.) Actively work at avoiding confrontations and meltdowns by giving choices, staying engaged (i.e. listening to your child), and paying attention to triggers such as hunger, tiredness, sickness, etc. When our parenting goals shift from meeting needs and guiding actions to controlling our children, they invariably rebel and the battle is on, not a happy circumstance at any time, but especially difficult to handle in public! (And, in the long run, that makes for an ‘us against them’ relationship that sets the stage for an unhappy home, particularly when the teen years arrive.)
I love, love, love Christmas!
This is the first of my 12 Days of Christmas post. Every day I’ll post the wonderful quotes, pictures, articles, foods, gifts, and crafts I find leading up to CHRISTMAS! I know I’m a couple of days early getting started, but I’m like a child on Christmas morning…I just couldn’t wait So pretend you’re a parent being woken up a tad early on Christmas morning (5am anyone? Lol) and just come along for the ride!
Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys, showing that nothing else in life need to be taken seriously, and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive.”
~ Robert Lynd (1892-1970), American sociologist.
Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given–when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes.”
~ Joan Winmill Brown, American author and editor.
~A Social Network Christmas~
(This is really cool!)
Watch More Christian Videos on GodVine.com
I, like many new parents, struggled with the idea of perpetuating a ‘false belief’ and thus undermining my children’s trust. But then I turned to the Bible and saw how Jesus, who spoke absolute truth, always, often spoke that truth in stories. He knew something about people’s hearts that I needed to learn as a young parent. He knew that the human mind is logic, analysis, reason, and that the human heart is imagination, creativity, love. He knew that sometimes you have to bypass people’s minds and speak straight to their hearts, those well-springs of wonder, for true understanding to occur and that often the deepest truths were the ones that were too big for the human mind to receive and could only be grasped by the heart. Read more.
This is for all you mamas who see the creative projects and crafts and cute baking on Pinterest and wish you were the kind of ’crafty mama’ who could whip together such adorableness for your little ones. I, too, wish I was a crafty mama and have pinned so many great ideas and tried a few with…let’s just say less-than-stellar results, lol. But my children have loved every flub, giggled at every failure, and laughed their way through every project regardless of the results. There’s joy in the journey, mamas, so take heart and grab some of these ideas and flub and fail your way to a happy, craft-astic holiday! Read more.
St.Nicholas was just a man, but he was a man with a mission. Born in the third century, he grew up to be an intensely kind-hearted man who was especially devoted to children’s issues and helping the poor. He was a Greek Bishop who defied the established Church in order to go out among the ‘unwashed masses’ and live his life as the ‘heart and hands of Jesus.’ While many miracles and legends about him evolved through the centuries, his penchant for leaving secret gifts is the one that captured the hearts and imaginations of people world-wide, leading to the present-day legend of Santa Claus.
I, like many new parents, struggled with the idea of perpetuating a ‘false belief’ and thus undermining my children’s trust. But then I turned to the Bible and saw how Jesus, who spoke absolute truth always, often spoke that truth in stories. He knew something about people’s hearts that I needed to learn as a young parent. He knew that the human mind is logic, analysis, reason, and that the human heart is imagination, creativity, love. He knew that sometimes you have to bypass people’s minds and speak straight to their hearts, those well-springs of wonder, for true understanding to occur and that often the deepest truths are the ones that are too big for the human mind to receive and can only be grasped by the heart.
When it comes to the breathtaking gift of the Christ-Child, the Eternal Creator born of a woman, God Himself wrapped in swaddling clothes, the I AM in a manger, what better way to share such an absurd and immense truth than Jesus’ way…with a story? How else would my little ones be able to grasp the concept of such a gift? How would they embrace the wonder? How could I possibly break down the impossible into a pedantic lecture? Would the improbable make more sense in a dissertation?
And so I chose the way of the parable. I embraced Christmas in all its glory, decorated and baked and showered my little ones with gifts, all while sharing the story of the birth of a Baby. Woven through every event, every tradition, every memorable moment of our family’s Christmas, is the celebration of the wondrous gift of a Savior. We watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and all the other fun Christmas shows together. We read bedtime stories about Christmas elves and magical toys and talking animals. And when my children ask me if Santa really exists, I tell them yes, because it’s true. Every parent who carries on St. Nicholas’ tradition of leaving secret gifts, of being the heart and hands of Jesus, of sharing the wonder, excitement, and glory of the most extraordinary Gift ever given to mankind, every one of us is Santa Claus.
I believe in Santa Claus because I am Santa Claus…and you are, too!
Note: I don’t ever use Santa Claus as a threat (i.e. “I’m calling Santa right now if you don’t…” or “Santa’s watching, and you won’t get any presents for Christmas if…”) first because a parable’s purpose is to teach, not to manipulate or control, and second because what I am teaching is the wonder and miracle of receiving a free gift, one that can’t be earned because it is freely given! Manipulating my children into ‘performing’ might work temporarily, but am I really trying to raise works-driven Christians, or am I trying to teach my little people about the incredible gift of grace?
Here are some of the ways we focus on Jesus for Christmas:
Children learn best and most happily through play, so letting my little people ‘play Santa’ (i.e. wrapping up their toys and ’surprising’ each other, making ornaments and delivering them to a nursing home, shopping at the dollar store for Operation Christmas Child, etc.) is a very important part of our Christmas traditions. And the best part is…they’re playing Santa for Jesus!
Leading up to Christmas, we marvel about how Jesus loves us so much He wants us to get presents on His birthday (truly awe-inspiring to children and a lesson in sacrificial giving!) because all He wants for His birthday are smiles and happy hearts.
Then we brainstorm ways to give Jesus as many ‘birthday presents’ as possible (a lesson on generosity). We work together to share Christmas cheer with everyone we meet, but focus our best efforts on the grumpiest people because they don’t smile as often and so their smiles make really special gifts for Jesus (a lesson on unconditional love!).
We have a 12 Days of Christmas tradition where everyone gets a small present (chocolate, a special pencil, etc), and we read Christmas picturebooks every evening, building excitement for the Christmas morning celebration of the BEST GIFT EVER!
On Christmas Eve, we go to a special church service and then, after celebrating Christmas with family, we go home and make a fire in the fireplace (in Florida weather!) and make s’mores and hot chocolate and read the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke.
Then, on Christmas morning, we have a ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus’ party before opening presents, complete with a birthday cake and candles and singing ‘Happy birthday to Jesus!’
Here are some other resources on making the true meaning of Christmas central to your celebrations this year (I’ll be adding more as I find them!):
What traditions does your family have to keep Christ in Christmas? Share them in the comment section!
This is for all you mamas who see the creative projects and crafts and cute baking on Pinterest and wish you were the kind of ’crafty mama’ who could whip together such adorableness for your little ones. I, too, wish I was a crafty mama and have pinned so many great ideas and tried a few with…let’s just say less-than-stellar results, lol. But my children have loved every flub, giggled at every failure, and laughed their way through every project regardless of the results. There’s joy in the journey, mamas, so take heart and grab some of these ideas and flub and fail your way to a happy, craft-astic holiday!
Here’s a project that didn’t turn out as intended. (From the creative genius Play at Home Mom, who made a beautifully flat and festively decorated ice rink which mine doesn’t remotely resemble, haha. Head over to her site for some really great ideas!)
But, even though my ice rink somehow ended up with a mysterious growth, my little people loved it just the same. In fact, they really enjoyed the ice mountain (aka ‘growth’) and used it for some Florida sledding!
And here are some other ideas I’m planning to
ruin, er…try out for some Christmas fun!
This site has some really cute Advent ideas for using picture books!
~And these cute ideas are from Pinterest!~
My most recent craft-aster: setting Christmas gifts on fire last night! So, fyi, coffee beans are flammable (who knew?). The candle needs to be in a glass votive and high enough out of the coffee so the beans won’t fall in and catch fire. Mine didn’t even vaguely resemble the adorable ones pictured below (pre or post fire, lol), so click on the picture to get instructions if you want to make them!