Monthly Archives: November 2014


Fun Family Traditions for the Holidays
Family holiday traditions

“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!”
~Albert Einstein

Family traditions for the holidays vary as greatly as the families who keep them.

Whether you celebrate with a fantastic home-cooked feast, or Chinese Take-Out;
spend a quiet day at home, or spend it packed with extended family and friends, and friends of friends;
whether you are starting a new tradition in your family or keeping a long beloved one… keeping holiday traditions is part of the fabric of what makes a family.

Traditions become something we count on.
Another thing we can count on in life is change.

Have you just moved and can’t find your Christmas tree among the chaos ?
Feeling lonely because family is far away?
Spending the holidays in a country where food and customs are quite different?
Maybe, for whatever circumstance, you aren’t able to keep your most treasured traditions?

Don’t despair !
Don’t let circumstances rob you of the joy and roots of the holiday!
Get creative !
Make up a new tradition.  You might just be surprised how much you’ll love it!

Soon after another move far away from all our family, and before we had really met anyone in our new town, a very quiet Christmas surprised us.
It was just us.
Our traditions always included a wonderful Christmas dinner and a house bursting with friends and family.  The house was glaringly quiet and we debated what to do.
And so, we decided to go out for Chinese food !
Yep.  Could have been inspired by the 24-hour  A Christmas Story marathon.  🙂
Truthfully, it felt kind of sad and pathetic at first….but we laughed and we told funny family stories, and we ate together, and really enjoyed the night.
Five years later, and five Christmas Eve Chinese dinners later, this has become one of my children’s absolute favorite traditions.

So, whether you’re looking for some new traditions to add to your celebrations,
or you’ve found yourself in need of a few creative ideas for making some new ones,
here’s my
Friday Family Tradition Favorites:
* Serving Others from Melinda Todd
Reading Stories aloud by candle light from Contented at Home
(read them on a kindle, laptop, etc…all FREE)
* Turkey Ticket Traditions from Lets Get Together
*
Thanksgiving Games from A Pinch of Joy   
* Fun Family Holiday Traditions from Crazy Little Projects
* Start a New Tradition from A View Along the Way
* Build a Gingerbread House Village from HOUSEography

 

~Keeping a Quiet Heart~

Hearts


Why is it so hard to keep a quiet heart?
Or is that just something I struggle with?

I watch my youngest pull out of the driveway every single morning.
I pray and fight the swelling urge to worry.
I deny my mind the right to consider the rush of fearful thoughts
that want to come bursting in.
It’s been a year since her accident.


I will keep a quiet heart.

That’s hard work!
Yet harder still is the labor of worry.
Believe me, I know !
I don’t recommend that occupation at all.  🙂

Do any of you worry?
My friend wakes up in the middle of the night filled with incredible anxiety over her ability to successfully homeschool her children.  Another friend is nearly overcome with thoughts of failures in her finances.  Whether it’s fretting over health, or wayward children, or an uncertain future,  or even over all the holiday plans, it’s  exhausting !  Phew!

How do we keep a quiet heart ?
I can’t tell you what will work for you, but this has been my journey in a nutshell.

Worry is just another word for FEAR.
Fear is an ugly thing.
It will destroy anything it can get ahold of…  relationships, health, happiness,
peace, LIFE !
We tend to feel most fearful when we cannot control,
or have lost control, of our circumstances.

Prayer works.
Take a deep breath (or 5).  Sometimes, I think I have held my breath all day.
Recognize when fear is creeping in.
You aren’t in control, but that’s OK.
God is good.  He is in control.  Nothing surprises Him.
Choose faith over fear.
Stop.  Pray.
There isn’t a right way to do it.  Just DO it !
And then do it again.
And breathe.

The mind and the heart are connected.
If your heart is beating wildly with worry, chances are
your mind is full of loud clutter too!
I chose a short Scripture to pray when my mind wouldn’t allow me to focus.
Almost like a type of fasting, I would pray this verse every single time
I began to feel overwhelmed.
Words to focus my heart & mind on truth.
These were not some “magic words”  that obligated God to answer me.
Simply truth.
I wrote these words & placed them all over until I could pray each part
from memory…slowly with contemplation.
“The Lord is near.
         Do not be anxious about anything,
         but in every situation,
         by prayer and petition,
         with thanksgiving,
         present your requests to God.
        And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
        will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Choose peace.
 
While you can’t control other people, or circumstances,  you can control yourself.
Choose peace over fear.
It IS a choice.
Sometimes worry becomes a habit.  It takes discipline to break a bad habit.
I know when you’re tired and stressed out, this will take all the energy you’ve got.
It will be worth it though.

When life is REALLY throwing all it’s hard balls at once;
And it’s so very hard to concentrate on anything else… the rest of that verse.
“Finally, brothers and sisters,
          whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
          whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
          —if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
          think about such things. “

God really does love us.
God really is GOOD.
You really can trust Him.

May the perfect love of Christ cast out all the fear in your hearts today.
May He watch over your comings and goings (and those of your families).
May He keep you in perfect peace.

photos by: &

~Thankfulness:  The Real Things Haven’t Changed~
   Words For Wednesdays

Little House on the Prairie

“The real things haven’t changed.
It is still best to be honest and truthful;
to make the most of what we have;
to be happy with simple pleasures;
and have courage when things go wrong.”

~Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have been working on a unit study about life in Frontier America.
I am amazed by the pioneer’s courage and their simple faith.
Thankfulness…the real things haven’t changed.
Their gratitude for the smallest graces
is something we can all reflect on

and aspire to.
What simple pleasures are you thankful for today?
My quick list:
~Laughter
~Hot Coffee
~The smell of baking bread
~Salty, roasted pumpkin seeds
~Music
~The change in seasons today

Gratitude

~Gratitude Builders ~
 (For Kids of All Ages)

Gratitude builders (for kids of all ages)…
it’s what is on my mind this week.
That, and truth be told, I’m thinking about those sweet faces in the picture above, and all the friends I am missing from the time we lived in Peru.
I know I need to turn the melancholy feeling toward gratitude & I’m hoping
in digging out some fun ideas to share this week, I’ll do just that!

‘Tis the season to reflect on all we have to be thankful for in these wonderful lives of ours !
‘Tis the season for gathering together with friends and family.
Awww.

And…
‘Tis the season to cram as much wonderful life as possible
into every corner of every day .
I’m not sure about you,  but these very lovely feelings of gratitude and family warmth
can quickly turn into a jumble of endless evenings of events, crying kiddos,
serious shopping stress,  kid meltdowns, and then one major mommy meltdown !

What helps our family?
I’m a planner.
I make plans to make plans.
I’m not even joking.  Ask my poor family.
And because,  I’m prone to mommy meltdowns (and yelling at dogs!),
I know we ALL can benefit from taking some quiet time as a family to appreciate these special days.

Just taking a moment to breathe, to be thoughtful, and to be thankful.

So, I’m making a plan.    🙂
I’ve googled, and Pinterested, and pulled out old books.
I’m making a list of a few things to do, nothing strenuous or time intensive,
just a couple quick ideas to make some quiet family time actually happen.

*Gratitude Builders For Kids of All Ages ~

* Quiet Times:
– “Praying Scriptures of Thanksgiving” from His Mercy Is New
   (Try reading & praying these simple verses together in the morning, or before bedtime)

–  Printable Family Gratitude Devotions from Frugal Fun For Boys
–  
Simple Weekly Thanksgiving  Family Devotions from Ligonier Camp
The Attitude of Gratitude (Lapbook) from Homeschool Helper Online 

*Stories of Thanksgiving for Families:
–  Thank You, God, for the Fleas!” adaptation from Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place
 
Audio Version  (Only about 3 minutes)

–  “The Children’s Book of Thanksgiving Stories”  from Project Gutenberg
( I love this resource !  Lots of short stories. Great for bed time, car time, anytime !)

Family Thanksgiving Book

My Family’s Thanksgiving Story
Perhaps you might like to make your own family’s special story of Thanksgiving.
I started the Thanksgiving notebook when my children were very small.   Every year there are various questions written at the top of it’s pages…every person (including guests) on Thanksgiving Day (or sometime during that week) signs in beside a number on the first page and answers the questions throughout the book.  We have several books now that are filled with the sweetest thoughts, memories, and words of love & friendship.   There are some years of little kid scribbles, of some umm… ‘creative’ things the kids were thankful for, some touching memories of happy times, and even several years that the pages are mostly in Spanish as we celebrated with our beautiful Peruvian friends.
Every year I bring the old notebooks out to read and remember.  There are some lovely treasures in those books-  thoughts from my Grandma, who passed away at 95 last year, and other people we have been blessed to know and love along the way.
These books are a very precious part of our family’s story.

IMG_4742 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*”Watch” a short book, or a movie curled up together:
– “The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings”  book on YouTube
– “The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks”  book on YouTube
– “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”    (full episode)

* Family Activities:
– Create a Simple Gratitude Garland from Life Lesson Plans
– Write a “We are Thankful for You” letter to someone as a family

– Try printing out these family talk Gratitude Table Topics from Growing Book by Book
Family Games… Ideas for Building Attitudes of Gratitude

“An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” Unit Study from Fields of Daisies (that’s me  🙂 )
– Some lovely Thanksgiving Coloring Pages from Karla Dornacher
  (Because they’re my favorite everyday  🙂 )

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful;  it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” 
― David Steindl-Rast

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

 Teaching Kids
~ Thankfulness ~

confused maggie

 

Have YOU yelled at your dog lately ?!?

Gratitude.
It all started today with yelling at my dog, some fleas, cold coffee, and some dust bunnies.
What does that have to do with teaching your kids about thankfulness ???
Here’s what’s floating around my mind (other than aforementioned, dust bunnies 😀

Gratitude.
But not in the

it’s-almost-Thanksgiving-and-I-need-to-hurry-up-and-be-thankful
kind of way,
  more in the
stop-and-open-my-eyes-and-actually-SEE-life-all-around-me-and-be-thankful” kind of way.

Gratitude takes a special kind of seeing some days.
Sight, past the obvious.

My recent version of obvious…
I wake up. I make coffee. I Iet the dog outside.
I see the obvious.
I see my grass needs to be mowed.  I see the weeds overtaking my garden.
I see my fence needs repair.  It’s raining.
I quickly close the door.
The dog brings half the back yard in on his feet;  I see mopping all the floors in my future.

I try again.
I mean it’s almost Thanksgiving.  I have to be grateful.
MUST FOCUS…
I need to finish my list of things I’m thankful for.
I need to make my kids finish their lists of things they’re thankful for.
I need to… err… you get the idea.

And again.

I curl up in my favorite chair.  I start to read.
I’m distracted.  The house is too quiet.
I see the obvious everywhere.
I see a dog hair dust bunny the size of Texas floating across the floor.
I see the dirty dishes that need to be done.
I see that by next year this time, my house will be quiet like this all the time… empty of kids and all the noise and motion that comes along with them.
Sheesh.  The dog wants to go out again…and this time he
brings back in the other half of the backyard on his feet.
Now my cup of coffee is cold.  And it’s time to finish a math lesson.  Now my list won’t get done.  I didn’t get my “quiet time” “done” either.   

And so I lose it.

I yell at the dog.
I  mean I YELL AT THE DOG !
I blame the whole list of what’s not going right in my world squarely on him right down to the cold coffee.  
He looks really confused and kind of scared.
Poor pooch.

And the kids hear me too.
Great.
That completely blows the gratitude lesson I did with them earlier in the morning.
Thoughtful Gratitude Builders >

Ummm  yeah.  And then I get it.
It’s MY attitude that needs a major overhaul.
“They” say we teach most powerfully by our example.

Have you ever had a day (or a string of days) like this ?!?

Some days  Every day, I need to just stop for a moment,
take a deep breath, open my eyes, open my heart,
and really SEE life…life past the “obvious” that an overtired heart sees.

There is beauty everywhere to be thankful for.
There is good even in the worst situations.
There is laughter even at the saddest moments.
It’s all about seeing past the obvious.

I’m practicing.
And my dog is grateful.

Years ago, I read a story to my children, taken from Corrie Ten Boom’s book ‘The Hiding Place’.    It is called “Thank You, God, for the Fleas!“.
I don’t know if they remember it or not, but I have never forgotten it.

All these lessons & stories are so good, but can we (I) truly teach our children to grow a thankful heart if we aren’t tending our own hearts and training them toward gratefulness ?
I hope we can somehow all be encouragers of thanksgiving along the way, as fully as Betsie was for Corrie.

SO…
I am giving thanks today for all of you mamas out there who are giving your all to raise your sons and daughters to change the world by their love and light!!

Teaching kids ourselves thankfulness takes a whole lot of effort some days.
But it is all well worth the return!
For which my dog is abundantly grateful.    🙂

 

SaveSave

photo by:

Encouragement for Moms
~Words for Wednesdays~
mom and baby playing

I am a good mom.

Say it out loud with me!

Did you find that hard to say?
I did.
Did you find it even more difficult to really settle it in your heart
without a steady stream of accusations floating through your mind?
What?!?
You didn’t wear your baby?  You didn’t potty train by 2?
You’ve had to rewash the towels 3 times because you can’t remember to put them in the dryer?  AND your 9th grader isn’t taking Advanced Calculus this year?   😀

Yeah…still…You ARE a good mom.
Why is this such a hard bunch of words to speak and believe about ourselves ?
Truly, I don’t know of a more loving, giving, hard-working group of ladies
than the mamas that I am blessed to know.
We may all have very different parenting styles, and a different set of goals for our families and ourselves, but one thing we all have in common…We love our children very much.
And love covers a multitude of sins !

I AM A GOOD MOM.
This week’s Words for Wednesday.
Practice saying them aloud to yourself till you believe them…then share them
with a friend.

I read a lovely blog post today written by Danielle, a mom just like us.
Need some encouragement?  Know another mama who needs a reassuring word?
Read this post and pass it along!!!
THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF BEING A “GOOD” MOM  from Today’s the Best Day

photo by:

        Thanksgiving Unit Study
~An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving~

old fashioned thanksgiving

~ A Gentle Unit Study~
Stories to read aloud together, recipes, games to play, crafts, history,
family devotional ideas, and lots more fun!

* Reading:

* “An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving”  by Louisa May Alcott
(google reader, book format)
OR
Read/print it out on a single page here
OR
Listen to “An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” Audiobook (free of course)

*Watch the Hallmark movie version of “An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” online
Continue reading ~An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving~