Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions or Goals?

At this time of year everyone talks about their resolutions and how long will they last or how long until they break their resolutions. As a kid, my family didn't have resolutions - we had goals. On either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day we would sit down and write out our individual goals for the year for each activity that we were involved with. This meant church, scouts, 4-H, school, etc. we set a goal for each one. Well I have carried this over into my own family, but until this year we have been having family goals so that the boys could learn how to decide what a goal was and as a family we worked at some of our goals from last year, but we failed at some too.
Some of our goals had timing on them and others just had more or less as terms in the written goal. Some of our goals from last year were
- to go bike riding more often (didn't happen as much as we wanted because it seemed our Jeep was in the shop a lot this year)
- Less screen time
- to go Geocaching or Letterboxing twice a month (weather permitting)
- eat more veggies and fruits and try new ones

Now these are just some examples of what we have done. Now this year, Robert will be writing his own goals for the activities that he is involved with. It is amazing how much you can really accomplish if you set the goal out there. For kids (depending on their age) it could be to improve 1 letter grade on report card, to learn to tie their shoes (Garrett's current goal), to learn their address, or to complete a certain level or rank in scouts. These are all things that kids can work to achieve and if they don't succeed this year, there is always next year that maybe they can carry over their goal or continue to work towards. As a parent I do try to encourage the boys to make sure they have goals that are achievable - unlike Garrett who wants to take a vacation to the moon.- I told him that it wasn't available , yet, maybe when he was much older. But I do think that tying his shoes is one that he will be able to achieve if he works at it!

So does your family make goals? How do you help your kids look forward to the things they can achieve?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Eve in Salem

This year the Youth from the Lutheran Church will be having a New Year's Eve Square Dance, at the Salem Community Building. The evening starts at 9pm -midnight with refreshments available. They will be having party favors and noise makers for midnight. The admission is $15 a family or $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for kids- so why not come out and support the youth, maybe stay close to home (for some of you) and have a fun evening with the neighborhood!
What a great way to start off 2011!

Kids calendars

Stickers for Christmas and New Year's Eve
This way the kids can count how many days until the event
Both of the boys have calendars somewhere in the house that have all the important dates marked on, but when I first did this with Robert year's ago, I hadn't thought about the fact that he couldn't read. So when I figured out that maybe he was too young to read just yet, we made some changes to the calendar and those changes are what we still put together today. Before we could make those changes I had to pick up a few supplies- rubber stamps and stickers.  I pick up stickers all through the year now especially after a holiday so that they are on sale or clearance. Then sometime during the week between Christmas & New Year's we put together the next year's calendar.  For Garrett, I go through and write in everyone's birthday (boxes aren't quite big enough for his writing),  and some events that he looks forward to like the fair. Now that Robert is older he is responsible for converting birthdates from the old calendar to the new one. Then we get out the stickers and the rubber stamps if there are holidays that we don't have stickers for. We pick certain stickers to represent birthday's(like balloon's) and we have holiday stickers for all of the holidays. The boy's make the decisions as to what the stickers are for. We have crosses for youth group and hiking boots for Cub Scouts. These calendars can always be added to so that they know when soccer practice is or games or when play group and story hour is.

Birthday's this year were marked with firecrackers on this calendar

This is a great way to teach calendar skills, by saying things like, Thanksgiving is the 4th Thursday of November, and seeing which kid can find it first. For Robert it is also great practice in copying information from 1 place to another and to practice spelling people's names who are important to them. For Garrett, he may ask during the year "who has a birthday on tomorrow?" This gives us a chance to sound out the written name. Calendar's are going to be part of their lives in some way, so letting them practice how to use it and making it fun is just part of learning..

Just an idea, I've never done this but I think it might be cool - take pictures of the people that have birthday's on your calendar and them print small pictures on sticker paper so that you would have their picture on their special day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas thank you notes

Well the packages have been opened and the paper has been collected and before it is time to go back to school, I like to have the kids write their thank notes. We will take a day and all sit down at the table with a list of the thank you notes that we all need to write. Depending on the kid and their mood, we sometimes make our thank you notes with rubber stamps, we have used old Christmas and just made thank you post cards, or we have taken stickers or colored pictures and made up our own thank yous. But no matter what type of thank yous you use, it is a very thoughtful idea and a great way to remind the kids to say thank you for things that they receive.

In addition to teaching the kids manners, it is also an easy way to slip in some writing time during the holidays. I usually only ask the kids to write at least 2 lines. A thank you line and this is what I will do with the gift line. If I have the pictures, I try to include a picture of the kid with the gift especially for relatives that live far away or weren't able to be with us when the boys opened the gift.

This can be a fun morning spent with the boys with the last of the Christmas music, a cup of hot chocolate and maybe a few cookies or candies. When we sit down and do it together the boys do it a lot easier and we have a lot more fun.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and  A Happy & Healthy 2011
May you remember to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas and of the upcoming year!
May God Bless each of you with his blessings!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Ornament list

View DetailsI need to thank my Mom for being forward thinking and starting this tradition because it has meant a lot to me throughout the years. Mom started a list of my Christmas ornaments with a brief description and then who I received it from. Each year there is a list of ornaments and a lot of my ornaments are handmade and from very dear people in my life. I have found that I can share stories about the people each Christmas as we decorate the tree when I start going through my box of ornaments. I have started the same for my kids.
I put their names at the top of the list, then I put the year and start listing their ornaments, each year gets a date and then the list continues. Not only is this great for remembering who the ornament came from, but it makes undecorating the tree great. I have the kids help me take the ornaments off, but we lay them on the couch or chair and then I pack the ornaments up by reading the descriptions. If we can't find one then we start looking all over the tree until we find the ornament. Memories are protected and we will hopefully never loose an important ornament!

Friday, December 17, 2010

How are your to do lists?

I receive a monthly newsletter from Hearts at Home, an organization for stay at home moms and headed by Jill Savage. I just wanted to share her article from this months newsletter, as it reminded me what I need to be doing more often!

So here is the article:
So Christmas is just around the corner. Do you have your baking done? Is your shopping finished? Do you have the house cleaned? Are you packed for traveling?

There are so many things to get done to "do" Christmas. Isn't it time to let go of some of the expectations for a "perfect" Christmas and really enjoy this time with our families?
I'm issuing a challenge to myself today, and to you if you want to take it, to drink in my relationships and let go of my "to do" list for this week. No my gifts aren't all wrapped yet, but I've got a few gifts to give that can't be wrapped.

I want to give the gift of listening today. I want to make sure that when my children and my husband speak to me, I look into their eyes. I want them to feel that they are special. I don't want anyone to feel like they are in the way of what I need to do. They are what I need to do. Lord, let me give the gift of listening today.

I want to give the gift of time today. When my 14 year old asks me to play music with him, I'm going to stop what I am doing to play with him. I once heard the convicting response of a young girl when asked what kind of message she would give to parents from a child's point of view. She responded, "Parents have too many tomorrows. Tomorrow I'll play ball with you. Tomorrow we'll bake cookies together. Tomorrow I will play that game. Most of the time tomorrow never comes." Lord, let me give the gift of time today.

I want to give the gift of touch today. Have you ever gone through the day or the week and realized that you really haven't given out any hugs lately? People have the need to touch and be touched. Our children and teens need hugs from mom and dad daily. I'm going to make sure that my husband gets a bear hug today. When my daughter comes in to tell me a story, I will try to remember to touch her as we interact. Lord, let me give the gift of touch today.

I want to give the gift of encouragement today. I want to make sure I tell my 16-year-old son how much I appreciate the responsibility he has been taking on lately. I want my 14-year-old son to know that I think he has been doing well playing guitar on the worship team. I want my husband to know I greatly appreciate how hard he works to support our family. Sometimes the people we live with receive the least verbal encouragement from us. Lord, let me give the gift of encouragement today.

I want to give the gift of grace today. When my teenagers aren't as excited about decorating Christmas cookies as I want them to be, let me give them grace and respond with love instead of anger. When my husband doesn't clean up the kitchen in the way I was hoping he would, let me respond with grace--seeing what he did rather than what he didn't do. Life-giving grace is about allowing others to be human--to make mistakes without the fear of relationship-robbing anger as the response. Lord, let me give the gift of grace today.

I want to give the gift of Jesus today. Since we are celebrating His birthday, I want to make sure that we invite Him to the celebration. When I'm tempted to skip that Christmas Eve service because I still have too much to do, I will resist that temptation, gather the family, and make sure we take time to worship together. Lord, let me give the gift of Jesus today.

Yes, Christmas is days away. The gifts aren't all wrapped, the food isn't all prepared, and my family will arrive soon. Some things need to be accomplished today. But I want to do them with my family, not for them. I want to give them the kinds of gifts that can't be placed in a box and wrapped in red and green paper.

Come on, join me. Fix yourself a cup of hot chocolate, sit down, put your feet up, and gaze at the Christmas tree lights for a few minutes. Think about the incredible blessings God has given to you. Thank Him. Ponder the gifts that can be given today that don't need to be wrapped. Lord, thank you for the gift of family you have given to me.

Merry Christmas,
Jill Savage
Wife of Mark
Mom to Anne, Evan, Erica, Kolya, and Austin and Nana to Rilyn

Okay so have you thrown away the to do list for tomorrow or are you trying to regroup and figure out how to incorporate the things that need done with your kids as a family project? Just remember the gifts that your family needs rather than what they want this year! If you would like to read or learn more about Jill Savage and her ministry check her out at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Simple Christmas Tree

As Christmas gets closer so does the excitement and the things that Garrett wants to do. So we made a small Christmas tree yesterday. We took a piece of green construction paper and folded it in half lengthwise. I then drew 1/2 of a Christmas tree. Garrett was then able to follow the lines with scissors (Great practice) and he wasn't really sure what we were doing either so it was kind of fun, when he opened the paper up and saw a tree.
Then I love glitter glue and paint, especially at this time of year, but it is way better than the messy that I made as a kid with glue and glitter. We added a start, with help and then he asked for the tinsel to be drawn on so he could follow it. Then he added the red dots for his decorations.
It's really a quick craft and helps the kids practice several skills, but best of all Garrett had a cool tree to hang up on his clothesline for decorations.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Are you Listening?

Garrett and I were practicing the carols for the Christmas Program at church with the piano yesterday since I knew he was having problems learning some of the words. But I played them through and had him sing the songs for me. Well I now have a new understanding of the Christmas carols thanks to Garrett. The First Noel he has been humming while he was playing and I have heard him singing it, but I guess I wasn't really listening  since he sang the chorus as , "Oh well, oh well, oh well, oh well, born is the king of Israel." (Hum I guess he doesn't really care huh?)  Then we went on to Hark the Herald Angels Sing and I asked him if he knew what those words meant (Big mistake) " No not really but how did Harold get there?" He was asking about Harold the Helicopter from Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. So now you know Garrett doesn't really care that the King was born and is trying to include helicopters in with the angels. Wow will this Christmas be interesting!!!

Sorting Fun and clean up

The other day Garrett and I were cleaning up his Thomas track, that had been up for several days in the corner of the living room, when as we were picking up I asked him to sort and separate the different shapes in the track pieces. I also asked him to make sure that the lengths were the same too. This was just to slow him down a little bit so I could keep up in getting Thomas and accessories back into the Rubbermaid tote for a while. But as I thought about it, what a neat way to practice sorting shapes but also lengths. I got to thinking about all the other toys that we could be doing this with - Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, Pick-up sticks, Lego's (we already put them in by color sometimes). But sometimes you can sneak in some extra practice while you are
cleaning up the toys and it makes learning fun too! Just an idea that I wanted to share, especially since in the next few weeks there will be lots of toys to clean- up!
View Details

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Salem Community Christmas Party

Just wanted to let everyone know that on December 11, yes Saturday - evening from 7-8 will be the community Christmas Party. There will be games, food and maybe even a special visitor. Come enjoy a fun time with community friends

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Live Nativity

Last weekend we had the opportunity to begin the Advent Season by being part of a Live Nativity. Usually we are all participating, but this year I was still recovering from a cold so I did not have a part, but the rest of the family did. This is a wonderful way to be reminded of the REAL meaning and reason of Christmas. To be reminded that the Lord's birth was announced to the lowly shepherds.
And that this announcement came from a herald of angels, that lit up the sky!

But Jesus was born in a dirty, smelly stable and placed in the Manger or the animals feed box

All because there was NO Room for them at the Inn

And then as a young child, Wise Men from the East brought him gifts.

What a great way to start this Christmas Season. If you get a chance to see a Live Nativity, take the time to be reminded of the REAL reason for the Season.

Trip to Kranyak's

Every year during the holiday season we make a trip to Kranyak's. We try to get as much of the family together, especially the kids to go through their Christmas Tree display. I have been going most of my life and I am always amazed at the displays and how each year is different. This year we had quite the group going through as there were 12 of us trying to get through together. This was my niece's 1st year and my cousin's little girl is now old enough to get really excited about it (15 months). We had a fun time and we always take pictures. So here are a few...

Christmas Angel Craft

This craft is fairly simple and only requires a few items. You will need a piece of white Fun Foam, Pen, Glue, Scissors, A Child and A picture of that Child.

First, trace the child's hands  (keep their fingers together) onto the Fun Foam, then trace 1 foot onto the Fun Foam. You will then need to cut these out. You will also want to cut out the face of the child from the picture. I usually just a picture for this craft and print it out of my computer on cardstock, but a real photo will work too.

Now place the foot with the toes pointing down, at the heel area you will glue both hands sticking out to the side like wings, usually I put the thumbs facing up (I think it looks better). Now flip over the Fun Foam and glue on the face. If using a cardstock picture you will want to use a glue stick so as the glue doesn't ruin the picture.

You now have a personalized angel to use as a decoration or as a gift. This can be turned into an ornament with a pipecleaner on the back for a hook. Or you can add magnets to the back so that it can decorate the refrigerator.  Make sure to mark the child's name and age on the back and year on the back for a keepsake.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hunting Season!

Yes in Pennsylvania it is Hunting Season and here it is in full swing, actually it is almost over at my house. Gary got his buck between 9-9:30 Monday morning. This was quite the excitement for the boys. We all had to go check out the deer. Then Gary skinned it and hung it in the garage. Tuesday, Gary & I processed the deer and put the meat through the grinder for ground meat and tonight I am sitting up waiting for the last batch of bologna to finish cooking (so I can go to bed).  So as I said it is almost over here! But what a blessing to be able to put that deer in the freezer. So anyhow here is a pic of Gary's deer with each of the boys, oh and Gary too. Congrats !