Home Education~Ministry Moments~Hearth and Home

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011 Collage

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and that the joy of the season is still with you and your family!

Christmas Piano Recital

Happy Birthday, Jesus! 
(Muffins in my 3's and 4's Sunday School Class)

Church Staff (Ministerial/Office) Christmas Luncheon at our House

The little houses I made as dessert/place cards. 
(Confectioners sugar covers a multitude of sins!)

The making of gingerbread houses...
Rolling out the dough...

Cutting out the parts of the house...

The finished products! 
The boys had the best time making these. 
(Big bonus for making homemade gingerbread: man, my house smelled good!)

One of my favorite parts of Christmastime: our Advent story/lighting of the candles each night.  It really helped us all to slow down and savor the season.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Box Day" is a lot like Christmas at our House!

     The other day, we received our big box of books from Sonlight (Homeschool) Curriculum.  This is a very exciting day for our family--and other "Sonlighters" around the world! In fact, the Sonlight company has officially named it "Box Day".  

  In one of my earlier posts, I shared how we are borrowing a lot of the Sonlight books, but these are the rest I had to order: 

The boys always start looking at the books right away!

One of my favorite parts of the curriculum...the Timeline Stickers!  We've been filling up our book of time for the last 5 1/2 years.  A wonderful learning tool.  The boys just love looking through it.

Just one of many of our Science books.

Just a few more weeks and we'll start this new core!  (World History, Part 1)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

4 Ways to Use Old Christmas Cards

I LOVE finding uses for old Christmas cards!
1)This is in my laundry room. The old chalkboard is always there, I just added greenery to the top. The cute little gingerbread-shaped people are cut out of old Christmas cards. I used my cookie cutters as templates. I simply punched a hole in the top and tied them on with some ribbon I already had. If you have kids, this would be a fun project for them...they would also look cute on a tree.
2) My kids used some old Christmas cards just the other day to cut-up (and they used one of my Christmas punches) to make new cards for their teachers at church. I gave them cardstock, construction paper and glitter glue. They had the BEST time.
3) I used Christmas nativity cards a few weeks in an activity with my preschoolers at church. We made a large "birth announcement" for Baby Jesus.
4) Nametags for gifts. Punches work great for this. You can also cut on the fold to have a nametag you can "open". (This was the reason my parents always saved our Christmas cards.)
Do you have any creative uses for old Christmas cards? I'd love for you to share! Leave a post/link below!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Making Butter (Yummy Science)

     The whole family had a great time last Friday making butter!  (I like doing my "experiments" on Fridays.)  Dad even got in on the action.  This is one of our books we use for Science, and where the activity for making butter came from :
Janice VanCleave's Food and Nutrition for Every Kid: Easy Activities That Make Learning Science Fun [Book]

We poured the cream into a jar. (I read the directions a little more carefully AFTER we finished.  We were supposed to use a larger glass jar.  oops!)

After Lots of shaking, we had a creamy type butter.  The boys went ahead and tried that on crackers, loved it. (I've made that before when I taught preschool.)  The directions in our book told us to add water  3 different times, pouring off excess liquid each time.  I really thought we had ruined our yummy creamy butter, but--Alas solids!  So exciting, truly! 


The boys enjoyed homemade butter on their mama's homemade bread with soup for lunch.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

To Bee or not to Bee?

     For the last two years, my children have participated in our cover school's spelling bee competition.  I have encouraged/required them to do this. Both times were really great experiences.  The best part was the comradship with other homeschool kids.
      I firmly believe most children need practice being up in front of an audience.  I always tell my boys there will be times in their life they will have to stand up in front of a group of people and speak.  It may be in their job, or just at a church business meeting.  To me, it is a life skill. 
      I have to admit---I love competion.  I grew up competing in 4-H most of my childhood.  So, when it comes to things like a spelling bee, I can get really excited.  Last year was a real nail-biter.  One of my sons was in a round where these 4 kids-- then 3-- then 2-- spelled for 45 minutes without anyone missing a word.  My son ended up being runner-up, but we loved it just the same.  What a thrill!  
     WELL---yesterday I asked my kids if they wanted to be in the spelling bee this year.  They didn't.  But, I figured that's okay.  They had the great experience for 2 years.  Instead, they want to put their time toward other interests.  I am both relieved and disappointed.  Getting ready for a spelling bee takes lots of practice, but, oh, how I enjoy the day of the "bee"!  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My View from the Front Pew: Personal, but not Private

          I am adding the new label "My View from the Front Pew" to my blog to share with my readers some things I learn, see, or experience as I minister alongside my husband.  I figured out a long time ago (while we were still "young" in the ministry) that many times as a minster you get a "front row seat" to what God is doing in people's lives.  I remember discovering this first-hand as a youth minister's wife when I was on a mission trip with a bunch of teenagers.  What a joy it was to see up close God at work in their lives.  As a pastor's wife, people will sometimes share with me how God is speaking to them.  That happened today, in fact.  That's what I call getting a "front row seat".  (In reality, I actually DO sit on the front row in church, right next to my husband!)  There will always be trying times as we serve the Lord, but it is those "front row seat" moments that make it all worth-while.

     ~~~A little something from my notes I took during my husband's sermon: 

Luke 2:17-18 says,
     "When they (the shepherds) had seen him (Jesus), they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."

     We are called to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ...but NOT a private relationship.  Many times those two words are used interchangably in our vocabulary, but when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ, there is a vast difference in meaning.  As Christians, let us not confuse the two.  May we be like the shepherds and not keep the good news to ourselves!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

(Handmade) Snowy Villiage Christmas Ornament

     Tomorrow my family is attending a Sunday School Christmas party.  We will be having an ornament exchange, so I thought I'd make one of these adorable ornaments that I'd had in my "holiday ideas" notebook for a few years.  I got the idea from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.  (Here is the link) There is another link from there to be able to print out the pattern.  (You may have to join BH&G first...it's free and easy.) 

     Once you get your pattern (there are 3 to choose from), copy it onto cardstock.  If you like the color of your cardstock, great.  My cardstock was white, and I wanted a little more color, so I glued some scrapbook paper on top. (I left the base white to look like snow.) There are lines on the pattern to show you where to fold.

     The thing I love about this craft is that you can really use your creativity!  Each house you make can be totally unique!  (How fun it would be to give as a gift, creating it to look like the home of the recipient!)  I decided to add a wreath (chenille stem) and I also cut out a little door and windows.  

     It didn't look quite finished, so I added a little bow and put ribbon around the bottom edge.  Much better!

     With the glue gun, I attached a clothespin to the base.  This way it can just be clipped to the tree.  I also added to the bottom of the base the reference in Joshua: "....As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."  I then sprayed it with some "Santa Snow".  Here is the finished product on my tree:   (Okay, I'm not keeping it...I wrapped it up, ready for the party tomorrow night!)

Note: I think I may be addicted to this craft, so you may see more in the future!
Note #2:  I'm all about saving $$---I made this with just things/scraps I had in my craft closet.  (All except the Santa Snow, that was $1.25 at the Dollar General.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Feel Better Soup

     It is that time of year when somebody (or everybody, like us this past week!) in your family will get a cold.  I have the perfect (quick, easy and delicious) soup for that!  I got the recipe from watching "Rachel Ray".  I have made it for several years for my family.  It is a favorite, sick day or not.  My boys always get so excited when I make it.  The original name by R.R. is "Tortellini Brodo", but I just call it "Feel Better Soup".  It really is the perfect thing to eat with a cold: chicken broth to help your cold, lemon zest tastes so refreshing when you can't taste much else, lots of good vitamins in the spinach, the comfort of pasta and protein from the cheese.  Like most of Rachel Ray's recipes, there are no exact measurements.  This is what I have found works best for us (for 4 people):

2 cartons (not cans) of chicken broth
2 small packages of Butoni 3-cheese tortellini
1 small bag spinach (cut or torn into smaller pieces)
zest of 1 lemon (save the lemon for later with some hot tea!)
fresh grated parmesan (to taste)

Bring the broth to a low boil, put in the tortellini.  Cook for about 7 minutes until the pasta resembles fluffy pillows like this:

Now comes the really fun (and oh, so pretty) part!  Ladle the pasta and tortellini into bowls.  Top with a small handful of spinach (this will "wilt" as it is mixed into the soup), parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of lemon zest.  The amount of all these toppings can be determined be the person eating it. 

Doesn't this look YUMMY?!

I even made this soup two days in a row this week...with absolutely no complaints (or leftovers!)  I hope this recipe can help you and your family next time somebody gets a cold!  :)


Winner of the Giada Bread Loaf Pan!!

Congrats to Hillary M. on winning the Giada Bread Loaf Pan!  I hope you enjoy it!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Last Day to Enter for a Giada Ceramic Loaf Pan!!!!

     I hope you will take a few seconds to enter to win this great loaf pan! (Minus the bread!)  Remember, you must be an official "follower" to enter.  Please leave a message below stating that you are a follower and your favorite type of bread.  (To "follow" click "Join this site"---just to the right----> and follow a few simple steps.) 

     I am so excited to now be a member of "Molly's Home Team" (doing product reviews on my blog for this great homeschool magazine)!  If you can, please help me out...I need at least 50 followers. I'm halfway there! 

Thanks!  :)  I am so thankful for all my readers!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Made the Team!!

     Several weeks ago, I applied to be part of "Molly's Home Team".  (A product review team via "This Old Schoolhouse" homeschooling magazine.)  I was excited to make it to round two, and now thrilled to be part of the team.  So, starting in January, I'll be reviewing products on my blog.  I'm really looking forward this new venture, and have already enjoyed "meeting" so many other fellow homeschoolers all over the country that are part of this team!  :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

GratiTuesday~~~Sick Day

     I am always thankful to the good Lord and to my husband for the opportunity to educate my children at home---but I am even more so on "sick days".  (Sick days can take lots of forms: sick child(ren), sick mama, or sick everybody.  We've had all three this week.)  On sick days, I am reminded just how blessed I am to homeschool my sons.  When they wake up sick, I don't worry--we just all stay at home like everyday. 
      On "sick days", my kids and I  take it easy, doing whatever "school" is manageable.  We rarely ever completely skip lessons altogether.  Usually on their sick days, they catch up on reading, etc.  Yesterday I knew it was the Lord helping me out.  We were ALL feeling pretty sick, but we had enough energy to do one lesson on "theme" as it pertains to literature.  We had recently recorded "Gone with the Wind". What a perfect day to watch a 4 hour movie, snuggle up with lots of pillows and blankets, then talk about theme, characters, symbolism, etc.  (Not to mention Civil War history!)  I'm usually not one to watch a long movie in the middle of the afternoon, but boy, did I need that!

     p.s.  I have to mention that I am SO GRATEFUL to my sweet husband for doing my Publix (with coupons!) shopping for me!  He has called several times as I've been writing this post, just to make sure he gets it right.  Love that man.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Great Story Starters!

     The other day my usually ready-to-write son had a hard time thinking about what to write about for a short story.  I was stumped for a minute, wondering how I could help him.  I thought I had a book which contained "story starters", but no luck.  So, I searched the internet for a good list.  I'll tell you, it took me a while to find an appropriate list.  Lots of the "story starters" looked like they were more for college students or even sleezy fiction.  I wanted to share 50 great "story starters" I found.  My son really liked the choices, and had no problem developing a short story from the one he chose.  He is so excited about the story that he is working on expanding it to a longer, more detailed one.
     Here is the site that may come in handy for your child(ren) and/or students:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Free Nativity Activity Printables for Preschool and Kindergarten

     I  came across these free printables and wanted to share them with all my moms and teachers of preschool-K age children.  Here is the link to the blog where you can find them:  http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.com/PreschoolPacksNativity.html

Friday, December 2, 2011

What do I do with the Wise Men?

     Every year as I set up my Nativity set, I say to myself, "I don't know why the Wise Men are in here, they weren't even there yet."   (Matthew Chapter 2 tells us that the Magi visited Jesus in a house.)  But I don't know what else to do with them.  I say to myself, "It's just symbolic, get over it!" 

     The other day I was reading the December issue of HomeLife, and they had a great idea!  Place the Wise Men somewhere else in your home, as if the Magi are on the journey to find the Christ Child.  How excited I was!!  I would be able to remain biblical, yet still display my Wise Men!  I want to share with you a new spot for our Wise Men.  I decided to not put them alongside Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and the Shepherd.  This year they are in another spot in the house.  (I wanted them to be traveling from the east side of the house, but I couldn't find a good spot. (And by "good" I mean  "novel, but not tacky".)  So even though they are traveling from the west, here they are on my mantle traveling to find Jesus. 

It would probably be 2 years before they found him, but you get the idea.  It has already brought up a good conversation with one of my sons.  We talked about things that are tradition, but not necessarily in the Bible.    

I would encourage everyone to have a nativity set in their home that takes center stage.  If you have young children, a nativity set that they can touch and play with is a great idea.