Posted in Free Homeschooling Resources

5 Free Advent Studies and Resources

Advent begins tonight! Until one day when homeschoolers were chatting online about Advent with me years ago, I hadn’t ever celebrated it. We tried a free Advent study that year as a family and have celebrated yearly ever since. I love how it gets us into the spirit of Christmas and the true meaning of Christmas as we lead up to the big night! We light the candles then snuggle up on the couch and read scriptures and great Christmas themed literature such as A Christmas Carol. Sometimes we sing Christmas carols as well. Here is a list of free advent studies and resources to help celebrate Advent in your home.

5 Free Advent Studies and Resources

advent studies

Free Printable Advent Reading Plan
If all you would like is a scripture reading plan, here is a great printable one.

Free Advent Family Inductive Bible Study
This is the advent study we first used, and often still use as an outline for our daily Advent celebration. If you’re not a fan of fill-in-the-blank activities for your children, simply have a discussion instead. Includes colouring pages, scriptures to read, and a description of how to set up and light the candles, which my daughter particularly enjoys.

Free Professor Carol’s Advent Calendar
Sign up free and it will pop up in your email daily. Includes a description of the candles and their setup, as well as scriptures to read, etc.

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent
Download this free PDF ebook with daily readings.

25 Days of Free Christmas Devotions
Free daily Christmas devotions that you can use as part of your Advent celebrations. When you sign up you will also receive the ebook, The Hope of Christmas.

Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar
Even though this online calendar doesn’t have a focus on Jesus, and isn’t free, I had to include it. A friend of ours sends one to my daughter every year as a gift – it only costs a few dollars – and she LOVES it! Jacquie Lawson animations are so adorable, and there are activities such as creating snowflakes that she enjoys.

Do you celebrate Advent? How do you celebrate or what resources do you use? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

 

Posted in Blog Hops/Walks, Contests

12 Pearls of Christmas: “A Teenage Pregnancy” AND Giveaway!

12pearlsofxmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
**I am pleased to host the Pearl Girls blog series once again this year. I hope you have enjoyed them. Merry Christmas! And if you’re in the US, be sure to click on the Rafflecopter link to enter to win a pearl necklace!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A Teenage Pregnancy
by Robin Jones Gunn

It was early, early morning, that delicate time of day just before sunrise when it seems as if all of creation is still asleep.

In the cold, gray light she gazed at the infant in her arms. He was less than an hour old and so, so small. Instinct prompted her to draw her newborn close that he might feel the rhythm of her heart. He curled his tiny hand around her finger and she smiled. His eyes closed, and with feathered breath he gave way to the blessed sleep that follows such a long journey.

In weary awe she studied his face, his ears, his nose. He was here. He had come at last.

A single tear fell from her eye and rolled across his cheek. She kissed the tear away but could not kiss away the memories that came with the tears; memories of the day she found out she was pregnant. How exhilarated she felt and yet how terrified. She was young, and there was much she didn’t understand.

Trying to justify her condition to her parents proved more difficult than she’d hoped. But the most excruciating memory was the moment she stood guileless before the man she hoped to one day marry. She had no words to make him understand the awful truth—the child she carried was not his.

Leaving seemed to be her only option. A gracious aunt took her in and welcomed her with open arms. From the moment she arrived she was showered with motherly words of hope and sisterly touches of love. Week by week, month by month, the child inside her grew.

Was it a miracle when she returned home, her belly round, her face flushed, and found him there?

What prompted this man to take her back and make her his bride? Did he now believe what she had tried to explain all along, that none of this was her own doing?

When the time was right they left their small town together, as husband and wife, with her due date rapidly approaching. The labor began—tightening her abdomen with a force she had never before imagined. Perspiration streamed from her forehead. The contractions multiplied with a frenzied urgency until the need to push overwhelmed her young body, and the baby was born.

Nothing of the past mattered anymore. He was here. Naked, perfect, quivering in her arms. With a thrill of hope, she believed that her life, her world, would never be the same.

Now as the first silver streaks of dawn pierced through the cracks in the stable, she tenderly wrapped her sleeping babe in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.

12pearls-gunn
***

Robin Promo Photo Close Up 2013Robin Jones Gunn, bestselling author of the much-loved Christy Miller Series and the award-winning Sisterchicks® series, has had more than 4.5 million copies of her books sold worldwide. Her frequent speaking engagements have taken her around the globe. Robin and her husband live in Hawaii and have a grown son and daughter. You can learn more at Robin’s website.
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Posted in Blog Hops/Walks, Contests, Parenting

12 Pearls of Christmas: Wrapping Paper and Fancy Bows Not Required AND Giveaway!

12pearlsofxmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
**I am pleased to be hosting the 12 Pearls of Christmas once again this year. I hope you enjoy this guest post, and if you live in the US, you can click on the Rafflecopter link and enter the giveaway! ~ Kimberly
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below! The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Wrapping Paper and Fancy Bows Not Required
by Jodi Murphy

For more than a decade I worked in the luxury design field, and every year around Christmas time there were holiday show houses and charity events where the designers would hold nothing back to create the most beautiful displays for the Christmas season—trees with baubles and sparkles, swags of fresh greenery festooned with handmade bows, every room dressed to the nines, dining and breakfast tables set for imaginary entertaining, and hundreds of perfectly wrapped packages that would make Santa’s elves go green with envy.

The sights, sounds and smells were magical! And though I enjoyed the “eye candy” and appreciated all of the creativity, I often left these events on a “sugar high” of the season’s pufferies and feeling disconnected to the spiritual significance of Christmas.

As we begin to count down the days toward December 25th, I will do my share of simplified decorating as a way to mark such an important day, and I will be celebrating Christ’s birth with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the gifts God has given to me . . .

My Parents

I was blessed with parents who loved and respected me. I was always important, seen and heard. They gave me the confidence and strength to go out into the world because I knew they were standing right behind me in case I stumbled. They modeled generosity, loyalty and commitment.

My Sister

Tenacious, strong-willed, and determined balanced by a friendly, supportive, “I’m there for you” spirit—that’s my amazing younger sister. She’ll step out on the front line to stand up and defend you or throw on some work clothes and volunteer to help with whatever dirty work needs to be done. No questions asked . . . you need her, she’s there.

My Husband

My husband is so comfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t compare himself to others or secretly long for what they have. He doesn’t get embroiled in other’s gossip or petty arguments. His loving influence has made me happier and more at peace. Every day I wake up to the joyful realization that I am his friend, wife, and life partner.

My Son

My firstborn. My son with Aspergers Syndrome. Raising him is the most extraordinary journey. He has made me more accepting, patient, and understanding. He has helped me find my passion to support and advocate for him and those just like him. He doesn’t filter or concern himself with being anything but who he is. I admire his strength to put himself out into a world he doesn’t fully understand.

My Daughter

She was born with grace and an “old” soul. From a very young age, she had an understanding and compassion for others well beyond her years. And when she was excluded for not following the crowd, she never compromised her values in order to fit in. She personifies all that is good and right in our world.

So I’m taking a pause from the hustle and bustle of the designers’ holiday season. This Christmas, and every Christmas henceforth, you’ll find me singing praises of “Gloria!” to God for the walking, breathing beautiful gifts of my family.

12pearls-murphy
***
jodi_murphy-Headshot 1Jodi Murphy has been a freelance marketing specialist for the last 25+ years working for clients in a variety of industries, a journalist in the design/luxury lifestyle industry, and co-founder of Nesting Newbies, one of the first independent lifestyle digital magazines. But her most important role and her life’s passion is being a mom! She founded Geek Club Books to share her son’s life on the spectrum in a positive and entertaining way. Her focus is on building a community of spectrum and neurotypicals who are engaged with and inspired by the Geek Club Books’ message of self-acceptance—“I’m unique. I’m a geek.” Jodi writes original content on the blog, and, with the help of her talented kids and top-notch creative team, she produces audio stories, e-books, and interactive storybook APPs.

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Posted in Parenting

Our Family World: Avoiding Stress During Pregnancy Over the Holidays

Avoiding Stress During Pregnancy Over the Holidays
The holidays can be a stressful time to be pregnant. Join me at Our Family World for some great tips for how to have a low-stress holiday. If you happen to be pregnant and homeschooling – remember that it’s ok to take time off of homeschooling. And remember that cooking and baking in the kitchen is a great part of homeschool studies! Check out Avoiding Stress During Pregnancy Over the Holidays.

Posted in Free Homeschooling Resources, Resources

Free Symbols of Christmas Project Pack from The Homeschool Buyers Co-op

Get your free Symbols of Christmas Project Pack from In the Hands of a Child through The Homeschool Buyers Co-op right now.  This pack includes a 7-day Planning Guide, 15 Hands-On Activities, Related Reading List, 11-page Research Guide, and Answer Key. Introduce your students to symbols that include the Advent wreath, Advent calendars, Christmas cards, Christmas gifts, Christmas trees, ornaments, holly, poinsettias, the Nativity, candy canes, Christmas colors, and much more!  It’s a free download, so check it out!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Posted in Things to Do, Places to Go

Port Williams: Make a Doll for your Child at this Workshop

Melanie of Green Grass Toys will be hosting a doll making workshop on Sunday November 4th, 2012 from 1:00-5:00pm at her home in Port Williams, Nova Scotia.  The workshop price is $65. It’s a chance to get together in a small group and learn about Waldorf inspired doll making.  Sit down and create something special for a child.  Get together for some coffee, cookies and creative work!

Melanie will walk you through the process of making a 12″  Waldorf inspired doll with stuffed arms and legs.  Each doll is unique and special.  Browse the Doll Photo Album for a sample.  Please email Melanie at info@greengrasstoys.com to register (space is limited) or visit the Green Grass Toys website for more information.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Posted in Things to Do, Places to Go

Christmas Ideas For Your Cats – For You and Your Children to Make

My daughter was wondering what a “cat tree” was the other day, so I looked up some photos online to show her.  What I found was the most comprehensive webpage I’ve ever seen for making cat trees, posts, stands, castles, and structures of any kind:

http://www.squidoo.com/Make_Cat_Trees

My daughter got right to work making a cat tower out of cardboard boxes 🙂  You can also find more sophisticated structures to make on this page.  So show it to your children and maybe they will be inspired to make a cat structure for Christmas too!  Your cats will thank you.

Photobucket

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Posted in Blog Hops/Walks, Contests

12 Pearls of Christmas: How to have a snowflake party AND Giveaway!

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!

Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

The Snowflake Party

By Deborah Raney

The first snow of winter hasn’t fallen yet, but in our kitchen tonight we’re doing a pretty good imitation. The whole family is circled around the huge old oak table. The snip, snip, snip of scissors is background music as tiny scraps of white paper float down, making our floor look like a giant brownie sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Tonight has turned out to be the night for our annual Snowflake Party, a tradition that began when our children were toddlers. There has never been a date blocked out in red on our calendar, but one day we wake up and the brisk autumn air has turned bitter cold. Naked tree branches trace their stark calligraphy on a dull grey sky and we need a taste of the joyful promises of Christmas and snow. It’s the perfect time for a party.

On such a day, one of the kids will fly in the back door, fresh home from school, and declare “Hey, Mom! Tonight would be a good night for the Snowflake Party!” First we round up every pair of scissors in the house. This is one time when sharing is not a virtue. While the kids search for scissors, I cut white paper into squares and fold them caddy-corner multiple times. The resulting triangles are artfully arranged in a basket, awaiting the beginning of the party.

Later, while the supper dishes dry on the counter, I recruit a volunteer to help me stir up a big pot of hot cocoa. For the next hour it will warm on the back burner, tantalizing us with its aroma.

Now the fun begins with careful cutting and snipping, shaping plain white paper into intricate works of art. Each snowflake we create seems as unique and spectacular as the genuine variety created by God himself. As each masterpiece is unfolded, collective oohs and aahs go up.

When the last dregs of our creative juices are drained, Dad oversees the vacuum patrol while I pour cocoa into generous mugs. We spread our handiwork on the floor around us and sit, quietly admiring our work while we dunk marshmallows and sip rich chocolate.

With empty mugs piled up in the sink, it’s time for the judging to begin. There will be awards for ‘prettiest’, ‘most unusual’, and as many other categories as we need for everyone to be a winner. Dad is the judge because he studied art in college. He also usually wins one of the top prizes––because he studied art in college.

Snowflakes deemed runners-up might be pasted in scrapbooks or hung on the refrigerator. A few even “melt” into the trash that very night. But the winners are taped proudly to the picture windows in the living room for passersby to enjoy while they long for the day when genuine snowflakes will color the world clean and white.

Our oldest daughter went away to college last September. She called just after Thanksgiving to tell me that her dorm window was covered with snowflakes. No, not the real thing, but the ones she remembers from her childhood––paper ones that she spent an entire evening cutting and snipping while sipping hot cocoa.

That’s the neat thing about traditions: They go with us no matter how far from home we travel.

***

DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers’ Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. After All, third in her Hanover Falls Novels series will release next spring from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. Their four children are grown now and having snowflake parties with their own children––and they all live much too far away. Visit Deb on the web at www.deborahraney.com.

Posted in Blog Hops/Walks, Contests

12 Pearls of Christmas: Why Decorate? AND Giveaway!

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas

Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Why I Decorate for Christmas

By Elizabeth Goldsmith Musser

An old cassette tape of Christmas carols—received in a package twenty years ago when we had first arrived in France as missionaries—fills our den with delightful piano music as I place one more ornament on the already over-laden Christmas tree.  This one is a little white wooden rabbit with pink ears that move back and forth.  It actually doesn’t look much like a Christmas ornament, but I bought it for our baby Andrew when my husband Paul was in seminary, and I was working for less than minimum wage in the library.  This ornament was literally all I could afford.

As I hang it on the tree today, I get goose bumps and then a rush of warmth.  And that’s why I decorate for Christmas.  Not to impress but to remember.  I remember those lean, lean years, and God’s faithful provision for us.

There are the cross-stitched ornaments I made our first year in Montpellier—for the boys (for by now we had two sons) and Paul and me.  How I ever had time to do that, I don’t know.  I remember our puny little tree—the kind they sold in France back then—in a pot so that it could be replanted later.  We perched that tiny tree on a small table out of baby Christopher’s reach.  I guess I watered it too much, because about halfway through December, it started smelling and then stinking, and it rotted there on Christmas Day!

I smile with these memories.

I look at the other ornaments on the tree.  Many were purchased—one for each boy—when we attended conferences around Europe, and that makes me smile too.  Getting to travel on a missionary’s budget to exotic places!  There are the waxed red bear and red baby carriage from Wales, the brightly painted clay sun and moon from Portugal, the blue and white porcelain windmill and wooden shoes from Holland, the hand-blown glass Snoopys sitting on gondolas from Venice, and the delicately decorated eggs from Prague.

Other ornaments include the little pinkish shiny ball ornament with Paul’s name written in glitter—I think he made it when he was about six , and the little red velvet bows, bought at Michael’s after Christmas one year for a dollar.  They bring a unifying theme to the tree.  I say this, smiling, because our tree is, and has always been throughout the years, a hodge-podge of our life.  And I like it that way.  I don’t think I could ever have a ‘theme’ tree.  Mine is a ‘memory’ tree.

The music plays softly in the background and I smile through tears, remembering God’s incredible faithfulness to call and keep us here in France for so many years.  Heart-breakingly hard years, overwhelmingly joyful years—the same years, the same amazing God, our keeper.

Before we left for the mission field, I memorized Psalm 121 in English and in French, and over the years I have held on tight to those last beautiful words of the psalm:  The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. (NASB)

Of course He will.  He is God with us.

We decorate to remember Christmases past, our lives, our legacy, and mostly, for those of us who have embraced Christ, we decorate to honor and praise Him for coming to us—Emmanuel!  We make our homes ready to receive the Christ Child, with soft music and candles burning and the sweet flickering of angel wings on an over-laden evergreen.

***

ELIZABETH GOLDSMITH MUSSER, an Atlanta native and the bestselling author of The Swan House, is a novelist who writes what she calls ‘entertainment with a soul.’  For over twenty years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with International Teams.  They presently live near Lyon, France. The Mussers have two sons and a daughter-in-law. The Sweetest Thing (Bethany House, 2011) is Elizabeth’s eighth novel. To learn more about Elizabeth and her books, and to find discussion questions as well as photos of sites mentioned in the stories, please visit www.elizabethmusser.com and her Facebook Fan Pagewww.elizabethmusser.com

Posted in Things to Do, Places to Go

Last Minute Christmas Gifts to Make: Fibre Craft Idea

Last Minute Christmas Gifts to Make: Fibre Craft Idea

last minute christmas gifts to make

I know many of my fellow homeschoolers also knit or crochet with their children, like I do. Even if you don’t, here is an idea for a last-minute Christmas gift to make: a “crochet” necklace.  It only uses a crochet chain, which is VERY easy for anyone to do, even a young child.  (I recommend looking up a video how-to on Youtube if you don’t know what that means). My 7 year old is helping me make some necklaces as gifts and it only takes as little as 10 minutes, depending on how elabourate a necklace you want.

Here is a great website full of various free patterns, complete with photos, for your crochet necklace:
http://www.numei.com/crochetpatterns_ladderribbonnecklace.htm

We used Patons Evita 100% cotton yarn and a 10mm crochet hook, but you can choose from any of the yarns and hooks on the website. We also chose to knot the very ends and use a large bead (instead of braiding) so that it can slide up and down to make the necklace longer or shorter.

We’ve been making mostly homemade gifts this year, from knitting to weaving, to jewelery-making.

What last minute Christmas gifts to make have you been working on this year?

Love, Luck &
Laughter,