Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Day Activity: Blessings Box

One of our New Year's Resolutions for 2013 is to be more mindful of our blessings. Our lives are full of so many wonderful things we tend to take for granted, and,I thought a Blessings Box would be the perfect way to incorporate gratitude into our daily routine. I've seen blessing jars around Pinterest and magazines, but when I saw Melissa & Doug's Decorate Your Own Jewelry Box, I knew it was the perfect box for counting our blessings.

My daughter received the box as a Christmas gift and set to work decorating it the day after Christmas. 


I talked to her about what we'd be doing with the box and she told me her bear, Beary was a blessing. I mentioned our family as a blessing, then she wrote both things on two separate slips of paper, folded them up and stuck them in the box. 

Our plan is to keep the box, slips of paper and a marker next to my daughter's bed. Each night before bed we'll talk about our blessings as we talk about our day, choose one to write down and place it in the box. 

At the end of 2013, we'll dump out our box and look back at how we've been blessed throughout the year. Such a simple way to practice gratitude each day of the year.

For more fun ideas and activities using Melissa & Doug products, check out the Melissa & Doug blog.


FTC Disclosure: This post and activity is sponsored by Melissa & Doug. All personal opinions and/or views regarding Melissa & Doug are my own and may differ from other users of Melissa & Doug products. I received compensation for this post. 


Monday, December 17, 2012

Candy Cane Crunch

When I saw this recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. I bought everything we needed (and had a few things on hand), but we actually ended up changing it a bit based on the taste. We used a lot less sugar and let the powdered candy cane sweeten it up!

It's fairly simple and doesn't require baking (gotta love that!). You don't HAVE to refrigerate it after you're finished, but I highly recommend it straight out of the freezer!


What you need:
7 c of Corn Chex (or the store brand)
12 oz. white Almond Bark
10 candy canes (or 3/4 c crushed)
1/4 c powdered sugar

Give your preschooler the job of opening and breaking up your candy canes (seriously. it takes forever and she LOVED it).

To crush them, you can either give your preschooler a hammer and have her crush the candy canes (in a baggy) or you can put them in a mini food processor.

We tried it both ways because hammering put holes in our baggy! Crush them until you have both powder and chunks of candy cane. Place in a pourable measuring cup.

Pour 7 cups of cereal into a large bowl. Microwave Almond Bark until it's of pourable consistency (I've found that heating it for 90 seconds in 30 second intervals works well). Pour bark on to cereal and stir until coated.

Transfer to a large plastic baggy. Dump candy canes and 1/4 c powdered sugar into the bag. Hand it off to your preschooler and shake, shake, shake it!

Toss it in the freezer for 15 minutes, then NOM! NOM! NOM! Store in plastic baggy in the freezer or divide it up to give away. We used cellophane pouches and mason jars. Tie a cutesy bow around and voila! insta-gift.

This treat makes a great gift for friends, neighbors, AWANA teachers and babysitters! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Sunday Showcase: Nativity Ideas

***FYI: The Sunday Showcase blogs will be taking a break on 12/22 and 12/29 to spend time with our families. We hope you have a beautiful holiday season and we'll see you next year! 


As we get closer to Christmas, our family is continuing to put the Nativity story front and center so this week I'm featuring some amazing Nativity activities from last week's linky. You can check out more Nativity crafts, activities and ideas on the Focus on the Nativity Blog Hop.


Top Left: I don't have to tell you that I L-O-V-E this felt Nativity set by Stay at Home Educator, but I will anyway! I love all the detail and it makes me want to make one right now!

Bottom Left: I absolutely adore this homemade Nativity set by Sugar Aunts. The thought and creativity her daughter put into making it is just awesome. LOVE the simplicity of it.

Bottom Right: You definitely need to click over to Handprint and Footprint Art to check out these Nativity projects made with hand and feet prints! SO stinkin' cute!

Were you featured today? Don't forget to grab a button!

Now it's your turn to link-up! If this is your first time, please read this informational post for details.

This is a fun and relaxed linky with a few guidelines:
  • You can link as many kid friendly or child-centered posts as you'd like, however, links for giveaways, shops, or downloads for purchase, etc. will be deleted. 
  • Please try to visit a few other posts if you are linking up. Everyone loves comments, feed-back, pins and shares!
  • I'll share some posts via Facebook, Twitter and Google +, while commenting on and pinning others.
Please NOTE: By linking up you are giving us permission to use a photo (with proper link to you!) in our featured section! If you prefer not to be featured comment below or e-mail me.

Thanks for joining us and I look forward to seeing what you've been doing this week! Don't forget to visit my co-hosts for additional features this week!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Kindness


As much as we try to spread cheer throughout the year, for some reason it is at the forefront of our minds during the holiday season and we tend to do a lot more than we do the rest of the year. We are on a mission to change that in the New Year, but we're starting now with 12 Days of Christmas Kindness.

These are in no particular order and can be done over the course of several days, more than one a day or over the course of several weeks. And of course, you could always just do one. The 12 items listed are the 12 acts of Christmas Kindness my family chose to focus on this December.

Day 1: Purchase a gift(s) from Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog.

Day 2: Donate food to a food bank.

Day 3: Participate in Holiday Mail for Heroes. (It's too late for this year, but put it on the calendar for 2013!).

Day 4: Volunteer at a community event at your church or elsewhere.

Day 5: Purchase an angel tree (or similar gift drive) gift.

Day 6: Donate a toy to Toys for Tots (find locations for drop-off here).

Day 7: Take Christmas goodies to your neighbors.

Day 8: Take Christmas goodies to your friends.

Day 9: Donate "most needed" items (diapers, feminine hygiene products, wipes, formula) to a shelter or other organization.

Day 10: Give loose change (or more) to the Salvation Army Santa.

Day 11: Take small Christmas treats or simple gifts along while running errands to pass out to cashiers, servers or other employees you encounter.

Day 12: Make a card for and spend time with an older adult in your life.


If you start tomorrow, you have exactly 12 days until Christmas Eve! We're still working on a few of ours, but have had a lot of fun with the others we've completed. It always amazes me how much it can brighten YOUR day to give to someone else and brighten theirs.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

For more ideas on how to spread Christmas Kindness and teach your children that giving is better than receiving, check out the following posts:

December Service Calendar from Mom It Forward
A Season of Giving: 31 Days of Service from Kid Stuff World (this post includes 31+ ways to serve from various bloggers!)
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness from Coffee Cups & Crayons
How to Help Your Kids Develop Character at Christmastime from Raising Figure Skaters


Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Sunday Showcase: Christmas Trees



I don't know about ya'll, but life around here is crazy with a capital C as Christmastime. It seems every day is full of activities and errands and Christmas cheer, but it's BUSY. I pray that you each are able to take some time to slow down and enjoy the Reason.

I absolutely adore these trees by 2 Big 2 Little, and so did my friend because she is setting them up as the craft at her playdate on Monday and I can't wait to make one! What a simple and beautiful way to create a lighted Christmas tree.
Christmas Trees with Tissue Paper Lights

And how fun is this magnetic Christmas tree from BlogMeMom? What a great way for them to decorate the tree over and over again!
Christmas activities

And finally: This Threading Tree from Mum Central is too cute for words! What a fun way to practice fine motor skills while decorating a tree! And so many fun things involved from salt dough to paint to pipe cleaners! Sweet P would love this!
/> On the Blog: 
Pop over to check out the Focus on the Nativity Blog Hop: you'll find ideas from 28+ bloggers surrounding the Nativity. Here's our post on the Nativity: 7 Day Nativity Activity.

Were you featured today? Don't forget to grab a button!

Now it's your turn to link-up! If this is your first time, please read this informational post for details.

This is a fun and relaxed linky with a few guidelines:
  • You can link as many kid friendly or child-centered posts as you'd like, however, links for giveaways, shops, or downloads for purchase, etc. will be deleted. 
  • Please try to visit a few other posts if you are linking up. Everyone loves comments, feed-back, pins and shares!
  • I'll share some posts via Facebook, Twitter and Google +, while commenting on and pinning others.
Please NOTE: By linking up you are giving us permission to use a photo (with proper link to you!) in our featured section! If you prefer not to be featured comment below or e-mail me.

Thanks for joining us and I look forward to seeing what you've been doing this week! Don't forget to visit my co-hosts for additional features this week!

Friday, December 7, 2012

7 Day Nativity Activity For Kids

The Imagination Tree
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" title="The Imagination Tree" target="_blank"><img src="http://rainydaymum.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/focus-on-the-Nativity.jpg
" alt="The Imagination Tree" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

We do several different Advent calendar activities, but this year I wanted to do start a tradition of telling the Nativity story in parts over 7 days using our Melissa & Doug Nativity set. We received it last year as a Christmas gift so this is really the first time we've gotten to play with it since it got packed away in our Christmas decor soon after we arrived home from Christmas last year.

You can use any Nativity set for this activity, but Melissa & Doug's set is by far my favorite of the few that we have. I love the durability of the wooden pieces and the adoration on each of the figures' faces. My absolute FAVORITE part is that the manger is double-sided and you can save baby Jesus for Christmas day.

I broke the story down and created the following 7-day plan:

Set out the figures the night before (see below for ideas on how to use the printable) and allow your child(ren) to explore the pieces when they wake each morning. We have a breakfast picnic and read the scripture during this time, but setting up the Nativity scene on your kitchen or dining table works as well.

Day 1: The Annunciation
The Archangel Gabriel visits Mary
Luke 1:26-28

Nativity Figures Needed: Mary & the Angel
Discussion: What did the angel say to Mary when she was scared? What name did the angel say to give the baby?
Song to be Sung or Listened to: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Day 2: The Dream
The Archangel Gabriel appears to Joseph in a dream
Matthew 1:18-25

Nativity Figures Needed: Joseph & the Angel
Discussion: Who is Joseph? Talk about Jesus' earthly father and heavenly Father.
Song to be Sung or Listened to: Joseph's Lullaby - Mercy Me

Day 3: The Visitation
Mary visits Elizabeth
Luke 1:29-56

Nativity Figures Needed: Mary & an additional woman/girl figurine
Discussion: What happened when Mary greeted Elizabeth? Talk about a baby's movements inside the womb.

Song to be Sung or Listened to: Believe - Josh Groban

Day 4: Census
Mary & Joseph travel to Bethlehem for Jesus' birth
Luke 2:1-7

Nativity Figures Needed: Joseph, Mary, Jesus & stable animals
Discussion: Talk about a census. Where did Mary & Joseph have to go to pay taxes? Where did Mary lay baby Jesus after He was born?
Song to be Sung or Listened to: Away in a Manger

Notice that baby Jesus is not in the manger

Day 5: Gloria in Excelsis Deo
Angels visit the Shepherds
Luke 2:18-24

Nativity Figures Needed: The Angel & Shepherds
Discussion: Why did the angels appear to the shepherds? Discuss how Jesus is the Lamb of God.
Song to be Sung or Listened to: Angels We Have Heard on High

Day 6: Shepherds
Shepherds visit the Christ child
Luke 2:15-20

Nativity Figures Needed: Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Shepherds & stable animals
Discussion: How did the shepherds find baby Jesus? Who did the shepherds tell about Jesus?
Song to be Sung or Listened to: O Come All Ye Faithful
Baby Jesus in the manger

Day 7: Magi
3 Kings visit the Christ child
Matthew 2:1-12

Nativity Figures Needed: Joseph, Mary, Jesus, 3 Kings & stable animals
Discussion: What made the star they saw different than the others? What type of gift would you give Jesus for His birthday? Discuss ways you could give Jesus a birthday gift by volunteering, serving or donating.
Song to be Sung or Listened to: We Three Kings

I also created a printable to go along with each day. Print, laminate and cut out cards to place by the Nativity figures each day. You could also hide the cards in your tree for the kids to find. Or keep the printable as a whole document to reference each day.


FTC Disclosure: All personal opinions and/or views regarding Melissa & Doug are my own and may differ from other users of Melissa & Doug products. I'll be compensated by Melissa & Doug for this post.

There are SO many different ways (from simple to elaborate) to celebrate the Christmas story with your children. My plan is to focus on the Nativity as much as possible when they are young so that as they grow, they realize that Christmas isn't about gifts, or toys, or a Santa, or Christmas trees. It's about a King who was born of a virgin mother, suffered, died and rose again to save us.

The linky below is filled with beautiful ideas for activities, books, crafts that celebrate the Nativity. Please take a moment to visit a few other links and don't forget to link up YOUR Nativity activities!

Here is a list of the 28 fabulous bloggers participating in the Focus on the Nativity Blog Hop today!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Melissa & Doug Guest Post

I'm guest posting on the Melissa & Doug blog today! Would love for you to pop over and read about the fun we've been having with our Swirl 'n Spin Art!

Like Melissa & Doug on Facebook to follow along and enter great giveaway!

Stay connected with The Iowa Farmer's Wife: FacebookPinterestTwitter and Google+ 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Sunday Showcase: Advent Calendars

Anyone else excited that it's December 1st?! We are!! That means we can start our Advent Calendars and the Countdown to Christmas! It'll be here before you know it! Here are some creative ways to countdown to our dear Savior's birth from last week's linky.

A
Top Left: Red Ted Art's Kids' Art Advent Calendar - This just might be the most adorable gift I've ever seen! She and her kiddos made this for their granny!

Top Right: JDaniel4sMom shared a sweet Advent Candy Wreath she and her son made with candy canes for the countdown to Christmas! 

Middle: Serenity You's TP Roll Advent Calendar - So much about this that I love! Love that it's from recycle TP rolls, love the look and the embellishments just might be my favorite part.

Bottom: Two of Everything share this adorable alternative to a numbered Advent Calendar for her two kids. Such a neat way to countdown.

On the Blog this Week:


Were you featured today? Don't forget to grab a button!

Now it's your turn to link-up! If this is your first time, please read this informational post for details.

This is a fun and relaxed linky with a few guidelines:
  • You can link as many kid friendly or child-centered posts as you'd like, however, links for giveaways, shops, or downloads for purchase, etc. will be deleted. 
  • Please try to visit a few other posts if you are linking up. Everyone loves comments, feed-back, pins and shares!
  • I'll share some posts via Facebook, Twitter and Google +, while commenting on and pinning others.
Please NOTE: By linking up you are giving us permission to use a photo (with proper link to you!) in our featured section! If you prefer not to be featured comment below or e-mail me.

Thanks for joining us and I look forward to seeing what you've been doing this week! Don't forget to visit my co-hosts for additional features this week!