Saturday, September 19, 2015

Halloween

Peter Pan & Wendy - Halloween 2014
Halloween can be really fun without all the spooky, scary, monster, and ghost stuff. I didn't grow up celebrating Halloween but I love the costumes, treats, and the celebration of fall. Now that I have kids, I love celebrating with them and keeping it lighthearted.

Film: Curious George Halloween Boo Fest. This is available on Netflix and I think we watched it five times last year. There are also plenty of Halloween episodes of your kids favorite shows playing this week on TV. I grew up watching Hocus Pocus, but now that I've watched it as an adult, it is definitely not kid friendly.

Activity: Trick-or-Treating of course!! Enjoy your time as a family, stay up past bedtime, and indulge in way too much candy.

Art: For me, this week will be spent putting the final touches on Halloween costumes. You can get your kids to help out if you trust them.

Music: I found this Youtube video of fun Halloween songs for little kids. It's like 13 songs and 30 minutes of music in one video or you can search and find the individual songs.

Food: Mummy Dogs. These are great to make for Halloween night before Trick-or-Treating or maybe for a playdate lunch. I think I have made them the last two years.  These Candy Corn Parfaits are easy and a fairly healthy snack.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Week for Kids

Easter is coming up this Sunday and I would love for my kids to know that it means more than a bunny and lots of delicious candy (that I will steal). Growing up, I only celebrated Easter Sunday so I am still to this whole "Holy Week" deal. I love the tradition of it all and want my kids to appreciate and understand the purpose of Easter. Last year our church had special services for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (in addition to the Easter Sunday services) however, being a mother of two small kids, I didn't have the energy to trek them across Miami, so we had our own special services at home. If you find yourself home with kids, here are some things you can do. And please share any of your special family traditions if you have them.

Maundy Thursday

Supplies:
- Jesus Storybook Bible
- water basin and pitcher
- towels
- crackers or bread
- grape juice
- chalice or cups

This can be done after dinner as you are getting ready for bed. Together, read "The Servant King" pg 286. Once you reach the bottom of page 288, pause, and take turns washing each others feet. This will inevitably end up in a huge mess. Continue reading and as you get to the part where Jesus breaks the bread and pours the wine, do the same with your bread and juice. When you are finished you can ask your kids questions like "Why did Jesus wash the disciples feet?", "What is a servant?", "What do the bread and juice remind us of?"

Take a break to clean up, brush teeth, and change into pajamas if you haven't done so already. Then you can continue on with the last story, "A Dark Night in the Garden" pg 294. This story might stir up a lot of discussion for your kids. You can ask them "Why did Jesus go to the Garden?", "What happened in the Garden?", "Did Jesus do anything wrong?", "Why did the people want to kill Jesus?" Your children might not like ending the night with this story, but it's supposed to be unsettling. Pray with them and remind them that God is good and this is part of his plan to fix all that is broken in the world.


Good Friday


Supplies:
- 4 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon oil
- paint
- pipe cleaners
- small cloth
- sticks for cross
- rock

The kids really enjoyed doing this last year. We didn't have enough flour or salt at the time and had to halve the recipe, so our hill was pretty small. I found the instructions on this blog. It takes about 4-5 hours to bake and then you have to paint it, so plan for enough time.

You can read the story, "The Sun Stops Shining" pg 302, when you are finished with your Easter hill. With the pipe cleaner people you made, reenact the story. Place Jesus on the cross, take him down and wrap him in a cloth, place him in the tomb, put the rock in the opening and place guards around it. Don't forget to ask questions, to see if your kids are understanding what is happening. "Was this a good day or a bad day?" or "Why did Jesus have to die?" You will want to place your Easter Hill in a place where it will not be disturbed but where the kids can still see it.

Easter Sunday

Supplies
- plastic eggs (6 per kid)
- items for eggs: bread crumb, cross, rock, strip of cloth, candy

Before your kids wake, remove the Jesus figure from the Easter hill. Fold the cloth, roll the rock to the side and put an angel on top. Begin the day by reading "God's Wonderful Surprise" pg 310. I didn't add any questions to this part because I felt that the story was sufficient enough. When you finish reading the story, have the kids check on their Easter hill if they haven't noticed it already.

Move on to their easter baskets. I found a pack of a dozen eggs for $1 at Target and labeled two sets from 1-6. The night before place the items in the corresponding eggs. 1- bread, 2 - cross, 3 - cloth, 4 - rock, 5 - empty, 6 - candy. Whenever you decide to open them (before or after church), do so WITH your kids and talk about what the items represent. Happy Home Fairy made this cute little guide with corresponding verses that you can print or pin.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bringing new life into a broken world

I anticipated that some part of the birthing/newborn process was going to be emotionally hard for me, I just didn't know when it would hit. The last time I had a baby, my father was still alive. The last time I talked to him was on the phone at the hospital. The moment I woke up from my first night being at home with my newborn, everything changed. 

This is where I am now. The first night home with my newborn. And this is where I am facing grief head on. This is a whole new "first" for me. The first time I have brought life into world where my father doesn't exist. And I hate it. 

I hate living in a world where he doesn't exist. 

I tried to think of a different word to use besides hate, but I believe it's appropriate. Death is something to be hated. Brokenness is something to be hated. And I am more aware of that brokenness when I hold my newborn daughter and mourn the absence of my father in her life. 

It's all very surreal and weird. Even after three years, it's still hard to believe he's not here. In my mind, memories and dreams, he's very much alive and active. Because I knew him so well, I can picture exactly what he would do, what he would say, and how he would interact with our kids. I can see him now with my son, giving him music lessons or sitting at a table intricately building Legos together. I can see him with with my daughter (I guess I'm gonna have to start specifying which one) sneakily eating some kind of treat because she would have him wrapped around her finger. I see him with my nephew, laying on the floor playing with his trains. I see him with my niece, holding her and making embarrassingly goofy faces just to make her laugh. Because I can imagine these things, it makes the loss that more difficult. He would have been the best grandfather.  

It sucks and I hate it. I wish I could just sit here and stare at by daughters beauty without all these thoughts in the front of my mind. Without anticipating the next terrible thing to happen. I am so acutely aware of how fragile life is and how quickly everything can change, that I feel like I'm just waiting for the next bad news to happen. This is not where I want to be.  I want to be hopeful for the future and have joyful anticipation of what's to come instead of fear. 

My prayers these days seem to echo the words of my favorite Christmas hymns

"Come thou long expected Jesus
Born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in thee."

"O come thou dayspring come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight"


Praying for a more hope-filled tomorrow. 


*DISCLAIMER: I am sleep deprived so if anything doesn't make sense, I apologize, just go with it. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Grace Family Advent Celebration

I'm literally due with baby number three any day now, so I've been spending any free time I have trying to get things done for Christmas. Things like making Christmas gifts, decorations, ordering Christmas gifts online, and most importantly, finishing up an Advent booklet. I've wanted to do this for a couple of years but always ran out of time. This year, since I'm having the baby soon, I wanted to get a plan down for how we would celebrate the season of Advent.

Now I didn't grow up observing Advent, so this is all fairly new to me. I think once we experienced great loss, Christmas became a sweeter, more longing-after holiday. I've experienced Christmas in a new way and I wanted my kids to know what Christmas was really about. I'm all about the fun and excitement of Santa Claus, Christmas cookies, decorations and what not, but they aren't so important to me anymore.

There are many Advent reading plans out there but honestly, they were too intense for me. I can't commit to a reading everyday for a month. So I created a simple weekly plan. Every Sunday you get your family or friends together to read the passage, light the candle, say a prayer and sing a song. This could be done after dinner or right before bedtime. It's totally up to you. The point is for it to be simple but also keeping the hope of Christmas the main focus.

How to Celebrate 

Print out the attached booklet. You can print it by printing all the even pages first and then the flipping the pages and print the odd ones. Or if your printer is smart it might have the option to print double-sided and then staple the papers down the middle. There are more instructions in the booklet as to what other supplies you need. If you have any problems let me know. It took me forever to figure out how to make this booklet.

The first Sunday of Advent starts this coming Sunday, November 30th. I hope you will be filled with great joy as you celebrate.

DOWNLOAD BOOKLET