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Dec 13

Christmas Resources

Posted on Thursday, December 13, 2012

Here are some links to past posts that include favorite books, resources and traditions we’ve enjoyed these past few years. I hope to be back in the coming weeks and months with updates on our homeschool life.

Merry Christmas,


Counting Down Advent with Books

Late Start Christmas Idea

Christmas Devotional-It’s not too late

Thoughts about Christmas

A new tradition

Dec 24

Christmas Family Devotional-It’s Not Too Late

Posted on Saturday, December 24, 2011

Your check list is a mile long, but a nagging thought sticks beneath the presents and the dinner preparations, “I wish we could focus more on Jesus as a family.”

It’s not too late.

Each year of parenting we seem to sort out a little further how we want to “do” Christmas with our family. Saving some old traditions, starting new ones, but most of all focusing on Christ through His word and serving others. Last year our family enjoyed an evening devotional time together during Advent.

Some things don’t seem to change.  My husband and I marvel at people who bought all of their presents eight months ago, have most of their Christmas dinner cooked and frozen ahead of time, and gets all of the kids to the right rehearsals on time.  But we scramble at the last minute for presents, wrap things at 2am on Christmas morning, and this year we’re beginning to think soup sounds like a fine Christmas dinner if it means we aren’t in the kitchen very long.

But what we didn’t procrastinate on was our family time in the evening.  All of last year’s presents are forgotten, stuffed in the back of closets or under a bed, but we all remember how much we enjoyed the six of us sitting down together to do our Advent Bible Study.  This year we started with Nancy Guthrie’s devotional book and it served us fine but it started to feel like it was just getting the job done, not leading our hearts to be challenged, encouraged, or filled with praise.

Last week Quiet Times for kids put their new Twelve Days of Christmas study on sale and I bought it, read through it, and a few nights ago we tried it.

Before this study, I only associated the twelve days of christmas with the song I sang every year in school and I knew nothing about the historic and church related celebration by the same name.  This study will not teach you anything about turtle doves or leaping lords. But in the five nights that we’ve done the study we’ve learned about the incarnation of Christ, the crown at the end of a long road of obedience, and the promise of never being seperating from our Lord. The poems are one of my favorite parts of the study, including John Piper and George MacDonald.

Each of the twelve days includes a quote, a Bible verse, a short devotion, a suggested celebration from the feasts of the historical twelve days of Christmas, and a heart-provoking poem.

Also included is an individual Bible study for the kids that correlates to the family devotion.

The study can be used at any time during the Christmas month or you can start it on the 25th, the traditional beginning of the Twelve days of Christmas, which means it’s not too late for you to begin your family devotion.  In fact, you can enjoy it more peacefully since the busy commercial season is almost at a close.

A note on recommended ages: Our kids are 11, 9, 6, and almost 3.  If my oldest was 7, I’d consider this study too advanced for our family.  But the 11 and 9 year old have been able to follow along fine, and the six year old tags along as usual, hearing important Biblical truths and he helps read the scriptures.

If you use the code below, you can purchase the study half-price, which is $7.00.


You can read a review of some of their other studies here.

Praying for peace and hope that comes only through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, our savior and Lord.

Dec 14

Counting Down Advent With Books

Posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For years I’ve been adding to our Christmas book library, and it all began with one book.  While pregnant with our first child, I worked as the special orders clerk for a bookstore.  As the only soon-to-be-mother employee, any free children’s books that arrived for the staff ended up on my desk.

Who knew that the first Christmas book, Mooseltoe, would be delighting our fourth child a decade later?

Our collection is a hodge podge of pure silliness, to beautifully illustrated, to heart inspiring.

A few years ago I began a tradition of wrapping one of our beloved books for each day of December first through the 25th.

Each day a child unwraps a book and we read it and count down one day closer to Christmas.

I’ve found it stays exciting if I’m always mixing in a few new treasures (old treasures, really, from the thrift store and used bookstore) with our old ones.

Here’s a list of our favorites (in no particular order of most loved):

Picture Books

Chapter Books and Collections

Note to Myself, Books to try next year:

  • Star Mother’s Youngest Child by Louise Moeri
  • The Animals Christmas by Anne Thaxter Eaton
  • Christmas Long Ago from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman
  • Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration by James C. Dobson, Charles R. Swindoll

    The longer chapter and story collection books have not been wrapped, we’ve been reading chapter by chapter through them each day while unwrapping a picture book to read as well.

    Whether you wrap them or check them out from the library, here’s wishing you many days of hot chocolate and good stories.

    Do you have any favorite Christmas books that I need to add to my library?

    Nov 27

    Advent: To Wait and To Do

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011

    The expectations that arrive with the Christmas season parked themselves on my couch yesterday morning, and the growing lists of “to do’s” paralyzed me there for a good while (actually they drove me to my bed with a book).

    When I think of family Bible study time in the evening, worship on sundays, the dark of the evening lit with our christmas tree, reading favorite christmas stories, and lighting the advent candles each sunday I look forward to the next month.  When I think of Advent not as a packed calendar but as the chance  to grow together in our understanding of the gift of Jesus, I’m anxious to enter this short season.

    But when I think about money, presents for lots of family (budgeting, deciding, buying, making), making lots of treats to bring to librarians and sunday school teachers and others that serve us all year (this is one of the best things we do for our spirits, it’s just not exactly simple to add in to life with four kids), balancing school (which is already challenging right now) and the daily busyness of home and children, I want to skip the next four weeks.

    So let’s just talk about the good stuff-the stuff of Advent without the world and its demands (and lies of what’s important) getting in the way.

    Last year our family did an Advent Bible Study by Quiet Times for Kids.  The focus of the study is the prophecies of the old testament and how they were fulfilled in Jesus.  The study includes a daily individual Bible study page for the kids (the kids shared their study at dinner each night) and prophecy bags or boxes.  Prophecy bags might sound weird, but just listen.  In each bag, I placed an object as a hint of a prophecy and then printed slips of paper with the Old and New Testament scriptures.  Each night a child opened a bag, pulled out the object, and tried to guess what the prophecy might be.  Then we read aloud both scriptures.  At the end of the month we knew at least 25 ways the Word of God foretold Jesus. The scriptures and object ideas are included in the study, but you do have to take the time to gather the objects, print the scriptures and put them in boxes or bags.  The prophecy in the bag each night corresponded to the Bible Study page the next day.  We all learned and were led to worship through this study.  This year we’re bringing out the prophecy bags to enjoy again each evening.

    We’re also going to read through Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie, this will be our first time using the book.

    Quiet Times for Kids has a new Christmas Bible Study that will be available next week.  In an attempt to keep our time in the Word simple, rather than like a stew with a lot of things thrown in, we’re going to wait until next year to use this new Christmas Study, but it might be exactly what your family is looking for this year.

    My friend, who is passionate about the Advent season, is sharing her advent ideas here.  She has the first week of advent posted and it’s full of good reads and activities to inspire a Christ-Centered month.

    Waiting for Christ is so much harder than doing, and it’s even more difficult to figure out exactly what waiting looks like in this very imperfect world when day to day life demands much doing.

    Today, as opposed to yesterday when I hid from the approaching weeks, I’m reminded of the privilege it is to lead hearts and be led by God in my own heart.

    Nov 30

    Two Advent Options

    Posted on Tuesday, November 30, 2010


    With wonderfully good intentions, I plan to plan ahead of time for the holiday seasons, praying and choosing the activities that will draw our family closer to Christ before we get swept into the worldliness of the season.  So far I’ve never gotten the planning done ahead of time and in a panic I scour the internet for ideas and add a mish mash of projects that may or may not take us anywhere.

    The word that has stayed with me this year through these early months of schooling is SIMPLIFY.  So far it’s been the north on our compass that has kept us from getting bogged down with too many ideas.  As we approach Advent and I once again choose my ideas last minute, I atleast have that one word to help me sift through the possibilities.

    I bought two Advent books this year and also found a wonderful, free Jesse Tree book and I’m glad to announce that they’re all great and I’m only doing one of them!

    In case you still haven’t found a guide for your family, here are two possibilties.

    The FREE Jesse Tree Devotional Book with Hand-Drawn Ornaments by Ann Voskamp


    The Advent Bible Study by Quiet Times for Kids
    (currently on sale for $6.00 with passcode “halfoffsale”, I’m not sure how long the sale lasts)

    The Advent Bible Study is a daily advent quiet time suggested for kids 5 and older.  After trying a free sample of their other studies, I’m planning to use this independently with my 8 and 10 year old and talk about it with my five year old.  We’re also going to do the prophesy boxes, a project idea included in the study, as a family in the evenings when we light our advent calender.

    Wishing you a simple and meaningful Christmas this year,

    Dec 22

    Be Back Soon

    Posted on Tuesday, December 22, 2009


    While I have been sorely neglecting my new sweet blog, I promise to return soon.  School is on break at the moment, but you can find us cooking and baking here, and living lively here.

    Merry Christmas.


    Dec 11

    Late Start Christmas Idea

    Posted on Friday, December 11, 2009


    You might be like me.

    You might be a little late wrapping your head around Christmas this year.  You might be like me and have all the intentions in the world to create a meaningful, non-worldly celebration of Christ’s birthday this year, but for one reason or another you’re still trying to figure out the daily tasks like getting dinner made.  You might be like me and enjoy all things creative and get overwhelmed by all your brilliant ideas and procrastinate picking one or two and now it’s December 11th.

    Last week I wrote about our daily advent of unwrapping christmas books.  After a few days I realized that book time had become much more exciting then reading the Word.

    Here’s an idea that we started just a few days ago. Luke has 24 chapters, perfect for Advent(if it were December 1st), so a few days ago I handed out some blank books that I picked up a while back and a special set of sketching pencils.  I told the kids that I was going to read a chapter from Luke and they could draw pictures from the story as I read. At the end of the month, I told them, you’ll have your own book of the Christmas story.  Each morning since we’ve started,  when I’ve announced it’s Bible time, there have been shouts of “Yeaaa”!


    Mookie, age 9


    Jellybean, age 7


    Drummer Boy, age 4 1/2

    To make this idea work for you:

    • Luke tells the story beyond the birth of Jesus.  You might look at the other gospels and pick one that tells the early Christmas events in more detail.  Pick 12 chapters to finish off the days until Christmas.
    • This activity will be more exciting if you give your children some specials supplies they only use for this activity.  If you don’t have blank books, make one with construction paper, blank printer paper, and staples or yarn.  Consider a new pack of crayons, pencils, markers, or sketch pencil.
    • If you’re doing this with younger children, allow them freedom of imagination.  In our Drummer Boy’s Christmas Story, there are pirates and a computer.  But he is listening to the story and gaining confidence in his drawing skills.
    • Stop once or twice during your reading and ask a child to narrate back what’s happened so far.
    • My kids drew large, two page pictures and then realized a few days later that their pages would be used up before we read all of the chapters.  You might let your children now how many days they’ll be drawing so they can divide up their book.

    Let me know if you give it a try at your house.

    Dec 1

    Holiday Book Basket-All Wrapped Up

    Posted on Tuesday, December 1, 2009


    Most of you know that we have a tiny, barely noticeable, really-we-could-give-it-up-anytime, passion for books in our family. Last year we put together a winter basket of our favorite books, which gave us countless hours of cozy couch time.  This year we’re continuing the tradition with an added tint of pleasure.

    I came across the idea to choose 24 books, wrap each book, and add a number tag to each package.  Suddenly our winter book basket is an advent countdown.  Last night Mr. Darcy and I sat up wrapping packages, and I said “Honey, you are so crazy and sweet to be sitting here doing this with me instead of telling me I’m nuts.” I should mention it was the far side of midnight and the night before he’d been at the E.R. with our 9 year old.  He replied smilingly, “Honey, we’ve been married for ten years, I know all about your ideas.”

    We’ve been adding a christmas book here and there for 9 years so we happen to have more than 24 books.  However, you may be be at the beginning of your collection.  Try scouting out thrift stores and used bookstores, look for special seasonal sales, or get really thrifty and wrap up a new batch of christmas library books each week.

    To further your christmas journey into books check out Crafty Crow’s great book/advent post.  I’ll be adding several of hers to our library list.

    We also enjoyed this lapbook/unit study, The Legend of the Candy Cane a few years ago, free at Homeschool Share.

    For more great ideas about reading and advent, head to Real Learning.  After enjoying her links, scroll down and look in the left sidebar for a list of great christmas books.  This post includes a review of family favorites.

    Happy Holiday Reading!