Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

BooMama is once again hosting the Christmas Tour of Homes. Here are some pictures of our home all decked out with twinkles. First, some favorites of young children in our home. The carousel sings different Christmas songs and twirls around, and the Santas, of course, come apart to be stacked together.

Here are some sweet angels standing guard over the manger scene that I bought about a million years ago when I was an Avon lady.

Next, here’s my blogging spot this time of year. What could be better than blogging in the tree-lit corner surrounded by the peace that descends at the end of a busy day?

Here’s our very-full stairway railing –we have two new stockings this year — how very fun! And finally, the sweet people who enjoy this Christmas hoopla almost as much as I do.

New readers may also enjoy some of my other Christmas posts:
Gift idea: make your own crystal decorations
Gift idea: Bean soup mix in a jar
Craft idea: Snowflake ornaments
Yummy Christmas morning breakfast


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I have been the happy recipient of several different toys to review– a huge blessing since this year we have ten children to shop for. I wanted to tell you about each of them.

First up is a 400 piece box of K’nex. I am a big fan of K’Nex. My teenaged boys have pretty good collections that they sometimes share with the younger ones. But now I have the beginnings of a collection for my 9 year olds too. When it comes to building toys, we will always love Legos. But one thing that K’Nex has over Lego is the ability to build BIG stuff. My guys have made awesome space ships and cars and a variety other things. The creations snap together firmly enough that you can play with them without worry about the thing falling apart. The firm snaps do cause preschoolers to need some help with creating, but overall K’Nex are an awesome toy for a broad range of ages.

Next are a couple things from Parents Magazine. I got a really awesome fruit and vegetable puzzle made of wood. I love wooden puzzles for durability. I also love that the puzzle included some of the more unusual fruits and vegetables along with the normal apples and carrots. We eat a lot of variety at our house, but our 3 year old will still learn something new from this puzzle.

The other really neat Parents magazine toy that I received is a bucket full of pop beads. My five year old daughter is going to just love these. Actually, I had to sit down and play with this for a little while when we first got them, they are that fun. These pop beads have way more variety in shape and style than the ‘old’ kind of pop beads that my now-17-year old adored playing with as a preschooler. I am pretty sure that my 3 year old will also be able to work them, though of course I’ll have to keep an eye on her so she doesn’t taste them. They are rated for age 3 and over.

Next on the list of fun items is an environmentally friendly bug. You’ve probably seen those crank flashlights that don’t need batteries. Well, how about a TOY that doesn’t need batteries? (Is that cheering I hear??) SEE Toys has created a variety of fun ‘creatures’, including a dynashark, dynatiger, dynacar, dynadolphin and the one I got, the dynafly. These toys light up and make sounds– the dynafly giggles and has lightup eyes. Given the fact that my kids LOVE dad’s crank flashlights, I think they will enjoy this toy too. I would guess that the target age range for this particular toy is around 3-7 years or so.

Finally I got some samples of a new line of toys called Baby Jamz. Baby Jamz is a hip-hop/rhythm inspired toy line for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. First on the list is a fun boom box/shape sorter. The songs are familiar songs–“Wheels on the Bus”, “Hip-Hop Buckle My Shoe”, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” — but with a fun new twist on the rhythm. The toy is appealing to the eye, and the sound didn’t grate on my ears. Kids will like that you can push buttons and add your own sounds into the songs. This toy would probably be most interesting to kids in the 1-2 year old age range.

The next item is a dance mat for toddlers. The toy features 30-second clips of three different songs — “Bingo,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “This Old Man”. There are seven different spots on the mat so kids can dance to create their own unique rendition of the song. My three year old is really going to like this, since she loves to dance. I haven’t subjected it to extensive testing, but I am, hoping it will be sturdy enough to tolerate being tried out by older kids too.

And finally, my giveaway item is a really cute cell phone for toddlers. Kids always love to play with cell phones, and this one can play one of three different songs by pushing buttons. The phone opens and closes which toddlers will also find interesting. This item is probably most interesting to one year olds.

You can enter the drawing for this cell phone by commenting here and mentioning this post on your blog sometime between now and Monday morning. I’ll be conducting the drawing on Monday morning. Hopefully this will allow enough time to get the cell phone to the winner by Christmas.

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Do you have a short string of mini Christmas lights that doesn’t have a home this holiday? Try stuffing the whole string of lights into a canning jar with just the plug end sticking out. Plug it in and set it on a shelf or a windowsill and you have a lovely spot of color to brighten your space.

Small strands of mini lights work best— if you decide to use a strand that has more than 100 lights, keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too hot. And incidentally, this is a great use for a strand of lights with a section of burned-out bulbs. Amid the tangle of lights and wires in the jar, you won’t be able to tell that some of the lights are not working. Holiday decorating in a flash– works for me!

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Thanks to everyone who added to the Blessed Nation discussion. If you haven’t read them, go check them out. Carrien’s comment was especially helpful to me.

I also got lots of helpful answers to last week’s Opinion Saturday -Affordable Family Outings question. There were two ideas that immediately went onto my to-do list, this one from Lifenut and this from Kate. These gals are my Very Interesting People this week.

Now, for a new question. Do you have rules at your house regarding Christmas gifts? We handle it by putting a master list on our fridge. Each person is allowed to suggest 5 items that they’d like. Our kids always get more than 5 gifts– I have ideas of my own for them too–and they don’t always get every single item on their wish list. But asking kids to narrow their lists down makes it more likely they’ll get something they really want. We don’t set specific dollar amounts, though if a computer or a car shows up on the list, we gently suggest that might be something to save their own money for. Obviously with 10 kids in the family, we can’t go totally crazy. But between us and grandparents, the kids always get way more than enough.

I’m curious — how do you handle Christmas lists at your house? Do your kids write wish-lists? Do you set dollar limits? Do you limit the number of items allowed on the list? Is there anything in particular you do that helps tame the gimmies in your kids at Christmas time?

You have all week to answer– I’d love to hear what your family does.

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Christmas Blessings to You!

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, 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.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

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It’s only…

…ONE MORE DAY til Christmas!!!

Only ONE MORE DAY!!!!!!!!!

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After reading this yesterday, hubby and I decided to take the whole family to see The Nativity today.

Wow, it was wonderful! The music, the setting, the costumes, the story.

((Go see it!))

Edited to add: Jen asked about the suitability of the movie for preschoolers. We took everyone, including our 2 and 4 year olds, and I did have a couple moments where I wondered if we should have brought the youngest two. If your preschoolers are extremely sensitive, you might consider leaving them home, or perhaps wait until you can buy the movie on DVD, since the impact is less on a small screen.

The worst moments were two intense scenes where soldiers tore children away from screaming parents. Both times my 4 year old was distressed and buried her head in my chest. My two year old was too little to understand, though I did cover her eyes twice. I was glad that both scenes were brief.

Animals were sacrificed– also potentially upsetting to a child, but again, the scenes were brief– just as I was thinking of covering their eyes, the scenes were done.

Also there were 2 birth scenes, during which the women were loud and obviously in distress. I explained to my 4 year old that it hurts to have a baby, but that when the baby comes out the mom is happy. I personally am comfortable with talking with my children about birth, and this was not a problem in my mind.

In my mind the good far outweighed the bad. Part way through the movie my four year old turned to me and said, “Mommy! We have a REAL Jesus! We just can’t see him right now!”

She of course was only seeing a depiction of the Bible story. But the movie made Jesus real in her mind. Wow. It is a powerful experience. We plan to buy this movie and will doubtless let our little ones watch it again.

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Here’s our traditional Christmas breakfast. I love that we can make it the night before and just stick it in the oven in the morning! Also, it can be made egg-free: just add a little more milk instead of the eggs. We make a tiny casserole dish of this egg-free for our egg-allergic child.


1 pound of French bread
8 ounce package cream cheese, cubed
8 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk.
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cut French bread loaf into cubes (About 12 cups bread cubes) Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan.

To Assemble: In the prepared pan place half of the bread cubes. Top with the cream cheese cubes and then the remaining bread cubes.

With a blender or mixing bowl with a rotary beater, mix together the eggs, milk, melted butter, maple syrup and cinnamon until well combined. Pour the egg mixture evenly over bread and cheese cubes. Using a spatula, slightly press layers down to moisten.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours. Remove plastic wrap and bake in a 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until the center appears to be set and the eggs are golden. Let stand for 10 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

Note: May add blueberries after the cream cheese and serve with blueberry syrup.


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Gift ideas

Here’s an interactive online shopping thingy from Phillips if you are still having trouble finding ideas for a few people on your list. I wish it included ideas for little kids, and also some lower-priced items, but it is kind of fun anyway. Be sure to set the toggle to show products available in your country.

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Caption, anyone?

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