Why I’m a “Lazy” Parent

Why I'm a %22Lazy%22 Parent

I am a lazy parent.

There, I said it. It’s out in the open. I’ve confessed.

Now, when I say lazy I don’t mean…

Lazy in teaching my children God’s truth.

Lazy in building my children’s character.

Lazy in spending quality time together.

And definitely not lazy in leading them to the gospel.

Okay, okay, you got me – when I said I was lazy, it was a bit tongue in cheek. So, what do I mean?

I am way too “lazy” to do things for my kids that they are capable of doing for themselves.

I recently read this great article from Kristen of We Are THAT Family titled, “Maybe We Should Stop Coddling Our Kids So Much” and I completely agree. In our house the mantra is, “we are all part of the family, so we all help out.” I’m not going to run around doing every bit of the work when there are more than capable little helpers at my side!

Note: does this mean I never do something nice, like get my son a glass of water, even when he can do it himself? No! Of course not. Part of being a family means doing nice things for each other too!

So, today I want to share with you four things that my four year old regularly takes care of on his own (or with minimal help). Especially recently I have noticed that what used to be the “help” of a toddler has started to transform into genuine help from my little man.

The purpose of this list isn’t to say that your four year old should be doing the exact same things. Instead, it is to encourage you to take stock of your own situation and see where you might need to be a little “lazy.”

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Learning to make grilled cheese

#1 Getting ready for day and ready for bed

Every morning, sometimes before he even comes downstairs for breakfast, K takes off his pajamas, puts his pull-up in his trash can, and gets dressed for the day. Sometimes the outfits are a little wonky and he might be wearing two pairs of socks, but it works for me!

Recently, it occurred to me that there was no reason he couldn’t do this same routine in reverse for bed time. Hooray! Half of the dreaded bed time routine outsourced to the one going to bed! So, every night he knows he needs to do three things: go to the bathroom, put on a pull-up, and get his pajamas on. All that leaves for me is to brush teeth and tuck him in bed.

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Very excited to vacuum his room

#2 Putting away his laundry

This is a new responsibility that we have been working on and it is going very well!

In K’s closet he has a dresser with four drawers. One for PJ’s, one for shirts, one for shorts, and one for long sleeves, undies, and socks. On top of his dresser is pants and sweatshirts (they might swap out with the shorts drawer if it ever gets cold enough here!). The only things that are folded are what is on top of the dresser. Nice clothes are hanged, the rest (and majority) are just tossed in the drawers.

Keeping a four year old’s clothes folded is not a battle I’m willing to spend time on.

So, lately, when I have a pile of clothes for him, he carries them to his room, sorts them, and puts them away. Amazing. One less part of the laundry pile I have to worry about. Occasionally he needs help with a large basket of clothes, or putting things up high, but overall he is doing great!

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Sometimes we are a little too helpful – like the time I came into the room to find him *attempting* to change his wiggly baby brother’s diaper. 

#3 Emptying his bathroom trash

Seeing that I don’t spend a lot of time in his bathroom, his small trash can would quickly begin to overflow with his nightly pull-ups and start to get… stinky.

One day, we were working on the character trait of helpful, and he decided to empty his own trash. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? A quick lesson and now he is capable of emptying his own trash can and putting in a new liner.

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Helping starts early – baby J loves to “help” with the laundry! 🙂

#4 Picking up his toys

I must admit, this has always been an area of struggle with us. He is so good at dragging his feet when it comes to cleaning up his toys, that eventually I would just step in and finish up for him. However, I am trying to crack down on this a bit!

Just yesterday he showed me that he is very capable of picking up after himself, I just have to be firm about him not getting out of it!

A strategy I have occasionally used is this – I set the timer for one hour. As soon as he is done picking up his toys, he can watch TV until the timer goes off. The first day he got a whopping 8 minutes of TV time (although it only took his about 5 minutes of active work to get everything cleaned up). I am looking forward to seeing some improvement in this area!

Why I'm a %22Lazy%22 Parent

What do you think of these four responsibilities? This is not an exhaustive list, there are many other things he can do, but these are the things I wanted to share with you today. 

What things are your kids responsible for? Do you agree that we coddle our kids too much?

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

Easter. Quite possibly the cutest holiday of them all.

Fluffy bunnies, baby chicks, little lambs.

Easter baskets, painted eggs, and lots of candy.

Definitely cute. Precious even!

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

This, however, is where the problem lies. Because, if we are trying to focus on the true meaning of Easter, what do we find?

Betrayal.

Pain.

Sorrow.

Death.

Yes, on Easter Sunday we celebrate resurrection and new life. But to get there we must travel the heart wrenching path that leads you to the cross. 

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

The last few years when Easter rolls around, I’ve found myself dragging my feet when it comes to covering the story with my son. Sure, we talk about the gospel routinely, but there is something about Easter and the nitty gritty aspects of the story that gives me pause.

You see…

We talk about Palm Sunday and I see myself among the crowds who don’t understand Jesus.

We talk about the disciples napping while Jesus prays and fleeing while he is bound and I am confronted with my own weakness. 

We talk about the crowds shouting for Jesus to be crucified and my own hard heart is exposed.

We talk about Jesus hanging from the cross and I am reminded that it is my own sin and rebellion that nailed him there. 

It is messy, painful, and humbling. Decidedly not cute.

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

So, what is a parent to do? Skip over the pain and death altogether? Maybe fluff it up a bit? Save the hard truth for later…for when they are more… ready?

The problem with this plan is where the fluffy version of Easter may be light and happy, the way of the cross is the way of depth and meaning. Yes, it is the way of pain, but it is also the way of ultimate joy.

The suffering of the cross is the path to the joy of Resurrection Sunday. The empty tomb. Humanity redeemed.

It is a difficult path. But it is a path forged by our Savior.

So, I face my own sin and I lead my children down that same path.

They may not understand the full depth of the betrayal, the crowds, the thorny crown, and the forsaken Savior. But their small hearts are open wide and ready to know of this God who loved them so.

The Problem With Teaching Your Kids About Easter

Looking for resources on sharing the Easter story with your children? Try Resurrection Eggs or this round up of easy last minute ideas. I also loved this post from ohAmanda on talking to kids about the hard parts of the Easter story.

 

Four Last Minute Ways To Make Easter Meaningful

Four Last Minute Ways To Make Easter Meaningful

In my post on Resurrection Eggs, I shared that somehow Easter always sneaks up on me. I go in with grand intentions of doing all sorts of amazing activities starting at the beginning of Lent. However, every year I find myself scrambling at the last minute, trying to find a way to make Easter meaningful.

The good news is – Easter is already incredibly meaningful. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ don’t need a lot of fancy hullabaloo to make them more noteworthy. Even if you find yourself scrambling at the last minute, all you need is something simple to keep the focus on Jesus.

Here are some of my favorite ideas I’ve found to make Easter meaningful

1. Resurrection Eggs!

I know that I’ve already shared about these, but I think it bears repeating. They are great. And SO EASY. We have had a super crazy week, but we’ve managed to do two of our eggs still. If you’re a little behind on getting started, no worries. It is super easy to just double up on the eggs each day. In fact, my son would love that – he is always begging to do another one anyway!

DIY Resurrection EggsPlusExstension

2. Printable Book and Flannelgraph

I found these super cute little printables and knew they’d be perfect for K. I think I’m going to print them out and let him have at them tomorrow. He will love coloring the little book and he’ll have a lot of fun playing pretend with the little flannelgraph guys.

4 Last Minute Ways to Make Easter Meaningful

3. UnEaster Baskets

This will be our second year of doing unEaster baskets. I first read about the idea from ohAmanda and immediately fell in love. Leigh Ann from Intentional By Grace has a great post on a similar idea, here.

It was an amazing experience last year and I can’t wait to do it again! I love using simple moments like these to share the gospel with my kiddos.

4. Easter Music Playlist

The week leading up to Easter, I love to play songs that especially highlight Christ’s death and resurrection. I love doing it as a way to keep my own heart focused on the season, but I have also noticed how much my son picks up from the music we listen to. Music is a great way for the whole family to direct their focus to Christ.

I like to use YouTube to create custom playlists for times like this. Here is one I made for Good Friday, but it is great for the whole week too!

Another Easter music tradition we have is going crazy to the Hallelujah Chorus! One year (before kids) we even stayed up all night and played it loud at midnight. I think that would be fun to do again when the kids are older.

What are your favorite Easter traditions?

Resurrection Eggs and Easter Countdown Calendar (Plus FREE Resurrection Eggs Printable!)

Somehow Easter always sneaks up on me.

Every year I go into the season with good intentions of going all out and making Easter really memorable and meaningful. Then, every year, a week or two before Easter I’m left thinking “Whaaaaat? Where did all the time go?!”

This year was no different. However, just because we weren’t able to focus on Lent this year or even countdown the month before Easter doesn’t mean we can’t make this important holiday memorable and meaningful.

This year the main way I’ve chosen to do that is through a simple tradition that I remember doing with my family as a kid – Resurrection Eggs. 

DIY Resurrection EggsPlusExstension

Resurrection Eggs are a really simple idea. Fill twelve Easter eggs with twelve different objects that each symbolize a part of the Easter story. Every day on the twelve days leading up to Easter, open one of the eggs and read a verse or two to go along with it.

If you do a quick Google search for “Resurrection Eggs DIY” you’ll see that they are pretty flexible. Change up the symbols or the verses. Spread out the days you open eggs or even do them all on one day. You can even buy pre-made kits!

Resurrection Eggs plus free printable!

Here’s how I set up our Resurrection Eggs!

Day 1 – Leaf (Mark 11:8-10 / Palm Sunday)
Day 2 – Coins (Matthew 26:14-15 / Judas Betrays Jesus)
Day 3 – Bread (Matthew 26:17-19, 26-28)
Day 4 – Paper Towel (John 13:4-5 / Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet)
Day 5 – Picture of prayer (Matthew 26:39 / Garden of Gethsemane)
Day 6 – Rope (Matthew 27:2, 26 / Jesus is Bound and Beaten)
Day 7 – Thorn (Matthew 27:29 / Jesus is King of the Jews)
Day 8 – Cross (John 19:17 / Jesus Carries His Cross)
Day 9 – Nail (Luke 33:33 / Nailed on the Cross)
Day 10 – Cloth (Matthew 27:59 / Jesus is Wrapped in Cloth)
Day 11 – Stone (Matthew 27:66 / Jesus is Placed in the Tomb)
Day 12 – Empty Egg (Matthew 28:6 / He Has Risen)

I love how the eggs are great for including multiple ages and they provide a tactile experience as you take out the object and handle it while listening to the reading.

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To add a little more to the Resurrection Eggs experience, I created a simple, low to no prep activity to go along with each day. Kids learn so much better when they totally get to experience something – so I love finding ways to extend the learning.

Although it is pretty easy to wander around your house to find objects to put in your eggs, I wanted to make it even easier for you to do Resurrection Eggs this year! If you’re anything like me, you’ve waited until the last minute and you want something you can quickly pull together so you can get started right away.

If that’s the case – never fear! I turned to my favorite place for simple images (www.nounproject.com) and pulled together a set of printable images that you can use to fill your eggs!

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You can get the printable with the images, the activity ideas, and discussion questions (great for journaling!) completely for free!

You don’t even have to subscribe to get it – although you totally should anyway because there are so many more awesome subscriber freebies just waiting for you (you can subscribe by clicking on the “Family Minute Newsletter” in the side bar)!

Just click here to get it ———> Resurrection Eggs Printable

You don’t even need to have Easter eggs to use this printable. I also printed the images, cut them out, and pasted them onto quarters of construction paper to make this simple Easter countdown calendar. Just flip over one a day to reveal the picture. Super easy!

Simple Easter Countdown Calendar + Free Printable

Has your family ever done Resurrection Eggs? How did you do them?

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The Hidden Blessing of a Full Life

The Hidden Blessing of a Full Life

As I flopped into bed, exhausted, I lay there thinking of all the things a left undone. Yet another day had passed, busting at the seams. Filled with highs and lows. Responsibilities, routines, and even some excitement.

I sighed, trying to figure out what I would need to prioritize tomorrow. “Life is crazy,” I thought. “Will it ever slow down?” My days felt like a never ending to-do list.

I was frustrated. I am someone who generally prefers the slow, simple life. However, this kind of life seemed to have disappeared lately. Replaced with early mornings, late nights, and a whole lot stuffed in between.

Frankly, in that moment, I had a little bit of a bad attitude.

But, then it hit me, life isn’t just this crazy mess I was portraying to myself. Yes, our days were full. Very full. However, they were bursting at the seams with good. And if I looked close enough, I just might see what’s really there…

The Hidden Blessing of a Full Life Days full of baby snuggles, interspersed with the delight of a child over a simple tower of blocks or a splash in a rain puddle.

Time that was sacrificed for friends. One helped to move across town. Another over for dinner last minute. Plus lots of spontaneous playdates among the kids.

Meals were cooked with little hands alongside. Walks around the block were taken, with stops every 20 feet to look at the scenery.

Small hearts were shaped through tantrums and chores, kisses and hugs, and silly giggles. And, of course, lots of pointing to Jesus.

Hidden Blessing of a full life

Sure, the bathroom (still) didn’t get cleaned. And routines were once again derailed, though my intentions were there. Lunch was mac-n-cheese from a box.

There may have been moments of anger, frustration, and exhaustion. There were moments I wish could have been skipped and time I wish I could reclaim.

But still, life is so rich. So good. So full of the sweet moments. Moments that will pass you by without a second glance if all you are doing is focusing on the crazy and wondering if you’ll ever get to take a nap again.

The Hidden Blessing of a Full Life

It is these moments I want to keep my focus on. Because, yes, times of peace and rest are so important, but how we view the other, not so peaceful times of life is what determines how we feel about our days. And even the hard moments can be bittersweet and full of good, if they cause us to lean more heavily on our Savior.

The Hidden Blessing of a Full Life

So, instead, as my head lays on the pillow, I choose to redirect my thoughts. I lay aside the mental to do list for the night and thank God for the good he has surrounded me with. Thankful for his grace, once again, carrying me through another day.

Welcome to Steadfast Family!

Steadfast Family-2

Hello Simple Life. Messy Life. readers! Welcome to the new site!

I’ve known for a while that I wanted to rebrand but for the longest time couldn’t quite put my finger on what direction I wanted to go. So, I decided to just keep moving along with the status quo until I was sure of the changes I wanted to make.

Then, one day it hit me and a word popped into my head. Family.

Family is where my passion lies.

My heart’s desire is to help build strong families – both as a whole and individual members.

And that’s really what I had been trying to do all along, with series like Play Through The Bible and posts like this.

So, after some intense brainstorming sessions, Steadfast Family was born.

Why Steadfast?

I love the strength of the word. I love the idea of having a steadfast family, even when the world around may be crumbling.

In Helps Word-studies, two of the Greek words for steadfast really stuck out to me. While reading through it, I knew it was definitely something I wanted for my family! Here are some excerpts:

bébaios – “properly, solid (sure) enough to walk on; hence, firmunshakable; …absolutely dependable, giving guaranteed support (security, surety).” (literally, “what can be tread upon”) then refers to what is fully dependable, i.e. worthy of confidence because on “solid footing.” This describes what is fully secure (stable), and therefore can be trusted to give full support.

Read more here…

proskarteréō – “…consistently showing strength which prevails (in spite of difficulties); to endure (remain firm), stayingin a fixed direction. […”to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty – ‘to devote oneself to, to keep on, to persist in'” …]”

Read more here..

Is that something you want for your family? I sure do! 

I do hope that you will stick around as we work to build Steadfast Families together!

On the new site you will see a lot of the same type of content as before: encouragement, practical tips for family building, and ideas/activities for discipling your children. I also would like to bring you more content on marriage and adult Bible study!

I have several eBook’s that are in the works as well – I can’t wait to release them for you!

You can read more on my new about me page.

So, take a peek around the new site! There is still a lot of work to do, but I couldn’t wait any longer to show it to you!

I hope to resume publishing regular content next week. If you haven’t already, I recommend subscribing to be sure that you don’t miss a thing (the newsletter is also undergoing a makeover). Just enter your email address below!


“What was your favorite Christmas memory from childhood?” {60 People Reflect Back on Their Childhood Christmases)

This year as I made chocolate covered pretzels with my four year old son, memories of my own childhood Christmases came flooding back to me. I was transported back to my own small hands dipping pretzels and sprinkling on the red and green sprinkles. It brought back fond memories of setting up the Christmas tree with the toy train buzzing around it, wrapping presents for the family, and watching Christmas movies in our new jammies.

Yes, gifts were always a part of Christmas, but when I looked back those were not my biggest or most favorite memories. As I pondered this it got me thinking and it led me to wonder what others thought as they looked back on their childhood Christmases.

So, I asked this question:

What was your favorite Christmas memory from childhood?

Want to know the answers I found? It might surprise you!

What's Your Favorite Christmas Memory From Your Childhood? -- Find out what these 60 people had to say!

I asked 60 people from varying walks of life this simple question. The results were amazing, heartwarming, and even a little tear inducing.

Here are just some of the responses…

Putting on a Christmas play with my siblings/cousins. We practiced in front of my aunts and uncles before performing in front of my aunts and uncles. Year-to-year, our roles never changed. They saw us do this at least 40 times in the 90s. – Brenda

my whole family making christmas cookies .. batches and batches … all types … and then spending weeks eating them … – Elizabeth

Decorating the tree while watching Charlie Brown Christmas and drinking hot chocolate (a tradition my kids also look forward to and love!) – Holly

Waking up early a few days before Christmas and sitting next to the tree with my sister, whispering about how excited we were. – Heather

Caroling to shut-ins around our rural area with church group. Taking turns with siblings opening little gifts each night of advent. Mom’s secret numbered gift list, no one knew which gifts were theirs (5 siblings), we took turns opening after reading the record of Jesus’ birth. – Betty

My mom transforming our home with her decorations, getting to set up the carolers on the church steps, getting a baby CHRISTmas tree when I was 5 and going to my Grandparents with ALL the family there. Loved it. – Scott

Did you notice a theme? There are many more responses with lovely answers just like these. What did people think of first as they reflected back upon their childhood Christmases? I’ll give you one clue – it definitely wasn’t the gifts they received.

While reading through the responses I received, four trends stuck out to me.

Making a memorable Christmas 2

1. Time with Family

Whether it was the cozy feeling of just your family on Christmas morning or the fun craziness of getting to see your extended family – being with family was the number one commonality in the responses I received.

It’s not just the fun things we do that make Christmas memories – it’s the people we do them with. It’s baking cookies with mom, eating lunch at Grandpa and Grandma’s house, and having special play time with cousins and siblings. It’s the people we care about that make the holidays so special.

I woke up at an insane hour at my grandparents house. My parents and grandmother were still asleep. My grandfather sat in the floor with me at their house and played with a racecar track and set that Santa brought me. It’s THE only time I ever remember playing with my grandfather. – Janeen

Going to my grandparent’s house on Christmas Day for Christmas lunch. It was the only time I ever saw my extended family and we did a gift exchange. It made me feel like I belonged somewhere – Arabah

Christmas is my brothers birthday I remember waking up super early and my brother would already be out in the living room. I would sit next to him on the chair and watch the twinkling christmas lights and we would sing happy birthday together. He is 8 years older than me. – Darla

Making a memorable Christmas 3

2. Generosity Coming to Life

Multiple responses were centered around an act of giving. This wasn’t surprising. That joyful feeling you get when you give to others is a memory that sticks with you. On the other end of this was the responders who mentioned someone giving to them to be one of their lasting memories. It was the generosity of another, given to them when they were in need, that gave them a life long memory.

One year a friend of my mom’s husband had lost his job and they were scraping to put food on the table with no $$ for gifts. My mom talked to my brothers and me and we put together a basket of gifts and food for them. We dropped it off and ran away. They knew it was us but it is still a great memory. – Tammy

A couple women showed up at our door to give us a tree because they heard we didn’t have one. We were sworn to secrecy to not let anyone know we couldn’t afford a tree. How they found out, I don’t know. It meant the world to me that someone knew and cared. -Kymberlie

Making a memorable Christmas 1

3. Simple Christmas Traditions

Decorating the tree. Baking cookies. Looking at the lights. There were no mentions of Pinterest perfect Christmases, just simple traditions done with the ones they loved.

Christmas morning with my dad making breakfast, my mom hung out with us drinking her coffee while we played with our stocking goodies. And decorating Christmas cookies! -Malynda

Baking. My favorite memory was baking with my mom and my kids always tell me that their favorite holiday tradition is all the cookies we bake. – Heidi

Decorating the Christmas tree. It was always so much fun pulling the ornaments out of the box and hearing the stories behind them. -Rachel

Making a memorable Christmas 4

4. Meaningful Gifts

Although the vast majority of people did not mention getting gifts as their favorite Christmas memory, there were some that did. However, as I read their responses, I noticed something interesting. The reason the gift was so memorable, wasn’t because of the gift itself, but the meaning behind it. It wasn’t the price of the gift or how many gifts there were under the tree – it was the special thought behind the gift, the person it came from, or the memories surrounding it.

My favorite Christmas memory was actually a gift I got twice. When I was about 11 I really really wanted a birthstone ring for Christmas. My parents thought maybe I wasn’t old enough for actual jewelry but took a chance anyway. I wore it all the time. And then one day I lost it. I was so sure I only ever wore it or kept it in the box but I couldn’t find the box either. It was just gone. I was heartbroken about it. Several years later there was a small flood in the basement when the water heater broke. My parents sorting through cardboard boxes to see what was ruined found the ring box. And yes the ring was inside. They saved it until that Christmas and I got it all over again. I don’t remember what other presents I got that year but that ring was like a real life example of Luke 15:9. And how God will restore to us what was lost. -Kat

Apparently I was one of those that would snoop, shake and even unwrap/rewrap presents (I could get the tape off without tearing the paper). One year I wanted a stuffed animal. It would have been obvious so my parents put silverware and bricks in the box along with some other things. I think the box was even double wrapped. Every time I shook it or moved it they would get this look on their face that I had broken something. Needless to say I was quite surprised to open my very large box to find the stuffed dog that I really wanted. -Kim

The year our parents got us a puppy. Every year on Christmas eve, we’d go drive around and look at lights. This particular year, we drove a lot longer and to a rural area with very few lights. My dad claimed to be lost and went to knock on someone’s door “for directions” , and came back with a puppy. (It was all planned out.) -Beth

What's Your Favorite Christmas Memory From Your Childhood? -- Find out what these 60 people had to say!

Christmas Memories that Matter

So, this Christmas I want to challenge you (and myself!) to put a little less emphasis on the gifts and the Pinterest perfect moments. And instead, squeeze your kids little tighter, let them be spoiled by their grandparents a little longer, and don’t worry about getting frosting and sprinkles all over the kitchen.

My kids are only 4 and 7 months and I can already feel the years slipping through my fingers. I know that it will be like a blink of an eye before they are all grown up and these moments are only memories. I want to spend as much time as I can doing the things that count.

Are you looking for a simple and meaningful Christ-Centered Christmas tradition? Try Names of Jesus Advent Ornaments! Get the free printable here.

Now I’d love to hear! What’s your favorite Christmas memory from childhood?

Advent Snacks (A Truth in the Tinsel Supplement) Days 19-24

Advent Snacks for Kids

In order to extend the learning while doing Truth in the Tinsel, I wanted to come up with a simple supplement. After doing some brainstorming, I came up with Advent Snacks! They are simple snacks, themed after each day in of Truth in the Tinsel, that you can easily make with stuff you probably already have lying around.

These snacks are most definitely not food art! While I think those crazy awesome snacks and the people that make them are amazing, that is not something in my skill set – or time allotment! This is food that you’ll be able to whip together in a few minutes, making it so you can continue to nourish their spirits at the same time as you do their little bodies!

What if you don’t have Truth in the Tinsel? No problem! Christmas is Christmas, and you can just as easily use any or all of these snacks without the TNT eBook. However, if you haven’t given Truth in the Tinsel a shot, I highly recommend it! (You can read my review here)

Previous week’s snacks:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

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Alright, are you ready to see this week’s snacks? Let’s get started!

Day 19 – Shepherds

 

Advent Snacks day 19 - shepherds

To make a shepherd snack I had the idea to make a shepherd’s crook out of a soft pretzel. I was making these pretzels for a get together, so I figured it would be perfect to use a bit of the dough to make the crook. Well, it turned out a little plump! But it still worked out okay. You could also use homemade or store bought bread dough. Hm, breadstick shepherd’s crooks.. mmmmmm.

Day 20 – Temple

 

Advent snacks day 20 - temple

This temple snack was made using crackers for the base, pretzel rods for the columns, and string cheese for the roof.

Day 21 – Star

 

Advent snacks day 21 - star

To make this star snack, you’ll need one or two star cookie cutters. If you don’t have a star cookie cutter, I highly recommend this cookie cutter set. You get 101 cookie cutters for under 20 bucks. That’s what I call a deal! We use these cookie cutters for way more than just cookies! Snacks, play doh, art projects – there is a lot they are good for!

Anyways, that was a side note. To make this star plate I cut the white stars out of thinly sliced apple and the yellow star out of a cheese slice. Simple!

Day 22 – Wise Men

 

Advent Snacks day 22 - wise men

Most of the snacks so far have been at least fairly healthy, so I thought today we’d throw in a sweet! I cut this crown shape out of a cookie, adding a few gum drops for gems. It didn’t turn out the prettiest, but K recognized what it was right away so I’ll chalk that up to a win!

 Day 23 – Gifts

 

Advent Snacks day 23 - gifts

It took me a while to figure out how to make a snack to represent the gifts of the Wise Men, but I thought it ended up turning out pretty cute. The “gift” is made out of two club crackers and the ribbon is made out of string cheese.

Day 24 – Cross

 

Advent Snacks day 24 - cross

For the final snack to represent the cross, I was trying to think of something that would be a really cool snack. However, I finally decided that simple would actually be better in this case! So, all you need to make this cross snack is a few pretzel rods. If you want to serve more of a snack, you can make the two thieves’ crosses as well.

That’s all for Truth in the Tinsel snacks! I hope you had fun eating these yummy snacks with us!

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Advent Snacks (A Truth in the Tinsel Supplement) Days 13-18

Advent Snacks for Kids

In order to extend the learning while doing Truth in the Tinsel, I wanted to come up with a simple supplement. After doing some brainstorming, I came up with Advent Snacks! They are simple snacks, themed after each day in of Truth in the Tinsel, that you can easily make with stuff you probably already have lying around.

These snacks are most definitely not food art! While I think those crazy awesome snacks and the people that make them are amazing, that is not something in my skill set – or time allotment! This is food that you’ll be able to whip together in a few minutes, making it so you can continue to nourish their spirits at the same time as you do their little bodies!

What if you don’t have Truth in the Tinsel? No problem! Christmas is Christmas, and you can just as easily use any or all of these snacks without the TNT eBook. However, if you haven’t given Truth in the Tinsel a shot, I highly recommend it! (You can read my review here)

Here’s the other week’s snacks:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 4

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Alright, are you ready to see this week’s snacks? Let’s get started!

Day 13 – Bethlehem

 

Advent Snacks day 13 - bethlehem

A house of bread made to represent Bethlehem (which means “the house of bread”). I used butter and honey toast with a little door cut out to make it. You could add some little windows too!

Day 14 – Stable

 

Advent Snacks day 14 -stable

For day 14 we made a simple stable snack. Just form the stable out of pretzel rods and add some peanut butter “dirt” and coconut “hay.” While making this snack I realized it would have been perfect if I would have had some animal crackers to add!

Day 15 – Manger

Advent Snacks day 15 - manger

This manger snack was made with a grilled cheese sandwich! Just cut in half to make the bed/trough and use the leftovers to make the legs. The baby Jesus head was made out of apple cut into a circle and it was finished off with some shredded cheese “straw.”

Day 16 – Cloths

 

Advent Snacks day 16 - cloths

Day 16 is about Jesus being wrapped in swaddling cloths. For this snack, I wrapped a cheese stick in some deli meat. However, you could also wrap cheese in a tortilla, wrap a hot dog in bread, or wrap bread/tortilla around a banana.

 Day 17 – Sheep

 

Advent Snacks day 17 - sheep

I think this is quite possibly the cutest snack we’ve made so far! For this adorable little sheep, all you need is some popcorn for the body, pretzel rods for the legs, and a pretzel crisp for the face (a regular pretzel would probably work too!). Tip for the popcorn when you only want to make a small amount – place a single layer of popcorn kernels on the bottom of a microwave safe bowl with a small pat of butter. Cover with a plate and microwave until the popping slows down. Sprinkle with a little salt and you are good to go!

Day 18 – Angels

 

Advent Snacks day 18 - angels

Okay, so these little guys are pretty cute too! To make these angels, peel an orange and separate the slices. Cut small chunks of carrot so they lay flat. Use the oranges for the wings and add a cheerio “halo”!

That’s all for Truth in the Tinsel days 13-18! Look for the next six days coming soon! Let me know about your favorite TNT supplement in the comments below!

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St Nicholas Day 2015

St. Nicholas Day 2015

When K was just a baby, we decided to add the celebration of St. Nicholas Day to our Advent traditions. We have loved observing St. Nick’s day as an alternative to “doing Santa.” We get to do some fun traditions, learn about history, and focus on giving like the real St. Nicholas did. I wrote more about celebrating St. Nick’s Day here.

This year was our third St. Nick’s day and, even though it is too late for you to try out this celebration this year, I still thought it would be fun to share what we did!

Stockings and A Special Breakfast

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For St. Nicholas day, the main two things we have done (and plan to continue doing) are stocking gifts and a special breakfast. We do stockings on this day instead of Christmas morning and it has been a great way to spread out the gift giving a little bit. I usually fill the stockings with small gifts and some chocolate coins. You can read more about what was in our stockings this year here.

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We also have a special breakfast that is a treat my mom used to make for Christmas – Scandinavian Kringler (or as we always called it, “kringle”). So yummy.

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St. Nicholas Neighbor Treat Baskets

During the time St. Nicholas lived, there was a great famine and much of the surrounding area lived in poverty. One of the things that he was known for doing was placing baskets with grain, fruit, and other food on people’s doorsteps during the night, so that they would have food to eat.

A while back I had read about remembering this act of service by putting together baskets with treats in them to give to your neighbors. This year I decided we’d give it a try!

St Nicholas Day gift baskets

For our baskets, I found these awesome metal buckets for only a few dollars on clearance at Hobby Lobby. There were four left, so I decided we’d do four baskets this year.

Over the week, K and I had fun making some Christmas treats to put in our baskets. We made chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate chip cookies, Chex mix, and a loaf of bread for each basket. We packaged everything in fun treat bags I found at the dollar store.

I finished the baskets off with a paper on St. Nicholas and a coloring page for the kids in the family. Subscribe at the bottom of this post to gain access to the free printables.

We delivered our baskets to some of our neighbor friends on the morning of St. Nicholas Day.

St. Nicholas Day baskets

Shopping for the Food Bank

One of the sweetest things happened while we were preparing our gift baskets. I asked K who he would like to give the baskets to and was surprised when he didn’t immediately start rattling off the names of his friends.

He was obviously thinking hard on the question, so I asked “Maybe to some of your friends?” In kind of a confused voice he said mentioned two of his friends and said that he wanted to give the basket to them but, “they already have food to eat.”

Then it dawned on me. “Did you think we were giving these baskets to people who didn’t have any food?” I asked. He nodded his head yes. He was listening closer than I thought!

I explained to him that while I didn’t think we could give our baskets to someone who didn’t have any food, there was something we could do. I told him about food banks and asked him if he wanted to buy some food for one. He said yes and even wanted to use his own money!

St. Nicholas Day food bank

The day before St. Nicholas Day, we pulled the money out that he had saved in his wallet and counted it. While he is getting good at counting, the concept of a five dollar bill being equal to five one dollar bills is still a little foreign to him. At first he said he wanted to use all his money, but he quickly took that back! Then, he counted out six of his bills to use, keeping two for himself. I was impressed with the decision he made, giving generously, yet keeping a little for himself. He even said, “I’m going to have to get some more money!”

We left the saved money at home, and took his wallet to the grocery store. After roaming the aisles making his choices (aided a little bit in choosing healthier options), it was time to pay. I could feel the tension in him as he handed the money over, but in the end I had one joyful little giver.

The items he bought are loaded in a box, ready for us to drop off at the food bank next time we are out. The whole experience was such a fun time and great learning experience. I think this will become a new St. Nick’s day tradition!

PS Since he is still young enough to not know any better, I did take the little fella’s hard earned money and slipped it back in his wallet. 🙂

Do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day? What are your traditions?

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