A Real Christmas Lesson: If He Had Not Come {a review}

Christmas Book If He Had Not Come {Quiet in the Chaos}

With the holidays coming up, it is important to our family to focus on the reason for Christmas- Jesus Christ’s birth.  We were able to read and review a precious book, If He Had Not Come.  Originally written by Nan F. Weeks, it has been reintroduced by David Nicholson, a retired school teacher and missionary.

This is a wonderful story for any Christian family that wants to truly show their children what Christmas celebration is all about.  Though the book is recommended for ages six and up, my (just turned) four year old really enjoyed and understood it.  The casebound hardback version can be purchased for $18.95, or choose the e-book version at $3.99.

About If He Had Not Come

This book was such a pleasant surprise to receive in the mail!  In the front cover was a special, handwritten note from David himself, which Lexie thought was just wonderful.  The book is a beautiful hardback, illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz- there is a lot of detail in the illustrations that support the story so well.  We have read this book many times already, and Lexie has noticed something new in the pictures each time.

The story begins with a young boy, Bobby, getting ready for bed on Christmas Eve, anticipating opening the gifts from his family the next morning.  (I will say, one of my favorite things about this book is there is no mention of Santa Claus).  But when he goes to sleep, he dreams of a world where there is no Christmas; there is no church, no Christian run/owned businesses like homeless shelters, hospitals, etc.  When he goes looking for each of these things, in its place he finds a sign reading, “If I had not come.”

After realizing what a desolate world he would live in were it not for Christ, Bobby wakes up and thanks Jesus for coming, for being the very best Christmas gift.

What We Thought and How We Used It

This is honestly one of the best Christmas books we own.  Really.  It isn’t too much for a young child to understand, and it clearly and honestly opens their eyes to Christmas and the Christ in Christmas.  The story shows them not only would we not have Christmas to celebrate His birth, but our world would be so different without Jesus. There are so many things we take for granted that we would no longer enjoy if Christ had not come to save us.  This is a great book for all families, and Sunday school classes alike!

We have been reading this book for my four year old’s bedtime routine.  I wasn’t sure at first what she would think, or if she would enjoy it.  Well, she has requested it for nap and bed time since the day we introduced it!  My husband and I have been able to take If He Had Not Come and go deeper into the meaning of Christ’s birth-even farther than the meaning of Christmas.  (in the picture she was in her gymnastics leotard and I am not sure what was up with the crazy headband ..)

Wonderful Christmas Book: If He Had Not Come {Quiet in the Chaos}

In the back of the book you will find several helpful pages.  There is a page of interactive topics for families and Sunday school teachers- the questions are thought provoking and open ended to allow plenty of discussion.  They will really help you have a deep, wonderful, honest, discussion with your child/ren.

There is also a section titled, “Going Deeper;” these are questions to help you and your child explore what the Bible says about the birth of Christ.  I really like this section, as it has possible answers for you to share/follow up with, and references specific Bible verses!  That is really helpful for any parent trying to lead their little one to God.  There is also a small section on the last page with an idea to help you celebrate Christmas using a fun activity.

If you are looking for a book to add to your Christmas collection, or want to do a unit on Christmas with your children, this is the book I would suggest you look at first.

Connect with David Nicholson

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Gingerbread Play Dough

I have been looking at a lot of different crafts for the kids and I to do together.  I came across a recipe for salt dough, which is a homemade play dough.  I had planned on trying it, then today my mom sent me a similar recipe, but there were two differences: 1) her recipe was for GINGERBREAD play dough and 2) it used fewer ingredients than the recipe I had.

Gingerbread Salt Dough
You will need:
  • 1c flour
  • 1/2c salt
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, etc to desired smell/color
  • 2tsp cream of tartar
  • 1c water
  • 1tsp veg oil
  • essential oils of your choosing

Just as in baking, mix all your dry ingredients together- the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and spices.  The spices are just for a great gingerbread smell and color.
In a separate bowl, mix the water and oil
Add water-oil mixture with your dry ingredients in a small/med pan.
Cook mixture over low/med heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.  WARNING-it becomes thick quickly.
You will know it’s done when it starts to pull away from the sides and bottom of the pan.
When it’s done, knead on the counter until it is nice and smooth.
*don’t forget the cookie cutters and rolling pin!*

This is the best and easiest play dough recipe I have found.  When the holidays are over, exclude the seasonings and add regular food coloring for year-round fun!

——————
(Original post Dec 2011)
Here is Lady (15 months old) playing with play dough for the first time:

 She was really only interested in the cookie cutters at first .. and yes she arranged them in size order?
” Hrm .. maybe I will touch it a little”
She did not like the texture of the dough at the beginning.

 

More with the cookie cutters ..

 

Then I made her name out of the play dough and she liked it!  Her favorite letter from her name is “i,” so she enjoyed playing with the “ball” on the “i.”  When I spell her name out loud, it goes something like this:
Me- “l, e, x
her- “I!!  I!!! I!!! I!”
Me-E
her- “LEXIE!”

It’s a lot of fun!  So, our first go at play dough was a success.  There were a few snacking attempts, but overall she did really well!  This has made me less fearful of doing more crafts and activities with her, for sure!

Try it out with your little one!

What are some of your children’s favorite activities, crafts, etc to pass the time and learn?

Family Advent Devotional: Good News of Great Joy!

Simple Advent Devotional: Good News of Great Joy!v

My family and I were so blessed to review a wonderful new Advent devotional for Christian families!  Good News of Great Joy, ($3.99!) by Rachel Tiemeyer from Thriving Home, is a wonderful way to begin your family’s Christmas season.

This e-book devotional is written for children ages 2-11, but is definitely appropriate for all ages.  Each devotional is set up for a weekly reading and activity, but you can schedule this out daily if you’d like.  This is what I *love* about this particular program- it isn’t a crazy busy craft or activity every. single. day, requiring tons of supplies.  It is gentle and simple, just how we like to focus on Christmas in our home!

What’s Inside

There are four (4) devotions; each devotional has a “read,” “pray,” and “discuss and do,” section.

  • Read: you read the devotional from a Bible of your choice (she has even referenced the particular stories in some of the most popular children’s Bibles- The Jesus Storybook Bible, and The Rhyme Bible Storybook), or several different Bibles.
  • Pray: Pray about what you have read
  • Discuss and Do: Here is where you complete an activity.  These are fun and simple, but meaningful.  You can do one activity, or all of those suggested with your children.

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year- while the world is spinning into utter chaos over material things and sales, we relax, focus on the birth of our savior, and spend time together.  We use this time to remember why God sent Jesus to Earth, and thanking Him for that precious gift.  This devotional helps us do just that!

So if you are looking for an Advent Devotional (your first, or maybe a new one), head on over to Thriving Home, and get a copy now!

Merry Christmas!

Weekly Wrap Up: November 2014 {and Notebooking American Girl Books}

This month has flown by!  Thanksgiving is already over and everyone is prepping for Christmas.

We haven’t had any real weekly updates the last few weeks, because well … we haven’t done a lot of formal schooling.  Most everything has been relaxed and theme based.  And of course, we spend a lot of time just snuggling Ila.  =)  I mean, I spend 6 hours a day nursing her, and after every feeding Lexie and Max both request a turn to hold her.  So, we school when we can. 😉

Fall Indoor activities {quietinthechaos.com}

Lexie and “Jane Kirsten” having a picnic, building forts, happy baby ila

We worked on some pumpkin activities, which involved Max making his own pumpkin description book. (you can find it at www.ThisReadingMama.com) He really enjoyed it!  We are still working on NOT eating the markers … =)

Handwriting Practice and Fine Motor {quietinthechaos.com}

practicing handwriting, coloring with markers, gluing pumpkins in book

We also had our first big snow: (Lexie doesn’t mind the cold if she can play in the snow.  Mister refuses to keep his clothes on, so of course he gets “too cold” and needs to come in.  haha)

DSCN2822

Lexie is still notebooking her way through the Kirsten of American Girl series.  She loves doing this and I am so glad she does.  I am going to introduce her to a timeline soon.  We have been talking about so many things in history lately, and I know it will help her understand something so contrast if she can see a visual.  We have two chapters left to notebook, and then we will move on to the next book.  I got our blank notebooking pages from notebookingfairy.com.  I chose the biography pages, whole punched them, and put in a folder with prongs.  We will add to it as we go.

notebooking American Girl Books

Notebooking “Meet Kirsten”

Last Saturday I was working on some knitting, and Lexie asked if I could show her how to knit.  Of course I said yes!  I love that my girl wants to sew and knit!  So, this is the little progress we made.  You may be wondering how I helped a four year old knit- I sat on the edge of my chair, and had her stand between my legs, so I could get my arms around hers.  I place my hands over hers, and we just went through the motions.  By the end, she knew exactly what to do, although she struggled with the dexterity needed.  I have no doubt she will be able to do it herself before long!

knitting with a four year old

We did do lots of reading about Thanksgiving.  You can see my post of supplemental books for Thanksgiving HERE (link coming soon).  Lexie really enjoyed this and learned lots of new vocabulary from these readings.  She has been using the new words every chance she gets!

And then, of course, we had Thanksgiving dinner.  Usually we spend Thanksgiving traveling to see family, but this year with Ila being so little we just decided to stay home.  It was my first year to cook a real Thanksgiving dinner for my family- we had turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole (from scratch, might I add…) and pecan pie.  And of course I am using my turkey bones to make bone broth!  As my sweet Lexie said, it was a “real Thanksgiving feast!”  She was so funny, she was kinda wiggling around on her seat during dinner, and she says, “I am just wiggling my belly so I can make room for more!”  haha  She definitely belongs to us!

Thanksgiving "feast" www.quietinthechaos.com

Between all this I have slowly started back running on the treadmill, and decorating for Christmas.  I hope to get you a recipe for that DELICIOUS green bean casserole soon, and an update on our Advent activities.  =)

Happy Holidays, and stay warm!

Thanksgiving Week

So, I have been MIA this past week.

I really have no excuse …  I just didn’t schedule any posts for my 2 weeks of travel.  


We spent time with family in Memphis, before driving to Arkansas.  Max was pretty cranky on our trip.  His disposition is more like mine when I was little- he doesn’t like strangers and he doesn’t warm up to others well.  At all.  And he likes home.



Lexie has had a great time; she is our social butterfly.  But man, was she happy to be home!  It was hard being out of our routine- no independent play, naps were a mess.  While in Memphis Mister took 2-2.5 hour naps every day.

In Arkansas, naps were only an hour, and he woke up screaming from every nap and every morning.  Sometimes he cried at night (most nights).  But, he was also in the most horrible of horrible, wonder week 64.  So I do attribute some of it to that.  Now that the wonder week is over, I am curious what developmental leaps he will start showing in the coming weeks!  Maybe more words?  I don’t know.

I just kept telling myself, this too shall pass.  And it did.

We did have a lot of fun though- in Memphis we visited family, and Lexie got to spend some time cooking with Granny.  Then in Arkansas, Lexie went to see the dinosaurs at the museum with her Sue Sue, we played in the deer woods, saw the gingerbread house downtown, went to the hot springs downtown, and saw the lights at Garvan Gardens.  It was a lot of fun.

Playing in the woods with Daddy
While in the woods, we decided our vehicles are just too quiet and smooth- neither of our children ever sleep in the car…  Max fell asleep riding around in a huge, loud, bumpy Razr, in the cold!
 
 

This was while playing in the back yard at my husband’s parent’s house.  Lexie was pretending to be Tigger, climbing trees in the One Hundred Acre Wood.

 

I am so thankful to be home!  Oh my goodness- 11 days is just too long.  A week isn’t quite long enough, but I am thinking 9 days next time.  We will see.

Flying home!

——–
I feel like it is already the middle of December!  =(  I haven’t even started decorating for Christmas or planning our Advent activities.  I am so behind.  No Christmas tree yet … think we will do that tomorrow or this week.  I am in desperate need of Christmas and a whole month of non stop Jesus!

Lexie loved, loved our Advent stuff last year, and I really want to plan some fun stuff this year.  So guess what I will be doing all night?  (After I get some blog work done, anyway).


Here is to a wonderful December! 

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Christmas at the Wright House

As most of you know, since we had Lexie I have been trying to simplify our lives.  We set up budgets, save money where we can, and really, really try to down play material things for Lexie.  We don’t focus on “things,” toys, or shopping.  We also don’t tell her she is a “diva” or that she is perfect. I refuse to have a spoiled, bratty child.  Plus, I don’t think parenting is about giving our kids every single things they want.  This isn’t to say I want the best for her, but mostly I want enough for her (and Max, of course).  Enough.  What is that, exactly?

Enough is a roof over her head, warm clothes on her body, all the love her parents can give her, siblings whom she will consider her best friend one day…  Enough.  Not an abundance, not 15 plastic dolls assembled in China-none of which she plays with.  A few nice dolls she enjoys playing pretend with, sure.  As parents, j.tom and I really work hard to minimize her “need” of stimulation.  For the last three weeks, she has had NO tv.  I mean none.  I had gotten into the habit of letting her “rest” on afternoons she didn’t nap by letting her watch Elmo, or some other crazy, yelling, maniac muppet on Netflix.  No more.  And you know what?  I already see improvements in her behavior, he tiredness, her attention span, and her constant whining to watch Elmo.  Not to mention she is napping again (but I’m sure ths has more to do with her teeth being in, and her being potty trained for poopy now).

My point is, minimal is good.  Especially in today’s world everything is about stimulation.  I want my children to be able to sit in the floor with blocks and be happy.  I want them to go out back and play without whining non stop about being on the computer, watching tv, or playing on some game system.  Jtom and I just want enough for them.  Enough to make them happy, enough to keep them healthy, and enough for them to know their more than loved.

This brings me to advent and Christmas.  I went a little overboard this year for lexie …. A camera, train set, CD player and Christian/hymn sing CDs, a daily devotional for us to read together, a new Bible, some art stuff, an aqua doodle pad … Yea.  She’s getting a lot of new “things.”  I’m a little disappointed in myself but at the same time, the books and music are things I would have for her anyway, as she is getting older and we are going to start daily calendar and Bible time each morning. Anyway, my point is Christmas is so commercialized.  We all know this.  But do we really do anything to stay away from the commercial part, and veer towards the reason for Christmas?  Do we actually teach our children about Christ, or do we stick a creepy little elf in the shelf and tell them Santa is watching them?  I shouldn’t need to threaten my child with no gifts from Santa, or from me.  And what part of trphreatening our children with a lie is in any way Biblical, or special?  It’s not.

But there is so much special in the meaning of Christmas and Christ Himself.  There is so much power in the representation of that baby in the manger, the stocking we fill (at our house) with fruits
and symbols from the Bible, the star on top of the tree … There are so many more symbols in christmas that are special.  Not Santa.  Not toys. Not expensive decorations.  But rather traditions, Bible stories, and sharing the wonderful light and love of Christ without children whom then share it with others. That is why we celebrate Christmas.

There will be no Santa coming in our house.  Ever.  There will be gifts form mommy and daddy like baby Jesus got from the wise men.  There will be three per child (and technically if I group lexies gifts, she is getting three … And the train could be for Max) p and maybe one large one for the family together.  There will be advent activities and crafts, sharing aloud of Buble passages, and traditions.  The kids will know that Santa is something fun some families do, but in our house, we serve The Lord, and Christmas is about His gift to us, Jesus Christ.  Not a jolly old man in a red suit (although if you choose to do Santa, that’s what is best for your family.  I pass no judgement.  It’s just not what we want to do for ours).

This afternoon we went to church for the celebration of Advent.  I have the month mapped out for activities and crafts we will do focusing on Jesus and the spirit of the season.  None of them involve Santa, though sadly that’s what you find a lot of when looking and reading about Advent and Christmas activities.  Advent is about the birth of Christ, the love he brought to the earth for us, and the Love our Lord has for sending us His Son.  I just don’t understand how Santa fits into that …?  Many people say it’s just innocent fun, but I’m not so sure it’s all that innocent in the long run. I offered the idea to JTom that we not do Santa; He said no, he didn’t want our kids to be the “weird” ones who are different from everyone else.  (Yes, I know you see what is wrong with this statement … wait for it.)  I didn’t argue. Two days later he came back and at dinner said we weren’t doing Santa.  I asked why not, didn’t he want our kids to be “normal?”  He said Santa isn’t why we have Christmas, and after thought and prayer he knows our kids will be just fine without a “santa.”

All the “magic” of Christmas for my family can be found in a manger, the excitement LExie shows when we talk about Baby Jesus, and his love for us isn’t comparable to her screaming hysterically while sitting on some old man’s lap at the mall.  

Christ’s love for her is real, our love for her is real.  It is enough.  

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