ESV Illuminated {art journaling edition} Bible

As I’ve been pouring over some new books this fall season, one that landed on my counter *ehum* desk, was the ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition– Oh. My. This Bible features a refined and eye catching cover, along with gold edged pages, and beautiful art work.

Win Your Copy! Illuminated Bible Art journaling Edition

This is probably one of the prettiest Bibles I have ever laid eyes on. On top of being just lovely and elegant, this Bible is a full ESV text, in 9 pt Lexicon font, spaced in single columns to allow room for note taking, journaling, art work, and any other praise you can put on paper.

There are over 500 hand lettered, gold inked illustrations by artist Dana Tanamachi; she has been featured world wide and is probably best known for starting the chalk-lettering trend that abounds. The Smyth-sewn binding fits the weight of this Bible perfectly, ensuring it will hold up to the years (and generations?) of use, art, and the love it will receive.

About 2 years ago I was introduced to Bible art journaling; it is a wonderful way to combine time with the Lord, worship, prayer, and any enjoyment for art/creativeness. Anyone can use this Bible but those that love to color, doodle, and relax through journaling, painting, and stamping, will especially enjoy combining one of the best translations (ESV), with their love for the Word. I hope to find time to create one journaling Bible for each of my children to have one day… I am working on the first for now. 😉

I’ve written in every Bible I have ever owned, because I like to make notes of new understandings, record how a verse or passage specifically affected and influenced my life at that time, and to document prayers. But most Bibles lack room for much prayer journaling or documenting. The ESV Illuminated Bible, art journaling edition, provides ample room for all of this and more!

(giveaway) Illuminated bible Art journaling Edition

Some of my favorite times in my Bible have been while I sketched out something that represented *to me* what a verse or passage was saying. Using different art mediums make it impactful, colorful, and memorable in a relaxing and a fun way.

If you are looking for a journaling, (or maybe you’ve filled one and are ready to move on to the next?), or a personal gift this Christmas season, the ESV Illuminated Bible is a breath taking Bible to use! In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, it features:

  • 2- color printing
  • 64 full page, book opener illustrations
  • 50 full page verse illustrations
  • 250+ hand lettered margin verses
  • 100+ other illustrations throughout (such as florals, scrolls, etc)
  • gold edges and detailing
  • arrives with a permanent slipcase, perfect for storing and gift giving

You can read about Dana Tanamachi HERE, and see even more details, including images and video, of the ESV Illuminated Bible HERE.

One lucky winner will get a copy of their own- enter below to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.





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Mess Free Kids Paints {Kwik Stix Thin Stix- a review}

The Pencil Grip- Kwik Stix Tempera Paint

As any regular reader knows, we *love*The Pencil Grip, Inc., and their products! We have reviewed Kwik Stix before, but this time we are sharing our love for their Thin Stix Creativity Pack. These tempera paint sticks are quick, easy, and allow limitless creativity for your children (and you, too!).

The Creativity Pack has 24 vibrant colors, including the Kwik Stix bright and metallics-these are our favorite colors to use. You will also find, Thin Stix are non-toxic, as well as nut, egg, and gluten free! This means if you have a child that puts everything in their mouth, or “paints” their fingers, toes, and lips (like my 3 year old…), you can feel confident that they aren’t getting toxins or a common allergen in their mouth, or on their skin.

Easy, allergy and mess free art supplies- tempera paint sticks. Dry in 90 seconds, no cracks after drying, smooth, shiny finish. Fun and safe creativity!


What Are Thin Stix, and How We Use Them

Kwik Stix Thin Stix are a solid tempera paint, in a stick; These are mess free and 100% washable. There are NO cups, brushes, smocks, or spills! You use Kwik Stix just like you would a marker or glue stick- remove the lid, twist the paint up, and start creating. They really do dry in 90 seconds with no smudges, or sticking, and we have never had them stain our skin or clothing.

Thin Stix are much thinner than original Kwik Stix. These are taller and thinner, allowing more precision and detail on smaller surfaces, or in smaller spaces. They’re recommended for ages 3+, and trust me when I say children and adults of all ages will enjoy these paints! My children are 7, 5, 3, and 1; the baby doesn’t use them yet, because she would just eat them, but the others all love our Thin Stix.

I like that you can blend the colors before they dry, and layer them for even darker shades. The thinness of the paints in this set allows ease for writing and making details pop. The paint goes on so smoothly- in a satisfying, buttery-smooth kind of way. The metallics give just the right amount of “sparkle” to your project, and the bright colors are super neon! So much fun!


The uses for Thin Stix are really endless. My children are small, so we use them for creative fun on paper the most. It is *so* easy for this mama to whip out our art tote with all the Kwik Stix in it and let the kids go to town creating. My favorite on cold mornings is to let my kids paint and create after breakfast, before we begin our school day.

We have used Kwik Stix:

  • on plaster and paper mache projects
  • to create pictures
  • make thank you cards
  • create illustrations for homemade books and journals
  • to decorate poster board signs, banners
  • in coloring books
  • to mark answers on school work
  • marking bingo and other games
  • finger and hands print carfts
  • decorating pumpkins

You can use the Thin Stix Creativity Pack on just about any surface- if you can paint it, you can use Thin Stix on it- paper, poster board, wood, plaster, food (haha), canvas, and fabric- sometimes you may need to seal with a sealant if your project will be exposed to rain/the elements.

I really like that Thin Stix are developmentally appropriate for small children learning to hold writing/art tools, can be used at an easel, and are so easy to clean up! With 4 small children at home, a simple painting activity has to be planned in advanced with lots of room for messes- but not with Kwik Stix!

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DIY Fall Nature Banner Handicraft {nature craft}

This last week in one of our co-op classes we had SO much fun making a DIY fall nature banner. The timing was uncanny! A few weeks ago, we came across a PVC banner printing that we thought was just amazing. So when we found out that we were doing banners, I was extra excited! I wanted to share with you what we did, so you can do it at home as well!

This could be adapted for spring, Christmas, summer … any season or occasion really. I would say it is an appropriate activity for ages 2+; a 2-5 year old may need extra assistance with the mallet, obviously. My 5yo son was able to do most of the hammering himself, he did get tired once or twice, so I would hammer and give his arms a break.

diy fall nature banner handicraft #charlottemason #naturestudy #handicraft #homeschool

First you will need to gather supplies:

  • thin fabric such as a light, thin linen or muslin
  • leaves, buds, flowers, grasses from nature
  • rubber mallet or hammer
  • tarp or cardboard (for laying everything on before hammering)
  • 3 hole punch or knife (we use a 3 hole punch so the kids could do it, and the holes would be evenly spaced)
  • twine for stringing
  • small piece of clear tape (for taping the end of the twine so it doesn’t unravel)
  • decorative leaves/acorns/etc from craft store that you may want to add
  • hot glue gun

You can either punch your holes before or after hammering, that is up to you. We did it afterwards.

  1. gather leaves, flowers, buds, & grasses of all different colors-the brighter the better!
  2. cut fabric into neat triangles (print a triangle template the size you want). You can do this by hand if you’d like or if you’re planning to make quite a big garland, I’d recommend looking into the best fabric cutting machines for precise cuttings. It’ll be a lot quicker than cutting it free hand too.
  3. warm up your hot glue gun if adding decorations
  4. lay out your tarp or cardboard, the harder the surface the better the colors will come out of the leaves and flowers. So maybe on top of concrete or a garage floor would be good.
  5. place leaves and flowers *under* your fabric triangles
  6. use the mallet or hammer to bang away!
  7. leave the bits of leaves and petals on the fabric, once they dry they are easy to roll off
  8. using a 3 hole punch, place the triangle, top edge in, under 2 of the holes and punch on each triangle
  9. cut your twine. For 4 triangles, we cut twine 36″ long, you would need more if you do a longer banner.
  10. wrap scotch tape around one end of the twine, for weaving through the holes
  11. weave twine through the holes, then tie a knot on each end
  12. *IF* you want added decorations, hot glue them onto the banner now
  13. Hang and enjoy!

Some of the students really liked using a hammer better; it does give a lot of bang for your buck. The rubber mallet covers more area, so for smaller/younger students, the mallet made the job a bit easier/less tiring.

I want to give a shout out to our wonderful “Maker’s Space” class teacher. This is one of my favorite activities we have ever done in our homeschool! It was so enjoyable, and simple to do. I look forward to doing it at home with all my kids, another season.

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Paper Mache Kids Craft

For part of our summer homeschool activities, I wanted to do some hands on art/creating during the unbearably hot hours of summer.  We have enjoyed using for review Activa Products Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit and the ACTÍVA Products’ Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS (a free ebook).

What It Is & How We Used It

We received the kit which contains both Rigid Wrap and CelluClay. And … if you are anything like me, you (may be?) clueless about what either of these products are really used for. So here is my breakdown:

The Rigid Wrap is plaster cloth, comes in 2 rolls that are 4″ wide each, and is used to cover just about anything you would cover in paper mache. You simply cut the cloth to strips in the size you need, place on your object/project, and add water using your fingers to smooth the surface and create!

For an object, we chose to use cardboard from a box we had on hand. Using the beautiful butterfly template from the ACTÍVA Products’ Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS ebook, I cut out the butterfly shape from the cardboard. Then we used the instructions and tips from page 10 of the ebook to create a butterfly!

Honestly y’all, this was so easy and fun! Because my oldest is 6, and I had a 2 and 4 year olds helping, our steps were:

  • I placed an empty dog food bag on the counter just in case we made a mess =)
  • I measured the strips
  • had a helper cut them
  • I wrapped them around the cardboard butterfly
  • then they each took turns applying water to their finger tips and rubbing the plaster cloth to a smooth finish.
  • we did front and back of the butterfly
  • to speed up drying time, we chose to microwave it for a minute or two (wow!  That really works!)
  • then we did the same thing, applying a second layer of plaster
  • speed dried in the microwave, and let it sit to finish drying

Because I don’t believe in “fixing” my kids creative projects, I let them rub it in as much or as little as they wanted/were able. They were SO proud of the finished project. I couldn’t believe how easy this was to do! It makes me look forward to creating more projects with them; there was virtually no mess (yay!) and was something we could all enjoy, even the 2 year old.

We used our tempera paint sticks to paint the butterfly for one reason: my back went out and I couldn’t reach the actual paints … =( haha (and my husband was gone, so he couldn’t get them for me). While the painting job is far from a professional, smooth finish, it was fun to do and easy for my oldest to do on her own.

The CelluClay project was also fun! If I am being completely honest, I am a terrible (I mean terrible) paper mache-er.  I did it one time in high school for a project in my Spanish class and failed the project miserably. I’ve never really been interested in trying it again.

But the CelluClay made it simple, and now that I understand the process a bit better (after having actually used the CelluClay) I can imagine the possibilities are endless for projects!

We mixed the CelluClay as instructed (which is great because it keeps in the fridge- score!).  Then we decided to make bowls.

Now, you probably shouldn’t do like *I* did, and just go creating a bowl from scratch.  It works! Because CelluClay is pretty awesome like that.

But for best results, you could need to have a template of some kinda to adhere the paper mache to (looking back on it, I’m thinking *duh*).  Anyway, we made bowls by forming the CelluClay like you would using a regular clay.  The kids used damp fingers to mold and smooth their own bowls- this was really fun and relaxing for them! I just handed them a ball of CelluClay, they did the rest!

After we were done, we placed them on a cooling rack and let them air dry for a few days. They hardened so nicely! I mean, they are really hard. I thought for sure they would crumble and fall a part- NOPE! They are enduring almost daily play by all the oldest three kids (6, 4, and 2 year olds).

I was really excited to use these products and very thankful for the free ebook that is full of project ideas, templates, and tips when creating paper mache projects. We printed out the pages we needed and kept them on hand during our work; my 6 year old read the directions for me as we went (which is why we just *had* to microwave the butterfly haha).

If you are looking for a fun, endless art activity for your school year this fall, this is a *great* product for kids (and adults) of just about any age; and better yet, you can grab it on Amazon!

What would you use this sculpting kit for in your homeschool?

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Christmas 2016 {Simple Woman’s Daybook #27}

Outside my Window …
The snow is melting and it is warmer than it has been the last week.  4 degrees is COLD.

I am thinking…
I have so much more I want to do before Christmas and next week, but I am not going to stress over getting it done.

I am thankful…
For my husband, my babies, and a minimal Christmas.

In the kitchen…
There is bone broth in the crock pot, dishes in the sink, chicken and rice on the stove.
I am wearing…
Workout pants and an oversized T my husband gave me that is. so. soft.

I am creating…
So many things, 18″ dolls with clothes for the girls, hopefully a buck deer for the Mister, a pinafore for Lexie, more PJ pants for Mister, and a baby gift for our new niece.

I am going…
to visit a friend this afternoon.

I am wondering…
if the kids are going to like their homemade gifts.  Bunnies for Lexie and Coralie, a deer for Ila.

Homemade Christmas 2016

I am reading…
Raising Real Men (yep, still working on it. It’s great, I’ve just been spending every extra waking moment on sewing)

I am hoping…
2017 is as wonderful as 2016.

I am looking forward to…
Our family vacation to Branson!  We haven’t been on a family vacation in so long, just us!  I can’t wait.

I am learning…
I don’t like the cold anymore. I am already ready for spring.

Around the house…
It is a disaster (this happens when I sew) … the tree is down because it started drying up so early and was painfully pokey, there are boxes of Christmas decorations in the living room (extras) because I can’t put them in the garage, because IT is filled to the brim with amazon boxes and gifts from family, but I don’t want to take the decorations downstairs because I will need to put away what I do have up, in less than 5 days.  Laundry isn’t done, diapers aren’t washed, it is really just a huge mess.  *I think I will go hide in my sewing room now*

A favorite quote for today…
money cant buy happiness

One of my favorite things…
The appropriate answer here seems to be sewing

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Finish projects, pack for Branson, bake for Christmas, clean the house …

A peek into my day…
See above image of Christmas gifts …

Simple Woman {Daybook}

Waterless, Mess-Free Paint: Kwik Stix {a review}

Waterless Tempera Paint {no mess art fun!}

All parents LOVE doing art and crafts with their kids, right?!  😉  Well, okay maybe not all of us … especially when you have many children doing it at once at your kitchen table!  But, I am so excited to share with you a product our family reviewed; a product that you can really say “Yes!” to when the kids ask if they can paint today.  The Pencil Grip, Inc. kindly sent us a set of their Kwik Stix 12pk– a waterless tempera paint IN A STICK.

You read that right …  waterless paint, in a stick.  Can I just tell you how excited I was to receive these?  They also sent us a really nice pencil grip that both my children have enjoyed using (we will probably have to order more).

Kwik Stix- waterless tempera paint no mess art!


About Kwik Stix and What We Thought

We have enjoyed our Kwik Stix tremendously!  It is something my kids ask to use several times a week, and honestly … there is just no reason to say no.  There is no mess to clean up, it is something they can do while I get ready to run errands, hop in the shower, or while I prep meals and snacks.  I don’t need to get them cups of water (that spill … everywhere), aprons to wear, or paint brushes to be washed.  Of course there is a time and place for all of those things, but with Kwik Stix I don’t have to plan or be there to do a sweep-in clean up.  The kids can uncap their paints and go!

As you can imagine a waterless paint is great, but I really would like to emphasize the quality of this product!  I was not sure what to expect in way of quality and how well they would apply and actually work- These are beautiful, high quality paints!  They cover well and are fun to use.  They are really pretty colors and this 12 pack had a great variety of shades.  So far, we have enjoyed using them for every day art at the table, but the possibilities are endless!

They can be used on many different surfaces including poster board, paper, wood (think making chip board books), and cardboard.  I would love to use these to make a cardboard house for the kids- imagine how simple it would be to decorate.  They will make wonderful stocking stuffers, birthday gifts for friends, and “new baby” gifts for older siblings so mama can catch a break while keeping the other children occupied.  😉

We received the 12 pack, but they also have a 6 pack, a 96 pack, and neon colors (see all their options HERE).

Kwik Stix- waterless tempera paint no mess art! 2

I’ve added a video of my kids using the Kwik Stix so you can see how easily they go on, how quickly they dry, and you can even see that you can blend the colors!  I also want to try them in my journaling Bible, to see how they work there, I will let you know.

How would you use Kwik Stix in your home?

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Charlotte Mason Handicrafts for the young {finger knitting}

Our homeschool is a mix of the Charlotte Mason and Classical Education models.  Charlotte Mason is a literature rich, and gentle method of learning; she recommends school aged (or as they show interest and ability without frustration) children complete 3 handicraft projects per year.

My daughter loves to watch (and join) me while I sew, embroider, cut fabric, paint, construct DIY projects, etc.  This past winter while I was knitting, she asked if she could learn.  Knitting is simple enough, but using the needles with 4 year-old dexterity is the tricky part.  We did work on it together, and she did a great job, but it isn’t something she is quite ready to do alone.

Lexie is 4.5 and as I mentioned, has always shown interest in my personal crafts.  She has reached an aged where her dexterity is getting better, and she is ready to try some handicraft projects (which she loves!) she can enjoy by herself and/or with assistance.

While reading over the Simply Charlotte Mason website a while back, I printed off their list of handiworks recommended and finger knitting caught my eye.  So I youtubed how to do it. This past Saturday while snuggling during the babies’ naps, Lexie asked if she could knit.  I immediately thought of the finger knitting method, and how that would probably be a great foundation for future knitting; not to mention it would build her confidence.

So we grabbed some yarn from my yarn bag and went to work.  I turned on the youtube video I’d watched before and Lexie was so excited to learn!  I think she did a great job.  She told her daddy, “I am so, so proud of myself for learning to knit all by myself!”

Charlotte Mason Handicrafts {finger knitting}


Here is the video we used:


Do you incorporate Charlotte Mason principals into your homeschool?  What about handicrafts?

Weekly Wrap Up: July 11, 2014

The last week we have finally gotten back into a routine form our travels to AR and TN. We got all the hard stuff (unloading, unpacking, laundry, etc) done the afternoon we got home and madly did it pay off! We had the rest of that week to menu plan, get groceries, pay bills, and just get things back in order. The last thing we want to do is find payday loans in Texas, United States. However, if we have too, we will.

The following week we started back on our learning time routine. We did a quick review and a lot of playing. We have spent all morning, every morning, outside playing in the back yard, playing in the pool, eating apples, and playing with the dog. It has been wonderful!

Here are a few snaps I managed to take during this week:

Lexie found a picture of blocks in the back of her Highlights magazine and she wanted to build what they were building. I helped her with a few pieces- but I was amazed at how well she would perceive what they had done. Some of these were HARD!:

building blocks {Quiet In The Chaos}

We have read more books this summer than I think we did while stuck inside last winter. Mister has really become obsessed with reading books, and of course Bug wants to (read or) be read to all the time.

reading together {Quiet In The Chaos}


My children *love* to be outside- we spend most of our time outside when the weather permits. Lexie had a great idea when she wanted to combine their love for books with the great outdoors!

reading in their


Our sweet Charlie girl:

Charlie Our Springer Spaniel {Quiet In The Chaos}

Charlie Our Springer Spaniel- 11 months old, July 2014


As you know, we *love* the free and fun curriculum from This Reading Mama (we use it with our AAR). Here, Lexie is working on her new sight word, “me.”

Sight Word

The week wouldn’t be complete without baking something yummy. We made (whole wheat, NO refined sugar) chocolate muffins. Lexie just had to lick the spoon. =)chocolate muffins {Quiet In The Chaos}

Last week was a lot of fun- during all this fun, we also started potty training Max. I do have some SUPER cute pictures of that, but they’re probably not appropriate for the blog. haha

Monday the painter comes to paint Lexie’s room; then the kids will start sharing a room! *so scary* Just praying they get used to each other and sleep through the night fine. Lexie wakes up needing to potty and sometimes with night terrors, so that could be a problem. After Mister’s room (aka the nursery) the nursery is painted, I can begin decorating, organizing, and playing in the nursery. YAY! Eight More weeks until baaaby!


Week 20 baby Summary/Lexie 28 months old

Here we are at the bginning of week 21, which means Max has finished week 20.  I’ve moved him back to a 3 hour schedule.  I did this because his wake time lengths aren’t 2 hours yet, which puts him sleeping between 2.5-3 hours between wake times- that’s just too much day time sleep for him, when he turns around and sleeps 12+ hours at night.  So, we are tweaking maybe a 3-3.5 hr schedule.  The onyl downfall with this is he really isn’t hungry at 3 hours, so he doesn’t eat very well …  It’s just something I am going to need to tweak; I will let you know how it goes next week!

Max is eating pretty well.  He likes solids, but he still needs the major calories provided by the formula, so I try to do formula first now, then solids, followed by offering more formula if he wants it.  Solids just don’t provide as many calories and he needs all those calories to grow and help his brain development.  Like I mentioned, he is eating every 3-3.5 hours and seems fine with that, but I know he can go 4 hours easily.

Lately, Max has been napping pretty well.  I think he may be getting past that terrible wonder week 19, so his sleep is back to being more routine, thank goodness!

Max is becoming more interested in his feet, but mostly only when he is naky.  I guess then he can actually see and feel them, so it makes it more fun.  Thinking back, Lexie was a naky baby a lot more than I let Max be naky.  Not sure why … maybe he needs more play time without his clothes on.  =)  This would thrill Lexie, she is always trying to take his clothes off (as well as her own).  He is shrieking and talking more, and really wants to sit up more.  He can lift his entire chest up from laying flat, and gets so mad that he can’t sit up.  Thinking back to Lexie again, I had the glider in the living room when she was this age, and I sat her up in it a LOT.  The seat is at an incline, so she didn’t have to risk falling out of it.  I should probably let Max do that some so he can build his back muscles more.  He is also doing SO much better on his belly now, and can push up with ease; while on his belly he holds his head up so well, and looks around.

We went to the dr for his 4 month well child visit; he is just under 16lbs and I think 25.5″ long.  He is perfectly healthy.  The dr said he has great head control.  She suggested I start trying to scrub off the plaques of cradle cap, and continue using head and shoulders.  She prescribed some hydrocortizone cream to apply.  I’ve never heard of this?  But we are going to start using it today- she said it is like eczema and can really itch.  So, we are going to see if that helps.  The dr. also suggested since he isn’t nursing, that maybe we try the prevacid again to see if that helps.  So here comes a long explanation for a short point, stay with me:  Just before JTom left his job in Hot Springs, the company changed insurance.  We have this insurance until the first of Feb.  With this new insurance, Max’s prevacid is not covered; it is $132 a month.  Honestly, with the way we budget we don’t have $132 for prevacid.  We are already paying $36 a can for his non-dairy formula, and he goes through one can every 6 days!  So for now, there will be no prevacid ….  JToms new insurance with his new company will start March 1, so if it covers the medicine, we may try it then, but for now Max can just be on a nursing strike and I will pump.

Lexie Raye
Lexie is just growing leaps and bounds every day.  She knows her left from her right, and has for a while now I just keep forgetting to post it.  She can identify many states, I may have mentioned that before.  I am working on uploading the video to YouTube so I can share it with you on my blog.  She is obsessed with being naky- she refuses to wear clothes at home most of the time, and I don’t make her.  It’s easier for her to go potty by herself, and it means less laundry for me.  =)  I do try to get her to at least where a shirt, but it doesn’t stay on long.

She is getting better at gymnastics; she can do small jumps on the balance beam (with help keeping her balance) and some small sweeps.  She LOVES the doing the bar, and her forward roll is perfect.  She likes for me to take down the hall mirror and put out the yoga mat for her to play.  She likes to watch herself … typical girl.

We read her devotional daily, usually before nap time.  Our mornings are a little hectic with Daddy gone.  But, he has been home this weekend and it has been wonderful!  She loves having her daddy home and behaves much better; I think him being gone for so long is just emotional for her and the only way she really knows how to express that is by acting out.  She has been talking back and not listening very well since he left.  I figure this is also an age thing.  So we are just working through it.  After JTom was home for about a day, her behavior got better.

We are really starting to get to crunch time on the move.  We have a few companies coming to do quotes for the move, then we will turn those in to JTom’s company so they can do the financial end of things.  Then next week I will start really packing up things for us to take, that we don’t want the movers moving.  The following week, we will close on the house (Feb 15th), JTom will come home that Saturday (Feb 16th), we will have the movers here the week of the 18th, and hopefully be in the house in Nebraska that week.  Whew, it’s going to be fast, stressful, and a lot of work. Once it is done, we can really start settling in and getting comfortable with the new neighborhood and town.  The sad part is, we can’t take the chickens.  The bylaws for the neighborhood specifically say no poultry; there isn’t a law against it in the city so we were going to take them and jus put up a fence, hoping no one would really make a fuss.  But, the problem there is we can’t put in a fence until the ground thaws in spring …. so for now we are going to get rid of the chicks.  =*(
What’s even worse, is we lost 2 girls.  I am very angry; the neighbor’s dog got under the fence and came in our yard while the chicks were free ranging, and he killed two of them.  He got one red, and one barred girl. I think JTom is more furious than I am.  So, we are down to 6 chickens.

Anyhow, back to the move ….  all things are contingent on us closing on the house Feb 15th.  Hopefully everything will go smoothly (we are praying!), all the papers are/will be together, and there aren’t any glitches or major bumps in the road.  I refuse to get super super excited until everything is signed and done on the house, because if it gets moved to the end of Feb, we will be a part that much longer.  =/

Anyhow, so this is our 20 week update.  I will try to get some pictures posted soon.

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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