Thursday, November 29, 2012

blogs recently

Here's a run down of a few particularly helpful articles I've read this week.  
I hope you'll find them encouraging as well!
happy reading :)

The Here and The Now at Femina Girls
Sweet encouragement regarding the truth of Christ's coming.  Each Christmas it's true and significant regardless of our current circumstances.  

Fighting for Faith at Midnight at Domestic Kingdom
Clinging to God's grace in the midst of sin and it's aftermath of shame.  

How Do We Pray Through The Pain? at Girl Talk
Helpful suggestions encouraging us to use the Psalms to pray.

Songs for Saplings $0.25 Download at Money Saving Mom
We LOVE this music, and have the original CD "Songs for Saplings" - I hope this special isn't over.

Free Shipping Day December 17 at Money Saving Mom
Who knew!?

The Duty of Prayer and Winnie The Pooh at Domestic Kingdom
Prayer is a significant "duty" as life saving and necessary as the scuba diver wearing his mask.  Read on for more about prayer as our life source.

How to Help the Hurting at Girl Talk
When those around us hurt, how we can minister without rushing them to resolution alone.

Homeschooling & Realistic Expectations at Making Home
A good bit of wisdom and certainly insight from a homeschooling mom.

Embracing the Seasons at In View of God's Mercy
The reality of a woman's life in terms of seasons.  Encouraged me to be thankful for this stage.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Read Aloud Count Down

These have been some of our favorite read alouds for Moriah this year... while some may be most appropriate for her young age, I think many will be well loved in years to come too! Each of these books focuses on Christ and his birth rather than other Christmas traditions, which we've chosen not to emphasize in our family, though each family is free to make their own choices of course.

*I included some of these in a post last year and just added to it with more of our favorites.

I look forward to Moriah unwrapping one book each night to read aloud, on the couch near the Christmas tree with the lights on of course!

Baby Blessings Christmas
I like that each page has a colorful illustration and a short segment of the nativity narrative in a child friendly rhyme. For children a bit older a short prayer is also included as well as a follow up question for discussion. It could be read in one sitting or read page by page each night. We're thankful for Matt's co-workers at the bank who gave this to us for Moriah last year.

My First Christmas Carols by: Tomie dePaola
As a former teacher Tomie dePaola stories rank as a classics in children's literature, and I've always loved his realistic illustrations. This is a great board book of Christmas carols as three are carols of the faith "Silent Night", "God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen", and "Away in a Manger" while the other three are secular ("Deck the Halls", "O Christmas Tree", and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas") but not Santa related which we appreciated.

The Little Drummer Boy by: Ezra Jack Keats
This book is full of charming illustrations as well and follows the Christmas song exactly with no added text. While I realize this song is a likely fictional, at least not found in Scripture, I've always loved the sentiment of it. I also can't help remember the Bob Segar version my dad LOVED to play when I was little from his A Very Special Christmas CD (the first CD I ever remember in fact, the interview linked above was from 1989... I would've been 5, too funny!)

This is the Stable by: Cynthia Cotten
This book is a children's progressive story (that may not be exactly right terminology, I can't remember!) and starts out "This is the stable, dusty and brown, in a quiet corner of Bethlehem town." adding on each page a new element from the star through baby Jesus. I love the rhythm of the story and also that the illustrations seem more accurate in my mind than most pictures of a very light skinned baby Jesus. The three kings or wise men in this story also look more exotic than some which seems like a more realistic depiction as well.

Mortimer's Christmas Manger by: Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
What a fun twist on a Christmas book! As you read this story you'll meet Mortimer a mouse who explores a creche in the home where he lives. As he overhears the Christmas story read aloud he realizes that the bed he's made in a manger really belonged to baby Jesus :) A sweet and fun story as well.

Cookie Count a Tasty Pop-Up by: Robert Sabuda
Such a fun counting book with pop-up pictures!  I'm excited to bake cookies with Moriah this year as she's become quite a great helper in the kitchen.

I Spy Little Christmas by: Jean Marzollo
I spy is always great.  This Christmas version is full of holiday pictures which makes it especially fun to enjoy during this season.

The Animals of Christmas by: Cheryl Peterson
This is an old book, I'm not sure where I found it, but we've enjoyed the sweet rhymes about each animal's contribution to baby Jesus.

The Crippled Lamb by: Max Lucado
I've read about this book often on other Christmas read aloud lists, but it'll be the first year we enjoy it as a read aloud together.  I'm looking forward to it!

The Tale of Three Trees by: Angela Elwell Hunt
A story of three trees and their role in the life of Christ.  One becomes his manger.

Song of the Stars by: Sally Lloyd-Jones
This is a sweet book that new to me.  As I read through it it really brought tears to my eyes.  The animals throughout the story declare that "It's time!  He's here!" as baby Jesus comes into the world.  The one who created them has arrived.  How true, and helpful in teaching that baby Jesus is God.

Christmas in the Barn by: Margaret Wise Brown
A sweet rhyme telling the story of baby born in the barn.  It doesn't really address the identity of baby Jesus but certainly leads to it.  I was even able to read this as a public school teacher for that reason!

Night Tree by: Eve Bunting
This is for much older children, but it's a great idea.  I'd love for us to decorate a tree outside in the future for animals like the family in the story does.  They make popcorn garland and hung oranges, apples, etc. on the tree.

We also have this set from Hallmark (years ago) that came with a little book.  The other set included wise men with a book as well.  The books are written with simple rhymes telling the Christmas story though they're no longer made.  If you ever came across the set in an antique store/flea market it would be a great find!  Moriah loves to hang the ornaments on the little felt button tree we purchased with it.

*EDITED December 2012...
Here are a few more from our collection that we've enjoyed, or have read from the library...

The Very First Christmas a Hallmark Recordable Christmas book
We wrapped this one up this year after Moriah received it as a gift from Matt's mom.  As a recordable storybook we can listen to her voice reading it, making it extra special to Moriah as we're 9 hours away from Grandma!

A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck
This simple story highlights each element of the Christmas story as a little boy says good night to them all, then wakes on Christmas morning.

Through the Animals' Eyes by Christopher Wormell
This books adds wonderful illustrations to the Biblical text of the Christmas story.  I love the illustrations as we've enjoyed his animal counting book as well!

*These are a few titles I've come across and haven't read... they'd be worth checking out of a library first!

The Little Shepherd's Christmas by Carol Heyer
I've just ordered this from a Scholastic book order, and look forward to reading it!  We'll add it to our collection this year.

The Christmas Baby by Marion Dane Bauer
Another book featured by Scholastic.  From amazon's reviews it must include some reference to God's work in creating all babies, though I haven't read it.

Stable in Bethlehem by Joy N. Hulme
This is a counting book, which might be fun to add to a Christmas collection for little ones!  (It was also featured in Scholastic.)

God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa T. Bergren
This book addresses all sorts of Christmas questions according to the amazon review, including one about Santa.  I'm not sure what answer it gives, but most amazon reviews rated it highly.  It is also available through Scholastic.

Who Is Coming To Our House? by Joseph Slate
The animals prepare their stable to welcome baby Jesus.  I enjoy this illustrator's work in other children's books.

Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer
What a captivating cover!  Humphrey carries the wise men to meet baby Jesus and unselfishly gives his blanket away.

Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell
Another story from the animals' perspective.

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
Exploring the legend of the candy cane as it related to the Christmas story.  One friend read this aloud while her little ones enjoyed tasting candy canes!  What a fun idea.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
A classic Christmas story I've never read, but have seen on many other lists.  It seems like it would be most fitting for elementary aged children perhaps. 

I know there are so many good book depicting the Biblical Christmas story or other stories surrounding it.  What are some of your favorites that I might be missing?  We're always ready to read more books at our house :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

many thanks to the giver of all



*It's not Monday, I know :)  Here's an updated list of the many thanks to God, the giver of all!

1171. family visiting for Thanksgiving
1172. blankets keeping a little girl cozy enough to nap
1173. play dates with friends and sweet little friends for Moriah
1174. Christmas decorations to warm our home
1175. "Christmas is here!" every time Moriah sees a tree, lights, etc. anywhere we go :)  we're working on the difference between the decorations and the birth of Christ!
1176. Moriah's excitement to play with "baby Jesus" and find him amongst our collection of nativities
1177. a good conversation, prayers answered
1178. a church looking for a pastor, and following up with Matt (still VERY early but some response is encouraging)
1179. a Monday half-day, makes getting back to work not so hard :)
1180. sharing cookies when I really shouldn't eat them all myself!
1181. photos and videos saved from the imminent crash of our computer
1182. seeing Moriah in various settings, watching as she becomes herself in grown up ways
1183. family coming to join us for Christmas
1184. reinventing our winter wreath with the addition of pinecones discovered at the Attic (our FREE campus thrift store)
1185. the gift of a new t-shirt and hoodie, great for cozy winter days
1186. restored health after a sinus infection for Moriah, she wasn't quite herself
1187. a warm walk before the big Thanksgiving meal
1188. Matt's forgiveness, and the Lord's, when I don't let him lead as I ought
1189. morning exercise, just a bit as I start the day
1190. generous family members, willing to help in so many ways that are always a blessing
1191. the reunion of the little ones I nanny for and Moriah after a long weekend apart
1192. the opportunity to give some of all we have
1193. new faith and the desire to follow in baptistm in our little church
1194. the Lord's work as he's taught Matt much through pastoring at this first church
1195. laughing with friends
1196. knowing that God's provision of a family for us, within the Church, is exactly what we need
1197. the approach of Advent as we look forward to the arrival of Christ
1198. Christmas music
1199. baking pies with the help of my sweet girl in the kitchen
1200. Christmas break from classes which begins tomorrow for Matt! (though he'll take a week long class in December)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

our Thanksgiving break

Thanksgiving provided a nice break for us!  
I was off work Wednesday through Friday and my dad came to visit.  
Our community group was cancelled and Matt's classes were out for the break,
so we could all be home each evening together, a treat.  
Moriah loved having Grandpa Robert here to read, play, and talk together.  

my sweet girl and I, sorry it's blurry!
We enjoyed his company and had good reason to make a full Thanksgiving meal to eat together.  

my little turkey working on a pumpkin pie with me!
we used fresh pumpkin from a kind church member
and found our recipe in The Joy of Cooking
our turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy

sweet potatoes (thanks to ALDI!), green bean casserole, and apple cranberry sauce 

deviled eggs and rolls!

this was a gift from family friends to my parents,
I remember it at our home when I was little,
so glad my mom gave it to me!

pumpkin pie and whipped cream

I was especially thankful for time to talk with my dad about the Lord, 
and for his generosity towards our family.  
We spent time outside at a park, went on an afternoon walk, enjoyed brunch at 
our local Danish Express, and lunch at ChickFilA another day.  
On his way out of town he helped me load up our Christmas decorations and drove them 
to our apartment so I could decorate while Moriah napped and Matt worked Friday.  
A calm and blessed week giving me great reason to be thankful!  

sharing pumpkin pie with Grandpa!

a bedtime story for Moriah

I also had extra time to finish up another good novel
by Kate Morton called The Secret Keeper.  
I'd requested it from our library after enjoying another one of her
books and was thrilled that it arrived when it did.  
I read and read, and contemplated immediately re-reading it due
to the great and unexpected twists throughout :)  
Add it to your library request list and carve out time for a captivating read.

Now I'm getting started in a new-to-me genre of books written about cooking,
while not being really cook books.
I'm currently reading An Everlasting Meal.  
Thus far I've learned a lot and found the author's style fun to read.

meal plans post-Thanksgiving

Post-Thanksgiving Meals 

We're still enjoying our Thanksgiving leftovers and should have enough to last about two more meals hopefully!  I'm thankful that Matt was more than willing to eat leftovers often this weekend after the big meal Thursday for Thanksgiving.  I was also THRILLED to successfully prepare turkey stock this year with our turkey carcass.  (It wasn't hard!  I just covered our turkey carcass with water, added a few carrots, and a couple of celery stalks, along with an onion and a bay leaf.)  We discovered so much more meat that would've been wasted and ended up with plenty of lovely stock to use in future meals.  I was probably just as excited about that as I was our original feast :)

amazing all from the turkey carcass!

This is what we'll enjoy for the week, making the most of our leftovers and food in the freezer.

we went out to eat BoomBozz pizza with our community group friends after church - yummy!

turkey barley soup, rolls (from Thanksgiving)
*I'm hoping substituting turkey for chicken will be fitting!

from Martha Stewart

leftovers (from Thanksgiving and/or lasagna)

bean burritos, cilantro lime rice (both from the freezer)

from Martha Stewart
from Skinny Taste
English muffins, eggs (my dad brought us 4 dozen farm fresh eggs!), bacon - maybe breakfast sandwiches?

crock-pot chicken tortilla soup, taco rice, cornbread
*I skip the green chili peppers and also add a can of black beans

from All Recipes

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

more reading to recommend

Here are links to a few other blogs and articles I've been reading lately.  I enjoy posting some to Facebook to share broadly, but figure everyone really probably doesn't want to see my latest recommendation!  Hopefully if you chose to read this you were curious :)

Why I Lost Faith in the Pro-Choice Movement
This article was written from a unique perspective which offered it credibility in my estimation.  As one who formerly agreed with the tenants of the pro-choice movement the author expressed her concerns which led to a change of view.  Perhaps the article I'd commend to you most highly if you were only to read one from the list!
The Day My Dad Chopped Down an Idol
(from Domestic Kingdom)
The title certainly caught my attention!  The blog did a wonderful job of explaining the Gospel and our need to recognize idolatry in our own lives.

How to Be a Happy Mom
(from Girltalk)
*While I wouldn't say I've struggled to be happy as a mom, I would say my week of total sickness last summer did wonderful perspective changing things that I still haven't forgotten!  I've been much more thankful to have opportunities to serve my family and the one I work for, knowing that the health, strength, and ability to do so is a gift each day.

Literacy Blogs
(from Growing Book By Book)
A list of more blog reading related to literacy!  While many suggested were new to me, they all seemed to have great ideas.  I'll happily add book recommendations to our library list any day :)

Three Weeks Until Advent
(from Femina Girls)
I always enjoy reading about the faith-filled Christmas traditions of others.  The Wilson family is particularly intriguing to me in both their theology and enthusiasm... the perfect combination for an Advent post!

Parenting is Hard for a Reason
(The Gospel Coalition)
The title pretty much explains it all.  While life as a parent is often joy-filled, it's hard as well!  This might be just the encouragement you need today!

Review of A Year of Biblical Womanhood
(from the Gospel Coalition)
This was the first, and most helpful review I've read regarding Rachel Held Evans' recent book "A Year of Biblical Womanhood".

Review of A Year of Biblical Womanhood
(from Mary Kassian)
Another review of the recently published book "A Year of Biblical Womanhood".  This review was helpful in some lights, and not in others.  I found her comments regarding early writings for women, by Edith Schaeffer less than helpful, though I understood the point she was making.

What You Don't Know About Complementiarian Women
(from her.menutics, Christianity Today)
This is another article written in response after reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  While it's not a book review the thoughts are interesting to those following the debate of sorts.

In the evenings I've been reading, Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman.  I've found much conviction and encouragement as I can really relate to the thinking the author shares and the way it effects her walk with the Lord.  I'd suggest it to you if the title catches your attention!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

a special spaghetti dinner

Hospitality at Home

our at home date night with our sweet girl along!
On Friday I was looking forward to trying a few new recipes.  I planned to prepare them during naptime.  Naptime didn't happen as is sometimes the case.  Therefore, my helper would be awake as I cooked, and we needed a plan!  Making our simple dinner a bit more special was a good way to keep us both excited about Daddy coming home soon, while serving him as well.  We LOVED the new recipes for spaghetti sauce and especially these heavenly meatballs.  Our salad was also a good addition.

*As an aside, do my Louisville friends all know about the fairly new EarthFare grocery store at The Summit?  They send out AMAZING coupons!  Last week, I had a coupon allowing me to purchase 5 specified "Italian dinner" items for $5 TOTAL.  The coupon included... a box of fresh salad, cherry tomatoes, salad dressing, pasta, and 1 pound of fresh ground Italian sausage.  (The sausage inspired the meal as I really didn't know what to do with it, so I went recipe searching!)  I think these 5 items for $5 coupons come out about once a month as I've benefited from them in the past as well.  Subscribe to their e-mails and keep your eyes out!

We decided to make dinner "special" by using a candle, serving the meal in courses instead of all at once, and having everything ready and the table set by the time Matt came home!  Here are a few pictures.  I considered it a lovely date night, even with our sweet girl joining us :)

the first "course" toasted ravioli appetizers

then came the salad

lastly, the spaghetti and meatballs finale!

My sweet husband who enjoyed our surprise, also surprised me with two Starbucks cake pops!  We weren't having a dessert, so it was really a treat to enjoy.  I'm blessed by simple nights like this one, and pray to cultivate hospitality toward my own immediate family as much as I would toward guests.

Monday, November 12, 2012

a few thanks

1157. "whoa" coming from the living room as Matt and Moriah play :)
1158. celebrating a baby girl coming soon at a sweet baby shower with lots of creative ideas
1159. tights on a day when there was an accident, all was contained and that was good
1160. Sunday to rest
1161. pumpkin pie made as a family
1162. using an old recipe
1163. dishes handed down, making pie in my mom's old dish is sweetly nostalgic as simple as it is
1164. a playful morning with two little girls
1165. a newly hung "clothesline" of sorts displaying Moriah's crafts galore in our office
1166. my husband who doesn't mind the crafts of a two year old in his studious office
1167. knowing that the Lord can be trusted fully as Matt applies for pastoral positions
1168. visiting with a sweet church member as she recovers from a fall
1169. watching Moriah "read" and most often repeat the title as she turns each page :)
1170. a two year old trying to kiss Ruby, the beloved Golden Retriever, and insisting that it be on Ruby's mouth!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Our Felt Advent Calendar

Felt Advent Calendar, inspired by heart FELT truths

Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus in the stable
This year I wanted to try a new sort of Advent calendar with Moriah as we anticipate Christmas and the birth of Christ.  It was originally developed by Noel Piper, and mentioned in her book, Treasuring Christ in our Traditions, if I'm remembering correctly.  The blog Heart Felt Truths has revived the idea making it really accessible.

Last year we created a Jesse Tree, which was an interesting and helpful way to incorporate Scripture regarding the coming birth of the Messiah from all of the Bible.  While I liked the idea, I didn't really love the way we chose to do it.  (I'd love to invest in their embroidered ornaments in the future!)   I also think it will be a bit more helpful with older children perhaps, so we'll plan to return to it in the future.

the full scene
For now this felt Advent calendar depicts the simple Christmas story in a two year old friendly way!  You can purchase this Advent calendar, a DIY kit, or make it yourself with the free printable patterns for a really affordable price.  Making it also allows you to customize the colors to your preferences.  I didn't veer much from the original suggestions, because I liked them already :)  It took most of Friday night (after Moriah was in bed!) but wasn't all that labor intensive really.  Here are some pictures of the completed project.  I'm really looking forward to using it as a family this year.

buildings on the right
buildings on the left
the shepherds and angels
*I used a glittered black felt for the starry sky
the wise men and the star
*our angels and star are also made
from glittered white felt
their sequined treasures... who knows what frankincense and myrrh would've looked like?
I could imagine the gold better :)
This kit totals 25 pieces, one to be added each day as the story is told.  Lastly, baby Jesus arrives on Christmas day.  We're planning to hang it near our table to read and review at the beginning of the day (I don't think Moriah will want to wait for dinner time!)  The instructions say that a 3M strip works to hang the background on the wall without any damage.