Archive for December 2012

Sending Snowflakes

The Sandy Hook Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) recently announced  that Sandy Hook students will be relocating to another building to  continue school in January. To brighten the students’ first day, the PTA  is asking for handmade snowflakes from well-wishers across the country,  to hang in their new building.

“Please help these students have a ‘winter wonderland’ at their new  school! Get creative. No two snowflakes are alike,” they said.

Snowflakes can be made and sent by Jan. 12, 2013 to:
Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 13
Hamden, CT 06514

This is a tangible way to help you children cope with this tragic news and put the Parenting with Scripture topics of Compassion and Sympathy into practice.   As your children are creating snowflakes, discuss the situation in an age-appropriate way, incorporating the following verses. 

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  Romans 12:15

“Be kind and compassionate to one another.”  Ephesians 4:32a

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”  1 Peter 3:8

Here’s a link for instructions for making snowflakes –

If you are looking for an outing, your library may have books with snowflake patterns.  Our family has been enjoying experimenting with Snowflakes for All Seasons by Cindy Higham.


To lighten the mood, you might enjoy making these fun Tortialla Snowflake treats. 

My kiddos often enjoy nibbling the holes rather than cutting them. 


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Meaningful Christmas Teacher Gift Idea

One year I was trying to think beyond the normal trinkets and gift cards for teacher gifts and stumbled upon this idea.  What teachers wouldn’t love knowing that the gift of education has been given in their honor for needy children across the world?  The World Vision ”catalog” offers a variety of options for different budgets.  If you’re like us, it’s still more than we normally spend for a single teacher.  So, we decided on a budget for all the teachers combined, chose the item(s), printed out descriptions of the gift item(s)from the website, and made Merry Christmas notes that money was given in their honor toward the item(s).  We got wonderful responses from the teachers.  They were so touched and grateful for such a thoughtful and meaningful gift in their honor.


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Christmas Traditions: Helping Hand Tree

Help your family take stock of what you are doing to help others through this cute and easy Christmas craft/decoration.  Simply tape several sheets of brown construction paper (or brown grocery bags) together and then cut out the form of a triangular tree, plus a trunk. Then trace the hands of each family member, including mom and dad!  Tape the smaller hand-prints at the top, working down as the hands get bigger.  Discuss ways that your family is helping others and write them on the hand-prints.  Embellish with a yellow paper star at the top titled “(Last Name) Helping Hand Tree” and some related Bible verses at the bottom (see suggestions below.)

We created the one in the picture when my kids were preschoolers, but I’ve kept it with our Christmas decorations and we pull it out every year to hang in our game-room.  It serves as a good reminder of ways we can help others, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year.  We haven’t added to it in several years, but I think we will at some point this season for a family devotional.  Now that the kids are older and we have new ways of helping others, it will be interesting to hear their input and let them do the writing…and let them compare handprints to see how much they’ve grown!

Christmas Decorations - '12

“But encourage one another.”  Hebrews 3:13

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”  Acts 20:35

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Christmas Traditions: Luke 2 Memorization & Scavenger Hunt

As a little girl, my mom helped me memorize Luke 2…Charlie Brown Christmas style (aka King James Version).  It was always fun for me to be able to say the whole thing along with Linus.  As a mom myself, I’ve enjoying carrying on the tradition with my kiddos.  When they were younger, I’d keep a print out of Luke 2:8-14 ( in the car and we’d work on it during car time throughout December.   Each year, it would get easier and easier as they remembered it from the past.  Last year, my daughter encouraged us to add more from the chapter.  Now we are working on solidifying verses 1-7 and 15-20 (

Mix-it-Up Message Luke 2 Scavenger Hunt:
This idea works well for families or groups with children of all ages.   Print out a copy of Luke 2:1-20 from The Message version of the Bible.  I’ve pasted the passage below for your convenience.   Feel free to cut and paste into a Word Document to print.  Cut apart sections of the passage, making as many strips of verses as you wish, depending on how difficult or easy you want the activity to be.   Tape each strip to a popsicle stick (picture below).  Hide the sticks in the yard and then have the kids go on a scavenger hunt to find them.  Once gathered, the older children can work together to put them in order.  Then read The Message version out-loud while they check to see if they got the order correct.  Because my children are familiar with the KJV and NIV versions of Luke 2, it was fun for them to hear the more contemporary language version of the passage through The Message.  We particularly got a kick out of the term, “sheepherders.”  Guess the word, “shepherd” is outdated?!


Luke 2:1-20

The Message (MSG)

The Birth of Jesus

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for.

So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them.

They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.”

They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing.

They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!



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Parenting Tool Belt Addition: Talking to Our Smiles…

Apologies if you’ve already received this.  Final kinks being worked out with e-mail distribution lists from new website.   Hoping you only one of each update from now on!  Thanks for hanging in there with me through the multiple e-mails as we figured it out!  

Don’t you just love it when you are reading a good fiction book and you glean an unexpected nugget of  wisdom?! This excerpt, from the Dearest Dorothy series that I absolutely adore, perfectly portrays a situation typical to those of us who have young daughters. I can totally see this happening at my house and am glad for another tool in my parenting tool belt for how to approach times like this. Read on to add to your tool belt! 

From DEAREST DOROTHY, HELP! I’VE LOST MYSELF by Charlene Ann Baumbich, copyright (c) 2004, by Charlene Ann Baumbich.  
Used by permission of Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Not many people talk to their smiles, but Dorothy had talked to hears ever since the day her mother, who had had it with her nine-year-old’s, strong-willed contrariness, had steered her by the shoulders into the bathroom and stood her before the mirror above the sink. “Dorothy Jean, take a good look at that face. What do you see, child?”

“I see a girl who does not want to wear her dumb blue dress to church today,” Dorothy said with a humph of finality. “Look at me! I look perfectly fine in my pink sweater and dungarees,” she proclaimed, her face pinched into a wad of storm.

“Child of mine, you look perfectly fine in your birthday suit, too, but you’re not wearing that to church today either.”

“Oh, yes I am. I’m always wearing my birthday suit. But usually nobody can see it because I’m wearing clothes over it.”

Ethel tucked her lips inside her mouth, damming a torrent of sharp words ready to burst out of her. She stared at her daughter’s set face, then watched her cross her gangly arms across her chest, clearly reveling in her last statement, which was, at its root, inarguable-and they both knew it. Ethel had long ago learned, however, that neither diatribing nor debating would move Dorothy Jean toward Ethel’s intentions. No, you had to beat Dorothy at her own strengths, and that took prayer, creativity and unending patience. While Ethel engaged in mental gymnastics, she mindlessly crossed her arms against her chest as she studied her own midlife face in the mirror, as if appealing to it for answers. Her eyes scanned their framed reflections. Without a doubt, these two females were the shadow images of each other’s stubbornness. Lord have mercy on us both, Ethel prayed in silence.

Just then the old Register clock in the kitchen began its ten-gong pronouncement that church would begin in thirty minutes, barely enough time for them to finish dressing, pack up and get to town.

“Dorothy Jean Brown, we both look pathetic. Just get a good gander at us. I think we should talk to our smiles and try to coax them out of their hiding places. After all, if you were the pastor, would you want to look at these faces while you were preaching God’s word?”

Mother and daughter spent a few moments moving nothing but their eyes between their reflections. Pretty soon it became impossible not to giggle, which is exactly what they did.

“Look at us,” Ethel said. “Don’t we look like fine women when we smile?”

“We do,” Dorothy said, her heart erupting with love for her mother like an explosion of happy feathers.

“Let us determine right here and now,” Ethel said, resting her hands on her daughter’s shoulders, “that when we find we haven’t been smiling enough, we will talk to our smiles to encourage them, okay? We’ll talk to our smiles until they appear, so that when we look in he mirror we can smile back at them.” Ethel then leaned over and kissed the top of her daughter’s fine brown hair, her warm breath melting Dorothy’s remaining resistance.

Without another word Dorothy Jean Brown quickly changed into her blue dress, casting a hurried eye into her dresser mirror each time she passed it, just to make sure she was smiling back at…her smile.

And now, nearly eight decades later, Dorothy Jean Wetstra talked to her smile yet again, realizing it had been hiding for several days.”

Wasn’t that a delightful read?!  If you want more, check out the first book in the series.  I can promise that you’ll be hooked and enjoy escaping to Partonville through all six books!   They would be a great Christmas gifts for yourself and/or someone else.  Click on book 1 of the series below to be connected to Amazon for detailed description and ordering information.  (FYI…the excerpt from this blog came from book 3, pages 2 through 4.)

Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet? by Charlene Baumbich (Book 1)


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