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It's been a beautiful year, but just like every year, it feels like it flew by and I missed so much. My babies are growing and I'm losing moments. I can't collect those precious seconds fast enough before they flutter away. Last year my word and focus was "Diligence". I don't think I came very close to reaching it. This year, I'm taking a completely different tactic:

Do less.

Do much less.

Do less talking. Do less hurrying. Do less. Stop. Breathe. Listen. Hush.


Listen to those little voices before they are grown-up voices.

Listen to those deepening man-voices before they are gone.

Listen to branches crackling under the weight of ice. Listen to water in the creek. Listen to wind in leaves.

Listen to the words that aren't being spoken but that are screaming from young hearts all the same.

You can't listen while you lecture.


...make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands...1 Thess 4:11

Settlers clues to personality types

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they organize their Settlers of Catan pieces.

A little OCD.

Some geekiness.
(It's a triforce and only geeks or their mothers would understand)

A little orneriness.

This is the first year the girls have been old enough to really participate in the family game. Gracie, the youngest is learning the hard way, illustrated by the following conversation:

Chris: Sarah Grace, you have SIX lumber. I am willing to give you THREE wheat for just one of them! 

Gracie: I can't. You're going to use it to destroy Mama.
Chris: I'm not using it to destroy her! I'm using it to keep her from destroying ME!
Me: Gracie, what it boils down to is this - Which parent do you love best?
Honor: (sounding desperate) May I be excused??
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Sheet Music Ornaments

Our church gave away some old, beat up hymnals and the kids and I came up with a fun ornament craft. Want to try it?

Cut sheet music into strips and stack them 4-6 strips deep. Line up the edges carefully and then fold in half to find the center. Thread a needle and tie a knot. Poke through the center of your music and cap with a button.

Pull your thread through the button and back into the button. Poke through the same center hole of the sheet music.

Sew through one end of the music and then the other. 

Cap this with a button and sew back through the same center hole in your paper.

 Tie a knot and spread the strips apart. You now have a lovely ornament, displaying your favorite hymns!
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Happy Birthday, Joel!

Joel is a nut.

He does a mean Jeffery Dallas impersonation.
He loves to get dirty.

He loves fighting with his brother.

He loves blowing things up.

He loves creating things.

 He's terrible at picking blueberries.

He loves to torment his brother.

His mind dazzles me. He is constantly curious and fascinated with the world around him. 
This is how we visit museums:

He doesn't just examine the exhibits; he examines the museum itself.
He makes the best pirate you've ever seen. 
 He is amazing.
 And such a blessing.
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Christmas School: Wrapping up Week 1

It has been a fabulous first week of Christmas School. Using Advent Idea Box, we have studied the Advent Wreath and Calendar, the Nutcracker, the history of Christmas Cards, and Christmas

I shared our Monday lesson about the Wreath and Norway. Tuesday, we studied the Advent Calendar and Germany. We've always done a paper calendar before, but we began a huge project this year. This Calendar tree spans the entire top of our coffee table and all four children have learned how to sew on buttons. Now we are learning the blanket stitch. It's a nice project to work on during our evening Advent readings. It will take us several years to create ornaments to go on the calendar, most likely, but it will make good memories along the way.

We also studied the history of the Christmas Card and the United Kingdom. We tried listening to an audio version of the first Doctor Who Christmas special while doing it, but it was too weird. This was a fun, messy day. 
 Next, we studied The Nutcracker and Russia. The boys and I had to travel for dentist appointments, so Chris taught the girls one of their favorite Christmas School days. It was a fabulous Daddy-day. Our original Nutcracker on the left, was created by both of the boys a few years ago. This year, each girl wanted to make her own Nutcracker. 

Christmas trees and Latvia were interesting to study. This year, we added a section on Christmas Tree Farming to the website. It's a little family daydream of ours to start a Christmas tree farm, complete with cabin and cocoa. 

The snow came on Thursday and it has been a blast! 

Friday morning, this is the dawn that I woke up to. 
It was a perfect, quiet morning to drink coffee and listen to the snow and ice in the leaves. It was loud enough to hear through the windows. The kids enjoy sleeping in during these cold, Christmas School mornings. I enjoy the time to reflect. 

Christmas is supposed to be a time to celebrate Christ's birth, but I can't help but think of His death. All of those prophecies foretelling His birth...they are surrounded by prophecies foretelling His death. We've read so many verses of fulfilled prophecy this week and I am overwhelmed at what He's done for me, a sinner.

I'd love to tell you that the kids are feeling the full meaning of Christmas and Christ's coming this year, but they are pretty much just focused on snow. 

Their thoughts are overwhelmed with the joy of burying each other (can you see where Joel is buried?) and building forts. 



Christmas School - Day 1

Using Advent Idea Box as a guide, we studied Norway and the Advent Wreath. But first, we started our Jesse Tree. No ornament for day 1. The tree itself is the first ornament. The weather was perfect for branch-hunting. Each picked their favorite and then voted on which looked best on the wall. We used Command Hooks to attach it to the wall without scarring the paint. 
We recited Isaiah 11:1 and the kids remembered nearly all of it from last year!

Somehow, we misplaced our wreath we've used for the last 16 years. We're good at losing things.

We packed up and visited the local thrift store and found this $3 wreath and some candle holders. Our local stores don't carry Advent candles, so we pick whatever colors tickle our fancy each year.
The wreath came with a huge ugly bow and Christmas lights strung through it. We ripped off the extras and fluffed the branches. It turned out well, I think, considering.

The tiny candle I bought was far too small to fit in the middle, so we dug out a large 3-wick candle from the emergency box. It's not traditional, but we're pretending the three wicks represent the Trinity. That works, right?

I would love to see pictures of your family's advent wreaths! Please link them up below!

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