Review of 3 New Veggie Tales Books

We have 3 great new Veggie Tales books in our home that I’d like to share with you today.

First is Yuletide Ice Cube Fair by Karen Poth.  The Veggie Tales characters are all getting ready for Christmas!  They ice skate and then hear the bell calling them over to the annual ice cube carving contest.  Everyone works hard creating their incredible carvings to display what Christmas means to them.  The finalists are a shopping mall, angels singing, the peas winning the prize, and a Christmas feast.  But the winner is Junior who carved a tiny stable with a little baby and a shepherd kneeling down.  That displayed what Christmas truly is about!  You’ll also find two Scriptures from Luke 2 in this paperback book of 20 pages.  The book is best for ages 4-8.

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The next two books are Level 1 “I Can Read” books.  These are always a hit in my home where I have beginning readers.  The titles are Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend and The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper, both by Karen Poth.


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In Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend Sheer luck Holmes and Bobby Watson have to solve the mystery of what happened to their friend who disappeared from the pizza place. They find a note he left that said he was leaving because his feelings had been hurt. The ones who hurt his feelings confess, find Sniffy, and ask for forgiveness.

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In The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper Bob and Larry and trying to solve the mystery of the Masked Door Slammer. But the story is really about bob who is really in a bad mood. He gets madder and madder as the sort goes on, and finally he loses his temper. Larry explains that Bob is being just like the Masked Door Slammer by losing his temper. Bob realizes that he is right and chooses not to “let his anger run wild” anymore.

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(Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of these books in order to write these honest reviews.  This post also contains affiliate links.)


From House to Home {Link Party}: Christmas Pictures

Christmas collage

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It’s time for our From House to Home Link Party:


From House to Home!

Only 2 rules:

1. Link up family-friendly posts (exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!

2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! The code can be found at the top of the Link Party page. (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted.)

I Choose Joy!


Follow on Bloglovin

See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Mayo’s! Remember the Savior as you celebrate today!

I’ve heard about this baby boy
Who’s come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I’m singing Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only Son was born, oh Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You’ll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah

(Lyrics by Cloverton, original song by Leonard Cohen)

Free Christmas Resources from Friends and Heroes

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I’ll be doing a review of Friends and Heroes in January. But, in the meantime, Friends and Heroes have some great FREE Christmas resources that might interest you:

1.  A Christmas music video which can be viewed or even downloaded for free.
2.  A free online Advent Calendar.

Each day includes a Bible reading plus a goodie like a puzzle, coloring sheet, music video or Bible story video. Each day is designed to be a fun way to turn the hearts of children and families to the deeper meaning of Christmas.



(This post contains affiliate links.)

J is for Jotham’s Journey

ABCs of Homeschooling through the Holidays

I’m blessed to have joined a group of amazing bloggers for the series “The ABCs of Homeschooling Through the Holidays” over at Upside Down Homeschooling.


J is for Jothams Journey.

I have written a post about using the book Jotham’s Journey for some wonderful family time during December.  Head over there to read what we do!


Review/Giveaway of Celebrate Jesus: An Advent Journey For Families

Celebrate Jesus Advent Guide


I’m really excited about the resource I’m reviewing today: Celebrate Jesus: An Advent Journey For Families by Amy Blevins.

It’s an Advent Guide chock full of all kinds of wonderful ideas–and it’s only $4.99!

Here are some examples of ideas I got from it that I’m going to try this year: Listening to a great version of A Christmas Carol on CD, wrapping up our Christmas books and opening one each day, using advent candles, listening to wonderful music–songs I haven’t thought of before, and baking some new treats!

What will you find in Celebrate Jesus?

  • 81 pages in a downloadable ebook
  • Each day of Advent (this year starts on Sunday December 1) has Scripture readings and activities listed
  • Activities include listening to a particular song (you can use the website she suggests, or YouTube!)
  • Lots of craft ideas
  • 13 holiday recipes
  • 24 pages of copywork

Celebrate Jesus an exciting Advent celebration for families.


(To order, click on the above graphic.)


 What I like:

Here is what I really liked about this advent guide– It’s not overwhelming!

Each day is completely laid out for you.  See Day One below.  It has a Scripture printed there.  (By the way, there are 2 versions–King James Version and English Standard Version.)  That is the Scripture that you’ll read aloud with the family.  There are also questions included for Moms and older teens to work through together.

So, at the table together, you’ll light the Advent candle (this can be simple, something you make, or something you buy).  Then read the Scripture, sing or listen to the song, and then do an activity.  Day One’s activity is to “act out” the darkness and then the Light coming into the darkness.  Finally, you end with a question or two to think about and help everyone apply what they’ve learned.

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One craft my kids enjoyed doing was using old Christmas cards to make placemats.

You’ll also find instructions for

  • Beaded Wreath Ornaments
  • A “Birthday Gift” for Jesus
  • Star Ornament
  • Bookmarks
  • 3-D Nativity
  • Paper Stars
  • Cinnamon Ornaments
  • Christmas Cards
  • And more!

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On certain days it’s suggested to have a simple treat during your study time. But there is also a recipe section. I wish I had time to try out all of these yummy recipes– including Peanut Butter Fudge, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Bread Machine Rolls, Party Punch, and Company Potatoes.
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Here are some pictures of copywork pages my kids did.  There is a different Scripture for each of the 24 days of Advent.  You may choose the ESV or KJV versions.  I like that each page has a small picture to color as well.  :)

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About the Author:

Amy Blevins is a Christian homeschooling mom of 6 (including 4-year-old twins), is married to a military man, and lives in California. She is a blogger, and you can read more about her at her websites Bow of Bronze and Homeschool Encouragement. The products she has written include “Listening to Learn: Using Audio Files in Your Homeschool,”Thanksgiving Copywork for Children,” “Christmas Copywork for Children,” and “Celebrate Jesus: An Advent Resource for Families.”

Celebrate Jesus: Fun for families every day of Advent

(To order, click on the above graphic.)


The Giveaway:

One blessed reader of I Choose Joy! will win a copy of Celebrate Jesus: An Advent Journey for Families in ebook format.  Winner will be chosen Saturday November 30.  Enter through the Rafflecopter app below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the KJV and ESV Ebook versions of Celebrate Christmas in order to write this honest review. I am also an affiliate for all of Amy Blevins’ products/books.)

Review/Giveaway of “The Story of Christmas” board book

Giveaway of The Story of Christmas

We have received another precious book from Tommy Mommy, The Story of Christmas.  It’s a small padded board book and tells the story of Christmas through rhyme and with adorable illustrations.  My daughter (in the picture) had fun reading it to herself!

The Story of Christmas

*ages 0-3

*Shows children the true meaning of Christmas

*Durable padded board book with a small trim size and carry-me handle, perfect for little hands!

See a Flipbook here!

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Enter a giveaway to win this book through the Rafflecopter app below.  The winner will be chosen next Friday November 15 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.  U.S. only, please.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to write this honest review.  Post also contains affiliate links.)

Collage Friday–Christmas 2012

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Well, I’m back from “vacation” and ready to start my regular work again:  homeschooling and blogging.   The other work didn’t take a rest.  :)

We had a wonderful Christmas this year–thankfully everyone was well from the flu and colds by the 21st.

The kids enjoyed some great presents.  Several received roller blades (which they even use in the winter by roller blading in the garage!).

One son received an iPod, which will double as a birthday present.  And I got a new camera!  Hopefully that means you will see an improvement in the pictures here in 2013.  We got Photoshop Elements also, so I need to get to work on learning how to use it.

Enjoy a few collages in the meantime.

Opening Presents:

PicMonkey Christmas presents


Annual Sleigh Ride with My Husband’s Side of the Family:


PicMonkey Collage- Sleigh Ride


Oldest Son Playing Violin for the Christmas Eve Service:

PicMonkey Collage Violin at Church


Don’t forget to get your FREE photo calendar!  (Shipping & Processing starts at $5.32.)

Linked to
friday favorite things | finding joyHomegrown Learners

(Post contains affiliate links.)

Funny Friday- Twelve Days of Christmas

Click through if you don’t see today’s Funny Friday from YouTube.

Christmas presents

Some more pictures from Christmas!


















Here’s a cute idea when the kids need something to do:  On day one of “Snow Days” Vistaprint features Magnets! Order one with lots of blank space for drawing. When you need an activity, stick it to the fridge and let your kids draw their own artwork with dry erase markers!  Kids can draw their own colorful artwork for display in your kitchen. Today they are 50% Off, with FREE Shipping! That’s $4.99 for a small magnet (11.25” x 8.5”) or $9.99 for a large one (17.3” x 11.25”), including free shipping!  *I just ordered one of these, blank with a cute border, to write our weekly meals on and post on the fridge!

(Contains affiliate links.  Thanks for supporting I Choose Joy!)

Merry Christmas from the Mayo’s

Our Christmas letter, written by my husband.

Dear Friends and Family,                                                                        Christmas 2011

Among the outlands of the Big City there lives a family of the King.  Highborn nay, for they were of lesser-than-royalty means.  Unto Him, though, they were born again, not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

They testify to the true light that had come into the world, the one that gives light to every man.  Adventus  – Ecce advenit Dominator Dominus, in the old Roman tongue.  “Behold, the Lord, the Ruler is come.”  In study, the senior children of the family labor the ancient language, a pillar of the Western Way.  In greater study the family hopes on the Revelation of God.

In a lesser way, yet still of the glory of God is now told the advent story of another family child.  His or her – we know yet not – birth shall come, Lord willing, of the time of Summer Solstice.  The first, this child be, of the family seven or nine if counting patriarch and matron, to be born in that twelfth of the year.  Great joy and some trepidation abound mother and father dwelling, they do and will, on the blessed event.

“Fear not,” though, the Heavenly Host had once said at the advent of the King’s Son.  It would seem the Spirit of that Host would gladly now proclaim a message of comfort and joy to these sojourners to the Celestial City.  For the revelation of God proclaimed blessing to a man whose quiver is full.  “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.”  Though convinced of divine revelation, the family’s preacher wonders on the word “youth.”  Aged in the flesh he has become – yea, well-nigh a half century – though his spirit is renewed every morning – Great is thy Father’s Faithfulness!

Far from fear, the brood anticipates enchantment and thrills at the next child’s coming.  Be it boy, then five golden rings there be.  Be it girl, then four calling birds shall sing.  And what of this kin of the King?  Adopted of spiritual descent, the King gathers their souls for heaven’s joy.  In proclamation of what the Lord has done, the band’s older three confessed His grace accepted.  Ceremony was had in the eighth month of the Roman calendar, and these three symbolized the death-to-life journey in the large waters by the Big City.  Though riotous the ribbons of the lake pounded, all three along with yet another four of the same fellowship came up out of the waters.

There be the patriarch yes, and the seven plus one of which we speak.  But what of the unsung one, the matriarch and her blessed sacrifice?  For through the clamor of corporal change, she bears each new life and enlarges in fuller blessing this warrior remnant.  War there will be, if it be among men too, then parallel wars be they.  Struggle against the flesh and blood there may be, but against the rulers and authorities, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, there will be.

The unsung one shall be sung.  “Blessed!” exclaims her children and her mate when they rise in her presence.  A war bride she be and the yeoman’s load she carries, thy children gather about her, and the Word of the Lord is on her lips.  Perfection nay be she, but a readiness she fits to tell the wondrous stories of unseen things above.

Yet she and they and he all bow this Christmastide (and of every day) to worship the King!  Adventus – yes there was He.  Adventus – yes there will He be.  Come Lord Jesus and set us free!

Love, The Mayos – Michael and Gena and their children

What if there were no Christmas?

Several weeks ago someone told me that their family would no longer be celebrating Christmas.  Because of that simple statement, my whole advent season this year has been different.  I have had so many times where I’ve said to myself, “If we weren’t celebrating Christmas, we wouldn’t (or couldn’t) be doing this right now.”

Here are a few of the beautiful things I’ve done during the past month in celebration of the remembrance of The Lord Jesus becoming a baby in order to bring us salvation.  How truly grateful I am for His sacrifice and for having Christmas here on earth every year as a helpful focus of His Advent!

1.  Decorating the house.  We start every year the day after Thanksgiving.  We don’t do a lot of Black Friday shopping, but we get a tree, a $5 wreath, and several $.99 poinsettias.  My kids love to help decorate the house and tree with all its sights, sounds and scents.

2.  Nativity scenes.  I love seeing the unique Nativity scenes that people display at Christmastime.    We have a beautiful one on our front lawn that my husband made.  My boys made a Lego version for our mantle this year.

3.  Christmas music.  Oh, what a joy to listen to Christmas music every year on the radio and at home!  My husband and I also help lead the music at our church and at a wonderful church fellowship Christmas gathering we have each year.  We sang for well over an hour last Friday night, with guitar, bass, piano, violin, ukulele, percussion, and saxophone accompaniment.  And people were still not ready to quit even though it was close to 11pm!  What a wonderful time of worship, using the beautiful music written to celebrate Christmas.

4.  Christmas cards.  Do you enjoy receiving and sending Christmas cards and letters each year? I do!  It’s especially fun to see how people have changed, kids have grown, and sometimes hear of beautiful testimonies.  I’m thankful for this Christmas tradition which keeps me connected with some people I never get to see, and may only hear from at this same time each year.


5.  Christmas parties and food.  How wonderful it is to have more opportunities to fellowship with people during the Christmas season.  And the food (Christmas cookies?) sure makes it fun, too!

6.  Other traditions.  Each year my husband and I travel down to Chicago to hear a special concert at Moody Church called Candlelight Carols.  I’ve also taken my daughters to see the Nutcracker a couple of times.  This year I took my three-year-old for the first time.  As I was putting tights on to get ready to go she asked me where Daddy’s tights were.  I laughed and said Daddy doesn’t wear tights!  At the ballet, she leaned over when she saw a male dancer on stage and said, “Boys don’t dance!”.  After he finished, she said, “Boys do dance!  And they wear tights!”

7. Making Christmas presents.  I’ve made a few different Christmas presents this year.  I’ll share them on a later post, so I won’t spoil any surprises.

8.  Seeing kids’ joy when opening a special gift.



9.  Watching Christmas movies.  My favorites include “The Nativity Story”, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “White Christmas,” and “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” (cartoon version).

10.  Focusing on advent.  Last year we bought an advent wreath and the book Jotham’s Journey to help us as a family to focus on the time when the Messiah came to earth.  We enjoyed lighting the candles each evening and listening to Daddy read that night’s chapter.  This year we are reading another book written by the same author called Bartholomew’s Passage.

11.  Christmas Eve service.  Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve attended a Christmas Eve service.  My kids have told me it’s one of their main Christmas traditions now!

What would you miss if there were no Christmas?

Funny Friday–Christmas Medley

One of my favorites!

Jesse Tree


Each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, we get out our “Jesse Tree” and begin our focus for the Advent season.  Basically, a Jesse Tree is a way to teach how Jesus is the branch from the stump of Jesse (King David’s father).  Isaiah 11:1 says “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,  And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”   Each day we study a different person or event from Biblical history which led to the birth of Christ.  At this website and this website I printed out pictures which represent what we’re studying.  I laminated them and they are the “ornaments” which we put on our Jesse Tree each day.  On the back I wrote which Scripture to read about each day.  I bought a 3-foot artificial Christmas tree from Walgreens to put the “ornaments” on.  I researched several different websites and came up with my own version of what we would study each day.  Here it is:

Jesse Tree–My version

1.  Tree    Intro to Jesse Tree    Isaiah 11:1-10, Jer. 23:5-6, I Samuel 16:1-13

2.  Earth    Creation   Gen. 1 and 2

3.  Apple    The Fall    Gen. 3

4.  Ark    Noah/Judgment   Gen. 6:5-22, 7:17- 8:12, 8:20, 9:1, 9:8-9:13

5. Field of Stars    Abraham/Covenant    Gen. 12:1-7, 15:1-6

6.  Ram    Isaac   Gen. 22:1-19

7.  Ladder    Jacob   Gen. 27:41   28:22

8.  Coat    Joseph  and Judah    Gen. 44:33, 45, 49:10

9.  Ten Commandments    Moses   Ex. 2:1 , 4:23, 12, 13:21-31, 19:1 , 20:20

10.  Trumpet    Joshua and Rahab   Josh. 1:1-11, 2, 6:1-20

11.  Sack of Grain    Ruth    book of Ruth

12.  Crown    Samuel (anointed kings)   I Sam. 3:1-21, 7:1 , 8:22, 9:15- 10:9

13.  Star of David    David/Kingdom Established    I Sam. 16:1-23, 17:58, II Sam. 5:1-5, 7:1-17

14.  Temple    Solomon/Temple Built     1 Kings 5:1-6, 6:11-14

15.  Hot Ember           Isaiah/Call to Holiness            Isa. 1:10-20, 6:1-13, 8:11-9:7

16.  Tears                    Jeremiah/Exile                            Jer. 1:4-10, 2:4-13, 7:1-15, 8:22 – 9:11

17.  Wall    Nehemiah    Neh. 1:1 , 2:8, 6:15-16, 13:10-22

18.  Dove    John the Baptist   Luke 1:57-80, 3:1-20, 7:18-30

19.  Mom and Baby    Mary   Luke 1:26-38

20.   Hammer    Joseph    Matt. 1:18-25

21.  Stable    Jesus is Born    Luke 2:1-7

22.  Shepherd’s crook   Shepherds   Luke 2:8-20

23.  Star    Magi    Matt. 2:1-12



Linked to Hip Homeschool Moms

Jesse Tree

The post on How We Use a Jesse Tree for Advent has moved here.



Christmas Tree Skirt

I FINALLY made a tree skirt for our Christmas tree!  I’ve been using an old sheet for the last 10 years!