Review/ Giveaway: Christmas Art Lesson DVD from See the Light

Christmas Art Lesson DVD Giveaway

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know how much we LOVE the See the Light art instruction DVDs here at our home. We don’t have professional art instruction outside the home, so this is how I help my kids grow in their art skills. And, it’s fun!

So, this week we started their Christmas DVD. It’s called The Gift of Love. There are 3 art projects on it, and we have only done the first so far. It’s called Creative Lettering and uses mostly simple art supplies– printer paper, ruler, #2 pencil, colored pencils, plus a box of Extreme Colored Pencils (fluorescent) and a black light (can be purchased from See the Light).

The DVD contains 143 minutes of content: the Christmas story is told with narration and chalk art, Creative Lettering lesson (33 minutes), Drawing lesson with colored pencils (37 minutes), and Chalk-art lesson (19 minutes).  The most fun is using the black art to see something that they added that can’t be seen without the special lighting!  The art lessons are best for ages 6 and up.

See below what my kids (ages 8, 9, and 11) accomplished! And then enter below to win a copy of See the Light’s The Gift of Love DVD for yourself!

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Now through December 15th you can get 20% off ART PROJECTS SET (9 DVDs of Art lessons for ages 10 and up–but I’ve used it for younger kids, too) + 20 % off on everything else on the same order + FREE SHIPPING in the USA  Coupon code: BLACKCYBER

And now a GIVEAWAY!

Someone will win The Gift of Love art lesson DVD. The winner will be chosen on December 13 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.  Enter through the Rafflecopter app below.

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(This post contains affiliate links.)

 

Linked to http://www.myjoyfilledlife.com/2014/12/08/mom-2-mom-monday-link-11/

10 Gifts to Buy for the Men in Your Life

Ten Top Gifts for the Men in Your Life

Men and older boys can be difficult to buy gifts for, huh?  I’ve been brainstorming some ideas for Christmas presents for these guys (and asking some friends for their ideas). Here are a few gifts that you might be able to get for those wonderful men and older boys in your life!

Gifts for Men:

1. Phone and Tablet Cases

2. Season Tickets (or just one ticket!) to a sport or musical activity they enjoy

3. An Experience they can enjoy with a child, like registration to a Father-Son Camp or Father-Daughter Dance.

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4. Clothing Items they don’t like to buy–like socks or thermal underwear!

5.  Tools (even for teens–they can save them to use for the rest of their lives!)

6. Golf Gift Certificates

7.  A Book or gift card for books or ebooks

8.  An Accessory for a Hobby they enjoy, like this smartphone mount for a bicycle or motorcycle

9.  Candy from the year they were born

10.  Grilling Accessories, like these great Grilling Gloves

 

And now for the awesome giveaway!

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I’m so excited that we will have 2 winners for this giveaway.  The first place winner gets $500 Paypal Cash, and the second place winner gets a $100 Amazon gift card!

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Check out some other great gift guides here:

   

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Review/ Giveaway “Buck Denver: Why Do We Call it Christmas?” DVD

Today we have a Review and Giveaway of the DVD “Buck Denver asks Why Do We Call it Christmas?”

If you have kids ages 4-10, they’ll love it!  Mine did.

“Buck Denver asks Why Do We Call it Christmas?” is from the VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer.  He even appears in the video talking to the kids and narrating some about the story.  But most of the movie is done with puppets and animation.

There are many episodes of Buck Denver; most explain about something in the Bible.  This one explains where Christmas and some of its traditions came from.

Here is what your kids will learn from the funny puppets, clever storyline, and catchy songs:

*That the word Christmas is from the Christ’s Mass celebration in the church.

*That we celebrate Christmas on December 25 because it used to be a pagan holiday that was switched to be Christian by the Roman Emperor Julius 1.

*That there are 25 million Christians in India.

*That Emperor Dionysius made a mistake calculating Christ’s birth for the new calendar, and He was actually born in 4 or 5 B.C.

*That the tradition of the Christmas tree came from the missionary Boniface who used the tree as a symbol to teach a pagan group of people about Christ who used to think of the trees as sacred.

*That Santa Claus comes from the story of St. Nicholas who gave money and gifts to the poor. He was a bishop and wore a red coat and hat. He is celebrated on St. Nicholas Day on December 6.  His German and Dutch name sounds more like Santa Claus, so that’s why we call him that.

*That our modern-day Christmas is a mixture of the December 6 and 25 celebrations, which is why we have baby Jesus and Santa Claus on the same day.

*That the holiday of Hanukkah began 300 years before Jesus and He even celebrated it.

The DVD ends with an explanation of the Christmas story–Mary and Jesus going to Bethlehem and what happened at His birth.

The best part of the whole movie was that the Gospel is very clearly explained!  Those watching will learn exactly who Jesus is and what He did for us by coming to the earth, dying on the cross for our sins, and rising to new life!

The “Buck Denver asks Why Do We Call it Christmas?” DVD is about 60 minutes long.  See the trailer here:

There are some fun free activities at the Buck Denver website.

Please enter below on the Rafflecopter app if you would like to win a copy!  The winner will be chosen on November 21 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

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(Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): 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 the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.)

Review: “The Legend of St. Nicholas”


Today’s review is of a Christmas book you might want to get this Christmas: The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey.

In this modern-day story, Nick is a young boy who is going Christmas shopping with his dad.  He’s not real excited about getting something for others; in fact he’s hoping there is money left over so he can get something for himself.  As he is wandering around the store, he hears someone say his name.  It’s a mall Santa who is telling the story of a boy named Nick.  This is the same Nick who would grow up to be St. Nicholas.

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Nick’s parents loved God and taught him to do so as well.  They were also wealthy.  When they died, Nick was still young.  He realized that God had a plan for him–to give his money away to those in need.  He did that secretly, including to some girls who needed the money for their dowries, and he threw the money in through their chimney!

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I enjoyed reading The Legend of St. Nicholas.  The story was cute–how the modern day Nick learns about the 4th Century Nick and decides that he wants to be like him and be generous as well!  I also loved the illustrations.  The book is filled with beautiful paintings by Richard Cowdrey, and it was fun to see the snowy owl which appeared on many of the pages!

 

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

 

 

 

Review: If He Had Not Come by David Nicholson

Christmas Book Review
Are you looking for a new Christmas book to read to your kids this year?  I’ve found one for you!  Today I am reviewing If He Had Not Come by David Nicholson.

This story is best for ages 6 and up and is a beautiful physical hardback book in full color.

David Nicholson has reintroduced the story which is a classic Christmas story by Nan F. Weeks.  It is illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz.

I really enjoyed reading If He Had Not Come.  My first thought was that it reminded me of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life!” Remember what happens there?  George is faced with a new reality of what life would be like if he hadn’t lived.  Well, in this story we see some evidence of how our world would be different if Jesus hadn’t lived.  It’s powerful to read about the differences!

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A young boy is the main character and is excited about Christmas the next day.  Before bed he reads the Bible with his dad and they read John 15:22 where Jesus says, “If I had not come. . . ”  He goes to bed thinking about that.  When he wakes up he goes downstairs and doesn’t see his parents anywhere.  But there are other things missing as well: the Chrismas tree and presents and decorations!  He goes outside and finds that the factory down the street is running that day. When he asks the foreman why they are open on Christmas day, he says he’s never heard of Christmas and doesn’t know what the boy is talking about.  He goes from place to place trying to figure out what is going on, and no one seems to know anything about Christmas.  He runs to his church, but it’s not there.  He runs to the Children’s Home to watch the kids open Christmas presents, but it’s not there either!  There is just a sign in each place that says, “If I Had Not Come.”

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He then sees a sick old man and tells him he’ll run to the hospital to get him some help, but the hospital isn’t there.  And the homeless shelter doesn’t exist either.  Signs that say “If I Had Not Come” are everywhere.  Finally, the boy runs home and goes up to bed.  Soon he wakes up and realizes it had all been a dream, but a very powerful one!  Christianity  has made an enormous impact in our world and in our society.  Christians who care about others have built hospitals and homeless shelters and children’s homes.  They have spread the love of Christ all around, and if He had not come, our world would be vastly different today.

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After the lovely story with fine illustrations, there are several pages that a parent or teacher can go over with their children.  The discussion questions were quite interesting and I enjoyed doing these with my kids.  There is also a page that explains how to share the gospel and how to accept Jesus as one’s Savior.

David Nicholson took a wonderful old story and put it in a great package to share with kids.  I’m sure you’ll like this book just like I did!

The price is Casebound Hardcover for $18.95 and E-Book for $3.99.

Visit the If He Had Not Come Facebook page!

 

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New Product Giveaway: SQUILT Christmas Carols (and a Sale!)

Christmas background with sheet music

I’m so happy to introduce the newest SQUILT volume today!  SQUILT Christmas Carols by Mary Prather is being released today!  (And there’s a giveaway of it–read to the end of the post!)

SQUILT stands for Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time and is a method for EASY teaching of music appreciation for your kids!  It’s perfect for homeschoolers or any kids and for all ages!

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All SQUILT volumes (including the new Christmas Carol volume) will be discounted 25% using the code BIRTHDAY at checkout. This sale will run 11/3-11/10.

Here’s how it works.  SQUILT is a downloadable file, so it’s available as soon as purchased.  Christmas Carols is 24 pages long and teaches about 5 Christmas carols: Carol of the Bells, Away in a Manger, The Little Drummer Boy, Angels We Have Heard on High, and O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  You’ll find everything you need included–what to teach, links for more info (including special sites like how to draw something), and links to the music to listen to (on YouTube)!  It’s so easy.

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Mary suggests using SQUILT twice a week and doing the same song for each day.  There are notebooking sheets for the kids to fill out. The one for the older kids is more detailed and asks them to white about the dynamics, rhythm/tempo, instrumentation, and mood.  For the younger kids, they simply “draw what they hear!”

I use my computer to look at the curriculum and click through to listen to the music:

 

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Or you can watch/listen/read about it on your tablet!

SQUILT Christmas Carols iPad

Here is my daughter working on SQUILT Christmas Carols:

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For “The Little Drummer Boy:”

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You might want to check out my other reviews to read about Volume 1 Baroque, Volume 2 Classical, and Volume 3 Romantic.  These are great for introducting your children to composers and music of those musical time periods!

Remember the sale with coupon code BIRTHDAY to get 25% off any of the volumes!

And enter the giveaway of SQUILT Volume 1, 2, or 3  (your choice) here.  Enter on the Rafflecopter app below.  Winner will be chosen on November 9, 2014 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

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Linked to Trivium Tuesdays

(Disclosure: I received a copy of SQUILT Christmas Carols and Volumes 1,2, and 3 for help in writing honest reviews. I am also an affiliate of SQUILT and this post contains affiliate links.)

$1650 Christmas Cash Giveaway

 

Thanks to some amazing bloggers we were able to come collectively together with a
 CASH PRIZE of $1650.  
Yes, you read it correctly, $1650!
  
What could you do with a little extra cash 
this holiday season? 
Let’s see, if I could win. . .  I would book a little Christmas trip for husband and me!  I’d love to know what you would spend the $$ on.  Presents? Clothes?  A special Christmastime surprise! Please leave a comment below!
 Enter our giveaway.  Someone’s going to win the $1650 Christmas Cash Giveaway!  It might be you!

Giveaway to run November 1st – November 22nd  with the winner receiving their cash on Black Friday so they can start shopping for the Christmas Holiday.
 
Meet your Host and CoHosts

 

 

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Crsytelle Boutique           100lb Countdown            Saving 4 Six
bumblebreeblog             Magenta & Lime                  Everyday Hayley


Many THANKS to our Sponsors too!  Please stop by and tell them hello.

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Please read the rules of sweepstakes and contests held at Sew Crafty Angel.
Giveaway is open worldwide to participants with a verified PayPal account.
All entries will be verified. In the event an entry can not be verified participant chooses to forfeit that entry and another winner will be chosen.
Winner has 48 hours to respond to the winning email.
Giveaway will run from October 31st 11:59 PM CST to November 22nd, 12 AM CST
Any taxes or fees associated with the winnings of this contest are the sole responsibility of the winner according to their county, state and/or country laws.
Prize money to be distributed by Angel Allen from Sew Crafty Angel.
CASH prize is in US Dollars and will not be converted to any foreign currency.
Void where prohibited by law.

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

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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
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
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
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
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
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.

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(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!

–Gena

Review 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?

  • 213 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

 Advent is coming! Use this daily schedule of Scripture, songs, activities and more to celebrate Adv

(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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 Crafts:

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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Recipes:

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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Copywork:

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 website 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.”

 Advent is coming! Use this daily schedule of Scripture, songs, activities and more to celebrate Adv
(To order, click on the above graphic.)

 

(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.
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(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

Christmas card2 2012

 

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

 

 

 

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!

 

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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.

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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!”
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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.

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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!