Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

It's the last day of 2013 and I wanted to share with you one last update of my one word challenge for the year and share with you the top posts from My Blessings Homeschool this year.  Before that though I'd like to ask a favor of you. Would you take a minute to fill out a quick survey? I value your input and would love to know your opinions. Click here for the survey. 

Diligence Update 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Best Posts of 2013

This year is almost over. Can you believe it? A group of fellow bloggers and I have compiled a list of our most popular posts from this year. Take a look and enjoy!

I am so excited to share this post with you today!  I often find it difficult to keep up with all the bloggers that I follow.  Some post daily, and I just don't have the time to read them all.  So, I got together with a few of my blogging friends to compile a list of our most popular posts from 2013.

The following list is divided into different categories, and it contains the top 2 most popular posts from more than 20 different bloggers!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

School Update: France. zebras and rocks

It's a little late getting posted but the two weeks of December that we had school we had a lot of fun!

4th Grade

We learned about France! We read about Paris, the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame and other places in Paris. Learned about an area of France that has lots of castles and made a few French foods including hot chocolate and French bread. We found a great paper city of Paris that Chelsea just loved! It's found at Made By Joel and that site also had a paper nativity, city of Sydney (for when we get to Australia) and lots of other fun crafts and projects for kids.
Lego Eiffel Tower & flag of France

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Snowman Ornaments

Need a quick craft to make with the kiddos for Christmas? I found some things in my craft drawers to make these fun snowman ornaments.

You'll need

  • 3 foam balls for each snowman. I had a pack of 12 
  • ribbon or yarn for the scarf and hanger
  • buttons
  • small sticks (I had the kids go into hte yard to find some since it's nice out)
  • small googly eyes
  • hot glue or to make it more kid friendly you could use tacky glue
  • any other items you want to use to embellish your snowman

How to Make Them

                                                          1.Glue foam balls together

2. Add scarf  and eyes

3.Glue on buttons

4. Push Sticks into foam balls in desired spot, remove and add glue to the spot before putting the stick in place again. This holds them in place.

5.Add your yarn or ribbon to hang him by.I found putting some glue on the top of his head and holding the ribbon in it worked well but you can do whatever works for you. 

6. Wrap to give as a gift or hang on your tree! 

Have fun! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Have We Lost Christmas?: Remembering the True Meaning of the Season

Last Sunday our pastor used that very concept in our sermon and it's been on my heart ever since. I see it as I'm reading about stressed out family members going out of their way to spend money they don't have, when at Wal-Mart and it's insanely busy (even busier than normal for Wal-Mart). and even when I think of family and friends and their relationship with God.

My pastor was right. We have "Lost Christmas"

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

FREEBIE Cleaning Checklists for Kids

Getting ready for guests for Christmas? Kids rooms a giant mess like my kids' rooms are? When told to clean their rooms, they easly get distracted and off track.  I've found that them having a checklist seems to help a lot! They have fun keeping track of what they've accomplished and proudly come to me when they have marked off all the things on their list. So, today I've got 2 printables checklists for your kiddos! One for boys and one for girls. They can be printed and laminated for easy use or put into a page protector.

Feel free to share the link to this post with friends! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

No Toys?: Giving Our Children Gifts that Make Memories

Every year for Christmas our children get LOTS AND LOTS OF TOYS! 

Each year we have four Christmas events. 
1. Christmas Eve at my dad's
2. Christmas morning at home with just our family.
3. Later Christmas day with my mom, grandma and cousins
4. Another day with my husbands family. 

All of that adds up to way too much stuff! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Snow Storm + Power Outage = Fun?


Today our area was hit with a big snow storm. The kids and I were cleaning the house and playing in the morning. Around noon the power went out all of a sudden. I was praying that the power would come back on, but it didn't.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our Very Own "Sparkle Box"

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Last year we "accidentally" got this book and I'm so glad we did! My husband had signed up for a Christian book club and when we forgot to decline the monthly book special we were sent the Sparkle box..

The book is the story of a little boy who helps his parents deliver food and blankets to a homeless shelter, give gloves to a man who needed them and donate money for a well in Africa. All the while the Sparkle Box is on the mantel.

Finally on Christmas day the little boy is allowed to open the box after finding the toy train he really wanted. He was confused to find that the box only contained strips of paper.On each were the things he and his parents had done to help others and spread the Light of Jesus. The box was their gift to Jesus on His birthday!

 Last year when we got the book we didn't have time to put anything into it before Christmas. This year though we've had the chance to add a few things so far. It's really funny how even after reading the book my children haven't figured out what's in the box. They didn't spot me put it together while they played one day and put it on the mantel.

So far they've picked out gifts to donate at the "Wish Tree" at our grocery store, helped unload boxes and boxes and boxes of toys for the local charity that gives toys to families for Christmas gifts and we donated to World Vision for 3 ducks for a family in need.

They've had a lot of fun with these things. Picking the toys was quite the project and unloading the trucks was a blast! They were quite worn out that evening.

They still don't know that I've added these things to our Sparkle Box. I 'm excited for them to open Jesus' birthday gift in a few weeks. All of this is to teach them that Christmas isn't about us or the things we are getting from people but instead it's about celebrating Jesus and helping others.

How do you teach your children about giving back at Christmas time? 

Monday, December 9, 2013

7 Tips for Getting Children to Eat

If you have children I'm sure you've got at least one picky eater on your hands or they have gone through phases at some point or another. I wanted to share with you a few tips I have in my "bag of tricks." They aren't fool proof but often do seem to help. 
My picky eater is my four year old daughter.She can be quite stubborn at times which makes for quite the challenge! Sometimes these tips work and others nothing will get her to eat her meal no matter what I try. 

At our house meal time is not a short order cook service or buffet. I make the meal which I try to ensure that most of my family will like and that's the meal. With the exception of times when we have leftovers or some other quick and easy meal, my children are expected to eat what is served. 

I hope these 7 tips will help you with the picky eaters in your house Maybe you have an idea I haven't tried yet? 

1. Try a Bite
Often when kids see a food that isn't familiar to them they balk at it and write it off as "yucky" without even taking a taste. 

When we have something new I have a one bite rule. My children are required to taste one bite of the new dish. Often they are quite surprised that they actually like it! 

2. Eat Half
This one worked with my oldest when she was preschool age and I'm quite shocked that it still works with my younger ones now. My son though has figured me out and gets frustrated when I try this with him but it does work quite often.

We started off splitting her food in half and saying she had to pick one side and eat just that half. Well this must seem like a game or something because it works! And guess what...you can split it in half again...and again... and again. Before you know it the plate is empty! Little one has a full belly and you are feeling quite accomplished and happy.  

3. Make a "Happy Plate"
ELM happy plate.jpgThis is a new one and the one that got me thinking about ways to get kids to eat at meal time. The day after Thanksgiving we had dinner with my husbands' family. Our children and two of their cousins were at the "kids table" and having quite the time giggling, talking and really not eating. My sister in law tells them, 

"Who can eat ALL their food and make a happy plate/" 

All five of them got quite excited at this concept and excitedly announced they had made a happy plate when they had finished. Now I can just encourage them to "make a happy plate" and it gets them eating instead of complaining. 

4. Keep Offering New Foods
This one seems so simple but at the same time it's easy to overlook. When Hunter was starting out on table foods he would not touch any vegetables, not corn, green beans or any of the others kids usually love. 

I was given the advice to just keep putting a small amount on his plate. Sure enough one night I was in shock when I realized he was eating his green beans! Ever since then he has beencone of my best veggie eaters and even enjoys things like brocoli and asparagus that most kids avoid like the plague. 

Sort of like the one bite idea, this one takes a little more patience. Keep putting it in front of them and it eventually seems less foreign and more familiar. That eases things up and they'll give it a try to find they really do like it. 

5. Consequences 
This may not be an attractive idea and definitely not my first choice but sometimes it's necessary and it does work. We often will have an afternoon snack and one of the consequences of not eating lunch is not getting a snack in the afternoon or dessert after dinner. Several occasions I've had little ones not eat and therefore not get dessert or a snack. The next time meal time came they were happy to eat their food. 

6. Get Them Involved in Cooking
If your kids are anything like mine they will love being in the kitchen helping mom! Get them in there to help stir, pour in ingredients, get things out of the refrigerator or even just set the table. The excitement and enthusiasm over helping make the meal makes them want to eat it more since they got to help. 

7. Limit Snacking
I've seen moms let their kids graze throughout the day on snack foods or even healthy foods. Then meal time comes and they wonder why their children won't eat their meal. If given the choice to eat yummy snacks whenever you please or eat the meal mommy made most children will choose the former. If they are allowed to fill up on other things ALL day they aren't going to be hungry for the meal prepared for them. 

That doesn't mean we don't snack at all. I offer an afternoon snack around 2:30 . It's just that, a snack. Something small and preferably healthy to hold them off a few more hours. Most of the time when our children all refuse to eat we realize that they had snacked excessively or close to mealtime.  

What are your tricks of the trade? 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Homeschool Update

Hi there! I hope you've had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great school week to follow! This week we finished up units for fourth grade and kindergarten. I don't have as many pics as i usually like but my phone went to work with my hubby several days this week.

Exploring Countries and Cultures

In our fourth grade news we finished reading and learning about Norway! We haven't made the recipes yet but plan to today.

We are still using Easy Peasy for reading and math. We started reading Aesop's Fables this week, and practiced alphabetizing. In math Chelsea worked on larger multiplication problems for math.

Paper Snowflake we made from an online tutorial.
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Chelsea watching her multiplication video with her 2 little sisters joining

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We finished up our kangaroo unit and celebrated our 100th day of kindergarten! Hunter was quite excited to get a pack of 100 Angry Birds stickers! We used the globe to talk about where kangaroos live and tried acting like kangaroos to see how far we could hop. 

hunter working on his sound discrimination page. 
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Piano Lessons continue. I snagged a pic this week. 

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Baby Days

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Allie LOVES being worn!
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Other Fun Events 

We got the tree up on Friday night!
Only to have a kitten climb it today. I took him out of the tree, told him "NO!" and let him go just in time to see the tree fall! We are waiting for some help getting the base fixed or replaced and then we can have fun re-decorating.
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Surviving the Newborn Baby Days

Tips for Surviving Newborn Baby Days at Smithspirations.com

A friend of mine is having her fifth blessing any day now and I offered to write a guest post for her. Having recently welcomed a little blessing of our own I decide
d to share some tips I have for surviving those first few weeks with a new little one. Stop by Kristen's blog at Smithspirations to take a look and get some great ideas for welcoming your new little one. 

What are your tips for newborn days? 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Natural Birth Stories Review & Giveaway!

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 I have mentioned this book in a previous post about my own natural birth experience but I wanted to share more with you this week.

"Natural Birth Stories" by Shannon Brown of Growing Slower is a compilation of birth stories from a variety of mothers with a wide variety of experiences. Some birthed naturally at home, birth center or hospital.

One of the things that drew me to this book is that the goal is to make new moms feel empowered and capable of having a natural birth. When I had my first I was afraid of the pain of labor, epidurals were pushed as being the "norm' in my birthing classes and when things got rough I caved.

Our bodies were made for this though! "Natural Birth Stories" points out that there is a very small number of women who actually have natural births in the United States.

"This leaves less than two percent of all women in the United States that give birth naturally. "

I absolutely loved reading the stories of all of the contributing mothers! It felt good to read stories of mothers who made it through long labors with the support of their husband and midwife as well as those who are more like me and tend to have very fast labors. I also liked that the stories weren't just home or birth center births. Some were hospital births which I find encouraging too because there are areas where a birth center is not near enough or you aren't up to the idea of a home birth.

Another great aspect of this book is that Shannon Brown also includes information on childbirth classes, finding a midwife, what contractions really feel like and making a birth plan.

"Natural Birth Stories" would make a wonderful Christmas gift for  new mom in your life whether this is her first or tenth or somewhere in between. You can have it printed and bound to give as a gift or read it yourself! "Natural Birth Stories" is empowering women to take control of  their birth experience and realize we can have a wonderful birth experience without the medical intervention when it's not truly necessary.

You can click here to get your copy of "Natural Birth Stories" by Shannon Brown, get the book for $0.34 as part of the Ultimate Healthy living bundle today only or enter below to win a copy of the book.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
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