Wednesday, December 25, 2013

From our family to yours...

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Winner!

I loved getting to read the stories shared about acts of service during the Christmas season...thanks for sharing and for entering!

The winner of the giveaway for the book The Sparkle Box is #2--Stephanie! Congrats!

I'll be in touch with the details of the giveaway...and thanks to all who entered!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Christmas Peppermint Float

The other night, we surprised the kiddos with a cozy evening in (after too many nights out). On the agenda? A Christmas movie and treat.

Last year, we went the way of The Grinch...but this year, we decided for some nostalgia.

White Christmas just might be my favorite Christmas many favorite scenes...and I was excited to share it with our children for the first time. (They enjoyed it. Except for Nathanael during the kiss at the end!)

Peppermint ice cream (from Braums) is a sweet memory of childhood for me. So to go along with our movie (thanks to Pinterest and Southern Living,) here's our take on Christmas Peppermint floats:

Christmas Peppermint Floats

1 recipe homemade Hot Chocolate mix (recipe follows)
peppermint ice cream (I used Mayfield)
mini candy canes

1. Heat hot chocolate, enough for your crowd.
2. In festive mugs, place 1-2 scoops of peppermint ice cream.
3. Ladle hot chocolate over ice cream and top with candy cane. Serve with a spoon and enjoy!

Dark Hot Cocoa Mix

1 1/2 cups of a mixture of 43% cacao dark chocolate morsels and 60% cacao dark chocolate morsels*
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup instant nonfat dry milk
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa

1. Mix all ingredients until blended and store in an airtight container.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat one cup of milk per serving to 180 degrees over stove. Remove from stove and stir in 1/4 cup hot cocoa mix per serving until combined. Make sure that the chocolate chips are fully dissolved. Serve.

*This recipe from this month's Southern Living calls for 53% cacao chips, but I couldn't find those, so I used a combination of what I had on hand!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Our Christmas book tradition (and giveaway!)

For the last several years...maybe of our favorite Christmas traditions has been wrapping up 24 Christmas books and counting down the days 'til Christmas as we read favorites, old and new. I keep the books in a festive basket or bin and after reading the day's book, it gets put behind the wrapped books...for the kids to read as Christmas approaches.

One of the things I love about this tradition is that is keeps us from reading all-of-the-Christmas-books in one sitting as soon as they're unpacked with the Christmas decorations. It also helped when the kiddos were younger to see how close we were to Christmas. (We have other advent calendars too, but these books seemed to be the most helpful, especially before the kiddos understood the concept of a calendar.)

There are books that are favorites of mine as a child that I've hunted down (my favorite illustrated copy of Twas the Night before Christmas and The Christmas Snowman). We have many that have come as gifts, including several of Jan Brett's wonderful books...and of course, classics like How The Grinch Stole Christmas and O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi.

Each year, I always try to add at least one new book...and phase out ones that the kids may have outgrown. (Although I still set those out in our "Christmas toys" basket!) 

Our new book this year was The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie.

The Sparkle Box is the sweet and simple story of Sam and his curiosity about a silver box he discovers on the mantle of his fireplace. His mother tells him that it isn't ready to be opened yet, as they still need to fill it. As the story unfolds, Sam and his parents go about their lives during the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, with an emphasis in the story placed on serving others. Christmas morning arrives...and Sam is finally able to see what the sparkling silver box was all about.

This was the first book that we unwrapped this year, as I wanted to begin December with a focus less on stuff and more focused on giving to others and the Gift that we've been given in Christ. The story is well-told and the illustrations are lovely. I found myself pausing to hold back tears as the ending neared, the story a good reminder for adults as well as children of the call to serve others.

While reading, I couldn't help but think of Matthew 25:40 "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" And sure enough, on the last page, in a note from the author, was the verse and a challenge to fill your own Sparkle Box this Christmas season.

The book includes a silver, glittery cardstock-weight box that you can assemble to begin a Sparkle Box tradition in your own family. (There is a pocket on the back cover for storing your box after Christmas.) The kids and I will be brainstorming some ideas today for serving others in this last week before Christmas...I'm looking forward to it a lot.

If you'd like to win a copy of The Sparkle Box...please leave a comment: share a favorite memory of serving "the least of these"or your favorite Christmas carol! Comments will be accepted through Thursday, December 19 12:00 pm EST and the winner announced that afternoon!

This review of The Sparkle Box is sponsored by PR by the Book, who provided my copy and the giveaway copy, but the review is entirely my own opinion.

Friday, December 13, 2013

slow, slow, quick, quick, slow

I remember chanting those words at a similar time of year in a very different season of life.

Eighth grade cotillion.

You could see the boys nod their heads and mouth the words. A few of the girls were seamless in their execution of the steps. A few, you could tell, were counting their steps silently.

Slow. Slow.
Quick, quick, slow.

That's how I feel about the last few weeks...a combination of quick and slow.

A slow onset of autumn weather...followed by a few summer-like days.

A quick November (I was traveling over three of the five weekends.)

A slow drive to Virginia for Thanksgiving...and a wonderfully slow five day visit with Brent's brother's family...lots of time spent watching eight cousins enjoy time together.

A quick onset of the advent season, as we returned home December 1.

A quick trip to cut down our Georgia tree (some type of lacy Cypress...a first for us!) And a quickly decorated tree...all in the same evening!

Quick shipping of gifts (Lots of love for Amazon Prime.)

A slow and gradual approach to decorating. It always seems to take me a little longer to decorate the first year in a new home...and this year was no different!

Quick mornings and days...trying to find rhythm and balance for Christmas activities and homeschooling and wrapping gifts and the next stage of paperwork for our adoption and the usual upkeep of a home at Christmas.

A slowing down to enjoy time read our advent devotions and light the candles.

A slowing (to almost a stop!) of blog there's been much to say but not many moments to say it.

Quick weeks, full of good and fun activities with friends and our church family...

And quick nights; I am definitely putting in my night owl hours.

I'm looking forward to this next week...with a slower pace of school beginning Monday (just math & reading) evening plans scheduled at all...and time to enjoy the days leading up to Christmas.

I hope that in the midst of the "quick, quick" this season, you also find slow moments, to rest and reflect on the Hope and Joy and Peace that advent recalls.


© 2011. All Rights Reserved. | Prefab Blog Design By Penny Lane Designs