christmas tradition: jesse tree

i thought i would re-post this from last year, since we started our jesse tree today. 

observing advent is not a requirement, though for us advent is a time that has helped us as a family re-focus on the reason why we celebrate christmas at all.  for our children, observing advent by means of the jesse tree has helped keep them (especially ty) from being overly focused on the consumerist aspects of the holiday season.


our jesse tree is the first new christmas tradition out of three that we have started this year (i'll cover the other two another time).

i originally had planned on starting a jesse tree two years ago after coming across shannon's post about her jesse tree, but for some reason never got around to it.  well, i know the reason...i wanted to make my own ornaments and by the time i got it together christmas was literally around the corner.

if you are not familiar with the jesse tree, it is an advent calendar of sorts but includes daily scripture reading beginning from creation all the way to the birth of Jesus.  the purpose of the jesse tree is to bring the focus on the true meaning of christmas, why we celebrate it, and to show how all the old testament prophecies point to the coming of Jesus.

we used the daily scripture and devotionals from here, though there are many other resources you can use (or augment or make your own devotionals to suit the unique needs of your family).  simple mom provides you with a simple explanation and how-to along with links to other jesse tree resources.

the majority of our ornaments are based on the pictures from the devotionals site and most are made from felt.  most turned out great, though there are some that i'll re-make again for next year.  our tree is simply a twig with lots of branches (for ornament hanging) placed in a big mug with brown paper to hold it up.  i like the understated simplicity of the twig and how well it displays the ornaments.

we all have learned a lot during our special jesse tree time.  you can often hear emma eagerly ask what we'll be learning today for our jesse tree, and it makes me smile to see such eagerness!  with tyler, we have had some great discussions following the scripture reading, and he has surprised us on a few occassions with some of his responses.

 one of the best things about this new tradition is the meaningful time we are able to spend together as a family.  we are so glad we can incorporate this new tradition into our christmas celebration!

originally posted 12.19.2009


the feast

we had a very enjoyable thanksgiving day with family, and were glad to be able to host again.  this year i got smart and prepped most of the thanksgiving meal before hand.


thanksgiving day spread...

the day's menu...

appetizer and pre-meal snack:
artichoke dip (thanks to corrie)
pumpkin chocolate chip bread

main course:
oven roasted turkey (of course!)
apple-cranberry sausage stuffing
creamy sweet potatoes with candied pecans and brown sugar
garlic mashed potatoes
grilled asparagus tossed in olive oil and our magic salt
homemade cranberry sauce
homemade dinner rolls

dessert (thanks to gram):
apple pie
pecan pie
pumpkin cake

filled with a thankful heart, a full tummy and a house full of family, i managed to take many photos of the glorious food but successfully neglected to take pictures of the wonderful people.

sometimes enjoying the moment means forgetting about the camera.


wordless wednessday::stick it to me

more wordless wednesday here.


top ten tuesday

oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever.  
let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble,
psalm 107:1-2

the thanksgiving holiday is upon us, and much like last year it gets me thinking as to why i really celebrate it.  is it so that i can cook a massive turkey and wear stretch pants all day to allow for the extra expansion of my thighs and belly after some serious eating?  where is my heart in all of this

remembering to be thankful should not be reserved solely for the holiday season, but should be addressed through out the year.  however, the coming holiday season provides a great reminder for many of us (including me), who have so much already, to be thankful of what we have and appreciate the things we may often take for granted.

top ten reason why i'm thankful:

1. i have a God that loves me.  he is compassionate, faithful and merciful even when i can be a big pain in the you-know-what.  he provides for me and helps me even when i don't deserve it.

2. i have a patient and loving husband who works hard to provide care and comfort for me and our children.

3. i have me some beautiful children...and one more on the way.  it brings me joy to know that our home will be filled with little voices, giggles, laughter...and yes, even the sometimes aggravating chaos loudness that comes along with having a house full of kids.

4. we have been provided with shelter from adverse weather conditions (hot or cold).

5. we have functioning cars!

6. we have never gone hungry, even when it feels like there is no more room in the grocery budget to cut.

7. we have a wonderful church family.

8. fall has been warmer than i expected this year (you know how i LOVE the cold weather...please know that i'm kidding).

9. the awesomeness of the 216.  there are still times (even after 5 years) i miss the west coast (and admittedly, long to go back), but i am so thankful for the new discoveries i've made since living here.  great people.  great community.  cleveland, you have a piece of my heart!

10. having a healthy, low-key pregnancy.  4 more months to go and nothing adverse to report.  boy or girl, this little one will be warmly welcomed in march.

happy thanksgiving!

school days: fall is fun!

we started the month of november with a topical study on autumn, and just finished up last week.

emma and i worked on putting together a "fall is fun" (she made up the title, not me) lapbook and baked apple pie.  both kids had fun raking leaves (well...i did most of the work but i guess it was fun for me too), doing a few nature walks hunting for leaves, acorns, and sticks, and reading plenty of fall related books.

then there was our first attempt at leaf printing...it turned out okay.  messy, but we are happy with the finished product.  i even let gibson have a go, and after a few turns of smashing down painted leaves on the paper with his hand he just tried to eat the paint.  good thing it's non-toxic.

the lapbook provided a very helpful foundation on where to go with the study, and made it easy to incorporate the basic concepts i had listed here.  i think she had a great time putting everything together, and continues to use this lapbook as part of her day to day activities.

lapbook highlights:

we went over the 4 seasons and discussed what the weather was like and what we usually wore for each season.  emma and dad also talked about their favorite season and why during an impromptu daddy-daughter date at malley's.

 the johnny appleseed grace tri-fold sheet was very easy to do.  i was quite impressed with the thoughtful list things emma thanked God for, which i wrote down for her on the inside of the tri-fold.  we have also changed our meal-time prayer this past week to the johnny appleseed grace pictured...i'm glad that my singing voice is somewhat acceptable.

 i added velcro to the apple pattern activity so that emma could do this activity more than once (thanks to living and learning blog for the idea).  this also inspired me to do the same for the pumpkin life cycle (this was also a great opportunity to discuss the similarities and differences between a pumpkin and apple life cycle). 

one surprising observation i made from doing this study was her fondness of mazes.  i printed a rather easy one for her to do to introduce her to the activity and BOOM.  she figured it out in no time.  i printed 2 more for her to do, which i thought would be more of a challenge for her and BOOM.  again, she did them in hardly anytime at all.  this is such a change from a mere 6 months or so ago, when i noticed that mazes provided quite a challenge for her.  i never pushed her to try anymore at that time, since it was obvious she wasn't quite ready.  it's pretty amazing what a little time can do.


giving credit where credit is due...

"fall is fun" lapbook resources i used:
fall-related books we read (i think there were a few more, but i've forgotten what they were):
  • 10 red apples by pat hutchins(a gibson favorite)
  • leaf jumpers by carole gerber
  • johnny appleseed by reeve lindbergh
  • the apple pie tree by zoe hall(this was another gibson favorite)


throw them a bone!

are you an animal lover?  especially dogs?  then you should make plans to go to the happy dog tomorrow night for the dogs for the dogs at the dog: a benefit for secondhand mutts

our friend, 52 weeks of cleveland, has put together a great evening of music, entertainment, raffle prizes and fun to highlight and support secondhand mutts, a local dog rescue and adoption organization.  donations for the organization will also be accepted that night or you can donate monetarily by going to their website.  for a list of items they need, check out the facebook event page.

some of the local businesses and artists who have donated for the raffle prizes include city buddha, cleveland handmade/last minute market, and *ahem* myself.
..origami christmas tree gift tags..

..baby tee..

..lil' bib (front)..

..lil' bib (back)..

even if you don't like dogs, consider coming for the food and the music.  i know you don't want to miss aaron playing drums in his fancy glasses and sophisticated trucker hat.
bib model!


wordless wednesday::short and sweet

2.5 days to finally meet my new niece and see my sister and family was just not long enough...


more wordless wednesday here.


cleveland shopping

check out this super cool etsy treasury, which features my rocket ship onesie: a very cleveland christmas.

all the items listed are under $25 *and* made in the cleveland area.  let's start shopping!


wordless wednesday::leaf hunting

it was a perfect autumn day to go leaf hunting for emma's leaf rubbing booklet, and to soak in some sunshine and "warmer" weather.

there were many things to discover on the trail, and while old man dad sat in the rocker reading his book the kiddies enjoyed watching the birds from the windows of one of our favorite nature centers.
more wordless wednesday here and here.


arty art at the screw factory

every so often, the screw factory artists hold an open studio event for the public.  we enjoy going every time and this past one was no exception.

we saw many of the same artists, but some new ones as well.  and there was a little something for everyone: LEGO paintings for ty, messenger bags and other bicycle related gear for aaron, little fairy doors for emma, knitted cat nip mice for gibson, and soaps and little purses for the girly-girl side of me.

additionally, cleveland handmade market was there selling early bird tickets for their last minute market event, and coffee for a cause had a table promoting their delicious smelling, fresh roasted coffee.

if you are an avid coffee drinker (and coffee aficionado), then i would encourage you to consider making a purchase from coffee for a cause.  this is a local business started by one of our neighbors that partners coffee lovers with charities.  if you purchase coffee from them part of the proceeds will go to one of the charities they support, but you get to pick which one.

and...be sure to mark your calendars for the last minute market, saturday december 18, which will also be in conjunction with another screw factory artists open studio event.  this is a great way to take care of any last minute christmas shopping and support local businesses at the same time.  if you purchase a ticket for the early bird admission, you will be entered for a chance to win various prizes donated by local artists.  plus, all proceeds from the ticket sales will go towards the hunger network.  can't beat that!


oh baby :: hello belly

i can't believe that a little over half the pregnancy has gone by already.  dang!  it's been going fast.
20 week ultrasound and the kid wouldn't give us a good face shot. stubborn.

i feel as if i went from no belly to hello belly in a matter of just a few months.

apparently, one of my girls in the pre-ballet class i teach felt the same way...
little girl.1 [as we are gathered in a circle ready to begin class]: eh! what happened to your belly?!?

me [confused look on my face]: what do you mean, what happened to it?

little girl.1: it got pretty big.  looks like you're getting a little fat.

me [trying to cover up my "say what?" look with a laugh]: ha, ha.  no, it's not that i'm getting fat.  it's because i have a baby in there.

little girl.1: ooohhhh.

little girl.2 (who also happens to be little girl.1's twin sister): you have a baby in there?  how is it going to come out?

little girl.1: they're going to take it out with a KNIFE.

me: uh, no.  they're not going to take it out with a knife.

little girl.2: then how is the baby going to come out?

[can i just say...AWKWARD?]

me: umm, well...you should ask your mom how babies come out.  maybe she can tell you how you came out.

later on in class, after i showed them an exercise that involved some running and leaping...

little girl.1: careful!  don't run or jump!  the baby might fall out!
aren't they just hilarious?  seriously.  it was hard to keep myself from laughing out loud.  you 'aint seen nothin' yet kid.  wait until i'm 34 weeks!


new listing :: booty cubes

tested and approved by my own personal quality control guy, you can't go wrong with these plush, jingly cubes.

just listed at my little shop...aarrgh!


wordless wednesday::the autumn leaves

we started a new topical study this week on autumn. 
and what better way to start things off than by playing in the fallen leaves?
more wordless wednesday here and here.
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