Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Elephant & Piggie..

We LOVE Elephant & Piggie, could they BE any FUNNIER?! I'm not kidding you. My kids go CRAZY for Mo Willems books. The stories are short, simple, and cute. The drawings are simple and full of so many facial expressions. Piggie and Elephant are friends, bestest best friends. They will do anything and everything for each other. In My Friend Is Sad, Piggie does everything he can think of to cheer up his best bud Gerald, and is sadly dissapointed to see that his attempts only half work. The kids rolled with laughter through the book.  Or, how about Today I Will Fly! talk about funny, it was hard to read this book with a straight face! It's so easy to read these books with the expression they were written, and the kids get a huge kick out of that as well. Yesterday, on one of our many trips to the library, we noticed a few new Elephant and Piggie books in. Of course we checked them all out! I Love My New Toy lives up to the normal Elephant and Piggie standards, and was laugh out loud funny! The kids were trying so hard not to laugh so they could hear the words, but there was a lot of snorting, giggling, and straight up gafawing going on! I find the books very amusing myself, and perhaps it's the ease in which they are written which makes reading them so easy. 

Mo Willems writes more then Elephant and Piggie books though. He also writes a series of books about a funny Pigeon. We've read the variety of Pigeon books so many times over, especially Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog, that we can probably quote it in our sleep. In fact, no one can have a hot dog in this house without saying, "mmm, needs mustard!" even though I'm the only person within this home that uses mustard! Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog is, by far, their favorite Pigeon book, all though the newest Pigeon book, Pigeon Wants A Puppy, is just as funny.  

Another great book to read out loud would have to be The Squeaky Door. Our library, sadly, doesn't have a copy of this book. Our library in America did, and we checked it out more times then I can count. The boys would roll with laughter when it was read to them, and I would inevitably end up with a sore throat by the time it was over.  The book is about a little boy who goes to spend the night at his grandparents house. He gets to sleep in what must, certainly, be a king size bed! He's all alone, but says he's not frightened, until Grandma closes the door, then he's terrified out of his mind. So Granny fetches him the dog, which she dresses in jammies, and he's fine, until the door closes.. The story goes on in this fashion with a variety of farm animals joining in the frey. If you want to know if anyone gets sleep I'm afraid you'll have to find the book to read for yourself, just be sure you have a big cup of water next to you!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Little Birdies

When I took down all the ornaments from the swap the kids were in, the bathroom counter looked really empty. I opted to leave the little tree up, but then it looked empty, and it needed something. So, I was struck by the fancy to fill it with birds. Okay, so I saw this cute bird craft, and I filed it away for "some day" when I had time and perhaps a need. Which means, when I saw the empty tree I figured now was that time. Add the miserable weather of the day to the mix and it seemed like a great day to pull out a sewing project. These little birds are so quick and simple to make, and it was great for using up a few scraps left over from some quilting projects. The one at the top of the tree, is the one I made first. I used brown and a deep reddish color. For some reason the color combination reminded me of an American Robin. I had hoped to make one look a bit Blue-Jayish, but I only had two shades of blue and they were way on the opposite side of the spectrum. Maybe another day. The one there on the bottom on the right made me think of a cardinal. There's one you can't really see in the picture that happens to be green. All though my favorite combination of colors is the one on the top, and his matching mate down there on the left on the bottom.. Here's a few more fun pictures to check out:

the whole flock, all though the green fellow looks a bit sad..

the love birds.. 

yup, they really perch on the tree without strings!


our cardinal..

 some of you should recognize that material too.. 


American Robin..

NOTES:  The instructions don't tell you not to stuff the tail, but on someone else's blog, she mentioned not stuffing the tail in order to help them sit on the tree better. I didn't stuff the tails on my birds, but I found that when I did stuff them, really full, if I set them on the table or sewing machine and they didn't sit right I could add more stuffing and then they'd sit right. I hand stitched a few tails closed, and then opted to use a zig-zag stitch on the rest..

Some Fun Games

Have you seen this new game? Okay, so perhaps it's not "new", but it's new to us. The object of the game is to get a Jumbulaya, but it's not that simple. We played this game with family on Christmas Day, and it took a good deal of time too. You start out with a variety of letters on the board that you turn into words. From those nine word you attempt to form one long word by using one letter from each word. Only, because we all play on the same board, with the same words the letters are constantly changing. While one player may be working on getting one set of letters on the board, someone else may be working on a totally different set! It definitely calls for a clear frame of mind, and plenty of time. The only downside to the game, if you're living in Australia, is the attempt to get it. Amazon, will not ship games (or hole punches, but that's another post..) to Australia. There's a company called Timberdoodle or another one called Rainbow Resource, both of which ship gams overseas, but they charge a fortune in shipping! Which led to a lot of searching, because there was no way I was paying 50 dollars in shipping for a 20 dollar game! I ended up finding a company on the mainland who carried the game and shipped it to me at a reasonable price. 

We ended up choosing Rack-o for Morgan. This was a practical choice, because he could use the practice for a variety of counting. He can count well forward and backward. He can skip count well by 10's and 2's, forward and backwards, and not too badly with 5's. However, if you ask him to pick it up in the middle you'll throw him in a total muddle and he will literally freak out. So, what better way to practice then with a game? Rack-o has changed a bit since Mom was sneaky enough to use this game with me for the very same reason.. For one thing you no longer get nifty red card with LARGE numbers on them. Now you get orange cards with tiny numbers on them and then a variety of facts and "stuff" on them. The rules have also changed, unless you choose to play classic Rack-o, which I did for our first round. You can now steal cards, swap cards with other people, etc. The idea of Rack-o is that you get your cards in numerical order. That order is left up to you, but as long as they are in a sequential numerical order (try saying that 3x fast!) you win, if you accomplish it first. For Morgan, I suggested he pick 2's or 10's for our first game because I knew he wouldn't need help with it. All though he did upset himself a few times by slipping into ones when verifying if he needed a card or not. I suspect this one will be found on the school room table quite often... This is another American game, which made it VERY hard to get here. I finally found someone in California on ebay who was willing to ship it to me at a reasonable price.

 For Jayden we picked Cranium Cadoo. Very fun game, in fact when we played it as a family last night, he didn't want to stop!  This came has a variety of things to do in order to win, but the main idea is to get 4 of your markers in a row. The upside is, despite not being able to read, Jayden doesn't have to team up. He can still play on his own, which makes him VERY happy. Each card comes with instructions on what to do and the answer is hidden in a muddle of "stuff" and you need the special Secret Decoder Glasses to figure it out. Sometimes you have to answer a question, other times you run around the house to find objects listed, there may be a need to act something out, draw a picture, of their personal favorite, sculpt something out of the provided clay! Morgan created a funny toilet for us to guess last night, and Jayden did a great cactus for us. Cranium games tend to run more expensive then others, but so far we've not been let down by the product. We found this one on sale at a great bargain price!

Science Experiment Woes..

Science experiments aren't always a success, in fact growing up we had less success with science experiments then we had success. Which may be part of the reason Mom signed us up for Science By Mail, which I still remember and am highly dissapointed to see they discontinued the program a few years ago.. Anyway, my kids LOVE science. Friday is science day in our house, and they look forward to science experiments like most people look forward to their birthdays. So it shouldn't come as a big surprise that we bought Morgan a science experiment kit for Christmas. This child has several kits on his wish list. Ordinarily we buy him one of the many Ein-O kits. They are a lot of fun and usually have more then one experiment in it. However, while looking for one that he wanted, and not being able to find it. I found this nifty "make your own bouncy ball" kit. I thought it would be loads of fun for him. This isn't a brand we'd used before, but considering how well the other kits we've used previously worked I wasn't worried about it. 

Last night we pulled it out and the guys sat down to work on the balls. Now, first off, that picture to the left, which is also on the outside of the box is VERY misleading. You only get TWO colors to work with, pink and blue. They read the instructions through and set to work. Problem number two arose minutes later when we realized the directions required you to fill the molds to a fill line. There is no fill line clearly marked on it. We had to "eyeball it" according to the picture. Science experiments and eyeballing are often a bad combo, trust me.. This was no different.

They sunk them in water for the desired time, let them sit in the molds for the desired time and then we opened them up. Enough water hadn't gone into the molds so there was just a shell of a ball. We started over, filling the molds a pinch less. We still had issues. We have one semi complete ball, and one deformed looking ball, and enough crystals left to attempt this one more time for each child. Not sure we'll bother though. What a disappointment! In actuality it SHOULD have worked.

We saw the crystals expanding in the mold, but the water wasn't getting to all the crystals, even with a double soaking time. Which led to dry crumbly balls, that obviously weren't going to bounce. To get our semi complete ball, we had to do a double soak time up front, pull the mold apart (very carefully) press part of it back together and add more water, then close the mold up and let it set. Morgan hasn't complained, but his disappointment was a bit obvious when he asked if we knew where the other bouncy balls were.

I bought, at the same time, a second kit by the same company. It's the CSI Detective kit for our upcoming Spy unit the kids want to do. I'm crossing my fingers that one will work for them. Considering it's just for lifting fingerprints surely we'll have some success?

Saturday, December 27, 2008


We bought another aquadoodle product for Christmas this year. This one is a nifty little travel type one, with some educational value (dare I say..). The flip part, that you can see up towards the top lifts up and shows the kids how to write their letters. It only shows capitals, but no complains. Jayden recognizes all 26 letters of the alphabet and can write most of them, but many times he'll ask you to write one first so he can watch and do it himself. Which made this one of those terrific items that we couldn't pass up. Plus, it runs on water, and that's always a good thing. Morgan has enjoyed trying it out himself because it also shows you how to turn each letter into a picture. Notice the cat on the board to the left? His tail is the C. Morgan is all about drawing anything and everything these days, so he enjoyed trying it out. Jayden was all about writing those letters though. I suspect this might find it's way on the school table when I'm in need of keeping him busy for a few extra minutes. This so beats dry erase boards by a mile. The smell of the markers (even low odor crayola ones) can set off a migraine, especially on a rainy day when I'm all ready susceptible.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Legend of the Candy Cane

We watched The Legend of the Candy Cane (I got my copy from Koorong) DVD today before bedtime. I was really looking forward to it because I was unable to get the book locally this year. However, I have to be honest and say I was a bit disappointed by the movie. The sound quality wasn't that great, the pictures were nothing like the images on the cover, and there was LOTS of singing. Which would include a goat, a dog, an owl, and some really annoying chickens. No joke. The kids enjoyed the movie, and were excited to see a variety of Bible story pictures, and even more excited that they knew who those Biblical characters were. The story line wasn't bad, all though I did expect it to be a bit different. The kids walked away impressed that a candy can could mean so many things, but even more impressed that someone would give a whole candy store away. I think they were just dreaming of someone giving it all to them so they could chomp away and then bounce off walls to be honest! Anyway, maybe we'll go for the book, they now have them in stock and I can have one shipped to me from the mainland.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Crafts & Such..

Yesterday Lawrence and I joined in on the crafting that's been going on around the house. The boys made Christmas trees with feathers and pom-poms and paper stars. Then they made some 3-d stars (like the one atop that tree in the picture to the left), which are now hanging from our livingroom windows. The tree on the left is what Lawrence and I made. It's super simple to do, and all you need is a magazine. Unfortunately I didn't have any "unneeded" ones on hand, so I ran by a thrift store and paid 20 cents each for two. Then we folded each page three different ways and the result is the tree on the left. Mind you, it's only really half a tree, but if you put two halves together you get a whole. We have a few reader's digests laying around we might fold up at some point, but I suppose I should wait until they've been read, huh? All though they aren't always as colorful as the ones we used (cooking magazines).. The boys were intrigued to sit and watch because they couldn't wait to see how they'd turn out. All though I also think they were using our distraction to their advantage in an attempt to raid my scrapbooking sticker supplies. They live for stickers, I'm afraid I might have a slight addiction too..

another view, kinda creepy cause it looks like my bulletin board sits atop it, but I swear it doesn't! The tree doesn't reside in our nativity set up either, but that countertop is long and it does sit on the other end of it. The kids snagged their star back, so I guess I need to make my own.

I had a ton of Christmas pattern material and decided to use it up for something, and when I came across a star pattern, I thought, why not! This is one of my favorite pieces of material, but I used a dozen different ones. The kids had fun counting to see how many I was making. It was a quick and simple project. I simply cut out two pieces of material from the cotton I had. I put a bit of cord on each end (no measurements there, but I'd say 4-6 inches if I had to guess..), I left a small gap to stuff it up with batting and then I sewed the gap closed. Each new star was attached on to one end of the cord so that it made one long line of stars! They are now hanging in the large open "doorway" between our kitchen and dinning room. I'll have to see if I can get a full view photo. I was very tempted to make LOTS more and string them up on the living room hallway, but I'd all ready packed up the sewing machine until after Christmas, so... Maybe next year..

Remember those skittle sets the boys made at the beginning of the month? Well, we decided that their youngest cousin might enjoy a set for Christmas as well. They aren't entirely done because we've managed to loose the painters tape, that's why a few don't have stripes! So I whipped up a few beanbags out of some Christmas material (yeah, I made a star out of that same print too!) I suspect someone's going to have a lot of fun knocking these little elves down. (I got the idea for a few scared/screaming faces from Morgan!)

This isn't a craft I did, but a bunch of crafts a variety of homeschoolers have done. The boys signed up for a Five In A Row Ornament Exchange. So all the ornaments on the tree have come from a variety of people who use the same curriculum we do. You can see Morgan's ornament as well (the red book up front). Don't ask me why the star is leaning, I gave up trying to straighten it!

As long as I'm at it.. We got a package today! The boys are mail crazy, which isn't surprised since they've been getting Christmas Ornaments in the mail, all of which they've raved about. Today's package was full of books and cds for us. YIPPIE!! Notice all the Nate The Great books? We'll be doing a Detective/Spy unit this school term, should be fun if I can get it all put together!

Last, but not least, we headed out to the Honey Farm today. As normal, we tasted many honeys, some that were less then desirable, and others that were scrumptious. There was a new carmel flavored honey that was super yummy. Made me think of the apple cake with carmel topping, I bet it would work beautifully in it! I also REALLY enjoyed the vanilla honey that was on display today (I don't recall seeing this last time!) and think it will work wonderfully in marshmallows (recipe coming soon), hot cocoa, and many other things. It was really mellow in the honey flavor and booming in the vanilla. I loved it. They had one called Crunchy Apple, very apple"y" and interesting. Not bad, but I don't know that I'd purchase it simply because I suspect the guys wouldn't enjoy it. We picked up a few small bottles of our favorites: orange, zesty lemon (so super lemony!), vanilla, raspberry, anise (perfect for our annual cut-out cookies), and then a new one we tried called chili. Yes, it seriously has chili's in it! It's wonderfully zingy and slightly sweet.

In fact, for those of you who've tried the Philly pour overs, specifically sweet chili, it reminded me of that (minus the cream cheese of course!). So we picked up a small bottle to pour over our own cream cheese for a sugar-free version of it. Can't wait to dig into that! We also picked up a bottle of raspberry honey as a gift for someone, but my lips are sealed as to who!

The boys snagged the stuffed bees, which kinda look like pooh in a funky bee costume, don't they? This little place isn't just full of honey. It also has a few old fashioned honey farming items on hand to check out, a video that's constantly running, and a live bee hive which you can watch in progress. I promise it's safe, it's behind glass! The kids love checking it out and looking for the queen bee, we've yet to spot her.

Oh, and just for the record, they make honey ice cream in several flavors. You can't get a free taste, but you can purchase a cone of it if you want. Chocolate, vanilla, and boysenberry always seem to be the top choices here, all of which are good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mom, this is for you..

Yup, we use it. I actually think the ornament is very cool. It makes me wonder if each state has one of these! It's a bit hard to tell from the picture but Davy Crockett is up top too, I'm a bit attached to that fellow for some odd reason. Just in case you're in still in doubt...

It's there, up towards the top on the left, at the very tippy top of the picture!

Another Rainy Weekend..

What do you do when it's raining *again*. Seriously, we've had so many rainy weekends, and days, that we're just going insane here! So today, we decided to finish up a few crafts we had laying around that needed dealing with. Our annual scented ornaments were one such craft. These ornaments take a few days to make because you have to wait for them to dry out. We had them outside on the deck, which is covered and they were coming along really well. (You flip them over each day to help them dry flat.) They were pretty much dry and then it go seriously muggy here before a downpour on Saturday. I sent Morgan out to grab the angels for a garland for the dinning room, but when I noticed the ornaments were getting a bit wet from the humidity and rain I had the boys bring them all in. Then we sat around stringing them up for garlands around the house.

The one pictured above is actually hanging in the downstairs bathroom. Now, once again, for those of you not living in Australia, bathrooms aren't the same as they are in America. Toilets (most times) are in one room, and the bath and sink are in another room. This is one such room. It needed a bit of Christmas cheer so I hung our snowmen and bells and put the circle spaces we make in between. Then we hung it from one end of the mirror to the other. This is the bathroom the boys use for baths so they were super excited to see it in there.

The ornament above, in case you can't tell, is an angel. In the dinning room we have a breakfast bar. Only, a previous dweller in the home opted to stick a built in bookcase under the shelf. Don't ask me why, all though I am grateful for the shelving, we can never get enough, I do find it odd. Anyway, we strung up some angels and bells, and again used our spacers (tiny circles) and hung them there. There's not a picture of the entire garland because it was difficult to get it without a ton of shadow, so I'm afraid you'll have to use your imagination!

Then we made some Gingerbread Garland for our rumpus room. yes, the room is pink with floral border paper at the middle of the wall. Don't ask, we'd like to change the color to a nice cream or tan to lighten it up, especially in the winter. However, that's a whole different story.. Back to the gingerbread boys. My children are OBSESSED with gingerbread boys. I was going to have them make them out of Felt and stuff them, but it appears I have no brown felt. (We might settle for tan later on and let them make bean bags out of them.. one can never have enough bean bags..) So we used a paper bag. I used a pattern that I found online, and folded my paper bag in half (this was a small one, but bigger then lunch size). The second GingerBread Boy on the line (from the right) was taped all around the edges. I thought it would look better then staples, but the truth is, it was too much of a pain to do it for a total of 4 gingerbread boys!

We each decorated our own, and then after taping that first one, I stapled the guys up, leaving one side open. I stuffed in crumpled newspaper and then finished stapling it shut. I grabbed a piece of red paper (regular old red paper) and cut out hearts, 5 to be exact. Then I took some cord I had from another craft project and I tied a loop in the end. I stapled on a heart, then a gingerbread boy until they were all used up, ending with a heart and another loop. Then we strung them up in our rumpus room to admire! Very simple.

Jayden's (you can see the staple job). I pulled our our oil crayons for this project which gave us bright vibrant colors on the brown paper bag! The boys were over the moon excited about it!

This is mine, I know, a tad boring .. You can see how I taped it, but it was just too difficult with all the curves and bends. If you opt to tape, use little pieces and be prepared to snip and cut the tape to make it fit..

This is Morgan's, he drew this one on his own, then saw Daddy's..

Daddy's.. gotta love that nose!

Then we finished off the day with homemade macaroni and cheese. It seemed like a nice warm yummy food to eat while it was still pouring bucket outside. We don't exactly follow the recipe either. I use it as a guideline really.. I use a whole pound of macaroni (elbow or something equally small) as I find there's a lot more sauce then one would need for half that. I use 2% milk (or rather since I can't get it I use whole milk in place of the cream, and 1% where it calls for milk) I use 1 T butter and 2 T margarine. I also use reduced fat cheese (woolies brand light Tasty cheese in the deli department is REALLY good for this. Much more flavorful then the light Tasty you'll get in the cheese dept.. don't ask me why, but there you have it..) We top it with bread crumbs, italian seasoned (I season those myself too because I can only get plain bread crumbs here..) I prefer my mac n cheese nice and plain like that with a good sized serving of green veggie and a pile of fruit, but my husband it a carnivore through and through.. so I surprised him and threw a few slices of chopped bacon in it. When I don't he just cuts up snags and puts them in his portion..

Just incase we hadn't spread enough Christmas cheer around the house, we opted to watch the movie Blizzard while eating our dinner. I thought I'd seen most Christmas movies at some point in my life. My mother is fully addicted to It's a Wonderful Life, and freakily enough all the times she's watched it I think I've only seen it through from start to finish once! (All though I still remember going to see the play of this movie with her, and it was AWESOME. I love plays..) Dad's all for that hideous A Christmas Story. (He's so getting the t-shirt one day.. he nearly got the lamp once, but I figured the rest of my family might not let me live that one down.. all though I did find it in nightlight size..) As for myself, I can't say as I have one particular one I have to watch, all though I really really enjoy Christmas With The Kranks (the book was just as good!)

Anyway, back to Blizzard. It was a really good movie. Yes, it had the whole concept of Santa in it, but it wasn't, oddly enough, the center of the movie. It was more about a reindeer (they used real ones!), and how she had magical powers that she could use to help others. It was more about a little girl who learned to skate via free lessons from an olympian. Skating was her "thing", and she did it well. It was a very enjoyable movie. The only downside is that my children opted to throw books on the floor and proceed to skate around the house. I also have to admit, it brought up some great memories of spending many NY winters skating them away. I love ice skating! Oh, and for your Harry Potter fans, I believe Santa was played by Dumbledore, for some reason I found that highly amusing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes

We made a chocolate cake to put in the freezer for our Christmas get together with family. It has been our tradition with the kids to bake some kind of cake and sing Happy Birthday on Christmas day to Jesus. This year we opted for our chocolate honey cake, complete with frosting that is also made with honey. I crushed up some candy canes to make them festive, those were not sugar free. Unfortunately I couldn't find any around that were. I was sorta bummed by that because we're suppose to be dipping some in chocolate for our edible nativity boxes too. The boys enjoy a candy cane or two, and the two Jayden has all ready eaten made him incredibly cranky. Morgan had one and ended up with a headache considering he hadn't had sugar in a long while. So.. my quest continues, in the mean time here's the recipe:

Chocolate Honey Cupcakes
(This recipe is originally from Hershey's, but we changed it a bit)

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour 
3/4 c cocoa 
1 1/2 t baking powder
2.5 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 egg
1 c honey
3/4 c milk
1/2 c applesauce
2 t vanilla 
2 T oil
1 c boiling water

Stir dry ingredients; set aside. In a bowl combine eggs, honey, milk, applesauce, vanilla, and oil. Mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. While mixing boil water. Pour one cup of boiled water into mixing bowl; Mix CAREFULLY batter MAY be hot. Batter will be RUNNY once water is added; that's okay. This is normal. Pour into desired pans (9x13, 2 round, cupcake, etc) Bake at 350 until toothpick inserted is clean. I find that for cupcakes this can be anywhere between 15-20 minutes.

Chocolate Honey Frosting

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c cocoa
1/4 c honey (or maple syrup)
1/2 t vanilla
2-4 T milk (I just add until it's a nice smooth creamy consistency)

Mix well, by hand or mixer, and spread on cake.

NOTES: We use 1% milk and reduced fat cream cheese. I also use honey, not maple, in the frosting as my husband can't stand anything maple. We also use flavored honeys from a local Honey Farm. Orange and Raspberry in this cake recipe are yummy! As for the festive topping. I had no peppermint essence, but it would have been nice to replace the vanilla for it. Instead I crushed up a couple of candy canes and mixed them into the frosting. They were a fine powder. Then I crushed up, big chunks, more and sprinkled them on top.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Variety Of Christmas Activities..

The boys thought this one up all on their own. They opted to dress themselves up like people from the Nativity story. Morgan is also wearing an eyepatch, which he would flip down when we passed people while out walking. That's right, I had to walk down the road next to these two all the way to the post office! They even took one of the bamboo sticks from the tomatoes to use as a shepherds crook. The lady at Vinnies presumed they were wisemen in the local primary school pageant. (Between you and me, I don't think they were having a pagent because the kids had all invaded the playground when we walked by.) Anyway, they had a gorgeous nativity display in the window, complete with real straw and a fence to keep little fingers out. The boys admired from outside, and then wandered in for a closer look.

The boys spent all morning setting up the paper nativity set.. The previous post with funny comments mainly came due to this set! You can download and print out your own copy over at Currclick. It really isn't bad at all, my only reservation on it is the women who made the instructions didn't label each piece so you had to guess on some of the castle bits..

Less of a close-up, but it gives you an idea of how many pieces there are!

Here's an idea from something called Just Add Family. You can't actually see anything written on it, but the idea was to help your children see why Jesus was born to die. In short we've made a cardboard cross, and during the month of December each time a sin is committed, no matter how minor, we jot it down on the cross. I was going to use mini stick-it notes, but I couldn't find them when I went to make the first "jot" on the cross.

My nutty little Shepherd, who was VERY insistent he HAD to have a shepherd's crook. He was slightly unimpressed that I suggested a stick since it had no crook in it.

Yeah, that particular shepherd (he might have been a "wise"man) was "rocking on"..

Friday, December 12, 2008

What about Joseph..

After reading our Bible story for the day we were discussing how you could still go to Bethlehem today, and that there's a church which was built over the place they believe Jesus was born. The boys were excited by this and enjoyed looking at the pictures. All though Morgan kept pointing out the foolishness of all the things hanging from the grotto because, and he was emphatic about this, they would have bumped their head so much! They were equally amazed that they could, if they so chose, get there by plane and visit the location. After they discussed just how many airplanes it might take (they still haven't gotten over the 5 planes it took to get us to America and then the 5 back again..) they opted to go play. Jayden came back minutes later, rearranged the nativity on the table. Then sat there holding Joseph for a few minutes before finally saying:

"I just don't understand why Joseph took off his fancy colorful coat. I really liked that one."

Madagascar 2..

Today was the big movie day! We had planned to take the kids to see a film during the Christmas month countdown. We had hoped we could go see Despereaux, as we all loved the book. However, the film will not be released in Australia until after the 1st of the year. However, we weren't totally let down because they opted to release Madagascar this month. We were able to sneak in for the previewing that started today (runs through Sunday for those of you in Tassie..). We were joined by two other families (no we didn't know them) but that's all that occupied the theater. The boys truly enjoyed the film and were found roaring with laughter. Lawrence and I were not above a few roars ourselves. Morgan has been chatting about it pretty much non-stop since seeing it. He dubbed it better then the first, all though this may have something to do with the uncountable herd of zebra that Marty befriends. Lawrence, on the other hand, said, that while it was funny, it wasn't nearly as good as the first one. Jayden said the move was funny, crazy, and pathetic. Take no notice of his final comment, it's his new word of the week.. As for myself, I found it entertaining, and slightly predictable. The penguins, as normal, were a total hoot. The monkeys may need to learn some new signs, the Granny was back and Jayden found her highly entertaining, the variety of lemurs were back and as typically crazy as ever. All in all, this wasn't a bad movie. It had some "questionable" humor in it, that gratefully the boys were well below and didn't get. They also oogled over a few upcoming films that were deemed "cool", "awesome", and "I hope we get to see that one!" What else could top their day? Getting to eat McDonald's Happy Meals while watching the film. Oh yeah, they so did. No, rules about not taking your own food in the theater here.

While looking for some photos for a scrapbooking page I came across these and had to share...  On a recent evening out to family's house the boys convinced their cousin to play baby dolls with them. While, on a general basis, the boys won't play anything "girlie", they have a great fondness of playing girlie things when they visit with their cousin, Kathryn. They are very lucky because Kathryn is always willing to oblige in their silly boyish antics. This was one such weekend.  The boys convinced their cousin to let them play with the baby dolls who need to use the potty after they eat. She obliged. We could hear lots of squeals of, "It's not going potty yet, what should I do?" and "Mine's going!!"  Yeah, I think the boys played baby dolls for the pure aspect of watching the baby dolls use a potty and other such oddities.  Jayden was super intent on his doll using the potty, and refused to give up on the "game" until his doll had done so! Just check out his concentration! 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Very First Noel

This is a well loved video in our home. Both boys enjoy it, and it's one we purchased just before leaving America. (I tend to purchase one new video, book, and cd for Christmas each year.) Morgan still enjoys this particular video, but it's top on Jayden's list this year. He LOVES this video. The characters are all whimsical, and he doesn't miss a bit with the humor in it either. It's also only 23 minutes long which sits well with him. He's not fond of movies that require him to sit for extended periods of time. (I don't blame him..) Would you believe that Andy Griffith is one of the voices for one of the wisemen? Yup, seriously. The video does a reasonably good job of keeping with the story, and there's several direct quotes. Griffith also narrates the video, and all narration is done in a rhyming sing-song type fashion. The video is told from the view of the wisemen, one in particular, but it skips around so you see the shepherds, and know what they are up to, as well as Mary and Joseph. We purchased our copy at Wal-mart, but I've also seen this for sale at a variety of other places; Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, & Boz The Bear Store. I love the way they mix in a variety of quotes from scripture, poetry, christmas carols, and the Christmas Story. I also like the fact, as I said before, that they do a reasonably good job of not perverting or twisting the story around. If you want to check out screen shots, a preview, or more information about how/why/who made the film, you can do so here: The Very First Noel. I also like that it doesn't end in Bethlehem with the wisemen finding Jesus, it goes on to show how they went and told the good news to others. As for Jayden, his favorite part is when one of the wisemen loads the camel up with so many supplies the poor camel can barely move. He also giggles when Baby Jesus stretches out his arm to wave back at the wisemen, or when Joseph is scared out of his wits when someone puts their head in his house and shouts, etc..

Note: those of you in Australia who are interested, I believe we spotted this at K-mart and Woolies.