Christmas is full of so many things. Presents, trees, lights, santas, cookies, music, elves, cards, wrapping, stockings…the list goes on forever and ever. All of these things, in and of themselves are wonderful things that can add to the traditions and memories of our families but I think that sometimes we can find ourselves literally completely wrapped up in it all. From my own experience, I know the season can become more about the endless shopping that needs to be done or the numerous parties that need to be attended or the mounds of gifts that are placed under the tree and somewhere in it all the real reason for the season is completely lost.
Noticing the ever-increasing need to always have more things our family has found it important to keep the focus on the season of Christmas centered the REASON for Christmas. While there is always that innate excitement for Christmas morning, we have worked to direct the focus of that morning on the most precious gift ever given and the countdown towards that day on God’s Love and the sacrifice that was made when he came to Earth as a baby so long ago.
While trying to keep it simple, one of the God-centered traditions we started last year was our Christmas Angel tradition. It seemed that many people where doing the ever-popular Christmas Elf and while I love seeing Facebook posts that show all the trouble those sneaky little elves have gotten themselves into, it just didn’t cover the true meaning of Christmas (and well, since our kids know the Santa “truth”…I guess it really wouldn’t have been as much fun anyway). So for us we have a sweet angel doll that is hidden each night. The kids take turns each morning, (because arguments break out otherwise…nobody said they were the angels) walking around the house in search of the hidden angel. Placed with the angel is a specific act of love and kindness that becomes the focus of that day. For us, some of the acts are things that can be done within the family and many are things that are done outside of the family. Below are just a few ideas for some of the service tasks that have been (or will be) delivered by our Christmas Angel.
* Write 3 notes of kindness to your sibling and hide them somewhere in the house where they will be found
* Make a special treat and deliver to the postman, and/or trash collector
* Buy a gift card for the person in line behind us and hand it to them on the way out
* Write a card/letter to somebody special and mail
* Sponsor a child and go shopping
* Make a card or special treat for the teacher, pastor, bus driver, neighbor, etc
* Ride around and look at Christmas lights and leave a note for those that really made your night
* Take some money to the library and pay for somebody else’s fees
* Do 3 extra specials for a sibling and a parent
* Surprise somebody with a phone call
* Drop change in the Salvation Army bucket
* Head to the park with a handful of stickers and pass them out to the kids that you see
* Deliver donuts to the firehouse/police station
* Go caroling at a nursing home
In our house the kids are so excited to find Angel’s new hiding place each morning and usually even more excited to discover what things they will be working on for that day. Hopefully in the process, they are learning more and more about the TRUE meaning of Christmas and are able to spread more and more of it’s joy throughout the season.
NOTE: For those who are interested I’ve also found that there is an official Christmas Angel set that can be purchased at an affordable price. While I do not have this particular Angel I know it is based on the same principal and even comes with a book. They have both a boy and a girl version. The boy, in particular is really, really cute! I’m not sure how we’d ever get rid of our already loved Angel but if the year comes that we must, or she needs a boy backup, I know I’ll be heading their way. And no, I’m not getting anything for saying that…they really are pretty cute. Now, off to hide Angel with her next Christmas act of love!
Our family friend is still recovering from her hip replacement so we have our stack of homemade cards sitting by the door and every couple of days we pick one up, say a prayer of healing and stick it in the mail. We hope that she is finding a good amount of enjoyment out of these series of cards and that they are offering her a bit of a lift-me-up on the days that are hard. If you missed the post, check out what we did last week when we wanted our get well wishes to last a little bit longer.
This week we discovered that our next door neighbor just had some pretty intensive hand surgery. The kids were not sure exactly what things she needed but they did know that chocolate is a feel-better medicine for just about anything so we baked a batch of brownies, made a card and then made a special delivery. We wished our neighbor a speedy recovery and encouraged her to let us know if she needed anything.
What an oh so easy way to show even those in our own backyard that they are being thought of and prayed for during their difficult days. Don’t forget about the simple things.
We are still working on our Monday Missions but since Monday was a holiday we ended up working on our mission today. Last week we got word that a family friend had fallen and broken her hip. She had to have a full hip replacement and will be spending the next 3 weeks in a rehabilitation center.
So, our mission this week was to make and send her a get well card. As the kids were creating their card I started to think that there might be a way to make these well wishes last a little bit longer. I asked the kids which they thought would be better if they, themselves where away from their home for an extended length of time. Would they like to get one card from a friend or maybe several cards over the entire course of time that they were away. They completely agreed that we should make several cards and send them every few days so that our dear friend would always be surprised.
We went ahead and spent the morning making all of our cards, addressing the envelopes and getting them ready to head out. We looked at the calendar and determined the days each card would be put in the mail so that at least 2 cards were received each week.
We prayed for her recovery as we put the first card in the mailbox and put up the flag. It is our hope that getting a continuous flow of cards over the course of the next 3 weeks will give our family friend a few extra things to smile about.
We are now on our 3rd Mission Monday. It was so exciting to hear BroBro ask this morning what it was we were going to do for our Mission day. He was ahead of me though, because I didn’t really have planned what it was that we were doing. Things were even more complicated by the trip to the pediatrician for a bad case of poison ivy that just doesn’t seem to be going away and the hour wait we had while we were there. Somehow the idea of the steroid medicine they recommend he start just didn’t seem to be an exciting treatment after managing all three closed in a small doctor’s room for that length of time. Note to self: Never, ever, ever schedule an appointment so close to the time that you have to walk out the door without grabbing the snacks/toys/distractions that are often needed in situations such as this.
So after the crazy morning, Mission Monday required something that could be done at home and was possible to implement without a trip to the store for supplies. I searched my pinned service ideas and came across the site Hugs and Hope for Children. This website was created as a ministry of encouragement for children battling critical illness. Each month features new stories and photos of sick children. The idea is to pray for, encourage, and send these children cheery postal mail.
Since there were no new kids listed, we pulled up the birthdays for May and decided to make a few kids on the list Happy Birthday cards. Jaxson used this crumbled paper technique to decorate the outside and wrote each kid a special note inside. To extend this project we also wrote the name of each child for which we created a card on our calendar. This way when their birthday rolls around we can say a special prayer for that child.
I am really happy with how today’s mission turned out. I am sure we will revisit this one often.
It’s a motorcycle? No, it’s a plane? Wait, it’s a car? No, it’s a balloon-powered zoom machine!
Frugal Fun 4 Boy’s most recent Lego challenge involved 3 fun things in this house:
LEGOS, A BALLOON, and DADDY’S HELP!
Daddy and BroBro worked together to make this balloon-powered contraption.
First BroBro wanted to learn how to blow up balloons. I was quite surprised at how well he did with this. And because Pretty Girl wants to do everything her brother does, she too tried.
Once the balloons were finally put to the side, BroBro became interested in how this new toy was going to work.
A plan was put into place.
Daddy and BroBro combined two motorcycles and two triangular pieces (that looked much like airplane wings). BroBro was interested to know if his special car was actually going to fly.
Finally, the car was set into motion. There were a handful of unsuccessful attempts. Including this one where Daddy tried to pop the balloon for an added affect.
But in the end, our balloon-powered zoom machine moved quite well. Our longest track went about 17 feet and was only stopped by the wall that it kept hitting because it continued to drive in a rightward direction. BroBro tried to remedy this by setting it off on the neighbors sidewalk but quickly realized that this just wasn’t going to work the same way as it did on the hardwood floors. He learned that although pavement looks smooth, on closer observation, it is quite rough and this hinders how fast and far small lego wheels travel.
BroBro has brought the car to me several times the last couple of days, so he is eager to try it out again. Next time we need to try a different model to and see how it compares.
Did you know that today is National Library Worker’s Day? Neither did the library workers at two libraries where we dropped off cookies and home-made cards today.
We have kicked off our Mission Mondays and the kids are ready to serve. Yesterday BroBro and Pretty Girl worked with me to make cards of appreciation and chocolate chip cookies. Today we were able to deliver those to two local libraries where we often visit. They were very appreciative and the kids loved seeing the smiles on their faces. Thank you library workers for all that you do to serve us and our community.
As I mentioned in my recent post Jericho and Legos, I have been trying to introduce BroBro to the unending fun of the Lego. The Jericho Wall video and building, did lead to more frequent playing of these fun building toys but they still haven’t quite made it to the top of his must-do list.
A couple of weeks ago, I came across a blog post on one of the blogs I follow. Frugal Fun for Boys had posted their most recent Lego challenge and had presented their new challenge of creating as many different things as you could with the same 25 pieces.
I thought following these challenges would be a fantastic way for BroBro and I to have some Lego fun together and continue to introduce him to the creativity of Lego play. The very next day we sat down and began pulling out 25 pieces of the same kind. We had 25 pieces of small blocks, 25 pieces of long blocks, 25 pieces of flat blocks. We figured we’d challenge ourselves with different groups of 25 pieces and see what types of structures we could construct.
We started to come up with fun patterns. This is one example of what we did.
We were enjoying it while we were doing it but it began to bewilder me just how the kids at Frugal Fun for Boys “just couldn’t put it down”. It seemed to me that there was just so many cool and interesting patterns that could be created with the same 25 pieces. Recently, they posted their pictures and ah, ha, I quickly realized my mistake! The intention was to use the same 25 pieces in different ways but not necessary the same type of 25 pieces. As Pretty Girl, always says. “Silly Mommy!”
So we attempted the challenge again. This time BroBro pulled out 25 random pieces and off to building he went. Once his first creation was created he reached into the box for a guy. No, no, that would be 26 pieces. So he picked one of the pieces to substitute. He made…
animal being ridden by a guy…
a space rocket…
a lookout tower…
and a helicopter…
BroBro and I enjoyed this Lego challenge. We look forward to the next challenge. I haven’t yet told BroBro that the next challenge is to create a balloon-powered car. I wonder if we can get Daddy involved with this one?
Check out Frugal Fun for Boys Lego Fun Fridays and take the challenge yourself.