Monday, December 31, 2012

Mamavation, Sistahood, and Magic Dust

It's here!  December 31, 2012.  Tomorrow is the start of a new year.  We all know that this time of year we tend to get sentimental as we think over our past and hopeful as we look toward the future.  We like to make resolutions about what we plan to do to make our lives better in the coming year.  We start out great - and then... life happens.  Reality hits.  Change is not as easy as we were sure it would be this time. (again).

I sit in our newly rearranged "computer" room, looking at the mess on the floor, and thinking about the next year in my house.  There are a lot of things I want to happen, a lot of changes I want to make.  I know, however, that I don't have any magic fairy dust to instantly change my own behaviors.  I know it is a struggle to make real lasting changes in my own busy life.  I have 3 little boys, a full time job in the summer that I volunteer for the rest of the year - we are busy people.

For this reason I have decided that I want to join the "Sistahood" at Mamavation.  This is a group of bloggers that are ready to encourage and support each other as we reach toward the goals that we struggle for on our own.  I need help folks.  Change is hard.  The sistahood does not have magic fairy dust for me either - but they do offer regular help and encouragement.  I am looking forward to being part of this dynamic group in the near future!

Now: My resolutions for the year?
* Be more consistent in my daily schedule with the boys.  We have gotten our morning routine down pretty well, but there are a few things that we need to improve.
* Exercise at the gym at least 3 times a week.  We were doing very well until Thanksgiving - then after my miscarriage it was difficult to get back into the routine. 
* Organize, organize, organize.  I plan to share a bit about our steps toward organization in the home (and at work) in the coming months.
* Get back to good, healthy eating.  We have slipped and been eating some things that are not on our "good" list.  We will be returning to vegetarian - mostly vegan - eating on January 2.  Why the 2nd?  I have a family reunion tomorrow and want to be realistic.
* Enjoy some "me" time regularly, working on hobbies, getting in quiet time, refreshing myself so I can have better quality time with my family.

Do you have some goals in the new year?  I would love to hear about your goals and how you intend to reach them.  Please leave your comments in the space below!

One of my reasons for healthier living.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our north stars: 2012

At the start of 2012 we spent some time focusing as a couple.  Praying over our family for God's direction in our life.  Here is a recap of the promises in our lives over the last year, and a little bit about how they were fulfilled.

This was the overarching theme for all of the other promises.  Everything below comes together to point our family in the direction of prosperity.  Prosperity in our family does not mean wealth, but it does mean provision.  It means living in God's blessings day by day and recognizing his work in our lives.

My battle with diabetes has been a problem for many years.  We have had some job changes that led to a lack of insurance, and because of that, loss of diabetes care.  Only recently have we been able to find some help for that.  We have also improved our family's diet and joined a gym for extra help!

God called me back into full time ministry.  When God gave me this word, I had no idea where it was leading.  This past spring I started working for Yellow Creek Lake Camp Ministries as the summer program director.  It was a joy and a challenge as I worked an hour away from home and continued to keep my boys at home with me.  We will be doing that again this coming summer and in fact are already working on the fantastic summer ahead.

"Draw near to me and I will draw near to you".  The promise that when we seek Him, we find is refreshing.  Thank God for his greatness.  As I have continued to seek God and build my relationship, He has been faithful.

Engagement in community was my final guiding word for 2012.  I had a number of ideas about how it would play out.  I was able to build community with a fantastic group of women in my church's mom group.  That has been a source of encouragement to me.  I also was able to engage in the community at the camp where I worked.  This community was a model of the church - helping wherever there were needs, without complaint or argument.  These folks are Christ to one another and to those who visit the grounds for camps, retreats, or visits.

Randy had a couple of guiding words as well.  I am not going to share the meanings behind his words, but will list them below.  

This is what prosperity looks like - at least part of it.
God has been incredibly faithful to his promise of prosperity as we have worked to live in a way that honors him, using his guiding stars in our family life daily.  What a fulfilling year it has been for our family.  We are looking forward to the next year of promise!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Looking forward to Easter

You read it right.  Easter. Christmas, the celebration of Christ's birth is over.  now it is time for us to begin looking forward to the celebration of his death on a nasty cross so that we could have an intimate relationship with God. 

Randy and I have begun preparing our home and family for the Easter celebration.  Okay, okay - so we have started in small ways.  The tree is still up (for today), there are still assorted Christmas goodies around the house.  We even have some more Christmas celebrating to do in the next week. 

Still, we have begun talking with the boys about the next celebration.  We want them to know that Christ's birth is a BIG deal.  Even more than that, we want them to know that his death means that we can live. 

As we are preparing for the next year in the life of the Crum family, we have laid out a course of study for the first 3 months of the year.   We will be exploring the gospels with the boys from January 1 through March 31.  Each week we are focusing on a different story as a family and will be learning it through a variety of formats - crafts, music, reading, games and more.  You are invited to follow along with us on my Friday posts. 

Here is our road to Easter schedule:

Jesus as a child
Jesus' baptism
Jesus calls disciples
Jesus loves children

Water into wine
Jesus heals the blind
Walking on water

Jesus calms the storm
Feeding of 5,000
Good Friday

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Looking back on Advent

I can hardly believe that we have reached the end of the advent season.  We have truly been blessed this month as we have anticipated the celebration of Christ's birth as a family.  The advent calendar has given us purpose to our meal times and family together times.  It has helped us be intentional about remembering others and sharing the story of Christmas. 

My favorite activites from the last month:
*Christmas at the Farm - I love watching my boys experience the story first hand.  Manasseh has begged several times each week to go back. 
*Making Christmas ornaments.  The boys get so excited about art.  It is fun to help them complete projects.
*Collecting money and sending it to Heifer International. What a joy to work toward a goal as a family and bless other families around the world!
* Making presents for friends was a lot of fun too, the boys loved coloring wooden cars for some of their friends.  Their friends were blessed by them.  In fact, one friend added colors to his car and named it his "teamwork" car because Cassius had started it for him.
* The boys have loved every excuse to play with the nativity set and act out the Christ story. 

I am already looking forward to advent next year.  We have started talking about what activities we might add, and what we might change.  I urge you to begin considering practicing advent with your family next year.

Did you practice advent this year?  What are your favorite advent activities?

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Christmas Story

The very interactive Christmas story as told by Randy to the boys.

Our Nighttime Potty Problem & Pull-Ups

We have a 4.5 year old and a 3 year old (almost).  They are both "potty trained" - mostly.  You see, Manasseh has been in underwear during the day for over 2 years, but cannot quite get the sleep time problem under control.  Cassius has been in underwear during the day since August 1 (my birthday present to myself), but also can't get the sleep pottying figured out.  We have been through a number of solutions.  The stores offer quite a selection of options.

Pull - Ups

We tried waking Manasseh in the night before we went to bed so he could use the restroom.  This worked sometimes.  We tried letting them sleep in their "day time underwear" in hopes that wetting would wake them and they would learn to get up before that happened.  We tried cloth training pants, but did not have enough to get through more than 1 or 2 nights.

Cassius loves the designs on Pull-Ups training pants.  Both of the boys love the wetness indicators.  Each morning when they wake up, they check to see if they have wet.  I love that they can see their success immediately, and that because Pull-Ups wick the wetness away from the body, they usually sleep through the night.


Because Manasseh is a slim guy, both boys can wear the same size training pants.  He loves the "Mater" prints, Cash loves "Lightening McQueen" because he is red.  As we are teaching our boys to be independent, it is helpful to have training pants that they can put on themselves.  We found that it is easiest to keep them on a shelf in their bedroom so that as they dress for nap and bed, they can grab the print of their choice to snuggle up in.  

We love that we can buy them at Walmart with their "rollback" prices (online and in the store).  We bought just over 100 training pants for about $40.  That is almost 2 months worth of sleep times with 2 boys!  

While it is not the "greenest" solution for our family, Pull-Ups seem to work best for our boy's at this point.  We gladly continue to use them as our boys increase in independence and ability!

A potty training story.

Check out Pull-Ups on Facebook and Twitter.

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Huggies. #HuggiesWalmart #CBias #SocialFabric

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cookie's Kids Winter Wear

If you know much about me, you know that I love a good deal.  I also love cute clothes on my boys.  I was super excited when I was given the opportunity to shop for winter clothes at Cookie's Kids.  They have an amazing selection of clothes at incredible prices!

Look at the great variety of brands!  This is just a part of them!

 I love the way #CookiesKids has their online store organized.  It is so very easy to find just exactly what you are looking for.  They sort by size, brand, price, color, item, and more.  Cookie's Kids even offers a great service called Alva Kids that helps you find exactly the right fit for your child by simply putting in a few simple stats.

A small portion of the incredible selection at Cookie's Kids.
The service at Cookie's Kids was extremely friendly.  We had a little difficulty - one shirt was not available as indicated on the site.  I had a chance to talk at length with customer service who were very kind and extremely helpful with my order.  Once the order was complete it only took a few days to arrive.  This package made the boy's day.  They were so excited to get new clothes!

The postal woman was a hero today.
 All of the clothes fit perfectly.  I am looking forward to getting a lot of wear out of them this winter (and for several winters to come as the larger clothes get passed down).    My boys look adorable and warm in their new clothes.  My total for this shop (including shipping) was just under $28!  Check out their cute clothes:

Manasseh is wearing a size 5 Carter's Fleece Hooded Sweatshirt ($4.99) and a  size 4T blue Faded Glory "Fort Point" Waffle Shirt ($1.99).  The long sleeved shirt is super soft and snuggly.  I could hardly get him out of it at bed time.

Cassius is wearing a 4T Carter's Fleece Hooded Sweatshirt ($4.99).  His long sleeved shirt was out of stock when the order was filled.  He did not seem to mind at all though and loved wearing a hoodie like daddy's. 

Azariah is proudly sporting a size 18 month Kidzone "Guitar Monster" 3 piece outfit ($9.99).  He is a tiny guy and 18 month pants are incredibly long on him - but they are easily rolled and look adorable - this outfit will fit him well into the spring and we will have a bonus dress shirt this summer!

I had a great time shopping for winter clothes at Cookie's Kids online!  I would love to visit one of their 7 stores in the NYC area in Bronx, Brooklyn and Jamaica!  

Make sure to check out Cookie's Kids on Facebook and Twitter as well!

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and #CBias #SocialFabric #CookiesKids

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 21, 2012

With a heavy heart..

The Best of 2012

A few days ago I saw a post on Facebook that made me kind of sad.  It was something like "The top 15 things I want to forget about 2012".  I don't know if that was exactly the title, but that was the idea.

Why does that make me sad?  Well, I guess I am an optimist.  I like to focus on the positive things in life and wonder why I want to spend time thinking about the things I want to forget.  Now, I can think of some things that have happened this year that I would like to forget (some will be etched in my mind until I die).

I decided I wanted to spend some time today thinking about the best things of 2012.  I hope you'll join me and leave a comment with some of your best things.
My scraggly haired boys in spring 2012
  • Manasseh graduated from speech therapy after 3 long years!
  • Cassius continues to overcome the brain troubles that the doctors said would cause difficulty for him.  Also, he got glasses and he looks incredibly cute in them.
  • Azariah started walking (finally).
  • We spent our first fantastic summer at Yellow Creek Lake Camp/Ministries together as a family.
  • I have made some huge health leaps with the addition of insulin and a gym membership.
  • The Hoosier Outdoor Experience was a great family learning time with the boys.  Next year it will be on our plans ahead of time.
  • As of (about) August 1, I have 2 boys in underwear!
  • We worked hard and tore down the garage!  Now we have a nice sized patio for parties, and snuggling by the fire pit.
  • So many fun afternoons exploring various woods and hiking trails with my curious boys, they know so many trees and flowers already - just amazing.
  • The season of Advent has been a beautiful time of learning and anticipation with the boys. 

There are so many fantastic things to be thankful for.  We have been blessed again and again.   

What are your greatest memories of 2012?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sneak Peek

Do you remember that I am going to be part of the Get Moving Blog Event in January?  I am super excited about my sponsors.  I can hardly stand waiting to share about their fantastic products with you... so here's a sneak peek of what you can expect.  (Oh, and if you want to get in on the event you can do so for FREE - you don't even have to secure a sponsor to be part of the grand prize drawing entries!)

Keep an eye out in January to learn about these great products and how they get me moving!  This prize package goes to 1 lucky reader.  Total value is over $250.

Neocell SportHealthy GuacamoleSimpleSkirt in FUNKY

Money, We like it

Okay, so who doesn't like money?  It helps us get the "stuff" we enjoy - new clothes, heat in our homes, food for the table, fancy televisions, the list goes on.  We like money.  Even more than we like money itself, we like spending money.  And even more than that - we like knowing that we have the money to spend.

We do not like worrying about whether or not we will be able to pay the bills, how we will scrape together enough food in the pantry for the next meal, whether someone at the power company will listen kindly and help us out in our troubles.

Honestly, in our 5+ years of marriage, we've been on both sides of this.  At times we have chosen to go into debt just so we could scrape by for a few months.  We went in search of credit cards that would allow us just a little bit of wiggle room until we could pay them off because our situation had changed.  Other times we have had an abundance of money - we were able to buy a house almost entirely with cash on hand.  It was a very cheap house - but we own it outright, no threat of foreclosure, no mortgage.... but then.. there's that other house that we still, after 5.5 years have not been able to sell.

Our life is an adventure, a roller coaster at times.  Usually the stresses are brought on entirely by ourselves.   I've heard it said that finances are one of the biggest causes of stress on a marriage.  I believe it is likely the truth.  I also believe I am incredibly lucky to be married to Randy.  I get very stressed about finances, but he has helped me to learn not to make it the focal point of my day.  We will make it through to a better place.  We have time and time again.  We will again in the near future.

That's right, we are not in the best financial place right now.  We are making it work though and once we're through the next 2 weeks, we will be on the up side again - I think.

We have decided that we are going to take an opportunity to attend Financial Peace University.  Now, I am not looking for the way to become a millionaire.  I just want some wisdom about how to better manage our lives so that we do not consistently find ourselves in this predicament.  I've known several people who have attended Dave Ramsey's courses and have gleaned a lot of wisdom from them, that we already put into practice.  But I want to look at money in a new way.  I don't want to live as a slave to money, but know how to make money work for me.  That's the way it should be, right?

I hope to share some of our success with you in the future.  We start January 9, the day after Cassius turns 3.  We're looking forward to this step in our life adventure.

Have you had an experience with FPU that you can share?  Has it made a positive difference in your life?  Do you have a negative opinion about it after having taken the course?  Please leave comments in the box below.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Problem Fingers

My sweet finger sucker is 14 months old now.  I love how easily this precious boy lulls himself to sleep when he is tired.  I love that he lets me know he needs to rest.  Upon being set into his crib with his blanket, he clenches is in the right hand gently rubbing his face.  The first two fingers of his left hand slip into his mouth.  He is asleep in just moments.

I have never had a finger sucker before.  Manasseh was always bad at soothing himself.  Cassius loved to be swaddled until he was 10 months old, and a pacifier helped to soothe him to sleep more quickly.  It was easy to break him of the pacifier.  I simply took it away.  I stopped giving it to him.  He learned to go to sleep without it.

The problem?  I can not take the fingers away.  I've heard that protective services frown on that anyhow.  I know that they used to make yucky tasting nail paints that people used to help with finger sucking.  I'm not sure it is my favorite idea.  I do not want to just make him stop.  I want to help him find a better way to soothe himself when he is tired.  I have no idea what to do.

Please, share advice in the comment box below!  Tell me a story about helping your young one stop finger sucking.  Who was it hardest for, you or your child?  What crazy things did other people tell you?  What actually worked.  What soothing techniques do you use with your toddler at bed time that help eliminate the fingers?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Advent Day 17

Do your kids love to play but sometimes need direction?  My boys would play all day long - jumping off of things, climbing anything they can find, rolling on the floor, tackling each other, etc.  They do play with their toys some, but they frequently need help to use them well.

Last night's advent was perfect for helping them practice using toys in a story-telling fashion.  Tonight they put the Little People Nativity Set up on the table and acted out the story of Christ birth.  They also had a lot of fun making up stories with the animals.  I love helping them learn the art of story telling through toys, through words, through song and art - any way they can practice it!  Here are a few shots from their nativity adventure.
I'm sure the safety guide would recommend that you do not put the manger on top of another manger.  It seems like a safety risk.  Apparently Mary and Joseph did not know better.
The horse was giving wagon rides to anyone that wanted them.  I especially enjoyed the turkey vulture getting a ride in the wagon.  Do you remember the part of the story where he swooped down to pick up the dead animal in the road?  Me neither, but in the boy's story there HAD to be a turkey vulture.
I also loved the positioning of the animals.  We had 3 baskets of food for them all to crowd around.  One of the camels and one of the donkeys decided that they needed a little nuzzling.

Have you used the Christmas story to help your children practice or learn story telling?  How have you done this with your children?

Advent Day 16

It's another "Candle Sunday".  This week our theme is "joy".  We talked about joy being like happiness.  They are similar because joy is actively choosing to recognize our contentment because of God's gifts in our life.  We talked about the gift of Jesus and sang "Joy to the World".  

We lit the candles together and remembered what each of the purple candles on our wreath stands for.  The boys prayed thanks to God for the joy that we have and for giving us Jesus.  To close our devotion time at the dinner table, they each got to use permanent markers (with very close supervision) to color an ornament that says "joy" on it.  They later put pipe cleaners through the small holes at the top of their ornaments and hung them pridefully on the tree!

Thank you God, that even in times of sorrow, you are our joy.  Your joy is my strength and when I have fear and doubt myself, I can rely on that strength to accomplish my daily tasks.  Amen.

The Placebo Effect

You've heard of it.  Maybe you have even had experience with the placebo effect.  It is truly amazing how many times a non-medicine can have an effect on a person's health.  Why does this happen?  We convince ourselves that we are getting better because we believe that we have actual medicine.  The mind and body can be amazing sometimes!

I had some experience with a placebo when I worked as a first aid administrator years ago.  You see, when you are working at a camp you have a lot of homesickness.  We frequently used the code name, "Marshmellow Fever".  So many times the sick child really just needed a break from activity to receive some extra special attention from an adult.  Sometimes the cure was writing a letter, others it was simply talking.

One of my favorite camp time placebos was the "stomach ache" medicine.  I kept a few "pills" in the cabinet for special times of need.  They had the letter "S" on them and a fruity flavor if you chewed them.  I generally recommended swallowing them quickly because I did not want my campers to figure out that the placebo of choice was really a Skittles candy.  They worked like a charm.  In fact one particularly homesick little girl was having a miserable day.  She was terribly sick and could not function.  She came into the office and sat down.  We talked a while, and when that did not help, I offered her some stomach ache medicine.  Immediately she was better and on the way back into regular activities.  Ah the miracle of Skittles.

Last night one of my children, the one that will be 3 in just under a month, was having a terrible night.  He just could not let himself relax to go to sleep.  After what felt like hours of him screaming about a scratch on his back, I requested that daddy go get some "H2O medicine" in a med cup.  Randy obliged and brought it to our screaming preschooler.  Cassius quickly drank the medicine that Randy assured him would make his back better and make him VERY sleepy.  Upon finishing his medicine, he laid back down quietly.  Within a minute he was screaming about wanting another medicine cup with water.

I guess we can fool ourselves, we can fool campers, but when it comes to 3 year olds - they know all the tricks!

Monday, December 17, 2012

a "Simple" change

Hang on tight, I'm working on moving my blog from to  This blog can still be accessed through the old address, but we may experience some bumpiness in the next day or so as we work things out.

Thanks for your patience!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent Day 15

He is our peace and our hope.  He is truth and love.  In him is life.  Apart from him is nothingness.  A meaningless existence.  

God, right now as we anticipate the celebration of your coming as a baby, we need your light more than ever.  Senseless tragedy has ripped sweet young children from their families.  Heroic adults have put down their lives to protect the children that you love so dearly.  God, our world does not make sense.  It is so filled with evil.

Be our light this advent Sunday as we light the candle of joy.  Remind us that we can delight in you even when we feel as though darkness consumes us.

Lord, I lift up the families of all those precious people who died yesterday.  I ask you to hold the other students and staff close to you in the coming weeks and months as well.  Be with the officers investigating this horrific event.  I pray that they see your light and feel your peace and love this holiday season.  Be with each of those effected through this tragedy.

I am so thankful tonight for my3 little men.  I'm grateful for a loving husband that points us toward you.  I pray that you help us continue to thrive in health and service.  God, even in the face of tragedy, let us not forget your blessings.  Hold us all close to you as we celebrate the birth of your son this season.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Stocking Stuffers for Exercise Enthusiasts

I just want to share a few products that I believe are excellent gifts for your favorite exercise fans.  They are moderately priced and small enough to fit into most stockings (or a nice package for another gift giving occasion.

The Active Accessories Pouch is available on Amazon for only $15!  It is the perfect size for an iphone, earbuds, a glucometer, anything you need for carrying with you to the gym.  I believe these would also be perfect for a teenage girl to slip into her bookbag with all of her essential IDs.  (I might even slip a small tampon into it for an emergency).  This pouch comes in 4 color choices and has received a 5 star rating by customers on Amazon!  Click the first link to like them on Facebook and tell them I said hello!
GeoPalz pedometers are a super cute way to stimulate activity in kids, and a stylish pedometer for adults.  They cost $25 on the GeoPalz website.  You can also buy a select few on Amazon.  Here is why I love them:  The GeoPalz website invites children to track their daily steps in order to earn points for prizes.  They also have games that are interactive and encourage children to keep moving.  What's more, they have a place for families to track their steps together!  We love GeoPalz and their fantastic assortment of styles and rewards!  Follow GeoPalz on Facebook.

BANGLZ 1/2lb Weight set-HOT! 
Banglz make wrist and ankle weights with sleeves to dress them up!   Sleeves can be bought separately so you can change styles to match your workout clothes.  Prices vary depending on your choice of products.  The same company that makes Banglz sells lycra headbands and hair ties that don't damage your hair!  Check out their simple skirts too - they are incredibly comfortable and cute!

RoadID offers a variety of safety products for those who enjoy exercise.  My favorite product is the wrist ID.  I wear mine almost every day, especially when I am exercising at the gym.  I know that if there is a problem, emergency workers will be able to quickly access all of the information they need about me.  RoadID products vary in price depending on the product.  Take a look at their Facebook page as well!


Riley Children's Foundation  has t-shirts in their store online!  What a great stocking stuffer for only $10.50 (plus tax).  Ordering a Riley t-shirt not only gives your loved one a new shirt for working out, but also benefits children in need of hospital and specialist services.  We love Riley because 2 of our children benefit from their excellent quality services.  Learn more about Riley through their Facebook page.

Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness is a quickly growing gym franchise (in 47 states)!  Membership is extremely affordable.  Our local gym has 2 options $10 or $20 a month depending on which services you choose.  See if there is a Planet Fitness near your favorite exercise lover.  

This mission of Planet Fitness: We at Planet Fitness are here to provide a unique environment in which anyone – and we mean anyone – can be comfortable. A diverse, Judgement Free Zone® where a lasting, active lifestyle can be built. Our product is a tool, a means to an end; not a brand name or a mold-maker, but a tool that can be used by anyone. In the end, it’s all about you. As we evolve and educate ourselves, we will seek to perfect this safe, energetic environment, where everyone feels accepted and respected. We are not here to kiss your butt, only to kick it if that’s what you need. We need you, because face it, our planet wouldn’t be the same without you. You belong! 

Find them on Facebook as well.

Some other favorites
 Water Bottles, heart rate monitors, gym towels, yoga mats, hand weights, earbuds, ipod holders that strap to an arm, athletic shoes, and more!  

What are your favorite stocking stuffers?

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

Maybe you've seen it on Facebook, maybe not.  I just finally decided to watch this one from Fairfax Church of Christ today and I love it!  I have to share it with you.  Take 5 minutes out of your day and enjoy the story.

Have you seen any excellent videos about the Christmas story this week?  Leave the links below!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Advent Day 13, Heifer International

We started this project over a month and a half ago!  As a family we set to work making crafts that we could sell at a church craft bizarre so we could raise money to help impoverished families through Heifer International.  The boys decided that we would make a goal of raising $150 so we could buy a goat and a beehive.  That would help 2 different families and matches some of our own interests.

Tonight was the night that we counted our money and ordered the gifts to send to another family.  We did not have quite enough for a goat, so we had to alter our plans.  The boys enjoyed looking through all the options with daddy and picking out their gifts.

Next it was mama's turn to help them out.  I got to do the ordering of their selection.  Instead of helping 2 families, we get to send animals to 3 families!  The boys chose a flock of ducks, a flock of geese, and a beehive!  They were still so thrilled to be able to bless another family.

This might not been the most fun and exciting part of our advent, but we all loved that with the help of friends and family, we were able to bless others.  This is an activity that has helped the boys learn so many important virtues that we want them to practice every day!

Thank you to everyone that has helped make this donation possible.  You have made an impact on my little world-changers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Last Minute Quick DIY Gift Ideas

I don't know about you, but I'm done with shopping.  I mean it.  All of my holiday shopping is complete.  Well, mostly.  Note I didn't say my gifts are done.  I am working on making as many gifts as I can on my own this year.  One problem is that I'm not great at arts.  I'm not a fantastic sewer, I can't crochet, I don't really paint.  So I thought I would share a few of the things that I'm working on for gifts in the next 13 days.  If you are receiving one of these - act surprised and pretend you like it!

Cheap & Easy Toddler Sleeping Bag
 This is a toddler sized sleeping bag.  The material cost me $2.88 at Walmart.  The project took about 15 minutes to complete.  I made 2 more out of some slightly more expensive fleece from JoAnn Fabric.  They turned out beautifully, I can't wait to give them to my boys as part of their camping play set.

AFTER HOLIDAY DELIVERY Pretend Felt Campfire play set
Felt Camp Fire & Logs
Along with the sleeping bags, I've made a felt campfire and logs.  (I'm not quite done with the logs).  I find that felt is extremely easy to work with and my felt projects are pretty rewarding.  My fire is poofier than this and I'll add pictures at a later date (after the logs are completed).  The total cost for this project was approximately $1 because I already had poly-fill on hand.  No money?  Don't limit yourself to poly-fill.  I used socks to fill a bean bag for the boys.
Tent Kit

Next is a tent kit (called a Fort Kit) in this link.  Mine is not even as complex as this.  A fabric bag with a couple of twin sized sheets (we have extra) and some clothespins.  This is all stuff we already have at home, it will just be repurposed into tent making supplies!

Easy Storage Canister
I'll come back to the boy stuff in a bit.  I'm working on a few fun things for some favorite adults in my life.  You may or may not be one of the people on my list.  I found these super easy, cheap repurposed canisters.  I also found some really cute knobs at Hobby Lobby on clearance.  I love clearance.  These will be filled with different things for the various people who receive them.

One will have a pancake mix as part of a breakfast set.  Another will have a salad topper mix as part of a salad kit.  One might have crayons as part of an art set.  There are others - I just have not exactly figured out what will go into them!

DIY Apron

Along with these crafty, kitcheny gifts, I am making aprons.  I have a pattern with several styles in it!  I also have some fun reclaimed fabric to use!  This is not my pattern.  There are so many cute tutorials and patterns.  I can't wait to try a few for my friends!

We are putting together a cookie kit for someone as well.  This will be complete with an apron, cookie cutters, hot pads, tray liner, and a few other trinkets.  It may also include the necessary supplies for a LARGE batch of sugar cookies and frosting.  It will not likely fit in these cute jars.

Another set we are putting together is an arts and crafts variety box.  Each kit has a variety of crafty odds and ends tucked into shoe box for hours of bonding fun with the families that will receive them.  No pictures or tutorials available on this one.

One final project: Knight costumes.  These will be for my older 2 boys and my middle 2 nephews.  They'll all get them when we celebrate Christmas together.  I anticipate an amazingly fun time (but isn't it always?).  These costumes were SO easy to make using old pillow cases and a little bit of felt.  The total cost for each was around $3.  The crowns are double sided, one side has 3 shapes, the other has 2 shapes and an initial.  Even a so-so sewer can do it!

What are your Christmas projects?  Share a link in the comments below!