Friday, November 30, 2012

Possibly the last warm day of the year (photo blog)

Eating his first chocolate covered cherry in memory of great Grandma Billey
They love visitng the Grand Wayne Center.  These penguins are a special treat.
Crawling across the sky bridge.
A photo with the Grinch, in memory of Nonnie.
Merry Christmas from the Crum Family
Cassius likes to have his picture taken whenever he sees a bench!
Peeking into the Embassy Theater
Squishing Berries
Merry Christmas - checking out the big nativity.

Our Advent Calendar

It's finished!  We've set out our plans for the next month's activities as we anticipate the coming of Christ!  Are you celebrating advent?  Are you interested in it?  Here are our family activities:

  1. Christmas on the Farm
  2. Decorate Christmas Tree (Sunday #1)
  3. Make Paper Chains
  4. Set up Nativity
  5. Drive around and look at Christmas Lights
  6. Santa Clause Day, decorate and hang stockings
  7. Make Christmas Ornaments, Open Stocking gifts
  8. Make Christmas Cookies
  9. Give Cookies to a friend (Sunday #2)
  10. Read a Christmas book at bed time.
  11. Make a Play Dough Baby Jesus
  12. Hot Chocolate for dinner!
  13. Send Money to Heifer International
  14. Sleep Over with a friend
  15. Board Game Night
  16. Christmas Movie and Popcorn (Sunday #3)
  17. Play with Nativity Set
  18. Decorate Wrapping Paper
  19. Rootbeer Floats
  20. Sing Christmas Songs Together
  21. Make a Present for a Friend
  22. Hike or Sled (weather depending)
  23. Christmas Treasure Hunt (Sunday #4)
  24. Christmas Eve Service, Light Christ Candle, Bake a Birthday Cake
  25. Christmas Day, Open Presents
Thank you What's in the Bible for helping us prepare our family with the new Everyday Emmanuel book and many fantastic blogs that gave us ideas to fill in the blanks for our family!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent Planning

Advent is the season of waiting in expectation for the birth of Christ Jesus.  As Christians, we know that Christ was born over 2000 years ago, and we celebrate his birth because the birth and death of Christ mean that we have the opportunity to know God in a personal way.  We have the ability to go directly to God with needs and concerns.  That is nothing short of amazing.

Many churches celebrate advent by decorating with evergreens (the hanging of the greens), lighting candles in a special advent wreath, and a variety of special events that lead us in expectation as we remember the hope that came in the form of a baby.  Many families have special traditions related to advent as well.  I remember a few Christmas traditions that we shared in our family as we were growing up.  I loved this time of year because it meant time with the extended family.  We have a huge family and I love the smells, the sounds, the chaos at times.  I have such great memories growing up and celebrating the birth of Christ.  I don't, however, remember very many special "advent" activities that helped us focus our season on the birth of Christ.

I want to help my children celebrate advent.  I never really fully understood what the advent calendar was about.  I am learning that it is about helping us focus on Christ and anticipate the celebration of his birth, and our new birth in him!  Today I downloaded Everyday Emmanuel from What's in the Bible (a series that I am extremely fond of).  I have enjoyed reading through it and pulling out so many rich ideas for sharing this season with my family.  I am excited to begin building traditions with my boys.  Randy and I are already working on some activities that we will be doing as we celebrate this season as a family.  

Next week I will share about the activities that we have lined up.  I'll share about our homemade advent calendar and how our activities are going so far.  I'm excited to put things together!  As I think about the upcoming month I am looking for input on 2 main areas.  Please leave a comment below responding to my questions:

1) How do you celebrate the season with your family?  Are there old traditions that you stick to?  Do you have some new things in mind that you want to try out with your family this year?
2) Are there any special meals that you share mostly during this season?  Is there a favorite family recipe that is unique to the Christmas season?  Have you found a great recipe you plan to try this year?

Many blessings.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Our Heartbreaking Week

Thanksgiving is a time when we celebrate blessings.  We were so glad to be able to share the holiday with both of our families.  It was a fantastic time of fellowship, eating, catching up, shopping (yes, some of us participate in the ridiculous black Friday event), and playing together.

I love the holidays, I always have.  This one, however, was particularly difficult for me.  You see, we found out Wednesday night that our suspicion earlier in the week had been accurate.  We had a miscarriage.  Crum Baby #4 will not be joining our family in July.

For those of you that have had a miscarriage, you know that it is both physically and emotionally challenging.  With 3 little boys, I felt extremely blessed that Mr. Crum was able to be home with me most of the week.  He took excellent care of our boys.  Friends rallied around in support of us.  Still, it was tough.

From the start of this pregnancy, the word God put on my mind for the baby was "peace."  We had decided that somehow "Shalom" would be part of the baby's name. Shalom is more then just simply peace; it is a complete peace. It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony.

Again and again over the last week and a half, I have had to remember the peace of God.  Because the Spirit is in me, I HAVE his peace.  It does not come from me, or from the world around me.  The peace that I have in this heartbreaking time is from Him alone.

 Tonight I spoke with a friend who had heartbreaking news of her own.  My heart aches for her and her husband.  They seem to meet adversity everywhere they turn.  My friend, I wish I had answers about why a good God lets babies die before they are born.  I wish I could tell you why things are happening the way they are in your life.  The only thing I can tell you is that I find my peace in Him.  I know he is good even when the world doesn't make any sense.  Even when the justice system is unjust - he is fair.

Have you had a hard week?  How are you holding it together?  What do you rely on when times are tough?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Trunki Giveaway

contest ends Black Friday at midnight.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Get Moving Blogger Sign Ups!

Did you know we're on a roll toward health?  That's right - we're going to the gym (yep, we bought a membership), we're eating healtLhier, my blood sugars and weight are coming down.  My health is going up.  We are moving as a family!
Outdoor Giveaway
This week I found the Get Moving Giveaway Event.  It's coming up in January 2013.  Bloggers are required to share a prize worth at least $25 and basic entry into the link up is free!  (I like free).  Life With My Boys is joining the event and preparing to share a fantastic prize package with our readers this winter!  Keep your eyes open for chances to win.  If you're a blogger, take a trip over to The Organic Times Blog and enter to participate in the event!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Enjoy A Healthier and Happier Thanksgiving Meal - and a giveaway

I announced yesterday that we are expecting baby #4 this summer.  It's an exciting time, but as you may recall, I am diabetic - therefore it is not without challenges.  I have decided that this is going to be my healthiest pregnancy yet (and my doctor seems to think that's a good plan).  As I am working toward health, I've had the priveledge of partnering with GeoPalz once again to share an exciting & fun event! 
As I plan for our holiday season, here are a few tips that I plan to use in keeping our family moving toward health.  Make sure to read to the end so you can learn about a fantastic giveaway from GeoPalz!  (Don't forget to check out their website - they offer great games to help entice young people to exercise!)

1. Snack sparingly throughout the day, choose a healthy option if the kids have to snack. Opt for a full meal instead of high-calorie snacking. It’s difficult to monitor how much the kids are eating when they’re grazing the buffet. Click to Tweet!

2. Create colorful fruit salads and fruit-based desserts for a healthy way to satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth. Make an apple or peach pie using whole-wheat flour instead of white flour. Click to Tweet!

3. Fill your kid’s plate with half veggies, a quarter potatoes, and the rest with meat. Help your kids learn portion control by using normal or undersized portions. Encourage them to fill their plates with healthy and colorful food. Click to Tweet!

4. Have fun and play games together! Promote playtime with fun and physical activities. Play a game of touch football, Frisbee, or kickball together. With younger kids, play hopscotch, jump rope, or tag. Click to Tweet!

Make the most of your Thanksgiving holiday with the children’s pedometer, GeoPalz! To get you started, they’ve provided 12 tips for a healthier and happier Thanksgiving meal. Follow their tips and share them with friends to be entered into a Healthy Family Thanksgiving Giveaway!

At the end of the month, GeoPalz will pick one lucky parent who’s shared these tips via Twitter with a Thanksgiving prize pack including 4 GeoPalz pedometers for your kids and a $100 Target gift card for you!

Here’s how to enter:
1. Click the included link to tweet your favorite tip!
2. Follow GeoPalz on Twitter to find out if you’ve won.

For contest rules and regulations, please visit the GeoPalz blog.

***Disclaimer: I have received a product in exchange for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.***

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Healthy Family Date: Review

Do you ever go on "Family Dates"?  We love to go out with our boys for fun activities.  They enjoy hiking, playgrounds, shopping (yes, weird boys), library visits, and so many other things that are going on around town.  We love it that they can get excited about healthy, cultural events!

Recently we decided to look for a different kind of healthy date.  The requirements for this "big event" were 1) healthy food (remember we are working on a vegan diet);  2) lots of movement that our 2 and 4 year old could enjoy together with us; and 3) a reasonable price.  You would never believe where we found it.  We found a restaurant with a salad bar and a LOT of fun games and play areas.  The best salad bar in Fort Wayne comes at a cost of about $7 per person for all you can eat (unfortunately there are not discounts for being a young child).

We decided that we would have the amazing salad bar for myself and Mr. Crum and let the boys slack a little on healthy eating, they shared a pizza.  The package for their pizza, drinks, and a handful of tokens was only about $20.  We could easily have shared this package with our whole family of 5 and had enough to eat.  The food was fantastic.  Side note: we ate here about a year ago and did not like the pizza very well at that time.  I think they have improved their formula over the last year.

Health: Chuck E Cheese offers a variety of food options varying from extremely healthy to not so much.  There are reasonably priced choices for the whole family.  They have also just begun offering gluten free pizza and cupcakes nation wide as an option for families who are facing gluten intolerance!  Way to go Chuck E Cheese!

Cassius getting his hand stamped.
Safety: Every person that enters the doors at Chuck E Cheese is given an invisible stamp on the hand.  This special ink glows in a black light to help the gate keepers make sure that all children leave with the adults they came in with.  There are also regular sweeps of the restaurant to keep it clean and free of debris that could be harmful for visitors.  Excellent job on safety!
The big climber/slide.

Entertainment:  Chuck E Cheese has always been high on entertainment, that's their thing.  They offer an excellent variety of activities to keep the whole family going.  Our 2 year old loved the climber & slide.  Our 4 year old loved the rides & games.  We enjoyed bouncing from activity to activity with them and helping them understand how different things worked.  On this visit, our children were not very interested in the show.  They did, however, participate in a costume parade with Chuck E Cheese and dance with him to earn extra prize tickets.
Mr. Crum teaching Manasseh about air hockey.
We happened to show up during "Chucktober", which is celebrated by inviting children to come in costumes and participate in extra ticket giveaway activities.
"Dr." Manasseh dreaming of his future car.

Take Away:  We left Chuck E Cheese with a few photos and a couple of plastic frogs.  More importantly, we left with children that have a fond memory of a great day interacting with their parents.  I LOVE that my boys have those memories.  I think that a few hours at Chuck E Cheese every once in a while is a great way to build some relationship with my boys (and stay healthy while doing it).
Azariah taking his first ride - this one snaps a picture.

Recommendation:  I think that if you're okay with crowds and enjoy high levels of activity, this is a fantastic family date.  The food is amazing (yep, I'm talking about Chuck E Cheese) and the games are a lot of fun.  All games and rides are 1 token (about a quarter each - less depending on how many tokens you buy) and they can promote family togetherness.  Consider taking a trip to Chuck E Cheese to shake off the winter blahs!

***Disclaimer: I did receive a product or products in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own.***

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Have you ever stopped to think about the things you say to your friends, your children, yourself?  "How are you DOING today?", "What are you DOING?", "Why are you DOING that?", "When are we going to DO that?"

Recently, my "DO"ing has been on my mind.  See, I do a lot.  I'm an active mama with 3 active little guys.  Some days it seems like we are doing constantly.  Some weeks it feels like we're only in our home for meals and sleeping.  Boy we sure have a lot of stuff for people who are mostly sleeping in our house.  

We live in a society that emphasizes DOing.  If you're not DO-ing something, something is wrong.  Even some preschoolers are learning that they need to be active and involved in 3 or 4 or even more activities every week.  (Have you ever asked a teenager to help with something - he's got to check his calendar - he learned this habit as a 3 year old in soccer, swimming, and baseball).  

Do you ever feel stressed when you realize how much you have to DO?  I sure feel that way some times.  I've got a lot on my plate - more than I should.  I actually have started to schedule days at home because that is what it takes sometimes for me to practice BEing.

That's right, BE-ing.  I am working really hard to change my focus from "How am I DOing today" to "Who am I BEing today."  When I focus so long and so hard on the activities that I think I need to get done, I forget who I am, who I want to be, and how I want to lead my children.  I stop considering my actions before my desires.  My busy schedule is a problem when it makes me lose focus of who I am being.

How about you?  I need help to refocus.  Fortunately I have some friends that are helping me learn to BE the person that I was designed to be.  The DO-ing has to come later, it's secondary.  It's hard to make that secondary in this culture.  

God, help me learn to BE the woman you made me to be.  Help me obey you first and do my things later.  I pray that I can be a light to others as I BEcome your messenger in a busy, loud world.  Amen.

How do you help yourself stay focused on what you were made to be?

Melissa & Doug: Trunki Giveaway

Are you traveling with preschoolers this holiday season?  Our sweet boys will be 1, (almost)3, and 4 during the holidays.  As we prepare for our adventures, we are excited to be pulling a Trunki along with us.  What fun to ride, pull, and even pack.  Our holidays are going going to be an amazing fun time with family.  Would you like to win a Trunki for someone you love?  See all of the Terrific Twenty Toys!  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below!  Contest closes at midnight on Black Friday!  Open to US residents only.
***Disclaimer: I have received a product in exchange for this ad.  All expressed opinions are my own.***

Trunki Ruby (Red)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway

GREAT NEWS!  Melissa & Doug are doing a big giveaway with their Terrific Twenty!  Every day for the next 20 days they'll be giving away a toy on their Facebook page!  This is perfect timing for Christmas gifts! 

We LOVE Melissa & Doug toys in our house.  They are such excellent quality.  The boys especially love their puzzles!  I love the ways that Melissa and Doug promote learning with all the senses!  

You know what else?  We're going to give our readers the opportunity to win one of the Terrific Twenty RIGHT HERE!  Keep your eyes open for a chance to enter coming very soon!  

What toy do you love most?