Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years QR Code Challenge

Here is a fun QR Code Challenge you can do with your kids on New Year Eve or on New Years Day or anytime in January. I have listed twelve challenges below. Feel free to pick and choose the challenges that you want to use. You don't need to complete every single one. Just pick the ones you want your kids to complete.

If you do this on New Years Eve you can put each of the QR Codes in an envelope and write the time on each one. For example: If you want your family to complete all 12, you could do one every twenty minutes and that would take 4 hours! Perfect for filling a long New Year's night. Or you could do fewer challenges and space them out every 30 minutes to an hour. It is completely up to you.

Another fun way to play is to give the kids 7 or 8 challenges on New Year's Day and tell them that you will give them a reward if they have completed them all by dinner time. This is a fun way to keep the kids busy while Dad catches his football games.

You could also complete 4 or 5 for your first family night in January. The challenges that have you write goals and reflect on the previous year are perfect for a family to complete together. However you use these challenges, I hope you will have a wonderful New Year! Thanks for reading!

Challenge #1
Write down 5 cool things that happened to you in 2013

Challenge #2
Turn on your favorite song and do a happy new year’s dance on top of the table or on top of the couch or on top of your parent’s bed. (Get their permission first)

Challenge #3 
Write about your favorite day in 2013.

Challenge #4
Make a silly New Year’s hat to wear. 

Challenge #5
Make predictions about 10 things you think will happen in 2014. 

Challenge #6

Go outside and make a wish for each family member on a New Years Eve Star. If you can’t see any stars, pretend that you can and make your wishes anyway. 

Challenge #7
The New Year’s Eve Ball drop is a big tradition in Times Square. Have your own new Years Eve ball drop by throwing a ball down the stairs. Have someone catch it and throw it back up to you. Repeat. 

Challenge #8
Make a confetti cannon. Cut pieces of paper into small pieces and put the pieces in a paper bag. Blow up the paper bag by blowing air into it and holding the top closed with one hand. Shout Happy New Year and pop the bag by hitting it with your other hand. Watch confetti fly everywhere. Be excited then clean it up.

Challenge #9
Write down 5 things you want to accomplish in 2014

Challenge #10
Make a noise maker by getting some waxed paper and a comb. Put the waxed paper over the comb and then blow with your mouth. Experiment until you can get the loudest sound. 

Challenge #11
Light a candle and make a New Year’s Eve wish for the whole world. Then blow the candle out. 

Challenge #12
Go outside and bang pots and pans and shout Happy New Year!

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Theater Room Reveal

We finished our downstairs family room into a home theater for the kids for Christmas. We are huge super hero fans so coming up with the theme was easy.

We locked the kids out of the room on Christmas Eve with a sign that said: "Elves Workshop." And we put the whole thing together in one day. I had someone build the IKEA furniture ahead of time and my husband had worked on the projector box and screen in his brother's shop. But assembly was completed in about 8 hours including the painted mural.

Here is the screen. My husband built it himself with black out fabric available by the yard at Hobby Lobby. He used wood trim from Home Depot to make the frame. We bought the fabric at Walmart.

Here is the projector box.

Here is the giant love sac from Amazon. It was so funny because it came in a smallish size box. My husband said, "I thought you ordered a big love sac." I said, "I thought I did too!" But then when we opened the box, it expanded and kept expanding for two more days!

Movie Posters from All Posters. com.

Large Superman action figure from Walmart. Game shelf from IKEA.

Desks and DVD shelf from IKEA. Foosball table from Sears (At least I think so. We have had this for a few years.)

Batman wall decal from Amazon. Batman signal light from Pottery Barn Kids.
I painted the wall mural by hand copying a picture from the Pottery Barn Kids website. (see the page where they sell the Batman signal light.)

Mirror from Osmond Designs. "You are a Hero" vinyl sign made with my daughter's silhouette.

CaptainAmerica Stand-Up from Amazon. Blanket chest from Grandma Gee Gee.

We love the finished project and since it is a frigid winter wonderland outside, the theater is getting a lot of use! Happy Holidays everyone.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Christmas Turnips

I just finished up our neighbor gifts this year. It have to admit it was a pretty ambitious project but I am pleased with the finished product. I made 110 bags of peppermint bark popcorn with a little book/card to go on the front.

Thank goodness for willing teenagers and an efficient assembly line! (My cute fifteen-year-old son even told his friends that he couldn't go sledding so he could help his mom finish her books!)

Before you ask about the turnip on the front of the book,  let me explain. The inside of the book tells this story. 

Dear Friends and Family, 

While we live in challenging times, there are many reasons to rejoice. We are surrounded by loving family and friends. Many happy days lie ahead in our future. We can learn much from the example of Lorenzo Snow. He was serving as the leader of a group of pioneers spending several months in the harsh winter cold and meager accommodations of Winter Quarters, Nebraska. A long wilderness crossing loomed in their future. But Lorenzo Snow worked to keep up the courage and the spirit of his small group. 
One winter night, he gathered as many of the group as possible in his “humble family mansion.”  It was a log cabin with a dirt roof and ground floor about 4 1/2 meters by 9 meters wide. He carpeted the floor for their festive gathering with a thin layer of straw. Then he dug some turnips out of the pit where they were buried. They scooped out the interior and fixed short candles in them, placing them at intervals around the walls, suspending others to the ceiling above. The candles filled the humble home with a peaceful influence and the light reflecting through those turnip rinds created a very picturesque appearance. 
Here is Lorenzo Snow’s account: “During the evening several of my friends, in the warmest expressions possible, complimented me and my family for the peculiar taste and ingenuity displayed in those unique and inexpensive arrangements. The hours were enlivened and happily passed. At the close, all seemed perfectly satisfied and withdrew, feeling as happy as though they were not homeless.”  
Thankfully, we are not homeless. We have more this season than turnips! But we too can enjoy the warm glow of friendship and love as we reach out to others. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for sharing your faith and wonderful examples. Remember the turnips as you celebrate this wonderful season of our Savior’s birth.

Isn't that an inspiring little story? I am going to hang this little book up on our Christmas tree to remind me. 

You probably noticed that to go along with the story that it contains, our little book is made from recycled materials. 

The front and back covers are made from lunch sacks. The burlap is left over from our Harry Potter party this summer. (Remember the Devil's Snare! ) The turnips are made from white card stock, painted with water color paints. The green stuff sticking out the top comes from a cut up Christmas bow. 

Each little book costs only a few cents to make. I think that effort is worthy of Lorenzo Snow and his turnips!  I wish I could deliver one to each of you. Merry Christmas!
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Candles and Christmas

Candles are such an important part of the Christmas celebration to me. When I was a little girl, my favorite part of Christmas was our advent wreath with four Christmas candles. My mom had enjoyed this same tradition in her childhood. My grandfather Walter Seiter had immigrated to the United States from Germany as a young man. My grandmother did everything could to keep his German heritage alive for her children. One of the German Christmas traditions she adopted was the Advent Wreath.

Every Sunday in December, the family would gather around the advent wreath. The first Sunday in December they would light one candle. Then they would sing Christmas carols, tell Christmas stories and read from the Bible. The second Sunday of advent they would light two candles and so forth until the Sunday before Christmas all four candles would be light.

Tomorrow we will be lighting the fourth candle on our advent wreath and Christmas will soon be here. I love to look at my children's faces in the light of the candles. I love the peaceful, reverence that falls over us when we turn off the lights and light each one. I love how we linger after the singing and reading is finished and how the night stretches out before us, still and long. I love how everything slows down. It almost feels like we have stepped back in time, even when we Skype our oldest daughter in Virginia when it is time for our wreath each week. It is a cherished moment of peace in a busy season.

I was excited to read this essay by one of my students who shared his family's candle tradition.

(Written by Ethan)
After we're all ready for bed we have special candles that we light as my mom reads about Jesus's birth from the Bible.  We have different candles that represent different people.  We have a special tray that all the candles sit on.  The three wise men are a royal purple candles and there are three tan candles for the shepherds.  There are two skinny gold pillars  for the angles.  Mary and Joseph are both white candles and Baby Jesus is a little white votive candle.  We light each candle as Mom reads about it.  At the end of the story we blow out all the candles except for the Jesus candle and we talk about how Jesus is the Light of the world. Then we use the Baby Jesus candle to relight all the candles and sing Silent Night.

Isn't that the sweetest tradition? I love to pray by candlelight. I love the feeling of closeness it gives me to God and to his son. All the material trappings seem to fall away in the simple light of a candle flame. If you haven't done so, try lighting some candles and gathering your family around you this Christmas.

Have you read The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado or seen the movie? I love this story and even though I haven't (yet) seen the movie, I think it will be worth it if it is half as good as the book.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

{DIY} Handprint Snowman Ornaments

When I first saw these ornaments I wondered if they were too juvenile for my 10 and 11 year old students. But I shouldn't have worried. They loved making them! They were so proud of the finished product. Honestly, I can't imagine doing this with kids any younger. I found a cute snowman poem that you could attach to the ornaments here.

But I altered it to fit with the personalities of my older students. They got a huge kick out of it.

Print out our version of the snowman poem here.

We started with large glass balls from Hobby Lobby.

Then they painted their hands white and cupped their hands around the balls. Then they used the eraser end of a pencil to add the snowflakes falling around the snowmen.

We let that dry. Then added our embellishments. We used sharpie markers for the eyes and mouths.

And paint for the noses and scarves.

I love how unique and individual they are.

I supervised 6 kids at a time working on this project and they did great! No paint mishaps. No dropped balls.

 I think this was the perfect age for a project like this. I hope their parents love them!

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