Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jesse Tree Wrap Up

Well, the month of awaiting and celebrating Christ's birthday has concluded. What a sweet time it was.
I've enjoyed hearing from you about what things you did to celebrate the Advent season, whether with a Jesse Tree or otherwise. And what a blessing to hear how your children have responded too.

This picture of the Jesse Tree from Worms Cathedral in Germany was sent to me by a friend and reader. Thanks, Ashleigh!

So many of you have such creative ideas and I thought it'd be fun to share those ideas with everyone. So, I've created a Mr. Linky below where you can link up to one or more of your own posts about your Jesse Tree or other Advent celebration. If you've never linked up like this before, all you have to do is go to the post that you created, highlight the url in your address bar for that post and then paste it into the Mr. Linky below. Simple! Please link directly to the relevant post(s), not to the home page of your blog. Thanks for joining in!

Jesse Tree Link-Up

To see all of my Jesse Tree related posts, click here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jesse Tree Update

How is the Jesse Tree going for those of you doing it? We're really enjoying it. I love how much Boo looks forward to it everyday and I love the visible reminders to us of God's love for us in sending his son.

I ended up not finishing a few ornaments and plan to work on them in the New Year. I figured it wasn't worth scrambling to make thrown-together ornaments. So for the devotion on Abraham trusting and following God, we hung up the camel from the kids' Fisher Price nativity.

For the door for the passover devotional, we had originally bought a wooden dollhouse door from Hobby Lobby and were planning on using that. But the Good Doctor and I decided it was kind of funny putting up a fancy wooden paneled door. We thought we could make a more rustic one...but never found the time. So I drew the door symbol on a note card and we tucked that in the tree.

And can you believe I never found a trumpet ornament for the Joshua/Jericho devotional? You'd think trumpet ornaments would be easy enough to find, right? Instead we're using a small wooden flute the kids have.

As for the devotionals themselves, they're going pretty well. We look forward to doing it before bedtime every night, though we've taken to putting the Noodle to bed first most nights. He has a hard time sitting still the whole time and is usually ready to hit the hay by that time anyways. Boo is really drinking it in and enjoys putting the ornaments on and looking at the tree throughout the day.

I'd love to hear how your Jesse Tree is going and how your children are responding.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Jesse Tree All Gussied Up

Here is our Jesse Tree all decorated for our month of Advent.
Last year it looked like this...Big change!

For our tree we use an artificial tree we bought when we first got married. We put all of our family ornaments on a bigger tree in another room. Here is our other tree in case you were curious.

It's a big pre-lit artificial that I got for free on Craig's List two summers ago. Can you believe it was free?! Ignore the nest of red scarving at the top. I haven't finished fiddling with it.

Back to the Jesse Tree. I bought ribbon on deeply discounted clearance after Christmas last year and bought two packs of blue ornaments at the dollar store. That's it for decorations besides the ornaments we'll add each day that correspond with our devotionals.

For the bottom, I grabbed a piece of remnant blue linen fabric I had in my fabric stash and tucked under as a tree skirt. I wrapped up each ornament in a numbered bag.

Jesse Tree: Shepherds Ornament

I'm cutting it down to the wire, but here's another ornament for our Jesse Tree. It corresponds with Day 23's devotional about the angel appearing to the shepherds to proclaim Christ's birth.
I found the sheep at Cost Plus World Market. For the shepherd's hook, I got a small wooden letter "j" from JoAnn's. We cut off the end a bit, drilled a hole in it and I painted it black.

To see all Jesse Tree related posts, look here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Children's Advent Book

Several people have asked me recently about a recommendation for a children's advent book. Honestly, I don't have one that I'd say is the end all be all. For our Jesse tree we use several books together including two children's bibles we have.

There is one book that we love for the kids during Advent but it's not a book of devotionals. Instead, it links Christmas traditions to the season of Advent and gives the meaning behind a lot of the things we typically do this time of year like hanging up stockings, sending Christmas cards, decorating with candy canes, etc. The book is called The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Welchel.

It's filled with colorful illustrations relating to each topic. Some of my favorite topics include the Christian symbols behind the Twelve Days of Christmas, the Legend of the Candy Cane, the history of displaying candles in windows, and the Advent wreath. One that we refer to often during Christmas is the story of the original Santa Claus, Bishop Nicholas from Turkey. After much wrestling with whether to allow Santa into our Christmas celebrations, we decided to stick with the story of the original Saint Nicholas that showed Christ's love to the poor and needy. That's the extent of who Santa is in our house. In keeping with his legacy, we hang stockings on our mantle that "Santa" tucks small gifts in. I still sometimes wonder if we should cut him out altogether but our children are very clear on the reason for this special season and that's the focus in our home the whole month. So for now, Santa stays... just barely.

What about you? Any good Advent book recommendations? Or children's Christmas books in general? Do you "do Santa"?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Wrapping Jesse Tree Ornaments

I'm still wrapping up a few ornaments for our Jesse Tree but since it's quickly approaching I figured I'd literally wrap up the ones I've finished.

After talking with a friend that's doing her Jesse Tree, I decided I liked the idea of the kids opening up the ornament each day as a sort of gift from God to them. Each story we study reminds us of God's love for us - it's the perfect way to tie in the idea of gift-giving at Christmastime.
I'd love to find some simple wooden or brown paper boxes to put each one in. But I haven't found ones I like that are inexpensive enough and then there's the storage factor. Where do you stash 25 boxes? So this year, until I figure out something else, I'm using brown paper sacks.
I made little tags with the Advent day's number on them. I had a stack of small cardboard inserts from bias tape packages that I saved. I cut them in half, rubbed the edges with a brown ink pad, and stamped the number on.

I liked the way they turned out and I think they'll work perfectly this year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jesse Tree: Moses' Staff Ornament

I'm hoping to complete all of my ornaments for our Jesse Tree in the next day or so. I have a few that are causing me grief but hopefully I can finish them in time. If not, I may have to make a couple notecards like we used last year.
Here is another one I made a while ago and haven't shared yet. It's Moses' staff representing God's leadership.
It's just a small stick we found in the backyard, pulled the bark off, shaped with a knife and screwed an eyelet screw into the top of.

More posts about the Jesse Tree and a few more handmade gift ideas coming soon! The tryptophan has slowed me down the last few days. :)

For all of my Jesse Tree related posts, see here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Preschool at Home: Letter D Week

I mentioned in a previous post that I do learning time with Boo during the week. My intentions when I started these home preschool lessons at the beginning of the year were to work through one letter of the alphabet each week, and by the end of the year to have circled through the alphabet twice. Well, I totally overestimated our pace and as the year comes to a close we are just now finishing up the alphabet...for the first time. Whoops! Life with two little ones is busy and I've learned to not feel guilty if we don't get to our learning time some days. There are plenty of other ways Boo's learning every day.

Anyways, here is our Letter D Week Lesson from several months ago.We learned about what doctors do. I wanted to take Boo up to the hospital to see Daddy at work but we ended up doing that several weeks later insted.

We read the story of David and Goliath from a children's bible and I had Boo do a little craft to correspond with it. I tore out little stone shaped construction paper for him to glue near the stream where David found a stone. He was only 2 1/2 at the time and was really into gluing things on by himself.

We made a drum from an old oatmeal container. Boo had fun decorating his drum and then playing it. We made crescent dogs for a picnic lunch one day and dubbed them Diggity Dogs to go with our letter D theme. Boo helped wrap the dogs in crescent rolls before I popped them into the oven.
We read about dinosaurs and Boo painted a small wooden dinosaur plaque with acrylic paints.

Throughout that week (or two) we practiced Spanish words starting with D: dinero, durazno, diente, diez. We also made a peach {durazno} crostata, and Boo learned his letter D bible verse: Psalm 34:14.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jesse Tree: Ten Commandment Ornament

Here's the Ten Commandments ornament for our Jesse Tree.

I used stone-like textured paper to wrap cardboard "tablets" printed with a simplified version of the ten commandments. I really wanted the ten commandments written out on the tablets, rather than scribbled illegible text. This way we can read through them together. I looked to two of Boo's children's bibles for a kid-friendly translation of the text. Though I was tempted to put the original text from Scripture - that would be great too.

I hot-glued them together in the bottom corner, backed them with gray paper and glued a support strip of more gray paper to the middle back.
I punched holes in the top and hung the ornament with brown ribbon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Jesse Tree: More Store Bought Ornaments

Here are a few more ornaments I've gathered recently for our Jesse Tree.
A crown to symbolize the beginning of the kingdom when Samuel crowned Saul. This ornament corresponds with Day 15 of our advent devotionals. I bought it half off at Hobby Lobby, found in the baby decor section. I just replaced the organza ribbon with brown satin ribbon.
Our star ornament for Day 24: The Magi. Purchased at the Dollar Tree.
An angel representing the angel that spoke to Mary in our devotional for Day 21. {Not a very accurate representation since it's a girl angel. Oh well!} I bought this one half off at Hobby Lobby.A lion for Day 18 of our Jesse Tree, a devotional on Daniel and God's protection in the lions' den. I found this at Cost Plus World Market recently.
I've enjoyed hearing from you about the Jesse Tree - whether you've already made it an Advent tradition, are starting this year or have plans to do it next year. Thanks for sharing!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jesse Tree: Joseph's Coat

Joseph's Coat.
Day 8 of our Jesse Tree devotions now has an ornament to go with it. Hooray!
I made Joseph's coat out of felt. It turned out alright, though I'd like to remake it with a finer fabric. It will do for this year. Felt is so easy to work with and I had all of these scraps on hand so it was a quick one to make.
Out of curiousity, I'd love to know if anyone else is planning on doing a Jesse Tree this year. Is this your first year doing it? Are you using a book or writing your own devotionals? Are you making your ornaments or collecting/buying them? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Handmade Gifts: Monogrammed Stone Coasters

I'll be doing a series of posts on handmade gifts that are quick and inexpensive. Just in time for Christmas!

This first tutorial is for one of my all-time favorites: monogrammed stone coasters. I've given a set of these coasters to all of my family and many of my friends. They're beautiful and useful - a perfect gift.

Here's what you need: tumbled tile {I used travertine}, rubber or felt bumper pads, staz-on permanent ink pad, patterned and initial stamps, post-it note.
Cut a small square out of the top of the post-it note being sure that the sticky part is on the back of your square. Stick the square in the center of your tile.
Rub StazOn ink on a large script {any fine pattern would work} stamp. Press firmly on the tile.
Whoops. I was a little heavy-handed on the ink on the top right. No worries. It doesn't have to be perfect. Peel off your Post-It square and place it in the center of the next tile. Repeat with all tiles.

This one turned out better.I like when there are gaps in the pattern. Don't go to great lengths to squash the stamp on the tile. A little give to it adds character.Pull out your initial stamps. I bought a set of these at Hobby Lobby years ago when they were 50% off. NEVER buy anything full price at a craft store. There are always 40% off {or more} coupons to use and Hobby Lobby is the greatest because they regularly reduce their merchandise to half off.

Remove the Post-It square and stamp the initial in the empty space.Gorgeous!

When the ink has dried, apply rubber or felt bumpers to the back corners of each tile.Wrap with a bow and give as a Christmas gift or housewarming present.

A note about the ink:

Don't use regular ink. Be sure to buy StazOn or another brand of permanent ink so that when the coasters are used, the ink won't run.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know if you end up making them!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jesse Tree: Noah's Ark

You'll be seeing a lot of Jesse Tree ornament posts here as we approach Advent. I'm finishing them up quickly so we're ready on December 1st...just two weeks away!
Here is our Noah's Ark ornament for our Advent devotional about The Flood and God's Promise. To make it, I started with an unpainted wooden pirate's ship from Hobby Lobby. We ripped off the sales and cut off the masts.
Boo and The Good Doctor found a block of wood, cut it to size and glued it to the top of the flat boat. They also cut thin craft wood to make a pitched roof for the top.
I used an extra fine point sharpie to draw planks of wood and nail holes on the roof, then painted the whole thing with brown acrylic paint.
I plan on attaching several pairs of felt animals on the top deck but won't finish that in time for this year.
We used an eyelet screw through the roof to attach ribbon for hanging.

For all of my Jesse Tree ornaments to date, look here. You can also check out pictures of my ornaments on Flickr. Feel free to add yours to the group there.

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