a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Christmas Calendar That Keeps You on Track Visually

Counting the Days Really Does Make the Days Count

If the instructions on my post (earlier today) were confusing,
here is a sample I made up on the computer, using clip art,  
four years ago.

The only way I could make it large enough for you to see was to turn it sideways.
Sorry 'bout that!

Something important to consider and remember:

Very, very often it's the little things that create memories . . .

great memories that last a lifetime !

"reading this brought back so many memories , Mom! so many wonderful times!!!! (i had forgotten about how we used to check off the days with weird lines. ha!) no wonder Christmas is still my favorite holiday... Jeremy"

A Christmas Calendar That Keeps You on Track

We made our first Christmas calendar for basically selfish reasons. Our first two children were very young, but old enough to know that the big event was coming up, and we were getting tired of them asking "how many days until..."  And they weren't old enough to read.

As with so many things, over time it evolved into much more. It kept us on track during this hectic time of year, and it committed us to doing what we had said we would do----at times when it is so easy to let things just slip by, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Our December activities actually began the last couple days of November. 

With a black marking pen, one of the parents would make a December calendar on a full sheet of poster board. 

We would all gather around our big table.

A stack of November and December "women's" magazines (mainly old issues we reused for several years, along with one or two new ones), pairs of scissors, clear tape and glue were piled in the center.

The first order of business would be to compile a master list of all the thing we wanted or needed to do in December. It was a long list---getting the tree, decorating the tree, putting up outside lights, baking cookies, etc. 

Only Child Outings!

There was one evening allotted for each child to go gift shopping with us, ending with a stop at an eating place of their choice for a treat of their choice. (What began with two kids quite quickly grew to six, so Dave and I got lots of treats!)

Alongside the activities that had specific dates ---- arrival time of family members or relatives, church and school programs, Christmas eve, Christmas day ---- we noted the dates. These are the events that would be penciled in on the calendar first.  Each person chose an event and began to search the magazines for a picture that would represent it, cut it out, and fasten it on the appropriate day.

Next we decided on dates for each of the remaining activities and began searching, cutting and pasting.

The completed calendar was hung at kid level, usually in the hall. A quick glance told each of us what lay ahead. Every evening, just before bedtime, we would gather at the calendar. Taking turns, a big X marked off the day just closing and in unison we would count off the days remaining until Christmas. 

Nothing ever remains simple!!

As seemingly simple as this activity appears, the kids still managed to try my patience as they got older. They still insisted on cutting out representative pictures. They had to get creative. You can only imagine how many elaborate ways high school kids can find to cross through a simple square, or the speed and variety of ways they can count! They loved it (and really loved watching me try to control my exasperation)!

Traditions Happen!!!

Our Christmas calendar became a must-do tradition that carried on until the last ones left home (although some of the event representations became quite humorous and abstract).

And it carries on in their homes. . .

The Proof

Immediately after this post appeared last year (my first year of posting) the following comment appeared. It made my day.
reading this brought back so many memories , Mom! so many wonderful times!!!! (i had forgotten about how we used to check off the days with weird lines. ha!) no wonder Christmas is still my favorite holiday... Jeremy

And. . . 

actually, our calender didn't end at December 31st. We had (and still have) three very important New Year's Day traditions. But that's for next  time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Homemade Play-dough and Finger Paints

Since I am always encouraging you to use your imagination . . .

how about these simple gifts that encourage the recipients to use their imagination!

From my bookette, Simply Keepin' 'em Busy

Finger Paints!!!
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 T. sugar
2 cups cold water
dish washing liquid
food coloring
white shelf paper or other slick paper

In small bowl, add gelatin to 1/4 cup warm water and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch and sugar. Gradually add the cold water and cook slowly over low heat, stirring until well blended. Remove from heat and add softened gelatin. Divide mixture into as many separate containers as you want colors. For each color first add a drop or two of liquid detergent and then add food coloring a little at a time until you have the color you want. Store in the refrigerator. Will keep up to six weeks.