What Can Be Gained By Silence

“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta

There’s nothing I love more than a rainy weekend morning. As Sloth tells Millie, in Into the Free, the rain is God’s way of telling us to slow down and pay attention. Or, as Mother Teresa understood, it’s an opportunity for us to find God in the silence.

We not only learn the most in these quiet moments, we may say the most at these times too. This is something St. Francis of Assissi pointed out many moons before us: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

When do you feel most connected with God?

When do you feel you are most able to share the work of God with others?

How does your family take advantage of rainy days?

Peace,

Julie

Day 24: O, Holy Night!

image from pinterest.com

It’s Christmas Eve! Wow…that went fast.

If you’re like me, now is the time to cuddle up with the kids and savor the silence. Gather your family around a fire or candle tonight and say a family prayer for peace tonight.

Give your kids each a new set of Christmas jammies (an important tradition in our home) and let them open one special gift. For us, this is the gift they have for each other — the sibling gift. We started this tradition when they were very young, and it has become one of most special events of the holiday season.

Whether you are on the road or opening doors to extended family members, try to dedicate this night to focus on what matters most: faith, family, and friends.

Merry Christmas!

j

Day 22: A Little Angel Did It!

image by artsopure.com.au

If this beautiful photograph by artsopure.com.au doesn’t inspire you to wear wings, I don’t know what will. Help your little ones learn the importance of practicing kindness, even when no one is around to see. For the entire day, they should sneak around and practice random acts of kindness. When asked, “Did you make your sister’s bed?” They should say, “A little angel did it!”

 

Help point out ideas so they can learn to look for opportunities such as cleaning up the toys, taking the dish to the sink after dinner, sharing the last cookie, etc. It won’t take long for the lesson to sink in: kindness is fun! And it’s even better when it’s given without being recognized for the effort.

 

Day 21: Good Morning, Love!

image from frostmeblog.blogspot.com

Rise and shine! It’s time to put a little love in those tummies with this terrific idea from frostmeblog.com . Simply unroll refrigerated cinnamon rolls and reshape into hearts. Bake as directed and wait for the smiles!

Day 20: Add a Little Magic to the Bathtub

image from pinterest.com

Who says elves don’t take baths? Reindeer too? This is how they bathe in the North Pole! Drop dollarstore glowsticks into the water and dim the lights for an absolutely polar-ific tubtime!

 
 
 

Day 19: Gratitude Rolls

Image from beautyandbedlam.com

Looking for a special way to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive this holiday season? I LOVE this simple idea from Jen at beautyandbedlam.com .

Start by asking each family member to write on a small slip of paper (let little ones dictate their thoughts for you). Encourage them to share something they are grateful for or a special thought about what Christmas means to them.

Next, prepare rolls, spraying the inside lightly with cooking spray. Place one paper strip in each roll. Bake as directed and serve warm. As each person unwraps a message, they read it aloud to the family at Christmas dinner.

Day 18: Family Traditions

Image from pinterest.com

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make the holiday season extra special for those you love. Red and green sprinkles in the pancakes on Christmas morning, milk and cookies left for Santa, reindeer food sprinkled on the lawn. All of these are little ways to help your children remember the magic, but if you’re looking for a few new ideas this year, try these.

Instead of buying an artificial tree, take a family outing and cut a live tree from a farm or from you own property if you live on acreage. Donate it to be used as hatcheries by your local wildlife office. Or, better yet, make it a tradition to plant a new tree each year and decorate outdoors.

Give each child one new ornament a year to recognize his/her biggest accomplishments or special interests each year. Consider favorite cartoon characters, ballet slippers, a special pet. Anything that will make you look back next year and say…Oh, Remember how you were SO into (Sponge Bob)….

Slumber Party! Pull out the sleeping bags, light the fireplace, and make room for everyone…it’s time to campout under the Christmas tree! Tell stories of your childhood Christmas memories, sing Christmas songs, read the nativity story, and plan your New Year’s resolutions. Just don’t be the first to fall asleep, or you might wake up to a case of the red and green polka dots! (round stickers all over your pj’s!)

 

Day 14: Run, Run, Fast As You Can!

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through our Advent activities, but it’s December 14 and time for GINGERBREAD! I admit, when it comes to gingerbread houses, we cheat. We do make homemade gingerbread cookies, but we use graham crackers to build our houses.

We make one each year, and it’s always a treat. First, we coat a cardboard soda bottle package with icing. Then we attach graham crackers as the walls and roof. Finally, we decorate with leftover Trick-or-Treat candy. This is all set on a thick, square piece of cardboard we cut from a large box. We coat that in icing too, and the sugar-coated landscaping is never anything less than divine.

But instead of boring you with our personal photos, I thought you might like to see some gingerbread houses from my elementary school this year (including the photo above). These were made by preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students who all enjoyed the activity.

Get messy, indulge your sweet tooth, and HAVE FUN!

 

 

Be sure to read The Gingerbread Man and then learn the following poem:

Oh where, oh where, is my gingerbread man? Oh where, oh where, can he be? He popped out of the oven and ran out the door. Oh where, oh where, can he be?

Now, bake some gingerbread cookies or make a gingerbread man out of paper. Then, set a trap and see if you can catch your gingerbread man! Here are some of the traps around our school this week.

 

 

Day 13: Oh, Christmas Tree! Oh, Christmas Tree!

Image from giverslog.com

Pinecones are Mother Nature’s special way of decorating her living room. And if it’s good enough for Mother Nature, than it’s good enough! Not to mention…it’s the perfect size for little fingers and the options are endless. Try this one, for instance. Add colorful balls of wool or inexpensive craft balls from a discount store. Attach with glue and you’re done!
 
 
 
 
 
If pinecones are a little too prickly and glue a little too sticky for you, then try this great idea from familyfun for a cutie patootie pipe cleaner tree. Find instructions here.
 

Image from johnnyinadress.com

Still a little too much crafting? Try this mess free option for those of you who just don’t like the idea of cleaning up pine needles or glue or beads. Simply cut a tree from green felt and create all sorts of colorful decorations from felt. It works magically…felt sticks to felt! Attach the “tree” to a wall using temporary adhesive strips and give your toddlers a Christmas tree they can decorate again…and again…and again! (Thanks to johnnyinadress.com for this super idea. My kids are too old for this one, but I’m filing it for my classroom.)
 
For your teen/tween booklover, why not try this fabulous idea for a book tree? I shared this from a post on facebook and despite my best efforts, I can’t find the original source. If you happen to know who gets credit for this one…please share!
 

Image from mrsleeskinderkids.com

Want to include a little math with that tree crafting, or looking for an idea for the classroom? Try this idea from Mrs. Lee’s Kinderkids. Provide red construction paper and tree pieces. Help children organize the tree strips from longest to shortest before glueing on the paper. Last, dip q-tips in white paint and dot the entire piece with snow. See Mrs. Lee’s blog for many more great teaching ideas for little ones.

Hope you have fun celebrating the Christmas season with those you love. Be sure to check out previous blog posts and stay tuned for more December postings to find tons of ideas to connect with your family this holiday.

Cheers,

julie

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Day 12: Random Acts of Kindness

Nothing we get in this world can be taken with us when we leave. However, we do take with us everything we give. It might have been Henry David Thoreau who first shared such a thought, but the meaning is eternal. This Christmas, remind your children to always give more than they receive.

Start by practicing random acts of kindness. Here are some simple ideas you can do to help kids of all ages remember the reason for the season.

Drop some change into the red kettle, or better yet ring the Salvation Army bell as a family.

Start a new habit of putting extra canned goods in your grocery cart each time you shop. Drop them into the donation bin at the door and help end hunger in your community.

Deliver Meals on Wheels, visit residents at a senior living facility, or rake a neighbor’s yard. Teach your kids to look after the oldest members of your community and to always offer help and companionship when possible.

Secretly pay overdue library fees for strangers or treat a special someone to a hot cup of Joe and a muffin one morning…just because.

Bring in a neighbor’s trash cans, recycle bins, newspaper, or mail. Shovel someone’s snowy drive, place fresh poinsettia in your school, church, or community building. Treat postal workers and librarians to little happies (sweet treats). The options are endless, and it’s fun to see little brains switch from thinking about what they WANT for Christmas to figuring out ways to GIVE to others.

See how one blogger teaches her children to be kinder, more compassionate members of society by practicing random acts of kindness. There, you’ll find many more ideas for reaching out with a generous heart.

Happy giving,

j