3 Ways to Involve Your Kids in the Kitchen This Christmas!

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Confession: I love to eat.

Many of my fondest memories involve food. This especially holds true for the holidays. Christmas makes me think of my dad’s party mix, my mom’s plates of sweet treats, and big bowls of warm soup. The holidays have always included full days of baking in the kitchen with my mom and sister – measuring, mixing, baking, and decorating to share delicious food with family and friends.

I have three boys of my own now and I am so grateful they enjoy time in the kitchen as much as I do! Their involvement in holiday baking has evolved over the years based on their age and level of interest. My aim is always to make it fun for them AND productive for me with as little stress as possible. When I get started on my holiday baking list, I know they will want to join in, so I have several go-to ways to get them involved in the kitchen!

3 Ways to Involve Your Kids in the Kitchen this Christmas

Here are my three favorites:

Kids in the Kitchen Reading Recipe

Reading the recipe

It might not seem like the most exciting job, but as soon as my boys could read, they couldn’t wait to tell me the ingredients, measurements, and directions. I think they might also enjoy it because they feel like they are in control! It is helpful to me because I can go about measuring and mixing while they tell me what to do.

When the kids are in the kitchen with me reading handwritten recipes passed down from my mom or grandma, we end up sharing lots of stories. Family history has been passed down from generation to generation in our kitchens and I want to keep that tradition going!

Kids in the Kitchen Chocolate Chips

Measuring the mix-ins

I usually measure out the messiest ingredients during our baking sessions – flour, oil, and so on. Those are also the ingredients that need to be the most precise, so maybe it’s a little about me being in control! I’m trying to hand over the measuring duties little by little and even our youngest can help measure mix-in type ingredients, such as chocolate chips, nuts, and dried fruit. These measurements don’t need to be quite as exact and I don’t mind if they sneak a few to snack on along the way!

Kids in the Kitchen Egg

Cracking eggs

I know I just talked about control issues in the kitchen and this was probably the hardest for me to let the kids try. But here’s the truth: kids love cracking eggs. And egg cracking is a skill every person should learn at some point, so why not teach them early?

When the kids crack eggs, we follow a few simple rules. Eggs are cracked one at a time into a separate bowl, then added to the mixture. This prevents accidental egg shell pieces from ruining an entire batch of cookies! Hand washing is a must as soon as all eggs are cracked to prevent any cross-contamination. I’m all about preventing food-borne illness because there is already enough sickness going around this time of year!

On this particular day, we were making my grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, but holiday baking with kids could also involve frosting, sprinkles, rolling out dough, and lots of other fun!

And when the kids lose interest in the kitchen…

This happens all the time. The boys are so excited about baking with me, but after about 30 minutes, they lose interest. It pays to have a backup plan and I often choose a holiday movie for that plan. In keeping with the Christmas baking theme, check out A Fruitcake Christmas from the Hermie & Friends series by Tommy Nelson! There is fun, adventure, mystery, and all of it points to Christ, the true reason for Christmas.

I love to bake all year round, but there is something extra special about baking this time of year and I’m so glad my kids are a part of it! What is your favorite way to get the kids involved with holiday baking?

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Avoiding the Holiday Hangover

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We all know the holiday hustle and bustle well. The months of October, November, and December are full of reasons to celebrate, which makes them my very favorite time of year.

There is one problem with this being my favorite time of year: I want to do ALL THE THINGS. You should see my Pinterest boards for Fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Full to the brim. And having too many ideas, like I do thanks to the lovely internet, usually leads to doing too many things in an already busy time of year.

I became particularly over-zealous about holiday activities once kids entered the picture. This Advent calendar and that Christmas countdown and all the baking and crafty ideas just had to be done or my kids would be deprived of a meaningful Christmas. Yep, that’s the lie I believed. And Christmas time became stressful, not joyful.

Last year, I wanted the joy back. I didn’t want to come to the end of the holiday season and be glad it was all finally over. It is one thing to pack the season full of memories and another thing to become crazy-obsessed-stressed super Christmas mom who doesn’t take time to savor the season for herself. Memories get lost in the stress.

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Avoiding the holiday hangover – where you feel like you’ve been put through the ringer instead of celebrating the birth of our Savior – starts with admitting you have a problem. No, this is not a self-help book, but I needed to wake up and see the stress I was experiencing and causing with all of my good Christmas ideas. Too much good is still too much.

The second step for me was being intentional, and more specifically, intentionally saying no. I adore all of the Advent calendars and devotions that have been created for kids and families. I will probably sharing lots of them with you. But we don’t do ALL of them every year and neither should you. Before the seasons starts, evaluate your options and pick a devotion or calendar that suits the ages and stages of your kids. Because we have two elementary-age boys and one preschooler, we may do two different devotions this year to fit their levels. That’s where I draw the line. Make your own line and stick to it!

Why do I feel the need to be so strict with myself? I’ve found that on my way to giving myself a holiday hangover, I leave no room for what God might bring our way during the Christmas season. I don’t savor the moments because I’m always trying to check something off the list. I want to breathe and notice and celebrate this magical time of year.

As I have been reading through Savor, a daily devotional by Shauna Niequist, I have been struck by the detail in which she can describe seemingly ordinary moments and, in doing so, makes them sound life-changing. All because she was really paying attention and living in that moment. These devotions have led me to see so much beauty in the daily things and I don’t want to lose that in the midst of Christmas hurry. I want these holiday moments to be more vivid, more full of life and joy. I want them to be moments that make me smile when all is said and done.

No holiday hangover for me this year. And you can choose the same. Join me in drawing a line, leaving room for joy, and savoring this Advent season!

What will you + your family do or NOT do in order to avoid the holiday stress hangover this year?

 

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Sharing Music for the Holidays! (Giveaway)

This post is part of the #ShareTheHolidays campaign with Omaha Performing Arts. I received two free show tickets. All opinions are 100% my own!

Nothing gets me in the mood for the holidays more than music. Once Thanksgiving is over, Christmas music is playing in our home 24/7. As a music teacher, I made it my personal mission to make sure all my students knew just about every classic Christmas song under the sun. Now I do the same with our children and I even made a printable for families to use for learning a Christmas song per day during December!

The Christmas music lover in me is THRILLED with the holiday lineup from Omaha Performing Arts this year! Just take a look at this amazing schedule:

  • The Brian Setzer Orchestra 12th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour – Sunday, November 15, at 7:00 PM, Orpheum Theater, Slosburg Hall.
  • Vienna Boys Choir – Christmas in Vienna – Thursday, November 19, at 7:30 PM, Holland Performing Arts Center, Kiewit Concert Hall.
  • Cyrus Chestnut Trio – A Jazzy Christmas Wednesday – December 2, at 7:30 PM, Holland Center, Scott Recital Hall (1200 Club performance – a night club setting).
  • A Celtic Tenors Christmas – Wednesday, December 2, at 7:30 PM, Holland Performing Arts Center, Kiewit Concert Hall. 
  • Michael McDonald – This Christmas, An Evening of Holiday & Hits – Friday, December 4, 8:00 PM, Holland Center, Kiewit Hall.
  • Joyful Noise – A Gospel Christmas featuring Salem Baptist Church – Sunday, December 6, 4:00 PM & 7:00 PM, Holland Center, Kiewit Hall.

Yes, please. To all of the above!

To go along with these wonderful holiday events, the Shine the Light on Hunger campaign runs November 1 through December 31 at several Omaha venues, including the Orpheum Theater and Holland Center. People attending concerts at these locations can bring non-perishable food items, which will benefit the Food Bank for the Heartland!

BSO_ChristmasAdmat_Everywhere

The Hubby and I will be heading to see the Brian Setzer Orchestra 12th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour next weekend! I can’t wait to hear his take on holiday music and I can’t wait for a date night with The Hubby! I think this calls for a fun holiday dress, right?!

We would love to have you join us for the Brian Setzer Orchestra on Sunday, November 15th, so we’re giving away two tickets! Just leave a comment with your favorite Christmas song and I’ll pick a winner this Sunday evening at 9PM CST!

Which of these shows would you most love to see?

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The One Thing I’m Praying for This Christmas

I can see it there, through the to-do lists, the hustle and bustle of the season. I get glimpses of it when we all slow down enough to laugh or pray. I want more of it in every season of life, but especially now, it’s the one thing I’m praying for this Christmas.

JOY.

I know the joy I need – the unwavering, not-dependent-on-circumstances kind – comes only from Jesus. It’s why I spend every morning with Him, asking Him to fill me up so that I might overflow to those around me. But I also know that my human nature can so easily be swayed by children who won’t obey or projects that take longer than they should or one more unexpected expense. I need Jesus to fill me up with His joy, but then I need to do something joyful to carry it with me. Real, tangible joy moments in the midst of work, and yes, sometimes chaos.

My search for those real joy moments this week has had ebbs and flows, but as I look back through my photos, I see His fingerprints all over it. He is answering my prayer for joy this Christmas exactly as this visual learner needs it.

This week, joy looked like…

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A secret shopping mission with my two big boys…

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A peaceful family Friday night at home…IMG_4834 IMG_4836

A day of Christmas baking…

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A magical date night with The Hubby…

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And a super fun Ugly Sweater Run with sweet friends!

Joy in the small, the silly, the ordinary moments – He is so faithful.

Friends, He wants to answer your prayer this Christmas as well. And I would love to pray for you. What is that one thing you’re praying for this Christmas? How do you need God to show up in your life as we celebrate Him showing up on earth to save us all? Yes, He does care that much – about you, about me, about our needs and desires.

Leave a comment below or email me at homewiththeboys at gmail dot com with your prayer request – it would be a joy to lift you up in prayer today!

 

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Ugly Sweater Run Giveaway!

I was given free entries to this run in exchange for sharing with you. I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions are 100% my own.

I love a good race for the motivation and community it offers, but themed races are extra fun, so I’m really excited about the Ugly Sweater Run coming to Omaha soon!

Sea of hats

The Omaha Ugly Sweater Run is Sunday, December 14th at 11:00 am and it is the perfect mix of fitness and fun this holiday season! The 5K run will start in downtown Omaha and end with free hot chocolate!

Selfie Elf

This is a great family event – inflatables, photo booths, snow blowers, and holiday music at the start and everyone decked out in the tackiest Christmas sweaters they can find! Lots of parents and children participate together and children under five can participate for free!

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Each Ugly Sweater runner receives a custom vintage knit hat, a drawstring bag, unlimited hot chocolate, and more!

I’ll be running and I want you to join me there, so I’m giving away FOUR free entries today! Just leave a comment below telling me your favorite Christmas movie to be entered!

The giveaway ends Friday, December 5th at 9:00 p.m. CST and the winners will be picked randomly and notified by email on Saturday! Please enter only if you are able to participate in the run in Omaha on December 14th!

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Free Christmas Music from Amazon Prime!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

I had a life-changing revelation this week: having an Amazon Prime membership gives you access to TONS of free music, and that includes Christmas music!

I’ve had my Amazon Prime membership for several months now and have greatly enjoyed the free two-day shipping, but I hadn’t really explored the other benefits. Free music is a huge advantage to our family of music lovers!

There are literally hundreds of Christmas albums available to Prime members for NOTHING. These albums can be added to your library and played from the Amazon Music Cloud Player or downloaded as MP3s. I’ve been playing through the Cloud Player on my laptop and the Amazon Music app – super easy to use!

FreeChristmasmusic fromAmazon Prime

So, I bet you’re wondering what Christmas music I found that I’m so excited about, right? Here are some of my favorites I added to my library:

And these albums are new to me, but I can’t wait to listen to them:

There are SO many more, and you can find them by going to the Digital Music page of Amazon and clicking on “Holiday Albums Free with Prime” in the sidebar! Or just click here to go right to the free Prime Holiday Music page!

What if you don’t have Amazon Prime? Well, I have two solutions to that dilemma:

  1. Ask for a Prime membership for Christmas. Seriously.
  2. Get your 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime and experience the awesome for yourself before you decide to join!

After you’re done checking out all the free Christmas music, you can browse all the free Prime music, where I find lots more albums to enjoy!

And if you want to get your kids involved in the Christmas music fun, grab one of my free 25 Songs of Christmas printables and sing a new song with them each day!

 

Did you find any of your favorite Christmas albums in the free Amazon Prime music?

 

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Love Came Down

Love came down at Christmas for you and for me. Hallelujah!

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Four Christmases: Part One

Yep, you read that right! We’re having four different Christmases this year! Such is the life of a doctor’s family who has to be on home call for seven straight days over the holidays – things will be a little spread out!

We spent our first Christmas with  The Hubby’s family this past weekend. It was full of yummy meals, a carousel ride, ice skating, opening presents, and lots of great family time!

The boys were a little apprehensive about ice skating at first, but by the end Big J was saying, “Look Ma! No hands!” and Little J was acting pretty fearless as well!

Christmas 2013 Part 1i

Christmas 2013 Part 1j

Christmas 2013 Part 1m

Christmas 2013 Part 1f

Christmas 2013 Part 1c

Christmas 2013 Part 1g

Christmas 2013 Part 1h
Christmas 2013 Part 1k

Christmas 2013 Part 1n

Gma Gpa Skating Rink

Christmas 2013 Part 1a

Christmas 2013 Part 1b

Christmas 2013 Part 1l

Um, when did those three boys get so big? They just look too old in this picture. Too old.

Our next Christmas isn’t until Christmas Day, so this week we’re finishing up school and baking away to send treats with The Hubby to work! We all know I can’t bake and keep those things in the house without going into a sugar coma…

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O Holy Night Free Chalkboard Printables!

O Holy Night is my most favorite Christmas song of all time. I love lots of other ones – Sleigh Ride, Carol of the Bells, Silent Night – but O Holy Night is at the very top of my list.

This year I just had to have some O Holy Night in our holiday decor, so I made up a few chalkboard printables to frame. I think I could make ten more because I love so many lyrics from the song!

These three will have to do for now! If you’d like to print them for yourself, just click on each image to get an 8×10 PDF to download!

O Holy Night Stars Small

O Holy Night Love Small

O Holy Night Truly Small

What is your favorite Christmas song?

*Free rustic graphics courtesy of We Lived Happily Ever After

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10 {More} Favorite Christmas Albums!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

It’s been a while since I posted about my favorite Christmas albums! Three years to be exact. And while those albums are all still favorites of mine, being a Christmas music fanatic, I’ve added many new favorites to the list as well!

Here are ten MORE favorite Christmas albums, in no particular order…

More Favorite Christmas Albums

Pentatonix – PTXMAS

This is a new discovery for us. Along with everyone else on the Internet, we fell in love with their a cappella version of Little Drummer Boy and I immediately wanted the whole album. I’m a sucker for a capella.

Casting Crowns – Peace on Earth

I love their versions of Christmas classics, but the real winners on this album are the original songs, Peace on Earth and While You Were Sleeping.

Chris Tomlin – Glory in the Highest

Well, our household loves anything Chris Tomlin does and this album is no exception. Just beautiful. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus is a special treat.

Third Day – Christmas Offerings

I have to admit, I wasn’t a big Third Day fan until we saw them in concert at Lifelight several years ago. Now I just love them. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is a favorite.

A Very She & Him Christmas

Please tell me you know about this album?!?! I love Zooey Deschanel’s voice and this album is full of just plain fun Christmas music!

A Slugs and Bugs Christmas

This is a MUST HAVE for the kids, but I enjoy it as well! Happy Birthday Jesus is the most fun {replacing the song of the same name I have never cared for} and there are so many other fun ones your whole family will love!

BarlowGirl – Home for Christmas

These girls know how to rock, but they also put out a great Christmas album! Love their voices and

WOW Christmas {2013}

This is at the top of my want list right now! The WOW Christmas albums are always packed with lots of Christmas goodies!

Glee Christmas {Volume 2 + Volume 3}

Just like Volume 1, Glee continues to produce fabulous Christmas music on volumes 2 and 3! I can’t wait for volume 4 to be revealed this week!

Elf Soundtrack

Did you know Elf has been out for 10 years now?! I love all Christmas movies {currently addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies}, but Elf has taken my #1 favorite spot and the great music is one of the reasons why.

And I have to add one favorite song that will totally brighten your day…

Your turn! Favorite Christmas albums? New or classic?

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