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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Getting Ready with All Things Christmas!

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 know, I know, we’re not officially past Thanksgiving yet, but the countdown to Christmas is getting so close, so I wanted to point you towards a few of our favorite Christmas items so you can get them now!

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1. Truth in the Tinsel

This will be our third year going through Amanda White’s Truth in the Tinsel for Advent. It is such a simple, but powerful way to get children excited about the birth of Jesus. We’ve done the ornaments crafts included in the ebook which are SO cute. We’ve done the printable ornaments that are perfect for when you are short on time. And we’ve also done the Lego version suggested by Stef Layton which really captured the older boys’ attention! It really can be adaptable for lots of ages! When you use the code theboys at checkout, you can get 20% off your ebook purchase! {only good for a discount on the ebook, not ornaments or curriculum}

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2. Winter Brick Activities

Speaking of Stef Layton and Legos, the biggest hit at our house these days has been the brick activities ebooks put together by Stef and her oldest son! We loved Fall Brick Activities, and now Winter Brick Activities is available for a whole lot of indoor fun! And, in the spirit of giving, 50% of the proceeds will be donated to Samaritan’s Purse Clean Water Programs! The Fall Brick Activities ebook is only 99¢ right now, and when you use the code BeMerry at checkout, you can get $1 off Winter Brick Activities, making it only $3.99! That’s two brick activity ebooks for only $4.98!

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3. 25 Songs of Christmas free printables

I LOVE Christmas music, so a few years ago I started teaching the boys a new Christmas song every day for the 25 days of December leading up to Christmas. It was so fun, so I thought I would share it with all of you with a free printables! I posted these last year, but this is just your friendly reminder to print them out now so you’re ready for December 1st! I made three different versions: sacred songs only, secular songs only, and a mixture of sacred + secular! I hope your family enjoys them as much as we do! {click on the links above to download the one or two or three you want to save and print}

We’ll be directing our home for Christmas Thursday afternoon and Friday as per family tradition and I. CAN’T. WAIT. It really is a magical {but short} time of year!

How are you getting ready for Christmas?

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Jesus Storybook Bible: Advent, Curriculum, Collector’s Edition, and More!

It’s definitely the favorite story Bible in our house. There’s no contest in that catergory.

I even hesitate to call the Jesus Storybook Bible a “children’s Bible” because it has been just as powerful for me as it has been for the boys!

The way every single story points to Jesus is just what we want our children to learn. And to live. Everything we do should point to Jesus. I feel like this Bible brings a new level of understanding of the Good News of the Gospel to all who read it.

I first wrote about the Jesus Storybook Bible two years ago after I learned about it at the Relevant Conference and then found an Advent reading plan using it. The reading of the first 24 stories in this Bible at bedtime during Advent has become one of my favorite family Christmas traditions.

I’ve put together this free printable for you to use if you are following the Jesus Storybook Bible Advent reading plan! You can print it out as one sheet and hang it somewhere, or cut apart each day {tiny strips – sorry about that!} and place them in/on your Advent calendar! Click on the image below to download and print this plan!

I’ve also found many more reasons to love the Jesus Storybook Bible since then…

There are several different editions which make great gift ideas in several different price ranges and packages!

The Jesus Storybook Bible original hardcover edition was what got us started. It is wonderful just as it is.

The Read-Aloud Edition is similar to the original, but larger overall, including bigger pictures – great for reading to groups or even your own children!


The newest edition is the Collector’s Edition

Just when I thought the Jesus Storybook Bible couldn’t get any better, this bundle came about and I swooned when I opened the package.

Included in the Collector’s Edition are the original Jesus Storybook Bible, three audio CDs with each of the 44 stories narrated by David Suchet, AND an animated DVD with every story! We can use this SO many ways!

Zondervan also just released a leather-bound edition that is gorgeous. What a beautiful gift or keepsake for a loved one!

Now, for those of you who teach Sunday School or homeschool or want to use the Jesus Storybook Bible for teaching in some format, I must recommend to you the Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum Kit.

I am just blown away by the work that was put into this Bible curriculum for early to middle elementary age children. The 44 lessons are creative and well-planned, the activities are fun AND educational, and the introduction and instruction for teachers are very helpful! Included in the kit are:

  • 1 DVD-ROM containing 44 printable lessons (both teacher material and student handouts)
  • 44 bonus animated videos, promotional materials, as well as instructions for implementing the curriculum
  • 1 hardcover The Jesus Storybook Bible
  • 3 audio CDs containing David Suchet’s recording of The Jesus Storybook Bible

I will be using many of the lessons from this curriculum as part of our Advent study this year! We’ll be learning more about the Old Testament, prophecy, prayer, and so much more!

If you don’t own a Jesus Storybook Bible for your family yet, I highly recommend adding it this year! And join us in reading through it this Advent season!

 

*I received these products to review from Zondervan. I was not compensated in any way for this review, and all opinions are 100% my own.

**This post contains affiliate links.

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What’s in the Bible? Does Advent! {And It’s On Sale!}

Last year, What’s in the Bible? debuted their wonderful Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD. It is full of great information about so many Christmas traditions and symbols – the boys and I watched it many times through the holiday season and learned so much. And we laughed. Because these guys are hilarious.

This year, Phil and the gang have put together another amazing resource, Everyday Emmanuel


 

 

What is Everyday Emmanuel? It’s a fun, easy-to-use family Christmas Countdown experience designed to help families make the most of Christmas and better understand the true meaning of the season. Our prayer is that Everyday Emmanuel will allow your family to spend intentional time together celebrating old and new traditions. Everyday Emmanuel makes it easy for your family to explore the meaning of Advent and offers you the opportunity to add a deeper spiritual meaning to the season by understanding how many of today’s traditions point directly back to Jesus – that indeed God is With Us (Emmanuel) everyday!

Available as a 68-page PDF download, Everyday Emmanuel includes all of the following:

  • Countdown to Christmas Calendar
  • Weekly Advent Devotionals & Ornament Activity
  • Weekly Big Questions About Christmas & Discussion Guide
  • Family Activity Ideas
  • Seven “print and use” activities
  • Online access to videos & additional resources
  • Helpful tips to save you time & money

I love the heart of this Advent resource. The activities included are great for families and will enhance your Advent celebration, not complicate it! We’ll be putting together our Countdown to Christmas calendar this month in preparation!

And in true What’s in the Bible? fashion, there is so much great information to learn! I know Everyday Emmanuel will be a great source of discussion with Big J this Advent season!

What’s in the Bible? is offering a great deal on their two fabulous Christmas products right now!

 

When you buy both Why Do We Call It Christmas? and Everyday Emmanuel and use the code CHRISTMAS50, you’ll get 50% off the retail price of both! That means just $14.99 for the DVD and the Advent guide! Just click on the coupon above to get started and enter the code on the last page of checkout!

This deal ends January 1, 2013, but get yours now to enjoy them for the Advent and Christmas season!

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We’ll be doing Everyday Emmanuel along with Truth in the Tinsel and the Jesus Storybook Bible this Advent.

What are your Advent plans this year? Will you be using any of these resources?

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Truth in the Tinsel – 20% off and a 12-Day Schedule!

We’ve been enjoying every minute of our walk through Advent with Truth in the Tinsel this Christmas season…

Everything about it is perfect for our family – Big J does the readings, we do the ornament crafts together, and we all discuss more about the reading of the day while we work! The boys can’t wait to get to it every day!

If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, it’s not too late!

In fact, Amanda has a special 12-day schedule just for those of you wanting to start today! When you buy your copy, you will find a link to the 12-day schedule on the download page! The book also includes ideas for 7-day and 10-day schedules as well – plenty of time to do that with your kiddos before Christmas!

And….

TODAY ONLY you can get 20% off with the code 12DAYS! That makes it only $3.99!

Hurry! The code expires at midnight EST tonight! Don’t miss this sale!

Are you doing Truth in the Tinsel along with us? What do you think so far?!

 

*This post contains affiliate links.

 

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Deck the Halls!

This was one of the first years we were able to get to work decorating for the happiest of holidays the very next day after Thanksgiving! Last year, the stomach bug prevented it. In years past, we’ve been travelling.

But this year, we were home and healthy and I couldn’t have been happier!

Oh wait, yes I could – the Huskers were playing football while we decorated. BONUS!

And we had some happy helpers this year…

Big J was eager to help Daddy move boxes in from the attic!

The much beloved Charlie Brown Christmas characters made their return. {Linus reciting the Christmas story is one of my favorite things in any Christmas movie!}

The boys supervising Daddy’s work 🙂

A mischievous look, but a good little helper!

And then it was ornament time! These little hands were itching to hang up ornaments!

They did such a nice job {with a little help at the top from us} and we were able to relax with a beautifully decorated tree for the rest of the day…

It is such a delight to have these handsome men helping out and SO excited for Christmas!

24 days…let the countdown begin!

Have you started decorating yet?!

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Ooh! And we’re starting Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands today! I’m not sure who is more excited – the kids or me! Have you checked it out yet?! {You can read my review here!}

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And you should know, from here on out, I’ll be bragging on these boys of ours every Thursday and joining the “Let’s Hear It For the Boys” link up at The MOB Society! If you have boys, head on over there to share your own post about just how awesome your boys are! We’re rejoicing together in the blessings of raising boys!

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Truth in the Tinsel: Advent 2011

Last year I was introduced to the idea of using The Jesus Storybook Bible throughout Advent. Each Old Testament story points directly to the coming of Jesus. Starting December 1st, we would read one story each night and with each reading, the excitement for Jesus’s birthday grew in all of our hearts.

It was exactly what I was hoping for and we will most definitely be using The Jesus Storybook Bible for bedtime devotions throughout Advent again this year.

But we like to do fun, hands-on projects each day of Advent as well. We’ve enjoyed the Advent calendar we used the past two years, but I felt like a change was needed. I just wasn’t sure what else to use that would be appropriate for a three-year-old and five-year-old.

And wouldn’t you know, the exact thing I was looking for fell into my lap.

Impress Your Kids is one of the BEST blogs out there for activities to do with young children that will help impress the Word of God on their little hearts. The genius behind IYK, Amanda, is also the woman behind Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands.

After one look through this brand new ebook, I had no doubt it would be the hands-on part of our Advent calendar this year. Each day involves reading a portion of the Christmas story from the Bible and making an adorable ornament craft to go with the story.

But there is much more than that…

I try to leverage this Jesus-centered month by helping my kids meditate on and learn the real story of Jesus’ birth.

First of all, getting little ones to sit still and actually LISTEN, even for a short story, can be a challenge. Truth in the Tinsel includes word clues for each day – the kiddos can either take the clue from your Advent calendar or off a paper chain and then listen for that clue in the story! Brilliant!

Secondly, the ornament-making is not only a fun, meaningful way to decorate your tree, it also provides an opportunity for you to talk more with the munchkins about the story of the day. And wouldn’t you know? Truth in the Tinsel provides a “Talk About It” section for each day to help guide the conversation!

This is an adventure for families to learn the story together. It’s an experience with the greatest story every written and the greatest gift ever given—God’s own Son, Jesus the Christ!

A few more features that make this ebook everything I could have hoped for for Advent…

*A full supply list – One page listing ALL of the supplies you will need for all 24 days of activities. So handy for shopping ahead!

*A daily supply list –  This page makes it easy for you to plan ahead and gather your supplies for the next day. We all know kids do NOT like to wait!

*Step-by-step instructions WITH pictures & templates – I really appreciate pictures that show me EXACTLY what to do and templates I don’t have to create myself 🙂

*Ideas for doing more together each day – The story and craft for each day should take less than 30 minutes, but you can take it further with ideas in the “Do More Together” section for that lesson!

*Alternate schedules – This is where many of you will want to give Amanda a great big hug. Activities for ALL 24 days of December can sometimes be too much. Truth in the Tinsel offers ideas for scheduling if you only want to do six, seven, or ten days of lessons. It doesn’t HAVE to be done 24 days straight to mean something to your children!

I’m giddy with excitement over this book! I cannot wait until December 1st arrives, the boys pull the first word clue out of the Advent calendar and we begin our journey toward the birth of Jesus.

And I am very excited to tell you how you can get this book for yourself!

This 45-page ebook is well worth the low price of $4.99! I think you will want to use it every year – and your kids will want to do it every year!

Please do NOT miss this ebook! And to connect with other families taking the Truth in the Tinsel challenge, “like” the Facebook page and tweet with the hashtag #truthtinsel!

And a GREAT BIG CONGRATS to my dear friend Amanda on this amazing ebook – I know many families will be blessed by it! You rock, girl!

{Now go buy the ebook!}

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