Homeschool Student Planners

One thing I implemented this year in our homeschool that has helped tremendously is the use of personal planners for each child. Originally, I had planned for only the older three to use the planners, but my Kindergartener has begged to get in on the system, as well. So he has a modified version, as well. I will absolutely continue this because it has worked so beautifully in helping my kids be more independent and responsible for their own schooling.  


I fill them out on a week by week basis. I look at my calendar and decide how heavy of a work week they are going to have. For example, my daughter does Meals on Wheels with The Pastor every other Monday. She has light work loads those days to accommodate her volunteer activities. They also volunteer once a month at a local Children’s Home, so those that are helping with that will be given a slightly lighter work load that day, as well. I find that looking at only a week at a time lets me set very reasonable expectations and they are able to achieve what is planned out for them. Planning further in advance always leads to me over planning and then they feel like they failed when they just can’t get it all done. I want them to succeed, so I make every opportunity for them to do so.


For each day of the week, I write a checklist in their planner. Several of the items are group activities, several are independent activities. I have to guide them a little more when introducing a new curriculum, but once they get the hang of something, they can really take over themselves. We do Bible, history, Science, and geography as a group. I actually have two groups running in my house right now. I have the older grammar school kids and the Kindergarteners. My Kindergarteners do Bible, Reading, and Phonics together. They have very little independent work, so I plan for that. 

I use the weekend spots to write in a weekly checklist. Now, I have been doing chores here, but if we had more computers and I didn’t have to schedule out their computer time so much, I would add much of their daily work into a weekly list. I don’t necessarily care when it is done, as long as they are doing the work. A weekly list would allow for more flexibility for them, but is really impossible with our current computer situation. (I have 4 kids sharing 1 computer.) Right now, I add their chores onto that list with the boxes for the number of times I expect them to do that chore. The chores rotate based on the week’s schedule and the season. They also rotate depending on the attitude of the kid or what they have been doing lately. (Boys that keep having “accidents” on the floor around the toilet get the chore of cleaning the bathroom floors and toilets.)


I have also been keeping their attendance in their own planners. I simply highlight the days on the monthly view that they had school. Yes, this means that I am keeping up with it in multiple places, but it has given them a sense of accomplishment and they can look and see when they had a heavy month and when they had a light month. Next year, I plan to get better planners to be able to expand this system. Right now, I just have the small, cheap, student planners from WalMart, and while they serve our purposes, they are small and there is more I think I could do with this system. (Keeping a log of books to read or books read, keeping a log of people they write letters to with addresses, habit tracking for them, etc.) A bullet journal might work well, but I think the planner format is easier for them to understand. I’m using a bullet journal style for my oldest Kindergartener right now. The simplicity is working for him, but I don’t have much to put in for him.

I’m really glad I decided to give this a try. I wasn’t too sure at first it would be something worth sticking to. Filling out 4 planners at the beginning of each week doesn’t sound like an easy task. But it really doesn’t take too much time. Just half an hour or so each Sunday looking at the week and plugging in their lists. And the time I save in their being independent is so much more. Emery (7) quickly saw how he could check off all his independent work before we even started school in the morning. He is routinely done with school before noon. Imogene (10) dawdles more and as a result, she is usually “doing school” until 4 or 5. She doesn’t complain about it, she can see what she needs to do. She just prefers a relaxed paced and is okay with it taking longer. And in the end, both of those approaches are fine. They are both learning and progressing and getting their work done. And they are happier having the freedom to do things their way in their time.

Epiphany Family Devotion

We celebrate Christmas for 12 days and then comes this day we call Ephipany. Some people call it Three Kings Day. We tend to think of the kings, be they three or not, and think about the gifts they brought Jesus. They brought significant gifts, as we will read. But the gifts aren’t exactly what we are celebrating on this day.  

Read Matthew 2:1-12

We aren’t sure where the kings were from, simply that they were from the east. These were not Jewish men. They were Gentiles, simply meaning, they were from outside Israel. These wise men followed a star to Jesus. We don’t know exactly when they came. We don’t know their names. We just know they heard a prophesy, saw a star, and came to Jesus with gifts.

Now, the gifts themselves were significant. Not traditional baby gifts, by any means. What kind of gifts would you give a baby? (Pause for discussion.) The wise men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What strange gifts. Gold for a king. Frankincense for a priest. Myrrh for a dead man. But the gifts aren’t what is important here. What they reveal about the giver is what we celebrate on Epiphany.

Epiphany is defined as being a moment of sudden revelation or insight. It is from a Greek word that means Reveal. At Epiphany, we see Jesus being revealed to people outside of Israel. Epiphany is about Jesus being revealed to the Gentiles, the world. He isn’t just going to be the king, priest, and savior of Israel. He is going to be king, priest,, and savior of all men. The gifts given reveal to us that the Kings, the Wise Men, knew who Jesus was and that He had come to save mankind, not just the nation of Israel.

So, today, we celebrate! Not only has Jesus been born, He has been revealed to the whole world. Not only did Jesus come to save His own people, the people of Israel, He came to save all mankind. He came as a King, Priest, and Savior for the whole world! Rejoice!

Ask LJ- Reviewer Questions

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I get asked a lot of questions about reviewing. I figured I would answer them all in Ask LJ style for you.

LJ,

How did you get started as a reviewer?

Wanting To Begin

Wanting To Begin,

This is an easy one! I rely really heavily on reviews when I shop. I don’t want the advertisement junk or sales people pitches. I don’t care about all that. I want reviews. What did real people think about the product? That is where the good info is. Since I rely so heavily on reviews, I started feeling like it was my duty to review the things I tried, good or bad, to help others when they were looking to make a purchase. So, I started reviewing everything I bought. I started reviewing mostly on Amazon, because that is where I made the majority of my online purchases. I then started reviewing books on Goodreads. Basically, anywhere I could. I do post some reviews here on my blog. Some get pic reviews on Instagram. But really, I just started reviewing the things I was buying anyway. I didn’t buy things just to review them. I didn’t overspend trying to get enough “good stuff” to review. Just reviewed the things I bought and used.

LJ

Dearest LJ,

I want free stuff. How do I get free stuff to “review”?

Make It Worth It

Make It Worth It,

This is the most often asked question. Honestly, the answer is that I don’t know. This reviewing thing just kind of landed in my lap. I didn’t really seek it out, so I don’t know how someone seeking it out would go about it. For me, I wrote reviews because I like reviews. I did that for years before I was sent my first item free for review. It started with books. Advanced Reading Copies that I read quickly and reviewed promptly. Then it branched out into other stuff. I also have quite a span of kids here, so reviewing some things is easier here because many ages can try the same thing in the same environment. If you dislike writing and don’t personally see value in reviews, this probably isn’t for you and that is okay.

LJ

LJ,

What is the craziest thing you have ever reviewed?

Curiosity Killed The Cat

Curious Kitty,

I think reviewing vitamins felt the weirdest. I know that seems strange, but it feels a little like being a human guinea pig. I also reviewed a slew of ovulation tests and pregnancy tests. Reviewing things you pee on is a little strange. Underwear. But honestly, those are the things you WANT reviews on! As far as just, weirdest, I guess that would be… I don’t know. There are literally years worth of options. Weird rug that felt like a wet cat, home microderm abrasion machine that felt like I was sanding and vacuuming my skin at the same time, knives that The Pastor then cut the tip of his finger off with, a clarinet, a faucet, a loveseat- maybe I should just say they were unusual.

LJ

Dear LJ,

Reviewing seems like it’d be the best! Are there any bad parts?

Certainly Only Good

Dear Certainly,

It isn’t only good. It takes a lot of time. There are times I have to extremely limit what I will review because I know I am just too busy. I can only review so many books at a time. I have read so many bad books. Books that make me think, do they really just publish any old thing these days? So much time spent on bad books. And mediocre books. I mean, with so much wonderful literature in the world, and only so many pages that can be read in a lifetime, and I have voluntarily spent many of those on horrible or “eh” books. Really, it is sad.

And then there is having to write negative reviews. I don’t like that. But I feel obligated to honest reviews, so negative reviews are inevitable.

Time lines. When you are reviewing for fun, because you love reviews, and you are reviewing what you want, you can have whatever timeline you want. You can use it for 3 months, then review it once you really see what you think. But with most reviews that are given to you, they have a tighter timeline. And that isn’t always long enough to maybe test the product as much as you’d like. The ability to edit reviews does help this a bit, since I can go back after 3, 6, or 12 months or whatever and add to or change my initial review. Some timelines are even tighter. I, no joke, had a supplement company request a review in 3 days. 3 days for a supplement that literally would take 3-6 months to really give any information beyond what the bottle looked like.

And then you have the issue of stuff. Stuff accumulates. A person can only own so many vacuums. Some of my agreements state that I have to keep it or destroy it. Some say I have to keep it for a certain amount of time. Some don’t care who I pass it off to when I am done, I guess thinking maybe they’ll get a second bonus review from the product. But you accumulate stuff. And that stuff has to be dealt with in some way or another. And I have to remember which things have to be dealt with in which ways. Then you have the times when you try the thing, abuse the thing a little, and then the company wants the thing back because it broke or in some way performed in a way they didn’t expect. Then you have to get the thing out of your stuff storage system and send it back. It just all takes time and organization.

LJ

Hey LJ,

Do you make money on reviewing?

The Question Everyone Wants To Know

Everyone,

As much as The Pastor wishes that reviews generated income, they do not. My reviews do not pay a dime. In fact, the reviewed items themselves are now considered income by the IRS. So, really this could only cost me money at this point. I also never generate an affiliate link for items I received for review. (I do provide affiliate links for items I paid my money for. Affiliate links give me a few cents or whatever if a reader uses them to purchase something. So, if you want to support your favorite blogger, use their affiliate links!) So, no, this is not a lucrative hobby. More of a barter system type transaction. Again, I do this because I love reviews. I am a big fan of giving my opinion.

LJ

Dear LJ,

What is the best part of reviewing? Why do you like it so much? It seems like a lot of trouble.

Tell Me Why

Tell Me Why,

First, I value reviews when I buy something, so I like to think that I am helping build that type of consumer community where we all share our honest experiences in order to make things easier and better.

Second, I like to write and it gives me an outlet. Clearly, I do so in other ways, but in my early reviewing days, this and mom forums were where I did the majority of my writing. And mom forums are awful. So, reviewing it is.

Third, it really pushes me out of my comfort zone. I never would have tried paddle boarding if I hadn’t been sent a paddle board for review. I never would have cooked soup for weeks straight and found some amazing recipes had I not been sent a soup cookbook to review. Every review gives me the opportunity to experience and try something new. In the world of reviewing for free items, that often means trying things I might not have otherwise tried.

Fourth, I like giving my opinion. I like the satisfaction of being heard. I mean, I don’t necessarily think companies use my reviews to make their products better. But they could. And that is enough for me.

LJ

LJ,

What kind of products do you review?

What, What, What, What

What,

I really review anything I use. I started with books and baby items, since that is what I used most. It extended to toys, since I have kids from 19 months -10 years old. Household items were added to the mix. Clothes. Shoes. Soap. Vitamins. Electronics. Makeup. Beauty Products. Really, there isn’t much I won’t review. I’m more selective these days about what I will review, since there is only so much time to review things. But really, I review it all.

LJ

Dear LJ,

How do you write a good review?

Assist

Assist,

You write your experience. Really, that is about it. Do you like it? Do you hate it? What bothered you? How could it be better? What was particularly enjoyable about it? You’re just giving your opinion on the item in your hand.

I do take price point into consideration. I do take my expectations into consideration. I do take the opinions of my family into consideration. (An example of that would be a Korean lip peel that I hated but my 10 year old daughter loved. I would have rated it terribly, but she liked it, so I saw it did have some appeal and use to her age group.)

I find long reviews too cumbersome to get through. For book reviews, I don’t want the back of the book jacket when I am reading the reviews. I don’t need the entire plot.

My new favorite feature is pictures. I want pictures of the item from real people, not the professionally taken and photo shopped pictures. Real pictures. Even phone pictures. In fact, using your phone for reviews with pictures is the easiest in the world to do.

LJ

Let’s Talk About Ovulation Tests

Having struggled with infertility, I became one of those crazy pee stick ladies. Not just pregnancy tests! Oh no. Ovulation tests, as well. So, when I had the opportunity to test out a slew of Clear Blue Easy ovulation tests, I was super stoked. If you aren’t aware yet, this post is going to venture way over into the TMI territory. You have my full permission to stop reading now if you aren’t into that sort of thing.

Now, for my family and friends, I have to say that this does not mean we are trying to conceive the seventh. I find tracking my cycles to be helpful, no matter what stage of life we are in. My cycles are on the irregular side, so knowing when I ovulate helps me predict when I can expect my cycle so I’m not caught off guard like a sixth grade girl in gym class.

So, for the past three months, I have been testing various ovulation tests. First, I tried out the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor. It is the coveted doodad among the TTC crowd. I have always wanted to try one, but never really could convince myself about the price tag. (Currently $103.69 on Amazon!) (This is NOT an affiliate link.)

cbemonitor

This monitor tells you if your fertility is low, high, or peak. It says low when no surges are detected. It says high when it detects an upswing in your estrogen. And then it tells you peak when it detects the LH surge. Most ovulation tests only test for LH. Since this tests for estrogen, it can tell you that your ovulation day is coming long before the LH surge, which only happens the day (ish) before ovulation. You are most fertile before and during ovulation.

You set up the monitor between days 1 and 4 of your cycle. Buy it on day 6? Too bad! You have to wait until next month (or lie to the computer). It tells you when to test. It may ask you to start testing too soon for a long cycle and you’ll use a lot of unnecessary sticks. It only lets you test once a day in the morning. If it does not ask you to test, you cannot test. It is completely in charge of the tests. So, for me, it tells me to start taking tests on cycle day 6. I obey. On cycle day 13, it gives me a “high” reading. On cycle day 18 and 19, I get a “peak” reading after 5 days of “high” readings. It has me continue testing through cycle day 21. So, that is 16 tests for one month that I needed. You can disobey and not take a test when it tells you to. But you cannot take a test when it doesn’t tell you to. The actual test strips were completely indecipherable to me. From looking at them, I couldn’t tell what the reading should have been. The first day of “high” looked just like the day before of “low”. I couldn’t really track the progress with my eyeballs, only the computer knew. For these reasons, this was actually my LEAST FAVORITE ovulation test I tried. It just took too much of the science out of my hands, which probably appeals to most people, but not to me. However, I can see how it takes so much of the guesswork and the pressure off you as you go through your cycle. So people new to tracking their cycles this way or just tired of staring at lines and thinking about when to test will find this extremely helpful.

The next test I tried was the Clear Blue Easy Advanced Ovulation Test. (Again, I got this item free to review. That link IS NOT an affiliate link.) This one was new to me and I honestly didn’t even know it existed.

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So, with this one, you have a handle that comes in a box with 20 sticks. The sticks look super similar to the Fertility Monitor sticks, but they are not, in fact, the same. Believe me, I tried to use them interchangeably, just to see what would happen. It didn’t work.

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You put the stick into the handle. It only fits one way with the arrows lining up for you. You pee on the absorbent end (or dip it in a cup of pee). The little stick symbol flashes. A few minutes later, it either has a blank circle for “low”, a flashing smiley for “high”, or a solid smiley for “peak”. It does essentially the same as the Fertility Monitor. Measures your estrogen and LH, giving you a much better idea of those fertile days BEFORE you ovulate. Now, looking at these, I can see peak and not peak. I can’t with my eye detect the high reading. I like these MUCH better than the monitor. For one, they are much more affordable. ($35.98 for a 20 pack and the handle right now on Amazon.) For another, they are smart, but not TOO smart. You can still test whenever you want, however you want. It doesn’t record anything for you. I’m currently on month two with the handle and the battery is still fine. So, if you are wanting to go the super fancy digital route, this would be my recommendation. I just like the control so much better. Now, this is still not my favorite. But it is better than the Monitor, in my opinion.

The third ovulation test I tried was the Clear Blue Easy Digital Ovulation Test. (I received these free to review, so again, this is NOT an affiliate link.) Again, you have a handle that is reusable with test sticks that you change out. It came with one handle and 20 test sticks.

wp-1481390724840.jpg(The pink one is the regular digital. The purple is the advanced digital.) Your confused right now, aren’t you? Don’t be. This one ONLY measures LH. You get a smiley or an empty circle. A simple yes or no. Now, the LH surge happens about a day before you ovulate. So, this is giving you a much smaller window. You only see the surge, much like a traditional OPK.

wp-1481390710814.jpgThe test packs color corresponds to the test stick. Purple are advanced. Pink are regular. (And the third is my internet cheapie pack.) I can actually visually confirm the results on this particular test. You see the result digitally. You see the result on the stick in the way you are used to. Kind of a best of both worlds kind of scenario. Price wise, they are currently the same as the Advanced on Amazon, so I am not sure why you’d go with the digital over the advanced digital UNLESS you are one of those people who gets a “high” reading for like, 10 days of the month. That would be annoying. My first cycle with the Advanced, I got 5 days of “high” before seeing “peak”. My second cycle, I got one day of “high” before seeing “peak”. I like these. I think they are a good, quick option. You can pee on the stick or in a cup and dip. That makes them more convenient than the internet cheapie. Plus, you’re not going to get line eyes, because it reads it for you.

wp-1481390733341.jpgThese three tests are all positive OPKs. (A positive OPK is traditionally read as the test line- the first line, which is the right line on the top two and the left line on the bottom one- is as dark or darker than the control line. The top is the advanced stick which said “peak”. The middle test is a regular digital, which had a smiley face. The bottom is a cheap internet test that you use your own eyes to read.)

wp-1481390692658.jpgThat brings me to the fourth ovulation test for comparison. The internet cheapie. (That is an affiliate link, because no one gave me these. I paid a whopping $11.99 on Amazon for 50 ovulation test strips PLUS 20 pregnancy test strips.) These are what I started using when taking OPKs. (OPK stands for ovulation predictor kit, which  generally applies to any ovulation test these days.) On these, you’re using your own eyeballs and your own judgement on if the test is positive or negative. Again, positive means the test line (line closest to the pee) is as dark OR darker than the control line. You’ll see the line get progressively darker as you get closer to ovulation. I usually stop once I hit peak. But if you were to continue, you’d see them then get lighter.

wp-1481390749065.jpgI am a crazy person and keep these tests, so I can see the test progress. Also, you can see that I bust the digital sticks free from their casing to include them in my monthly record. Now, they say not to do this. So, don’t do this. But I do this. They are difficult to see, and if I were going entirely digital, I wouldn’t do this craziness. Also, the Fertility Monitor does keep track for you. And you can use any number of phone apps to keep track of the results. But I like to see the progress. I’m a crazy pee stick person. I told you that I was.

Because I am a crazy pee stick person, the internet cheapie is my favorite. I like to test ovulation twice a day, especially when I am getting closer to it. I like to see the progress of the lines. Now, for these, you do have to pee in a cup and then dip the stick into the cup. You cannot pee directly on these sticks. You’ll pee on the dye line and mess the whole thing up. I’ve done it. Don’t do it. wp-1481393241893.jpgNow, if you’re sitting there thinking, why in the world would I do this unless I am trying to conceive, maybe you want to read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. (Affiliate link. I enthusiastically recommend this book even though I do NOT agree with all it says about the topic of birth control and such. It is extremely helpful in learning to understand your body.) Tracking your monthly cycles can give you insight into your overall health. I like knowing. I am not a temperature taker. I track signs and pee sticks. You may not be that kind of person, and that is okay, too. All OPK companies will tell you not to use OPKs as a means of trying to avoid pregnancy. They’ll tell you not to use them for NFP or FAM purposes. I don’t see why not. It is just one of the many signs, so taken in context of the whole, it can be useful for that purpose, as well.

This was actually a fun experiment for me. If there was a science fair for moms, this would be mine!

Christmas Day Devotion

It is finally here! Christmas!

Today, we celebrate the Jesus was indeed born to redeem us. He has come, and He offers us life in Himself. He has come, and He offers us hope in His name.

Our rescue has arrived! Our Redeemer has come!

We lit the candles of expectation, preparation, celebration, and incarnation! Today, we light the last candle, the Christ candle. The Christ candle is traditionally white, and in the center. Our Messiah has come. He is our light. He is our source of hope. He is at the center.

Today, as we celebrate the Savior’s birth, let’s remember that He offers to us the love of the heavenly Father. He who is the delight of the eternal Father came so that we too might be adopted into His eternal family. He wants to make us sons and daughters of His Father. He loves us that much.

While the Gospel compels us to share this message with those who do not yet know it, it also compels us as people who do already realize its wonder to rejoice and shout with gladness. Christ, our Savior, is born!

Christ has indeed come, and Christ will indeed come again! That’s good news!

Scripture Reading:

        Luke 2:1-20

Optional Activities:

·        Enjoy the day!

·        Remember that today is the first day of Christmas. Check back in for personal devotions through the 12 days of Christmas leading to Epiphany.

·        Take advantage of the next 12 days to do all the Christmas things you didn’t get around to the previous weeks. It is still Christmas! Bake the cookies. Make the gingerbread houses. Do the crafts. There is still more time in this season.

Incarnation: Advent Week Four Devotion

He is almost here! Each week, we have lit a candle. We lit the candle of expectation, the candle of preparation, and the candle of celebration! This week, we light our fourth candle, the candle of Incarnation. What is Incarnation? It is the Son of God becoming flesh.

The Christian message is not one of escaping this life so that we can get a better one. The Christian hope is not that we can rid ourselves of our bodies. The Christian story is not of a God who from afar decreed that everything’s okay and we’re forgiven.

No, the Christian message, hope, and story are rooted in the fact that Christ became one of us to redeem us. He really did.

Does that stir you? It should.

The eternal Son of the triune God became a human person, a man, to rescue us. He really did enter the womb of a virgin and cloth Himself in our flesh. He really was born. Forget about what the hymn says; He really did cry when He woke up in the night when the cattle were lowing. He really did get hungry. And when he did, He also really did nurse.

Why? Because He loved you so much that He wanted to become like you so that you would love Him so much that you would want to become like Him.

As we go through this last week before Christmas, let us not let our eyes fill with the desires of this world, on the gifts and the glitter. Let us focus our attention on God made flesh dwelling among us. A baby who would rescue us all.

Scripture Reading:

        2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

        Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

        Luke 1:26-38

        Romans 16:25-27

Optional Activities:

·        Make a nativity. Draw it. Paint it. Use popsicle sticks. I’m sure Pinterest is full of ideas. Just focus on there being real people, a real stable, a real manger, real animals, and real baby Jesus there.

·        Immerse yourself and your family in the songs of the season.

·        Discuss the reality of what Mary would have been going through this week before her son, Jesus, was born. The travel. The hardship. Extend the discussion further and discuss the reality of His humanity. He was really potty trained. He really learned to walk and read and talk. He was really taught Scripture.

·        Watch a Christmas movie about Jesus. The Nativity Story is a great one that really highlights the realness of it all.

Celebration: Advent Week Three Devotion

“Why the pink candle? The rest of them have been purple.” If your Advent candles are traditional colors, you might have noticed that there are 3 purple candles, 1 pink candle, and 1 white candle. You also may be wondering why purple and pink at all. Why not red and green? Historically, purple and pink, along with white and gold, are the colors of Advent. Purple is a color that represents royalty and preparation. It is dark and serious. Pink, on the other hand, isn’t so serious. It is a color of celebration and festivity. A color of love and youth. (And if your candles aren’t purple and pink, that is okay, too.)

The first week, we lit the candle reminding us to Expect the Savior’s coming. Last week, we lit another purple candle (maybe) to remind us to Prepare for the Savior’s coming. This week, we light the pink candle (maybe) to remind us to Celebrate His coming!

The Advent of Christ is cause for celebration. Yes, we prepare ourselves. Yes, this is a serious season. Yes, we need to search ourselves for any need of repentance. However, we also recognize that our Redeemer offers us life and hope, joy and peace! He has come, and He will surely come again to put things aright.

And so, in the midst of the preparation, in the midst of our busyness, in the midst of our reflection and contemplation, we take pause and remember that Christmas is almost here and Christ’s return could be any day.

This is no call to weep and panic; this is the promise of the One who longs to put things back together. As His people, we look longingly for the return of Jesus, and we celebrate His presence in our hearts, in our lives, and in our midst.

Scripture Reading:

        Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

        Psalm 126

        John 1:6-8, 19-28

        1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Optional Activities:

·        During this week of Celebration, my family likes to do an act of kindness for our neighbors. We bake cookies, lots and lots of cookies, and we deliver them to our neighbors with our warmest wishes. Some of our neighbors know us really well. Some know us as those Christmas cookie people. We just like to spread some joy during this week. Some people might think it is weird. Some cookies may go in the trash. That doesn’t bother me at all. We are joyfully giving.

·        Have a Christmas party! You could invite some friends, or you can have it just for your family. A special meal, a special dessert, maybe even some balloons. Celebrate the Savior this week!

·        Make cards for people. Send out some cards, not necessarily Christmas cards, though you could include the kids in sending those out. But just make some cards to spread the joy and happiness of the week.

·        Have a Christmas dance party! Crank up the Christmas songs and dance and sing an evening (or afternoon) away! Joy! Joy! Joy!

·        Do something that brings you joy. You can ask each member of the family for one special Christmas thing they love and try to make that happen. Or you can take your list from week one, the expectations, and see if you can achieve any of those. Some ideas to get you started, drink hot cocoa and watch a Christmas movie, drive around and look at lights, grab a peppermint latte from a coffee shop, visit a friend or family member, drop off some toys for Toys for Tots. Just something that makes you happy.

·        Remember yourself and your spouse. Do something for you. Do something just for them. They love chess pie, though you hate it? Make a chess pie this week. You love fancy nail polish? Go get a manicure! This is a week of celebration! Not just for kids, but for adults, as well.