Wednesday, December 19, 2007

12 Days

Woah! Too cool!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ice Storm

Yesterday we were hit by a big ice storm. It has caused a lot of problems, needless to say. We were very blessed. We went 1 1/2 hours yesterday without power, and again today for the same amount of time. I know a lot of folks are still waiting for their power to come back on. The ice is melting quickly around here. These pictures were taken yesterday.

Even with the bad effects, the ice on the tree branches is extremely beautiful. I can't help just staring at it. The sound of tree branches breaking is not a lovely sound, though. I am going to research the best trees for resisting breakage, both in wind and in ice. Hubby says we will lose one for sure, perhaps two. I want to plant more in the spring or we'll be tree-less in a few years!

Gift Idea: Hot Tang Tea Mix (with labels)

My 6-year-old, Junior, is making his own Christmas presents. One of the most popular requests is Hot Tang Tea Mix. This is also called Orange Spiced Tea and Russian Tea, our family just prefers to call it Tang Tea.

This is pretty easy for a little one to measure and stir up. You don't really need exact amounts, so kids can do this without a lot of hands-on from you.

Hot Tang Tea Mix

2 c. powdered Tang
1/2 c. powdered instant tea
1/4 c. lemonade
1 1/4 c. sugar
dash salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves

Mix everything together in a large bowl. To make tea, add 2 heaping teaspoons to one cup of hot water. Adjust to taste.

Hot Tang Tea is a great drink for wintertime. If you feel a little stuffy and have a scratchy, dry throat, the combination of hot water, cloves, and the tart orange taste are just perfect.

Just for you, I have included a printable recipe and some labels for your gifts. Everyone loves it, and it looks really nice in a clear jar.

Friday, December 7, 2007

This year for Christmas, let's stop focusing on others

That sounds pretty weird, huh? That was just to get your attention, of course, but read on, and trust me that there's a good point to this.

I’ll tell you a true Christmas story, from a few years ago. I only tell it because many of you have had a similar story, so you can relate. I was working in the Physical Therapy department of a middle-sized hospital. We decided to do an outreach project one Christmas. It was easy to find someone who needed help, as you might expect, since we were at a hospital already. On the hospital campus was a small inpatient drug and alcohol rehab for women with young children. Women could check into this clinic and their children could stay with them while they were being treated. The kids were safe, fed, and cared for, but the moms were not able to get presents for their children. So we decided to “adopt” the center, providing toys and clothes for the little ones, and even a stocking of personal care items for the moms. We would throw a little party for them one day close to Christmas and just generally show them a good time.

The day of the party arrived. As many of us as could be spared went over bearing sacks of gifts, cookies, veggies and dip, and every good thing. We sang carols with the kids and everything was great. Until the gifts were passed out, that is. Our well-organized event that could have been so picturesque, turned sour quickly. One child got something better than someone’s child…another child did not get the specific thing on his list. Now mind you, the complaining was all from the mothers. I do not think any of the children were upset, at least during the party while we were there. However, it’s a well-known fact that almost anything delightful can be spoiled for a child when the adults start whining themselves. We all walked back a little older and more jaded than before.

I’m just telling that story as an example of how you can have this great idea in your head of something wonderful that you are going to do. People are going to be happy and grateful, their lives will improve, and the littlest one will stand up and say, “God bless us, every one!” That’s not always the case, and though sometimes you will get that scenario, I would bet that much of the time, something similar to the above happens.

So that’s why I say to get the focus off of others this Christmas. Put you focus on Christ and what He has done. Please do something for someone else if at all possible. But do it “…as working for the Lord.” Out of your gratitude for God’s gift of Jesus, and not merely for the joy on the face of another human. Keep your eyes open for those special moments, where you see the light in a child’s eye, or a tear on an older person’s cheek. Those are rich blessings, but they are a “fringe benefit” of service.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Update - Vintage Christmas Music

I found a couple more sites for the free stuff. Now I am having to wait in line, because a lot of these free file hosting sites limit you a bit. Oh well, it’s worth it!

Free Christmas Music Today they have a link to “Rhodes Christmas” which is a Christmas album all played on a Fender Rhodes piano. The Fender Rhodes is an electric piano that was used a lot in the 60s and 70s. My husband tells me it is coming back “in style.” Well, that’s a good thing. There is something so warm about it, even if it is electric. Think about the theme to “Taxi.” That was on a Rhodes, and Richard Carpenter often played a Rhodes. So there you go. If you love Christmas music, you are probably a Carpenters fan, right?

Way Cool Music Hey, here is a bunch of Disney music! Cute stuff for kids.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Making Mini-Offices

This year we switched from using school desks to working at the kitchen table. I know a lot of homeschoolers never think of using school desks, but it was helpful at first to have a chair that fit the child. If we tried using the table, Peanut would sprawl and slump and just generally be uncomfortable. But the desks were an eyesore, there was no out-of-the-way place to put them, and they tended to catch all the clutter that the kids didn’t want to put away. So we gave them to another family, and now we are at the kitchen table. We have some storage bins that will turn upside down for footrests for both kids. I use the rubber-y shelf liner for a non-slip surface so they don’t kick them around. Too much.

The other problem I had to solve was that we were able to use number lines and alphabet strips on the desks, and we can’t really use those on the kitchen table.

While searching the Internet, I found some ideas that classroom teachers are using to help their students. They call them “mini-offices,” and they are simply a little study corral with the needed information posted inside. They are made out of 2 or 3 file folders.You can put just about anything on these corrals. I decided to put a number line, a small handwriting chart, a 100s chart, a chart showing different coins, and a chart that illustrates how to tell time. I tried to make a chart listing some common words that my kids might use in their writing, but it was too cumbersome.

The kids like having these. We personalized them by letting them pick some of the contents, as well as the color. We had three color choices in the package of file folders we had purchased. Kids could also decorate the outside of their folders.

The best websites we found for mini-offices are at Busy Teacher’s CafĂ© and at Teaching Heart. Both have instructions and printables that you can choose and print out for your mini-office.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Vintage Christmas Music

I knew the whole thing by heart. What I didn't remember was that it was really not so great!

Some people get tired of the satellite-feed Christmas music often heard on the radio these days. I know I do. Yet long before Thanksgiving, I had tuned my XM radio to the only Christmas channel that was on-air at the time. I can’t help it, I just love Christmas music! But it didn’t take long for them to start overplaying certain annoying songs. (I think I have often mentioned “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” as one of the top offenders!) That is why I’m glad I found This is a blog that devotes every December to a list of 25 songs that the author has found on old LPs that have not been republished on CD. The songs are doled out one-per-day like treats in an advent calendar. He usually highlights the album that the song came from as well. Each year, after the countdown is over, you have a complete collection of songs so you can burn your own CD. He even has cover art for your new disc! Last year I was fortunate that they even had uploaded an album that I remebered very well from childhood. It was the only kids' Christmas album my brother and I had, and we had listened to it hundreds of times. It was quite a rush, finding that crazy thing again. I sat at my compter and listened to it. I knew the whole thing by heart. What I didn't remember was that it was really not so great! But still, sweet memories!

Since, I have found a few more blogs that have the vintage Christmas albums that round out the season a little more. There are:
Ernie (not Bert)
Music You (Possibly) Won’t Hear Anyplace Else
Check the Cool Wax
A Christmas Yuleblog-- *This one is new to me, I just found it last night, so I haven't tried it yet.

All offer free music just for the downloading. I have added plenty to my mp3 player over the past couple of years. Great stuff. I will caution that you have to be one that enjoys music that leans toward the easy listening sound, because that is mostly what you will find. At least at the blogs I have listed. Does anyone know of any more?