1 Dec 2015

Little Kids Advent Activities & Advent Readings

Happy December! Let the Christmas music play and the advent celebrations begin ~ I love this time of year, though i must confess that the commercialization can be discouraging. The amazing thing that is in our home we get to create the atmosphere of Christmas and teach our boys about why Christ came, and what Christmas is really about! Here are some things we're doing this year...

 My mom made us this amazing advent activity calendar last year and we're excited that it's December so we can use it again! I printed out these advent activity calendar free printable which fit perfectly in the pockets and have really fun graphic design. This year among other things we'll be:
- visiting some European christmas markets
- making snow globes
- baking Christmas cookies
- going to get a Christmas tree
- and one more surprise i'm still thinking about

This year we are also going to do the Jesus Storybook Bible advent reading with the boys. They have really cute free printables {that i'm actually still working on today!}

We also love this advent printable nativity by made by joel. It's paper so, the kids can't really destroy it... well and if they do ~ it's paper!

If you're looking for activities for older kids check out my friend Brooke's blog!

15 Nov 2015

Thoughts on Motherhood :: Giving Good Gifts to our Children

As Christmas approaches i find a battle begin to wage war in my soul. The other day as i was walking through the new  Christmas decoration display at the local Home Depot a thought crossed my mind, "I don't want a Christmas I can buy, but one that I can behold". Our culture is so saturated with materialism, which resonates with the longings of our soul... somehow we think buying something new will satisfy us... but the truth is that satisfaction is temporary, until we see something newer or better.

On one hand we love to give our children gifts ~ to see the joy, and excitement in their eyes. On the other hand we want our kids to know that Christmas is about celebrating Christ, the truth about who St. Nicholas was and the untruths about him that we too quickly absorb from our culture. Sometimes in the midst of the obsession with gift giving i find myself wanting to vilify gift giving but even the Bible teaches us that giving our children good gifts is not just a good thing, but it is an object lesson from which we can more deeply understand the Father heart of God!

"Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 
Matthew 7:9-10

I came across this quote the other week and it was a good reminder to love our kids strong, to give them gifts well, but to never substitute simply spending time with them, reading to them, going on adventures with them, listening to them... for anything!

That being said here are a few of the gifts we're delighting in giving our children and our family this year...
  1. stocking stuffers from aliexpress.com - this website ships FREE to POLAND (i pretty much worldwide!) That's a goldmine for us since toys and kids stuff is a lot more expensive here and we don't have the AMAZON jungle to shop in! Shipping can take 2-6 weeks but i like to get shopping done earlier to avoid having to think about it or run around last minute when we want our family to focus on celebrating Jesus. Here are just a few of the things i've picked up.
    1. batman tshirt - our little guy LOVES this shirt, he wears it every day. literally. it fit a little small but is good quality and has survived going through the dryer! $4.40
    2. lego superhero figures - a set of 8 different figures, these are super fun! i don't think they are 'genuine lego' but look exactly the same and my 4 year old won't know the difference! $4.75
    3. vintage robot - i love the look of this classic robot. he's going our oldest son's stocking and then will make great room decor for the boys room! $4.40
    4. paw patrol stuffed toys - just ordered these today. our boys love paw patrol and it's still hard (or expensive) to find paw patrol toys here. i'm usually really hesitant about getting our kids stuffed animals, but i think these will get played with as they like to go on 'rescue missions'! $5.03
    5. super hero cape & mask - i really like these. our kids already have capes that i made them but if they didn't i'd totally be getting them these! seriously you can't buy material and my time for $3.24! 
  2. BLURB ~ this is a gift we give ourselves each year, a family album of our year! Right now they have 50% off until November 17th. I won't get mine done in time since we include photos from December but what a great deal and they make great gifts! This is the company we always use to print our photo books. COUPON CODE: GEM50 {affiliate link}
  3. we're super excited to start our advent activity calendar and to wrap our 24 days of Christmas Books for opening daily in December!
How do you approach gift giving in your home? How do you keep focused on the meaning of Christmas amongst all of the business and marketing surrounding it?

12 Nov 2015

Poland Day @the Zoo

Yesterday was Polish Independence Day, and since Polish history is A LOT to explain to a 4 year old, we've taken to calling it Poland Day for now :) The Wrocław Zoo was open and our boys have a LOT of energy so letting them run around for 3 hours looking at all the fun animals was a great way to spend our day. It's seriously one of our favourite places to take the kids! The youngest 2 slept for 3 hours afterwards!!! Here are my favourite photos from the morning:

It was a warm fall day and a lot of the animals were around and active!

They love the petting zoo part ~ where they can touch the animals, sometimes they are out in the courtyard but not today.

My little monkeys ;)

In the Afrikarium ~ the newest pavilion at the zoo, which is super amazing!

11 Nov 2015

10 on 10 :: November

Is it already November?!?! Life moves both fast and slow around here. I was lucky to remember it was the 10th (actually i have some pretty cool photography friends who reminded me!) It was a pretty ordinary tuesday where the big boys were at preschool. Little man is full of enough energy and ideas of his own to keep me busy all day. On this particular day he decided that T-Rex was his best friend, fed him some soup, took him to the potty as well as in the car!

They bring me great joy, and keep me busy (& tired!). If you missed last month here is my 10 on 10 from October. Also here is a group of photographers who have some amazing images of their everyday lives ~ check out my friend Cynthia Berning Photography!

Enjoy ~

3 Nov 2015

Zamek Grodziec :: Castles in the Fall

You know those friends that understand your world, inside and out? In my life few are the people who understand life and ministry in Poland as well as life in North America and the divide of having your heart in both places. Shelley, is a dear friend who was also a flat mate and team mate when i lived in Poland. God has done amazing things in our friendship and she has become on of my closest friends. Right now she's living in North America, but came back to visit Poland on her time off work. What a blessing it was to spend time with her... i feel like time passes too quickly when she comes, and before i know it she's gone. God knew i needed a friend to nourish my soul and also gave us this absolutely gorgeous day to explore His creation and some of Poland's history!

Zamek Grodziec, located in Lower Silesia only about an hour from our home. It's the perfect combination of ruins and preservation, where the walls echo of it's history and there is enough of it left standing to enjoy it's splendor. On this fall day it was stunning, and we were pretty much the only people there as it is 'off the beaten path' {but on the way home from Bolesławiec} another Polish town famous for it's pottery! Enjoy ~