A Crafty Sparkly Christmas

9781449414559_frontcoverIf you have closets full of craft supplies, save toilet paper tubes because they are useful, and can’t throw away objects that you plan to repurpose, then you might enjoy Christmas like I do. I love to make things. After I had kids, I had to scale back and not try out every kind of craft available because I didn’t have time and I’m not very good at cleaning up my crafty messes. If you could peek in my house, you would see the closets and corners and tables and desks with half finished projects. Crazy! Recently I was given a copy of Glitterville’s Handmade Christmas: A Glittered Guide for Whimsical Crafting!
, by Stephen Brown, and I have to say…”I love it.” Its crafty, sparkly goodness all wrapped up in a beautiful book sure to inspire.

Inside its pages are projects that reminded me of what a trip through Whoville might look like. The crafts are whimsical, sparkly and creative. There are templates for many of the items in the back which makes it even better. I think my favorites are the Glitter Village and all the chenille Christmas trees and snowflakes. I was ready to order some quick and easy craft kits for my kids this Christmas but I’m feeling inspired to dig through my stash and do some of these really unique projects. Most of these projects use basic craft supplies and then coat the finished project with paint and glitter. In other words, many of these can be done with the odds and ends you probably have around your house! Hooray!

(Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. Affliliate link included in post.)




Snow Painting – Cheap Winter Fun!

If you are anything like me, the snowy winter days can last F-O-R-E-V-E-R! The winter of 2014 was one of the coldest in the last 100 years and one of the snowiest in the past few years. While my older kids know how to entertain themselves pretty well, the younger ones get bored easily and run from one activity to another. No I mean it…THEY RUN…back and forth stampeding across the wood floors (who thought wood over carpet was a good idea anyway!)


Ok…moving on. I actually had a moment of clarity which was rare. I spent too many days in a fog this year. But when my 5 year old son Bennett grabbed a spray bottle to do who knows what (probably something dangerous or destructive) I remembered my stash of food dye sequestered to the back of the cupboard since we gave up food dyes. And what happened next was magical. He proceeded to be entertained for at least a half hour…maybe more. If you have little boys, you know that is magic!

So here is what we did that was SO MUCH FUN!

Step 1: Find an empty spray bottle


Step 2: Fill with water AND one color of food coloring.


Step 3: Recap the bottle and shake gently to mix the dye

Step 4: Hand it over to your child. (Yes, I did go out and do this some myself because it is really fun!)


Step 5: Send your kiddo outside to spray paint the snow.




As you can see, mine had a blast. We did this several times and changed the food coloring each time. Of course it would be even better to have separate bottles for each color all at once but my little boys would have used that to start a water fight and dye would end up all over. I love this activity because it uses things I have on hand all the time and the kids love it too. Next year, I think I’ll save up bottles so we can do this in a grander fashion next year!


Foster Care: It’s Not a Grocery Store


The phone rang. A quick glance at the caller ID said Children’s Services was calling. Not thinking it was one of  THOSE calls…where they ask you to step in on behalf of a child….I answered.



The worker on the other end told me a story of a boy who needed to be moved out of a home where his siblings would continue staying. Age 4. Trouble listening. Wets the bed. Poor speech. In Therapy and Counseling.  I asked a few questions trying to root out if this was a situation we could handle. And then the call was over. But in a house like ours, there are lots of ears. So the conversation wasn’t really over. There were lots of questions. “What’s his name?” ” Is he black or white?” “No, not a boy! Can’t we GET a girl?”  There were more questions but during the course of the conversation, I was hearing my kids say – “Why can’t we pick what we want about the next kid who might live here?” My response: “Foster Care is not a Grocery Store – You can’t pick.”

Don’t get me wrong, we filled out an enormous checklist for our license. It asked what kind of child our family would be willing to consider. It factored in age, gender, race, physical or learning disabilities, history of abuse or abusing. You name it, the survey covered it. But when the phone rings and a child needs a home for awhile, there aren’t choices. In that moment, you can’t pick like you do at the store with 10 brands of pasta sauce or fifty kinds of cereal. Each case must be accepted or passed over as is–and that is hard.

Like the conversation with the worker, my mind easily dwells on the worst “what ifs.” Can I handle this if we do this? Will I be able to sleep at night? My immediate concerns are usually for the safety or well being of my own kids and my own stress level. Initially I have trouble seeing the potential redemption. It is easy to get weighed down, become frozen with fear and do nothing.

But our family has been down this path before and Redemption is the most beautiful part of the equation. God can take the broken pieces of a troubled life and put them back together in a way that is surprising and truly beautiful. 


Notgrass America the Beautiful History Curriculum Review

Every once in awhile, I stumble on a book or curriculum that is truly special. You know the kind I mean. Its like the author climbed inside your brain and read your thoughts and then wrote a curriculum just for you. I’ve alluded to my obsession with curriculum and last school year was no different. I had an amazing array of books and resources already but was waiting for Notgrass to release the new edition of this history book. So, it arrived in June and wow…amazing. If I had bought this first, my curriculum purchases would have been much less!


Whats Included:

If you buy the package like I did, it includes the America the Beautiful text books (2 of them), We the People, a timeline book, a map book and an answer key. It targets 5th to 8th grade.

What I Love!

At first glance, spending about $100 for history seems a bit pricey. However, the part that I liked (as a mother of 7 who never has enough hours to plan everything) is the way the lessons are set up. Each lesson is relatively short…a few pages, followed by 4-6 assignments that cover Geography of the US (maps), Timeline, Bible, Creative Writing, Vocabulary, and Literature. As a parent, you can have your child do some or all of it. My 5th grade son read all the lessons and did the mapwork and timeline. If I hadn’t purchased other curriculum, he could have done the rest of the lessons and had a fairly complete school year with the addition of math.

My son enjoys history but doesn’t stick with a boring book. He loved this and never complained about history (well almost never 😉

This curriculum was very easy to use. It was self explanatory so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time helping him. We may use this same textbook again in 8th grade and do all the extra assignments we missed this time. We will be using other Notgrass texts in the future!

I would share any dislikes but this time there aren’t any.

Five stars
Find out more about this great curriculum here!