Sunday, November 28, 2010

What Can I Give?

A Christmas Star

Okay, this post is TOP SECRET if you are Mema or Granny. Otherwise, read on.

This simple ornament was made with love by Timothy, 5 years old. He did it all by himself. Well, I handled clean-up. I'm a pro at cleaning up. ;)

:How To:
1) Take five (5) popsicle sticks. You can eat the popsicle first (no biting!) or you can just buy a box of sticks. But what fun is that? (Umm, yeah... more sugar this month?! We bought the box of sticks.) Lay said sticks in a star shape. Glue along the way. Timothy took out a glue stick and did all of this without me. If your child is younger, you can hot-glue ahead of time.
2) Paint whatever color their little heart desires.
3) Timbo wanted a super-special ornament, so we "painted" on a glue wash (water glue down a bit and paint on w/a paintbrush) and then he sprinkled colored sprinkle things on the star for extra pizzaz. He's that kind of guy. Andrew would have just broken the ornament apart at this point and used it as a sword.
4) This is apparently the MOST IMPORTANT STEP. I know this because Timothy has *repeatedly* told me we must put the string on!! We still haven't done this but don't worry, he won't let me forget.
5) Write the lucky dawg who is getting this amazing gift's name on the back in permanent marker (we used a silver paint pen) and let the artist sign his name.

Wrap. Give. Smile. Because it was easy, they did it all by themselves, and that makes you a pretty fun mom. Consider this idea my gift to you. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What Can I Give?

You can give a friendly Greeting!

There are many ways to share your life with friends and family far and near. A perinneal favorite (made better when accompanied by food or photos) is the Christmas Card!!

Now, over the years I've observed three camps of Christmas-card-writers. There is the "traditional card signer". Your Aunt Isabel picks out a lovely card in a foil-lined envelope, signs her name (and the chihuahua's, too) and considers her duty fulfilled for another year. Lovely on the wall, these are somewhat lacking in the "personal touch" department.

The second camp would be the "letter writers" camp. Your cousin, who homeschools her twelve children out on their organic farm, writes a brief four-page update of their life over the past year (pausing mid-letter to put the bread in the oven and give her 14 year old a calculus test). It is accompanied by a bookmark hand-embroidered by six-year-old Grace. Lovely. Truly... lovely.

You know the third group- the "family photo" in an envelope. You love seeing the fam but wish there was at least a "Merry Christmas- Love you!" handwritten on there somewhere!

This year, Shutterfly is offering a family photo greeting card- making your Christmas Card duties easier than ever. You pick the photo (or photos) to share and have room inside for a handwritten note. It has the personal feel of a letter but brings none of the guilt to your readers... ;)

I'm trying to decide between the card at the top of the page and a quicker (but still striking) flat stationary card like this.

I've given Shutterfly photo books as gifts in the past and been very pleased with them. And I thought of doing a mug for my coffee-loving Dad. They cover it all! But I'm for sure going to be mailing a sweet photo card because they're offering a great promotion for bloggers to earn free cards!

Look for your Olsen family card in the mail this year... and I hope my letter never made you roll your eyes and want to burn it. My goal is to share some laughs and show Christ's sufficiency in every event in our lives! I'm glad I could find a photo card to hopefully accomplish the same purpose. Here's to one more way to say Merry Christmas!

What Can I Give?

I've been asked, "What do your children make for Christmas Presents?" This month, I'll attempt to share. I'm not a crafty person, so please don't stone me for the really simple (or simply ugly) ones!

As today is the first day, I'll post the most time consuming so you have plenty of time. Drum Roll, please! (dum da da dum dum dummmm...)

It's a Reindeer Ornament!!!
* Cut three pieces of seven count plastic canvas about 1 5/8" or 10 holes square.
* Take two squares and slip stitch two sides together.
* Hold the two stitched pieces together and open the unstitched sides. Stitch the third square on one side of the unstitched plastic.
* Continue to corner and down other side, you now have a pyramid effect.
* Now the "reindeer" can be squeezed and the unstitched side will open like a mouth!!
* The one my sunday school teacher gave me as a child had a tag that read, "Squeeze my cheeks and I'll give you a kiss." Or you could put, "Give me a squeeze and I'll give you a kiss." I've opted not to do tags at all. ;)
* Hershey kisses are used for the kiss. Attach a piece of yarn to the back to hang as an ornament.

This is a great "keeper". You can make one for each kiddo. They can make them for grandparents or teachers or friends. Sometimes, I'll move it to a new branch every time I put a new Hershey Kiss in so it's like a treasure hunt in our tree. Have fun with it!

* The photo on this is not one I made, it is from the net. I can't find the link for attribution (it's from last year).

Friday, November 26, 2010

What Can I Give?

It's Christmastime! Moms and Dads are carefully choosing gifts- and at our house, the children are realizing "it is more blessed to give than to receive" as well! But with 6 kiddos, we can't give them enough money to each buy gifts for each other and for grandparents and friends! Simple solution? The crafty Christmas.

Confession: I am not a "crafty" person. (Mostly because I don't deal well with messes.) But this time of year I do strive to overcome my complex and help the children create Christmas gifts!

We have made ornaments from popsicle sticks, a reindeer that holds a hershey kiss (coming tomorrow), doll clothes, bookmarks, potholders, birdhouses... lots of hands-on and inexpensive ways for children to show their care!

The Dollar Store is a great option (we let the children do chores- like folding socks- to earn $ for gifts), but I maintain that gifts from children are more meaningful when they're handmade.

Check back often for lots of Merry Christmas Gift Ideas!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


This pumpkin has quite a story. Chris and I married young and started out with nothing, nada, zilch. Family and a few friends blessed us with what we needed and over the years, the Lord has provided all we needed... abundantly more than that, even!

Mom waved her magic wand to help me decorate with little and over the years that has come along as well... Enter the pumpkin. For a few years now, Mom has bought us a decoration for the house each fall. I love fall and it is so fun to look around at the gems that have been added to our home- what memories each holds!

"The Pumpkin" was one of the first fall decorations I had and I cherished it! Not only is it beautiful, but the sentiment behind it is so close to my heart. I displayed it with pride (mostly the good kind) for all our friends and neighbors to see. Now people would know we don't just decorate for Thanksgiving, we are reminding ourselves of God's goodness!!

Only a few days into ownership, a sweet little Olsen decided to explore the pumpkin... and knocked it over... and busted it into lots of pieces. I was crushed! I cried, I sobbed, I couldn't believe that of everything in the house, they had to break this one special decoration! I finally got something nice and... and... Now how would visitors know we loved the Lord?

WHOA!! Then I heard myself! (God is so patient with me!) He reminded me that my sweet children are *way* more important and precious than this silly (well, gorgeously silly- but silly nonetheless) decoration! Would I crush their spirit over this broken globe? And about the visitors... really, Allie? If I need a pumpkin with "We Give Thanks to God" blazed across the front for people to figure out we live in awe of and in love with God, well, then I'm really not following Him too well, now am I?!

Chris took all those many pieces and lovingly repaired my crushed pumpkin. The Lord took all the pieces of my stony, sinful heart and renewed a right spirit in me.

Thanksliving... this month is reminding me to live a life of thanks to Abba God(loving & patient Daddy who also corrects me for my bad attitude) . With the help of a glued-together pumpkin.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I am thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling. Today we finalized our Thanksgiving Menu and will start baking! The children and I will learn new cookie recipes together... I'm willing to bet theirs will turn out better than mine!! I'm such an imprecise baker.

We're also going to create some games to play on Thanksgiving and read the history of the holiday. I think Timothy may be able to read a book this year! What a wonderful first. Another first... This is the first year in a decade we have not made our Thankful Family Tree. But I'm hopeful we can keep the focus right in spite of this sad sad oversight.

A brighter first- Clara's first tooth popped through today!! At only four months, she is the youngest Olsen to get her first tooth. :P Happy Thanksgiving...

Saturday, November 6, 2010


I am thankful for this man.

Fun, thoughtful, hard-working, responsible, generous, creative, pleasant, patient, flexible- what's not to love?!

Twelve sweet years. He is the most patient man I know, as evidenced by 12 years of marriage to me!!

When I read of Christ's love for the church and marriage being a reflection of that- I know exactly what Jesus meant because I see it in the way Chris lays down his life for his family. And I can only hope Christ's work will be reflected in me as clearly as I see it in my hubby's life.

Thanksliving. I want to live a life of thanks.

Friday, November 5, 2010


I am thankful for friends.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" -Ecclesiastes 2:9 & 10

We went to a Corn Maize last week and got totally lost. (I still have no idea how we were supposed to follow that little map!) If we each looked at our maps and our questionairres, we would have ended up at two dozen different points- all lost! We stuck together. Followed one map and made it out.

I'm grateful for an abundance of God-fearing friends right now. When we are each looking to the Word of God for direction, we can help one another when one starts to stumble. My accountability gals, best bud from years ago, homeschool co-op Mammas, friends from church & some just plopped in my life by the Lord...

Buddies. Partners. Come-along-side-and-encourage-ers. I am thankful for friends.

p.s. This months' title is swiped from a friend's blog, "Thanksliving * Gratitude as an Act of Worship! (Thanks!)

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I am thankful for family.

Dad was moved from Shands to a rehab facility today. Nothing like seeing life hanging in the balance to remind me how precious it is!! Dad's recovery is going much quicker than expected and our family is thanking our gracious Lord, Creator and Healer, for working in Dad's body. Jesus has sustained Mom as she cares for Dad, given doctors wisdom and given Dad favor in getting in hospitals & rehab facilities that usually take days or more to open up a bed. We have a lot to be thankful for!

Because of Dad's condition, instead of going to Tallahassee for our annual ginormous family gathering (which totally rocks!) we'll be keeping it simple with Granny, Pops, and Auntie, Uncle T & Landon. This is the first thanksgiving Krissy & I will be doing the cooking and our family will gather around the table and pray and share. I'll miss the big family- but I'm looking forward to the intimacy of immediate family. I hope I can express to each what I'm most thankful for in my smiles, actions, and a yummy homecooked meal as well as with my words. Today, this month, and all the time- I'm thankful for family.