95. Thanksgiving Mail

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Are you like us, thousands of miles from your family during the holidays? Even if you’re not, it’s hard to resist doing a few Thanksgiving crafts: turkey cards (cut on the Silhouette – I finally figured out how to use it, only a year after purchasing it on cyber Monday!) with a note inside telling our loved ones how thankful we are for them, and a collaborative mother-son hand tracing fall tree for the grandparents. And we do have so very many things to be thankful for: the basics (which so many around the world don’t have) of clean water, a safe place to live, enough food, relative health, stable employment, good friends, visits with family, and so, so many more that my heart nearly fills to bursting when I stop to think about it. Happy Thanksgiving!

94. Shoebox Time (& Child Sponsorship)

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It’s amazing how much you can fit into a shoebox when you really start to think about it! Advent (a time of preparation, including giving to others, before Christmas) for Orthodox Christians begins on November 15. Operation Christmas Child collection week begins right after that. It’s great timing to talk about what Advent means for us.
I was surprised by how seriously my son (three years old) listened when I explained to him that we would be purchasing gifts to send to children around the world who may not otherwise receive any gifts. He was full of questions about why they might not have gifts if we didn’t send any.I love having a way to give back that is on a level that a child can understand. I love that it’s tangible, that he can see toys and art supplies being shared with other children instead of just being purchased for him.
Just for some ideas, I’m sharing our list. (I’m one of those clearance-crazed ladies who strolls the end caps of Target throughout the year and stashes everything in a box until Christmas time.) In our box: socks, underwear, tights, toothbrush/paste, soap, washcloth, school and craft supplies, a small teddy bear, small toys, hair bows, and to be added, combs, a little hard candy, small sewing kit, small tape measure.
Related to this topic, we are so happy to be able to be involved with child sponsorship through World Vision. As my son becomes more and more interested in geography, I’ve finally put up a map at his level with the locations of our sponsored kids to help him make the connection. He sees me writing letters for them, and he sees the letters and drawings that they send to us. It’s powerful stuff. Having the map up where I can see it often has been a huge help for me as well, helping me keep their needs and the needs of children like them in the front of my mind. I want my son to know that, while he is blessed, part of being blessed is giving back.
I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts with Operation Christmas Child and sponsorship!

90. Seed Work

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Kids love to plant things, don’t they? This fall as I’m beginning my very first pre-k catechism class (based on this beautiful, deep curriculum), we have been focusing on seeds in preparation for learning about some of Christ’s parables.  Forcing paperwhite bulbs to grow in mere water is so easy to do and provides quick gratification.  I bought mine at a local garden center. The little white pointed roots appeared within a few days and quickly entangled the rocks they sat upon.  I also have crocus and hyacinth bulbs hibernating in the fridge and will try forcing them in water later this winter.

I also saved the seeds from our Halloween pumpkin (I’m not a big fan of creepy Halloweens but it is fun for little ones to cut open a pumpkin and see all the seeds!).  We planted them right along the side of a clear cup and had a wonderful view of the sprouting process.  Now we are watching the roots grow.

I’m enjoying this seed and root work quite a bit!

82. Snow Village in the Desert

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The poor boy dreams of snow, asking if it will snow in December for his birthday. (He also thinks that people put up Christmas lights because his birthday is in December. So sweet.) He talks about maybe having snowball fights with his cousins in the Dakotas and asks what sleds are when he sees them in books. But we live in the desert, and if it snowed here, it would be highly unusual. The last time was probably fifteen years ago or so. So he makes snow houses. He still doesn’t realize that sugar cubes can be eaten, so he glues them together and adds cotton ball snow drifts. They remind me of the crumbling ghost towns in New Mexico along the road to Santa Fe. I love to see the structures that he comes up with on his own. I love how he dreams of the impossible.

50. Resurrection Garden

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Inspired by this. We used cat grass, but I think we will add regular grass seed for a fuller coverage. My son uses a spray bottle to water it everyday, as pouring water over it would wash it off the top of the little pot. Pascha (Easter) is far enough away that we still have time to experiment!

43. Painted Button Heart Canvas

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My Valentine crafting obsession continues! This project began with some bulk buttons glued onto a canvas with Aileen’s clear craft glue. I let it dry overnight. Then I gessoed everything and painted it pale pink after the gesso dried. I decided to spray a few coats of both brown and red walnut ink onto it, wiping off some of the excess but letting the ink seep into the little crevices around the buttons. I painted the edge of the canvas light brown.  I may work on it a bit more; I’m not completely happy with it just quite yet!