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Teaching our kids the gift of Giving this Christmas!

As we approach the Holiday Season, I really want to focus on JOY this year.  I want to make the most of Christmas.  One of our little traditions is riding around neighborhoods looking at lights.  Its fun, everyone points, pick their favorites, we laugh and just enjoy the time together.

Kids will be kids and get caught up in the wanting/wishing/hoping for all these cool toys and things they do not NEED but everywhere they look is trying to brainwash them into greedy little boogers.  This Christmas I want to focus on teaching them the REAL meaning of Christmas and giving back.

Below, are several ways that you can give back.

Meaning of Christmas:

We celebrate Christmas to remember that Jesus Christ came to this world, to fulfill a promise, and ultimately gave his life to save us.  We celebrate Jesus’s birth.  My kids can tell you this story inside and out.  A dear friend gave us a book that is great and I recommend to everyone.  You might look at the library or if not, it’s totally worth the buy.

Samaritans Christmas Child-Shoeboxes

Most people are well aware of this organization and what they do.  If you live in the South just about every church participates.  Basically, you pack shoe-boxes full of goodies for Children around the world that otherwise may not get anything.  The people delivering the boxes witness, share the gospel and help encourage those children.  It is an incredible operation.  This year the price is $9 for shipping per box.  For more information see below.

https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

My kids always enjoy doing this.  We get a box for each child.  Then I go to the dollar store, get items to pack and let the kids divide them up and packing however they see fit.  We just did this and the kids had the best time.  We talked about who might get these, and how it could affect their lives by showing these kids that someone thousands of miles away was thinking about them and put love into making this box just for them.

Shoeboxes Samaritans Purse

Care Baskets for Hospice Patients/Family

My mother is a hospice nurse, so I have connections.  She works at a Hospice Home now instead of visiting individual homes.  The families that come in to a Hospice Home usually do not have much longer.  Their families are grieving, trying to enjoy what they know will be the last days or weeks with their loved ones.  What better thing to do, than to bring some cheer to these families even if for just a moment.

These Baskets will likely be more for the families.  I asked my mom and she said things to help keep the family busy are good options.  Here is a list of items you could do: Word Search books, Card Games such as Uno, Snacks, Baked goods, Blanket, Chocolate, Fruits, chapstick, lotion, anything to help make them more comfortable.

While I’m an advocate of creating these on your own if you are short on time or creativity you can purchase pre-made baskets for all occasions on Amazon.

Retirement Homes

Along the same lines as above.  The people here usually want your TIME more than gifts.  They get lonely and just enjoy the company.  Most especially love seeing your children.  I plan to take my girls this year.  We will go with baked goods in tote, 3 happy little girls each with their favorite books, and maybe some fingernail polish.  Old ladies really enjoy having their fingernails painted by kids.  Don’t ask me why, but it makes their days and it takes the nerves out of the kids.  You can even coordinate and have your kids go and help with Bingo Night.

Hospitals

Pediatric Wards, Cancer Centers etc are a good way to show your children that there are people in so much worse situations than anything they are dealing with.  Bringing a smile to their face by giving them a small goody bag/basket is a great way to teach kids and also encourage those sick.

Again, Amazon has premade care kits.

Food Banks

Pick up some extra items next time you are at the grocery store and take to a local food bank.  There is always an increased need in the winter when people are cold and hungry.  It shows that we are trying to help those less fortunate.

Teachers

One of the most underpaid, unappreciated professions.  Make goody bags/baskets to take to teachers at your kid’s school.  It doesn’t have to just be your individual child’s teacher.  The office staff, janitorial, and all the specials get forgotten about.  You could always find out what if anything the PTSA is putting together and offer to help if you do not have the means to do this on your own.  There are tons of cute ideas on Pinterest.

Preachers/Law Enforcement/Fireman

Any public service personnel would love you to stop by.  Bake some cookies and go by just to say hello and offer them a treat.  It will help your children interact with these people in non emergency situations and be a little more comfortable with them.

Spouse’s Work

My husband is military but even if yours is not, have the kids help prepare something and go pass out to your spouse’s colleagues.  It shows them support but also your kids would love going to daddies workplace.

Send Care Packages/ Cards to Soldiers Deployed

Okay, so this one hits close to my heart.  Holidays are some of the hardest times for Soldiers deployed.  They want to be home with their families and can’t be.  Often times they have seen and endured unimaginable things and are halfway around the world thinking no one is missing them or thinking about them.  If you do not do any of the above, PLEASE take the time to send some cards overseas.  Let them know they are NOT alone.

If you do not know where to find this information you can go to a local USO and I’m sure they can help.

Blessing Bags

I started a year or two ago, putting together some blessing bags, and keeping in each vehicle.  When we come up to homeless people at intersections or what have you, we hand out these bags.  I know a lot of people have mixed emotions about giving to these people.  We hear so many stories of people standing at street corners than at the end of the day driving off in expensive cars and totally taking advantage of people.  That is why this is a good alternative.  Jesus says over and over in the Bible to LOVE.  We are not to judge, to question, to worry about whether we are being taken advantage of or not.  I’d rather get to Heaven and Jesus have an account of all the people who took advantage of my kindness and generosity than to see me as a Scrooge.

Items for Blessing Bags: Travel toothpaste./toothbrush, soap, tissue, hand warmers or gloves, snacks/food items, a gift card to McDonald’s or a food place so if they are truly hungry they can get something to eat.)  I also always a card or something with some scripture and encouragement in it.  I have recently added a sheet with local charities and places they can go for additional help.

I'd rather get to Heaven and Jesus have an account of all the people who took advantage of my kindness and generosity than to see me as a Scrooge. Click To Tweet

Let’s Change the Focus

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas of ways to teach your children about GIVING this Christmas instead of focusing nonstop of getting.  Not only will it help your children see that there is more to Christmas than presents, but it is a way we can spread Gods love during this Holiday season.  There are so many people who just want to know they are thought of and loved.

Practical Shopping Guide by Age 0-10

With all the birthday parties lately, I have struggled with what to get everyone.  I started thinking, and figured I am probably not alone.  So I wanted to put together something as a quick guide to what to get kids, age appropriate.  This works for Birthdays or Christmas that’s coming up.
Ages 0-1

Infants always need diapers, wipes, bibs, feeding accessories, teething toys, and anything that makes noise.  The little toy phones, shining lights, or balls are an easy win.  Books with lots of colors, pictures, and are HARD are also great.  Do not get paper books.

 

Ages 2-3

This age group is starting to explore and begin really learning and picking up everything.  Color books with the big fat crayons are fun.  Educational books that have lots of pictures and are hard are still good choices here (ABC, Colors, Shapes).  Beginner puzzles with large pieces are another great choice.  If you want something more play worthy, you can always go with sidewalk chalk, BUBBLES, Balls, or even bath play toys.  We moms can never have too many of those.  Dolls or Trucks if you want gender specific.

Age 4-5 (Pre-K to Kindergarten)

This age is really where we are trying to get them ready for school.  Alphabet EVERYTHING is encouraged here.  They make puzzles, refrigerator magnets, dry erase boards, books, seriously, any and everything you can find to help kids learn their alphabet.  Color books are still great as well as BUBBLES.  Why do kids love those darn bubbles so much?  I also recommend books that are more in preparation for school.  Berenstein Bears, Dr. Seuss Beginners, look specifically for books that only have a few sentences per page and still have pictures.  This age kids are usually into specific characters so ask what theme they like and you can always get stuff to match the theme (EX: Kaylee has always been a Minnie fan, so coloring books or other items with Minnie were a bigger hit.)  All else fails, get school supplies.

Age 6-7 (Usually Kindergarten-1st Grade)

Books are strongly emphasized at this age because that is one of the most important things they are learning in school.  As a  mom I really appreciate books that are new to my kid and might help them be encouraged to read.  They need to be age appropriate though (Level 1 reader or if they have letter index A B or C).

Toys for this age group would include: Dry Erase boards, Coloring Books, Primary Journal, and Lego’s.  Girls- Barbie’s, Dolls, Doll Accessories, cookie cutters to help bake, Shopkins or hair accessories.  Boys- Nerf Stuff, Lego’s, Outdoor ball gear, Anything remote control or drone like.

 

 

Ages 8-10

From here on up it gets a lot more tricky.  At this age a lot of kids are really into electronics (IPODS, Playstation, XBox, Ipad etc) and tend to be obsessed with those things.  This age group cash or gift cards are a good go to if you don’t know the kid well.  Again, books are always an awesome gift in my opinion.  I have all girls so my oldest likes Glimmer Girls series now but started with Fancy Nancy or Nancy Clancy, Grandmas Attic is a good neutral series.  For boys book series that are good are Hardy Boys or Magic Tree house.

In addition, you can also go with things like the lego’s are still appropriate.

Girls tend to like Shopkin’s, LOL dolls, Journals, Stationary, Stamping, Fairy Gardens, Crafty everything!  They make tons of easy to select crafts.  Hair accessories, brushes, chap-stick etc will also go over well.  Boys seem to be harder but maybe it’s because I don’t have boys.  I would still say the hygiene gift sets would be good.  Board games can work for girls or boys this age as well as card games, fidget toys, etc.

 

Hopefully this has given you some practical ideas that are not terribly expensive.  If you have any suggestions to add, I’d love your feedback.

New Scripture Cards-FREE

If you want to receive these scripture cards regularly, be sure to subscribe to my blog.  That way they will be emailed to you, to open and save.  Don’t miss out!!!

I am attaching a PDF file for the new scripture cards.

Scripture Cards-Click HERE for PDF, not on image

Here are also some links to some I’ve found on Pinterest and saved.  I did not produce the below scripture cards, but really like them.

FREE-Scripture Cards

I LOVE sending the kids scripture cards with their lunches.  This adds a special touch.  They look forward to them each day.  I have found the kids, sneaking in their lunch boxes, to see what mom wrote today.  I have done handwritten notes, but mostly I put in pretty printed cards.  The ones I’m including here, I made myself.  If I get enough people interested, I will post monthly, with new cards/styles/colors.  I made these boy/girl neutral.  The kids like color, so I recommend printing in color.

Hope you enjoy, and your kids do as well.

Enjoy,

Click link below…. FREE PDF Printable

Scripture Lunch Cards


If you would be interested in monthly Lunch Cards fill out the form below.

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Picky Eater Meal Plan (Menu)

I am no chef, and I most certainly do not overly enjoy cooking.  I keep it as simple and easy as possible.  I left Saturday for eating out or leftovers.  With school around the corner I decided to put together a meal plan for the month.  These are NORMAL meals that for the most part use basic ingredients that I usually keep on hand.  Not all the meals are cheap and depending on how I feel, depends on whether I make everything from scratch or cut corners by using store bought ingredients like meatballs, spaghetti sauce etc.  Hope you enjoy and can get some ideas for dinner meals.

DOWNLOAD BELOW

August Menu

Our Vacation to Dollywood- Preparation/Organization

As I’ve mentioned before I am a bit OCD and have to have a plan and organize in almost every aspect of my life.  I’ve going to go you the before, during and after of what made our vacation such a success.

Part 1-Preparation

We have learned over the years that most of our expenses from vacation is the where you stay but food can quickly over run the lodging expenses.  We have got smart the past few years and now we book a condo almost everywhere we go (if going more than a few days).  A condo with laundry is even better.

This year I tried something new.  I used Airbnb to locate a condo.  I was very nervous but everything turned out amazing.  The host was extremely responsive, helped answer all questions I had and even helped offer suggestion of places the kids might enjoy in the area.  The condo was updated and had a full and well stocked kitchen.  There was a pool onsite which helped when the kids were driving us crazy.  Here is my link, if you use the link you will get a $40 off your trip and I will get $20 referral credit. http://www.airbnb.com/c/tannahw2

So once I had the place picked and booked I started looking for things to do in the area.  We stayed in Sevierville TN which was on the outside of Pigeon Forge.  I personally wanted a mountain experience and did not want to be in center center.  There were plenty of places to stay in town if that is what you prefer.  Since we were staying outside of town I looked for attractions close by.  Here is my cheat sheet I created before heading out.  Keep in mind these are prices for 2017 and military discount where applicable also we had one child age 3 who was free most places.  Pigeon Forge Vacation

Next, I started looking at meal ideas. I knew where I rented was on a mountain and we would likely be having breakfast most mornings in the room, lunches out and dinner back at the condo. I prepared a meal plan.  Always be flexible and have some extra ideas on hand. Here is the link to what I created. Vacation Meal Plan

We also mapped out the best route from our house to the condo.  We have GPS in the van but I was advised by the host at the condo to print out directions because as you got closer sometime GPS goes out.  Always a good idea to do that anyhow.

I dont have my packing list as it was a bunch of sticky notes for the most part.  I have found that packing all non perishable food ideas in a laundry basket works best.  I also always pack extra supplies like trash bags, ziplock bags, ten foil, paper towels, toilet paper, spices etc.  You never know what or how much will be at the condo.  We pack the cooler the morning of and put drinks on the top for the road.

I think I’ll stop here.  I hope you have enjoyed and if you want to hear more about the vacation please continue reading.

http://tannahsjourney.com/2017/07/14/our-trip-to-dollywood-road-trip-day/

http://tannahsjourney.com/2017/07/14/our-vacation-to-dollywood-our-adventures/

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