Sunday, November 30, 2014

Water Color Christmas

These Water Color Christmas trees teach contrast and also properties of warm and color colors. We also talked about proper water color technique and using a pop of color to outline the trees. 

Check out the gorgeous artwork.

Have fun Creating!!!

Advent Calendar

So I was at Home Goods a few weeks back, oogling at the Christmas decorations and trying not to purchase anything, when I came across a beautiful advent calendar Christmas tree thing (yes that's the technical term) but at $79.99 it was far to expensive for me. So, naturally I took a picture and went home to the hubbs and asked him to duplicate it. 

Here is the Home Goods version.....
And here is our version....
The hubbs used wood he had left over from other projects, I spent 18$ on the baskets, and 3$ on the chalkboard for the top of the tree. So the total cost for this AWESOME Advent Calendar is a whopping 22$. And we will have this in our home for years to come.

In each of those little baskets I put three pieces of candy (one for each kid), a passage of scripture for us to read together before bed, and a clue to the fun activity that we have planned for the day. The activities vary from baking cookies, to singing carols at a nursing home, to delivering goodies to our friends and family, to ice skating and much more. The culminating activity is for us to bake a cake Christmas Eve so that we an enjoy birthday cake for breakfast on Jesus' birthday. I love having a month long celebration of our Saviors birth!

This is the reading plan we use for each day leading up to Christmas.
The Advent Calendar has always been one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Growing up we always had those cardboard calendars and I loved getting to eat the chocolate each day. When I had kids I knew I wanted to have a countdown to Christ's birth.  I have been tweaking it for the past few years to include all the elements that we would like to have and I think it's finally where we want it.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


This morning I read an article about what a real house looks like when the kids are home all day. It started off that we all have that one friend that says their house is a mess when it's not. Their house is perfect. It's clean, the dishes are done, their is NOT laundry everywhere (it's probably folded and put in drawers.....insanity I tell you), dinner is cooking, breakfast is cleaned up by lunch time, their dog doesn't shed or make a mess, you know......perfect.

Well, that friend is NOT me. I am messy, my kids are messy and my husband is messy. We have tried and tried AND TRIED the organized got it together, and have clean house, and clean children routine, but that's just not us. We call ourselves the Crazy Criswell's for goodness sake.

Any way back to the article (I have tried to locate it and can't.) The next thing they did was list all the things that happen in REAL life when the kids are home and making a huge mess. I am taking it one step further. I took of some of the mess that is happening right now in my house.
 Yep this is real, those stains on the carpet that I have scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed some more are NOT coming out. That laundry basket has been in the living room for 3 days....The play mat in the back is COVERED in kinetic sand. This is my life.
This is my dining room/school room, there is stuff every where!!! And guess what? I am having a birthday dinner at this very table in 3 days...when will I clean you ask?....probably about 20 minutes before people arrive.
My kitchen, the 5 year old is playing in the water and "washing" the dishes. Everything from breakfast is still out because we woke up, ate breakfast and got started on school.....I will clean this up before dinner....right before dinner.

We as moms constantly compare ourselves to others. We are always wondering if what we are doing is enough. We are thinking that if we could just get organized life would be easier. If we were better at decorating then our family would be happier, the kids wouldn't fight and they would be well behaved. None of that is true. I have had friends tell me that their house is too clean, that they spend too much time worrying about the appearance and they miss out on the fun. And guess what? Their kids still misbehave and argue.

Want to know something else? If someone is your friend, they will come sit in your mess with you, they won't care if you haven't vacuumed that day, they won't care if dishes are in the sink. They won't care if your kids shoes aren't put in the shoe cabinet that you purchased to help 'organize' the shoes. Do you know what they will care about? That you opened your home to them, mess and all and invited them into your crazy life.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Gluten Free (Kid and Husband Approved) Apple Pie Crisp

I won't remind you that thanksgiving is about 10 days away and that Christmas is just a little over a month a way, I just won't do it.

That means Apple Pies, Pumpkin pies, and many other sweets that my other gluten free peeps and I  cannot enjoy.

So here is a recipe that you can serve at Thanksgiving or Christmas that will please Gluten Free and non Gluten free alike!!

Gluten Free Apple Crisp
For the filling:
  • 5-6 Medium baking apples (my family loves Honey Crisp, but you can use Granny Smith) cut into thin slices
  •  2 tbsp gluten free flour
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/2 of All spice
  • 1/2 c. of sugar
  • 1tsp lemon juice
For the Crisp:
  • 6 cups gluten free Rice Chex Cereal
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (you can use coconut oil or butter substitute for Dairy Free)
  • 3 tbsp gluten free flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
Preheat oven to 400. Grease small 9x9 square baking dish with butter or nonstick baking spray.

To make filling combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Place sliced apples in a large bowl and pour lemon juice on top. Then toss. Now add dry ingredients and toss again til apples are coated in sugar mixture. Pour into baking dish.

To make crumb topping pour 6 cups of rice chex into food processor and grate. Try not make the Chex cereal to fine. Pour grated cereal into small bowl, add sugar and flour and mix well. Then add butter and mix til crumbly. Spread on top of Apple filling.

Place in oven and bake 45-50 minutes. ENJOY!!!

This dish is wonderful with a cup of Dark Roast coffee, don't tell anyone but this was my lunch today.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Homemade Christmas gifts

Okay, Okay, I just posted about a thankful tree two days ago, but I have to share this with you!

Art is a very large part of our homeschool. My children love to paint, draw and create. Last year our year end art project for the older two was a Monet inspired piece which produced two beautiful works of art which are hanging in our home. I have had many guests remark on the artwork and tell us what a lovely job the kids did.

So this year as I started to think of gifts I realized I wanted to give things that people could use, but that also had a personal or handmade touch. Enter BRILLIANT idea. I took pictures of the kids artwork and turned them into greeting cards that people could use for ANYTHING. Beanie also 'painted' a gorgeous piece last year using celery and leaves. Check it out!!

Great right? The best part is this, snap fish is running a 40% off cards +free shipping special right now. I chose a notecard that allowed me to use my picture as the ENTIRE front of the card, no words....but if you wanted words you could that too.

I ordered 24 of each card and my total was about $85.00. However after the discount I spent just under $50.00 for 72 cards. Once the cards came in (which took 3 days....not kidding....3 days) I divided them into sets of 9 which gives me 7 Christmas gifts (I am keeping a set for myself).  Each set of cards cost about $7.05, and the other day at Target I found card boxes for $0.45 each, bringing my total per boxed card set to $7.50. Here is what they look like.

I cannot wait to give these out for Christmas (if you are on the receiving end of one these sorry for spoiling the surprise).

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sometimes my kids teach me.

Today we went to the wait let me back up.....

This week has been hard, it's been one of those weeks where I have questioned if homeschooling is right for us. If I am really made for this. If this is what is good for my children.

3 hours, it has taken Peanut 3 hours to do math each day for the last week. And I am exhausted, and she is exhausted. I will be quite honest, some of my least favorite parenting moments with her have happened in the last few days. She just CANNOT focus on math. And to say it's frustrating me is a HUGE understatement. And that's just the tip of the iceburg, it felt like we struggled in every way.

But then....

Today we went to the aquarium. And, oh my sweet Peanut was in her element. She LOVES animals, everything about them. And she loves reading, and she LOVES facts. When you first walk into the aquarium there is a huge tank where they have created the Blacktip Reef. It is amazing and gorgeous and actually looks like a Coral Reef. It's wonderful. There are touch screen learning computers all around the tank, and Peanut took about 10 minutes to study the different species and then proceeded...without looking or name each species of fish and ray that lives in this tank. It was amazing. She was like a sponge (see what I did there).

Before we left for the aquarium I had printed out a scavenger hunt that was provided for us and Booger completed all but three questions which, I was told we WILL be finding the answers for tomorrow. He was so focused on learning and completing his project. I was stunned. But his approach was sooo different from Peanut, he was task focused and she was open to everything. And both were thoroughly enjoying themselves.

And I was talking with a new (but it feels more like an old) friend about my kids and their strengths and their weaknesses. And I started to think about all the reasons that we do this.

All children are unique, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. I have 3 children and all 3 are different. It amazes me how different they are, but I love it and I wouldn't change it.

So without knowing it my kids taught me today. They taught me once again that they are amazing. They taught me that WE can do this. They taught me that it's okay to struggle and it's okay to have a bad week. Because in a month I am not going to think about the bad week, I am going to think on what came from the bad week....a revelation and a reminder of why we continue to do what we do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I don't know if you knew this but it's November....

Yes, November, which means Thanksgiving and Peanut's birthday!

 I am honestly in shock at how quickly this year has flown by. Wasn't it just Valentine's day?

We make a pretty big deal out of birthday's around here so I am pretty excited for the party planning. But we also make a pretty big deal about Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for, I don't want the kids to let this time pass by without taking time to understand 
that we are truly blessed. 

Each year we make a thankful tree and all during November the kids write down things they are thankful for and at the end of the month our tree is full of all our blessings. This morning when Beanie woke up she ran straight to the tree grabbed a leaf and asked me to help her write down what she was thankful for today
Since we have 3 kids I chose a different color for each kid and that way the kids can keep track.

I am hoping to take it one step further this year. I want the kids to show their thanks to those around us who do so much to make our lives easier and more wonderful just by being themselves. Handwritten notes are still a favorite of mine and the kids love sending letters to people, so I thought that might be a great place to start showing our gratitude.

How do you show gratitude during the Thanksgiving season?