Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Are You Kidding? Starter Kit Deal of the Year! $99

Barefoot Books has just announced the opportunity to begin your own business for only $99. Beginning January 5, for a limited time, you can work with families, promote literacy and bring culturally diverse stories to your community for only $99. Check out this video for more on what Barefoot is all about.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

24 Days of Christmas - Day 20

It's the little things in life that bring us all such meaning and joy.  I know.  There are big things as well, the birth if a child, the purchase of a new home,  marriages......but I believe it is the small things that sustain us.  Today, the small things in my life include a quiet moment in the chapel watching the children rehearse their Christmas pageant; the gift from a friend of playdates with my children while I put the final touches on Christmas; and the knowledge that yesterday I prepared enough food to feed my family through Monday.  It is easy to get caught up in the stresses of the holiday but much more pleasant to take a quiet moment and appreciate the small things in your life.   What sustains you today?   I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

24 Days of Christmas - Day 18...I Think

Well, we are quickly approaching Christmas and things are beginning to breakdown at the Croy homestead,  home of the harmonious family.   Frustrated by the lack of 5 minutes to wrap gifts, I put the kids in front of Elf while I locked myself away to get said gifts ready for display.  In other words, we began Christmas break two days early.

The kitchen now looks like Santas elves have been creating havoc (who am I kidding...they would never leave that mess). 

Once Elf was over I realized the beans I had been cooking all morning were not ready for lunch and I didn't have enough wits about me to give the kids oatmeal for lunch, so we ran out to grab a gf lunch (not easy in our neighborhood).  On to violin, then a mad dash home to get the Sun ready for his violin concert.  These may not seem like much but there were other stressors added in which revolve around scheduling and a father with a doctor's appointment each day this week and well, the conversation with my husband sums it up. 

"When you get to the church for the concert, come down to Boca Loca where you will find me with a sangria."  He responded, "So, you are that kind of mom."  "I am today." 

I will leave you with a picture if the moon sipping a Shirley Temple.  Cheers to you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

24 Days of Christmas - Day 16

How in the world did it go from day 5 to day 16?  Has the last week and a half really flown by that quickly?  I think so.  We've been quite busy on the old Croy homestead.  Trimming trees, making desserts, Christmas crafting....there have been Christmas concerts and activities and on Sunday we are North Pole bound.  Trying to not panic or be in any shape, form or fashion F-R-A-N-T-I-C, we are wrapping up our first semester of homeschool and putting the final touches on the Christmas season.

Here are few things we have been doing here at home.  Note the snowflake wreath thanks to Better Homes and Gardens and the new Christmas card holder made from an old window frame.  I hope this week finds you calm as you navigate these last days leading up to the Winter Solstice and the birth of Christ.  Relish in the increasing darkness and celebrate the light this holiday season! 

Have a very merry day!  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

24 Days of Christmas - Day 4

The Advent season has begun.  We have never celebrated Advent before, not at least the anticipation of the birth of Christ.  I am not sure why we are celebrating it this year.  Perhaps it is the Episcopal church we are attending and I want to give the children the experience of this celebration.  Perhaps it is my continued offering of all religious paths to my children.  Maybe it's the connection we also feel for the approach of the darkest night of the year - the Winter Solstice.  Regardless, we are anticipating the arrival of our precious pink and purple candles.

To prepare for the new celebration in our home (and to prepare for the arrival of our Christmas tree on Saturday), I spent yesterday cleaning the silver (the base for said Advent wreath), cleaning out closets and reading articles to the children about the meaning of the Advent and how the greenery ties into the Earth based religions we also honor in our home.

One of the best articles I found that resonated with me the most was one on how the advent season honors Mary as she prepared for the birth of her son.  It reminded me of an Advent season, 13 years ago, when I waited for the birth of my own son, born 2 days after Christmas.

Regardless of what or how you are celebrating and enjoying this dark time of the year, go in peace and be blessed. 

24 Days of Christmas - Day 3

Do you celebrate the Advent?  Do you use an Advent calendar?  We have not actually celebrated the Advent but do use a calendar to count down the days until Christmas.  We have filled the calendar with toys, chocolates, money, and little notes, going as far as having the children go on a scavenger hunt for their Advent gifts.  Last year we really began scaling down Christmas and this year are scaling down even more.  How do we keep the magic, make the holiday meaningful, and keep our children from being spoiled (which if anyone know my kids, knows they are definitely not spoiled)?

This year the Advent calendar gifts look very different from how they have in the past.  Inspired by author Isabel Wyatt in her 7 Year Old Wonder Book, I occasionally draw pictures for the children in a sketch journal and leave them on their bedside table to be waiting for them when they awake.  Last night I read to them the story of the Star Twins and instead of leaving the pictures by their beds I left them standing in front of the Advent calendar.

This is the outline of the picture for the Moon

When the book is filled - probably sometimes at the end of the school year, I'll pack the journals away with the other important items that I am saving for the children in hopes that they will pull them out as adults and remember this part of their childhood.

Final Picture of the Star Twins

This holiday season, I hope you are thinking about the spirit of the holiday - however you celebrate - and being conscious of the messaging you are giving to your children.

"Shall we liken Christmas to the web in a loom?  There are many weavers, who work into the pattern the experience of their lives. When one generation goes, another comes to take up the weft where it has been dropped. The pattern changes as the mind changes, yet never begins quite anew. At first, we are not sure that we discern the pattern, but at last we see that, unknown to the weavers themselves, something has taken shape before our eyes, and that they have made something very beautiful, something which compels our understanding." -   Earl W. Count, 4,000 Years of Christmas

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

24 Days of Christmas - Day 2

Today is Giving Tuesday.  It is a day when we think about the importance of giving instead of receiving.  For us, giving comes in many forms.  Today's giving for me was in putting together messaging for a non-profit trying to raise money on what promises to be a huge day for those doing good works around the world.  For Nathan, it is possibly giving up his Tuesday night to deliver wreaths from our son's Boy Scout fundraiser.  On Sunday, giving for the Sun meant serving 20 homeless men for three hours with his church youth group. 

Unfortunately, the hours we give are not enough.  To make things happen in this world, money is also required.  That's why today we will also make a small gift financially to the person/organization of our choice.  Today's gift will most likely be someone or some group tied to orphans living in one of China's many orphanages.

In the spirit of giving, I want to share with you some of the organizations that have their way into my "in-box" today in case you are at a loss of who put on your #givingtuesday list.

Happy Giving!  

Monday, December 1, 2014

24 Days Until Christmas - Day 1


This past weekend Nathan and I were able to have our 10th annual no-child Thanksgiving weekend.  It's a tradition that my mother-in-law began for us.  When Noah was two years old, she insisted that he be allowed to stay with them for the weekend while we (I) had a much needed break.   Each year we spend Friday shopping and eating out and the remainder of the weekend going to the movies, taking on household projects or doing anything else that strikes our fancy.

As the years have passed and our shopping interests or the interests of those we are buying for have changed, the shopping has diminished. We now purchase what we can from local makers and sellers, make what we can, or order online.  It's a rare day that finds us at the mall regardless of the time of year.

This year I find that I am once again a seller and now a maker as I am making many of our holiday gifts for friends and family.  Today, I am sharing with you my top 5 books from the company I sell for - Barefoot Books.  These books are broken down by age and I'm giving you a book for each age that will bring wonder and joy to a child in your life.

A final note on these books.  All of these books are for all ages.  My 8 year old enjoys looking at our old board books as much as she enjoys reading the first Harry Potter.  My 12 year old (the one who devours a biography on George Washington in one sitting) enjoys his copy of Odysseus as much as any Percy Jackson novel.  When you are purchasing books for your children, it is always a great idea to look at age suggestions, but remember, children of all ages love books and love to read to.  Believe me, I know!  Most weekday afternoons you can find both my 8 year old and my 12 year old on the couch with a cup of hot tea listening to me read outloud.  

Embark on a dreamy, nighttime jaunt with a young boy and the moon. Overcoming a fear of the dark and discovering the world at night lives at the heart of this poetic tale. Includes notes about the moon and plants and animals that thrive in the wee hours.
100 Greatest Books for Kids List, Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine
Ages 1 to 7 years 

Come along on a high-seas I-spy adventure! Young readers will delight in pointing out everything the boy sees through his telescope in Nicoletta Ceccoli's dreamy illustrations. The rhyming, cumulative text, built on the familiar I-spy refrain, helps develop memory skills and builds reading confidence. Anchors aweigh!
Ages 1 to 5 years 

Journey through the night sky on a poetic trip that blends adventure, imagination and science to teach the basics of our solar system. Includes endnotes about the planets, stars, moons, constellations and even a little mythology.
 Ages 5 and Up

As Odysseus fights to find his way back home after the long and brutal Trojan War, he has to endure harrowing ordeals and adventures, and come to terms with devastating losses. Storytellers Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden’s graphic retelling breathes new life into this great classic.

Winner of the NAPPA Gold Award
Ages 8 and up

Become inspired by this breathtaking collection that brings together seventy-four of the finest poems in the English language, celebrating all manner of human experience. Features introduction from UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Winner of the NAPPA Gold Award
Moonbeam Awards Silver Medal Winner
For all ages 

Happy Reading!