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Showing posts from 2017

Most Popular Blog Posts of 2017

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This year was very good for me as a blogger.  I joined a bunch of blogging support groups, and learned lots about the business.  I hosted my first ever giveaway and have been researching self-hosting.  I've also been working with Safari Ltd on their "How I Safari" campaign.  Here are the highlights of the past year organized by readership.

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I'm slightly surprised that my blog post "Gifts for Campers and Glampers" got so much attention this year.  It was part of my "All Wrapped Up" gift guide series, where I challenged myself to post every day in November.  It was a fun way to begin the Christmas season and one that I plan on continuing next year.





The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation happened on Oct. 31 of this year.  I wrote this blog post to help families find activities they could do with their families.  Although the memorable anniversary has passed, the post will be useful every year for Ref…

JOY the Elf 2017 (elf on the shelf)

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Week 1- Nutcracker
Dec 4- Arrival from "Russia"
Our elf returned with her passport and suitcase.  She had been in Russia learning the Nutcracker ballet and wanted to introduce it to us!  The kids loved her costume.


Dec 5- Dancing Snowflakes
When we woke up this morning, we found beautiful, intricate snowflake ballerinas.  The kids tried paper snowflakes for themselves but found them a bit difficult for their skill level.


Dec 6- Nutcracker Music
Joy spent time in the Christmas Tree.  Easy.  We watched sections of the Nutcracker on Youtube and were surprised to hear many musical pieces that we recognized.


Dec 7- Nutcracker and Nuts
I thought I had a Nutcracker doll in the house, but I think I gave it away (minimizing/organizing kick).  I was wanting to show the kids the difference between the two types of nutcrackers.  Joy brought us a modern nutcracker and a bowl of nuts.  The kids had never cracked nuts before and really enjoyed the activity.  Next time, I need to give them less…

Movie-Themed Foster-to-Adoption Parties

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We adopted 3 kids from foster care and know first-hand how difficult it can be to find party ideas for adoptions.  It's even more difficult to find ideas when you're not adopting a baby or an international child.  I started this list as a way to brainstorm fun ideas as we were planning for our own finalization dates.

I realize that not every party theme will be applicable for every family, and I have included themes that are not ones that I would have for myself.  My hope is that this list will stimulate discussion between yourself and your kids and aid in your party planning.


Martian Child (aliens/space)

Free Willy (whales/ocean)

Angels in the Outfield (baseball)

Anne of Green Gables (tea party/garden)


Elf (candy/Christmas)


Despicable Me (minions!)

Meet the Robinsons (robots/science)

The Blind Side (football)

Cinderella/Tangled (princess)

Kung Fu Panda (China/pandas)

Up (balloons, outdoors)

Lilo and Stitch (Hawaii/luau)

The Book Thief (bookworm)


Finding Nemo/Dory (reef)

When we adopted Ski…

15 Ideas to Exalt Christ at Christmas Time

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This is the last All Wrapped Up blog post!  I hope you enjoyed this month of gift guides and Christmas ideas.  Today, I'd like to focus on exalting Christ at Christmas time.  This is a frequently discussed topic among Christian parents, so I thought I'd put all the basic ideas in one place.


Nativity Book Countdown
The first blog post in this series was a Nativity book countdown, listing twenty-four stories that could be read one a night until Christmas.  Families that already do bedtime stories would find it easy to add these books to their routine.


DIY Wood Peg Doll Nativity Set
Of course, Nativities are a traditional Christmas time decoration, but there are so many from which to chose from.  I thought this toddler friendly Nativity set is adorable.  She made it with scraps of fabric and plain peg dolls.  My kids have enjoyed the Fisher Price plastic set with cute, chunky pieces.  Someday, I'd like to own this Willow Tree set, perhaps after the kids are a bit older and I h…

Choo-Choo Train Gifts

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My boys love everything with wheels, which lately has meant trains!  Tadpole enjoys putting things into lines, which is exactly what trains are all about.  He especially likes the magnetic cars that allow him to make really long snakes to drive through my kitchen.  If you have a train-loving son or grandson (or daughter/granddaughter), I'm sure you'll find something for him on this list.


Train Whistle and Conductor Hat
These first two toys are classics.  Every child should have a hat to wear while he runs through the house blowing the train whistle.  If you get one set for every kid, it'll be like living in a train yard!  Buy one today by clicking on the links .


Wood Train Tracks
This is the track set that we own, because it's interchangeable with a bunch of other brands.  It would be great on a train table or or just on the floor.  Builder toys like this allow kids to plan, problem solve, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.  And, imagine how large of a track yo…