Grocery University Half Off Sale!

If one of your goals for 2015 is to save money, here is a great place to start!

Grocery University 50% Off Sale!
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I was introduced to this program several years ago, and while I’m still not a big coupon clipper, I learned things that I’ve carried with me and made my own.  In fact, I have my daughters listen to this series (originally created by a 2nd generation homeschool mom!) because it is that good.  My oldest daughter does clip coupons and I want her to know the best way to use them – Grocery University is a product that can do this.

TODAY ONLY,
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making the entire audio series only $4.97!

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Can You Have a Peaceful Christmas When Your Life is Messy?

Is it possible to enjoy the holidays when your life is in upheaval?  | RaisingArrows.netWhen I contacted Sheri Graham about writing the 12 week series for the Holiday Planner, entitled Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas, I knew Christmas was going to be a bit crazy since I was due with baby #9 on December 22; however, what I didn’t know was that I would also be moving right before Thanksgiving!

Life got messy.

Here we are 3 weeks from Christmas, and I still have boxes to unpack, and the items I’ve managed to unpack already don’t all have homes.  My kitchen is only semi-operational.  My bedroom is a mess.  We just got all of the clothes out of suitcases, and I keep finding boxes marked “Books” with no place to put them!

Oh, and having a baby…yeah, that’s still on the To Do List as well!  (I really hope I find all the baby stuff in the next couple of weeks!)

It’s almost as if my Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas series is mocking me.

But, the truth of the matter is, this year, perhaps more than any other year, I NEED to try to have a peaceful Christmas.  Actually, let me rephrase that…

I need to be AT PEACE this Christmas.

That’s what the 12 Week Holiday Planner has always been for me – the anchor that keeps me from stressing.  In fact, even now when life is almost completely upside-down, and we aren’t even sure when we’ll be celebrating Christmas, I still have a sense of peace because I’ve done what I can.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a Christmas letter in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep.  I made my lists for each child, and utilized WishBin (the giveaway is almost over, so be sure to enter to win HERE!).  We decorated the tree for Christmas and had our party, but not on the grand scale we usually do.  We are taking things slow and trying not to rush despite the fact that everything feels like it is rushing around us.

Having a Peaceful Christmas When Your Life is Messy | RaisingArrows.net

Is it perfect?  No.

But, it doesn’t change the fact that what we are celebrating is perfect.

Do you think Mary had planned things the way they turned out?

Do you think it all seemed perfect from the outside looking in?

Did any of it make sense at the time?

Yet, there was peace.

It was the peace that passes all understanding.  It was the peace that comes from knowing that despite the chaos around you, you have the assurance that all is just the way it is supposed to be.  It is the peace that we have today, knowing that it isn’t about the presents or the crafts or the perfection, but rather about a tiny baby born to save the world from itself.

My life is messy.

Perfectly messy.

A Family Christmas Decorating Party!

Have a Family Christmas Decorating Party! | RaisingArrows.net

Ever since our oldest was little, we have set aside the weekend after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas.  As we’ve added more children to the family, our traditions have evolved into a party atmosphere full of amazing memories!  Today, I want to invite you to create something similar in your home.

Note from Amy:  I found this unpublished post in my archives.  The photos are from 2 babies ago and 3 years ago.  It has been neat to see how our children have changed, but our tradition of having a decorating party really hasn’t.  I hope you enjoy this post!

First, let’s set the scene…

The day is pretty much a Thanksgiving leftovers and special treats kind of day.  I make a few Christmasy type snacks (think toffee or fudge) and put on some Festive Hot Punch.

Of course, there must be Christmas music!  We have a whole stash of Christmas CDs, but this year we’ll be adding the iTunes Christmas stations to our lineup as well since I can play them from the iPad and put it anywhere in the house!

The boxes of Christmas decorations are brought up from the basement and we start to work on the tree.  In our current home, we have to do a bit of furniture rearranging first, but that’s not a big deal since Daddy and Blake are there to help.

And yes, we have a fake tree.  It is nearly as old as I am, handed down from my parents when Ty and I were first married.  Every year it loses a few more needles and every year we say we are going to buy another and every year after seeing the price tag of new trees, we decide the old tree will make it…one more year.

Next come the lights

hanging lights on tree

Ever since we were a family of 3, it was Blake and Daddy’s job to string the lights.  Frustrating as this can be, it’s a tradition that they guys wouldn’t have any other way.  And back to the fake tree thing…one of our qualification for a new tree involves one that is NOT pre-lit.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find one of those?!

Once the lights are strung (and we are confident they work!), out come the icicles!

Some of you probably just let out an audible gasp at the thought of icicles.  Ty has such fond memories of hanging icicles on the tree with his Granny that he couldn’t imagine a tree any other way.  Do they fall off and get all over the house?  Yes.  We just scoop them up and throw them back on the tree.  ;)

Christmas ornaments

Once the icicles are hung (and mom and dad have rearranged them so they aren’t all at waist-height), it is mama’s job to pass out the ornaments.  The ornaments are stored in packages with each child’s name on them.  We have quite a few personalized ornaments so to keep them stored neatly and to minimize the chaos that typically ensues at this point in the decorating, having them separated out by child makes mama’s life easier.

I sit on the floor with the ornament box and a small box of ornament hooks.  The older kids take care of their own bags and hooks, but I hand the younger children their ornaments with the hook already in and Daddy guides them to a spot on the tree.

The final touch is the tree topper.  We like to have a lit star as our tree topper to symbolize the star over Bethlehem.  We turn off all the lights and everyone stands around the tree as Daddy lifts the star to the top and plugs it in.  There are cheers and oohs and aahs as we gaze at our freshly-lit family Christmas tree.

tree2

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Once the tree is in place, the younger children beg mama to get out the Playmobil Nativity Set.

Last year we had to purchase a new one because ours has been loved on so much in the past 10 years since my sister bought it for our children that it had pieces missing and the cardboard stable was in shreds.  We opted to buy the set with the hard plastic stable and add on the Wise Men Set.

I also like to have a small set of baby-friendly toys under the tree for the current baby/toddler.  This could be something like the Fisher-Price Little People Nativity

or the Melissa & Doug set

Of course, there is a lot of other decorating we do inside and outside, but this post isn’t really supposed to be about me, but rather making YOUR Christmas Decorating Day special.  So, here are a few ideas for you to get started with your own Family Christmas Decorating Party this year!

A Family Christmas Decorating Party How To | RaisingArrows.net

*Set the mood with food – This is a time of celebration, so set the mood with some holiday food!  Choose a few family holiday favorites and put them out on a tray to snack on during the festivities.  If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making them or the expense of buying them, lay out some the Thanksgiving leftovers!  Grab some hot cocoa or coffee and creamer or cider and get to decorating!

*Set the mood with music – Tis the season for Christmas music!  If you haven’t collected any favorite CDs over the years, check out iTunes Christmas radio stations or Amazon Prime’s FREE Christmas albums!

*Start your own family traditions – Our traditions are a conglomeration of things Ty and I did as children and things that have become dear to us as we’ve had our own children.  We also ask our children every year what part of Decorating Day they enjoy the most and try our hardest to incorporate those into the festivities.

*Don’t stress! – Stressing over making the party perfect will turn something fun into a disaster quickly.  Remember, children are children and the decorating will be a little haphazard and a little chaotic, but if you remain low-key, the day will still feel festive to all involved.

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas – Week 9

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 9 - Mailing Week | RaisingArrows.net

Follow along with the series!
CLICK HERE

How did you do with the Week 8 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 9!

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Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner.  Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

This week we will getting those gifts shipped, Christmas cards done and mailed, and looking at doing some sort of Advent Countdown! Have fun!

Note from Amy:  When my 13 year old daughter was asked what her favorite Christmas tradition is, she immediately said our Advent Countdown traditions.  We do several from a Jesse Tree to a Snowman Advent box, to Truth in the Tinsel for the little ones.  It is a part of our evening Family Worship Time during Advent season, and it truly has become dear to all of us.  Don’t neglect this precious family time!

Week 9: Mailing Week

[ ] Ship Gifts! Complete package wrapping for gifts to be shipped and ship them! Use the Christmas Gifts to Be Shipped form provided if you want to make a list of the gifts to be wrapped and shipped if you desire. Then check these off as you get them shipped. File this form under the Christmas Gifts section for future reference.

[ ] Complete Your Christmas Cards! Using the Christmas Card Checklist filed under the Christmas Card section, complete addressing and mailing your Christmas Cards this week.

[ ] Advent Countdown! Another idea for Advent is to have an Advent Countdown until Christmas. See more detail below!

[ ] Begin Jesse Tree Devotionals! There are many types of Advent activities that a family could do. Check our Holiday Resources page on The Holiday Planner website for our recommendations. There are a lot of options to choose from!

Accountability:

Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!

To see all the posts in this series, CLICK HERE!

Educational Games Sale from SimplyFun – Today & Tomorrow only!

SimplyFun Educational Games Annual Sale - Give gifts that teach!

 

I am a firm believer that gifts should be well-thought out.  Junky plastic toys and mindless entertainment don’t rank high on my list of “must-buy” items for Christmas and birthdays.  For one thing, I don’t need the clutter in my house, and for another, I want my children to actually be learning something from the gifts they receive.

That’s why the annual sale at SimplyFun is an event I like to promote!

SimplyFun is a company that offers high quality, educationally-minded games.  Your children have fun AND learn!

Here are some of the games included in the sale… (click here for more info on the games!)

SimplyFun Annual Holiday Sale - High Quality Educational Games!

Consider the subjects your child struggles with in school.  What might a game do to help them grasp the concept?  Think about playing that game alongside your child!  Think about the entire family joining in and reinforcing learning while having a blast together!

Don’t waste money on junk this year!  And don’t waste time and miss this sale!  It runs TODAY and TOMORROW ONLY!

CLICK HERE TO START SHOPPING!