The High King Lives

Advent 2014 & Christmas Decor December 26, 2014

Hello dear ones! Here’s our Advent list and Jesse tree devotions for this year. Enjoy and may you be inspired!

We kept our Advent activities in the Advent Christmas tree. I got it at Michael’s craft store and my son Michael painted it. Each day Michael opened a drawer to read the activity.



Jesse Tree, devotions by Ann Voskamp, and Advent wreathe. We read the devotions each night and Michael would put an ornament on the Jesse tree.


We also did this names of Jesus chain. We read a verse and one of Jesus’ names. Then Michael would write someone to pray for on the back. Each night our chain got longer. Links for printables at the end.


First off, this year wasn’t nearly as busy as last year. Some of the activities on our Advent list we never got to but that’s okay. If peace means skipping an activity then it’s worth it. Advent should not bring stress. It is a time to remember Christ’ birth and to look forward to Jesus’ second coming.

Last year was a bit hectic but we did have fun. Here’s the link for last year:

There are 4 posts but the rest of them are at the end of the first post. So you can hop to each one. We had some nifty parties for the Grinch and the Nutcracker. We also did some fun random acts of kindness.
This year we repeated a few activities and added some new ones. I’m just doing one post this year. Here we go!

Advent 2014

1. Leeland’s ultrasound, Christmas shopping, and watch a movie.
Our precious miracle


2. Read “The Gift of the Christmas Cookies” & make cookies.

You can find a detailed post on the Christmas books we read this year here:

3. Decorate Chris’ office, give out cookies, & fill a shoebox online.

4. Nativity play at group.


I did a whole post on this here:

5. Broadway Holiday (take canned goods) & make cornstarch ornaments.


Fake snow


6. Decorate a gingerbread house & sew primitive ornaments.

We never made the primitive ornaments but Chris and Michael did put together this gingerbread house kit.




Also, Chris and I had a date night. Details here:


7. Army band concert and donate to World Vision, VOM, & Valley Rescue.

We didn’t make it to the concert because Michael felt under the weather.


8. Read “The Legend of the Christmas Tree”, make tree crafts, & watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.


9. Read “The Message of the Birds”, take a winter walk, & do bird crafts.

10. Watch Frosty, have a snowman ice cream sundae, & do snowman crafts.


mason jar snowglobe~ it was hard to get a good picture.

tea light snowman ornament

11. Group book club, drink mistletoe cider, and watch The Christmas Box.

We didn’t make it to our group because Michael still had the sniffles.

The Christmas Box is one of my favorite stories. My Dad read it to me one Christmas. It’s about a busy father who realizes he’s missing out on his daughter’s childhood. We got the movie this year on a dvd with other Christmas movies. I’ve read the book to my family once and will hopefully do that again some day.


12. Read “The Candy Maker’s Gift”, make candy cane crafts, & eat candy cane treats.


13. Christmas parade & movie marathon.
We didn’t make it to the parade. We intend to each year but usually don’t. Ah, it’s too cold anyways! Chris and I did make it to our Sunday School Christmas party. We played the white elephant game and that was fun. Here’s me and my buddy Carrie.


14. Christmas kid’s choir at church.
Well, after a busy weekend and a full morning at church we decided to stay home that night. I did go with the guys to the archery place after lunch. I had promised Chris that I’d go some day.
I shot once and…

found, archery is not my cup of tea. I broke the arrow. I came, I saw, and…next time I’ll stay home. At least there was a nice recliner.


15. Read “The Lil Match Girl”, make luminaries.


16. Fantasy in Lights.

Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens is a spectacular drive thru light show with over 8 million lights! The last time I rode through was when I was pregnant with Michael and Chris was in Iraq. So it was neat this year to take the guys to this AND to be pregnant again!




We stopped in the Christmas village for some hot chocolate and treats.


17. Watch The Hobbit, have Christmas treats at bookstore, & visit the Pet store.

I didn’t get any pics for this. Michael got some Christmas money from grandparents and used it to buy himself a book. We took a quick trip to the pet store before going to the movies. Maybe I will write a review on the third Hobbit movie…

18. Scholars Christmas party and bookswap.

Hannah reading to the kids.




Chris holding Miriam, Hannah’s baby.



23 weeks


19. Watch Seasons of the Heart, Make paper Holly garland and mini paper angels.

Mom & Michael



20. Christmas recital & give gifts to Nana & Grandad.
Michael played “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

I played a few sing along tunes for fun.
Gifts with Nana and Grandad


21. Instrumental Christmas program.

Our church has a large orchestra.


22. Read “The Christmas Owl” and do owl crafts.

We read the book but didn’t do any crafts. So instead here are some pictures of my lil snowman! 🙂


23. Read “Mortimer the Christmas Mouse”.

I let Michael start nibbling on his gingerbread house since Mortimer the mouse lived in one.


24. Christmas Eve, Read/watch The Nativity Story, living room camp out, & family games.
We set up a big manger scene.

Chris preparing the chicken. We also had leftovers from Thanksgiving.

Family game time


We each opened one gift.

Okay this was staged lol. They were not actually asleep ;). We all ended up in bed because my lil dog has a gas problem….sigh.


25. Christmas Day! Holiday breakfast & funny movie marathon.
It’s almost time!
Michael has been playing his harmonica all day, that Aunt Jenn got him.
I think he likes our present :).
Stocking time! (Annabelle)








Annabelle…not cooperating.



The guys putting together a transformer and then…

the big Lego set. It took awhile.

But it was worth it.


Christmas decor etc…

So I was going to make this part a whole ‘nuther post but decided to keep this simple and put it all into one. It’s kind of late to show all our Christmas prep but what the heck.

Lights on the house

Outside the door…



Painting the Advent tree

Stockings are hung…



Christmas village on the piano


Christmas tree and Nutcracker forest


Chester modeling in his box



New Christmas bedding. Yaaa!


Chester…doing finances?


Tree chain on the homeschool room door


Michael likes to decorate his bedroom too.



Well, God bless & remember the High King lives! Merry Christmas! ~Amber Dover



Six Inspirational Christmas Books with Activities December 24, 2014

Hello dear ones! I want to share with you the inspirational Christmas books we read during Advent and the activities we did with them. Also a link to the free Christmas Around the World lapbooks we’ve been doing in homeschool.  Well, all but one of these Christmas books talk about Jesus’ birth. Enjoy and I hope you’re having a merry Christmas season!


1.The Gift of the Christmas Cookie


This delightful story tells how the tradition of Christmas cookies came about. It is a story about sharing God’s love with others. We made Christmas cookies to go along with it.


2. The Message of the Birds

This cute story uses birds to share the news of Jesus’ birth. For the activity I taught Mom and Michael how to draw cardinals. Then they used waterpaint and finger paint to finish.


3. The Candymaker’s Gift


This is one of my favorite Christmas books. A grandfather uses the candy cane to teach children about Jesus. We made a couple candy cane ornaments. Then we made candy cane hearts to eat! Links will be at the end of this post!

Crushing the candy canes

Before adding the vanilla almond bark

Sprinkling the crushed candy canes into the melted candy



4. The Legend of the Christmas Tree

Why do we decorate Christmas trees? A tree salesman shares the origin of Christmas trees and how the church has used different trees to share God’s story through history. I learned something new myself when we read this. Michael made a picture ornament and a cornstarch ornament tree.


5. The Little Matchgirl


This is the only story that doesn’t mention Jesus. It is a bittersweet tale by Hans Christian Anderson. The poor matchgirl lights a match to warm herself as she sells matches in the freezing cold. But everytime she lights a match she sees a warm vision. This is one of my favorite classics. It’s sad but also happy…depending on your point of view. I would use this story to talk about helping others and also being thankful for what we have. We made mistletoe luminaries for this story.


We used mason jars, red & green tissue paper, modge podge, and epsom salt. The epsom salt gives it the snowy effect.

6. Mortimer’s Christmas Manger


This adorable story is about a mouse who finds a home in the manger. By the end of the tale he’s given his new home back to the baby Jesus. Then God provides Mortimer with another home, a gingerbread house. So I allowed Michael to start nibbling on the gingerbread house him and his dad made earlier this month. He has until New Year’s to finish it.


I hope you enjoyed this post. You can find these books on Amazon and (except my version of the Matchgirl. It’s from when I was a kid.) I believe these stories are worth reading every year. They’re fun and they keep the focus on Christ.

Here are the links for the craft and food ideas:

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

PS: Here’s the Christmas Around the World lapbooks we used.

Free passport:

I used the above link for all but Asia. I wanted to explore countries besides the Phillipines. So I used three other links for Russia, China, and India.

We did not make any of the crafts or food this year. But the nice thing about lapbooks is that you can save them and pull them out next time. Maybe next Advent season we will have time to do more.


Michael stamped his passport each time he learned about a country.


I apologize for the poor quality of these photos. My camera hasn’t been the same since I dropped it.



Also Michael learned how to play “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” on the piano. We looked over the lyrics to the song and watched several versions online. I used several Susan Paradis worksheets to go over his notes. They all had a Christmas theme. You can find them at this link:




Jesus, Our Precious Gift: An Interactive Christmas Drama 2014 December 17, 2014

Hello dear ones! By God’s grace, I wrote a nativity play for our homeschool group. I also had an Advent craft and goodies for the kiddos. If you read my Easter play post then you know I do my plays a bit differently. No one memorizes lines and the kids/audience interact as they watch the adults perform. My son Michael performs too and again was a big help. Here’s the link for the Easter drama:

Alrighty, onto how this went down :). I played Mary who was the Narrator.


Here’s the cast list:
Mary/ Narrator- Me
Joseph- Michael, my son
Gabriel- Hannah
Herod- Stacie
Elizabeth- Erin
Zachariah- Michael, my son
Simeon- Stacie
Anna- Rachel

Wise Men, Shepherds, Angels, & Animals~ played by children/audience
Jesus & John~ baby dolls

So the other homeschool moms stepped up nicely to play the main parts. Michael and Stacie played double roles.  I was very excited to include lesser known characters in the play, like Anna and Simeon.

I didn’t have the time or motivation to make all the props/costumes this year. I bought most of it from Oriental trading.
Bethlehem backdrop (used for Nazareth & Jerusalem too)
Cave with manger- made from a cardboard box
Cross backdrop
Altar with incense- We just pretended for this.
Chair for Mary to sit on

I had my audience pretend to go back in time with me. Then the children picked their costumes and watched and waited for their part in the story. We have a small group so this worked well.



We began our story by meeting Anna and Simeon in the temple. Simeon explains the dark times the Israelites were in but how God has made him a promise. I wanted to follow the Biblical time line. Most Nativity stories smoosh everything together and leave parts out. We of course did not see Simeon’s big moment until after Jesus was born. I wanted the kids to get an idea though of how everyone was waiting for the messiah. Simeon and Anna set that up.

Then we moved on to Zachariah’s encounter with the angel Gabriel and the prophecy of John. John would prepare the way for the Messiah. If you celebrate Advent then you know the Advent wreathe has four main candles (not including the Christ candle that lights them all). The candles represent Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. The scenes in the drama each represented a candle. The prophetic scenes represent Hope.

Michael as Zachariah. You can read about this scene in Luke 1.

My best buddy Hannah as the angel Gabriel and also her daughter Miriam as an angel in training ;).


Zachariah loses his voice because he doesn’t believe the angel.

We head to Nazareth to meet Joseph, and Mary goes from Narrator mode to being in the story. All of the next part is also found in Luke 1.


Gabriel visits the virgin Mary and tells her that she will have the Son of God, Jesus.


Scene 2: Love (God prepares the world for His gift of Love)
Mary and the audience travel to Zachariah and Elizabeth’s where John the baptist is born. Zachariah’s voice comes back as he announces John’s name and proclaims the prophecy.

Erin as Elizabeth with the baby John.


Mary returns to Nazareth and Joseph finds out she’s pregnant. He doesn’t believe the miracle until he has a dream with Gabriel in it. Now he knows Jesus is the Son of God. Mary hasn’t cheated on him.


Joseph takes Mary as his wife. King Herod (Stacie) announces Caesar Augustus’ decree that everyone should return to their hometown to be registered. Joseph and Mary embark on the journey to Bethlehem. Silent Night played while we walked around the room.


Scene 3: Joy (Jesus is born) story found in Luke 2 and Matthew 1.

Mary tells Joseph the baby is coming. There is no room for them except with the animals. It was most likely a cave not a stable. We used a box with straw in it for the manger.


Baby Jesus is born.



Angels appear to shepherds in the field and announce the baby’s birth. Luke 2: 8-21


We pause at the manger scene to sing Joy to the World.


Scene 4: Peace
Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus go to the temple for Jesus to be dedicated. We run into Simeon and Anna again. Simeon holds the baby and makes a big speech (sorry no pics. Rachel the photographer was playing Anna). Luke 2:22-38

Meanwhile, the wise men ask King Herod where the Messiah will be born. Matthew 2:1-12


He tells them Bethlehem and God sends a star that the wise men follow to Jesus. Mary and Joseph are in a house at this point and Jesus could be as old as 2 yrs. We don’t know. The audience/children used glow sticks to be the Christmas star.


The wise men (maybe 3 maybe not. We don’t know) give 3 gifts. Mary holds up the gifts and explains them.

Gold, a gift for the King of kings. Frankincense, like the incense the priests burned, to represent the Priests of all priests. Lastly, myrrh, a perfume used in burial, a reminder that Jesus would die to save us from sin.


Scene 5: Christ, Our Light

The Wise men return home and Herod realizes that they are not coming back to him. King Herod is furious and commands that all baby boys 2 and under should be killed.


Joseph is warned in a dream. Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus flee to Egypt until King Herod dies.

Everyone exits except Mary. Mary goes to the cross backdrop and explains that Christ brings light to the darkness. Jesus grew up and died on a cross to save the world from sin. Then three days later he arose from the dead. One day Christ will return and destroy all evil. There will be no more sickness or sorrow. We ended the play by singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. Then we hopped in our time machine to have snacks and crafts.


Shout out to all the awesome moms who helped make the play possible. All of the pictures were taken by my friend Rachel. She has a cool blog. Right now Rachel and her daughter Maggie are making ornaments for the Jesse tree. Check her out:

Michael and I made Red Velvet Cake Balls for the treat. Recipe here:


I put together treat bags for the kids.

Nativity stickers


The craft was a simple Advent wheel that the kids colored. I found it on Oriental Trading too.

Here’s a link with Nativity facts:

I hope the play inspires you. God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover


Advent Week 3 December 24, 2013

In this post: Week 3 of Advent. Random acts of kindness with the Grinch, a sweet Nutcracker party, Carol of the Bells learnin’, and Christmas tree fun with Charlie Brown. Etc…

Hello dear ones! So the beat goes on and I’m almost done with the Advent posts. So here’s the list with links at the end :).

  • Random acts of kindness and a Grinch party~ These random acts of kindness were fun but we felt like criminals because of the secrecy lol. We put up grocery carts left in the parking lots, taped a bag of quarters with a note to the vending machine, and left dollar bills with notes in the toy section of the Dollar Tree. When we got home we strung popcorn and cranberries for the animals.  When Chris got off work we watched The Grinch, Michael drew The Grinch, and colored pages from the Dr. Seuss site. We had Grinch punch and played a Grinch game. We each wore a Grinch mask that I drew and the family tried to pin a heart on the Grinch.
  • The Nutcracker Party~ I had a blast making snowflake ballerinas. I decorated the t.v. area with pretend sweets. You’ll have to click on the pic to see everything. I made fake cupcakes with pom poms, glue, and glitter. I also made pretend suckers to go with ones I had bought at the craft store. I put our big nutcracker in the center along with Nutcracker books etc. I put the “mouse king” in a cage. I made the gumdrop tree with tooth pics and gumdrops. We watched The Nutcracker on Netflix and colored puppets/marionettes for our own play. Michael painted a wooden Nutcracker. Near the bottom you’ll find a picture of The Nutcracker lapbook. We learned about where Nutcrackers come from and the carving process. Then we got in the kitchen and made sweets. Later that night we put on a play for Chris.
  • Camp out in the living room and play Christmas games~  We did this the night of the nutcracker party. We had a blanket tent. We played Christmas charades and carol humdinger.
  • Carol of the Bells crafts , videos, and sweets~ We were supposed to go caroling at nursing homes but we didn’t feel well. We did however do a lapbook on Carol of the Bells. Michael made a bell out of a pipe cleaner and beads. We had Reese’s chocolate bells. We watched several versions of Carol of the Bells on youtube. We really liked the Muppet version.

More after…


  • Christmas Party @ homeschool group & gingerbread house making~ Our group got together for a party. We all had off of school this week so Chris came with us. Most people bought gingerbread house kits. We did too so it wasn’t hard to put together. I made red velvet cake balls for the group.  Our group always makes good food. I felt really bad that day but we made it for the party and I’m glad.
  • Watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, make Christmas tree crafts, and eat tree snacks~ We learned about evergreen and deciduous trees with a quick lapbook. We watched the movie and ate Christmas tree sugar cookies. Michael finger painted a Christmas tree.
  • Have a winter picnic, feed the ducks, & play with pet store animals~ It was muddy so we went to a restaurant to eat. Then we went to the pet store and played with two adorable puppies. I accidentally fell in love with a french bulldog. I shouldn’t have but I named her Annabelle Antoinette. She’s a pure breed and we can’t afford her now. I never wanted a bulldog but this was my first time playing with a Frenchie. I even made a Pinterest section for frenchies. Sigh…I hope she finds a good home.


  • Christmas treats at a cafe~ We never did this but one night we ate at a diner and had an eggnog milkshake.

PS: The third Advent candle stands for joy.


Advent Week 1 with our printable advent list:

Advent Week 2:

Advent Week 4:

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover


Advent Week 2

In this Post: Week 2 of Advent. More random acts of kindness, food, and fun :). 

Hello dear ones! I’m finally catching up. Week 2 was slow. I thought I was going to be in pain and ill that week so I didn’t plan much. It was actually the next week that I felt bad…the week with all the plans. Life goes that way, huh?  So here is the Advent list for week 2 :).

  • Christmas Musical & Prophecy Game~ Sunday we ate at my Mom and Step Dad’s. We lit the 2nd Advent candle that represents repentance. The pic at the top of Mom and Michael in front of the Christmas tree is from the musical at church.  Pics at the bottom show their cat Diamond hiding in my bag, us reading as a family, and my Mom’s snowman collection. I got the prophecy game idea from Thriving Family magazine. You put different words like birth and crucifixion on Popsicle sticks. Then you read prophetic verses and try to figure out what the prophecy is referring to. I.e. Isaiah 9:6 refers to “birth”.
  • Candy cane gifts and crafts plus giving at the nursing home~ We taped mini candy canes to a poem that relates the candy cane to Jesus. We watched “The Legend of the Candy Cane” and we made a candy can ornament and Chris helped with a Lego candy cane. We went to the nursing home to play Bingo. We handed out the candy canes to the nurses/workers. Michael signed a bunch of Christmas cards and gave them to the residents we play Bingo with.  I’ll include my Pinterest link with the candy cane ideas at the end.
  • Stocking craft & Gingerbread Waffles~I don’t remember when we did this but sometime during the week me and Chris tag teamed to make Gingerbread waffles. We ate on them all week. I’ll include the link at the end. My Mom came over one day and we read “The First Christmas Stocking”. Then Michael made a wants vs. needs stocking.
  • Watch Snowglobe & make one, plus Mr. Popper’s Penguins crafts/movie~ Snowglobe is one of my favorite girly Christmas movies. The guys compromised and watched it with me. We also watched Mr. Popper’s penguins because Michael had read the book. We put a penguin in our snow globe.
  • See lights at Moonlake and live nativity~ Every year a park near us lights everything up and has a carnival. Last year they had reindeer. This year they were supposed to have Nativity animals. Well, they did have a camel but the Nativity actors were teens goofing off with each other. Mary and Joseph kept wandering around…maybe they were looking for the Inn? You know what they say about best laid plans… Well, it was overly crowded and freezing. We had some hot chocolate but it wasn’t enough to keep us there. We saw a few lights and the camel and left in a hurry. Next year I think we’ll do a drive through lights experience. We did see some lights in town after we left.

More below…


  • See The Hobbit & pass out goodies to the librarians~ The Hobbit was awesome (except the previews). We never made it to the library. We will have to save that random act of kindness for another time. Sometimes you just got to let things go for the sake of sanity.
  • Christmas parade & candy lane~ Didn’t happen. It rained and we slept in. The parade still went on but I feel sorry for those in it. Honestly, we played video games and watched movies all day I think. We didn’t even care about seeing candy lane.
  • Watch Rudolph, make reindeer crafts, and eat snacks~  This was on Sunday but I added it to this week since week 3 was super busy. We did watch Rudolph and we ate reindeer cookies. Yeah those aren’t homemade ;). We didn’t do any crafts however. I found a Rudolph drawing tutorial but Michael thought it was too hard to tackle.

So this was a slow week but I learned that sometimes it’s more fun to be flexible and forget the schedule. We still  had school that week so the third week of Rome kept us busy too. I’ll hopefully post that after Christmas.

Here are the links I promised

Advent week 1 & our downloadable Advent list:

Advent Week 3:

Advent Week 4:

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

Merry Christmas! I hope you saw my Christmas card :).


Advent Week 1 December 15, 2013

In this Post: Several advent ideas (activities, food, and random acts of kindness). Also links to help you start your own advent fun! 🙂 Please come hang out.

*Note: Advent is a countdown to Christmas and for Christians it is a time to remember Christ’ birth and to look forward to his second coming (advent).  The wreathe and candles have special meanings. A Jesse tree helps tell the story of Jesus’ family tree while counting down to Christmas.

Hello dear ones! I hope you’re having a lovely holiday. I hope this holiday will be less stressful than the one before and that my family will learn to give and be content. So this year we decided only one gift per family member. So I only have two to shop for…easy peasy and one is already done.  Also I tried to focus our advent activities around random acts of kindness not just fun. I couldn’t get everything we did on camera but below are some pictures of week one.  Here’s a list of what they are and links for ideas! 🙂

  1.  Get out the Jesse tree and start advent/Jesse tree devotions. We read these each night and lit the first candle which reminds us that Christ is King. Purple for royalty :).
  2. Watch Frosty the Snowman and drink hot chocolate. (no pics 😦  )Also fixed the advent wreathe. Our Advent devo. had a neat activity where the guys tried to keep a balloon between them while moving. They had to stay close to keep the balloon from falling. It related to us staying close to God since we need His help. Pic bottom right.
  3. Build a shoe box online with Si Robertson for Operation Christmas child. Also donate to World Vision in someones honor. Michael helped me pick how to donate and then WV sent cards to our family members we honored. There are so many options: donating nativity animals, helping the hungry, protecting girls from slavery. Seriously there is a world of good that can be done.        and
  4.  Make gingerbread cookies, have a gingerbread man hunt, and decorate the window with gingerbread clings. Pics on the left. We also watched the Gingerbread man.
  5.  Decorate Chris’ office tree and give out gingerbread cookies to his fellow employees.  (bottom right)
  6. Send Christmas cards to heroes (soldiers) through Red Cross. We actually did this earlier. It’s too late to send them now but maybe you can do this next year.  Pic of Michael on the left.                                                                     Our friends came over for dinner. We ate gingerbread cookies and Michael played Noel for them. Pic in the middle. The best thing was feeling my BFF’s tummy and the lil one rolling around inside.
  7. Read A Christmas Carol and see the play at the opera house. Pics on the left. We actually read the book the week before Thanksgiving. We dressed up fancy (pic to the left of title). I was able to get a picture of the carolers (actors) and the theater. It was a marvelous production.

You’ll probably have to click on the picture to see it well.


Even more Advent ideas here:

and here:

The cookie mix I use each year is here:

The gingerbread man hunt was a fun addition. You take the cookie out of the oven and leave a note as if he ran away. Each note has a clue to the next spot but lo and behold the critter has out ran you again! Then the last clue leads to the oven and he’s “magically” back in the pan. I love the look on Michael’s face. We know it’s just make believe but what fun :).

We’ve seen The Nutcracker ballet each year but we might not be able to see it this one. I’ve gotta say…I like A Christmas Carol better. The animated movie with Jim Carey freaked Michael out but only one scene bothered him in the play. The scene with the ghost of Christmases yet to come is always a bit unsettling. I wish I had a picture of that ghost to show you. They were really creative. I hope Michael and I will have special Christmas dates even when he’s an adult. 

Well, more advent activities next time. There are so many neat ideas I can’t wait to share.  I’m too impatient. Here’s our list for you to download and get a sneak peek before I post them ;).

Advent 2013

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

Advent Week 2

Advent Week 3

Advent Week 4:


Crafty Monday: The Wisemen, Paper Angels, & Christmas Lights December 17, 2012

Hello friends! I hope you’re having a beautiful day :). I’ve started praying for you. I know I should’ve already been praying for my readers but today is a new day and a good time to start. I pray that you have the Peace of Christ in your hearts and that you know what’s most important in life. I pray for your contentment and joy. Most of all I pray that you know or come to know Jesus Christ, the best friend you can ever have and the hope of the world.

I encourage you to read my Sunday post (yesterday) if you haven’t already. I know God is calling me to simplify. I have some great links on that post with ideas on how to do just that. I truly want Christ to be the center, the beginning, the end, the every part of our school time and our life. I want God to be in control because He knows best and He is a GOOD God. I so wish you could study Beth Moore’s Deuteronomy Bible study with me. I want to share that with you in the near future. I will say this, “God brings us out, to bring us in.” (From Beth Moore). He takes us out of bondage not only to set us free but to also take us in a new direction, to a spiritual promised land where our lives bear abundant spiritual fruit.


On to crafts…

Ideas from here:

Michael read the story of Christ’ birth in his Bible along with his Bob Jones devotional (for 2nd grade). He looked at the New and the Old testament. We read about the wise men. I want to go over the story in all gospels and figure out what’s fact. I’ve read it all before but still I have the Nativity sets ingrained in my mind. It’s hard to separate the two. I’m pretty sure the wise men came after he was circumcised when he was a couple months old? I’m not certain though so don’t take my word for it. And did Mary really ride a donkey? I’ll have to look. I at least know that there wasn’t really a drummer boy and Timmy the Precious Moments angel did NOT bring baby Jesus a blanket ;).

Here is Michael’s wise men handprint. Chris thought it looked like a turkey…


We also read a great book about all the noises that would’ve happened at Christ’ birth. It was not really such a silent night. Still we should take the time to quietly reflect on it’s wonder.


We read this neat book about King Wenceslas. I honestly had no idea who he was and why we sing about him. It turns out that King Wenceslas was real and he was a kind king that helped one of his people. The King and his Paige braved a winter storm to bring food etc to a humble peasant. I played the song for Michael. I thought about teaching it to him but three Christmas songs on piano is plenty.


Paper Angel Chain


Speaking of Christmas Carols. Michael has mastered Jingle Bells and Silent Night. Lately, we’ve focused on Joy to the World. Michael says it’s his favorite.

Michael spent a good bit of time signing Christmas cards for the Nursing Home. So some of our craft plans just didn’t happen. Michael delivered 59 cards to staff and residents. One lady held the card and kept saying “so pretty” over and over. The residents light up when they see Michael. He gets hugged to death! We also delivered cookies to the staff. If you can’t think of a way to volunteer then please just go to a nursing home and hug someone. They are the most precious people and we have so much to learn from our elders.

God is so good and the fact that we volunteer at a nursing him is ALL his doing. I couldn’t set foot in a nursing home for years after my Dad died. Because of his illness he had to have round the clock care and so he had to go into a n. home. He was in his early forties :(.  We didn’t have the money for a 24 hour nurse. Our family spent plenty of time at the home and I fought to make sure he was treated right. Dad died in a hospice house and days before we were fighting the way the nursing home had treated him. I have a lot of bad memories and even nightmares of that place. So it was GOD who got me to set foot in a different nursing home. I’m so thankful he did. It’s been healing and we love the people there.

Moving on…I printed out a reminder of what the candy cane represents. We watched the story about the candy cane and Michael wanted to make a candy cane heart.


Thumb Print Christmas Lights & a reminder that Jesus is the Light of the world


Oh, and Michael was curious about the definition of “Noel”. I honestly wasn’t 100% sure either so we looked it up. It’s french/ old English and means “Christmas”. It’s root word actually means “the birth”.

I was proud of Michael for finishing another Mailbox Club course. The Bible lessons are great and helped bring three generations of our family to Jesus; my Dad, me, & my son. I’m thankful that Nana (my mom) takes the time to do these with Michael. It’s very special. Here is his certificate.


Chris is off of school and work for the next two weeks. So we’re going to enjoy him. We have some light school work this week but I may call some of it off anywho. We hope to see another live Nativity and we’re excited about a family outing to watch “The Hobbit”. We are all Lord of the Rings fans. Michael does a great Smeagel/Gollum  impression ;P.

God bless, merry Christmas, & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover


My Family Rocks! Sunday: Cherish the Moments

 Note: I’m going to post some of our moments in between writing. We’re still doing advent so these pics are apart of that. Please check out the awesome blog links at the end.

Michael and I ready for our 2nd mother-son date. We ate at a nice restaurant and then saw The Nutcracker ballet. Michael’s Nutcracker tie is too cute! At first, little man was against seeing a ballet but once we got there he said “This is nice”. Now he wants to take me on more dates and I’m trying to teach him how to treat a lady when he takes her on a date. I’m thinking of his future wife….those dates. I’m more for courtship rather than casual dating.


Hello dear ones, I pray you are all well. We had a tragedy over here in the states. Several children my son’s age were killed in a shooting at an elementary school. It breaks my heart and makes me want to hug my son tighter. Please pray for the families.

This holiday season I’ve really over done it and I have mom friends who are burnt out as well. In this fast paced society, we are pushed to go, go, go. We want to achieve more….be on every committee….help every worthy cause and still have a house like June Cleaver.

As homeschool moms we are expected to have kids that excel academically, show good character, & become active members in the community. Many of us try to keep healthy homemade meals on the table, budget wisely, and make sure our husbands are loved and respected. We make sure the family makes it to church and that the kiddos are involved in social activities. Somehow the house is supposed to stay clean and we are to have time in God’s word each day…..also keep up our appearance…keep the romance burning in our marriage etc. Some of us are taking care of elderly or sick parents too. The pressure is really on because the world already thinks we are weird for homeschooling. What if our child doesn’t socialize well? What will all those people who frown at our choices/callings think if we fail? It’s a downward cycle of pleasing man instead of God. If God is for us then who can be against us?

Chris and Michael dressed up silly for caroling in the park for RA’s (boys church group).


I personally have felt the pressure and often find myself comparing my teaching to that of public school. It’s strange because when God called me to this journey I didn’t want to be like public school. Most people homeschool because they disagree with public school methods. Yet, I’m trying to keep up with everyone else? I was really bad about this in the beginning.

My friend Sheri, who died of cancer (I did a post on her), was one of the most laid back moms I know & I loved the way she really enjoyed her children. Her kids learned the basics and are smart kids. They took a field trip to Cambodia :). Yeah, she knew that people should live while they are alive. How many of us walk around like zombies? We do what’s expected of us and never take the time to actually live. We keep waiting for things to get better, rather than enjoying the simple blessings already around us.

Chris and Michael making mini cookie cutter pizzas



I’m pretty sure that the parents of the children who died don’t care now if their kid was on the honor roll or how good they could kick a soccer ball. I bet they are thinking of all the special moments they spent holding their child, reading to their child, watching their child explore the world in wonder.

I want to cherish my son’s childhood. Yeah, I’m glad he can read but that only matters to a point. Truth be told, people fail “subjects” all the time and it doesn’t matter one lick. I barely passed Highschool math and honestly I haven’t used much of anything I learned in school except the basics (reading & arithmetic). I want Michael to love Jesus & to have character above all else.  He may be a loner or he may be a social butterfly. I went to public school & I’m a loner. God has more of a hand in who Michael is and becomes than I do. I want Michael to be who HE’S supposed to be….not who some other kid is supposed to be. This is easier said than done. It’s time I put action to my words.

Mmmmm yummy, fun, but WAY too sugary ice cream cone Christmas tree. A cone, green icing, and m&ms!




I love to read Hodgepodge’s blog and to see how she teaches with simple nature studies.

I love the Montessori ideas at Let the Children Play :

Michael and I have some wonderful moments. I think we can have more though if we took off some of the load. December has been just as physically draining as November was mentally draining (NaNoWriMo). Sometimes less is more. Quality not quantity. I’m pretty sure our homeschool methods will change in January atleast some. I don’t know how it’s going to happen but I’m praying  for God’s guidance. After all, this homeschool thing was His idea. Why am I trying to be in control?

Singing Christmas songs while baking cookies & making salt dough ornaments. Yes, a spoon is the best microphone!



Michael was up til midnight helping me and I was up til 5 am finishing. We got tired of Christmas songs and watched several Christmas movies while waiting for things to bake, cool..etc etc. Our selections include: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Precious Moments, The Story Lady, & Seasons of the Heart. The last two are feature family films and soooo good!


These cookies were made for the nursing home and for Chris’s office. Our naughty cat, Chester, decided he wanted some gingerbread and sugar cookies. I was so surprised that he went as far as ripping open the ziplock and eating three cookies! Dang cat! Thankfully I had just enough to make another bag.


I am reading this book to help me learn how to simplify. Also I’m enjoying this homeschool mom’s great blog (Karen De Beus). She uses the Bible as her main teaching tool. For instance, a study of Noah’s ark spurred them on to study fossils and history. They learned naturally by childhood curiosity. I’m sure they will retain their learning better than most. You ought to check her out

I encourage you to get her book. It’s only 99 cents on Kindle! I may be looked at funny for doing things out of the box and you may too. But the smiles on our kids’ faces and most importantly the beauty of God’s guidance in our children’s lives will outshine criticism. If God’s leading then it’s all good :).

Chris helped us paint salt dough ornaments. This was his first time doing it and he did really well :). We painted a day or two after baking these.


Please be in prayer for us as we explore uncharted waters. I’m nervous about going against the grain but I know God has laid this on my heart. Things have been really stressful lately and I know that’s because I’ve been doing things my way instead of God’s. I don’t like messing up my planner and I worry what people think. Plus it’s so hard to throw out curriculum when it’s just not working. I’ve learned with math lately that work books are so much easier than hands on. Still, Michael learns better with hands on. So I really have to put in the time to make it exciting. I’m a control freak and a perfectionist. God help me!

We helped my Mom and Step Dad move yesterday. This really has been a BUSY week! Pic below of Chris “napping”  in the moving truck.


Everyone taking a well deserved break at the new house. My parents moved from a one bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom house in the country. I am SO happy for them and can’t wait to move in with them…..I mean visit often ;P lol. I’m talking girl time at mom’s! Yaaaa!


Everyone schools differently and children are so different. One method may not work for one child yet does for another. That’s why we must follow God’s leading. He knows our children better than they know themselves. I am learning that parenting isn’t as simple as following a guide book. Children learn differently and surprisingly they have to be disciplined differently, if we are concerned with character not just obedience. Helping a child into their calling is not easy and one size doesn’t fit all.

Our Sunday School had a dirty Santa a.k.a white elephant party Friday. It’s where everyone brings a gift and people can steal the presents from each other. It was fun and there were many goofy moments! We brought a Spongebob ice cream set & Star Wars mugs. I feel guilty for stealing my own gift. We now have the ice cream set :P.


Our host had a HUGE Christmas tree!


Please enjoy the holidays and this beautiful advent season. Jesus Christ came to us simply… a baby. He was born in a humble place but his birth brought peace to the world and his life, death, & resurrection brought salvation to all. We only have to accept his free gift of love and mercy. So amidst the holiday rush, stop…take a deep breath and remember the simple beauty of that holy night.

       Last year, we went to this thing called Journey to the Manger. It was a live Nativity with a maze to the “city” of Bethlehem. We were led to a quiet manger and then to a cross. The gospel was presented afterwards. While we walked the path through a corn field, Michael said with awe “It’s like magic!”. There was no Santa, no gifts under the tree, & no twinkling lights everywhere…….just a simple manger & a reminder that everything we need is found in one person….the God-man, Jesus Christ.

I got picked at a bit for having a cartoon character on my shirt but I like the Grinch and I was being festive :).


God bless, Merry Christmas, & remember that the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

PS: we used this recipe for cookies:


My Family Rocks! Sunday: Christmas Traditions & Family Photos December 9, 2012

Note: Please give the pictures time to load.

Hello friends 🙂 I hope you’re having a lovely Sunday! Well, you may have figured out my hint last week. Last weekend the family loaded up to take pictures in the park…..the WHOLE family. Yes, it was my bright idea for us to drag along the cat, the dog, and the guinea pig….and they’re all wearing Santa hats. 🙂 These are on our Christmas cards.


It was a comical experience….okay a bit stressful too. Chester, our cat, was ticked and Snowball, our guinea pig, was freaking out. Tessa, our dog, was picture perfect. And then there’s me, Chris, and Michael, our lil man. Mom was our photographer.


I used four pics for our cards because I couldn’t choose. Chris & I decided not to do this next year!



This photo attempt failed. Snowball was not having it.

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The Naval Museum had a Victorian holiday special. We got in free and we learned all about the Victorian roots of Christmas traditions. There were free cookies and coffee. It was fun.

The guys really loved looking at the old ships and cannons.

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Michael and I aboard the “Water witch”.

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On deck

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Chris and Michael in front of the mast.

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Tons of historical information.

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Inside one of the displays. I wish we had visited while I was writing my book. Emmanuel, my main character, spends a lot of time on a ship.

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Sailor mannequins

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The Captain’s Quarters

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We learned that the Christmas tree was made popular in America and Britain because Queen Victoria’s family had one. People wanted to imitate the royal family. Also we get the tradition of Christmas cards from Queen Victoria’s family. We learned how Saint Nick evolved into the Santa image we see today. We don’t do the Santa thing here but Michael did learn who Saint Nicholas was. Many of my friends do elf on the shelf and they can be very creative.

My main issue with Santa is his God qualities….all knowing, omnipresent, eternal. The elf on the shelf idea at least takes one of those away, making Santa more human. He’s no longer all knowing. I don’t have a problem with make believe. In our case, Michael knows the difference between pretend and real. I pretended to be a leprechaun during Saint Patrick’s Day. The “leprechaun” left a green obstacle course in the living room. Michael had to find the pot of gold. It was good fun and Michael knew it was me. I respect my friends choices and I really like that the elf takes Santa down a notch. We really enjoyed the movie “Arthur Christmas”. It took away the immortal aspect by making Santa a generational job that gets passed down. So if you do Santa, then I’d recommend looking into elf on the shelf and movies or books that humanize him.

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Any who, there’s a lot to wade through when picking holiday traditions. Many things started pagan but have changed into something completely different. Certain things are not as pagan as they’ve been made out to be….their roots going back to the early church. We learned about some of these traditions during the hanging of the greens at church.

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I know Jesus was not born on December 25th. Most likely he was born in the fall. I posted articles about that a couple of months ago when we celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. Still, Christmas is a lovely time when people from all over celebrate Christ’ birth at the same time. Christmas carols talking about Christ’ salvation are played on secular radio stations and many people get into the spirit of giving. That’s beautiful and we take advantage of the Christmas cheer. Intent matters.

Here’s an interesting article about Christmas traditions:

This cleared up my thoughts that Christmas (Christ- Mass) had to do with Catholic Mass. It gives the actual meaning of the word mass, which means “to send”.  Another thought…when we were learning about Victorian traditions the guide talked about the fuss over the name x-mas. X-mas is an abbreviation for Christmas that goes back hundreds of years. The letter X in the Greek actually stands for Christ. The priests would use X as an abbreviation since they had to write the word a lot. So no worries, X-mas is not a new fangled idea that takes Christ out of Christmas.

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Michael and the other children had a poinsettia procession and we learned the meaning behind the lovely plant. The red leaves represent Christ’s blood.

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Decorating of the Crismon tree. I had never heard of this tradition. The ornaments (crismons) are all white and each one represents a Biblical truth or a Christian tradition. The kids helped decorate.

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All of the decorations in our church have deeper meaning. There’s a reason we have seven Christmas trees.

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There are crowns in each window. I can’t remember why. I’d have to look at my booklet.

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Anywho, we’ve enjoyed learning the names (titles) of Jesus during Advent. Also, Michael has read a joke to us each night and that’s fun. We’ve read Christmas stories, watched Christmas movies, eaten Christmas food, and seen Christmas lights. It’s all good ;).

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

PS: I found the list of symbols. It’s not as detailed as the presentation was but you get the idea.

Evergreen branches- God’s everlasting love for us.

Lights- Jesus is the light of the world.

Red Spirals- pointing to Heaven, we are reminded that the blood that He shed provided the path to our eternal home.

Red berries- represent the sweat drops of blood Jesus shed in the garden.

The Christmas tree- represents the cross and God’s love for us.

Majestic Crown- He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Emmanuel. God with us.

Oh, also we learned that the evergreen was a symbol of victory for the Romans. So early Christians put it up in their house to symbolize the victory we have through Christ.


Thanksgiving Blessings & Advent Prep December 5, 2012

Note: Advent ideas at the end.

Well friends, this is no longer a late Sunday post or even a late Monday. It is Tuesday( a late Tuesday even) and I am playing catch up. I thought when NaNoWriMo ended I could easily get back to normal…but no…..advent/ holiday cheer hit me like a brick. Even having all the decorations up before December first did not give us a big enough head start. So this post and Monday’s post are late and it will be okay. Bear with me :). I’ve fallen asleep the last two nights while uploading pictures…pitiful I know.

Thanksgiving went well. It was thrown together at the last minute since we didn’t know if my Dad-in-law would be in the hospital or home. We had plenty to eat  and great fellowship. We were most thankful that  Chris’ Dad got to come home. Please keep him in your prayers. He’s still not well.

I’ve come to love some of the differences in Chris’ family compared to mine. Everyone is quieter and we watch a lot of t.v. there. I come from a talkative bunch on both sides and they love to play games. It’s nice to have some solitude and to enjoy the backwoods at Chris’ parents. Chris found out that his old room is actually “OUR” room now…according to me.

Chris showed Michael and me a tall tree that he could leap over when he was a kid…..because it wasn’t so tall then. The tree in the pic below was planted about twenty years ago. How neat!

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Michael and I enjoyed climbing this tree below.

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Aunt Cherrie  a.k.a Aunt Ri is a great tickle monster. Her hubby, Chris’ oldest brother Wesley is beside her. He goes to Afghanistan in the near future.  We will all miss him.

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Aunt Stella and Uncle Thomas (Thomas is the next to oldest brother) are admiring the snow people ornaments I made them. We were just missing Brian, Chris’ next brother who is not much older than us. Chris (my hubby) is the youngest of four boys and guess what….there are no grand-daughters. Michael is the youngest of five grandsons.

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My guys being macho. Chris taught Michael how to shoot a BB gun. I admit that I was very nervous.

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Michael didn’t get much practice before Aunt Ri’s nephew came over to play. Uncle Thomas and Chris took the time to repair a very old remote control car. They are both savvy with computers and wires n such… they Frankenstein-ed it I guess.

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My Mom in law helping Michael decorate a gingerbread tree.

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The results: voila! Note: I ended up finishing it with her because another kid came over to play and Michael lost all interest. Those tiny balls of candy were irritating or maybe my hands were  just slippery.

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This part is really cool so I hope you’re still reading ;). Chris told me the story of when his parents first bought the land and his dad carved their initials in a tree. So we embarked on a mission to find that special tree….back in the thick woods.

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We were SO excited to find it. The initials are huge but they’re hard to make out. They say “MD”  picture of a heart “PD”.

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Look closely. This part is “MD”. My Dad in law used a hammer to carve this.

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This is the heart.

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“PD”. Did you see it? What a legacy! I hope to print these out for Christmas. It’ll make a great gift :).

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Chris and I found our own tree nearby. We found another family member’s carving done when they were a kid. It was an embarrassing discovery for them though. Oops :(.  We wrote ours above so I guess it cancels theirs out.

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When we got home we bought a LIVE Christmas tree. The guys wanted a real tree. Upon bringing it home, I remembered why I wanted a fake tree. I am allergic. I’ve had a headache every day. Maybe we will all remember next year.

Michael and I decorating the tree.

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Chris and Michael decorating. Critters ate holes in our salt dough ornaments. Only a few survived :(. We will make more this year, Lord willing. Isn’t it great how the deer head looks through the tree? You might be a redneck if…

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I was most excited about my centerpiece for the table. At Chris’ folks’ I spent some time watching the Cardinals with his Dad…..actual Cardinals…..the birds…not the team. Hence, the idea.

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I got the greenery and fake flowers at the Dollar Tree…also the glass vase. I took a branch from the Christmas tree and real cranberries and put them in the vase with water. I got the cardinal salt shakers and white cloth mats at Walmart…also the napkins. Chris thinks I’m silly. When I looked at my work I squealed. It looked like a blanket of snow on my table.

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Gum Drop, Gingerbread, and later chocolate Peppermint candles help balance out the evergreen smell.

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Here is a hint of what’s to come next Sunday. We had an interesting time taking our Christmas photos at the park…with the WHOLE family ;). Doesn’t the kitty look cute trying on his hat?

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The stockings are hung :).

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December 2nd I threw an advent calendar together. I think it turned out good. Each day has a joke and a Christmas activity written on a piece of paper. We also have an advent book that came in Thriving Family magazine. Each night we read a verse and an excerpt about one of God’s names (or characteristics I should say…like Prince of Peace etc…). It has object lessons too.

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Michael and I made the deer, Rudolph. Chris didn’t let the nose stay there :(. The Santa hat was as far as he would let us go.

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Sunday morning our church lit the first advent candle. Our Pastor preached about hope, and of course Jesus Christ is our hope. We no longer wait for the hope of a first advent. Christ has come already as savior. His second coming will be much different. He came first as a baby but he returns as a warrior King riding a white horse. He is humble and merciful yet also strong and righteous. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come!

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My family in front of the Crismon tree at church. Each ornament (Crismon) represents something Biblical.

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Here is our advent ideas. I’m only writing the ones you can use too. Some activities can be repeated.

  • Family pictures for Christmas cards
  • Advent celebrations at church (hanging of the greens, church musical, etc…)
  • Make gingerbread creations (Nativity, houses, trains, and so on)- in our case we used graham crackers
  • Decorate a cardboard house with lights and the works (we haven’t found a big enough box for this yet)
  • Read a Christmas book (The Christmas Box, The Gift of the Magi, and The Christmas Candle are wonderful)
  • Watch a Christmas Movie
  • Make Tickets to use for a magic ride to see lights. Popcorn and Hot chocolate included.
  • See the Guardians. We don’t do Santa or the Easter Bunny but honestly the movie looks funny so we want to see it.
  • Christmas parade
  • Christmas Concert with army band. This one’s free so I’m excited. Maybe you could catch your high school band’s concert?
  • Make Christmas cookies for the Nursing Home staff & write Christmas cards for staff and residents. We usually just give them to the residents that we play Bingo with.
  • Decorate cone Christmas trees (ice cream cone, green frosting, M& M’s?)
  • Make mini Christmas pizzas with cookie cutters
  • Make yarn card holders/ centerpieces. In my last Christmas post I had directions for these. My Grandma taught me.
  • Christmas party- we have one with Sunday School but may have a small family party too. Ideas for the small party include: singing carols, dancing to Christmas music, playing minute to win it games, and having grinch punch :).
  • See the Nutcracker for a Mother-Son date.
  • Go to the mall and eat. Enjoy window shopping.
  • Decorate cookies again but for the neighbors and Chris’ office.
  • Read THE Christmas story in Luke or Matthew.
  • Watch The Nativity.
  • Go see a live Nativity. Last year, we went to one that took us through Bethlehem and then out to the manger. It also went to the cross and the gospel was presented afterwards. It was all done in a corn maze. Michael said it was magic.
  • Make Cookies in a jar and Rice Krispy snowmen
  • Candle lit dinner with soft music in the background. Eat something fancy?
  • Make Salt dough ornaments (this isn’t on our list but we’re doing this for our homeschool  craft).

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover