December 4th: SK Showcase and Weekend Links

We have had some wonderful discussions this week on how to have an uncomplicated holiday season.  As usual, the SK community shared some wonderful insights in both the Mission Impossible? and Three Most Important Things articles.  Make sure you have read through the comments on those!

For this week”s Showcase, Lola from maxylola shares some ideas on turning old paintbrush handles into a very cool DIY fishing game.  To find out how to go from this:

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to this:

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read Lola”s tutorial here.  This would be such a fun and easy handmade gift for some little fishing fans in your life!

I don”t know about you, but my blog reader is full to overflowing with a plethora of holiday treats.  There are so many wonderful recipes, crafts, and activities being shared on blogs this month, I know I could never feature them bet-online-casinos.com all here.  Here is just a sampling of some of what I have found:

Simply Practical

Simple Mom: 20 Ways to Stay Healthy (and Happy) this Winter Season

Simply Delicious

My Kitchen Cafe: White Bean Chicken (or Turkey) Chili
Picky Palate: Broccoli Cheddar, Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Monkey Muffins

Inspired Projects

Childhood 101: 12 Days of Christmas Garland
Skip To My Lou: Christmas Crafts
thelongthread: 10 Minute Santa Ornament
Learning Vicariously: Shrink Plastic

Inspired Images

Angie Warren Photography: three girls & their horse
SouleMama: Postcard No. 9

Inspired Words

FIMBY: preparing for a perfectly wonderful un-perfect Christmas

I”d love to know – what did you read or write this week that you would like to share with us?

What We’re Reading: A Wish To Be a Christmas Tree (plus online literature resources)

Did you know that the idea for featuring weekly book reviews came from SK reader Emily (The Pilot’s Wife)?  I had the pleasure of meeting Emily at a blogging event last spring (that’s us pictured below!), and I have so enjoyed getting to know her.  She has a true passion for great children’s literature, and today she is featuring a Christmas book as well as some helpful online children’s literature resources for the SK community:

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This week I want to share with you a new-to-me Christmas story, and I also want to pass along some of my favorite online resources for children’s literature.

I found A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe this week and found it to be a completely charming book.   It is the story of a old, tall tree on a Christmas tree farm that has never been chosen to be someone’s special tree.

He has watched his children and grandchildren be chosen, and he knows that he is too large now to be a suitable Christmas tree.  As the old tree weeps, he woodland friends make a plan to boost their friend’s feelings and make his Christmas special.

This is a beautifully illustrated book that combines a message of Christmas and friendship in a rhyming text.  I think you’ll really enjoy this one!

Something I discovered while researching this book is that YouTube has children’s stories! Am I the last person to figure this out?

You can watch (and listen) to A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree here:

A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree on YouTube

I also found ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas read by Perry Como:

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on YouTube

And a few more (non-Christmasy, yet still great): The Very Hungry Caterpiller and Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me

I already knew YouTube was great; now I have a reason to love it even more!  I found these stories by searching “children’s books read aloud”.  There are many more available.

While I’m sharing my finds, I want to pass along a few of my other go to spots for children’s literature.

1) Speakaboos – This is a website that allows children to read along with celebrity readers and even record themselves reading.  This site requires you to register, but it’s free.

2) Another celebrity reading site is Storyline Online. This site is supported by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, and unlike Speakaboos, you actually watch a video of the actor reading the book, but you can still read along with the words.  There are only about 20 books on this site, but they’re all high quality books.

3) The last thing I want to share is not a site that has stories, but a site that provides wonderful support for children’s literature.  Making Learning Fun is a site that is geared towards Pre-K to 2nd grade, and it has so many wonderful, printable activities that go beautifully with such classics as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, The Very Hungry Caterpiller, Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom, and many more.

Alright Simple Kids readers, what are your favorite websites to encourage reading and literacy?

An Uncomplicated Holiday: Three Most Important Things

makealist1 Photo by BLW Photography

Yesterday, we began a conversation about whether or not it is feasible to enjoy an uncomplicated holiday season. If you haven’t already, make sure to read through (and add to!) the comments. There are some great insights from the SK community there.

Throughout December, I want to continue this conversation so that as a community, we can come together and inspire and encourage one another in the pursuit of simple, meaningful celebrations.

I think one of the most challenging aspects of the holiday season is that if we aren’t careful, we can become oppressed by the tyranny of choices offered to our families. Holiday parties and cookie exchanges and Christmas caroling excursions can all be lots of fun and provide for many fond memories.  Yet families who are committed to intentional participation in the holiday season have to be thoughtful in choosing what to say yes to as the invitations begin to roll in.

In writing about her Home Management Notebook at Simple Mom, Tsh underscores the importance of choosing three Most Important Tasks for each day.  Let’s borrow from that idea to create a list of Most Important Things for the Holiday Season 2009.

In describing the MITs for the day, Tsh notes that “if nothing else gets done, I’d say my day was a success if those three things happen.”  We can apply that concept to our Most Important Things for the holidays.  How would you go about creating your Holiday MITs?  Here are some thoughts to begin:

1) Carve out some time with your spouse or partner to discuss what is essential for your family. If you have older children, you may consider inviting them to this discussion as well.  Over mugs of hot cocoa or spiced cider, draw up a list of everything to which you have been invited and everything that you think might be fun to do.

2) Ask the question, if we can only get to three things on this list, what would be most meaningful for our family?

3) Stay flexible and open to all perspectives as you negotiate and decide on the three MITs for the season. Remember, just because an activity or idea didn’t make the MIT list doesn’t mean it won’t get done!  The goal here is to identify the three things which take priority for your family’s time and energy this year.

Here we are at December 1st, so the sooner your family can create the holiday MIT list, the more clarity you will have as you consider your calendar for this month.  I would invite you to work up your list and come back to share it with others here in the comments.

My own family’s MIT list for Christmas 2009 is

1) Create a Jesse Tree.
2) Spend one evening driving through our community’s Christmas light display.
3) Spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning in our own home.

What are the three Most Important Things for your family this year?