Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Advent Adventures

Advent is probably my very favorite time of year. I love the sights, sounds and smells as we get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It's a very exciting time!  This fall I had been hoping to have some type of countdown for the kids to use during advent that would help them get a better understanding of the waiting period.  In addition to putting a stick in a manger bed each day for doing acts of kindness I wanted to have an activity to do and group of people to pray for.  After scanning Google I found hundreds of beautiful advent calendars of all kinds from envelopes clipped to a line, pockets sewn onto a larger piece of material, paper with doors cut out and more. I was excited about making some type of advent calendar but I didn't want it to be too complicated because I knew I wouldn't finish it in time if it was. The envelope idea was very appealing to me but I didn't know if I wanted to hang a big line across our room and knew my husband wouldn't be favoring the idea either.

 In the end I decided to glue envelopes onto a poster board.  Most of them are purple except for 7 pink ones for the third week. I used old thank you cards from our wedding that we STILL have left over. It has our initials on the front and a blank inside so it was perfect. Purple and pink envelopes would have been pricey to purchase and were hard to find as it was so I painted them with acrylic paint (which worked much better than tempera by the way). I wrote the numbers of each day of advent with gold on the front. It didn't take as long as I thought it would.

Here is what the final product looked like.  My son really enjoyed looked forward to pulling an envelope out each day to find out what the activity and prayer were for the day.  Some days I waited until the morning of to put the envelope in and some days were planned in advance.  I really enjoyed it too!

Some of the activities we did were:

Go shopping for a little girl we are helping out for Christmas.
Bring food to the church pantry.
Have a pancake pajama party.
Put up the Christmas tree while listening to Christmas/Advent music.
Drive around and see Christmas lights.
Drink hot cocoa under the tree and hear stories about mommy and daddy's Christmases when they were little. 
Help Daddy with his meals on wheels route.
Make Daddy and sister's Christmas presents.
Read the book called the Crippled Lamb
Watch the Little Drummer Boy and talk about what you would give Jesus if you got to visit His manger.
Write letters to Santa
Take a pretend ride on the Polar Express and have hot cocoa.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Setting the Table

Lafayette Children's Museum

While visiting my family here in Louisiana we made a trip to the Lafayette Children's Museum.  It was a great museum and inside of the pretend Cafe where the kids could cook and serve food (including crawfish!) there were laminated place mats on the little tables in there.  Good way to teach the kids where the dishes go on the table!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Optimistic Child

The Optimistic Child by Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD

My husband found out about this book, The Optimistic Child by Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD which is about a program to help prevent depression in children.  Dr. Seligman I believe studied under Aaron Beck, the man who introduced the world to cognitive therapy. The book talks about how pessimism in life has to do with people believing that something about themselves is permanent, pervasive, and personal.  I'm halfway through the book and my husband has read it twice.  I could have waited to post about it until after I was finished but I was anxious to get it up in case someone happened to come across the blog somehow.

This book is highly recommend by myself and also my husband who has dealt with depression himself.  It is a helpful tool to not only parents, but teachers, coaches, and anyone who works with children.  What I've gotten from this book is that the way we correct them and encourage them has so much to do with their outlook and how they cope in difficult situations which we know of course but it also teaches us what works and why. It seems that success/lack of success plays a large role in whether or not children develop depression and that just telling our children that they are great is not going to be enough (as was tried in the self-esteem movement). We need to help them see that something bad that happens is not forever (permanent), it's not going to transfer to every aspect of their life (pervasiveness), and it's not always their fault (personal). We need to be honest with them about the reality going on around them and teach them how to succeed in whatever situation arises.  It reminds us that aside from these things they can learn to be responsible when things do not go as we wish, regardless of the root of the cause.

I hope I've been helpful in sharing about this book. Non-fiction definitely takes longer for me to read, but this is so worth it as we help to form the minds of children. Hope you and your family benefit from this book.