Monthly Archives: December 2015

A Journey of Wonder

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First the Photo:  The wonder of the Christmas season knows no specific place. Every town has its share of touching holiday displays. It is so amazing to drive through the neighborhoods in a hushed car and enjoy the holiday lights before coming home to hot cocoa and Christmas cookies.  However, this image is taken of a chapel that is a reproduction of one in Germany.  It is lite year round at the largest Christmas store in the Nation. (or so they advertise)  Can you guess the name of the town or the store?

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Second The Question: Christmas is a time of journeys..Some begun by a message sent from an angel urging Mary on a path that would change the world forever.  Or others that started with the Wise Men, venturing off into the blackness searching for an elusive star that they hoped would guide them to a ruler of men.  We are all on a journey every day. Sometimes our journey is from dark to light.  Sometimes we start new friendships. Sometimes we embark on learning new skills or sometimes we grow our family.  Many times we are pulled along our path, not wanting to follow a road of challenge or strife. Do you remember the last journey you embarked upon?  Can you imagine wondering through the dessert in search of a promised child, led by a message you received in a dream?  What would be your response if you were 9 months pregnant and you were told to pack up, perch yourself on a donkey and travel to a bustling city, with no money, away from your family and friends, to register for taxes?  Would you go?  What feelings would you have?  Can you imagine a time when you are stripped bare of every luxury that provides you comfort?  You don’t have warmth, a bed, food, medical care, or security?  Can you think of a time when you were journeying and you were lost or your plans fell through?  Sometimes when all of the expect things are far from reach you open yourself up to wonder.  Imagine Mary getting ready for the birth of her baby, when nothing is certain, sometimes EVERYTHNG becomes possible.  We open ourselves to the wonder of things falling into place, or of strangers offering comfort.  We then glory in amazement of the simple things: health, kindness, safety and being together.

Third Next Steps:  Become intentional about sharing this holiday season.  Gather many slips of paper and write on them messages like:  Share your favorite holiday tradition, Share a memory from seasons past, Describe the holiday keepsake that has the most meaning to you, What is your favorite food of Christmas, Where would you be on Christmas morning if you could choose, Who would you bring back to sit around the table with us one more time this year, Which was your favorite Holiday Season, How old were you when you received a gift you still remember, What has been your favorite holiday play or concert you have seen, What do you dream about on Christmas Eve night, What is your favorite weather for the Holidays, What is your favorite holiday movie, What is your favorite Christmas Carol?  Add more questions and spend some time gathered around the tree picking slips from the jar and sharing of yourselves this holiday season.  Keep replacing the slips back into the jar so that everyone from, youngest to oldest, gets a chance to share their special memories of the Christmas Season.

Looking for more Explore Galore Kids fun, try one of our books: http://exploregalorekids.com/merchandise/explore-books/

Gifts from the Heart

 

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First The Photo:  During this festive season, we diverge from our typical format where each photo is a mini scavenger hunt, instead these photos are designed to engaged your senses and ignite your creativity.  This particular photo shows our annual Holiday Gift Crafting Day, with supplies and creative gift wrapping (the stockings) close at hand, we crank up the Christmas songs, and get to work. Here are some simple ideas for your family to join in on the memory making.

Second The Question:  Begin your gift giving project by making a list of all the people who touch your lives with kindness or fill your days with joy.  Be sure to include everyone who shares their gifts and talents with you throughout the year.  Your kids play a big part in this brainstorming exercise as an important element in the wonder of gift giving is taking time to reflect on your daily life and recognize the people who make the moments of your lives special.  Family members are always essential, but you may also want to include: teachers, bus drivers, close family friends, religious Ed teachers, a coach or music teacher.  We always give something small to our son’s PT, OT and Speech teachers.  Don’t worry too much about the number at first, there will be time to limit the gift list as you move forward.

Third Next Steps:  Here is the most important part: Finding the perfect, handcrafted, memorable gift for everyone on your list.  Some years we aren’t lucky enough to come up with a single gift item for everyone, but we try hard to narrow it down to 1 or 2.  This helps us to streamline the crafty process and narrow down the supply list.  We always try to make the gift as unique as possible, and it is always something that my kids create themselves.

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Gift ideas from past years:

  • Clear glass ornaments filled with hot cocoa mix, mini marshmallows and crushed candy canes with a note saying: Friends are the marshmallow in the cocoa of life.
  • A kitchen towel with their hand prints in the shape of a tree. Make sure to use acrylic paint so they don’t wash off in the laundry. After they did their hand prints we used puffy paint to add decorations and a star to the tree.
  • Bulb gardens. This was a BIG hit one year.  I went and bought terra cotta pot bases at a home improvement store (not the pot itself, but the saucer that goes underneath it. They are under a dollar a piece.)  I also bought Paper White Narcissi bulbs, (available at most garden shops this time of year) and then a large bag of potting soil.  My kids then sponge painted the terra cotta pot saucers with gold & green acrylic paint.  Then we put the soil into zip lock bags and placed 4-6 bulbs in a brown paper lunch bag.  Make sure to include planting instructions. “Place about an inch deep of soil into the saucer, then arrange the bulbs with the pointed side up in the dirt.  Sprinkle the rest of the dirt around the bulbs until they are about half covered.  Water after planting and then weekly after that. The bulbs will grow and bloom in about 4-6 weeks. Enjoy a bit of spring during this winter season” It is great fun for people to have flowers in the middle of winter.  You can also include a card that says: You make our lives Bloom!
  • Salt dough ornaments cut out with cookie cutters and hand painted by your kids. Make sure to use a straw to put a hole in the top of the ornament before baking so you have a way to attach a hook for hanging on the tree.
  • Customized Initial Ornaments. We purchased unfinished wood letters at crafts stores for around 50 cents.  Decoupage a piece of scrapbook paper onto it and then attached stickers, words, and 3-D items to it depicting things that the person enjoys. We also printed off photos in miniature and attached them to a piece of cardstock before affixing them to the ornament. It was fun to reflect on our loved ones’ hobbies and interests, plus it was a well-loved gift.  Make sure to attach some ribbon to the back for hanging.

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Looking for more Explore Galore Kids fun, try one of our books: http://exploregalorekids.com/merchandise/explore-books/

A Season of Creativity

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First The Photo:  What is being created? Can you name each of the items used in the building?

Second The Questions:  Do you have something you like to create?  Do you have a special talent you like to share in your gift giving?  Do you like to create on your own or do you enjoy working on team projects?  Do you have special people in your life that you make cherished items for?

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Third Next Steps: Memories are one of the best side benefits of creative gift giving.  Does your family take time to create together?  This can simply mean sitting down as a group and creating your holiday greeting that you send to family and friends.  Even the youngest hands can help affix a stamp, or add on a return address label.  How memorable a card would be if the envelop was addressed in elementary school printing. Do you set aside time during this busy season to create with your children?  Baking is another perfect family project. Parenting tip: try to have the kitchen ready with supplies close at hand before you call the kids in.   Then: All Hands on Deck..spend a weekend baking up the magic of the season.  Fill your home with the smells of wonder.  Then deliver a plate of your homemade goodies to a neighborhood shut in, or an elderly couple who are alone.  Offer the joy of giving to your children and let them experience the magic of creativity!

Looking for more Explore Galore Kids fun, try one of our books: http://exploregalorekids.com/merchandise/explore-books/