Thursday, December 30, 2010

Baking and a Count-down Calendar

Rebecca loves to bake and she often includes Eliana in the fun.  (Isn't she a great big sister?!)

This year, Rebecca decided to try something new.  She made an edible countdown calendar for Eliana.  She made a variety of cookies and placed a number on each one.  She make a large board with many brads on them and hung a cookie from each brad.

One cookie each day until Christmas.  Isn't that cute and creative and clever?!  The picture below if for your FIAR moms so you can see what I'm doing.  LOL  (On the FIAR website)

Wondering if this is going to be a yearly tradition now too.  (And for those who are wondering, Eliana shared the cookies with her brothers.)


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Eve

Looking for something fun to do?  Several years ago someone on the FIAR board posted a great idea for activity bags used to count down to the New Year.  I won't be posting my activities for this year until after the event.  (Don't want any of my kids to see it in advance - plus I love posting it with pictures.)

In case you want to see more of what I'm talking about, here are posts from the last 3 years of what we did.

2009 - The theme was monsters. 

2008 - The theme was spies

2007 - Our first year doing this with no theme.  Still lots of fun.  Look how tiny Eliana is in these pictures!

This is so much fun and my children are already looking forward to it!

If you do this, I'd love to hear more about your night - please share info and/or a link!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Handmade Photo Ornament

One of our favorite family traditions has been a new ornament each year.  Sometimes there is one for the family from a place we have visited, but always one for each child.  I try to choose something that is either special to that child or about that child.  It may be a favorite activity or pastime.  I've always purchased these from various places.  I've been fortunate to find some really neat ones over the years.  I'm often amazed by the "perfect" one for someone.

Well, this year I just couldn't find ANY that I liked.  Some would be ... alright.  But not just right.  Not special.  I didn't want to pick something just to have an ornament.

So at the last moment, I decided I would make ornaments.  I wanted them to be special and I began pondering ideas.  I thought about photos and I really wanted to be able to add a note.  (I often write notes on the boxes that the ornaments come in.)  I asked friends for suggestions and then wandered around the craft store.

Then, I found it.  Just the right item that would fill all my desires.  I found little star-shaped paper mache' boxes.  Perfect for adding something to - and putting a little note inside.

I found a photo of each child and mod-podged it to the star.  Then I hot glued ribbon around the box, tying it at the top.  I used a red sharpie to add dots to the sides and the year on the back.  I love how they turned out!

I love giving ornaments to our children each year.  It's fun to surprise them and to bless them as well.  This year was no different. 

I always take a picture of each child with their ornament.  Wouldn't it be a neat thing to have a scrapbook of each year with each ornament?  Hmmm ... maybe sometime in the future.  LOL  Here are the rest of the pictures.

I wanted to share this idea in case anyone else is looking for a neat ornament to make.  I know it's too late for this year, but perhaps next!


Choosing a Tree

This tradition has wavered over the years some.  We typically spend Thanksgiving in the mountains with my family.  (Some years though due to sickness or pregnancy, we have been home.)  Since there are SO many great tree farms in the mountains of NC, this seems a natural thing to pick a tree from there.  We have loved going to tree farms, often with my family, to choose a tree.

This year, we again chose from home.  Why?  No luggage rack on our large van and Roger wasn't sure we could secure it.  So, we chose a place near to home - that brings them from the NC mountains.  It didn't take long to select a great tree!  And to have our annual family photo in front of the tree!  (That has not changed!)

There is a cute little sled near the trees - perfect for a photo.

I didn't get many photos of us decorating the tree this year though.  We were in a hurry and had a short time frame to get it done so here is just one.  Eliana LOVED putting up the ornaments. 

She finds such joy in so many things.  Have I mentioned today that she is a delight?  All of my children are a delight, but her wonder and enjoyment of each small detail of life makes the rest of us stop and appreciate life even more!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Making blankets

I'm going to use this week to recap some of our activities this month.  With our FIAR group, we made fleece blankets to donate to a couple of local charities.  We chose 2 that also share the gospel and it is my prayer that these blankets will truly make a difference in someone's life for eternity.

We have done this project for several years now.  We like it because it is easy to involve people of all ages.  In addition to making the blankets, we make cards to go along with them. 

We ask each family to bring fleece.  Many choose patterns (girl or boy) to go along with their family members.  We also suggest various sizes for blankets from baby to teen.  Its so much fun to sit around working on the blankets. 

It's just a sweet time of fellowship and fun for all of us.  The Moms all thought it was like being at a quilting bee.  Quite fun!

Of course, there is time for goofing off and having fun too!

We enjoyed a potluck lunch together.

Gathering most of the group for a photo with the blankets.

The kids were proud of their work and I love them having as many opportunities as possible to give and serve others.

I am thankful for friends who are willing to take time during a hectic time of year to do something to bless others.  It's always a sweet time together with friends.  Praying that God would use this to bring glory to His name!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Nelsen Family!

This is a little late (computer problems), but heartfelt nonetheless.


Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hands ... a sweet tradition

I love traditions as do my children.  Its a way of knowing that this is our family and this is what we do.  It can be something that ties generations together too.  It gives stability in times when things around us are rocky.  It can also just be fun.

Some years ago I read about a fun tradition and decided to start it for my family.  Its our Christmas tree skirt.  Each year we add to the skirt - handprints of the children in the family. 

Some years I haven't yet added on the names or the years (not sure why?).  I even have one small handprint that needs to be added to it.  (I traced the tiny hand so it could go on later.)  I love seeing the number of hands grow along with the size of the hands.

Check out Christopher's hand this year!  So big.

Now look at the first year we did this.  My sweet children were 3 months, 2, 6 and 8.  It was 9 years ago.  Seems so long ago in some ways.  I love the years when they are little and I love the years when they are big too. 

God is good.

Just wanted to share a fun and sweet keepsake tradition.  I'd love to hear about some of your favorite traditions too!


Monday, December 20, 2010

The Big Envelope

We got big news last week.  It was a bit overshadowed by the sickness.  For my son who is ... less emotional than his mom, maybe that was a helpful thing.  Ummm ... not really!

Christopher first heard the news online and then a few days later he received "the big envelope".  I picked up the mail and knew right away what it was.  I remembered getting a skinny envelope and knew what that entailed as well.

The turkey Christopher would not let me take a good picture of him with the envelope.  I told him that one day he would appreciate all of the pictures that I took, but clearly that day has not yet arrived.   

Do you recognize what it is?  He has been accepted to college!!!  I think I'm more excited than he is.  (At least on the outside!)  He has been accepted to NC State and also been invited to apply to the Honors program. 

I know that by homeschooling we have done what was best for our family.  We have chosen the route that we felt God led us on.  Even though it has been challenging at times, I've loved homeschooling Christopher!  I'm so thankful to have had this time with him.  It has been a blessing for our whole family.

This year though, when it was time to apply to colleges, I wondered how he would measure up.  Would they see his potential?  Would they take a homeschool diploma seriously?  I hear that many colleges do appreciate homeschoolers, but wondered how it would all play out for us. 

Christopher has been a great student.  He is bright, motivated and curious.  He has persevered through a lot of challenges while he was in high school and his mom/teacher has been distracted with a multitude of medical issues with his siblings.  I'm proud of how he has taken the initiative to learn and do things on his own.  I think that these skills will serve him well in college and beyond.

I know this acceptance is Christophers, but I can't also help but feel that I've been validated too.  Not that I did this for the approval of others, but it is still a nice thing.  And did I mention that I'm excited for him?!

He is still working on finishing up essays for a few more colleges.  I'm proud of the work he has put into applying to college from studying for the tests to writing essays.  I'm proud of him.  Despite our shortcomings, he is a fine young man. 

Christopher, I love you and am proud of you! 

Thanks for letting me share our excitement!  I'm hoping we'll have more of this type of news coming in the future!


Donating to Reece's Rainbow

Just a quick note to say that if you are interested in making a donation toward Anya's fund (or any of the other children at Reece's Rainbow), it is not too late!  I didn't realize that I set my chip-in to end on December 15th.  I apologize for that! 

You can mail a check to the following address.

Reece's Rainbow, PO Box 4024, Gaithersburg, MD 20885


Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Eliana!!!

I can't believe you are 4 years old!  It doesn't seem like you should be that old, but perhaps that is just because everything moves at a slower pace developmentally.  It seems like a long time ago though that I was at the hospital - in a room by myself - because my baby was in the NICU.  I thought of that tonight as I put my sweet girl to bed.  I loved that I was able to be with her, holding her and loving her.  Even though it was a tough start, Eliana has been a blessing from the beginning.

Today we awoke to snow - though a pretty light one.  (Or pitiful according to Christopher)  Eliana was treated to one of her favorite meals - pancakes.  And look at these pancakes her Daddy made for her!  (It was Rebecca's idea to spell out her name.)
As a treat, Rebecca painted Eliana's fingernails.

Next it was time to open a present.  Rebecca picked this out for her.
I know I'm biased, but isn't she beautiful?!!!
Next it was time to play with play dough.  Boy was she excited about doing this!  She made a cupcake with a candle and even "blew" it out. 
Eliana really enjoys opening gifts.  She tears off the paper bit by bit.  She was delighted with her gifts too!  I love that she finds joy in so many things. 

Rebecca made a beautiful cupcake birthday cake for Eliana.  (I love that my oldest daughter loves to bake!)  Didn't she do a great job!
Group photo
Time to sing - and Eliana joined in our singing to her.  (Too cute!)  She really did a great job blowing out her candles. 

Happy Birthday Eliana!!! 
We pray that this is the beginning of a wonderful year.  I thank God for you as you bring joy and laughter to our lives.

I love you