Monday, December 25, 2006

xmas book 25|More Precious Than Gold

More Precious Than Gold (Paperback) by Gillian Lobel, Julie Monks (Illustrator)
Book Description

Overhead the night sky blazed with a million stars. But Caspar's star was different... Old Melchior the wise, Balthazar the good and Caspar the youngest, kind and gentle, journey to Bethlehem to discover the promise of this exciting star - the child born to be King of Kings. A touching and poetic story which captures the true meaning of Christmas.


Reason why I recommend this book...
This has got to be one of the best stories of Christmas. A tale of the journey of the three wise men who saw a star and followed it to see the King.



Sunday, December 24, 2006

xmas book 24|I See A Star

I See A Star (Hardcover)
by Jean Marzollo, Suse Macdonald (Illustrator)
Book Description
This simple story about a group of children getting ready for a Christmas pageant is told entirely in rebus form. Bold, colorful graphics represent a question and a reply on left-side pages; a picture on the facing page clearly illustrates the action. For example, the translated icons on one page "read": "Can you see three kings? I see three kings." The accompanying picture shows three children donning their robes and crowns. An easy-to-follow key and recognizable artwork work well in tandem to present a clear, repetitive tale for emerging readers.

Reason why I recommend this book...
This book is written in such a way as that even non-readers can "read" the Christmas story.

Advent06|24


24 - Create our own christmas plates :D

John 5:30-47

30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

Witnesses to Jesus
31 “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. 32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. 33 In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. 34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. 35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. 36 But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, 38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you.

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

41 “Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.

45 “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46 If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47 But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Advent06|23


23 - footspa - give our feet some special treatment

Luke 1:67-80

Zechariah’s Prophecy

67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised
through his holy prophets long ago.
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
to our ancestor Abraham.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.

76 “And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”

80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.

xmas book 23|The Manger Where Jesus Lay

The Manger Where Jesus Lay (Paperback)
by Martha Larchar, Karen Clark (illustrator)

Reason why I recommend this book...

This is a wonderful little book for reading to your children. It has a simple premise of building the story. Each page adds a new line, with a key word represented by a picture. Once they learn what each picture stands for, you will find that your kids will be able to recite the entire sentence. The topic of the book is the Christmas story, but we read it all year round.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Advent06|22


22 - Go out for a special lunch at Breakers

John 3:16-21

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.


xmas book 22|Mary's Baby

Mary's Baby (Hardcover)
by Jane Chapman (Author)

Book Description
A simply told version of the story of Jesus, written and illustrated by Jane Chapman.

Reason why I recommend this book...
Written in a simple to understand way, this Christmas story is fun for preschoolers to hear and understand. The illustrations are beautiful.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

news|10% of children 'incapable' of learning at school

NZ Herald
Tuesday December 19, 2006
By Claire Trevett

Researchers say triggering a child's curiosity may help them regain the learning instinct.

One in 10 children is incapable of learning at school, two education researchers have found.

And in poorer schools, that figure can rise to one in four.

But the researchers have a possible solution to the problem - restarting the brain so children regain the learning instinct.

Dr John Kirkland and Dr David Bimler, of Massey University's College of Education, say the secret to reducing classroom failure may not be the traditional push for the "three Rs" but rather triggering instincts such as exploration and curiosity.

Dr Kirkland said a difficult home life could stifle development, leaving children in a "cognitive cul-de-sac" - unable to take the initiative, afraid to ask questions and unable to process information in the usual way.

"Where there is a lot of stress on a family or there has been neglect or they have been misguided in some way, they don't have the resources to do any thinking at all, because everything is focused on personal survival and getting to the next day."

Such "stalled children" did not have the necessary foundation for further learning, making the traditional curriculum almost impossible to teach.

Dr Kirkland and Dr Bimler's research is aimed at finding ways to spark that development in nine to 12-year-olds, to see whether children can revert to a normal learning path.

"A lot of things you do are automatic once you learn it the first time, and your future learning builds on that," Dr Kirkland said. "So if we can push the right buttons to restart those brains it will help."

There was a need for a commitment to finding a new approach "rather than pushing reading, writing and arithmetic on students, based on assumptions of their cognitive skill levels".

"When you have poor achievement at the level of at least 10 per cent, then society suffers."

The system the two researchers are developing uses mainly visual tools, including memory games, pattern recognition and identification games.

"Most middle-class students start off knowing their colours, how to count to 10 [and] how to read because they've had hundreds of hours on somebody's knee getting started on those things very early," Dr Kirkland said.

"But if you don't have those opportunities, there is a whole part of you that is not able to be switched on and you will be unable to proceed with learning.

"So we are trying to reach back into the numbed minds of those adolescents and respark that learning."

Dr Kirkland said it was a new approach to an age-old problem which had to be tackled.

"Other people have been down this road before and we are just building on that."

But hundreds of people think they know what the problems are and yet so many things have been tried and failed. This might be another fizzer as well."

Pre-adolescence was a critical stage because once a person went through puberty it was harder to change him or her.

The research was still at a preliminary phase, but some teachers were informally using the techniques.

Advent06|21


21 - Fondue night - Yummy chocolate dipped goodies!

John 7:53-8:11

[The most ancient Greek manuscripts do not include John 7:53–8:11.]
53 Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home.
John 8
A Woman Caught in Adultery
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

xmas book 21|Pavlova & Presents

Pavlova & Presents
by John Parker, Linda McClelland (illustrator)

Reason why I recommend this book...
This book is about your typical Kiwi Christmas. Family, food, beach, sun... It's one of my girls favourites and we read it last night during our advent activity of "reading Christmas stories!" The kid's just LOVE the fact that it is like their own Christmas experience. And I love Pavlova, you can get a great recipe for it over on my food blog.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Advent06|20


20 - Story-time [everyone get's to pick their favourite Christmas story]

(we also went to see the Christmas lights around Manukau - the joy on the kid's faces was priceless, but we forgot to take a camera with us :( )

Matthew 11:1-12

Jesus and John the Baptist
1 When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.

2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—5 the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 6 And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’”

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 8 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. 9 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way before you.’

11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! 12 And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.

xmas book 20|The Noisy Stable

Noisy Stable (Storyteller Tales) [ILLUSTRATED] (Paperback)
by Hartman

Book Description
A new range of thematically arranged collections of some of master storyteller Bob Hartman's best-loved folk and traditional tales. The contents are derived from the best-selling The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book. This volume contains six Bible stories about the first Christmas retold with freshness, verve and humour. It has a cover in series style - including the cute Storyteller Tales logo - and line illustrations accompany the text throughout.

Reason why I recommend this book...
This book is full of fun re-tellings of traditional Christmas stories. My children enjoyed listening and reading it for themselves.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Advent06|19


19 - Dance like crazy to Christmas Music

Matthew 3:1-12

John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, 2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.3 The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,

“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”

4 John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. 5 People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. 6 And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? 8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. 9 Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. 10 Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”

xmas book 19|A Silent Night

A Silent Night Luke 2: 8-20 (Christmas) (Paperback)
by Mary Manz Simon, Dennis Jones (Illustrator)

Book Description
Retells for beginning readers the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.

Reason why I recommend this book...
A simple book that beginning readers can read for themselves.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Advent06|18


18 - Begin opening the boxes in "What God Wants for Christmas"

Mark 1:1-8

John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began 2 just as the prophet Isaiah had written:

“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way.
3 He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’

4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. 5 All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 6 His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.

7 John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”


xmas book 18|No Tree for Christmas

No Tree for Christmas (Me Too!) (Hardcover)
by Marilyn Lashbrook

Book Description
An illustrated retelling of the nativity of Christ. Includes questions for the reader to answer throughout the text.

Reason why I recommend this book...
A great book to bring children back to the real story of Christmas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Advent06|17


17 - Make some Chrissy Decorations

Luke 22:54-69

Peter Denies Jesus

54 So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. 55 The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. 56 A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!”

57 But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!”

58 After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!”

“No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted.

59 About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.”

60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.

61 At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 62 And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.

63 The guards in charge of Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and said, “Prophesy to us! Who hit you that time?” 65 And they hurled all sorts of terrible insults at him.

Jesus before the Council
66 At daybreak all the elders of the people assembled, including the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. Jesus was led before this high council, 67 and they said, “Tell us, are you the Messiah?”

But he replied, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. 68 And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.

xmas book 17|Hettie's Christmas Gift

Hettie's Christmas Gift
by Bernice Screech, Rita Parkinson (illustrator)

Book Description
It's summertime in Dolphin Bay, and Hettie has just received some exciting news from the other side of the world. She has a new grandson! Hettie decides to paint him a very special Christmas picture... but what to paint?

Reason why I recommend this book...
This is a great down-under Christmas story. Here in the Southern Hemisphere we have Christmas in Summer, no snow just beaches and bbq's.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Advent06|16


16 - Fish & Chips for dinner down at the beach

Luke 22:39-53

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

39
Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. 40 There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”

41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

45 At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
47 But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. 48 But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” 50 And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear.

51 But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked, “that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 53 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness reigns.”

xmas book 16|Crispin: The Pig Who Had It All

Crispin: The Pig Who Had It All (Paperback)
by Ted Dewan (Illustrator)

Editorial Reviews
From Booklist
Ages 4-7. Crispin Tamworth is a rich little pig who has so many toys and gadgets that he breaks them almost as fast as they arrive. But one Christmas he gets only an empty box from Santa. He's furious at the slight, but even angrier when he sees two children playing with the thrown-away box. When the kids explain they are playing Space Base, Crispin is first puzzled, then a happy participant. When rain reduces the box to a soggy mess, he thinks his friends won't come over anymore. But they do, and they make magic with all the broken junk in Crispin's room. When the housekeeper clears out his room, Crispin again thinks he'll be left alone, but a cardboard box in the garden makes new fun. Here's a familiar theme, made fresh and funny thanks to a witty yet heartfelt text and eye-popping art. The bright, shiny pictures and an imaginative design show off the big-eared Crispin and his exuberant animal friends to their best advantage. The art is stuffed with enticing detail, especially bits of the broken toys that litter almost every page. A wonderful book to start some discussion at story hour--or just for fun.

Reason why I recommend this book...
This book is just so much fun to read. A tale of what is important in life (not things, but friends). :D

Friday, December 15, 2006

Advent06|15


15 - Campout around the Christmas tree

Note: - Hope isn't all that well :( She has some sort of virus, but at least this activity wasn't too strenuous!

John 3:22-30


John the Baptist Exalts Jesus

22
Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people.

23 At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.) 25 A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing. 26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”

27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

xmas book 15|The New Zealand Twelve Days of Christmas

The New Zealand Twelve Days of Christmas
by Michael Salmon

Book Description
A different (Kiwi) take on the twelve days of Christmas.

Reason why I recommend this book...
I recommend this book because it is just SO fun and SO kiwi. :)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Advent06|14



14 - Bake some yummy Christmas Cookies

Luke 22:31-38

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”

33 Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.”

34 But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler’s bag, or extra clothing, did you need anything?”

“No,” they replied.

36 “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! 37 For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’ Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.”

38 “Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us.”

“That’s enough,” he said.


xmas book 14|Born in a Stable

Born in a Stable (Hardcover)
by Jane Price, Charlotte Stowell (Illustrator)

Book Description
This retelling of the Christmas story is illustrated with photographs of modeled clay figures placed in life-like scenes, complete with realistic buildings and interiors. Includes lift-the-flap panels!

Reason why I recommend this book...
Lift the flap books are a fun way to tell a story, and make sure children are engaging in the re-telling. This book also has neat photographs of fimo (sculpy) models made by Charlotte Stowell.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Advent06|13


13 - Have breakfast for dinner [pancakes]

Luke 22:14-30

14 When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. 15 Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. 16 For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

17 Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.”

19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”

20 After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

21 “But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. 22 For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays him.” 23 The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.

24 Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

28 “You have stayed with me in my time of trial. 29 And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right 30 to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


xmas book 13|The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker (Scholastic Junior Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Jane B. Mason (Adapter)

Book Description
It's Christmas Eve and Marie has found a funny-looking nutcracker under the tree. Marie's godfather says this nutcracker once saved a beautiful princess from a horrible spell cast by the wicked Mouse Queen. But Nutcracker is in danger-the Mouse King seeks revenge! Now Nutcracker must face off against the seven-headed King of Mice-and he needs Marie's help to win the battle!

Reason why I recommend this book...
It's neat to get your kid's reading the classics, and a great way to introduce them to them is to buy adaptations. My 10 year old LOVED reading this book last year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Advent06|12


12 - wrap a toy and give it to charity

Luke 22:1-13

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
1 The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is also called Passover, was approaching. 2 The leading priests and teachers of religious law were plotting how to kill Jesus, but they were afraid of the people’s reaction.

3 Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, 4 and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. 5 They were delighted, and they promised to give him money. 6 So he agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus so they could arrest him when the crowds weren’t around.

The Last Supper
7 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.”

9 “Where do you want us to prepare it?” they asked him.

10 He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, 11 say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 12 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 13 They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.

COMMENT:- If you could do only one thing with your child this advent - I recommend this. Teaching your child to give to others, and giving them the gift of generosity can not be understated!



xmas book 12|Fear Not - Story of Hope: A Touched By An Angel Classic

Fear Not - Story of Hope: A (Touched By An Angel Classic) (Hardcover)
Book Description
Based on the hit television program on CBS, this picture book is a must for the family. It tells the touching story of a small boy who loses his best friend but comes to a better understanding of friendship through the interaction of angels. At Christmastime, visiting angels bring hope and strength to Joey, a boy who is terribly afraid of the dark, and Serena, an African-American girl whose critical heart condition does not give her long to live.

Reason why I recommend this book...
I used to love watching the television series this book is based on, and this book is a reminder that God is still active in the world today. You never know when an angel might be helping guide you on your way.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Advent06|11


11 - Watch a Christmas movie with popcorn

Luke 3:15-20

15 Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” 18 John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News to the people.

19 John also publicly criticized Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, for marrying Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for many other wrongs he had done. 20 So Herod put John in prison, adding this sin to his many others.

xmas book 11|Madeline's Christmas

Madeline's Christmas (Hardcover)
by Ludwig Bemelmans

Book review (from amazon.com)
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring because of a nasty, contagious illness--even the mouse is in bed with a miserable cold. Only brave Madeline is up and about ... competently running the household until she hears a knock at the door--a visitor whom she suspects might be Santa Claus. Instead it is a magical-rug merchant, with 12 red carpets that Madeline thinks would be perfect for the 12 girls and "For our ice-cold in the morning feet." She procures a few francs from Miss Clavel and pays the merchant. Without his rugs, however, he is very chilly, and he feels quite silly for having sold them. He returns to the old house (still covered in vines), where Madeline helps him thaw out, and he works a little Christmas magic--sending the girls on cross-country carpet rides to surprise their parents. Of course, Miss Clavel's bell breaks the spell and they're all back in time to celebrate the New Year. (Ages 4 to 8)

Reason why I recommend this book...
Madeline is an old favourite of mine and now of my children. :) A fun magical tale.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

making tea in my new pot!

They say it's your birthday...

Well, December 9th was my 34th birthday - scary!

It was a great day. The girls bought me a really NEAT teapot and muffin book. I have wanted the muffin book since I saw Vania's back in October. It has heaps of dairy-free recipes which are great for Briahna!

We went out for dinner at Gengy's (a mongolian bbq restaurant) with my good friends Jodee & Phil and Jonathan's parent's. It was a really great time, and then Jonathan and I went to the movies. (we saw the latest Bond flick!)

All in all a GREAT birthday.

Advent06|10


10 - Have a bubble bath

Luke 21:29-38

29 Then he gave them this illustration: “Notice the fig tree, or any other tree. 30 When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. 32 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”

37 Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening he returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives. 38 The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear him.

xmas book 10|Born on Christmas Morn

Born on Christmas Morn (Arch Books (Paperback)) (Paperback)
by Melinda Kay Busch, Melanie W. Hall (Illustrator)

Reason why I recommend this book...

This story doesn't just tell the Christmas story, but explains why Jesus was born. Born to die on the cross for our sins. It's not just a story of the beginning but has the ending too! Another great arch book.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Advent06|09

09 - Make Paper Snowflakes

Luke 21:20-28

20 “And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. 22 For those will be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. 23 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. 24 They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.

25 “And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. 26 People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”

xmas book 09|The Little Book of Christmas

The Little Book of Christmas (Hardcover)
by Caroline Walsh (Editor), Sophie Allsopp (Illustrator)

Book Description
A collection of thirty-four poems, carols, and prose pieces about Christmas, by such authors as Walter de la Mare, Eleanor Farjeon, and Dylan Thomas.

Reason why I recommend this book...

I love the variety of stories and poetry that is in this book. You can pick it up and immediately feel in the Christmas spirit. :)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Advent06|08

08 - Dress-up for dinner

Luke 21:5-19

28 I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”

29 When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism.

31 “To what can I compare the people of this generation?” Jesus asked. “How can I describe them? 32 They are like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,

‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t weep.’

33 For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.

xmas book 08|On a Silent Night

On a Silent Night (Arch Books) (Paperback)
by Joy Morgan Davis, Paige Billin-Frye (Illustrator)

Luke 2:1-20 for children

Reason why I recommend this book...

The Christmas story can never be told too many times, and it's nice to know that there are ways of keeping it interesting by telling it slightly differently in rhyme. I grew up with arch books (my grandmother gave them to us each year!), and have fond memories of reading them.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Advent06|07

07 - Build a fort in the lounge

Luke 21:5-19

Jesus Foretells the Future

5 Some of his disciples began talking about the majestic stonework of the Temple and the memorial decorations on the walls. But Jesus said, 6 “The time is coming when all these things will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to take place?”

8 He replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and saying, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t believe them. 9 And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.” 10 Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.

xmas book 07|The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale

The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale (Hardcover)
by Angela Elwell Hunt, Tim Jonke (Illustrator)

Book Description
The Lion's best-selling picture storybook--with over one million copies in print--three little trees see their dreams for greatness come true in surprising ways. Ages 4 and up.

Reason why I recommend this book...
This book could be read at any time of the year. I think it is most suited to Christmas and Easter though. Every time I read this story it manages brings tears to my eyes. It is a very moving story about how we may not be used in the way we might imagine for ourselves, but God will use us in a better way than we could ever imagine.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Advent06|06


06 - hot chocolate with all the fixings

Luke 20:42-21:4

Whose Son Is the Messiah?
41 Then Jesus presented them with a question. “Why is it,” he asked, “that the Messiah is said to be the son of David? 42 For David himself wrote in the book of Psalms:

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
43 until I humble your enemies,
making them a footstool under your feet.’

44 Since David called the Messiah ‘Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?”

45 Then, with the crowds listening, he turned to his disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”

Luke 21

The Widow’s Offering
1 While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

christmas|present making

Hope & Briahna both decided it would be fun to make chrissy pressie's this year, at least for each other.

Take a look at what they came up with (with a little help from me!) J

I am very proud of them both… It’s times like these that I am aware of the fruit you get from planting seeds of virtue in your children from a young age – you only get what you sow!

xmas book 06|Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend

Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend (Hardcover)
by Julie Stiegemeyer, Chris Ellison (Illustrator)

Reason why I recommend this book...
When my children were born, I decided that I didn't want them believing that the Santa Claus we see everywhere at Christmastime was real. I also didn't want him to get all the credit for presents that we worked hard to pay for.

A few years ago I discovered that December 6th was Saint Nicholas day, and since then we have celebrated Santa through this day. Every Saint Nicholas day we read this book and throw little bags of chocolate coins through the window to remember the true legend of the man we call Santa! :)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Advent06|05


05 - make spinners

Luke 20:27-40

Discussion about Resurrection
27 Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. 28 They posed this question: “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. 29 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. 30 So the second brother married the widow, but he also died. 31 Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, who died without children. 32 Finally, the woman also died. 33 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her!”

34 Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth. 35 But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. 36 And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection.

37 “But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 So he is the God of the living, not the dead, for they are all alive to him.”

39 “Well said, Teacher!” remarked some of the teachers of religious law who were standing there. 40 And then no one dared to ask him any more questions.

xmas book 05|Christmas Is for Me!

Christmas Is for Me! (For Me Book) (Paperback)
by Christine Harder Tangvald, Tony Griego (Illustrator)

Book Description
Children learn about how their favorite Christmas traditions, from evergreen wreaths to special ornaments, relate to Jesus. Ages 2-5.

Reason why I recommend this book...
This book is an excellent way of introducing Christmas to young children. It helps explain some of the many symbols Christians use at Christmastime in a fun and interesting way.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Advent06|04


04 - wacky hair day

Luke 20:19-26

19 The teachers of religious law and the leading priests wanted to arrest Jesus immediately because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the people’s reaction.
Taxes for Caesar
20 Watching for their opportunity, the leaders sent spies pretending to be honest men. They tried to get Jesus to say something that could be reported to the Roman governor so he would arrest Jesus. 21 “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you speak and teach what is right and are not influenced by what others think. You teach the way of God truthfully. 22 Now tell us—is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23 He saw through their trickery and said, 24 “Show me a Roman coin. Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

25 “Well then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

26 So they failed to trap him by what he said in front of the people. Instead, they were amazed by his answer, and they became silent.


xmas book 04|Tina Marie's Best Christmas

Tina Marie's Best Christmas (Happy Day Books) (Paperback)
by Clare Mishica (Editor), Laura Ring (Editor), Sheila Lucas (Illustrator)

Reason why I recommend this book...
This story is about the meaning of Christmas. Is it about getting things that we want (presents etc.)? Tina Marie isn't sure until she discovers the true meaning at the Christmas Pageant.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Advent06|03

03 - make homemade cards for children's church leaders

Luke 20:9-18
Parable of the Evil Farmers
9 Now Jesus turned to the people again and told them this story: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and moved to another country to live for several years. 10 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers attacked the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. 11 So the owner sent another servant, but they also insulted him, beat him up, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 A third man was sent, and they wounded him and chased him away.

13 “‘What will I do?’ the owner asked himself. ‘I know! I’ll send my cherished son. Surely they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenant farmers saw his son, they said to each other, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 15 So they dragged him out of the vineyard and murdered him.

“What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do to them?” Jesus asked. 16 “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others.”

“How terrible that such a thing should ever happen,” his listeners protested.

17 Jesus looked at them and said, “Then what does this Scripture mean?

‘The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.’

18 Everyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”

xmas book 03|Let's Play - The Christmas Story

The Christmas Story (Let's Play) (Hardcover)
by Leon Baxter, Christine Cousins

Reason why I recommend this book...
A simple re-telling of the Christmas story that encourages the children to act out the story. A great way to learn the true story behind Christmas.

Sorry for the blurry picture... It gives you an idea of what the cover looks like.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Advent06|02

02 - picnic dinner @ the botanical gardens

Luke 20:1-8
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
1 One day as Jesus was teaching the people and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 2 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”

3 “Let me ask you a question first,” he replied. 4 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”

5 They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. 6 But if we say it was merely human, the people will stone us because they are convinced John was a prophet.” 7 So they finally replied that they didn’t know.

8 And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Aimee|Special Children's Christmas Party 2006

Aimee and I got to go to the Auckland Special Children's Christmas Party today - so much fun to be had. Although, for my sweet noise-sensitive, crowd-intolerant, queue hopping girl it was a little sensory overloaded. She LOVED meeting Spongebob and Patrick (although the no-name green chicken was on the absolute TOP of her list of best things about the party!)

It's so awesome that they do this every year for these kids! THUMBS UP to them!!!