Monday, April 14, 2014

Kick Start your Holy week

In the hand full of holidays we celebrate around here, Easter and Holy week are easily my favorite. No twinkling distractions, no pressure to gift beyond our means, no weeks worth of preparing... just simple, heart filling and slow paced days leading up to a celebration of the best gift we will ever receive. Eternal life...all looked upon and praised on Resurrection Sunday.

There is so much to be passed on in our homes. Traditions, I believe, sit high on the priority list. However, truth always sits at the top. To tie in truth with traditions, making holidays, and any other family habits we do that point to His word worth the efforts, energy, and any endeavors that need to happen to complete such a task. This is an ultimate win/win in my book.

If you've never done anything...not a darn thing for Holy Week...don't be scared off to start now. It's never too late. Let me repeat's never too late to start traditions that point to His Truth.  If you have been living with me here on this blog for many years, you maybe remember some of my firsts attempts at starting Holy week traditions. If not, just find an oldie here! There are so many creative ways to bring His word, His lessons, and His love into this week. In the days of Pinterest and Google, ideas are anything but lacking!

We do a few different things around here and in the beginning it felt a bit awkward. I was making stuff up as I went and trying things out as a new Mama. After a few years under my belt and some trial and error ideas, some of them started to show some promise for being keepers and thus started the beginning of our yearly Easter traditions. Even after some good years, there is always room for some growth as the family grows and some new dynamics to our traditions need to happen. Just look back to last year when I just recently added our Grace Garden to our Holy Week of celebrating and learning. Like I's never too late!

My biggest goal is to have my heart and my children's heart prepped for the heavy, life-changing truth that Jesus died for us. I want to know His heart through His story... I want to push aside what tends to fog my vision for His way of living and see His face on Resurrection Sunday. I want my kids to know they are loved, they are saved, they are forever created with a purpose, and live with that Truth.

To know His story, we must read it. We must talk about it. We must repeat it. We must hear it. We must write it and create it in our lives. 

As a former teacher, naturally I used the Truth as my content and a reading lesson as my experience. I think kids learn through experience and I kind of just made this up as I looked at what stage my kids were at and worked from there. We simply use the two words "Holy Week", 8 letters, 8 days from Sunday to Sunday of this week. Each day we read a different part of Luke. Depending on where my kids are at that year, we use that acronym to learn the story of Jesus death. This year Jaxon reads the verses and the boys together find the main idea. Jaxon writes one sentence, Austin sounds out the letter for that day and circles any of his sight words in that sentence.  The memory verse for the week simply points to the King who comes in the name of the Lord...our destination on Sunday when we read about His rising. 

I use my own Bible for the readings, which Jaxon is using this year to read out loud. I follow up with the kids Bible for my younger ones...pointing out pictures and a word or two that 'sticks" with them for that lesson. I typed up verses in the Bible I wanted to use a few years ago that made the story of Jesus flow well for kids to understand. Luke seems to be a good book to use for my kids. 
After each reading, there is usually some sort of activity or experience for the day to help "hold onto" what we've learned... we've done everything from build crosses with blocks, color donkeys, carry logs out in the woods up a hill, wash each other's feet, and so on.

The point is less about doing something Pinterest worthy. Rather, the main purpose is to teach ourselves and our kids the story of Jesus. How our stories and our lives are connected and the story of life through Him.

I could give you all the details of how we do our Holy Week activities here. But, what my kids need right now and what your kids need are different. They all need truth. And only you, as their own unique Mama or Papa, can share that in a way that they will learn it. I use reading and nature to teach my kids. Maybe you are an artist and you will paint a picture of truth each day... Maybe you are a construction worker and you will build a vision of truth for your kids... Maybe you are a gardener and you will plant the story of Jesus this year with your young ones... Maybe you are a musician and you will sing His truth... however you are made, whatever feels natural and right to you, wherever you feel confident to share what you know with His story...use that. Share that. Give that to your children this Holy Week. And's never too late to start.

Do you have a fun way you connect Easter and Holy week with your children? I'd love to hear them here...just comment below!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

it's April, no joke!

We're in the final stretch. Winters are loooonnng in Iowa. But the calendar flipped to April today and we're excited for some of these south winds to stick around, feel the sunshine on our faces, and breathe in some fresh air! No joke, spring is almost here to stay!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

gold star teachers

A few weeks ago I walked past the room that holds our computer and found this... My 4th grader typing away on the keyboard. At school that day, he had heard about the Gold Star teacher awards. Before I had even had a chance to read the brochure in his back-pack, he was already nominating his favorites. Peaking over his shoulder I could see he had more then "He is nice" comments to include with his nominees. Plus, he had more then one favorite and for different reasons. I wasn't surprised at who he nominated, but what he wrote shocked me a bit, as he was much more detailed about it than I would have assumed. For a few reasons, might I add...

1.) Kids identify with their same-sex teachers tremendously. I know the education program is heavily filled with females and that is awesome. But as a mom to boys...I so, so appreciate the men who have stepped up to the role as teachers in our childrens lives. There is a natural and necessary relationship that happens from boys learning from boys. I appreciate the men at my son's school who teach and reach our boys for the next generation.

2.) Teachers worth is not found in the pay-checks they receive. Unfortunately, our culture runs according to where the money is. But under that surface is a hundred million souls that are richer thanks to a teacher. We've been really blessed with fantastic teachers whom love our kids almost every single year at their public school. Jax nominated a teacher who "likes him for him". Sometimes I forget to see my own son as he was made. Thankful for a teacher who likes him...just for being him.

3.) All kids need a sounding board and sometimes they need one outside of home. Jaxon picked another teacher because she "really listens to me and I can go to her when I'm having a problem". We can not be everything to our kids, but having teachers who can walk alongside you and fill in the gaps is priceless.

4.) While school is for learning, it does not mean desk work needs to happen all day to do so. As a mom, I have had the goal for my children to be life-long learners. I want them to love learning, forever. The teachers that go the extra mile to teach what needs to be learned, but do it in a way that leaves a positive experience with the process for our little learners is nothing short of a blessing. Jaxon chose another teacher for "making learning fun".

I know the schools can not teach my child everything he needs to know for life after school years. But, the partnership they have accepted in the role as teachers is shining through our children...their students. We're so blessed with a great teacher partnership this year and in many past years. So thank you, teachers. If the Hansen's were handing out the'd be gold star in our books! Thank a teacher today!

Friday, March 7, 2014

a winter indoors

I do not remember a winter this cold since I've had kids. We're an outside family and usually even through the winter months our kids get outside at least a couple times a week. Not the story this year. I think it is fair to say we are all ready for spring. So since the winter was is a long visual post of the 2 days we actually played outside. Okay, maybe a few more then 2...but not much more!

I am seriously over this snow this year. To prove it, I ordered our garden seeds this week. Spring will come...spring will come...spring will come...spring will come...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

she's 9 months now!

Savannah is just so fun to watch every day. It seems with each day she adds a little more spunk or an opinion to her little personality. Clearly... she lets herself be heard when needed!
 My mom owns a darling little flower and gift shop in a Midwest rural town. She requested this sweet girl be included in her advertising this I attempted to squeeze her into the dress and to play the part... but she was hit and miss with the whole idea. There goes my attempt for cute 9 month pictures. But like most days with little just roll with it!

 Between not being able to crawl in the dress and the sitting still long enough to not leave a blur on the camera lens, I had my work cut out for me.

 This girl is only a few months away from 1...year...old. And this is how I kinda feel about it!

 I can hardly tell you where these last months have gone. They are really just moving along in a way I can't keep up. Though I try hard to pause through out my days and really, really look at and into my children's eyes. A habit that is sadly harder then it sounds.

 Oh, how I have loved adding this sweet face to our crew.

 This unexpected addition has shifted our lives... but that's what little ones are supposed to do. And I am so much better for it.

 I'm hoping this little splurge of personality that seems to be coming out settles well with the big boys in the house...and in the months ahead.

As you can see....they already seem to know how to keep her in the mix.

9 months and counting... 20 lbs, eating anything you give her, on the go. And still stolen my heart. Oh, to be her Mama...a wonderful grace filled gift. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

a valentine day

 I know Valentine's Day is totally cheese-worthy. All those years as a young girl and wanting a perfect Valentine day was such a waste of my hoping....because nothing beats loving on your kids in an extra cheesy way and gushing over pinks and reds just because you can. We don't do much, but we have fun with it. It's the little things that make a day stick out from others, so thats just what we do for our valentine fun.

Can't beat heart shaped pancakes. Oldest trick in the book, works every time.

 Having school aged kids means getting in on some fun classroom parties, so I go to celebrate the simple event and just be there. Nothing says I love you more then just being there.

 Jaxon indulged in treats galore and the beauty of being a 4th grader is your mom can't tell you to stop. Even I know it ain't cool to have your mom hounding you about what you eat in front of your friends... so I watched Jax eat enough sugar and chips for 3 people. And love every single second of it.

 Oh, and this is Jaxon's totally awesome teacher. Totally awesome.

Sis had her first Valentine day and was too busy to pose... but I think she enjoyed her heart pants and pink bow I insisted she stick on her head. 

 It's become our tradition to do a Valentine treasure hunt every year. I make clues, the kids run all over the house, and end up with a treasure of a few little things that we can do, art activities, cardboard playhouses. 
 And what is a Valentine party without a red marked toddler?

 The boys had a picnic dinner in the playhouse and I think it stayed standing for almost 24 hours...almost.

 These three...

 The fun came to a close, but the memory of little things dressed up lives in my heart... in theirs too, I hope.

 Little years and smiling faces and fun days...

It's a full life when I really look.