Archive | October, 2013

Post-Halloween goodies (Costumes, Candy & Operation Christmas Child, oh my!)

27 Oct

Pulling two other “goodies” from last year to re-post. I wanted to post early enough before Halloween so that you can be thinking strategically this week. 🙂

Read here about creative ways to use leftover Halloween candy (including my favorite–pack some of it in your Operation Christmas Child Shoebox!)

Kids-Halloween-CostumesAND…I know I’m a mother to ALL BOYS, but my boys still LOVE to dress up! They are crazy about costumes–Star Wars, Iron Man, Power Rangers, and Ninjas! One of my favorite things to do is to stock up on costumes the day after Halloween; they are perfect Christmas and birthday presents for my boys, family and friends. 🙂 Read here to learn more.

If you missed my post from earlier this week, go there now to find some GREAT books to read this week with Halloween approaching. These are great books that have helped our family be purposeful with the gospel during Halloween.

Carving a pumpkin this week? Read these books while you carve…

24 Oct

photo 1 (5)

When our first son was born and Halloween rolled around, we weren’t sure what to do. Is it a pagan holiday? Were we teaching our son to worship satan? Couldn’t we just celebrate Reformation Day instead? We were torn and had no idea what to do. We got by with making no decision the first couple of years of his life because he was so young. However, as our boys got older and fell in love with costumes of all kinds, we let them wear costumes they already had and headed to the local Trunk or Treat near our home. At that point in my life, I had read Treasuring God in Our Traditions a few years prior and was searching for a way to redeem the holiday. I had found ways to redeem Thanksgiving and Christmas, so why not Halloween?

If you haven’t noticed already, we’re a great fan of books around our house.  Surprise, surprise I was introduced to books that became a wonderful avenue for redeeming Halloween in our home. The books shown above have become traditions in our home particularly with pumpkin carving, and if you’re carving a pumpkin sometime this next week, I introduce them to you as well as a way of redeeming Halloween in your home.


Our first year of pumpkin carving, three years ago (These pictures are making me cry, btw. look how little my boys are?!?!?)

 The Pumpkin Patch Parable, My Pumpkin’s Gospel Story  and My Happy Pumpkin: God’s Love Shining Through Me all creatively use the activity of carving a pumpkin as a way to explain the gospel story. I heard about these books before using these with our boys, and I was a bit cynical. (I’m quite the cynic at heart.) The gospel and a pumpkin?? Seriously, I scoffed. However, when I first bought these books and used them for the first time 3 years ago with our oldest 2 boys, my eyes were a little misty while reading the book. The imagine of God removing my sin as far as the east is from the west became all too clear as we moved the inside yuckiness from our pumpkin and put it in the trash bag–taken away forever. All of the books end with the encouragement to let Christ’s light shine through us. This is obviously the theme is this favorite, Let’s Shine Jesus’ Light on Halloween , too. No, the gospel is not a pumpkin, and yes, our sin is MUCH more terrible than pumpkin innards, but a tangible picture for a child of a concept that is difficult for them to grasp, I’ll take it! Win-win!


The finished product. 🙂

More food for thought reading about redeeming Halloween–see this post, which was the impetus for our church plant passing out hot chocolate and candy in neighborhoods the past 3 Halloweens. No condemnation meant towards those NOT doing this. 🙂 Just another idea to SHARE (in keeping with my blog theme!) and thankful for how reading that post has shaped our family and our church.

photo 2 (4)And…just for fun, these are 3 of our other favorite Fall/Pumpkin-themed books: Fall Is for Friends,Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins, It’s Pumpkin Time!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

Brown & Silver: Son #2 composes his first sentence

24 Oct
IMG_9808Son #2, who is pretty Awesome–365 days a year (but after today, it may be 364 days this year. ha!)

It’s that moment I have been anticipating with Son #2: the day he would compose his first sentence. Grant it, he’s been copying sentences for a while now and he speaks millions of sentences each day. (He, by far, is our most “talkative” son.) Today, was different; today, he would compose his first original, creative sentence. I was ecstatic!

He and I sat down this morning to do his grammar curriculum. Yesterday, we learned the definition of a sentence, talked about a sentence beginning with a capital letter and ending with a punctuation mark. His task today was to write a sentence about a family member. I was the chosen one–me, his mother. He chose to write his sentence about me. Again, I couldn’t have been more ecstatic.

Following along with his lesson, I tell him that he gets to create his own sentence about a member of our family. The sentence would be a statement, and statements give information. This is how the fateful event took place…

Me: “Son #2, create a statement giving information about a member of our family.”

Son #2: “Okay, I’m going to pick YOU for my sentence.”

Me: “Love it, son! I’m so honored that you chose me.”

Son #2: “Here’s my sentence, Mom. (Clearing his throat.) My mom’s hair is brown and silver.

Me: (Trying not to let my embarrassment and anger get the best of me.) The only word I could muster was, “Wow.”

We, then, laughed so hard that we cried (at least I was crying, and I’m not so sure that it was because I was laughing so hard! ha!) Needless to say, I will never-no-never forget Son #2’s first composed sentence.

Advent Calendar–Heart Felt Truths–10% off coupon code

22 Oct

When I read Treasuring God in Our Traditions for the first time 8 years ago, I was intrigued by the Advent Calendar that Noel Piper mentions in the book. After a few short clicks at the Desiring God website, I had an Advent Calendar ordered and heading straight to my house. Two months later was Christmas, and we used it that first year. Our son was 5 1/s months old. He had no idea what we were doing or saying, but we did it anyway. Twelve months later we did it again; he enjoyed velcro-ing the item each night. In 2 months, we will go through the same Advent Calendar again for an 8th year. My boys are giddy when I get out the cardboard box each year. I love traditions.

Sadly, the Advent Calendar mentioned in Treasuring God in Our Traditions is no longer for sale from Desiring God. It is one of the two Advent Calendars that we use each year. When I was writing about the Advent Calendar last year, I happily discovered Heart Felt Truths (thank you, Google!). On her website you can download FREE patterns to MAKE THIS ADVENT CALENDAR! Wahoo!! Last year, I had several Suzanne Shares readers make their own Advent Calendars using the FREE patterns, and they were ADORABLE! I loved seeing the pictures of the Advent Calendars and their cute kiddos using them! 🙂

Over the past year, I have gotten to know Whitney, the gifted, amazing seamstress and creator behind Heart Felt Truths. She gave me the wonderful opportunity of reviewing her Easter Banner, and I just love, love, love her stuff! If making your own Noel Piper Advent Calendar (as I like to call it) using Heart Felt Truths FREE patterns sounds intimidating, the GREAT news is that Whitney sells DIY Kits for $16 at her ETSY Shop. Or, you can buy a completed set for $45. Whitney has graciously offered Suzanne Shares readers a 10% COUPON CODE (YAY!! Thank you, Whitney!)

for 10% off (expiration 10/31/13)

I love gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I love traditions like this Advent Calendar that we use again and again and again! YAY for living life on purpose!

Handprint THANKFUL Tree

22 Oct

Handprint Thanksgiving TreeI am digging this post out of last year’s archives!

It’s that time of year again–time for our family’s Handprint Thankful Tree! We use this each day in November, and it has become one of my FAVORITE traditions for our family. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be tracing and cutting 30 hands per family member to be ready for November 1. This is VERY simple, but the routine, discipline, cadence of taking each day in November to verbalize something that we thank God for is etching in our sons’ minds and hearts (and their parents) that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17 ESV) A simple, yet monumental tool used to thank and glorify God–I love that about our Handprint Thankful Tree!

This will be our third year to have a Handprint Thankful Tree. I haven’t had the heart to throw away our handprints from the past 2 years. I love going through the “old ones” each year when I get out our “tree trunk,” which I store with the previous years’ handprints. First, I almost BAWL my eyes out when I see how tiny my sons’ hands were. (MERCY, I can’t handle how quickly they’re growing up!) After I have a crying session, I read over what was written previously, the things that we were thankful for in the past. It is a blessed reminder of God’s abiding faithfulness to me and our family. Then, my tears start again! I love that traditions help us remember. Which reminds me, are you joining in on this month’s Book Club as we read, “Treasuring God in our Traditions?” If not, you should be! Don’t worry that the month is more than half over; the main point is that you need to read this book–so inspiring, instructive!

Read the original post to find instructions for making your own and how our family uses this each November. Also, last year, I wrote an entire series of posts about Thanksgiving, if you are interested, you can read all of the posts by clicking here.

And….you guys reading my little blog, I’m thankful for YOU! You’ll be on one of my handprints this year!

When Son #3 Grows Up, He wants to be an Astronaut and a Church-Locker

21 Oct


Church planter dad and church planter kid (aka Son #3)

You know your child is a church planter’s kid after this morning’s conversation…

“Mommy, when I grow up, I want to ride in a rocket ship,” says son #3.

“That’s called an astronaut, son #3.” I interject.

“Okay, Mommy, I want to be an astronaut and a church-locker when I grow up.” says son #3.

(Me being VERY puzzled) “What is a church-locker, son #3?” I inquire.

“You know, those men that lock up the church when you’re done.”

Our wonderful church plant congregation, Redeemer Church, will know exactly what he’s talking about! 🙂 Our church is blessed to meet at our local YMCA. Each Sunday when we leave Mr. Lee or Mr. Dennis, both YMCA employees, locks the door behind us. Thanks, Mr. Lee and Mr. Dennis for serving our church so well!

Demonstrative & Interrogative Pronouns–FREE printable

20 Oct

Several weeks ago, I posted my Pronoun Packet free download, which covered 6 weeks of pronouns (Weeks 3-8). I primarily made only those 6 weeks of pronouns because I wanted to visualize them in relation to the Pronoun Order.

Demonstrative Pronouns Picture.

I had a reader email today to inquire if I was planning to make worksheets for the remaining weeks of pronouns for Cycle 2. Since I’m a visual learner, I had already thought about the “?” picture for the Interrogative Pronouns. Then, one quick look at the Demonstrative Pronouns, and I immediately visualized a “T” in my mind. However, I think I’m all done with Pronouns for Cycle 2. I haven’t had a visual epiphany for what to do with all of those indefinite pronouns! Whew!  If I do have that visual epiphany, don’t worry, you’ll be the first to find out!

Interrogative Pronoun Picture

You can download the file here: Interrogative & Demonstrative Pronouns. The file includes the worksheets for both the Interrogative and Demonstrative Pronouns (weeks 9-10). Enjoy!

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

This is a part of the Cycle 2 Weekly Link Up at Half a Hundred Acre Wood. Go there now for other great resources. 🙂

Magic School Bus DVD and Cycle 2 science–match ups!

19 Oct

I know that many of you bought the The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series when I posted about it in the past. As I was on CC Connected this afternoon prepping for my sweet little Abecedarians, I was excited to stumble upon this “match up” of  Cycle 2 science with The Magic School Bus episodes. YAY!

If you are on CC Connected, you can search by “farrelldawn” and the document title is “Magic Schoolbus episodes correlated with Cycle 2 Science Content.” It is a WORD file that you can easily download. There aren’t match ups for each week, but it does cover several.

Isn’t that fabulous?!?!? Thank you Dawn Ferrell if you are reading!

Also, if you don’t have the Magic School Bus DVD set and want to order it from Amazon, I would encourage you to sign up for Amazon Prime, and it will arrive at your door in 2 days. Amazon currently has a promotion where you can join Amazon Prime – for a 30 day FREE trial! We LOVE Amazon Prime…particularly for the FREE 2-day shipping and movie/TV shows that we can watch via online streaming. We’ve found some great documentaries to go along with our CC material.

If you have children, I highly recommend this App…

13 Oct

For my CC readers, in case you haven’t heard, the CC Cycle 2 app for use with iPhone, iPad or iPod is available for $14.99 at the iTunes App store. My kids love it and can’t wait to review their Memory Work with it!

—>>>If you are a Suzanne Shares reader, and NOT a Classical Conversations family, PLEASE KEEP READING! The rest of this post is for YOU!<<<—

If you have preschool and/or school age children in your family, I would encourage you to purchase this app! Yes, even if you don’t participate in Classical Conversations.

Here’s why:

1) Skip counting songs–I can not say enough about the “Skip Counting Songs” (for use with skip counting numbers by 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and all the way up to the 15s!) to aid in memorizing and mastering multiplication facts. My oldest son participated in Classical Conversations for the first time last year. This was also the year that he learned his multiplication facts. I LOVE  Math but was freaked out at the idea of teaching him multiplication.

That Fall, we learned all of the “Skip Counting Songs” through Classical Conversations. That Spring, his math curriculum introduced multiplication. The “Skip Counting Songs” were already cemented into his brain, so that knowledge easily transferred over to multiplication facts. He learned his multiplication facts easily and painlessly. (WHEW!) No, I am not a teacher-extraordinaire–the “Skip Counting Songs” are!

If your child is struggling with multiplication facts, or you would like to ease into introducing them, buy this app; it will be worth every penny! Yes, $14.99 might seem a little “pricy” for an App, but if you think of the cost of a Multiplication Songs cd, they average between $10-$15. With this App, you will get the Skip Counting Songs…and so much more!

You will find these skip counting songs  on the MATH section of the App.

2) Presidents Song–My 3 sons (including my 3 year old!) all learned the Presidents of the United States last year. How? Again, I am not a teacher-extraordinaire–the “Presidents Song” is! This catchy song is on the Classical Conversations Cycle 2 App! After listening to this a few times, your kiddos will be able to sing the United States Presidents to you–in order. It is awe-inspiriting  to observe! Their 30-something-year-old Mom has finally learned all of the Presidents, too, thanks to this Presidents Song.

You will find the President’s Song on the TIMELINE section of the App (week 24).

3) Geography, History and Timeline facts–This App also has 24 weeks of Geography locations (the first week will teach your children all of the continents’ names and locations as well as the world’s oceans!), the 24 History Statements are set to music (and cover history ranging from 800-1990s), and a Timeline (covering 161 major historical events from Creation to the 2000s)

It’s no secret that children can memorize, memorize, memorize while they are young! (Seriously, my 3 year old could sing the President’s Song perfectly after hearing the song less than 10 times!) God made their little minds to soak up information like a sponge! Why not take advantage of their God-given ability and cram their little minds with facts from Math, History, Timeline, English Grammar, Latin, and Science while it’s easy for them? This will only propel them further in their future learning endeavors.

If you are looking for a way to do so, I whole-heartedly recommend the Classical Conversations Cycle 2 App.  If your child enjoys music, there is also a wonderful Timeline Song from Classical Conversations that can be purchased separately. It covers all of the Timeline Cards (excluding the Presidents) shown in the TIMELINE section of the App in a catchy, memorable, I-find-myself-singing-it-all-the-time song. (As a side note, the Timeline events have helped me tremendously in my understanding of the Bible. The historical context of the Old Testament was always “foggy” to me. As I have memorized the Timeline events thanks to the Timeline Song, my depth of understanding of the Old Testament has soared! I’m so, so thankful!)

I am excited to SHARE this wonderful resource with you! I would love to hear how your kiddos enjoy it!

Book Club–I’m takin’ names

12 Oct


As I have started re-reading Treasuring God in Our Traditions and thinking about many of you joining in for this month’s Book Club, I am praying for you, praying for the families that you represent. As I’ve thought more about praying for YOU, I would love to have your names to lift specifically before Him. I can think of nothing greater than families treasuring God in the ways and manner that they structure and organize their “everyday” and “especially” traditions. Of course, I know that satan especially wants nothing more than for those things to never happen.

So, as we journey through this book, striving to create God-centered traditions for our families, I am takin’ names. No, no, no, this is not a list of those of you NOT reading. (Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble!) I would love to pray for you by name. If you are joining in and are comfortable sharing your name, please send it to me via email suzanneshares AT gmail DOT com, comment below or comment on this link on the Suzanne Shares Facebook Page. I’ll compile a list, and this list will serve as my bookmark in my copy of the book. As I read, I will pray for you. Anticipating all that He will do in our families as we read the book together this month!