25 Advent Ideas for Your Family

Welcome back! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and didn’t shop too hard on black Friday. That madness was crazy! My hats off to you if shopped the major store chains.

Back to our program.

So today marks the second day of the first week of advent. I’m sure you’ve been seeing all the activities and ideas going around but I have to admit, I completely ignored them. Why you say? Because for the longest, advent, to me, was no more than a catholic tradition or some sort of lent ritual and I, being the legalistic christian that I was, was not about to be judged for starting a tradition in my family that originated from Catholicism. (And to clarify, advent didn’t start in the catholic church, it goes way back before that from Lutheran’s to old older Christians) Sorry to say but it is true.  My children have always gotten gifts for Christmas but I’ve always been the intentional mother who focused more on the Christ in Christmas. It’s always been more Jesus, and less gifts. Needless to say, I kind of go crazy on Christmas. Not black Friday crazy but, “I have to get that because they will freak out” crazy.  Forgive my ignorance, but once I read up on what advent is supposed to symbolize, I grew more interested. That’s right, I learned what advent means to me as a christian and I grew more interested. The video below best explains what it means to Christians today.

click here if you cannot see this video.

Advent is a time that people all around the world celebrate the hope that we have in Jesus, the fact that he was born and the celebration of his coming and what his birth symbolizes for us. So in this time we take time to reflect on the goodness of Jesus and focus more on him besides our usual traditions of gift giving, holiday parties and cookie swaps. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to buy gifts and do all of our family and holiday traditions, just as long as our hearts still come back and line up with the fact that if all of that vanishes, our hearts will remain solid in Jesus. Have at it. With that being said I have some great ideas for you! Ideas for the kiddos and maybe just for you.

Here are:

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1. Cardboard Advent wreath and candles from jamiespurejoy

2. Easy pocket Advent Calender from strangeandlovelyride

3. Fun and frugal Advent jar from messforless

4. Advent wreath and songs from letsplaykidsmusic

5. Advent action cards from theiowafarmerswife

6. Adventures in Odyssey Advent activity calendar from focusonthefamily.com

7. Host a Candy Cane hunt

8. Write scriptures in a card and give it to someone to encourage them

9. Make an ornament for someone

10. Take stuffed animals to a hospital and give them out

11.Write a letter to Jesus thanking him and praising him

12. Make snowflakes and hang them in the window

13. Do a family or individual advent devotional

14. Go caroling to the neighbors, a nursing home or relatives

15. Write a note to the mail man or lady

16. Read a book a day as an advent activity

17. Make an ornament for Jesus

18. Donate old toys or new one’s to a local place

19. Make cards for your local fire company

20. Clean up someone’s trash

21. Put cookies in the mail box

22. Take someone a meal

23. Make a craft and send it to someone

24. Visit a live nativity

25. Camp out in the living room with hot chocolate, a fake snowball fight(socks or marshmallows) and Christmas movies

There are tons of other things that you can do to encourage someone or be kind. In this time, My family has taken the approach to make it about everyone else and not ourselves. My husband and I have chosen to take Christmas and teach our children the value of the gifts they receive and the value of the gifts they give. We want to intentionally move them toward esteeming others over themselves. We will do a lot for each other but we also want to be a light and love to all those around us.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25

How will you celebrate advent if you are? What activities are you choosing to partake in? Please share!

And as always, with everything I post, I do hope you love this and can add some of these things to your own list.

Happy Advent-ing!

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Linking up with: thebettermom, wedded wednesdays, playdates with God, livingproverbs31, Titus2sday

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I Confess I’m an Imperfect Mother

It’s so funny how this came about. Years ago I had plans to write a book titled Confessions of A Teen-aged mom. Don’t ask me what happened, I guess life took its toll and the book got lost. It may still come about one day.

I had plans of writing how my first child came and living through the pain of being shunned from my previous church. There were chapters on midnight feedings and how I was too tired and fell asleep breastfeeding. Along with many other chapters like anger and children, confessions of a single mom, suicidal roller-coaster and the like.

I feel like I’ve been through it all. I’ve got battle scars to prove my journey. Two failed relationships, one failed marriage, custody battles, living paycheck to paycheck paying for daycare and private school on my own and fears through the marriage I am in.

I’ve been compared, knocked down, looked over, mentally and emotionally abused and what have you. Who hasn’t?

Nonetheless, this day I get up every morning with new hope and a greater vision to seek God’s best in my life and the lives of my children.

But I am not perfect. I just laid that out. I’m not the screaming mom that takes single leaps in a bound when my boy’s cry. I am not the super organized mom or the mom that has her child in 10,000 biblical activities through the year. I’m not the mom that never catches an attitude or wakes up super early to start breakfast. I second that. I am certainly not the mom who get’s all her house work done, home school’s perfectly, nurtures perfectly or loves perfectly but these are very broad subjects.

If the chance comes I’m making a pizza and calling it dinner. I try to limit T.V. but sometimes, when I’m tired, there are pajama days. Sometimes dishes are left in my sink and the dirt on the floor may linger a few weeks.

Sometimes I don’t get dressed or even brush my teeth (don’t judge me).

But who is all these things?

Who has it together all the time? And if you do, then you are your own Saviour because there is no need.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

I fail and I fall. You got me. But I’m still growing. That’s the important thing.

I’m so imperfect and yet so glad that I am. Because through these imperfections God shows me how to slow down and catch up on life, the fun free one. He shows me to depend on him for his strength, his wisdom and his control. Not to compare myself to another mother or woman and what he has set before them. What God has given me is for me.

My crazy busy life, my personality, my husband, my struggles, my children, my ridiculous strength, my annoying yet amazing family, It’s all for Nykiah, because it’s apart of his work within me and the end of the story.

I am imperfect but He is stronger when I am weak and greater in my vulnerabilities. I am exactly what he wants me to be and how he needs me now. So that his glory can be completed in me. I’m just a dented, chipped, puzzle piece learning how to fit in his plan and stand where he wants me on the stage. I’m dress rehearsing for the real thing when all my responsibility will be to bow down and worship the king of kings.

I didn’t use to can but I do now. I never made pizza dough but I do now. I don’t have any girls, but I have boys. I don’t have a huge house but I have one. I don’t have long hair, but it’s healthy. I don’t always say the right things but I’m working on it.  I love God and I love people. Isn’t that really the point of all of this? Aren’t these really what the Lord has asked of us?

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22: 34-40 (ESV)

So while I’m focusing on what I’m not and who I could be, He is looking at greater things.

Praise God if another mom does more than me, praise God if another mom does less. We all have one thing in common, Jesus, his love and his work; Or that we love what we do and we are crazy for doing it!

I hope you can see your imperfections as another reason to give Christ your life. For someone already perfect needing nothing, it wouldn’t be a lot.

Trust him today and walk on the path he has you. Whether crazy and blessed or worst and a mess. Trust Him. And by all means, rejoice with other moms and women for their strength, humility and work that they were called to! (In other words, don’t hate, congratulate!)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

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Linking up with: Wedded Wednesday and thebettermom

Motherhood: The Jesus Culture (Guest Post from Jenn Fennell on Motherhood-From a New Mommy.)

My life has changed…drastically! These drastic, yet joyful none the less changes took place on February 14, 2013 at 9:59am as this is when I became a

mother to a precious little girl that I call my Little Ezri. Now granted, I had no intentions of the changes being so large, so serious, yet they are. I have

been taken by surprise with just how serious this business of “parenthood” really is. I’ve only been at it for four months now, and I feel that sometimes I am

way over my head. My mind reverts to the story of the Duggards, where the woman has nineteen children…and counting, and seems to have it all

together. Or, Kate, from the “John and Kate Plus Eight” show, however Kate is a single mom now. How in the world do these women do this?

How do they keep up with their kids and keep their sanity? How?

In this writing, I have no intentions on offering any final answer to this question. I guarantee one can search the whole world around, and back again, and there is no perfect answer as to how to hold it all together, because some days are fine…and other days are just rough. I’m new at this, and that is one thing I know for sure. No one has it all together! The changes are constant, and learning never ends!

With the challenges of being a new mom, I have many friends, family and complete strangers that ask me “So how is life as a new mother?” My response has been very plain. I simply reply “It’s wonderful – I’m learning how to be more like my child.” Imagine the weird faces I get when I say that while standing in line at the super market!

I am a christian mother, and I aim to live a life that aligns with my savior’s words. His word has been of great inspiration to me during times where I am not feeling that I have it all together in this new gig of being a mother. Let’s take a look at Matthew 18, verses 3-4. It says the following;

“I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get in to the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Now, what I have gathered from this scripture, is something I grasp onto everyday, for sanity and for dear life. It is this, in this life, I must become more like my child, in how I approach God, in how I respond to God, in how I live, in how I breath, eat, move…think. Everything! I must become like my little Ezri. There are many things I have yet to learn from her.

Jesus, in this passage, is speaking to a group of followers and states that the characteristics of a child, are to be admired; as these are the characteristics that one can enter, experience, touch…the kingdom of heaven. Jesus sees the character traits of a child, untarnished by the world, and he says that these traits are honorable, as opposed to being despised. Now how crazy and counter-cultural is that?
My little has complete dependence on me. She delights me in. She listens for me and looks for me when she is discouraged. She imitates me, and she trust me. These are things that I should be doing as an adult when it comes to my Savior. It has been crazy being a new mom and having a whole new view on this passage!

Yes, being a new mom is challenging. As with any transition in life, there are ups and downs. However, I am learning that while Ezri is busy trying to learn how to be like her mother, here I am striving to become more like her…when it comes to my savior.

          About the Author: Jenn Fennell

970914_859551370427_1850494884_n-e1373421886757.jpgMy name is Jenn. I am 27 years old, a new mother and have been married for almost 2 years. I currently live in  Philadelphia but grew up as a military brat so I have lived in various places. I love God, people, ministry, arts and crafts, and my friends and family.

HOPE FOR THE WORKING MOM

howtotrainasuperhero

We work like a dog all day. We come home without chance to unravel what our mind has been trying to comprehend since early morning.. to bright faces with missing teeth asking and begging for our attention. So we put our bags down and scoop up a handful of motherly love and our night shift begins.

I know how you feel….To not have enough time to spend with your children because most of your night involved your commute home.

And I know it gets worst.

You feel overwhelmed and under heard. Your mind is set to accomplish your many tasks of the day and before you know it your precious baby ended up watching T.V all day….but you got all your work done. You’ll do better tomorrow. But tomorrows to-do list looks just like today’s.

Motherhood. It has me down in the dumps. Too many times I’ve yelled for them to stop yelling at each other. I’ve sat them down to stare one another eye ball to eyeball. I’ve enforced punishments that exited their favorite’s. I’ve tripped over the last toy I can take and I don’t really feel like cooking. I’ve been doing laundry for the last three weeks and there are too many deadlines to meet. I’m tired and cranky and fighting for grace.

Motherhood.

Who called me to this?

God did. From the beginning of time he commands me to raise my children and nurture and care for them. He commands me to be their mother. (Genesis 1:28)

Times get tough. I lose a few marbles or some of them get loose. I lose sight of the benefit of serving and caring for my family.

2 Corinthians 4:1-18

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus,will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.  All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
This passage is titled Treasures in Jars of Clay.
What does that mean?
Possibly that somewhere underneath all the lack of sleep and to-do lists, God is molding and shaping us for our benefit…for his.
Perhaps that our families are being likened to his glory. So just think of it like this. Through all the rubble is a treasure to be held. One that marks eternity as it’s destination. So while you’re going crazy half the time. God is working. perfecting you, them. He holds the clay and kneads it well…And in the end it turns out to be just like he imagined.
So don’t be weary in your well-doing. Let patience have its perfect work. God’s gift and call can never be withdrawn. (Rom 11:29) He made us for this.
So there’s hope for us. Us working moms.

Protecting the purity: How to shepherd your children

I think I’ve stressed about the importance of this issue enough over the pass few years. Enough to go crazy.

I’m a single mom with broken influence in my home. My boys don’t have a model at home to see. There is no father at home influencing them, who is active and able to discern through situations and step up.

I’m grateful for the men that my boys have in their lives, besides their fathers, who influence them biblically and walk with them. But when they go home, it’s just me and my babies.

My babies.

One day they will be men who acquire wives, and children and a life of their own. One day they will be accountable for what I’ve taught them about God. We are just practicing right now for the big test against the world.

The test that may take them by the foot and drag them through circumstance and tribulation.

Will they be able to stand? Will they know that there is a God who understands them? Will they run to him for safety? Will they know how to treat a woman? That It’s not okay to uncover her purity? Will they be leaders that shepherd well? Will they be respectable, hardworking and wise?

These are the things that I want for them. I’m certain that God agrees though the journey to become those men of integrity I am not sure.

Boys struggle. We all do. But there are sins that turn into struggles that can consume them if they aren’t protected now.

For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she cares nothing about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it. So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Stay away from her!  –  Proverbs 5:3-8

Sexual immorality is one sin that has plagued our nation. From young to older. Our children are persuaded  that sexual promiscuity is okay.

So what do we do?

Us women who have been forced to take on a role that was originally designed for a man, leaving us to succumb to teaching our boys to step into a biblical role setup for man that was scripted for them.

Can a woman teach a man to be a man?

My boys are 6 and 3. How in the world do I protect them now when they are so young? They won’t understand.

(Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it – Proverbs 22:6)

He won’t depart from it. That means, that the foundation that I teach them on will not crumble when they walk.

Us single moms do it all. Some because we have to. Some because we chose to through consequence.

But there is help.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. -Hebrews 4:16

The Lord is the one who will shepherd them, lead them guide them, give you discernment to protect them and keep them. There is no one better to entrust our children to. No one better to trust ourselves. We can go to God and ask for help and he will not turn us away.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. – James 1:5

So here’s some practical things to help you out along the way. Things I’ve learned over the time that I’ve been a mommy and things that are spelled out in God’s word.

  1. Let them be boys. Don’t rob them of their innocence. Sometimes,as parents we have expectations for our children that are meant for,adults.
  2. Limit their access.  Guard them from the influences of the world. Put passwords on computers and check their technology daily. Be careful to block inappropriate websites and TV shows. Know that we can’t block them from everything.
  3. So we must pray for them. There is nothing that God doesn’t see and nothing that he doesn’t understand. He created them. He knows how to keep and control them. He will lead them when you aren’t able to.
  4. Listen. Be quick to listen. Pay attention to red flags and help them understand themselves as individuals under Gods authority. Take opportunities to talk with them. Give them a platform to be able to talk freely but with boundaries.
  5. Point them to Jesus. Don’t neglect to incorporate God in daily living. Let him be the center by pointing your boys to Jesus in discipline, correction, praise and teaching. Lead by example. Purposefully direct them by engaging with them. I heard a pastor at my church telling his daughter, ” how good is it that God gave us ice cream!” Be intentional.
  6. Teach them repentance and confession. Take part in showing them repentance and what it means. That May mean sometimes actively repenting
    yourself. If we don’t know that something is wrong or offensive we won’t be convicted. And we will convince ourselves that nothing is wrong.
  7. Pray with them.  Incorporate a family time where they can be creative in getting to know God, ask questions and worship together. As my children get older I’d like to act out different stories in the bible that will engage them and help them understand different motives, expressions and scenario.

There is a wrong way to parent our children.

When we fail to give our children Jesus and they go on living their lives as primary owners and not renters.

Run to the good shepherd. He keeps count of all his sheep. He knows when one goes astray or when one is battling sin. He can foresee a crooked path and make it straight.

Nykiah

How to Train a Super Hero {Beginners Edition}

Since the year 2013 rang in, there have been a number of ways I feel the Lord has tried to get my attention. Over the past few weeks I’ve been going through learning about grace, patience, love and the depth of those two from the cross.

When I look at my boys I immediately notice their differences and the importance of me catering to their very “different” needs. What a year this has thus far been!

In previous posts I’ve explained how different my boys are and it’s not until this week that I’ve truly taken in their “boy.”

So when I think of my blog title I think of the reasons I named it what it is and those reasons didn’t start out with the deep meaningful background that it stands on today. I was going for a supermom theme-cute type name. But never could I have imagined that God would reveal far more greater things to me through blogging.

So what exactly is a super hero?

When we think super hero we automatically recollect on red capes, big ripped overly exaggerated muscles, ridiculous voices, spider webs being shot all over the house  and the sound of “not so fast!” being used as a term of endearment.

Merriam-Webster defines a super hero as: a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers;also : an exceptionally skillful or successful person.

In real life my superhero is not so fictional. Instead he walks with a crown of Glory-one that he got through proving his love to the world. My super hero has suffered the scars of sin and affliction that were not his own. My super hero pushed me out-of-the-way of death when I was entrapped to a life of turmoil and mischief.

This man, this SUPER man sat at the beginning of earth with the Lord being Lord, came down to earth to experience my pain, my grief, my sorrow, my temptation, my sin; hung his head in love and rose to assume the role of Christ once for all to all people. My super hero is Jesus–and he is real.

You see, when I look at my parenting and as I look to rearing my children in the right direction, I can’t help but think “I’m not training them to be robots that adhere to all the standards of society, I’m training them to be like Jesus. My child rearing should be pointing them to JESUS and teaching them a daily lifestyle of confession and repentance. It’s important for them to know where they stand and where God stands so that they understand their roles in life as they grow.

What does that mean? What does life under the SON look like?

Life under the son is developing character and living in full submission to his lordship on a regular basis. It means we understand our lack of perfection and need to be rescued.

For so long I have tried to figure out ways to practically teach my children by sitting them in front me and reading the entire bible to them. But I realized that my children are watching me. They are learning how to love God and how to serve others through me. They are learning accountability and suffering, character and love through me. I can’t come to grips with that enough. That’s so overwhelming!!!

Training up my boys in the fear of the Lord means also that I need to understand them. What are their weaknesses, what are their fears, their strengths, their likes and dislikes. My oldest son very often falls into the line of people pleasing. He’s often too worried about what others think of him. I pray hard daily that the Lord will help him to understand his value as a young boy and the importance of his role as a growing man. My littlest is strong-willed to the point of no return. I pray daily that the Lord will break him down and help him to be humble. I’m still actually learning on that one. LOL

One thing I’ve learned in my journey of mommahood is to never stop praying and giving myself up to the Lord because when I do I miss things that are crucial to serving my children. Also, never to stop praying and giving my arrows up to the Lord. It’s a daily process that makes me grow so weary at times.

I fail. I forget. I yell a few times, I get exhausted, and I ask sometimes why me but that’s mothering. It’s a huge job.

I’m learning how to train a not-so superhero-Jesus’ way.

HOW MY WEEKEND ENDED WITH MELTED CRAYONS

Has anyone seen that picture of the tired mother at the doctor being diagnosed with children floating around Facebook? Well that exactly sums up my weekend. Bummed. Pooped. Need I go on?

All in all I had a very great and productive time this weekend with family and friends and of course my kids. 🙂

Being as though my weekend was a bit busy, I never got around to sharing our resurrection craft. I figured I’d share some pictures of our weekend activities while I’m at it. Friday kicked off and amazing service at my church which was our first Good Friday service (It was so awesome!) Saturday My beau and I dated my oldest son which turned out amazing. (There were so many children at Chuck E Cheese!…noise, noise, and noise. LOL) And Sunday morning was our church service in which I served in our toddler room (amazing resurrection crafting for the kiddos) and that night ended up with a feast  and eggs all over the place.  We did a resurrection scavenger hunt that turned out good too!

I love being reminded about Jesus’ love and seeing that with his power and strength I can walk the way he did. AHHHHH Jesus!

Ok. Ok. So here’s our craft from Thursday.

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We colored some pasta shells and cracked them up, then we glued them on to halved cake boards.

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My littlest loved making colors in the bags!

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I didn’t have any glitter so we colored sugar with alcohol and food coloring. which came out good but we should have let it dry more first.

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In the end it was supposed to say “Jesus is Risen” but they liked the gloppy look better. Eh, twas their project.

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I had serious issues with the left over shells we had left. So I made my own shell creation. It says Jesus. I will eventually put it on canvas.

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They learned a lot through their lesson!

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Making Pretzels..

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Trying to get the perfect twist

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My littlest said, “take a picture of mine MOMMYY!!!”

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All knotted up 🙂

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Done and Delish!

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Today I decided to make crayons with them. I hated taking the wrappers off of our broken crayons.

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So I put them in warm water. Do you see them unraveling?

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So as you can see, we have had a pretty productive weekend. I have more pictures but figured that was enough. LOL

Hopefully the week gives the same impression.

-Choose Love