Category: Christmas

What Can You Do When You Have a Mess?

 

See those garbage bags-been there three days. They might get thrown outside today!

The last three weeks have been packed. I tried to get Christmas done and mailed before my trip to Seattle to help my daughter who is pregnant and very ill. But life is life and I live in a four-generation household and… well, I didn’t get it done.

Seattle was wonderful, busy, fun, and tiring all at the same time. I came home with croup. I know, only kids get croup but every few years I join them. I don’t feel ill, but I sound terrible and feel totally worn out, so Wed. and Thurs. I didn’t get much accomplished. But I couldn’t rest on Friday because there was so much to do.

 

Here’s what I was trying to accomplish on Friday 

  • Bake three apple pies
  • Make another tent kit
  • Go to the doctors
  • Get my mom to take a bath and trim her hair
  • Make 50 pancakes and a pot of green chili
  • Create and format a special document
  • Get all the rest of Christmas wrapped and shipped

I have a friend who had surgery the day before I flew home from Seattle. When I asked how I could help her she said that she was having tons of visits and treats but that her family could use some nurturing. Hence one apple pie.

My neighbor loves apple pie too and I have had her on my gift list for three weeks. I wanted to give her a pie and if you’re going to make one pie you might as well make two right! But if I bake and give away pies, I must make one for my own household or there would be a rebellion. So, three pies.

Saturday morning our church planned a Christmas breakfast. That’s right, breakfast. I would have opted to take a breakfast casserole, but my husband has a family tradition of Green Chili Pancakes and it’s so unique that he really wanted to share it. The problem is, he doesn’t know how to make it, I do. His grannie taught me. : ) So I needed to make 50 pancakes and then a huge pot of the green chili sauce.  It was too much to do Saturday morning, so it had to be done on Friday. This is very delicious by the way.  You can print the recipe HERE.

Now all of this wouldn’t have been too bad, but we had a double doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, we had to stop at two stores on the way home to get some items we needed to finish the above projects and that whole thing took three hours.

I was still trying to get my Christmas items packed and shipped but found that I needed one more tent kit. Long story. And I also realized that I needed a formatted document to include with a special framed family genealogy chart we are sending to our children. We are direct descendants of William Brewster of the Mayflower and I wanted to help each family understand who he was, what his family was like, and why they came to America.

I was able to create and format the document but never made a dent in the gift wrapping or the tent kit making. I did get mom bathed and her hair trimmed. Big woohoo!

It’s Saturday morning now. The church breakfast is done. The chili pancakes were a success. Everyone loved the pies which have been eaten and I am heading off to do the tent kit and get the rest of the stuff wrapped and shipped. My house is a disaster and the kitchen cabinets can’t even be seen. I haven’t vacuumed, dusted, or cleaned anything. Laundry is piling up but I did get one load in before the breakfast. Another big woohoo!

Here’s my point – life can be overwhelming even when we don’t plan for it to be. Sometimes we get stretched out, tasks bunch together and it feels heavy. In those moments, in my past and younger life, I would go to bed feeling like a failure. I would wonder why I couldn’t get more done. Why wasn’t I like so and so who not only gets more done but looks great too and on and on!

Here’s what I don’t do anymore:

  • I don’t compare myself to anyone! Really everyone has their hidden disasters!
  • I don’t beat myself up because I’m not perfect, slow, behind, didn’t plan better, start sooner, stay well, look put together, etc.
  • If I find myself having a hard time managing my thoughts about myself I pray. Find something that works for you!
  • I work diligently to refrain from blaming anyone, or anything for my slowness, tiredness, lateness, etc. I don’t blame! Sometimes it is what it is.

Here’s what I do to manage those times when life is just too much:

  • I practice remaining calm and if I need to I go to the bathroom and read a few paragraphs and breathe
  • I do what I can and I let it be enough
  • I remember to do the few things that make me feel cared for (my nightly shower and reading in the bathroom)
  • I make an effort to get enough sleep even if it means not getting as much done in a day
  • I take time to remain Present – at least once a day. Being Present happens in 5-minute chunks. This takes practice, even for me
  • I pray a lot! and I force myself to smile : )

I hope that this holiday season you’ll work on being your own best friend. Say no a bit more. Compare less. Talk nicely to yourself. Remember small moments of self-care. Smile even when you don’t feel like it. Be Present at least once a day with someone you care about. It can take 5 minutes or less!

Your shares are the best compliment! : ) 

Assumptions Can Lead To Frustration

Do you ever have conflict with your children? I did. Know what I learned?

Often it was because they didn’t know what I wanted or what my expectations were. I assumed they knew. They should have known but the sad fact was that they didn’t.

My father used to say this all the time…When you assume it makes an a _ _ out of you and me. I hated that saying but unfortunately it’s true. When we make assumptions about what another person knows and understands we often find ourselves frustrated, angry, sad and the list of feelings goes on.

Today I want to share a poignant story with you that happened over the Christmas holiday. It could have happened to me or you but it happened to one of my sisters.

An Assumption Gone Wrong!

I have five sisters and we communicate with each other on a video phone app. In early December Rozanne made a video and we could all tell she was fit to be tied!! Mad as a wet hen!! She went on and on about the marvelous Christmas memory she had set up for her grandchildren by putting a wealth of wonderful games and books under her tree and how they had carelessly and thoughtlessly behaved.

She said that she had scolded them all, taken all the toys away and that the grandkids were so confused.

Now the children she was talking about are all fairly young. The behavior she spoke of seemed age appropriate to me. I mean, if there are unwrapped toys under the tree they are to play with, right. I was confused. What had she expected they would do with those toys? If I, as an adult, was confused about how they should have behaved how in the world could they not be confused?

Here is the story in Rozanne’s own words.

“I decided to put activities under the Christmas tree for the grandkids to enjoy. I did this instead of gifts because 23 grandchildren can be expensive and frustrating to shop for. I preferred to instill in their hearts a memory of Christmas fun at Grandma’s house.

I lovingly placed several coloring books, cardboard pop up books, activity books, etc. under the tree. I added several items from years past, such as a wooden puzzle my son made when he was in school and card games like Crazy Eights, Go Fish and Rummy. There was a pouch of finger puppets, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, etc. There were several Christmas storybooks including my favorite ‘The Gift of The Magi’ which is older than any of my 23 grandchildren. I anticipated all the children would create meaningful memories with one another.

To my chagrin, I was continually frustrated with the careless handling of the treasures I had thoughtfully placed under my beautiful Christmas tree. What was wrong with these kids!!!! Books were scattered on the floor or left in another room. Finger puppets were tossed under the tree and where was the Pouch?!? My youngest granddaughter proceeded to scribble on every single page of the coloring books. I began using the irritated mommy voice with my precious little angels. I’m sure I yelled a few times too.

Finally, I realized I hadn’t given my grandchildren any instructions or explained my expectations. I came to this realization after I had frantically removed every last item from under the Christmas tree to SAVE THEM from the horrible, no good, very bad grandchildren. That was a hard pill to swallow after feeling justified in my indignation.

After thinking about it for a few hours I felt sad. I put every item back under the tree and explained to the children why all that stuff was under there in the first place and the rules for using them:
• Put them under the tree when you’re done
• Only use them in the living room
• Play gently
• Share
Things went much better after that.

Over the years, I have weeded many things out of my holiday planning. I was always hoping to envelop everyone involved in my bubble of expectations but it became overwhelming and took away from the joy of the holiday.

I thought this simpler plan would accomplish the same as all my over the top projects of the past but my kids and grandkids simply were not on the same page as I was. I hadn’t let them in on what my expectations were. All they knew was that there was a pile of cool stuff to play with under the tree. Taking the time to give a simple explanation and a few instructions made all the difference in the outcome for the rest of the month. Memories were made, joy was felt and I am still Rozanne, the fun Grandma!”

Often when I’m mentoring an angry or resentful mom or dad, as we dig into what is actually the problem, this is what comes up – they just hadn’t made sure that the child or children in question knew what was required or expected.

It’s wise to understand that your kids don’t always know what you want. Even if you think they do or that they should know it’s wise to reiterate and make sure. If you take the time to do this you’ll have less frustration, feel less resentment and you will, as a family, have more joy.

Has this kind of thing happened to you? Please share your experience and what you have learned.

Here’s to more joy,
Mary Ann

I WILL BE SPEAKING at the Winter Homeschool Conference on January 27, 2018, in Layton, Utah. This conference is designed to support and rejuvenate home educating parents who want to thrive, not just survive the homeschooling experience. You don’t have to be currently homeschooling to attend! I will be speaking about Process vs Outcome. Knowing the Difference Can Change Your Family. If the topic resonates with you I would love to have you join me.

You can learn more about monitoring your expectations in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less.  You can also receive a chapter from the book on Touchpoints, creating points of connection rather than having points of contention, FREE by visiting becomingapresentparent.com It can be life-changing for your family. I promise!

A True Short Story of Christmas and Personal Growth

“Whose is this one mom?” Seth held up a porcelain joker dressed in purple and red satin. “Oh, its one of mine, but you can have it.” He seemed pleased that I would let it go so easily; I was giving it to him along with 25 or 30 other beautiful ornaments gathered over the years.

As I watched him gleefully pack them up to take to his new home, my mind drifted back many years, to another home and another Christmas memory. The ornaments were scratched and old and many made by children’s small hands. I thought they were ugly and wondered why our tree couldn’t look like my friend’s trees with beautiful balls and ribbons so artfully hung.

The lights were in a box, a huge tangled mess. I could hear the tension between my mom and dad over those lights; she thinking, “It’s not a big deal”, and him promoting more organization and care in packing them away.

I vowed that my tree would never be like this. I would have beautiful ornaments. No little children would put them up, all clumped in one spot. The things they made would go on low branches or in the back or better yet on the refrigerator. My tree would be beautiful!

The presents under our family tree were ugly too. You could tell that kids had wrapped them using masking tape and very little skill. My friends had beautifully wrapped packages from large department stores under their trees. Ours were well worn, with the gifts inside poking through the corners where little hands had rearranged them too much. Never mind that I myself had moved them about over and over again, it wasn’t going to happen when I had a family. The packages would be beautifully wrapped and artfully placed under the tree and then left alone!

It looks far better at 67 than it did when I was 15.

I kept those vows to myself. I began to gather Christmas, beautiful ornaments purchased for half price the day after Christmas. The lights were always perfectly wrapped at the end of each season. Nothing was bent, broken or mutilated! As the years passed the decorations increased and were more beautifully arranged than ever until we had a ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ house (well, as much as that is possible with seven children). It was truly beautiful and admired by many.

Little hands were pushed away and little faces scolded for touching the packages and rattling them close to little ears. Sometimes, those same little hands were allowed to put ornaments on the tree but they were later rearranged so they looked better. All the packages had pretty ribbons and straight edges where little hands had been helped too much to do the job, and more years passed.

Lights on, music on, finally allowed downstairs.

Little by little I found my heart softening as I began to love my children’s hands more and the things of Christmas less. But now they were bigger hands and into them, I put the job of decorating. Perhaps things weren’t done just as I would have done them but it just didn’t seem to matter. All was a little less artfully arranged and the packages weren’t as fancy. Gone was the Better Homes and Gardens house. In today’s world, it would be a Pinterest house. I just wanted to please my children and not the world.

As the last ornaments were packed up and Seth and his little family left, I was brought back to the present. It had cost me nothing to give those trappings away to him. My heart was not attached to the things of Christmas as it had once been, but only to the grown child going out the door.

I realized that I had been gathering a new kind of Christmas, the kind from many years earlier in the home of my youth, where busy little hands had been allowed to touch Christmas and shake it and squeeze out every exciting moment of it.

Oh, the beautiful chaos!

I understood what I had missed as a youth, that Christmas has always been about little hands; the little hands of the Christ-child reaching towards his mother’s sweet face that first Christmas night. His little hands were lovingly guided and allowed to learn until they were grown and reached out to the whole world in love as he gave his life on the cross.

As I thought about where I had been and where I had come to I saw that now I was able to offer Christ a special gift; a heart full of love for little hands and a knowledge of the need to nurture them; a heart free of the worldly trappings of Christmas; a more Present heart.

2014 – A few of the newest ‘little hands’ in our growing family.

Addendum

I originally wrote this piece for a magazine over 30 years ago. Then it was published online In December of 2011. This year I asked my children to read this article and comment. I did this because I have been coming face to face with the reality that no matter how we feel we did or are doing as parents, in our children’s eyes it is far better than we think.

Here are a few of my children’s responses:

“I LOVE Christmas. I love everything about it. I loved our traditions and all the wonderful things that we did. It was a beautiful time and I have only fond memories.”

“Well, I didn’t know how much it meant then, but as an adult, I realize that my deepest childhood joys are wrapped up with Christmas. I do not even care if there are things under the tree, it is just vital to my happiness that there IS a tree, full of ornaments. This year, I have my elaborate decor about and there are three lovely Christam bags with tissue paper hanging out under the tree. The bags are empty, but it doesn’t matter because the look of Abundance is there and it makes me feel so full! I think as kids that is what it did for us. It was the time of the year where our house felt abundant and luxurious. It still brings me such joy.”

“Although you felt like you were controlling the decorating aspect you filled  with so many other things. You made time to include all our school classes, gingerbread houses you spent countless hours preparing so we could make one for our childhood enjoyment, the cookie plates we took to neighbors and friends, Christmas parties for the ward and our friends, and so many other things. You even saved the shuffle ball ornament for 20 years, that my friend Brooke Powell made me in 1st grade… It went on the tree every year and so many other things. Even though you rearranged them after we put the decorations [on the tree], the tree is the memory I hold, because it was a tradition for us. We knew you rearranged them but I don’t think any of us cared. We had an awesome Christmas house. I remember my friends loving it so much…”

You won’t and, frankly, can’t do everything right. You are after all, still working on becoming the best person and parent that you can be. But if you consistently do the small and simple things that really matter, if you never give up then trust me, it will be enough!

Here’s to more joy,
Mary Ann

I WILL BE SPEAKING at the Winter Homeschool Conference on January 27, 2018 in Layton, Utah. This conference is designed to support and rejuvenate home educating parents who want to thrive, not just survive the homeschooling experience. You don’t have to be currently homeschooling to attend! I will be speaking on Process vs Outcome. Knowing the Difference Can Change Your Family. If the topic resonates with you I would love to have you join me. ​​​​​​​

P.S. You can learn more about nurturing little hands, doing the simple things that really matter and how to keep working on becoming a better parent and person in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less. Knowing the difference will help you let it be enough. You can also receive a chapter from the book on Touchpoints, creating points of connection rather than having points of contention, FREE by visiting becomingapresentparent.com It can be life-changing for your family. I promise!

My Second Christmas Gift to You

In my time I have made some award-winning gingerbread homes. I’ve made whole villages. I’ve made Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds that actually move. I LOVE making gingerbread creations.

But even more than making fancy gingerbread creations, I LOVE helping kids make their own. In our family, we have a gingerbread tradition. Each year I help my grandkids make houses. Then I go to their school and help their friends make them. Most years I help over 100 children make a gingerbread house.

This is a project that any family can do. When you add popcorn, hot cocoa, a good Christmas story and lots of hugs at the end of the project you have a perfect family activity. This is my gift to you – An afternoon or evening of holiday family fun.

What you need are a few disposable bags and the right frosting recipe! Trust me; the recipe makes all the difference.

How to help kids make Gingerbread Houses:

Take it step by step
  • Call your local school and get some empty milk cartons
  • Buy graham crackers and lots of small candies, raisins, and mini-marshmallows
  • Snip off the top of the carton (where it is sealed) and tape it shut. Now it looks like a house
  • Lay carton on its side on a sheet of paper or cardboard and trace; cut out pattern
  • Lay carton on its front on a sheet of paper or cardboard and trace; cut out pattern
  • Lay the pattern on a graham cracker and using a serrated knife (plain will not do!) cut 2 sides, a front, and back. Usually, the cracker is just a bit narrower than the pattern. It won’t matter. (If you need to trim a cracker use scissors)
  • Half a cracker should make a fine roof. If the overhang is too large just trim to the size you want.
  • Cut a door and three windows from the scraps
  • Make the frosting and put into disposable decorating bags or the corner part of a sturdy Ziploc. Cut off the tip of disposable decorating bag or corner of Ziploc bag. Don’t make the opening overly large.
  • If using a disposable decorating bag rubber band the back end shut so the frosting stays inside
  • Using frosting, glue carton to a Styrofoam plate or square of cardboard covered with foil.
  • Using the frosting glue the sides, front and back to the carton. Add roof pieces. Use plenty of frosting. Jiggle the cracker up and down on the carton to stick it well. Don’t press on the cracker or you may break it.
  • Put the door and windows in place.
  • Cover the seams one at a time with the frosting and add candy. Royal frosting dries quickly so do only a small section at a time so that it doesn’t crust over making candy adhere poorly.
  • Finish decorating the house any way you want
Anyone can make a gingerbread house!
Mentally prepare for the mess.

Tips to help parents have fun while their make their houses:

 

 

  • Mentally prepare for a messy table, floor, fingers and shirt fronts.
  • Kids will suck on the decorating bag. Get over it!
  • Some kids will put NO candy on their house; it will all go inside them. Just accept it. : )
  • Some children will put the door or windows on the roof. It’s OK.
  • Not all children will cover all of the seams. They don’t see the carton and a successful house to them isn’t dependent on all the seams being covered. Let it go!
  • Many children will put no candy anywhere but the roof. It is the part they see and the rest doesn’t matter to them.
  • Children under 2 need help. Squeezing the bag can be too hard. Putting the candy on the frosting is enough for them.
  • Children between 2 and 3 want to squeeze the bag even if it is hard. Holding their little hands in yours helps them just enough.
  • Children over 3-4 can usually manage this project with only a few instructions. When I work with large groups of children or even just my grandkids, we work at the same pace, one piece at a time, until the house is assembled. Then I turn them loose.
  • Children over 5-6 need very little help and if they are over 8-9 will resent any help. : )
  • I have been helping children make gingerbread houses for over 40 years and in all that time I have never seen a child who didn’t like their finished house no matter what it looked like, even the house with NO candy on it, unless an adult pointed out the flaws. Resist the temptation to ‘do it your way.” Don’t spoil it!!
  • If you fix their house so that all the seams are covered or so it looks “good” it’s no longer their house. It’s yours. Don’t be selfish.

I hope you have a wonderful time making a village for your home and just plain enjoying one another’s company. Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas,
Mary Ann

Frosting for Gingerbread Houses:

Royal Frosting (Meringue Powder)

This frosting is much easier to make and handle. Grease does not break it down and it can be re-beaten for later use. It can be stored in covered container for up to 6 months. Meringue powder can be purchased at some craft stores and any store that sells cake decorating supplies. Worth the extra cost!

¼ cup meringue powder ½ cup water
4 cups or 1 pound powdered sugar

Mix the meringue powder and water…beat until it peaks. Add the sugar (1/2 cup more for stiffer frosting) ½ cup at a time on low and then beat on high to desired consistency. This will beat up a bit more quickly than the egg white version.

Royal frosting dries quickly and as hard as cement so keep it covered at all times with a damp cloth or in a tightly covered bowl until you put it into the bags. As you use it on the houses encourage and remind kids to do small sections at a time because if it “crusts up” things don’t stick as well.

The BRAG Corner

A 2-year-old who is doing it herself.

 

The rubber band keeps the frosting ‘in’ the bag.

 

 

 

 

 

Award winning village made by a youth group.

 

 

 

 

 

My oldest, for a school project. The periscope really went up and down.
My youngest and her ‘first’ real gingerbread house.

 

 

Even a family of boys likes making houses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a project that kids LOVE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

!!!!!THERE IS STILL TIME!! On December 21st I will be giving away 5 copies of Becoming a Present Parent via a Goodreads Give Away. There are no strings attached. You won’t be added to any lists. So head on over and enter. You just may be a WINNER.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Becoming a Present Parent by Mary Ann Johnson

Becoming a Present Parent

by Mary Ann Johnson

Giveaway ends December 21, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

I WILL BE SPEAKING at the Winter Homeschool Conference on January 27, 2018, in Layton, Utah. This conference is designed to support and rejuvenate home educating parents who want to thrive, not just survive the homeschooling experience. You don’t have to be currently homeschooling to attend! I will be speaking on Process vs Outcome. Knowing the Difference Can Change Your Family. If the topic resonates with you I would love to have you join me.

 

P.S. You can learn more about connecting with your children even in busy times in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less. Knowing the difference will help you let it be enough. You can also receive a chapter from the book on Touchpoints, creating points of connection rather than having points of contention, FREE by visiting becomingapresentparent.com It can be life-changing for your family. I promise!

My First Christmas Gift to You

Ready for Christmas Giving

There are many families that would love to make a gingerbread house but, well, it can be intimidating. The few I have known to actually do it usually have mediocre results. I have also seen families use the kits and I haven’t seen one work out yet. That is because the recipes for gingerbread and the frosting count!!

So today I want to share a wonderful story of family and tradition with you and a recipe that is over 100 years old. It ‘s my favorite cookie recipe of all time. For those who are not gingerbread fans, this cookie is for you. Mild and delicious. I have used it for both gingerbread men and gingerbread houses. It works perfectly.

The Christmas Gingerbread Story

Over ninety years ago Ann Gardner, my grandmother on my mother’s side, taught first grade in Star Valley, Wyoming. In fact, she taught all of the grades over a 40 year period of time. She was known as a tough, but fair teacher. My dad, Verl Cazier, was in one of her first-grade classes!

One of her holiday classroom traditions was making gingerbread men with her students. Each child would get a large ball of dough. They would break that into smaller balls, for the body, head, legs, and arms. They would also get a square of cardboard. Each child would flatten the largest ball of dough in the middle of the cardboard square. They would then add the head, arms, and legs by doing the same with the smaller balls of dough. The ‘man’ had to fit in the square of cardboard with nothing hanging over. Then red-hot eyes, mouth, nose, and buttons were pressed into the dough. Each child would then carefully carry their piece of cardboard, with their gingerbread man, to the cafeteria to be baked.

When I was a young mom, making gingerbread houses and villages to pay for our families Christmas, I asked her for her recipe. She gladly shared it with me and the story of what she had done all those years before in her first-grade classes. Since then her gingerbread has graced many Thanksgiving tables, been given as countless Christmas presents and been shaped into numberless gingerbread houses and cookie people.

I hope that you will enjoy this recipe and pass it down to your own families. It is now well over a hundred years old and you won’t find a better recipe out there. : )

Ann Gardner’s Gingerbread Man Recipe
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ – 1 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • (if you like a little bite, add 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper – this is my own addition to the mix)

Cream sugar and shortening. Add molasses and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and mix. Add dry ingredients. When it gets too stiff to mix with a spoon turn it out onto the counter and knead until all the flour is mixed in. Chill one hour.

Roll out ¼ inch thick on tin foil, parchment paper or waxed paper. (If I am making a house I roll it out 1/8 inch thick because I want to cut down on the weight and bulk.) Lift foil onto the pan. Cut out shapes. Remove excess. Make sure to leave at least 1/2′ between each gingerbread piece. Bake at 350* for 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a flat surface. Enjoy!

If you want to try your hand at making a gingerbread house these patterns will get you started. The frosting recipe for holding gingerbread house pieces together makes a huge difference too. Here is one that works every time. Be sure that you beat it until it is thick and stands up in peaks and then your house will hold together just right.

This frosting is easy to make and handle. Unlike royal frosting that is made with egg whites, grease does not break it down and it can be re-beaten for later use. It can be stored in a covered container for up to 6 months. Meringue powder can be purchased at some craft stores and any store that sells cake decorating supplies.

Royal Frosting (Meringue Powder)

¼ cup meringue powder      ½ cup water      4 cups or 1 pound powdered sugar

Mix the meringue powder and water…beat until it peaks. Add the sugar (1/2 cup more for stiffer frosting) ½ cup at a time on low and then beat on high to desired consistency. This will beat up a bit more quickly than the egg white version. Royal frosting dries quickly and as hard as cement so keep it covered at all times with a damp cloth or in a tightly covered bowl. Keep any utensils, tip, bags etc. covered also.

I experimented with transferring the pattern to a printed page. Right-click and save the photo. Paste it into Word, Publisher or a similar program. Size it to fit on an 8×10 sheet of paper and print. Cut out pattern pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you that want to make a gingerbread house with your children, I will be giving you all of the details and directions in my next article. It requires no baking!

SERVICE FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON

During December I want to do some form of service each day. I want to increase my sense of joy and happiness during the holiday season as a gift to myself and to the Savior, and serving others does just that. “In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25: 40

I found a link that gives you a calendar to download with one act of service to do each day leading up to Christmas day. It is family and time friendly. You too might want to check it out.

GREAT NEWS!!!!!! Just in time for the holiday season. On December 21st I will be giving away 5 copies of Becoming a Present Parent via a Goodreads Give Away. There are no strings attached. You won’t be added to any lists. So head on over and enter. You just may be a WINNER!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Becoming a Present Parent by Mary Ann Johnson

Becoming a Present Parent

by Mary Ann Johnson

Giveaway ends December 21, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

I WILL BE SPEAKING at the Winter Homeschool Conference on January 27, 2018 in Layton, Utah. This conference is designed to support and rejuvenate home educating parents who want to thrive, not just survive the homeschooling experience. You don’t have to be currently homeschooling to attend! I will be speaking on Process vs Outcome. Knowing the Difference Can Change Your Family. If the topic resonates with you I would love to have you join me. ​​​​​​​

P.S. You can learn more about how to connect with your children, even when times are busy, in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less. Knowing the difference will help you let it be enough. You can also receive a chapter from the book on Touchpoints, creating points of connection rather than having points of contention, FREE by visiting becomingapresentparent.com It can be life-changing for your family. I promise!