Thursday, November 27, 2014

Getting Crafty: An Advent Calendar

 #1 I really do love making crafts.  (I'm just not good at making time for it and gathering the necessary materials.)
#2 If you want to follow a real DIY blog with fun projects for your home you should check out my sis-in-law's stuff at  Also, my friend Kim did a cool project with some vintage lamps recently (
#3 If you want a "use what you happen to have at home to make a Christmas countdown calender so you don't have to answer the 'How many days til Christmas?' question a thousand times over" craft then this may be the one for you!

I present...the Fun Felt Jesse Tree!!!

Now, a few years ago I printed an Advent Devotional off Ann Voskamp's blog and it had these ornaments to go along with the reading each day. 
 (That's also where I learned about the Jesse Tree.) I cut the ornaments out and laminated them (with packing tape :) ) and the kids have hung them on the tree in years past.  I searched her site and I don't think you can print these anymore but I see that she does have the devotional book for sale, and I found some other printables here through a Google search.  

Anyway, here's what I did:

1.  Cut a piece of cardboard to the size of your liking.
2.  Cut a piece of fabric just a little bit bigger on all sides.

3. Hot glue the fabric around the board (or duct tape will work :) ).
4. Cut a piece of green felt almost the same size as the board.

5. Fold it in half and cut out your Christmas tree...I freehanded it but it might be handy to outline it first, because as Crockett says, "Cutting is hardy hard." :)
 6.  Cut out 27 small felt circles.  (I cheated here because I already had these from a Martha Stewart project I attempted a million years ago.  They're about 1 1/2 in. in diameter.)  I thought red might be cuter.
7.  Hot glue your ornaments onto the felt circles.

8.  Now paint numbers (or use a sharpie) on your tree like this:

 (I placed all my ornaments on the tree first so I could see how it needed to line up.)

 9. Time to hang it up!  I used packing tape and taped my board onto a picture I already had hanging...we'll see if it holds. :)

10.  Let the countdown begin!  The kids (or you) can easily stick the circles onto the board each day...just like the felt boards from the Sunday School of yesteryear. :)

...And remember what it's all about:

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.   
Matthew 1:21 

 Merry Christmas from the Smith's!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Creation Museum - A Recap

Our family recently took a trip up I-75 to the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky.

The itinerary vs. reality:

  • Meet our friends, the Rooks, in Chattanooga and hang out for the evening.
    • That's pretty much what happened.  We ate at Sticky Fingers, which is just as good as it was in college, which is probably the last time I ate there.  
  • Head to my parents' house for the night.
    • This we did with the added bonus of a Password (that's a game) battle of the sexes.  (Everyone can guess who won so I won't rub it in.)
  • Get up and leave by 6:30 am to get to the museum by 10:30 am.
    • This did not happen.  IV was still on the night shift sleep cycle, and I had miscalculated the travel time by an hour (or more), and the Rooks decided to make the most of their time and hang out at Rock City since they had to be back in Georgia that night.  
    • We did leave around 7:30 and got to the museum by 2 p.m. (This was after a lot of extra pit stops including the clean-up of a car-sick kid.  Fun.)
From this point going forward all went as planned.  We spent about 3 hours in the museum that afternoon which was plenty of time to look over everything once.  We even made it to their Noah's Cafe before it closed at 5:00, and it was decently priced, and the staff was very friendly.  

I was glad we planned to go back the next day though because we did not have time to see the petting zoo and surrounding garden.  We loved everything we did see that first day and IV was quick to admit that it was definitely worth getting up early and making that painful car trip.  (He is not a museum enthusiasts so this was a BIG deal.)

We spent the night in a nearby Hyatt Place Hotel which had a pool for the kids and a free hot breakfast in the was nice.  (Thanks to IV for flying back and forth to Kuwait a few times - we used our United Miles to pay for the hotel. :) )

Back at the museum we had time to see the zorse (zebra and horse hybrid), the zonkey (zebra and donkey), the llamas, and the camels.
A zorse is a zorse, of course, of course.
Lottie laughing at a llama (as seen on Instagram)

Kids and Camels (You can pay extra for camel rides...we did not.)

We also had time to go through the museum a second time, which was nice because the first time I was so busy taking in the visual, like this...
and this...
Part of the life-size Noah's Ark exhibit...Right now they just have a section as part of the museum, but they have plans for a full Noah's Ark Encounter.

...that I didn't have time to do much reading.  That's what I did on this second morning.  There was so much to take in and it was all soaked in Scripture, which I loved.
Speaking of the Scripture, one of my favorite things about this museum is that we clearly heard the Gospel in a gentle, loving way at least three times...not to mention all the writings and other references to it.
The whole place was covered in undiluted truth.

Anyway, after another cruise through the museum we took part in the "Snakes Alive" workshop, which we did pay a little extra was worth it!
King's the one who really loves snakes, but even I had a great time at this workshop.  This is Daisy, the albino python.

This ended our time at the Creation Museum because we wanted to save time for the Cincinnati Art Museum which is close by and FREE!  It was kids love art and the older three wanted to spend a lot more time there than their two little brothers would allow. ;)
We told them we would come back...and we definitely plan to!  

Crockett's already asked several times when we're going back to "that museum"...meaning the Creation Museum, of course.  Ace said it was the best day of his life!  And he wants to go back to "that house, with the pool".
King took over 200 pictures (guess that camera he got for his birthday was a good buy).  
Duke and Lottie loved it all.
So did their Mom and Dad!

This is definitely a road trip we recommend, and if you want a good deal you have to go quickly!
Kids are free til the end of the year!