The Best Birthday Cake in the History of Ever! – Book Review

This year has been a year of making new traditions. So many times we can not or should not do what we love to do. I thought this would be a great time to start a new Christmas tradition with the kids, and Little Miss had actually mentioned doing the same thing before I got the email about this cute book.

I was thrilled to review The Best Birthday Cake in the History of Ever! by Jennifer Hill and Mary Walker from Side Door Communications. Check out what we thought of this book!

What Is It

This is a hardcover book with beautiful color illustrations on the pages. Through this book, we are told the story of how this family came up with the idea of a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve.

The story is told in a rhyming way that made it really fun to read. We also have the birthday cake recipe, because this is no ordinary cake. Every ingredient in the cake has a meaning and a purpose. *One note, for those who have children who believe in Santa, this book does not say anything to change their minds. This just brings the focus to Jesus.

Not only do we get the cake recipe, but we also have access to fun activities and free printables to go along with the story.

How We Used It

We sat down as a family and read this book one afternoon. The kids loved the pictures and the story was very intriguing. We loved the meanings behind each and every part of the cake and the party that they threw for Jesus.

After we read the book, we decided that we wanted to make the cake for our friends and neighbors. However, this year we are not doing a party as we would like, we still wanted to spread the message that this book carried.

Instead of making a cake, we did cupcakes (easier to carry and deliver). Also, I did not have the right cake mix or the chocolate chips, so again we improvised and used food coloring to make the white batter red. This kept the message for what we wanted to share.

Instead of making one angel for the cake, we did multiple angels to go on each plate we were delivering. Once everything was ready, we went out and brought the cupcakes to each house. We did not just drop them and go, we told the story behind the meaning of every aspect of the cupcakes.

What We Thought Of It

My kids loved this book. They also fell in love with making the cupcakes and sharing the story about Jesus’ birthday and the meanings of the different aspects of the cupcakes. By doing this activity of sharing what we learned, my kids are beginning their journey as disciples of Jesus. While the houses we went to already know and believe in Jesus, this was a great way for my kids to start talking to others about Jesus.

This will surely become a family tradition that we will do every year. We look forward to doing this again, and the kids actually want to do the sharing with others we didn’t get to with our first batch of Jesus’ birthday cupcakes. We were even told that one of the angels we shared made it to the top of a Christmas tree to remind the family of what we brought to them (and not just the cupcakes!).

If you are looking for a new tradition for this holiday season, I highly recommend grabbing this book and sharing the story of The Best Birthday Cake in the History of Ever!

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Homeschooling Through Christmas with SchoolhouseTeachers.com

December is a month that is sometimes hard to homeschool through. For our family, we have birthdays at the beginning of the month and Christmas at the end. Between that, and all the family gatherings, we have a hard time focusing on actual school work. However, we have fallen in love with a new resource for our school during December.

When we started homeschooling, one of the first things I purchased was a membership to SchoolhouseTeachers. When I started reviewing for the Homeschool Review Crew, I was able to keep my membership. This membership gives me everything I need to homeschool all of my kids and resources for myself!

The Christmas Corner

When it comes to Christmas, there is a special Christmas Corner that is packed full of fun and informative videos, lessons, and unit studies. That means that even when life gets crazy, I can still make sure my kids are learning something along the lines of what I want them to learn.

In December, we scale back on our normal school schedule, because we can! That is a joy to homeschooling! We don’t have to have a full school schedule this month, we will make up for it later in the summer months when it is too hot to go outside. Right now, we love to watch Christmas movies, like Go Look In The Manager and A Savior is Born, both from SchoolhouseTeachers. These videos break up our days and allow some fun while we learn.

One fun resource from SchoolhouseTeachers that we have fallen in love with is the Cranberry Christmas eBook. This is our favorite because we fell in love with a Cranberry Thanksgiving and noticed the similarities in the titles. This has become a book we fallen in love with for Thanksgiving and bringing it over to Christmas just made sense. Having a unit a study to go with the book makes for s simple and fun way to learn during this busy month!

Christmas Lessons on SchoolhouseTeachers

While we haven’t dug in deeper, if we wanted to, SchoolhouseTeacehers has the options to do so during this holiday season. We can do spelling lessons based on Christmas, Art lessons, History, violin, and photography lessons that are all based around Christmas lessons. This means that no matter what your child has an interest in, SchoolhouseTeachers has an option to keep the lessons going during this busy month!

How do you keep learning alive during the busy month of December?

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Christmas Gifts for Toddlers

There are a few people in this house that are hard to shop for, Baby Girl is one of them. Yes, the little 23-month-old is hard to shop for! Do you want to know why? Because she loves everything! I know I could give her an empty box and she would think that it is the best thing in the world! So what do you find for the little one who loves everything? I found 10 things that are on the top of my list!

 

While this may be more than one thing, I love this list of non-toy gift ideas. There are so many things that I know Baby Girl would love, and since she has a bunch of hand me down toys from the older kids, these gifts are great ideas!

 

10. Wooden Puzzles

Oh how fun it is to watch little minds figure out puzzles! I love watching Baby Girl as she puts together puzzles and the excitement that she gets when she can figure it all out and shows me the completed puzzle!

9. Shape Sorter

The shape sorter is the classic toy for toddlers! I remember seeing these toys the whole time I was growing up. They come in many different styles, but the basic concept is the same, learning mixed in with fun!

8. Play Doh

Yes, Play Doh. If you have a child who will not eat the stuff, or if you want to make your own, this makes a great gift! While I am not a fan of the cleanup, I love the fun that all the kids have when they play with the Play Doh. The joy, the texture and sensory fun, it is all worth it!

7. Paint Brushes and Paint

Oh, the joy of painting and brushes. Especially these fun brushes! While this is another thing that I hate to cleanup, I would not trade in the smiles for the mess at any moment. This is a great way for kids to learn how to express themselves and growing up knowing it is ok to make a mess and be creative, that is something I want for all of my kids!

6. Indoor/Outdoor Slide

If you live in Minnesota like we do, you know that time outside is not a given. One year we have winter before fall, the next we have summer until December! A simple slide like this makes for fun all year round and not just on the days you can get outside. This slide makes it possible to still have fun inside by simply bringing it in when the weather outside is literally frightful!

5. Trampoline

Yes, you can get the big trampoline that you set up outside, yes we have one, but we also have a small one like this for inside. We actually got it for Little Miss for her birthday present since she loves to jump…all…the…time! Baby Girl loves to get one this and she is a great jumper! All I can say is that this is a sanity saver when the kids are full of energy but can't get outside like they want too!

4. Baby Dolls and Diapers

Yes, I said diapers! But I love this pattern for homemade ones! Baby Girl has fallen in love with being a little mommy. Everything I do, she does. This is good and bad. But better! I have gotten tired of telling her no to using her own diapers on her babies. This option would be a great alternative, while I think that Little Miss might steal these when Baby Girl isn't looking!

3. Legos

What kid doesn't love Legos? All the big kids in the house have Legos and Baby Girl loves her just as much! When she was given the chance to pick out a gift, the first thing she found was a new bag of Mega Bloks. She loves to build with these and I love watching her make new things using her budding little mind.

2. Cooking Set

What little girl doesn't love to help mom in the kitchen? Now you can let her do that with the comfort of knowing that she is safe while doing so. These kitchen tools are a great way to help her build her kitchen skills while still playing. This is critical at this age. Learning should come with play!

1. Etch-A-Sketch

Oh my…this toy! I love this toy! This is one of those toys that just doesn't get old. Little Miss and Baby Girl love to play with our Etch-A-Sketch, in fact, they fight over it. This toy is one of those non-electronic toys that make the kids fall in love with the old-fashioned toys. We love watching the kids play with this and this is the one thing we won't take away from them.

This is the list I am taking to the store with me. I can't wait to find just the right deal on just the right thing for Baby Girl! What are you looking at for your toddler?



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7+ Simple DIY Christmas Gifts

It is that time of year again. The time when we gather with family and loved ones and share gifts with each other. Our family is looking forward to this time of year, but this year we want to do something a little different. We are on a tight budget, so instead of buying all of our gifts, we are looking at some great DIY Gifts. I want to share those with you so that you can do the same.

DIY Christmas Gifts

DIY Peppermint Sugar Scrub

Peppermint Body Scrub

Do you know someone who loves to pamper themselves? Or someone who needs to pamper themselves? This Scrub is super simple to make and the smell, that cannot be described in words!

Easy Peppermint Foot Soak

Peppermint Foot Soak

Just the thought of sitting quietly for a few moments soaking your feet is a dream of many moms! A great gift for moms would be a jar of this with a coupon for babysitting time. What mom would pass on this?

DIY Yarn Gifts

It is no surprise that I would post something about yarn. My family has always been a do it yourself family, and my mom is Gaga Bebe from Gaga Bebe and Friends: Homemade Crafts. The kids love receiving these kinds of gifts from her, and I feel that they are ready to start trying their hand at making their own. This list should give us some starting points!

Reindeer Mason Jar Gift

Reindeer Mason Jar

Do you know someone who loves candy? Why not make their gift a little more decorative and make this cute reindeer jar to put it in! This is such a simple and cute idea that anyone would love!

Alternative Gifts

Road Trip Map Artwork

Have you been on a road trip that gave you some great memories? Why not make this little map and give it to your road trip partner in crime! This is a great reminder of the fun that was had and a very meaningful gift.

Upcycled Mason Jar Lids

Mason Jar Lids

We all have a fridge in our house, and typically that fridge is filled with memories. Why not hang those memories up with other memories? This seems like a great gift for the grandparents in your life.

5 Minute DIY Lip Balm

This is something that I have wanted to make for a long time. Why not use the excuse of making it for gifts to make it? I look forward to making this with peppermint, but I want to add some wild orange into that as well.

While we are talking about saving money during the holidays, have you heard of the Free Shipping Day? This was a surprise to me, but I love finding new deals when it comes to this time of year!

Hidden Savings

One more thing before I get busy on crafts, are you looking for a budget software to help you get and stay on track? Check out this free financial software from Personal Capital and see if this will help you get and stay on track!

What are you making this Christmas season for gifts?

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Shop For Christmas Presents on Groupon Goods


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I know, today is just Halloween, but have you thought about Christmas Shopping yet? Where are you looking for the best deals available? Are you looking forward to the Black Friday sales, or are you looking online? There is no need to wait to start your shopping with Groupon Goods.

Groupon Goods is a part of Groupon that I had not heard of before. This part of their site is perfect for those of us who want to do their Christmas shopping online this year. I mean, homeschooling four kids while daddy works out of the house. When am I going to find the time to go shopping? If I can find a good deal while cruising the internet at midnight or 4am, I am going to jump!

Groupon Goods

Groupon Goods has a little bit of everything, Health and Beauty, For the Home, Men's and Women's Fashion, Baby, Kids and Toys and Electronics. This covers everyone on my personal shopping list, even that pesky teenager! Yes, even the teenager is covered! I found the list of cell phones on Groupon Goods and fell in love. This not only gives me great deals on the phones, but all the fun accessories that are needed with them.

When dealing with a teenage boy for any holiday or birthday that needs a gift, you are sure to get an "I don't know" answer when asked what they want. But finding the fun accessories to their favorite "toys", the cell phone, you have a surefire great buy, and to find it at a deal, I am a happy camper!

Have you checked out Groupon Goods? What is your favorite find? I want to know, please tell me in the comments below!!


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The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury ~ A Homeschool Review

Captain Chaos has come to attack the manager with the Manger Blaster, Cootie McKay saving the nativity, Harold Grubbs and a Christmas Vest. What in the world do all of these and other stories have in common? They are all part of The Familyman's Christmas Treasury – Digital Download Collection from The Familyman.


The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

For this review, we had the chance to listen to 8 of these wonderfully funny and meaningful stories from The Familyman. These stories included:

  • Captain Chaos and The Manger Blaster
  • Cootie McKay's Nativity
  • The Stranger
  • The Bishop's Dream
  • Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest
  • Gladys Remembers Christmas
  • The Secret of Snow Village
  • It's Called Christmas

These stories are fun, humorous and very touching all at the same time. We enjoyed listening to these stories and I can't wait to tell you a little about them

Each one of these stories lasted about 15-30 minutes and were filled with action right away. This was just the right amount of time to keep the focus of the kids. While all 8 of these stories are different, you will find one common theme among them, the true meaning of Christmas.

We first listened to Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster. Jason feels that the nativity story is too boring and likes to tell his version with the Manger Blaster by the side of Captain Chaos. When he wakes up one morning to find out that the manger is no longer there and the whole story of Christmas is gone, he learns how special the real story of Christmas is!

Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest was about, well just that, a Christmas Vest. But that is not all. Isaac's dad digs out a Christmas Vest the first Sunday after Thanksgiving. When Isaac asks about where the vest came from, we learn about Harold Grubbs, the meanest man in town and the previous owner of the vest. This short story tells us about how Harold Grubbs changed and how Isaac's dad got to be the new owner of the vest!

Cootie McKay's Nativity was a great story about a little town a long time ago. We learn about how this little town almost didn't have a Christmas one year. However, thanks to a little boy named Cootie and all his deep thoughtful questions, Christmas was able to arrive! The kids loved listening to the questions and the answers, especially since they have had a lot of the same questions themselves.

The Stranger was my favorite story of them all. This story was about one church whose church members are nervous about a stranger in town that only seems to want to visit the members of this church. All the members want nothing to do with this stranger, hiding in their houses and turning him away. However, Sam's family welcomes this stranger into their house on Christmas Eve. What they found out by showing kindness to this stranger, was he really wasn't a stranger after all, but someone very special!

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury

These are our favorite of the 8 stories. While we love them all, these were the ones that we listened to first every time. The kids loved to listen to these while working on school, drawing, or just eating snacks at the kitchen table. These have become a great addition in our Christmas Collection. We feel blessed that we have had the chance to listen to these wonderful stories. There is not one bad one in the bunch! Every one of them is so full of meaning. This is collection that every house should have in their house this Christmas!

Social Media Links:

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Blog: http://familymanweb.com/blog/

We were not the only family who sat down and enjoyed these stories. Head on over and check out the other reviews right here!

 

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

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Elf on the Shelf ~ For Boys

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It is that time of year again! Time for the Elf on the Shelf to start arriving in homes across the country, if (s)he hasn’t already! What in the world are you going to do with that silly little elf for the next month?? I love the simple ideas, the clean ideas.  Not the ones that take a lot of time and/or planning!! Plus, I have a baby and kitten in the house, so I have to think up high and out of reach!!

My favorite collection today…the one geared towards boys from Your Modern Family! Even daddy will get a kick out of these ones!! Check them out and let me know what you think!! I think the Minecraft mask will be a great surprise!!

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Christmas Books for Kids

Christmas time and Christmas books are a wonderful combination! What are some of your favorite books to read at Christmas time? Here are just some of our favorites!

Christmas Books for Kids

If He Had Not Come: An Updated Version of Nan Weeks’ Classic Story

Frosty the Snowman (Frosty the Snowman) (Little Golden Book)

The Friendly Beasts: an old English Christmas Carol

The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear (First Time Books(R))

The Berenstain Bears Save Christmas

Humphrey's First Christmas

The Little Drummer Boy

The Little Drummer Boy

I Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture Riddles

Christmas in the Stable

Are any of these favorites in your house? Any others that I should know about to add to my collection? I would love to hear from you!

 

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Last Minute Christmas Ideas

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It is almost Christmas. Did you finish all your shopping yet? Do you even have your list done yet? If you answered “no” to either of those questions, you need to check out this awesome list of ideas that I found over at Wendywoerner.com. Wendy has a wonderful list of 8 Last-Minute Gifts That You Can Find at the Grocery Store. I have officially finished making my list for everyone and will be able to grab those last minute items locally! Thank you Wendy for the ideas!!

If He Had Not Come ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

”If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.” John 15:22. This is the theme of the book, If He Had Not Come, a classic Christmas story by Nan F. Weeks, but reintroduced to a new generation by David Nicholson.

If He Had Not Come Schoolhouse Crew Review

David Nicholson has taken this beautiful Christmas story and put it back into writing with some just as beautiful pictures to go with it. Now, there are Christmas stories, and then there is this Christmas story. Although it is recommended for ages 6 and up, all three kids, Little Miss included, sat through the whole story and asked questions throughout.

What Is It?

A simple hard cover book is all this is. But the story that lies inside those covers makes this a Christmas treasure that I will be adding to our Christmas traditions! Yes, this is a very religious book on the true meaning of Christmas, and if you have children and a belief in Jesus, you will want to add this book to your collection.

If He Had Not Come Schoolhouse Crew Review

You start out reading on Christmas Eve with Bobby and his father. But when Bobby wakes up on Christmas morning, something is wrong…there is no Christmas. We are taken through the day without the reason for the season…it was an eye opener for our house, something we don’t think about. Yes, we think about Jesus on Christmas, yes the kids know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, but to actually think of the day without Him here…

Not only do you have this eye opener of a story, but David Nicholson also adds in some extras at the end of the book for families and Sunday School teachers. These extras include 6 Interactive topics (open-ended questions), 4 Going Deeper activities, The A-B-C of the Gospel Message and an extra special way to help celebrate Christmas.

How Did We Use It?

Even though it isn’t Christmas yet, we dove into this book and loved it. Ray Ray was asking questions before I could even get 3-4 pages into the book! We used this as a bedtime book one night, with all of us sitting together in the living room. We had just one problem with this…we all wanted to look at the pictures at the same time 🙂 Not a bad problem! After reading the whole book, we didn’t go to bed as planned…we talked and talked and talked some more. We all learned something, even if we thought we knew it all before. Between passing the book around and asking questions from the back of the book, we had a great bonding time.

If He Had Not Come Schoolhouse Crew Review The next day, we went into the Going Deeper section at the back of the book. I used this as a way to check Moe Man and his finding bible verses in the bible. We would talk about the statements, and then finding the supporting bible verses in our bibles. I liked this section of extras the most, since this is God telling my kids something and not me…they seem to take it more seriously than if I were to tell them without the bible in front of us 🙂

What Do We Think?

I have mentioned that we have a new Christmas tradition, so we think this is a great book. I loved the message that was sent out to us by the story. I love the pictures and I love the extras. I loved the book the moment I opened the package. So needless to say, I have all good to say about this book. The kids love all books, like me, but seem to be drawn to this book. They have found a new love of books about God, and to have this one in time for Christmas is perfect. Little Miss, being only 3, loved this book as much as her brothers, and Daddy even loved this book! I honestly think for only $18.95, every family should be sharing this book this, and every Christmas! My favorite part of the book? Bobby’s prayer on Christmas Morning “Lord Jesus, I am so glad You DID come.”

If He Had Not Come Schoolhouse Crew Review

There are 99 other reviews of this book, will you come with me to read them?

 


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