Chase Fireflies

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Sweet Snowflake Tortilla Snack! (Kids in the Kitchen)

With the final arrival of snow here in Pittsburgh, we decided to celebrate both indoors and outdoors.  This snack was perfect!  What could be better than making a snowflake that you can eat and then pouring massive quantities of sugar on top? 

Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas

whole wheat tortillas (fajita size)
kitchen shears
waxed paper
butter-flavored cooking spray
powdered sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Fold a tortilla in half, creating a half circle. Fold in half again to create a wedge.  Cut shapes out.
3.  Unfold the tortilla and lay it flat on waxed paper on a cookie sheet.
4.  Spray tortilla with cooking spray and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar.
6.  Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.  Allow tortilla to cool and enjoy!
adapted from January 2007 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. magazine.

Let me know if you make these!  Enjoy! 


Pittsburgh Kids of Steel Exercise Program

I’m not sure what I love most about this program:

the goal setting
the exercise
the healthy food challenge
the chance to cross a finish line
The Kids of Steel Program encourages children to run a full marathon in the course of 18 weeks.  Every time the child goes running, the distance is logged on a chart.  The last mile of the 26 takes place at a Kids Fun Run on Marathon weekend. 

Participating children receive a t-shirt, a medal upon crossing the finish line, a certificate, a bag of goodies, and most of all – the confidence that they can attain what seems like an unreachable goal. 

In conjunction with the Kids of Steel Program is the Steel Taste Program.  For this, children taste 60 of 100 healthy foods and mark it off on a checklist.  It’s perfect for picky eaters!  (My kids will do anything for a check on a chart.)  Selah had her first salad tonight with delight!  She was so proud.  (As was her momma.)

If you are local and end up doing this, let me know.  Would love to go on training runs together!

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Boston Cream Eclair: Kids in the Kitchen

This recipe is a perfect winter recipe for kids.  It’s simple.  You can’t really mess it up.  And it actually tastes REALLY GOOD!  Adden loved the building required.  And Selah – well, she just loved being in the kitchen with sugar.  It was an instant family hit! 

Boston Creme Eclair

1 pkg cream cheese, softened
2 cups cold milk
1 pkg vanilla instant pudding
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tub Cool Whip Topping, thawed and divided
Nilla Wafers
chocolate to melt

1.  Beat cream cheese with a mixer until creamy. 
2.  Gradually beat in milk. 
3.  Add dry pudding mix, extract, and nutmeg.  Beat 2 min. 
4.  Stir in 1 -1/2 cups Cool Whip
5.  Line 9×5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. 

6.  Arrange Nilla Wafers, top side down on bottom of pan.  Cover with 1/4 pudding mix.
7.  Repeat layers 3 times.  Top with remaining wafers.
8.  Refrigerate for 3 hours. 
9.  Invert dessert onto plate.  Remove plastic wrap. 
10.  Melt chocolate and 1 cup of remaining Cool Whip.  Cool and pour ever dessert. 
11.  Garnish with cool whip and wafers. 

adapted from the Nilla Wafer box:)


Valentine’s Day (or any day) Small and Inexpensive Gift Idea

Selah is a gift giver like her dad.  You never really know what she’ll come up with to give away – handmade picture frames, mosaics, bars of soap, necklaces.  When she saw this idea in an American Girl Magazine, she was all over it. 

It’s a toilet paper roll stuffed with little treats and packaged with tissue, scrapbook paper, and ribbons.  She wanted to stuff them with chocolate for Valentine’s Day.  But we came up with all kinds of ideas for:

Birthdays – balloons to blow up, confetti, a card, a candle, and candy
Snowy Days –  marshmallows and a hot chocolate packet, warm socks, paper for paper snowflakes
Random I Love You Gifts – little notes of love and Hershey’s kisses
Get Well Packages – bandaids, tea packets, Bible verses of encouragement, dried soup package, tissues
Friend Get Togethers – stickers, a necklace, lip gloss

We spent a great afternoon making these packages together.  They cost nothing with what we had on hand, they will be super cute little gifts for others, and they were simple ways to encourage her heart of giving.  It’s a win win all around!

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The Storybook Bible for Kids

There has been a lot of buzz about this children’s Bible.  And it is all credible. 

We love this telling of the story of God!  Selah cannot get enough of this Bible, which is awesome.  We will read multiple chapters at a time and she will beg to read more. 

Tonight the Storybook Bible won out over Barbie Mermaid Adventure – now that is saying something!  It makes me smile:)  The kids have both asked so many questions.  This book has prompted them. 

It is age-appropriate and beautifully narrated.  Every chapter points to our need for a Redeemer.  It explains tough concepts and allows children to think.  I would highly recommend this Bible for family devotions, for Christian school teachers or Sunday School teachers, for grandparents, etc. 

As a mom, I couldn’t love it more!


What I See in You (A Christmas Ornament Idea)

A box of ornaments is a treasure chest of memories. 

The porcelain ballet slippers I got the year I fell in love with ballet.
The Sunday School craft I made when I was 9. 
The Korean tassles from friends and family. 
The wooden Brazilian guitar we bought on a mission trip.

When we decorate our tree, we talk and remember.  They’re not really just ornaments after all.

So I am hoping to start a new tradition this year with the kids.  I want to give them Christmas ornaments that personally


Them to be more like Christ and who He made them to be with their unique gifts, sensitivities, and strengths. 
(Now to think of something beyond baseballs and long strands of Rapunzel hair.)


Barnabas Bear (An Idea for Classrooms or Families)

Meet Barnabas.  A rather humble little bear with a propensity for travel.

Barnabas was the creation of a first grade class I had 13 years ago.  He was our mascot and travelled everywhere with us, my students, their families, etc.  He carries a backpack that documents his adventures in a journal and with photographs.  Back in the day, we created  a bulletin board in his honor, charting his travels across the states or world. 

Since the kids and I are homeschooling this year, we have dug poor dusty Barnabas out of the basement.  (I love Barnabas for social studies especially and he wasn’t learning too much in his confinement!)  So now he is back at it again, pen in hand, ready to document his adventures. 

In fact, I caught him eating clam cakes last night and double fisting it with a Dunkin D’s in one hand and a Del’s lemonade in the other.   Hmmmm…. where on earth could he be? 

Read more up on how Barnabas can be used for Family Ministry here.


365 Days of LoVe (A Christmas Gift Idea that Encourages)

My mom and I had a funny relationship as a teenager.  I loved her dearly, but I never knew how to show it. 

She loved hugs.  I didn’t.  She expressed her love through field hockey to ballet shuttles, healthy dinners, and a clean home;  acts of service, really.  I am embarrassed to say that I rarely picked up a finger to help. 

But one Christmas, I got it. 

I knew that my mom responded to words.  Bible verses, quotes from the pastor, music lyrics, lines in literature, funny sayings,  my own writing, words of encouragement from each of our family members, etc. 

And so I wrote.  And I wrote.  And I wrote.  With my own hand on scrap pieces of paper, I wrote out 365 notes of encouragement.  It took me forever, but it was my act of love. 

And it was the best Christmas present I’ve ever given.  I still remember how she opened it up and cried.  And every day she told me how much it meant and cried some more.  That would have been 20 something years ago. 

Since then, 365 Days of Love has made a couple other appearances.  We have given one to Paul’s dad (a pastor), his mom, and another to my mom last year.  Thankfully, the computer does shorten the time it takes to make these, but it still is time consuming – personally selecting 365 quotes.  However, I would do it all over again in an instant.

Especially to see those smiles.  And to express love and encouragement each day for the next year. 

365 Days of Love would be perfect for a loved one, a pastor, a missionary, military personnel far from home, a beloved teacher, a college student, a widow, someone battling an illness, a close friend.  If making it with kids, allow them to decorate the bucket however they want.  Older children can also help by finding quotes and cutting out the slips. 

Let me know if you give this a try!


The Family Treasure Chest (A Christmas Gift Idea that Kids can Make)

Time spent together as a family.  Messy.  Laughter ringing loud.  Antagonizing.  Whining.  Sweet.  Quirky.  Much Grace given.  More received.  A great treasure.

If you’re looking for a Christmas gift that kids can make this year, consider a Family Treasure Chest that highlights time spent together.  Have your kids decorate it, however they want.  Little hands will LOVE you! 

Give it away to a treasured loved one – mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.  Throughout the year, they will collect and store small momentos of time spent together.

Include a ticket stub, a bracelet from a museum, a picture from a photo booth, a map, a prize won, etc. 

Every Christmas, go through the treasure chest and re-live your memories.  Create a new family tradition!  I LOVE this gift because it places more value on TIME SPENT TOGETHER as opposed to gifts given. 

That makes me smile:)

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25 Days of Advent Joy (Celebrating Christmas with our Kids 2011)

1.  Decorate a maybe real tree (if I can coerce enough!)
2.  Go see lights – Talk about  The Light and being a light
3.  Make a Christmas gift for a loved one
4.  See a live nativity
5.  Donate food items to a family in need
6.  Have a family Christmas movie night with buttered popcorn
7.  Cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate and the Crippled Lamb, by Max Lucado
8.  Write our Compassion children
9.  Have fun with the Elf on a Shelf (just with his silly antics, not the good/bad thing)
10.  Bake and Decorate cookies to donate to the Homeless Shelter (and keep some for ourselves:)
11.  Read about the birth of Jesus – Celebrate with a birthday cake
12.  See the Nutcracker with Selah (the boys will probably do something manly)
13.  Help address cards and watch old Christmas classics
14.  Have a Christmas Tea Party with Selah’s Grandmothers
15.  Send something special to our missionaries
16.  Make a new ornament for our tree
17.  Skype with friends around the world to wish them a Merry Christmas (Miss Carolyn – that’s you!)
18.  Make a simple Gingerbread House
19.  Deliver Christmas treats to our neighbors
20.  Make a Jesse Tree and do the Advent readings
21.  Celebrate Jesus’ birth at the candlelight service at church
22.  Deliver hot chocolate to a Salvation Army bell ringer
23.  Stuff each other’s stockings with encouragement and thanks
24.  Pray for the persecuted church every day of December
25.  Choose a gift from the Compassion Gift Catalog

How do you celebrate Christmas with your family?  What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?  I would love to hear!