In a season when I usually let myself become overwhelmed by my "to-do" list, I am letting go of some of the things I often feel pressured to do.  

 
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To share my love of art-making, I've started a Christmas tradition with Yummy (and someday Dooter) of putting together fun new art supplies to deliver to our local Crisis Centre.  We get to shop for fun materials and put them into bags so that kids, who might not otherwise have the chance, get some fun new art supplies to explore at Christmastime.  

 
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Christmas is my favourite season: the warmth and coziness of being inside a colourfully lit home while snowy storms rage outside.  As with many things, the anticipation of this holiday is probably the best part, and I like to draw it out by starting early, making handmade gifts.  I have lost a bit of the excitement in receiving gifts, as I've grown older, but being able to plan and make presents for others makes me feel like a little kid waiting for Christmas again.  

Like I mentioned in my post about the giveaway (now closed) on Dot to Dot Connections, I strongly believe in the value of child-made gifts and what they teach: generosity, resourcefulness, thoughtfulness, etc.  Here are some beautiful ideas for kids to create for friends and family.  Most of them are possible for pre-schoolers to make with a little help.


 
I am currently working on a post about Child-Made Gifts, so when my friend Missy, from Dot to Dot Connections, asked if I wanted to help promote her giveaway for a book on this very topic, I was quite excited at the connection!  Missy is hosting a giveaway for a copy of the book Why We Give Gifts at Christmastime by Corine Hyman, Ph.D.

I'm a huge fan of child-made gifts.  I believe that taking time to create something for others teaches kids a lot about generosity and thoughtfulness.  Teaching them to make gifts gives them skills and knowledge so they don't always have to resort to buying something mass-produced.  Kids don't have a lot (if any) money, but nurturing the spirit of giving while they are young is possible if they are taught to make it themselves.  Making simple gifts takes the stress off of finding the newest and best things to buy and brings the focus of giving back to generosity and love.  

And the good news is that you get an extra entry for this giveaway if you 'like' Back In The Hills on Facebook!  Huzzah!  Good luck to all!

The contest closes Friday, November 8th at 5:00pm CST.
 
Yummy and Dooter got dressed up first thing this morning to go visit their grandparents and great-grandma, to go "truck-a-treating", as Yummy said.  Yummy shivered with sheer excitement, while Dooter was just pleased to be going for a ride in the truck.   

 
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The grass and trees were silvery white with frost this morning, sparkling in the morning sun.  Yummy  and I ran outside in the "snow grass", as she called it, while Mr. Man gave Dooter his morning bottle.  

 
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Mr. Man's Birthday was on Friday; since Harvest was still in the works (we just finished last night -hurrah!), we didn't have much of a celebration.  Yummy's gift was his favourite part of the day, because she was so excited to give it to him.  I asked her to wait until he'd gotten a cup of coffee and sat down so he wouldn't be overwhelmed right away in the morning, and she was visibly vibrating from the anticipation as she waited patiently for him to do that.  

 
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Celebrating each season's Solstice is a perfect way to provide rhythm and tradition for young children throughout the year.  For each of the changing seasons, the children and I head outside to collect natural treasures to create a seasonal centrepiece for our table.  

 
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Every August, my cousin, sister-in-law and our kids all get together at our Grandma's place to pick crabapples from her trees and enjoy a potluck lunch all together.  I love this yearly rhythm that has developed and can imagine the warm memories that Yummy is building from this growing tradition.  It surprised me that she had visual memories of putting apples in baskets and following her cousins through the tree rows from last summer (a whole year seems very long for a four-year-old), but she mentioned these things before I did, after I told her we would soon be going to pick apples again.  

 
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Happy Canada Day!  On this hot and sunny holiday Monday we are enjoying an icy AND edible red and white sensory bin.  Yummy helped me put this quick bin together: some fruit punch flavoured ice cubes in fun shapes, frozen raspberries and strawberries, and a bag of cubed ice.