DIY Snowflake Christmas Cards

Sending Christmas cards is a tradition in the Wilt family. And I enjoy making homemade cards if time allows. Last year, I started working on my Christmas cards in September! Since I’m in school, I knew I wouldn’t have quite as much time this year, so I found a super simple design, and I LOVE how my cards turned out!

Supplies

–cards and envelopes (4×6)
–red and green patterned paper (6×6)
–red and green craft paper (12×12)
–paper cutter
–snowflake punch
–acid free glue stick
–holiday greeting stamp
–ink

Directions

First, I cut the patterned paper into strips. They run the length of the card (4 inches) and are 2 inches wide. I was able to get 4 strips out of each 6×6 paper.

I glued the strips to each Christmas card using my acid free glue stick. I’m a HUGE fan of glue dots; however, a glue stick is much more cost effective for this project. It provides better coverage (instead of just the corners), keeps the strips flat on the card, and works better for adhering the snowflakes.

Next, I punched out the snowflakes from red and green craft paper. One for each Christmas card.

Using my glue stick again, I added the snowflakes to each card. Just to be transparent, this was probably the most frustrating part. I got glue on my fingers and wiped them off on a Clorox wipe after every 5th or 6th card. You may want to keep a wipe handy.

The last step is stamping on your greeting! Since these are Christmas cards, I chose “Merry Christmas.” Since these don’t include both colors on any one card, this design could easily become a “thank you” card, a “thinking of you” card, or any number of other occasions in which you might need a card. 🙂

I love how I was able to get 8 different cards from one simple design! And it didn’t take long at all to whip up 100 of these!

Book Review: The Family Christmas Book

Not just a book, but a tradition

A dear friend gave my husband and me a book as a wedding present. Over the years it has become the record of our family life. We now own two of these books because the first one ran out of pages.

It’s a simple book with few words when you begin it, but thousands by the time you finish it. Can you figure out this riddle?

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When I opened this gift, I little knew how much I would love it.

A peek inside

The book’s title is The Family Christmas Book. Each two-page spread represents a year. The first sentence tells where we gathered to celebrate Christmas. Then the  page leaves a blank space place for a photo (which is my weakest point and consistently blank.) The next series of lines lets company, family and guests sign their names. The bottom left page asks for “Special events of the Holiday Season.” The top right is titled, “Memories of the past year.” The last section leaves room for a Christmas card.

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I’m getting ready for this Christmas. We’re celebrating twice!

As I’ve filled it in over the years, I try to remember to add a note about the weather. And a few words about funny or unusual gifts. There isn’t a spot for my family Christmas letter, so I fold it and lay it between the pages anyway.

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Rereading the pages brings joy and nostalgia.

So very special to our family

Our world has changed so rapidly in the past half century, that my little book shows an incredible unfolding history.

It’s become one of those items that if my house burned down, I would grab it before anything else. It cannot be replaced. Several of my children’s spouses have read through it.

A blank book can serve the purpose as well as this book. If I hadn’t been able to find another one, I would have used a blank book.

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To order your own book, the title page gives this address.

Even if you’ve been married a few years, you can start one now and go on from here. Christmas may be a busy time of year, but you don’t want to lose the memories this book captures. It’s a wonderful Christmas tradition.

National Novel Writing Month, Part 4

DONE!

Tiger finished her novel! As a three-year-old author, I doubt she’ll be making any radio talk shows or television appearances. She’s just beginning to read some simple words, so she will love unwrapping her own copy of her book at Christmas in a few weeks.

If you didn’t read the first ones, you can see them here, here and here.

I would classify her work as a “pre-chapter book.” It isn’t a picture book, an easy reader or a chapter book.  The vocabulary level and grammatical errors throw out the easy reader choice. The quick story lines lend it a chapter book feel, but the painted photos pull you back into the picture book genre. I had to invent a new category.

Illustrations

Tiger’s mom gets credit for the illustrations. They are all beautiful photos she took and sent through Picture to People, a photo editing app that changes them into paintings. I have Studio, a photo editor that came with my phone, and I use it a lot. I also love Prisma. It’s a free app that lets you turn photos into paintings based on an artist or style. These are simple to use and often can turn a normal photo into something stunning.

About the author

I can’t wait to read the About the Author page to Tiger. I know she’ll laugh. Then she’ll laugh again when she finds it 25 years from now!

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I used cardstock paper for the cover which will make it last longer.

Bindings

I have a swing-arm stapler I bought just to do staple bindings. If I didn’t own one, I would probably ask if I could borrow the one at my church or consider calling copy shops or the local public library to find out if they have one available for use. Another choice would be plastic comb binders, but they add quite a bit to the cost and are a little unwieldy.

 

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A swing arm stapler is a lot stronger than a regular stapler, but it has limits, too. Tiger’s book had 10 pieces of paper, with 4 pages on each, so it easily punched through them.

 

The Secret Page

Tiger had one extra page. I could have split one of her pages, but I thought it would be more fun to hide this page and see if she ever finds it.  Christiana wrote about their rescue dog here if you want to know more.

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If I had more empty pages, I would have worked on enlarging some photos into two-page spreads.

 

Only two endings left. I hope you enjoy them.

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Here’s the beginning again.
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One more “rerun” page and then you’ll see the new ending.
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We’re heading to page 18.
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True story so far!
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Does the picture look familiar? During an edit, I found it had been placed twice. If Tiger were here, she probably would have found it sooner.
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Can you guess what happens?
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He’s such a good grand-dog!
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Tiger didn’t want it to end on the page before this, so she made up a a new ending that she liked better.
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Now for the last ending. Again, a little review.
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Last of all, Tiger told about Wren’s toy rescue.

 

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Tiger loves the wild endings best.
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In a few months she won’t be saying “fighted” or “winned.” I’m glad I caught her in time so I can look back and remember.

 

I look forward to reading more of Tiger’s writings. I know it won’t be long.

 

National Novel Writing Month, part 3

Mock Ups

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Skyping as we write a novel really is all fun and games!

As Tiger and I reached the last endings, I started to mock up the book.
You can buy programs that do this for you, or even send a book off to a publisher to be printed at your own expense. Most start at about $20 for a 25 page picture-type, good quality, bound book, and you must order at least 50. That gets pricey.

Here’s the trick to do your own that you can print from your home printer or at an office supply store or copy place.

Cut up a couple pieces of paper into similar size rectangles and fold them to represent a miniature copy of your book. Identify the pages starting with the cover, inside cover, title page and copyright page. I recommend a copyright page. If you write a © with the date and your name or your child’s name, you legally hold the copyright.

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Your mock up does not need to look pretty. I have torn paper into pieces and made super messy mock ups. They still work.

Proceed by numbering the pages. Across from the front cover, include a back cover. Then flatten out the book. If you lift each page, you will have the pages that need to be connected and printed back to back from your mock up.

I use and love Microsoft Publisher which lets me pick up and move pages very easily. If you have a word processor, you can print out your pages and lay them in the order they need to be before copying them. If you plan to print them from your own printer, you may have to fiddle with your computer to get it to do what you want. It seems that those automatically-number-your-pages command, don’t. Especially when you are putting together a book. Follow your mock up copy.

The first time is always the trickiest, so start simple. Limit your pages to 25 or less. Be willing to print out, edit, print out, edit, print out and edit! Also, think about the mistakes you see as you read books and magazines. We all make mistakes. It’s not that big of a deal. There’s a page numbering mistake in the pages below. See if you can find it! Don’t expect your book to be perfect. If you’re working with a child who can read, finding mistakes together by editing is a fantastic learning experience.

Like a Serial Story

Here are some more endings. If you missed the first ones, look here and here.

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Once again, the beginning of the story. This time we’re going to see the people rescues! (Page 26).
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We’ll do all three endings. First, page 21.
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You can tell what Tiger did today!
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We have a little switch up in verb tenses, but I don’t work on correcting that with toddlers.
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Writer’s write best about real life.

 

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Now to skip back to another ending from page 26. This time we’ll take the trail down page 12.
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Yet again, real life. Hurricane Matthew had evacuated Tiger’s Aunt and Uncle from Charleston to her guest room.

 

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Toddlers depend a lot on their five senses which makes what they say sound good in print.
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This branch of the story really caught Tiger’s imagination. Here comes another ending. Page 9.

 

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I asked Tiger why daddy had to work on the car. She remembered a recent problem.

 

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Lewis always wants out when someone else goes out.
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I was surprised Tiger knew the word pliers. The things I learn while doing this are amazing.
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We love happy endings. One more. We have to go to page 29.

 

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This was the surprise ending Tiger invented. It was fun to have a fanciful trail to follow.
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To appreciate this, you need to read it out loud to a three-year-old. They get the humor.

November: National Novel Writing Month, part 2

Have you started your novel?

Writing ten pages a day from now till the 30th would produce a short book. Although fiction is very popular, my favorite stories are true ones about how God uses people to accomplish good in their own lives and the lives of others. Every life story is a book waiting for a pen to set it on paper.

Writing your map

Tiger’s book still has a few blank pages. Hopefully we’ll finish it this week. Here’s the map so far. Choose-your-own-ending books require maps before the publishing stage unless you have a photographic memory.

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You can see that the last endings are missing off page 23.

The squares and circles stand for endings and pages requiring choices. This is the second map in the series. I call it the “almost final” map and hope it will not be edited again. The first map included triangles. The triangles represented pages I moved. At first I set the book up to fill 50 pages. That was a bit over the top for a three-year-old even if she does have a large vocabulary and a huge imagination. Cutting 15 pages stream-lined Tiger’s book. Even though we read just a couple endings at a sitting, she still owns a short attention span. As we write together, I usually fill one page and then split it later into several pages.

Getting past writer’s block

When Tiger has writer’s block, I encourage her in several ways. Sometimes asking questions provides sentences that fall right into place as the story. Other times, I read what she has written and when we reach the end of what she last wrote, I say, “Your turn. What happens next?” Other times she is fooling around and not  adding to the book at all, but I write it down and then read it back to her. She’ll say, “No, that isn’t right. It should be  ….. ”

More endings

To read the first endings, check here.

 

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Every story starts with these three pages. They get read often!
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We are going down the “rescue toys” option.
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Page 23 hasn’t been written. So we have to see Lewis rescue his own toys.
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Tiger created this ending, but you can see from the pictures, it had a little bit of realism behind it.
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As chief editor, I have to admit the mistakes I create, capture and correct. Page 16 had an ending choice dropped or hidden by the picture. This was another choice–discovering how Lewis rescued Tiger’s toy.

Tiger’s still writing and I have some more hints and ideas to help. Come back next week for the exciting adventures of Lewis the Rescue Dog!

Memorizing Bible Verses is Fun?

Memorizing Bible Verses

Yes!  Memorizing Bible verses is fun, if you make it that way, and you must! If you can’t then you need to ask God for the joy of the Lord! My thoughts about memorizing go along this line: Kids think it’s boring and too much like school. I think it’s nearly the most important gift I can give my students–God’s Word written permanently on their young hearts. So I have to make it as wonderful as it truly is. I know from experience that memorizing the Bible is a blessing

I have a practical application for you. It goes back to the promise I made to blog more about what we did in the summer children’s program, but if you missed those you can read them here and here.

The Cooking Club memory work, with some creativity stirred in and a bit of elbow grease,  became fantastically fun.

I had twelve weeks. I knew I could try to give the children twelve verses, but they would put them in short term memory, turn around and forget them. A better plan meant choosing three verses and making them be “for keeps.”

Bible verses I had memorized over the years popped into my mind as soon as I chose the theme. God created us as beings with a need for food to survive and then He proceeded to use that idea to teach us about Himself. Psalm 34:8, Matthew 5:6 and John 6:35 fit.

Visuals to Match

I painted the first on an extra-large cutting board. The second I wrote in white chalk on a black apron. The third I wrote on a super-long strip of paper wound around a rolling pin. I also wrote the words of the first on paper plates that the children could hold up with forks.

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I used fabric paint. It easily peeled off.
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A damp sponge wiped off the words.
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Rolling up the verse word by word challenged the children to remember it.

That isn’t all. One of the teachers carefully explained the verse and then asked questions about what it meant throughout the month. Memorizing verses without understanding won’t help a child learn to be like Christ. I wanted even the little three-year-olds to grasp the truth behind the verses.

Prizes

When the last day of the month arrived, the children who said the verse perfectly, chose a duck egg from a bowl. I had blown out the yolk and white weeks ahead of time. Once it was washed and dried, I folded a paper and squeezed it through the hole. (Hint: duck eggs are much sturdier than chicken eggs, which helps immensely, but I couldn’t have done it without poking two holes. Using a pointed knife and pecking at it helps produce nice holes instead of cracks.) Each paper listed a prize. We took the eggs outside and smashed them. Then the children brought up the papers to claim their prizes. I had found many cooking items,  such as mini fork magnets and food shaped erasers, but the favorite was boxes of brownie mixes.

Months later, the students still remember those verses. Victory!

 

 

DIY Thank You Cards IV

One final design for my thank you cards. I really love how all the designs work together and make a pretty gift. You can see the others on my previous posts:

Part I
Part II
Part III

Supplies

Here's the last in my series of designs for thank you cards.

–blank cards (mine are 4″ x 5 1/2″)
–craft paper (12″ x 12″)
–paper cutter
–heart shaped punch (mine is 1″)
–a thank you stamp of your choice
–ink
–glue stick

Directions

First, using my paper cutter, I cut the craft paper into squares… sort of. The measurements are 2 3/8″ x 2 3/4″. Again, feel free to adjust the size to fit your needs or preferences.

Then, I punched out the hearts, and used my glue stick to mount each piece.

 

Finally, I stamped my thank you greeting. Ta-da! Beautiful thank you cards. 🙂

Here's the last in my series of designs for thank you cards.

Like I mentioned in the first post of this series, I am donating these cards to a silent auction. Students are raising money for scholarships. I made four bundles of thank you cards. Each one has 2 of each design and envelopes for each card. I finished them off with a pretty, coordinating ribbon.

Here's the last in my series of designs for thank you cards.

 

National Novel Writing Month

November: National Novel Writing Month

Tiger and I decided to write a novel of sorts for National Novel Writing Month. Since she lives 600 miles away, we collaborated on Skype. Her mom helped by supplying photos.

All the rules of writing change when your associate is three-and-a-half. Fancy and fact tend to blend together serendipitously. But the result is a treasure that little Tiger will cherish.

History

When Christy first suggested the two of us write a novel together, she reminded me of the books she and her brother wrote as elementary school students while sitting on my lap in front of the computer years ago. They were chose-your-own ending books. The idea, if you aren’t familiar with them, is that every few pages you made a choice which takes you down a different path to a different ending. Children find this genre wildly fun even though the stories don’t have a lot of depth. The ones Christy and her brother authored tried to teach some lessons about making wise choices, but they also gave way to a lot of imaginative delight.

So does Tiger’s book.

I’ll explain what we did as I give you a chance to read along some of her trails.

Prep

Since I wanted Tiger to get a good view of the writing process, I started by digging out an old ream of extra wide printer paper with serrated folding pages. I wrote the title to spur her thinking in bright colors on the cover page. “Lewis, the Rescue Dog.” She loves her dog, and she loves super heroes. Great place to jump off. I numbered the pages clearly which ended up being a great help for flipping through them when she was on a roll and spitting out sentences. I also left a page for the map. I’ll be explaining this later, but for now, let’s read her first adventure.

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The book cover and title page.
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I’m not sure why my grandchildren have nicknames of animals and my granddogs are named children’s names. (The other granddogs are Lily and Bruce.)
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When I reread this page out loud to Tiger, she got what she had told me to write. Lewis the Rescue Dog is a Super Hero!
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And now for the first bank of choices.
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When “writer’s block” hits, I ask questions to get Tiger thinking.
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More branches, but I get to choose which one we take!
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Many children’s books sound just like this. I never knew that was the trick behind it–ask a three-year-old for help!
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This ending was based on a true story. It really happened, folks!
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Being safe from bugs is a pretty big thing to toddlers!

Stay tuned! I’ll post another couple endings next week.

DIY Thank You Cards III

I know what you are thinking, “DIY thank you cards, again?” That is because crafting / making cards is one of my absolute favorite stress relievers! Today, I am going to share another design.

Supplies

Today's post showcases another simple and quick design for thank you cards.

–blank cards (mine are 4″ x 5 1/2″)
–craft paper (12″ x 12″)
–paper cutter
–a thank you stamp of your choice
–ink
–glue stick

Directions

First, I cut out all of the rectangles using my paper cutter. The dimensions are 1 1/2″ x 3″. Sizing can vary based on the size of your card. Also your preference on the look is a factor.

Today's post showcases another simple and quick design for thank you cards.

Next, I cut one end of the neutral paper to resemble a ribbon and stamped my “thank you” greeting. Using my glue stick, I attached all the rectangles. Simple as that! 🙂

 

Today's post showcases another simple and quick design for thank you cards.

If you enjoyed today’s post, check out the two two designs I already shared–DIY Thank You Cards Part I and Part II. My next post will conclude this mini-series.

Poinsett Picnic

My husband works in the Health Insurance industry. That means, when open enrollment comes around, he works a few weekends. Not so fun. But, a Saturday shift means he gets a free day during the week!

Last weekend marked his first weekend shift. That meant last Tuesday he had the day off! He decided to use the bit of extra time around lunch to make it a special family day. Despite a massive Hebrew project looming over his head, he agreed to a family picnic.

My Tiger loved exploring around the bridge
My Tiger loved exploring around the bridge

We love picnics. A family friend gave us a lovely striped picnic blanket as a wedding present, and it is well loved. We’ve enjoyed anniversary dinners down by the river where we got engaged. We’ve enjoyed picnic dinners in the backyard of our Minneapolis home. We’ve enjoyed toddler birthday lunches at parks, and fourth of July fun from a comfy picnic blanket.

It's fun to follow the leaves as they rush down the water
It’s fun to follow the leaves as they rush down the water

This time we took our picnic to the lovely Poinsett Bridge. It’s believed to be the oldest bridge in South Carolina. And, it’s gorgeous. The weather on Tuesday made it even more gorgeous. The chill of fall touched the air, and made us glad we’d remembered our jackets. The leaves on many of the trees were in the early stages of changing color. But, here and there a few of the trees had caught the fall memo and had changed their subdued green for vivid fiery red.

We came to Poinsett on to take pictures to commemorate our 2nd wedding anniversary 4 years ago! https://laurakirsopphotography.com/2012/07/26/curt-christiana-anniversary-photos-poinsett-bridge/
We came to Poinsett on to take pictures to commemorate our 2nd wedding anniversary 4 years ago! https://laurakirsopphotography.com/2012/07/26/curt-christiana-anniversary-photos-poinsett-bridge/

The girls loved playing in the water under the bridge. They floated leaves down little currents, and squealed with joy as we helped them cross the water. We had such a lovely lunch with finger foods I had packed. I had also packed the obligatory yogurt that Curt eats every day. But… I forgot to pack a spoon so we had to get creative. My husband rigged the yogurt lid into a spoon, then switched to using the chips we’d brought to scoop and eat his yogurt. Truly necessity is the mother of invention.