Laresa Watkins

A Christmas Tree for the Birds

Jan 3, 2015

The saga with our Christmas tree continues.  We have redecorated it for New Years and hung on to it as long as I can stand it.  When I told Charlie yesterday that it was going outside, he started to protest, until I told him we were turning it into a home for the birds and squirrels.

I’m not sure what people who live in a city do with their trees, but here we have tons of options.  We can throw them in the woods, tie a weight of some sort on them and throw them into a pond to make a little home for the fish, or just set them on fire.  We even have a nearby tiger refuge that accepts the trees as donations.  Apparently, the tigers love to play with them.

After talking with my mom and mother-in-law, I learned that my latest idea wasn’t a new one, but I still think it’s pretty cute.   It satisfied Charlie’s need to keep our tree forever, and it will give us something to do for the rest of the winter.

To make our Christmas Tree for the Birds, we strung popcorn (leftover from our Christmas popcorn tin) into garland.  We hung it on the tree (which Jason stood up on the fence in front of our house), then smeared globs of peanut butter onto the branches.  The kids pressed more popcorn and bird food into the peanut butter.

A Christmas Tree for the Birds 2


A Christmas Tree for the Birds 1


We look forward to keeping our tree stocked with goodies for the animals that populate the woods, and to watching them from our front door!

What do you do with your Christmas tree?

Easing Out of the Holidays

Dec 29, 2014

So, here we are.  Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are over.  They flew by, didn’t they?

I wish I had tons of pictures to share with you, but we were grossly inadequate on the documentation front this year.  We videoed the Christmas play at church, then couldn’t quite get it together to record much more.  I couldn’t bring myself to spend time clearing off memory sticks and recharging batteries.  Our camera has been behaving badly, so we didn’t take many pictures, either.

So you can just take me on my word that it was a great one, okay?  (Aside from the terrible cold I have been suffering with, that is.)

Over the last couple of years, as children have been added to our families and we have lost our grandmothers, our Christmas traditions have gone through some changes.  While it is sad to let go of some traditions that we have had throughout our childhoods, it is also exciting to begin new things within our little family.

This Christmas Eve we opened up a Christmas Eve box here at the house.  Inside were matching PJ’s for the kids, Jason, and me, along with a tin of popcorn.  We put on our new jammies (thankfully the camera wasn’t working!:)) and ate popcorn while watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  It was a fun way to spend the night.

Since this Christmas (and the entire Holiday season) has been so great for us, I am trying to take the next few days slowly.  Usually I put up all of the decorations on December 26, ready to get the house cleaned up and uncluttered.  I am a lover of a new year and the feelings of starting over with the clean slate that it brings, so it has never been a problem for me to rush Christmas on so I can get started on new things.

Last year, however, Charlie dealt with a  little sadness after Christmas.  He was disappointed that it was over and protested when I did my usual December 26th cleansing.  I regretted rushing the season on.

This year I have done things differently, not just for Charlie, but for me.  I found myself experiencing a little sadness when I began taking our decorations down, so I decided to take it very slowly to make it a little easier on us all.  The kids and I have been taking down just a thing or two every day, in between time spent playing their new board games or watching new movies.  They have spent days in costumes, playing with their new toys.

Today, we turned our Christmas tree into a New Year’s Tree.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

New Year's Tree

We took off the Christmas ornaments and the colored lights, then added these beautiful large white lights and put some silver sprigs and ribbons at the top.  It’s simple and pretty, and when we’re ready to take the tree out (probably over the weekend) it won’t take long to take the decorations off.  We all love it, and we can enjoy the warm glow of Christmas lights a little longer.

Another thing I have been doing to try to draw out the Christmas cheer is discuss the idea of giving all year long with Charlie and Maddie.  John 3:16 teaches us “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him wouldn’t perish, but would have eternal life.”  This is the Christmas message, and one we are going to try to emphasize this year.

Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”  God gave us the greatest gift when He gave us his Son, and we should spread that message of giving when we are given the opportunity.  When we do this, the spirit of Christmas will last the entire year through.

How do you keep the Christmas spirit alive in your home?


Hot Chocolate Spoons

Dec 8, 2014

The kids and I have been working on our advent calendar this week.  I’ve been trying to include more than just candy in it, even thought they do love the candy!  At least once a week I try to include a little project for us to do or a random act of kindness for us to complete.

One day, the kids found two chocolate chips in the drawer they pulled out.  Of course they ate them, but we used the remainder of the bag to make these hot chocolate spoons for them to give as gifts to their friends.

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When we saw some hot chocolate spoons (and their outrageous price tag) last week while out shopping, I knew that we could easily make them.  All you need are some plastic spoons, chocolate chips, and marshmallows.

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Melt the chocolate chips, dip the spoons in the melted chocolate, then place a few marshmallows on each spoon.

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Put them on some wax paper to harden.

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The kids had a great time making these, and they love the hot chocolate that they can make with these hot chocolate spoons!  All you do is heat up some milk, then stir the spoon around in it to melt the chocolate milk and marshmallows.  They had a great time drinking hot chocolate while they were watching The Polar Express last night.

I think their friends will love this gift, too!



December Kitchen Verse-Romans 15:13

Dec 2, 2014

In my kitchen I have a picture frame that I turned into a dry erase board.  I just put scrapbook paper into a frame and hung it on the wall next our phone (I know-we actually have a phone on the wall!!!).

Romans 1513

That’s our elf, Martin, hanging out!

Every month or so I write a new Bible verse on the board.  I spend so much time in the kitchen and read the verse SO many times that I memorize it fairly quickly.  It gives me inspiration when I need it: when I am feeling impatient with Charlie for not sitting still for school, or when I am in the middle of a frustrating phone call, or when I am just tired.

This month, I chose Romans 15:13.

Romans 15132


I think this verse is perfect for December, when the promise of hope is so prominent and we are celebrating the coming of the ultimate joy and peace.

What verse are you focusing on this month?

Our Jesse Advent Tree

Nov 30, 2014

So, Thanksgiving is officially over.  After years spent cramming 3 Thanksgiving meals into 2 days, our various families decided to draw it out this year, so we have been celebrating for an entire week!  Needless to say, we are stuffed and happy.

Tomorrow is December 1st, and we are beginning our Advent activities.  As Baptists, we don’t celebrate advent the way some denominations do, but I like to use Advent calendars at home throughout the month of December to teach the kids about Jesus and the events leading up to his birth.  It’s fun and easy and helps to keep us focused on the point of the season: our Savior’s birth.

Last year, I put together an an advent calendar using a cardboard drawer set, and the kids loved it.  We read verses every day and they got a piece of candy or an ornament for their tree, or something like that.  They have been asking to start doing it already this year, but I haven’t bought anything to put in the drawers yet:().  Oops!

We are really excited because this year we are doing something a little different called a Jesse Advent Tree.  A couple of weeks ago we were part of an ornament exchange for this, so we have all of our ornaments ready to go.  Today we walked through the woods and cut some branches that we used to make our tree.

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I put the branches, along with some Christmas Tree decorations, in a vase and put our ornaments in a cake stand next to it.

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Every day we will do a devotion from The Advent Jesse Tree and add one of the ornaments to the tree.

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It’s a beautiful decoration on our kitchen table.

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We’re really looking forward to starting this tomorrow.

If you want to make a last minute Jesse Tree, there are plenty of online resources that let you print the ornaments for free.  They also give you corresponding Bible verses to read each day.  Here is a good one I found.




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