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Holidays, Homelife, Uncategorized

Wrap up Your Year and Write New Year Goals

{{UPDATED FOR 2019}}

I love the feeling of a fresh start.

The sun comes up and a new day begins.  Yesterday is washed away and a clean slate awaits.

There are times that I deeply appreciate the feeling of a new school week. I am ready for five new school days to plan adventures and improve upon the week before.

When I tear a month from our wall calendar and see the fresh one before me, I feel a sense of accomplishment and anticipation.  What do I want this month to look like?  How do I want it to feel?

Finally, there exists the mother all fresh starts: New Years Day. One year comes to an end and the next 356 days are waiting to be lived!

Click for your free PDF to wrap up the year with your kids and look ahead with plans for a new one!

New Year Goals with Kids: Reflecting on Last Year

The end of December is a time to reflect and re-evaluate the events of the previous twelve months. As I look ahead to the next twelve, it is a time of wonder, planning, and dreaming.  Everything feels like it gets a fresh start.

I love to take my children with me on their own journeys of reflecting and dreaming. To help them evaluate and plan, I print out a single page, “A Year in Review”, for them to complete.

It begins with a snapshot of who they are right now as they record a few of their favorite things.

Then we look back. We sit around the table together, sharing memories of the previous year. I love to hear what they remember.

Remember when the boys got stuck in the bathroom at the Grand Canyon?  Yeah. And after mom rescued them she told the next boy in line, “Try not to get stuck!”

I loved tubing at Zion.  And climbing Double Butt Cheek Arch.  (laughter erupts)  NOTE:  That would be Double Arch.

Did we go to Sliding Rock this year or last year?

These conversations about our previous year do my heart good. Sometimes I can be hard on myself, but as I listen to my kids’ laughter and discussion, they remind me of the many good memories that they will take with them.

New Year Goals with Kids: Dreaming for the New Year

Then we take some time to write our goals and dreams for the new year.

I love to travel, so I always ask them where they would like to go or visit during the year. I try to make these dreams happen, but doesn’t always happen that same year.

New Year Goals with Kids: Grab Your Copy 

Want to reflect on the current year with your kids? 

Subscribe to this blog and receive a copy of “Your Year in Review” in the subscriber resources:

Other Posts You Will Enjoy:


Plan Family Time This Christmas

The year I declared that I was done with the crazy Christmas season is still etched in my mind.

No longer did I want to wake up on December 26th and wonder where the month went.  I wanted to savor time as a family instead of rushing around like a mad woman focused on decorating and shopping.

It was time to plan some purposeful family time during a month that flies by faster than most. Continue Reading

Holidays, Homelife, Uncategorized

Begin a Jesse Tree Tradition

It is evening during the season of Advent.

Our family gathers in the family room and plugs in a small, lighted tree.  Hot drinks and yummy snacks serve to make this purposeful Advent tradition even more special.  Someone reads the designated scripture passage and we discuss its meaning.  After a brief discussion, an ornament is hung on our Jesse Tree as a reminder of the scripture passage we read that evening. Continue Reading

Holidays, Homelife

5 Days of Meaningful Christmas Traditions

The baby was 6 months old.  His siblings were 2, 5 and 7 years old and the Christmas season was upon us. December had arrived and I was an overwhelmed mom of four children under 8.

Decorations.  Dinners.  Shopping.  Serving.  List making.  Baking. Family.

I was overwhelmed and exhausted and I knew I was going to crack.  There was no way I could do everything planned in my head for the Christmas Season.  It was time to eliminate everything and then add back only the most important items to our family. Continue Reading

Holidays, Homelife

Begin a Family Advent Dinner Tradition

My parents host weekly Sunday dinners on each of the four Sundays of Advent.  This tradition began about the time I was finishing up my college degree and continues for them to this day.

My parents were intentionally slowing down and celebrating the season in a meaningful way. For several hours on each Sunday of Advent, they enjoyed an extended afternoon of relaxing together.  Advent dinners were another great reason to gather together all of their children, who were slowly leaving the nest.  And it worked.

But like many extended family traditions, our move to Raleigh changed everything. A five-hour drive was not going to be possible for our family each Sunday.

That left us with a decision: Would the Advent dinner tradition continue in our own home?

Our family continues my parents weekly advent dinner tradition as one of our meainingful Christmas traditions.

Short answer:  Yes. Yes, it would.

As our first Christmas in Raleigh approached, my kids began to create guest lists. We were a bit surprised.  Advent Dinner TableWe had only lived in the area for 4 months, but they never even questioned the continuation of this tradition.

We realized that Advent dinners had become an important part of the Christmas season for our kids, and we decided to continue them at our home in Raleigh.

Our first Advent dinner took place on foldable tables and a random assortment of chairs from around the house because we didn’t have a dining table.Advent Dinner

Since then, we have purchased and painted a dining room table though we still have to gather lots of extra chairs. But the tradition continues each year.

Each Sunday evening our family and friends gather around simple homecooked meals.  I don’t mind cooking, but I don’t love cooking so the food is typically kid-friendly and easy. Advent dinners menus are typically tacos, chili, pulled pork, or Italian.

Of course, we always enjoy our food on the fanciest of dishes and the matching beverage glasses.

What I love most about this tradition is the gathering with friends throughout the busy month of December.

Advent Dinner Tradition

Before eating, we begin with scripture reading and the lighting of the Advent Candle.


Each week of Advent has a special focus represented by a candle on the wreath:

Week One – Hope – Purple Candle
Week Two – Peace – Purple Candle
Week Three – Joy – Pink Candle
Week Four – Love – Purple Candle
Christmas Day – Christ – White Candle

The kids present take part in reading and lighting the candles.

After dinner, we enjoy conversation and games followed by dessert. I hope this simple, but meaningful tradition continues as my children enter adulthood.

Resources for Advent

There are lots of choices when it comes to Advent Wreaths.

Advent candles come in packs of 4 or 5. We prefer to use 5 because it includes the Christ Candle.


Ann Voskamp releases a video each week of Advent and writes her thoughts on her blog.

Background information on Advent can be found in this post.

This Advent home worship guide can be modified for weekly Advent dinners.  Scriptures and thoughts are included and can be adapted for a shorter reading if needed.

Enjoy the Advent Season.  

Learn about our Weekly Advent Dinners as part of our meaningful christmas tradtions.

This post is Day One of the 5 Days of Meaningful Christmas Traditions.  Stay tuned for four more days and learn about four more of our family’s traditions.


Brave Writer, Holidays, Homelife, Homeschooling

Cyber Monday Deals

After a weekend of eating and Black Friday shopping, it is time to curl up with your laptop and hit the deals.

That’s right.  It is Cyber Monday and boy do I have the most amazing Homeschool Deal to announce!

Visit the Brave Writer Holiday Shoppe and pick up a few specialty items.

Brave Writer Cyber Monday Deals

My most favorite ever curriculum is 30% off the ENTIRE store today (with exception of the amazon based products).  That’s right.  Brave Writer products are 30% off today with the code: GIVETHEMPIE.

Best of all, the Brave Writer Holiday Shoppe has new products for you to check out:

This first one is definitely on my list.

The Brave Writer Holiday Shoppe will offer a special blend of tea for the holidays.Gilgamesh Tea – Describe on their site as “a fruit and herbal blend with a warm spice flavor profile that is slightly sweet. It’s perfect for children just learning to enjoy a cup of tea with hints of the season: apple, cinnamon, and pomegranate.”   (Each tin contains enough for 15 cups of tea)

The Brave Write Holiday Shoppe will offer hashtag shirts in the Holiday Shoppe.Brave Writer Shirts – Check out the list of Brave Writer hashtags on these shirts.  If you are a fan of the Brave Writer Lifestyle then you will love what you see here.  Best of all, the shirts are available in black or white and have a variety of neckline choices.  They can be printed on short or long sleeve shirts as well as printed on hoodies.

In addition to these new products, you can order curriculum titles for 30% off, so think ahead for next semester AND next year!

In addition to the tea and a shirt, I hope to purchase: Faltering Ownership (writing projects for 11-12-year-olds).  I’ll be modifying the projects in this guide for my kids ranging in ages from 7-14 years old this year.  I own Jot it Down (ages 5-8) and Partnership Writing (ages 9-10) and often pull from them, so it will be nice to have the full set!

Need a few ideas:

Top Ten Arrow Guides
How we Use the Arrow Guides
Brave Writer Retreat DVD’s – My Weekend Experience
Party School Ideas: Poppy by Avi; Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery; The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

Other Homeschool Cyber Monday Deals

Amazing deals on Kiwi, Doodle, and Tinker Crates and a $10 credit toward your order.

Get $10 and a great deal on kiwicrates.

Chalk Pastels Guides at You are an Artist are all half off!  We have used the American Landmarks book this year and loved the results.

Black Friday-Cyber Monday sale

Fashion Challenge Deal Deadline

Finally, don’t forget that today is the last day to sign up for the Fashion Challenge Annual Membership. Read more in my previous fashion challenge post.

Get the Annual Fashion Challenge Membership and learn all about how it works.

Enjoy Cyber Monday!  If you want links to amazing amazon deals today, be sure to follow me on Facebook. I’ll be sharing them throughout the day.