Daily Archives: December 7, 2014

Creating Our Meaningful Advent Calendar

We began the tradition of an Advent Calendar 2 years ago.  I created on using some of our old mismatched gloves and socks and for the past 2 years we have filled it with lots of treats.  The kids think it is awesome to guess what is in each one and I enjoy not searching through all the leftover mittens for a match.  #winwin


Advent Calendar (Ortman)

This year I decided to take a different approach with it.  Honestly it is what I should have done from the beginning.  I wanted to know the real meaning behind the advent calendar.  I wanted the kids to know too.  So this year we used our old tradition and added some learning.

After using my good friend google to search for kid friendly explanations on how the advent calendar began, I decided to print it out and display it with our calendar.  Here is where Pinterest gets involved… rather than store all my links in an email I will never again find, I opted for a new board to store and share links.



I really liked the idea of having bible verses for the kids each day.  It gives us a reference point for the little kids and a place for the big boys to dig deeper if they want.  I found a wonderful link with some very basic verses (it is pinned to my board).  They work very well for my little boys and are maybe a little too short for the older ones but again it is a starting point for the older ones.  Next year I might try to create the story line with verses that work a little better for us. 🙂

So my next problem was what to do with each verse throughout the month.  If they don’t have a place they will get forgotten and if forgotten they mean nothing.  We are a visual house.  I really couldn’t decide between placing snowflakes by my advent calendar or I had no idea.  So back to google.  I found a few “create your own calendars” but I didn’t want to create a new setup nor did I want to have to buy five stars, five babies, five angels, 10 rings to place in the different days.  I met in the middle.  I chose to use pictures to reference instead.  It will cost me far less to print what I need and I don’t have to worry about little objects being left on the floor for me to step on.

Visual Aid and Verse Card Holder

Each image is attached to a piece of construction paper.  For day 1 the angel comes to visit Mary so an angel was the image I printed.  Now the pre-picked verses I found don’t move along as quickly as some so there are a few days that are doubled up. My kids don’t seem to mind.  I tried to find images that very closely followed the verses so that my 3 and 4 yo could easily figure out what we were talking about.  After we read and talk about each day, we add it to the coordinating image.

Advent Calendar Week 1

Now that we are seven days into the calendar we have found a rhythm.  We also take time to review the previous days before we add the current day. This has been great for all.  On day one the angel visited and that is all they remembered.  Today they remember that the angel’s name was Gabriel and he came to tell Mary she was going to have a baby and His name was going to be Jesus.  By the end of the month they are going to be able to recite the story of Jesus!!

I can’t forget to share that while we opted for verses this year we still placed a small treat in each day.  The treat is only to be eaten after each verse has been read and talked about. Works perfectly for everyone except the 22 month old.  She just tries to eat it through the package!

After this Christmas Advent Calendar project I have a new appreciation for teachers and the time they put into creating lessons for their students.  It is worth it!

Merry Christmas!


Ortman Christmas Decorating Season #9

I can’t believe it either!  Chris and I have been decorating our Christmas tree and home together for 9 years.  Together we have decorated 1 apartment, 2 homes, and now a rental.  We also have way more helpers than we once had. It takes less time but it is still so fun.

Christmas Tree Decorating 2014

Our picture is a little blurry but I think you get the gist.  Of course Lincoln and Damon thought it was best to stand on the bar stools to hang ornaments.  Lucky for us no one was hurt during the duration of our decorating.

Christmas Tree 2014

In our home we have a fun tradition when it comes to Christmas ornaments.  Each year Chris and I gift to each kid an ornament that reflects them for the previous year.  Year 1 is always a baby’s first ornament.  Some years it has been Mickey Mouse, Transformers, sports, snowmen, cupcakes, Blues Clues, Toys Story, the list could go on!  It is fun to look back at them and reminisce about their interests and like during certain years.  In the end each of our kids will have at least 18 decorations to add to their first Christmas tree.  I think it will be interesting to see how many we can squeeze on our tree.  We have 7 more years with all five at home.  At that rate we will be adding another 35 plus 7 more that belong to Chris and I as we celebrate each year too.

Living Room

So now that our living room is decorated… and honestly very full… we are ready to relax and watch some Christmas movies together.  Up first was Mickey Mouse!


With little room for stockings I found a creative place to hang them.  This way I won’t have to worry about little hands pulling them down.  Oh and that silly lamp that I don’t really care for looks amazing on it’s “fragile” box.  I wonder what our neighbors think of it?  It does look nice and I am sure will be a conversation starter with the neighbors.

Well, just wanted to say Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas for the Ortman’s!
Hope your holidays are fun, exciting, and safe!