Advent Traditions: The Book Basket

 I love the Advent season. 

I love the cozy evenings, the early sunset,and the Christmas decorations in my living room. 

I love the traditions that we have started as a family. We always decorate the Sunday after Thanksgiving. My life is less stressful that weekend, as the Turkey Trot is over, and Matt’s busy season at church is just about ramping up. . .but not quite yet. 

Since I am married to a pastor, Advent is filled with many evenings at home alone with the children. This used to bother me, but as I matured, and the children got a bit older and not so needy, I found that I enjoy this time with them. 

One of the things that I have always enjoyed was reading to the children. I was read to for hours at a time as a child, and those moments on the laps of my loved ones are some of my sweetest family memories. 

I admit, I don’t read to my kids nearly as much as I was read to. I grew up before Netflix, cable TV and even video games. I was one of two children, not six, and I had the rare luxury of a set of grandparents living in my home during my very young years. 

But during Advent, the beginning of the church year, I make some New Years Resolutions of sorts. . .and one of those resolutions is to read more with the kids. 

We have been reading through “Jotham’s Journey” during our Advent devotional and have been loving it. 

The other way that I fit more reading into our evenings is the the Advent Book Basket. The week before Thanksgiving, I scour our bookshelves for all of the Christmas books, I grab some of last years’ wrapping paper and I wrap each book and put them in a pretty basket. Each night, after devotions, the girls take turns opening a package and we read the book together. 

Some of the books are quite old, actual relics from my warm childhood. (Including the sadly, out of print “Donkey Daniel in Bethlehem.” I will be sharing that book on Instagram next week!). Every year though, I add at least one book to our collection. 

 This year I added Callista Gingrich’s delightful “Christmas in America” to our rotation. I was sent this book for review, and the girls and I thoroghly enjoyed it! “Christmas in America” is fifth in a series of picture books featuring Ellis the Elephant. Elllis travels through American history to see how Christmas has been celebrated, in good times and in bad times. We, of course, were delighted to see North Dakota represented! The older children enjoyed learning more about each event in the resource guide at the end of the book.  

 What do you enjoy reading together in Advent and Christmas time? Leave a title in the comments and I may add it to our basket!

How to Dye Easter Eggs With Toddlers

Easter Fun with toddlers

Easter Fun with toddlers


I have great memories of dying Easter Eggs when I was growing up. It remains one of the most fun activities to do with my kids in the kitchen, even today!

This year I decided to dye eggs with the twins. They are just over two-years-old, so old enough to participate, but not quite old enough to be set loose.

In my motherly wisdom, I decided to have the little girls dye their eggs while the big boys were at school. The big boys will dye eggs next week during a twin naptime!

During my adventures, I learned a few things about dying Easter eggs with toddlers, and I thought that I would share them with you!

Tip 1. Work with a kit. I grew up using kits from PAAS  and I love continuing the tradition with my own children. I still get a little excited when I open up the box and take all of the goodies out. And PAAS does not waste a thing! The box turns into an egg drying rack and the punched out holes can be made into spinning tops! Lizze was really EGGsited to see the duckie egg-arounds. I set some of the things in the kit aside for later with the boys and to minimize toddler distractions.

inpatient children

Tip 2. Don’t make toddlers wait.  Do those look like patient faces to you? They are not. I made the mistake of assuming that they would want to see the magical transformation of food coloring pellet to glass full of colored water. I was mistaken. Even though the PAAS color and Heinz Vinegar only take about 3 minutes to dissolve and combine…that was three minutes too long. I should have had the dye ready to go!


Tip 3. Have something ready for them to do while they wait! PAAS and Heinz Teamed up to create this free fun app for the iPad. The girls enjoyed decorating their eggs. For each egg “dyed” on the App, Heinz and PAAS will donate $1 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. At this rate, t our girls are donating a lot of eggs!


Tip 4: Keep things simple. Although our kit came with 9 dye tablets, I opted to only use three when working with the girls. We played around a little with crayon resist. I really think that nine glasses of Easter Egg dye would have been overwhelming for the girls, and more than just a little messy!


Tip 5: Allow for wonder.  This is a brand new experience for your toddler. Allow her to smell the vinegar, touch the damp, cool eggs, dip her fingers in the dye.


Tip 6: Be ready for a mess.  Toddlers are messy. I put down newspapers and the girls were wearing easy to wash play clothes. Remember that the entire job of a toddler is to explore her world. Our world is messy. I just clean up a lot!


Tip 7: Enjoy the results!  Look at and admire the colors on the eggs. talk about them with your toddler. Then, let them help you peel an egg and eat it together! This is a great time of year to eat the food we play with! And what a healthy snack!

Need tips on how to make hard boiled eggs without turning the yolk green? My recipe for Fool Proof Hard Boiled Eggs is here.

Did you know that Heinz Vinegar helps the dye turn brighter on your eggs? Also, use 2 T of Heinz vinegar in the boiling water to reduce eggs cracking during cooking!

Chime in! What are some of your favorite Easter Egg Dying traditions? 

*I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Heinz and PAAS and received a Heinz Vinegar bottle, a PAAS Egg Dyeing Kit, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.