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Christmas 2013 Issue

Added by Heather Idoni

Monday, December 16, 2013
Vol. 14 No. 11, December 16, 2013, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2013, Mary Beth Akers and Heather Idoni

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Notes from Mary Beth
-- Christmas Holiday Ideas
Winning Website
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Holiday Tips
-- Recipes and More!
Mary Beth's Question
-- Military Acceptance
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Mary Beth

As many of you prepare for the celebration of the Incarnation of Christ on Earth, please accept Heather's and my warmest wishes for joy and peace for your family!

Here are some ideas to consider for special activities over the holidays...


If your family does not already do read-alouds regularly, Christmas is a great time to start! I recommend the series of Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage and Tabitha's Travels. These are adventure stories set in the time of Jesus' birth.

Heather and I both also recommend the book Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter. This one is a very entertaining book which is good for all ages! (It is also available as an audiobook at BelovedBooks.com.)



Mix 1/3 c. water, 1/2 c. salt, and 1 c. all-purpose flour. Knead until smooth. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters, or shape into figures as you would clay. If you're going to hang them, make a hole in the top before you bake!

Place on a baking sheet covered with alumnium foil and bake at 275 degrees. It will take about an hour depending on the thickness. (They should be hard, and maybe lightly browned, but don't let them get too dark, or the paint colors might not turn out as you expect.)

Cool completely before painting. Acrylic paint works best, but you can use whatever you have on hand. For painting, use paintbrushes, cotton swabs, old make-up applicators, or pieces of sponge. After paint has dried, apply varnish or spray laquer to preserve it.



Whether you have plans to go caroling or not, take some time to read the words of Christmas carols or classic hymns. Talk about what you believe and see if you can discover anything within the lyrics that agrees or disagrees with your personal doctrinal beliefs. Studying the stories behind the hymns and carols is very inspirational. We have made notebooks of hymns with the hymn on one side and a summary of the hymn story on the other. Those notebooks have become our family's unique hymnal!

I would also encourage you to take the time to attend a concert or other cultural event. It can be a wonderful stress-reliever! It could be one of the highlights of your holiday season, and you'll be supporting your local performing artists.

-- Mary Beth

P.S. - I'd like to say a very special thank you to the two families who responded to our question about joining the military. And please -- send my personal note of gratitude to your sons for their unselfish service to our nation.

Winning Website


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the following poem after his son was badly wounded in the Civil War. You will recognize these verses from the lyrics of a popular Christmas song, but did you know Longfellow wrote it? I didn't! -- Heather

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Here are two classic favorite Longfellow poems that you may enjoy reading aloud or encouraging your children to have fun memorizing to recite for family and friends:

Paul Revere's Ride

The Village Blacksmith

And here is a page filled with lesson plans for grades 3 to 12. Worth exploring! :-)


Holiday Tips

Recipes from Mary Beth


Would you like a recipe for a very healthy treat? The lady who gave me this recipe says they will keep for weeks in the refrigerator. I can't verify that, because they disappear long before their longevity is put to the test.


1 c. raw almonds
3/4 c. raw pecans
3/4 c. raisins
3/4 c. dried apricots
3/4 c. Medjool dates
1/4 c. orange juice
Optional: 1 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut, a sprinkle of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Pulse all ingredients except orange juice and coconut in a food processor into a course meal. Add orange juice and pulse until mixture sticks together. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in coconut if desired. Store in refrigerator.

HOT SPICED CIDER (Not quite as healthy but a good warm-up on a cold evening!)

6 qt. apple juice
4 sticks cinnamon
12 whole cloves
1 tsp. whole allspice
1/2 to 3/4 c. brown sugar
4 c. orange juice
1 c. cranberry juice
1/2 to 3/4 c. lemon juice

Heat apple juice with spices and brown sugar to boiling. Boil five minutes. Add other juices and heat to almost boiling. You may remove the spices at any time, but I like to leave them in until we've used up the cider. The flavor seems to continue to improve. If you want to make the spices easier to remove, you can tie them in a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter, or put them in a spice bag.


A Fun Tradition

Just for fun, one year I used codes instead of names on packages. It drove everybody crazy, but they loved it, and have insisted that I do it every year. Trying to break the new code each year is a major event. They are as curious about the code as they are the contents of the package!

-- Mary Beth


Christmas Tree Pizzas

This would be a fun pizza decorating project to do with your artistic and creative children! Here is a simple video tutorial on how to make a Christmas tree pizza with packaged frozen/thawed bread rolls:


And if your family is wheat/gluten free, here is a page with some great recipes to try out and see which one you like best!


-- Heather

Mary Beth's Question...

"My son is considering joining the military. He spoke with a recruiter who told him that since he was home educated, he would have to either get a GED or go to college for one semester before being accepted. I'm wondering whether that information is accurate. Do any of you have children who enlisted in the military, and if so, was your homeschool transcript adequate?"

Our Readers' Answers

"I have two sons in the military now. I homeschooled both of them K-12. They did not have to get a GED or go to college to join. Our umbrella school provideded transcripts and diplomas. All military applicants are required to take the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). Both my sons did very well on that which makes them desirable for recruitment. My second son to join did have to take an extra test because of being homeschooled (apparently that changed in the 3 years between my two sons). They said it was to verify reading and math skills. He said it was easy. One son is in the Marines, and one is in the Navy. The recruiters here (around Nashville, TN) said homeschoolers are desired because they typically are very self-motivated. I have several friends with homeschooled sons in the service now (Army, Navy, and Marines), and none of them had to get a GED or have any college credits."

-- Terri R. in TN


"I went with my son to a recruiter a few years ago. I had to write a letter briefly detailing his courses. It was very basic. It helped that the recruiter we spoke to was a homeschool dad and he knew his stuff. I recommend you get a second opinion about the GED. If I remember right, the GED earns them a lower entrance score."

-- Lacey

New Question...

Have you done (or do you plan to do) anything special with your children to serve others in a fun way over the holidays? Please share how your plans turned out and/or what your children took away from the servant experience! :-)

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