Odyssey Adventure Club for Christmas!

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What’s on your children’s Christmas wish list? As excited as they might be about that new toy, as every parent knows, the thrill of the gift will eventually wear off. Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey have created the perfect gift for those who want to give their children or grandchildren a present that will provide year-round fun with eternal impact.

The Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) offers families 24/7 access to 25 years’ worth of Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) episodes in a safe online environment where children can explore and learn. Christmas really is the perfect time to tap into your children’s imagination while infusing faith and fun into their day . . . and every day of the year.

To celebrate the holidays this year, the OAC is offering free content for everyone, including an Advent calendar, a broadcast download with tips to create a memorable Christmas, AIO cutouts and Christmas stocking stuffer cards. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.

In keeping with AIO’s rich heritage of teaching children about biblical principles — such as the importance of giving — a portion of each OAC membership benefits Focus on the Family partner organizations. Here are a couple of examples of what has been accomplished through Odyssey Adventure Club members:

The Odyssey Adventure Club wants to reach beyond fleeting entertainment this Christmas, partnering with parents in helping their kids grow deep in faith and find their place in God’s story.

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Speaking of the holidays, you can prepare for Christmas with Thriving Family‘s 2015 Advent Activity Calendar — Tales of Christmas Past: 25 Inspiring true stories of the season. Assemble a beautifully designed Advent poster to help your kids focus on Christ this Christmas. Then read Scripture passages and stories that relate to individual flaps on the poster. You can also create easy-to-fold booklets for each story. Get more information about this year’s free Advent calendar at ThrivingFamily.com/Advent, or sign up to download it.

To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Advent Activity Calendar

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Prepare for Christmas with Thriving Family’s 2015 Advent Activity Calendar — Tales of Christmas Past: 25 Inspiring true stories of the season. Assemble a beautifully designed Advent poster to help your kids focus on Christ this Christmas. Then read Scripture passages and stories that relate to individual flaps on the poster. You can also create easy-to-fold booklets for each story. Get more information about this year’s free Advent calendar at ThrivingFamily.com/Advent, or sign up here to download it today.

Celebrate the Whit Award with Adventures in Odyssey

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Most people can think of one or two figures whose love and life example had a great impact on the formation of their spiritual foundation. It might be a coach, a Sunday school teacher or a parent or grandparent. Whatever the role, it’s hard to put a value on the investment these people make on a daily basis. In an effort to bring honor to these countless, quiet heroes, Adventures in Odyssey announces the John Avery Whitaker Award. Named after Odyssey’s resident leader and the namesake of Odyssey’s most famous attraction, Whit’s End, the award will be bestowed annually on one deserving mentor.

Like the Adventures in Odyssey character John Avery Whitaker, or “Whit” as he’s known by fans of the show, the person should be someone who is passionate about innovatively teaching children the truths expressed in the Bible. Those who create Adventures in Odyssey know that while Whit might be a fictitious character, there are thousands of real people just like him. “Our hope is that by bringing those people into the light, others will be inspired to follow their example,” says Dave Arnold, the executive producer of Adventures in Odyssey. “If we can spur mature believers in Christ to mentor and influence a generation being barraged with messages of compromise, we can turn the tide and encourage revival in our youth.”

Nominations are being accepted now through October 31 for the “Whits” out there in the world. Beginning on November 1, one nominee will be selected daily and awarded with a prize package including Adventures in Odyssey’s latest album, Taking the Plunge, and a DVD of the movie Beyond the Mask. One grand prize winner will be chosen and announced on November 20. This worthy recipient will receive more than $500 worth of Focus on the Family resources, including an Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) membership. The OAC offers 24/7, on-the-go access to more than 800 episodes of Adventures in Odyssey, as well as a new, members-only episode every month. It is a safe, fun environment where the whole family can explore, create and imagine, all while learning biblical truth.

Nominations can be submitted via this form, or the information can be emailed to contest@whitsend.org. (See the Official Rules for all the details.)

To learn more about the John Avery Whitaker Award, visit www.whitsend.org. Discover the Odyssey Adventure Club at www.oaclub.org or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Christmas Traditions {2012}

Each year we tweak a bit here and there.  I feel like a tradition junkie at times, I want to make sure we have the best memories from these years as my four kiddos go out and start their own families.  I want them to want to come back and re-live some of the things we do, and I hope they take some ideas into their own homes.

our tree

This year we are doing our normal thing, we decorated the tree right after Thanksgiving – I cannot seem to help it, I cannot wait!!  I love our treasure boxes that the kids store their own ornaments in.  They each have a box, with all their homemade ones and the gifts they get each year.  They get those out first and they get to don all their gifts onto our tree. 

treasure boxes

We love these boxes because they “own” them.  They love to see all the fun things they made when they were “little” – and they talk about where each one came from and when they got it as they pull them out.  I love that!

We LOVE LOVE LOVE our Jesse Tree devotion from Ann Voskamp – if you have not checked it out YOU MUST!!  We love this.  I love this.  My kids could probably teach it to others.  This is something I hope we never give up.  The past three years I have been making a few of the ornaments each year, not sure how many I have left, but this has been a labor of love.  Now to start making 4 sets of ornaments to send off with my kids – that is the next project!

This year we are going to count down the last twelve days of Christmas a bit different.  I read how someone was going to have little gifts for the kids to open each day.  With 4 kids – 12 days – that is TOO many gifts – honestly, too much junk!!

So, I am tweaking it.  I will have 4 things each morning to open (I am thinking cloth gift sack to reuse every day) – inside will be an item to use to make something.  For instance : Cardstock, stamps, ink & markers = Cards.  White Chocolate chips, cherries, recipe card & gift sacks = Hootycreeks (our favorite Christmas cookies).  And after we get to assemble the gift, we are going to go deliver to someone. 

homemade ornament

Did I mention that I am giving the kids things we already have (for the most part) except for a few perishable ingredients.  So this really will not add much to our Christmas Budget – just for things I would already make and give away – instead the kids will be really doing most of the work!! 

I am so excited about this new project!!  They will love the craft/baking part – and they will also love the giving away part.  I do plan to make enough to keep a bit for us too, but the focus will be on the giving.  I cannot wait to start this, but still lots of planning!!

And I will confess, we may take 2 of our 12 days for stay in a watch a movie day – but if we can have 10 days of giving I will be thrilled!  I think this {possibly new tradition} idea may be just the thing to help us remember that it is not about the gifts we get, but the gifts we give!!

Here is my list so far for

12 Days of Christmas Giving:

1.  Cookies

2.  Homemade cards

3.  Hot cocoa gift basket

4.  Chocolate nut clusters

5. Carmel Popcorn

6.  Gift tags

7. Felt Ornaments

8. Felt Nativity

9. Games & Cards (maybe take to play at Nursing Home?)

10.Homemade bread

11.  Movie Day

12. Nativity Craft with terracotta pots


One more thing to add, this year I am going to wrap our Christmas books – so that I can be sure we read them all and build the anticipation each night as we unwrap one.  I plan to use left over past paper – maybe even newspaper – just the idea to get it wrapped.  I think the kids will like this.  We will start that as soon as I count our books and count back from the 25th – should be fun!!


Here’s to hoping it goes well, the kids enjoy it and that they “get” it!!

katie under the tree

Hope you are enjoying many happy traditions in your home!!

Christmas Lists {to do/not do}

SO, do you encourage your kiddos to list out all the things they are longing for on Christmas day?  I ask because this time of year it about drive me crazy when you are in line at __________ (fill in the blank) with your kids and the sweet elderly man/woman near you asks the kids if they made out their list yet?  Have they been good?  Are they expecting great things from Santa?

 

I love that they engage my kids.  I love that they are friendly.  But please, we battle selfishness daily in my home.  I deal with it, and I see it in my kids every time I turn around.  They will spend 2 hours at the food pantry giving food to people who have no money to buy food, and come home and complain about what I serve them.

My boys worship catalogs.  Thankfully, not bad ones, but really?  You have more things to play with than you have time to play with them and you think you need more.  You, my sweet children, have bought the lie that more stuff, different stuff will make you happy.

So, we, here in my home, we abstain from lists.  I do not even ask them what they want.  Because , honestly I know my kids.  I know what they need, what they will delight in long past Christmas morning.  I know the gifts that have mattered through the years.

And we love to limit our presents.  I love it.  Otherwise I would keep going and going and going – adding more and more.  And honestly less is so much better!!  More can be overwhelming!!

So this year we are gifting these things to our kids:

1.  Cowboy boots – my kids LIVE in these about 10 months out of the year, I think they sleep in them sometimes.  So new boots. 

2.  A book – this year they are all getting a Dangerous Book for Boys/Girls

3.  Bedding – the younger two are getting bunk beds, new paint and a “new” room – as roommates!  The older 2 are getting new comforters.

4.  MP3 players.  Yes, we are adding an item this year, I think since the first three are mostly needs/practical.  I decided that for them to each have an MP3 player would bless all of us.

So this seems like no fun, but you know what?  These boys and my girl will spend hours and hours and more hours pouring over those books!!  They can swap, share and enjoy over and over.  I cannot wait to see them all delight in these books!

And yes, again this year we will run the Christmas Store.  But this year I may do it a bit different and let each child get one gift from their sibling.  I am not sure yet.  But getting something substantial may be better than 3 nothing-ish gifts.  Have to think on this some more.

So while we avoid lists, we will have lots of fun treats under the tree and lots of fun on Christmas morning.  My main issue with the list thing?  Well, I did the list thing and I think I expected to get what I put on there.  It was not really a dream list, but a list of expectations.  And I do not want my kids to expect.  Today when asked what I want I may offer a few suggestions, but I know that the giver has the option to ignore any requests I present. (not my husband, of course!)

So that is how we do things – how about you?  Do you do a list?  How do you reign in that “I want, I want” – going on in your kids?

No matter what, I want the focus of this season and the day of Christmas to be about Jesus – and that is not felt by getting everything you wanted.  Instead, it is about being reminded of the ultimate gift we were given – the gift of Salvation!