Archive for the ‘advent’ Category

3
Dec

christmas tree 2012

   Posted by: liz

it’s been 8 whole days since we put up our Christmas Tree 2012…and still, no blog pictures!

last sunday, we had about a half inch of snow fall in the morning, and by afternoon, it was sunny and slightly warmed (to the upper 30s!). perfect weather for christmas tree cutting!  we headed out to our local christmas tree farm and within 10 minutes of walking around, found our perfect tree.

our first year in this house, we went BIG with our tree. after all, we have 9-foot ceilings, why not go with a big tree? big trees swallow our living room and leave it feeling cluttered. ever since, we’ve gone small and simple. and it’s always been elegant.

happy Advent 1 to you all!

18
Dec

when Advent is turned upside-down

   Posted by: liz

as you can tell, i’m rehashing old blog posts because i got nothing new this Advent. so, i dedicate this post to all of us who have grand plans for observing a solemn Advent, and celebrating a joyous Christmas….and end up changing because that’s what life gives you.

i’m learning that you just gotta roll with it most days. so here is another older Advent post from a few years ago.

~~~~~

(originally posted december 10, 2007)

mondays in advent

advent sundays are so fun…they’re feast days, so fun happens.  last week we spent sunday afternoon with my parents and yesterday our friends traveled from the big city to eat and fellowship with us.

this morning, it was grey all morning long. the forecast called for nothing but grey. fortunately, i had a whole hour to plan the day between the time kenny left for work and when the boys woke up. and here’s how our day went down:

we were out of milk (the milkman comes every monday around 8:30) so breakfast was muffins and apple juice. i found a chicken carcass (lovely word, i know) in the freezer, so i decided to make chicken soup for dinner. i found a fabulous recipe for dumplings or homemade noodles (there is a fine line between the two and i would call what i ended up making dumplings, and not noodles. but they were fantastic nonetheless – the only thing that all three boys inhaled) from the boomama soup carnival. so i started the pot-o-broth with some additional frozen vegetable cuttings i had stored and continued cleaning the kitchen while the boys ate their breakfast.

after getting dressed, we all headed to michaels. it was a grey morning, but that didn’t stop us from bringing some color inside! i had started clipping strips for the construction-paper-garland (that we all did as kids – but rowan and sawyer don’t remember doing it last year, so it’s new to them!) this morning, and we needed just a few other supplies for more kid-friendly christmas decorations.

i don’t know about other moms with kids who like to make things and like to craft…but i always have an idea in my head about how something will turn out and it just doesn’t turn out quite as i had planned. but i’m learning to let go of this and embrace my kids (very eager and yet oh-so-young) artistic endeavors. for instance…

i planned to make these with the boys:

instead, we ate gumdrops until we were sick worked hard and ended up with these treasures (with a lack of reds and purples. hrmmmm…):

and i bought tinsel-like pipe cleaners to put these up all over the mantels:

and we ended up with:

i’ve let go of my need for a martha-stewartesque decorated home and treasure every little arts and craft that decorates our rooms for any celebration.  i don’t think the boys would enjoy making things if i was a drill-sergeant craft instructor.after our craft-time (and adam’s nap), rowan helped me roll out and throw in the dumplings to our soup, now simmering with edible vegetables, waiting to be eaten. kenny came home and he gushed over the gumdrop trees and pipe-cleaner contraptions, said the soup was delicious and we all settled in for a long winter’s night.thank goodness this monday didn’t feel grey all day.
14
Dec

in the bleak midwinter…

   Posted by: liz

i was planning to do some christmas baking and all of our shopping over the past two weeks. but at least one, and sometimes two, members of our family has been sick since last monday (if you’re counting, that’s 10 days now). it was the stomach virus, and now some really high-fever congestion/cold thing.

i was also planning to do our tradition St. Nicholas “delivery of gifts in secret” on St. Nicholas day last week, and celebrate St. Lucia today.  but when at least two of the family members in the family are sick, pretty  much everything comes to a grinding halt.

i’m not at all stressed that i haven’t gone christmas shopping yet. and i was reminded why when i remembered this post from last year:

~~~~~~~~~~~~

i’m not a fan of being woken in the middle of the night. and that’s exactly what it feels like when i crawl out from under our warm flannel sheets and down comforter at 6:00 a.m. these mornings. i love the morning silence, but the cold…the dark…..

i have to ease into these mornings. keeping advent readings closeby and advent songs on my heart help the start of the day. i’ve also eased into our daily lessons by choosing activities that will encourage the boys towards a sacred moment these days.

the boys still wake with ENERGY, so my deliberate slowed pace these mornings fall flat some times. when i encourage a time of sacred reflection i am met with puzzled looks: “sacred? is that like scared? you want us to feel scared?” and then jokes emerge from the question, and i have three boys in piles of laughter at the kitchen table.

sometimes sacred is not what we think it should feel or look like.

we begin with a prayer and a song as we light our family advent candles. there is sacred in the small little boy voices of “o come, o come, emmanuel” as they are transfixed with the match, the flame, the continuous light from the candle.

aha!  just add fire and voila! silence!  sacred.

“they are getting it!” i think to myself and i feel full of emotion which, again, falls flat as the singing ends and the contest begins to see who can be the first to blow out the candle which breaks into a fight because one didn’t get to blow out the candle and the candle wasn’t supposed to be blown out yet any way!!!

but then i remember…sacred is not what we think it should feel or look like.

sacred is sitting around a kitchen table for with my three energy-filled boys and taking them out in the snow: their favorite place to be these days. sacred is walking out in the bleak wind and snow to care for animals who depend on you for food and warmth. sacred is sitting in the dark, calm of a kitchen giving thanks to God for the three lives sleeping soundly upstairs.

sacred is God in the flesh.

 

(originally posted, december 9, 2010)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10
Nov

preparing for the preparation…

   Posted by: liz

i went grocery shopping this morning and was amazed at how crazy the store was. the balloon turkey decoration next to the lit christmas tree was slightly jarring, but maybe i’m just being persnickety.

i thought the grocery shopping craze happened the monday- wednesday before Thanksgiving, not two weeks before? i am vowing right now that i’m going to treat this coming weekend and week as normal, and not as crazy preparation for a fun Thanksgiving celebration. how about you?

we’ve been observing Advent in our home for the past decade. since our family was just the two of us, we’ve observed the quiet waiting of Advent, and breaking out in full Christmas spirit on Christmas Eve at 10:30 with the Holy Eucharist. i know the world wants Christmas to start on November 1st, but it’s not necessary, especially since you have a full 12 days of celebrating it through the end of December, into the New Year!

Advent starts directly following Thanksgiving. again, the world thinks you need to get the best deals on christmas gifts the day after Thanksgiving. but if gifts are not what christmas is about, then why get caught up in the sales and give real gifts this year, and prepare your home, your family, your hearts for the biggest birthday celebration of the year.

last year, i suggested starting simply.  and here is last year’s blog post on St. Nicholas Day ideas (St. Nicholas Day is December 6th). stretching the fun of the season by adding Advent into your family celebration is one way you can fight the Christmas craze.

so…perhaps you can start two weeks early for thanksgiving preparations AND advent, and ease into a lovely Advent, preparing for the joyful celebration of His birth.

15
Dec

advent ~ the family creche

   Posted by: liz

Our creche was set up last week (Rowan added the silvery decorations). Baby Jesus is hidden somewhere in the house (the boys hide him) and he’ll appear on Christmas morning in the manger. The three Magi are making their way slowly from a far away room (the boys also hid them…I hope they remember where they hid them!) to the barn scene, getting closer each day. They will arrive on January 6th, or, Epiphany.

On Epiphany, the creche comes to life again. In defense of not decorating for Christmas anytime before Christmas Eve, you get to keep the tree and all the decorations up until Epiphany, long after everyone else has packed their decorations away. We put up our tree early every year because we’re either hosting family Christmas or a party of some sort. One of these years, I’d love to do Christmas the old fashioned way.

I feel the entire reason for Advent and Christmas and Epiphany is lost when you decorate or prepare for Christmas on the timeline of our culture: christmas decorations go up directly following Thanksgiving and down the day after the packages have been torn open. Christmas Carols sung in the Sunday church services leading up to Christmas and then GONE come December 26th. The mystery, the Holy, is lost. I’m the first to admit that we do take part in the culture’s timeline. When will we change? How can we change?

Our Anglican Family Prayer Book has a “family creche blessing” as well as a “family christmas tree blessing.” We haven’t done either…we’re still saturated in the symbolism of singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” around a lighted candle several times a week in the dark of the morning or evening. I like the simple, symbolic sounds of the somber notes sung in darkness as we commemorate our waiting spirits. Waiting, and not celebrating yet.

9
Dec

advent mornings…

   Posted by: liz

i’m not a fan of being woken in the middle of the night. and that’s exactly what it feels like when i crawl out from under our warm flannel sheets and down comforter at 6:00 a.m. these mornings. i love the morning silence, but the cold…the dark…..

i have to ease into these mornings. keeping advent readings closeby and advent songs on my heart help the start of the day. i’ve also eased into our daily lessons by choosing activities that will encourage the boys towards a sacred moment these days.

the boys still wake with ENERGY, so my deliberate slowed pace these mornings fall flat some times. when i encourage a time of sacred reflection i am met with puzzled looks: “sacred? is that like scared? you want us to feel scared?” and then jokes emerge from the question, and i have three boys in piles of laughter at the kitchen table.

sometimes sacred is not what we think it should feel or look like.

we begin with a prayer and a song as we light our family advent candles. there is sacred in the small little boy voices of “o come, o come, emmanuel” as they are transfixed with the match, the flame, the continuous light from the candle.

aha!  just add fire and voila! silence!  sacred.

“they are getting it!” i think to myself and i feel full of emotion which, again, falls flat as the singing ends and the contest begins to see who can be the first to blow out the candle which breaks into a fight because one didn’t get to blow out the candle and the candle wasn’t supposed to be blown out yet any way!!!

but then i remember…sacred is not what we think it should feel or look like.

sacred is sitting around a kitchen table for with my three energy-filled boys and taking them out in the snow: their favorite place to be these days. sacred is walking out in the bleak wind and snow to care for animals who depend on you for food and warmth. sacred is sitting in the dark, calm of a kitchen giving thanks to God for the three lives sleeping soundly upstairs.

sacred is God in the flesh.

7
Dec

a little christmas (cookies) during advent

   Posted by: liz

i love making cookies for christmas. imagine my excitement when i was invited to include some of my favorite christmas cookie recipes at my friend Alison’s blog. wanna join in? i’m sure she’d love your favorite recipes too!

so the next few blog posts will be christmas cookie recipes. the first recipe is one i made for the first time last year and the recipe is from my friend susie who makes these every year (with good reason!). they were the one cookie that kenny requested in this year’s batch. if you’re a lover of chocolate….here is a cookie for you!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

48 undrained maraschino cherries, without stems (about one 10-oz jar)

1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces (not imitation)

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

In a mixing bowl combine flour and cocoa; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter or margarine with an electric mixer on medium to high speed about 30 seconds or until softened. Add sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat until well combined. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Gradually beat in the flour mixture.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheet. Press down center of each ball with thumb. Drain maraschino cherries, reserving juice. Place a cherry in the center of each cookie. In a small saucepan combine the chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk; heat until chocolate is melted. Stir in 4 tsp of the reserved cherry juice.

Spoon about 1 tsp of the frosting over each cherry on unbaked cookie, spreading to cover cherry (frosting may be thinned with additional cherry juice, if necessary).

Bake in 350 degree oven about 10 minutes or until done. Remove to wire rack; cool. Cover and store at room temperatrue up to 2 days. Makes 48 cookies.


6
Dec

advent thoughts…happy st. nicks!

   Posted by: liz

happy st. nicholas day to you!

Almighty God, who in thy love didst give to thy servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on land and sea: Grant, we pray thee, that thy Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

our home is abuzz with excitement over the new batch of snow. we will be baking and playing all day today. hope your day is just as full of joy!

3
Dec

school recap, week….?

   Posted by: liz

this is what we woke up to two days ago. so our attention spans are even SHORTER these days. well, mine is just fine. my fingers and toes are colder, but the boys can’t wait to get outside in the snow. this is our sledding hill:

as you can tell from previous blogs this week, we’ve entered the season of Advent in our home. we’ve put aside our normal curriculum for bible class for this month and we’re doing Advent lessons each morning around the kitchen advent “wreath.”

we save the big advent wreath for the dining room to be lit on Sundays (feast days) in Advent, and this is our daily wreath of light for dinners and morning lessons.

yesterday, after sledding-and-hot-chocolate, i gave the boys their favorite dinner: homemade breadsticks and fruit. i made a ground chicken and chick pea curry over brown rice for the adults. the boys loved it and even opted to eat their dinner by candlelight:

i have so many thoughts swirling in my head this week as we take time to observe and prepare our minds towards december 25th. i become more contemplative this time of year, and i find myself more and more thankful for things that aren’t received. they’re treasured:

  • i’m thankful for the daily time i have with the boys. i know i sound like a broken record, but i know how fleeting these days are (i already can’t believe our firstborn is 7 and a half!), so i’m glad that we get to spend each full day together.
  • i treasure the friendships that we make with other families and how our kids cultivate deep friendships with their friends. i love hearing them talk about their friends from soccer, co-op, sunday school, field trips and neighbors.

i am thankful that our television isn’t on the first floor, therefore is barely turned on for us to be slammed with toy and diamond necklace commercials until january.

of course we celebrate gift-opening on christmas morning, or christmas eve and we allow our kids to get excited about that aspect of christmas. we’ve emphasized joy-in-giving to the boys each year and this year, when they talk about toys or movies they want for christmas they are sure to follow it up with “but i love giving, too!”  they know how to make their momma happy with words. they may not mean it as much as they want me to believe…but at least they remember!

right now, they’re very excited about their cousins and aunts and uncles coming in and staying for a few nights at christmas. they’re excited about baking and they’re really excited about celebrating st. nicholas day this year (monday!). so we’ve been incorporating a bit of the season in all of our school days. lots and lots of christmas and st. nick and family talk going on around here! i hope your homes are swirling with as much warmth and JOY this time of year…

1
Dec

advent thoughts…st. nicholas

   Posted by: liz

a few years ago, we began celebrating st. nicholas day (december 6th) in our home. here are a few ideas that you can do if you’re interested in incorporating the celebration of an actual man who lived long ago who was the inspiration for the modern-day santa. again, start simply…pick one activity to do this year to introduce st. nicholas to your home advent observance.

first, go here. you’ll find a ton of information on the history of st. nicholas, legends and stories surrounding his life, and ways to celebrate. what we’ve done in the past:

  • print coloring pages for the kids to color while you read some of the st. nicholas stories.
  • put out shoes outside of your bedroom, or near a fireplace (similar to hanging stockings on christmas eve) the night before st. nicholas day (dec 6th is the saint’s day). when the kids are in bed, fill the shoe with gold coins and an orange.
  • share a big, special breakfast on saint nicholas morning!
  • watch the Veggie Tales St.  Nicholas movie. the veggie tales writers do a great job with the story of st. nicholas in this movie, and i am impressed that this year, as we began talking about our family st. nicholas plans, the boys remembered a lot more about st. nick because we bought this DVD last year.
  • make these cookies. i know…i write about them every year. but st. nicholas day wouldn’t be the same without them! they’re better than spice cookies, and kids love rolling out the dough!

i can’t share what our family is doing this year to celebrate..let’s just say we’re practicing some “secret giving.”  perhaps i’ll share pictures next week.

have fun, and remember to start simply.  and spread the saint nicholas cheer to your family and friends this year!