Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas x3

We have celebrated Christmas! It all started on Christmas eve when Jack (our elf on the shelf) left a note and gift for the children for being such a great host family and ended this past Monday with my whole family coming over. In between we had Christmas day here and the day after in Greenville with Matthew's family. The children got lots of
attention and love along with some very thoughtful gifts. Christmas just gets better and better the older our children get. We are so glad that we have been able to see both sides of our family to celebrate! We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Q: Who likes chocolate pudding?

A: Emma Kate

Back it Up, Blog

I am so very excited about a project I am working on. The candy wreath I vowed last year to create? The ribbon and fabric wreath that Amy made, which looks so cute in her pitures? The clay hand print trivets of the kids for gifts? Pillow case dresses for the girls Christmas outfits? Nope. Those projects are still waiting. I am working on backing up my blog in book form. It is a lot of work, but is so much fun to revisit the posts that have documented our family's lives during the last year or two. Here is a link in case you are interested too:

At first glance, it isn't cheap, but after thinking about regular photo books (the cost or printing, buying the books, etc) or scrap booking (stickers, books, papers, and still prints) I think they end up being cost effective after all. Can't wait to finish it and have it here!

Doc and M came to visit this weekend, which allowed us to have a date night and finish some Christmas shopping. The kids enjoyed the attention of grandparents and it was nice for all of us to get to visit. Thanks for coming up!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sweet Faces

Well, the blog has been idle for a few days. Not much to report. We've have some cool weather and have had a few pajama days and even a pajama weekend. These pictures are from this weekend. I love how they were playing trains together and even better is the look Sam is giving Caroline!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quite the Odyssey

I had a meeting last night for Caroline's preschool Harvest Moon Festival. It was held at a beautiful home on a quiet country road. I left the meeting around ten o'clock and immediately was forced into another meeting...with a deer! I have to say, my mood soured from there. It was still foul when I woke up this morning and was dealing with the insurance claim, car rental company, and the sheer ligistics of the whole mess. I am starting to see things in a better light, so I am going to focus on the good things that arose from this situation:
1. My passenger, my dear friend Teri, was not injured.
2. I am still in one piece
3. When I called my husband to tell him about the car, his first question was about me and not our minivan...I don't give him enough credit sometimes!
4. We have insurance and it will cover this (after paying the deductible).
5. My children weren't in the car with me.
6. The insurance company and car rental company are being very easy, helpful, and accommodating.
7. I have lots of neighbors and friends who have offered to babysit while I run errands, lend me their vehicles, and listen to me vent. I am blessed with a lot of people who take very good care of me and I think events like this are really good reminders of that.

I am not thrilled with having to fork out money right now for a deductible and I don't really like my routine being rearranged, but when all is said and done, this is no big deal.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nativity Craft Idea

Caroline loves craft projects and here is a cute one I found that is also a behavior reward system

Cotton Ball Crib: Here's another family Advent tradition for those with little ones. Build a simple (think popsicle stick) "crib". Get a large bag of cotton balls. Each evening, reflect on the day with your little ones and see if they had a good behavior day. If so, they get to add a cotton ball to the crib, and make it a little softer for Baby Jesus. (Sometimes it helps with the daytime behavior if you remind them during the day that unless they shape up, they won't get to put in a cotton ball that night.) Then on Christmas, you can put Baby Jesus in the soft crib that they helped to make.

We'll post pictures after our crib is made. Let us know if you make one too!

Gift Giving in Advent

I feel like Thanksgiving gets us in the mindset for Advent. We already have a thankful heart and now we are ready to appreciate what was done for us rather than what we have. Advent is the season that takes this "gratitude attitude" to another level. I have to admit that until our children came along, I didn't give a lot of thought to advent or even how important it was to put "Christ" in "Christmas", but children change everything! It is a big goal of mine this advent season to let the kids know the meanings behind our traditions and reason for our faith. In teaching them, I am the one who is really learning!

This arrived in my email account today and I think makes the perfect advent activity. It will be my goal for Caroline and I to try to do these five things daily. It will be a fun way to tie our behavior into our faith and I don't know about you, but I can use work in these areas anyway! I won't post what we do because we aren't looking for credit in our "gift giving"; it is the effort of giving that is important.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! —2 Corinthians 9:15

Having trouble selecting that perfect gift for someone? Here are five suggestions:

The gift of listening. No interrupting, no planning your response. Just listening.

The gift of affection. Being generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, and pats on the back.

The gift of laughter. Sharing funny stories and jokes. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”

The gift of a written note.Expressing in a brief, handwritten note your appreciation or affection.

The gift of a compliment.Sincerely saying, “You look great today” or “You are special” can bring a smile.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Red Velvet Cake and the Dora Chair

The Red Velvet Cake was our baked treat (Caroline and I try to bake once a week) for the week before Thanksgiving. I let Caroline have a piece for breakfast (hey, it's sort of like a muffin, right?) and when I ran upstairs to start a load of laundry, I came down to find that Caroline had abandoned her cake and an all too eager Emma had made her way on top of the table was eating the leftover cake. Getting quite proficient with fork I might add.

In an effort to hold them off for a nap, I put on a kid's show and went into the kitchen to clean up the lunch mess. Sam climbed into Caroline's Dora chair and was out like a light. Caroline said, "Mommy, come see Sam! He is so cute in my chair...he is pretending to sleep!". She even kissed him and called him "Sleeping Beauty" it!

The Advent Wreath

We pulled out the Christmas decorations yesterday and I was excited to see that my advent candles will last another year before needing replacing. Caroline asked what the wreath was for and once I began explaining it, I realized that I didn't know much about the history nor the real symbolism behind the colors, which Caroline said were pretty but not "Christmassy enough". Good 'old Google helped me out, and in case you were wondering too, here is what I found:

"The Advent wreath is part of our long-standing Catholic tradition. However, the actual origins are uncertain. There is evidence of pre-Christian Germanic peoples using wreathes with lit candles during the cold and dark December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended-sunlight days of Spring. In Scandinavia during Winter, lighted candles were placed around a wheel, and prayers were offered to the god of light to turn “the wheel of the earth” back toward the sun to lengthen the days and restore warmth.

By the Middle Ages, the Christians adapted this tradition and used Advent wreathes as part of their spiritual preparation for Christmas. After all, Christ is “the Light that came into the world” to dispel the darkness of sin and to radiate the truth and love of God (cf. John 3:19-21). By 1600, both Catholics and Lutherans had more formal practices surrounding the Advent wreath.

The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. Even these evergreens have a traditional meaning which can be adapted to our faith: The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection.

The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.

The light again signifies Christ, the Light of the world. Some modern day adaptions include a white candle placed in the middle of the wreath, which represents Christ and is lit on Christmas Eve. Another tradition is to replace the three purple and one rose candles with four white candles, which will be lit throughout Christmas season.

In family practice, the Advent wreath is most appropriately lit at dinner time after the blessing of the food. A traditional prayer service using the Advent wreath proceeds as follows: On the First Sunday of Advent, the father of the family blesses the wreath, praying: O God, by whose word all things are sanctified, pour forth Thy blessing upon this wreath, and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from Thee abundant graces. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.” He then continues for each of the days of the first week of Advent, O Lord, stir up Thy might, we beg thee, and come, that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and saved by Thy deliverance. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.” The youngest child then lights one purple candle.

During the second week of Advent, the father prays: O Lord, stir up our hearts that we may prepare for Thy only begotten Son, that through His coming we may be made worthy to serve Thee with pure minds. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.” The oldest child then lights the purple candle from the first week plus one more purple candle.

During the third week of Advent, the father prays: O Lord, we beg Thee, incline Thy ear to our prayers and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.” The mother then lights the two previously lit purple candles plus the rose candle.

Finally, the father prays during the fourth week of Advent, O Lord, stir up Thy power, we pray Thee, and come; and with great might help us, that with the help of Thy grace, Thy merciful forgiveness may hasten what our sins impede. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.” The father then lights all of the candles of the wreath.

Since Advent is a time to stir-up our faith in the Lord, the wreath and its prayers provide us a way to augment this special preparation for Christmas. Moreover, this good tradition helps us to remain vigilant in our homes and not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas."

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Thankful Table

Christmas before last (2007), my grandmother gave me her set of china. She knows how much I love plates and setting a pretty table, but it was the year that I was pregnant with the twins, and I never got around to unpacking and washing it all. Life only got busier from there and the boxes remained in the attic...until this week. It was life Christmas all over again to open the boxes and unwrap each piece from the newsprint. It not only looked beautiful on our Thanksgiving table, but it was meaningful to use because I love my grandmother quite a bit (make that quite a lot!). Thanks Gigi!

Days 21- 26 of Thanks
Day 21
Caroline: My family
Kristen: our van...Julie posted this on her days of thanks and it really drives home (pardon the pun) that we get into our car almost daily with three precious children and don't worry about breaking down or making it to our destination. We don't worry about how we are going to get somewhere because we own our own vehicles and don't have to rely on others or public transportation. This isn't the case everywhere or for everyone, so I am thankful that we have our minivan (yep, thankful for a sure does change, doesn't it?).

Day 22
Caroline: books and going to the library
Kristen: terrific neighbors...we live on a street with the nicest people. I am pleased to be able to call these neighbors our friends. I can call them to grab our mail when we are gone, I have a pet-sitting co-op going with two families, and I also get to have girl's night out and play dates with them. They are caring and friendly and I am so glad that we live near them all!

Day 23
Caroline: My Princess Car
Kristen: Health Insurance....there is a lot in the media about health care reform and insurance (or lack thereof). We are fortunate enough to not only be able to afford the doctor visits when we are sick, but when we are healthy for checkups and well visits as well. I don't know what the solution is to getting affordable health care to everyone in America, but I am very thankful for the coverage that our family has.

Day 24
Caroline: my family
Kristen: the military. My father retired from the Marines, Matthew's cousin Tim was in the service and went to Iraq three times, Bea's husband Chris is on his third tour right now, and my cousin Jacob is thinking of enlisting out of high school. I am in awe of the commitment and bravery these men show to serve for us. I am so thankful that we live in a free country because of the men and women who make it and keep it so.

Day 25
Caroline: my friends. I love them and they love me.
Kristen: that my children feel loved by so many people. There has been several cases in the news lately about missing children or worse, those who have been found but not safely. My heart breaks to think that they didn't feel loved or safe in their last minutes of life. My children are so fortunate to feel loved and doted on by so many people in their life. Who could want much more for their kiddos?

Day 26
Caroline: food. we have a lot of food today, Mommy. and my family and my bunny, and my princess car, and my brother and sister (hey, I just write down what she says).
Kristen: I am thankful that my life is exactly as it is. I wouldn't trade with anyone! I am loved and safe, we have a home and food, great kids and parents, friends and neighbors, money to cover the bills and sometimes even enough for the extras. While our thankful list is complete, I hope that I can remain as grateful for all that I have in the future as I am today.