Advent Week One

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We have had a slow start to our Advent this year. There has yet to be much Christmas music, we still haven’t out up our tree and our only decorations to date are the Nativity Set and our Advent wreath. It feels strange and it feels right. I know when we start decking the halls my whole heart will be in it and until then I am contenting myself to quiet my heart and draw nearer to the King.

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Advent Plans 2013

Advent is fast approaching and though I seem to still have mommy brain I am determined not to miss out on preparing our hearts for Christ this Christmas.

I am usually that woman who is walking around with her Christmas latte cup the day they come out and blaring the Christmas music about mid- November but no more. I am choosing to believe and trust that if I hold off a little while into Advent (no promises that I’ll make it to Christmas day) that I will experience the full joy that God intended for us to enjoy for the 12 days of Christmas instead of being “over it” by Boxing Day. I am cheating a little  though by listening to the “Classical Christmas” playlist on my Songza app through our Apple TV. We are also watching and listening to lots of The Nutcracker Ballet. Our girls are really loving it and spending a good portion of their days in ballerina costumes dancing on their “stage” a.k.a the living room rug!

In years past our Christmas tree was put up on December 1st when we lived in apartments and had to use an artificial tree. Now that we have a fresh tree and keep it up until at least January 6th we are trying to put it up later in the month…hard for me because the joy I get from sitting in front of a lit tree with a hot drink in my hand never gets old.

We will start Advent by putting out our increasingly ridiculous collection of nativity sets. So. Many. Nativity. Sets. I don’t believe you can ever have too many! We like to hide the baby Jesus (hopefully in a place I remember in time for Christmas morning!!)

We have our Advent wreath all ready to go which is a surprise to me because I usually cannot find the right sized candles to fit my wreath in time but we last weekend we went to a parish Advent wreath making activity and they gave us the wreath with candles. Glory Be! Each night of Advent after supper we will gather in the living room to pray as we always do but we will begin by lighting our wreath, singing O Come O Come Emmanuel and reading a reflection for the day. If we have time for nothing else, this I want to make sure we do!

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As for feast days we like to celebrate all of them. I’m not a craft making mom so we usually stick to treats and coloring pages but we do like to celebrate all of the Advent feast days. There is the feast of St. Nicholas, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Lucy. Advent is such a special season in the life of our family and I find that the more little ways we celebrate together and in Christ centered ways the better for our hearts and keeping our focus. We will do all of the usual fun activities of putting up the tree, watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music, baking, baking, gift making ,etc but I prefer to do these at our pace instead of feeling the pressure to get it all done the first week in. That is the beauty and the point of Advent. It is a time of preparation…it’s not a deadline. We can pick away at our lists and know that when Christ comes we will have done our best with the time and the responsibilities He has given us as mothers.

Here are some things we like to do..

St. Nicholas – we always put our shoes out the night before and the children wake to find chocolate coins and clementines in their shoes. There is usually a new book for them as well and this year it will be The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Gloria Whelan  (thanks Nana!)  We will also have a sweet afternoon treat, likely to be cookies and milk  and I’ve printed some coloring pages for the girls.

Immaculate Conception – I’ve got the book “Mary, the Mother of Jesus” by Tomie de Paola out from the library and we will read that together and have an afternoon tea party in honor of Mary. Again, treats and coloring pages.

Our Lady of Guadalupe – This happens to be one of my favorite Marian feast days! I am hoping that we will have Mexican food for dinner that night. Mexican hot chocolates and “The Lady of Guadalupe” by Tomie de Paola from the library for our afternoon treat.

St. Lucy – We have a Lucy in our house so this is always a special day in our family. On Name days in our family people usually receive a holy card, a small gift and get to choose dessert. This year we will have a new book (thanks, Nana!) and the day will be the same but the gift will be something extra special because I have decided to take Lucy  see The Nutcracker Ballet playing in our city. On her name day! I’m hoping to keep it a surprise until that day. I don’t often get to spend one on one time with the kids so this will be special. I’ve never seen a ballet before and I am giddy at the thought of us two gals getting to experience it for the first time together.

Over the years we have accumulated quite a nice collection of Christmas books and I supplement that pile with library books and this year instead of just bringing them all out on the first Sunday of Advent, I am going to wrap them all and the kids will get to open one each day leading up to Christmas. This is more for the purpose of slowly adding, slowly building and preparing as we get closer to the big day rather than them being tired of all the Christmas stories by the time it actually comes. One tradition we have as per Elizabeth Foss’ suggestion I believe is that we read “The Night Before Christmas” every single day at least once. We were given this beautiful pop up copy of the book by my Aunt when Lucy was a baby and it has become a loved tradition of reading it together and gently opening each page and watching it unfold.

We don’t have a set Advent calendar that we use yearly. Perhaps at some point I will make a more permanent one but for now it seems to change from year to year. I took apart my huge chalkboard frame today in hopes to pull this off in the next few days. Instead of having different activities each day we will be reading from our Jesus Storybook Bible following this plan.

We will also celebrate our seven year wedding anniversary in December which is exciting and we are hoping for a bit of time together! So many good things to enjoy…it really is the most wonderful time of the year! Cheesy? Cliche? Perhaps but it is true!! The joy and wonder in the little faces I am blessed to love never loses its glow.

To make sure I am preparing my own heart amid the full days of December, I am joining the Good Morning Girls Advent challenge to keep up with my morning prayer and scripture study. It is free!

I’m joining this up with Pam at Everyday Snapshots for a link up of Advent-y goodness..

I love talking Advent, so talk to me friends! What things are you most looking forward to? What traditions do you hold dear?

Merry Christmas, I am Still Pregnant

I wish I was here announcing the birth of our new baby but as God would have it the baby is not quite ready to make his/her appearance. I am now seven days past my due date and feeling remarkably well and sane. Don’t get me wrong, I am Ready. To. Do. This. but hanging in there since I know babies come when they are ready…our own miss Abigail hung in there for ten whole days past her due date.

We took the girls to the 11pm Christmas Eve vigil and it turned out to be a great night. We put them to bed early and woke them up around 9pm to start getting ready to go. They thought it was very special to be getting up at night to go out and we drove around looking at lights on our way to the church. As it turns out, the late night mass is not as chaotic as the early evening one and we could have easily left home around 10pm and still had great seats. I feel like we have stumbled upon a bit of a secret! We may just do it again next year.

We had a very simple Christmas this year. We decided to invest in one nice shared gift for the girls instead of lots of little things. My mom and Ben’s parents bought the people and furniture to go along with our gift and the girls have been having a great time with it. We woke up Christmas morning and came upstairs and started the morning with a prayer and a very enthusiastic Happy Birthday to Jesus! We opened our gifts and we had a really easy yummy breakfast of croissants, fruit, coffee and orange juice. The girls played, we napped, put the dollhouse together and then headed over to my mom’s for Christmas dinner. It was nice to be there with everyone but I do believe this year was our last for going to someone else’s home for Christmas dinner. Next year we will have three kiddos and I think we will start making our own traditions for the day and stay home and enjoy being in our pajamas!

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I have never felt more ready for a baby to join our family and I can’t wait to breathe in that gorgeous newborn smell and hold my baby for the first time. We are as ready as we are going to be and now I am trying to be patient and remind myself that the time is coming and to just enjoy the time leading up to it. Thank God it is the Christmas season and there is so much joy and rest to soak up. Ben is now off for the next three days and I don’t imagine he will go back to work after that…please, God, let the baby come by then!! Please offer a prayer or two for us if you think of it and I will likely be back here in a few weeks to share our story and some photos of the newest little Andrews. Now if you’ll excuse me I am off to eat a super greasy/spicy supper in hopes of coaxing baby out!!

Oh Christmas Tree

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These lights remind me that Christ is coming…

They give me comfort in the middle of the night when the baby is dancing away happily and sleep will not find me.

These lights are perfect for 4pm madness when Ben is not quite home yet and the girls are starting to drive me and each other a little crazy.

These lights are perfect for after-breakfast-sitting-on-the-couch coffee.

They remind me that though there are long, dark days ahead, a baby is coming…a sweet little one to hold and nurse and drink up.

Just a little longer..

The Feast of St. Nicholas

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We are still here…waiting on our little baby due December 22nd. These months have been busy and happy and challenging. There is so much to say and yet I can’t bring myself to go back and go over the last four months in great detail. I’ll just give it to you in point form…

-Lucy turned 4 years old and started going to preschool two mornings a week. It took her about a month to get used to the drop offs but now she loves going and always asks me to show her on the calendar when she is going again.

-Abigail has really come out of her shell and is talking all the time and telling the most hilarious stories.

-We bought a van! It’s turned out to be quite a lemon but we are still grateful to have a vehicle big enough to accommodate our growing family.

-We got rid of our computer sometime in September in hopes of replacing it with a laptop that just needed a new hard drive…and we have yet to purchase said hard drive. That is why the lack of updates! I can’t upload pictures anywhere right now…except this one above which Ben emailed to me from his phone.

-We got through November. I’m so glad it’s over and we can move on to Advent!!

-Baby’s room got painted and everything is all set to go..car seat, hospital bag, etc..

I was just so relieved for Advent to finally be here this year. We are excited and hopeful and waiting on our own baby and it has brought me more in tune with the spirit of Advent and not just getting all Christmas happy/crazy in November. Truth be told I just can’t get into Christmas joy or music right now..we don’t even have a tree up yet! Those of you who know me might find that surprising. Heck, I am surprised but I think the reason is that I know in my own body that Christmas is not here. Jesus is not yet born. Our baby is not yet born and so it just feels like cheating to get started on all the celebrating too soon. We like to keep our tree up until at least January 6th and with baby coming hopefully around the due date it will give us lots of opportunity to celebrate the season of Christmas as it is meant to be celebrated.

The girls really seem to understand the idea of St. Nicholas/ Santa this year and they are so cute about it. They got so excited when I reminded them about the treats he likes to leave in people’s shoes and they asked me all kinds of questions about him. It was perfect timing to dig out our book about St. Nicholas. This is a tradition that I love and look forward to each year…did your family do anything to celebrate this awesome feast day this year?? Do tell, friends!

 

A Quiet Christmas

We had a very quiet Christmas this year. The girls got up around 7am with squeals of delight that continued all the way up the stairs to see what ‘Pere Noel’ had brought them.

They were each given legwarmers knit by me, new art supplies, a little baby doll and the Winnie the Pooh movie that came out last year. We really wanted the day to be about simple things to be enjoyed together and it was exactly that. We gave the girls gifts we knew they would actually play with and use and didn’t worry so much about whether they had that face melting shock and awe that most parents strive for.

We spent most of our day in our pajamas sipping hot drinks, eating boxes (!) of chocolate and napping. Sometime mid afternoon we got ourselves dressed and headed over to my mum’s for a lovely Christmas supper. It was great to see everyone (minus my sister and her family who didn’t come up from NB until boxing day) and when the day was done, we went home full and content.

The year 2011 was an interesting one. Abigail turned 1, Ben turned 30, we bought a house, I started to work, Ben was offered his dream job, we both quit our existing jobs and through it all, God held us together in His hands. I don’t know how else we would have done it.

Ben and I didn’t get each other anything for Christmas this year, mostly due to a lack of time  to shop, but the hope and joy that we had to look forward to for the coming year was really all the gift either of us needed. It really was a very merry Christmas.

Odds and Ends

The night before last I realized that if I didn’t quickly make the choice to do a bit of baking despite being tired from work that it just wasn’t going to happen before Christmas came. I finished work at 10pm and hit the grocery store to pick up a few odds and ends to do some baking. The girls were really excited to make some treats for our friends. We made peppermint bark and then a batch of cranberry-orange sauce. We also did laundry…very productive day! I did finish Abigail’s legwarmers but I don’t have a photo of them yet and they are hidden away in my room somewhere so I will show them after Christmas has come. Now all that is left is some gift wrapping and probably a batch of sugar cookies. It is snowing really lovely, big, fat, romantic snowflakes here so I think I will go and enjoy that with some knitting and a cuppa while the girls are down for their nap. A very merry Christmas to you and your families! We will be starting out our day by singing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus as we did last year..funny little tradition, it is. Peace!