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!

photo(6)

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?

Advertisements

Easter Sunday 2013

DSCF1782DSCF1787DSCF1784DSCF1783DSCF1789DSCF1788DSCF1805 DSCF1810DSCF1811DSCF1817DSCF1819

Happy Easter, friends!

He is risen!

Today we celebrate the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. The hope that we can change. The hope that we can become the men and women that God has created and called us to be! Fresh starts all around, I say!

The day started off with excited little girls coming up the stairs to discover that the little tomb we made (with a step stool and white table cloth) was empty! Alleluia! They also found some new shoes and treats to enjoy in these next few weeks.

We got to mass and the girls were each given a little ‘Alleluia’ flag to wave around during the songs/hymns. They thought that was great and I had to keep reminding them not to get too enthusiastic with their waving since they kept brushing against our neighbors heads! Oliver wore real clothes for the first time today (as in not pajamas) and he is such a handsome little man. I can’t help but smooch his little cheeks so hard!!! As mass began I couldn’t help but smile at all we have been given in these little miracles and how much we have to be thankful for! I felt a little differently by the end as they were seriously testing my patience but that’s all part of the journey, eh? God said to bring them! He never said they would behave 😉

Afterwards we headed to my mum’s for brunch and a visit with my sister and her family. They all met Oliver for the first time at their son Jude’s birthday party yesterday but this was the first shot of all the kids with Nana! So sweet. We had a really lovely day together but I think we have reached the decision that it is time to start celebrating the holidays at our house…all day! It will be much easier on the kids who still need naps to get through the day and easier on us to be in our home, not carting everyone back and forth.

We finished the day off with a simple supper at home and our Easter tradition of Easter Sundaes! Previously we have only done the sundaes on Easter Sunday but I think this year we will do them each Sunday of the Octave. So simple and yet the kids have a blast putting together their own little dishes. Speaking of dishes, I found these little ice cream dishes at Value Village last week and they are perfect for our little tradition.

I hope you have had a lovely Easter surrounded by people you love, treats to enjoy and the hope and love of our Savior to fill your heart!! Many blessings,

~Katie

He’s Here

photo(5)

Oliver Joseph Andrews

Born January 4th, 2013

9lbs 8ounces, 22 inches long

Christmas came and went. The New Year came and went. I began to wonder if I would just be pregnant forever and if this sweet baby would ever decide to join us. On January 4th, one day shy of being a full 42 weeks pregnant, the midwives whose care we were in offered to break my membranes and see if it would start good labor for me. We decided to go for it since I was already 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. We called my mom to come and stay with the girls and we headed off to the hospital with a stop at Starbucks on the way to calm my nerves.

It was a very different experience checking into the hospital while not in actual labor. There was no rushing, no wheelchair, lots more questions and lots more friendly conversation and getting to know the nurses. We got settled into our delivery room and the midwife made a good attempt to break my membranes. She could only get through one layer of them and just barely..apparently I have good, healthy membranes! So she broke my water at 3pm and…well….Oliver Joseph was born at 5:04pm.

I couldn’t believe how short of a time my labor was. No one else was surprised which made it even funnier. The best part about the whole thing? I did it completely drug free…for the first time ever! I am unbelievably proud of myself and grateful to God for the strength and perseverance He gave me. Ben was also amazing throughout the whole thing and never left my side. I told him the other day that he could have a very lucrative career as a man Doula. He laughed pretty hard. I was totally serious. The man takes such beautiful care of all of us and I am thankful every day to be his wife. 

Anyway, Oliver was born and we did all the usual business of cleaning up, stitching up, feeding, weighing, etc, etc and then? We came home. Three hours after giving birth I waddled my way down the halls of the hospital and out to our van and came home and crawled into my own bed. It was incredible. Most people think we are totally insane for doing it this way but I have to say that it really is the best thing. No being poked and prodded all night by random nursing staff and have a slew of strangers in and out of your room for all kinds of reasons that are “necessary”.  We are so grateful to be in the care of such awesome midwives who have come to our house several times this week to check in on us and encourage us.

Oliver is 1 week old today and I can’t believe how quickly that time has passed. I have yet to leave the house which would normally drive me crazy but I am feeling rested and peaceful and confident that I can handle these beautiful kids God has blessed me with. One day and one coffee at a time, I say! Thank you for your many prayers, thoughts and meals…goodness, the meals we have received! What a blessing our little community has been. I will be back with more photos of Ollie soon, as the woman across the street from us is a photographer and is taking some photos for us.. but for now here is my favorite one she has taken so far.

540796_10151439272848974_1961034995_n

Our Little Princess

Our littlest princess turned two yesterday. We decided to hold off on the celebrations until today, so we could make a day of it together. Abigail and Lucy came out of their bedroom this morning to find balloons strung up from their door frame. Sheer delight on their little faces batting them back and forth for several minutes before they decided to come upstairs for breakfast.

Waiting for Abigail, at the table, was her new birthday crown, a sort of temporary handsewn one until I have more time to sew it up properly. 

Our sweet girl has big love for Lucy’s doll, Ruby. This is all fine until Lucy wants to play with her and then it becomes “La grosse chicane” (big fight) so Ben and I decided to invest in what we think will make this baby-doll loving girl very happy. Enter Abbie’s new little friend, June.

We had breakfast, went to mass and spent most of the day at home resting and baking the birthday cake. Ben actually made the cake while I slept off and on for several hours on the couch. My stomach was not quite right from the time I got up this morning and it just knocked me off my feet. Hooray for helpful husbands! We had a great family supper on the BBQ. It really felt like Spring this afternoon with the sun shining into our living room and with the delicious sponge cake with lemon zest and juice. 

Abigail had some help from her big sister blowing out the candles.

With every birthday that passes in our family, I realize more and more that I much prefer small family get togethers where the kids are not overwhelmed with guests and too many sweets. My mum and Brad even stayed on after supper to put the girls to bed and stayed the evening so Ben and I could take some time away together. What a blessing!

Miss Abigail has brought such joy, energy and life to our little family. She is affectionate, daring, goofy and very independant. Every day with her is like a big breath of fresh air…may she have many, many blessed years!! We love you baby girl.

 

These Days

The longer I am gone from here, the harder I find it to come back. Not because my desire to blog has run dry, but because I don’t know where to start. I usually take blogging breaks because I feel like I have nothing to say, but by the time I’m ready to sit down and write, there is too much to say! I’ll just dive right in..

I started a new job about three weeks ago. I am working part time 3-4 nights a week at Starbucks. This has been wonderful for me. Anyone who knows me knows I like to be with people, have a need to get out of the house from time to time, and I love a good latte. I was a little nervous about going back to work, not having been in over 3 years but it’s turning out to be exactly what I need right now. I cried my fair share of insecure tears when leaving the house the first few nights but it has gotten easier. The beauty of it is that I don’t start until 6pm. This gives Ben time to get home from work, supper is on the table when he arrives, we get about 15-20 minutes together at the table and then I leave. I am thankful that he is such a great dad and I can trust that all is well with the girls when I go.

Speaking of leaving the girls with Ben for bath/bedtime, he has started doing something with them that my siblings and I did when we were little and I am so excited I just have to share. When we were kids my mom would get the bath ready, bring us into the bathroom, strip us down, and let us draw ALL over ourselves with markers. We thought this was the funniest thing ever! Then we would get into the tub and it would all just bead off and change the colour of the water. We use Crayola markers which are all washable I think. Try it sometime! The girls love it!

Halloween is quickly coming and we are excited to be giving out treats this year in our new neighborhood. We’ve also been invited to an All Saints party which I am really looking forward to. We never celebrated All Saints day when I was growing up, so it will help me to see what we can do each year to make it just as and more special than Halloween. Abigail is going to be a bumblebee and Lucy is going to be a princess if I can get her to leave her dress on for more than a minute. She really takes issue with any clothing with tags, or anything the slightest bit itchy. I am hoping that over time she won’t mind so much, because someone from Ben’s work just gave us four Princess dresses in really good nick.

We are in full Autumn mode in our kitchen these days. The meal plan was very successful for an entire month! We saved money, groceries were faster and so much less food went to waste. We kind of half stuck to it in October but my plan is to get back on our menu plan for the month of November since everyone (the girls especially) liked it. It will be helpful since we have two lovelies coming from the NET Infuse team to stay with us for a month. We are so excited to have them in our home and share our faith with them and vice versa.

Well, the girls are waking up so i’ve got to run but I will be back to post some pictures of my recent knitting adventures! I don’t know if anyone even comes here anymore, but either way, I will be back. Bless your day~

A Little Princess

Goodness, are we already October? I keep meaning to come and post pictures and tell you about all of the happenings of our household but the time is just flying. These weeks have been filled with celebrations aplenty, birthdays, feast days, a name day and quite a bit of knitting. Every time I had a few minutes to sit, I could only just bring myself to get a few more rows knitted and try to drink a whole cup of tea while it was hot. You know how the story goes i’m sure.

I don’t have many words to share about Lucy’s third birthday. I felt so emotional about it all, realizing how quickly she has grown into this beautiful little princess we see before us. This funny, bright, sensitive and talkative girl that fills my heart and challenges me to be more of who God called me to be every single day. We had a simple party of family and neighbours. A few gifts. Cupcakes. What more do you really need? I’m always being reminded by Lucy to keep things simple. I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and her reply? “A cake and some cupcakes. That’s allllll I need” Oh, how I love this girl of mine.

Lovely Lucy,

Every day that we have at home together is a gift. These last 3 years of your life have been the most life-changing of mine. Thank you for being gentle with me. Thank you for loving me including and especially when I am not being the mama I wish I could be. You are a precious girl and I am honored to be your mama. To walk with you, love you, guide you and hold your hand as we learn this dance of living and loving and laughing. Thank you for being such a generous big sister, for sharing, for making Abigail laugh, for telling me if she is doing something naughty. You are truly a gift to our home and to our hearts Lulu. I love you baby girl. xoxox

Look Who Turned One!

Our darling little Abbie turned 1 today. We celebrated her big day on Wednesday though, to accommodate for all those work schedules that were conflicting. It was so wonderful to have a small party for our small girl. It was very stress free since Ben and Lucy went to pick up cupcakes that morning as well as a fruit tray. I made coffee, and that was pretty much it to be honest. We sang, we ate, we opened gifts and everyone had a chance to hug and squeeze the birthday girl. She is such a treasure.
I have been truly terrible at writing things down as they happen with both of our girls. I’m certainly not good at preserving our little memories, but I do take lots of pictures. Or at least I try to. Abigail is saying ‘Dada’ and at her party she said ‘Babe’ while pointing to her new baby doll, a gift from Ben, Lucy and I. She loves to follow her big sister, loves to babble to herself, get into mischief and loves to be held and kissed and cuddled (oh how I love that).
With Abigail turning 1, there is a sense of accomplishment that I feel. Not that I thought she wouldn’t make it to 1, but it feels so wonderful that as a family, we made it through an entire year together victoriously. Abigail being our second child (on Earth) she has taught us so much as a family. She has taught us to relax, to go with the flow, to start getting ready to leave the house earlier, to laugh more, stress less, and I believe she has made all of us less selfish and more patient. If a 1 year old can teach us that, I cannot wait to see what God has in store for the many years to come.



New Elmo doll & DVD from her grandparents all the way over in NZ

New baby doll that we bought her. She takes it everywhere now, so cute!



Lucy helping blow out the candle



Dragging her fingers through the icing



Lovely Abigail Miriam Thérèse, you have brought me to a new depth of motherhood I didn’t know was in me. Thank you for calling me to be a better, more loving, more patient, more joy filled mama. I love you sweet girl. Happy birthday.