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?

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Happy Birthday, Mama!

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Today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary…aka Mama’s birthday!! What better way to celebrate Christ’s perfect mother than by having ourselves a little tea party lunch. Oliver even joined us, making it his first ever liturgical tea! Once the girls saw how lovely the table was set they insisted on wearing the dresses and shoes they wore to my mum’s wedding last weekend. So sweet! We sang Immaculate Mary and then tucked in. I love celebrating our Lady’s special days together as a way to honor her and remind myself that she is truly our mother and she knows the heart we have for our children. I can always trust her with my intentions because as Christ’s mum, I know He will hear her.

Immaculate-ConceptionRemember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

 

Easter Sunday 2013

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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

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!

 

Our Weekend

Since Ben started his new job in January, he has only had two days off in a row every second week. We were spoiled with two long weekends in a row with Easter being last week. Oh, how I treasure the time we have just being together now!

Our weekend consisted of sleep-ins, big breakfasts, NET Alumni adoration, an impromptu dinner party at our house, a visit with a good priest friend of ours, a nice coffee and stroll in town, time in the backyard, getting a new oven handle and lots of laughs, silliness and down time. Thank God for weekends!

 

Divine Mercy Sunday

“I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.

I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first — by deed, the second — by word, the third — by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy.

Many souls … are often worried because they do not have the material means with which to carry out an act of mercy. Yet spiritual mercy, which requires neither permissions nor storehouses, is much more meritorious and is within the grasp of every soul.

If a soul does not exercise mercy somehow or other, it will not obtain My mercy on the day of judgment. Oh, if only souls knew how to gather eternal treasure for themselves, they would not be judged, for they would forestall My judgment with their mercy” (1317).

Today we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday.  This brings me great joy for two reasons. The first because of the sweet gift of mercy Jesus has offered us in his death and resurrection. The call not only to receive his mercy but to share that mercy with others, and in that way bring people to Christ. The second reason I treasure this day so much is because it marks the second anniversary of Abigail’s baptism into the Church. This afternoon we will also be seeing the priest who baptized her.

Mercy is something I suck at, quite frankly. Receiving mercy has not come easily to me. I still shrink at the thought of going to reconciliation and so I find giving mercy just as difficult. It is something I need to work on and am being blessed with the opportunities to work on each day being a wife and mother. Mercy can be something as simple as forgiving my husband for being late before he even gets home and not chewing him out. It can be drawing my girls in for a hug when they are being crazy and I just want to yell at them until steam comes out of my ears. I take incredible comfort and strength from praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy. The words, “Jesus, I trust in You” repeated again and again become my armour and my hope that all is well and all will be well when it is in His hands. I was reminded this morning in prayer that there is no detail of my life too tiny for His concern. With that truth, I give it all to Him. The good, the bad and the ugly. Knowing He can take it, because He already has…to the cross and back again.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, friends! May the joy and peace of the resurrected Christ be yours this Easter Octave! We had a lovely Easter Sunday together as Ben’s shop decided to stay closed for the day. We enjoyed a lovely breakfast before heading off to mass and then returning home to stuff our faces with much anticipated Easter treats. Later in the day we joined my mum and some of my siblings at her house for a great feast of lamb and chicken and all other kinds of goodness including carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

The girls were very pleased with their lovely new Easter dresses sent by ‘auntie Edel’ and we decided to get them a wagon, something we’ve been wanting to give them since we moved in last year. All in all a wonderful day! I’m still trying to find ways to celebrate Easter in our home, which mostly consists of eating more treats…anyone have other ideas???