advent 2014

I’m not quite so on top of Advent this year as I was last year. Nesting was in FULL FORCE last year as we awaited Grant’s arrival. ūüôā But, I finally got around to making the plan for this year.

The kids’ are already asking about the Advent Calendar and talking about the fun of last year…I love that they are old enough to remember and anticipate the season now!

So, these are the things we are hoping to do throughout the 25 days before Christmas/Advent season this year.

Advent Wreath

advent centerpiece

Each Sunday before Christmas, we will light a candle on the table (I haven’t made an official wreath yet, but I put the five candles in a group on our dining room table each year) and read a verse:

1. Light the 1st candle.  It represents the HOPE of the promised Messiah.  Isaiah 9:1-3
2. Light the 2nd candle.  It reminds us that the coming Savior will be the Prince of PEACE.  Isaiah 9:6-7
3. Light the 3rd candle.  It reminds us the JOY we may have in Christ. Isaiah 35:1-2, 10
4. Light the 4th candle.  It reminds us that God LOVES us so much that He sent his only Son.  John 3:16
5. Christmas Day – Light the middle candle and the other four. The Savior is come!

Daily Readings

With the littles – Readings from the Jesus Storybook Bible
For the bigger set – The Dawning of Indestructible Joy

Daily Advent Activities Рgreat ideas from friends, this daily book idea, this blog and this blog.
I’m using the¬†Tin and Chalkboard Advent calendar from Starbucks again this year. This year’s version is even prettier, in my opinion, than the one I got last year!¬†I’ll print out the activity on small pieces of paper and put it in the right numbered tin. Some year I’ll get all fancy and make my own pocket calendar. Or, more realistically, I’ll pay someone to make one for me.¬†

Each day the kids will tear off a paper chain, and we’ll read the Scripture and the daily reading from the Jesus Storybook Bible. Then they’ll open the tin for the day and see what activity we get to do! They also get to unwrap a book, which we’ll read that day.

1. Make a Christmas countdown chain using the Names of Jesus chain.
2. Decorate the tree and the house!

Christmas tree3. Play with Little People Nativity Set. Make the Nativity Window Craft.
4. Gingerbread house. Read the Gingerbread Gospel while making.

gingerbread house5. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas & have popcorn.
6.¬†Celebrate Grant’s birthday!
7. Buy presents for Toys for Tots or other charity, donate.
8. Snowman marshmallow craft (on Christmas Pinterest board)

taylor craft9. Make a borax snowflake and handprint Christmas tree magnets.
10. Christmas Carol Sing-Along! Small group Christmas party.
11. Pajama surprise! Christmas tree lights and hot chocolate.
12. Christmas Tree craft ‚Äď (paper tree/hole punch/tissue paper/hang in window).
13. Reindeer pancakes for breakfast and Christmas Musicale at Fourth Baptist.
14. Indoor picnic by the tree/lights, make snowman pizza.
15. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles w/ breakfast.
16. Make a fort and read all the Advent books we’ve opened so far.
17. Make/bake sugar cookie cut-outs.

cookies
18. Decorate cookies.
19. Service Project: Take food to the food shelf. Birthday Party for Jesus with friends.

birthday for jesus20. Christmas music dance party &¬†play the ‚Äúcount the snowball game‚ÄĚ.
21. Watch The Polar Express with special snacks.
22. Make peppermint playdough and play with it.
23. Take cookies to neighbors and act out the Christmas story.

jack shepherd
24. Wrap last minute gifts. Christmas Eve service.
25. JESUS HAS COME! Christmas morning: read Luke 2, special breakfast and open gifts.

Christmas breakfast

And if we don’t get to everything, no worries. ūüôā It’s far more important to love on the kids than do a million projects, like this wise mama reminds us. I’m not going to spaz out if we miss a day.

Our Christmas book list (some we purchased and some we borrowed from the library and will renew once in the month), in no particular order:

  1. The Very First Christmas
  2. Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
  3. Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale
  4. The Nativity
  5. Christmas in the Manger 
  6. Who is Coming to Our House? 
  7. There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve
  8. Father and Son – A Nativity Story
  9. Tomie’s LIttle Christmas Pageant
  10. This is the Stable
  11. The Friendly Beasts – an Old English Christmas Carol
  12. The Christmas Story from the Gospel According to St. Luke
  13. Humphrey’s First Christmas¬†
  14. Christmas in the Country
  15. The Third Gift
  16. Bear Stays Up For Christmas
  17. The Crippled Lamb
  18. A Christmas Like Helen’s¬†
  19. The Birds of Bethlehem
  20. One Starry Night
  21. The Little Drummer Boy
  22. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  23. A Christmas Goodnight
  24. Little One, We Knew You’d Come
  25. Good King Wenceslas 

That’s about everything, I think! I hope it is helpful for others who might want to create their own list of fun things to build excitement and anticipation for Christmas Day and the arrival of the Christ Child. ūüôā May your Christmas season be merry and bright as you celebrate all the gifts HE has given us, beginning with Himself.

Advertisements

advent 2013

For the first time ever, I’m actually on top of Advent this year. In the past I’ve done small things, or parts of things, but this year I really wanted to get organized and have a good plan as we try to foster an atmosphere of building anticipation for the arrival of the Savior, Jesus.

This is probably also the first year Jackson is old enough to really “get it” and Taylor is his little shadow, so it seems like a good year to get it together. ūüôā A lot of the execution for this is going to fall to Kyle this year, since I’ll be recovering from birth here soon. But that works out since he will be off for most of the month on paternity leave – government job for the win! These are the things we are hoping to do throughout the 25 days before Christmas/Advent season.

Advent Wreath

advent centerpiece

Each Sunday before Christmas, we will light a candle on the table (I haven’t made an official wreath yet, but I put the five candles in a group on our dining room table each year) and read a verse:

1. Light the 1st candle.  It represents the HOPE of the promised Messiah.  Isaiah 9:1-3
2. Light the 2nd candle.  It reminds us that the coming Savior will be the Prince of PEACE.  Isaiah 9:6-7
3. Light the 3rd candle.  It reminds us the JOY we may have in Christ. Isaiah 35:1-2, 10
4. Light the 4th candle.  It reminds us that God LOVES us so much that He sent his only Son.  John 3:16
5. Christmas Day – Light the middle candle and the other four. The Savior is come!

Daily Readings

With the littles РReadings from the Jesus Storybook Bible 

For the bigger set РGood News of Great Joy 

Daily Advent Activities Рgreat ideas from friends, this blog and this blog 

I’m using this Tin and Chalkboard Advent calendar from Starbucks this year. It says its not available online, but your local shop should have one. I’ll print out the activity on small pieces of paper and put it in the right numbered tin. Some year I’ll get all fancy and make my own pocket calendar. Or, more realistically, I’ll pay someone to make one for me. ūüôā¬†

1. Make a Christmas countdown chain using the Names of Jesus chain and this poem for the top:
Christmas Day will soon be here and I can hardly wait.
I’ve made this little Christmas chain to help me celebrate.
Each day I will snip one loop from it to help me to remember.
To rejoice of Jesus birthday on the 25th of December!

2. Decorate the tree and the house and unwrap/read two new Christmas books

Christmas tree 3. Open and play with Little People Nativity Set. (This is a GREAT price for the set, even shipped.)
4. Gingerbread house or nativity. Read the Gingerbread Gospel while making.

gingerbread house 5. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas with popcorn.
6. Pajama surprise ‚Äď hot cocoa and Christmas light drive.
7. Snowman marshmallow craft (on Christmas Pinterest board)
8. Go caroling at the nursing home.
9. Make a borax snowflake.
10. Make/bake sugar cookie cut-outs.

cookies 11. Decorate cookies.
12. Christmas tree craft ‚Äď (paper tree/hole punch/tissue paper/hang in window).
13. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles w/ breakfast.
14. Bell ringing for Jack and Kyle and indoor dinner picnic by the tree/lights.
15. Reindeer pancakes for breakfast and Christmas Musicale at Fourth Baptist.
16. Unwrap and read two more new books.
17. Birthday Cake (or cupcakes) for Jesus (invite friends for a party?)
18. Buy presents for Toys for Tots or other charity, donate.
19. Service Project: Pack VoM action packs with small group.
20. Christmas music dance party (AM) & watch The Polar Express (PM).
21. Play the ‚Äúcount the snowball game‚ÄĚ.
22. Make thumbprint snowmen cornstarch dough ornaments for grandparents.
23. Take cookies to neighbors.
24. Christmas Eve service and maybe new pajamas?
25. JESUS! Christmas morning: read Luke 2, special breakfast and open gifts.

Christmas breakfast

And if we don’t get to everything, no worries. ūüôā It’s far more important to love on the kids than do a million projects, like this wise mama reminds us. I’m not going to spaz out if we miss a day.

The Christmas books we got for this year are:
The Very First Christmas
Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale
The Nativity
Christmas in the Manger 

That’s about everything, I think! I hope it is helpful for others who might want to create their own list of fun things to build excitement and anticipation for Christmas Day and the arrival of the Christ Child. ūüôā May your Christmas season be merry and bright as you celebrate all the gifts HE has given us, beginning with Himself.

christmas memories 2011

its the day after the day after Christmas. ūüôā Jack is happily playing with his new train and tracks in his bedroom wearing his new, self-described “jumping pants” from Grandma Char and Grandpa Rick. His awesome handcrafted work bench is downstairs and he wants to watch a “moomie” (Planet Earth) that Kyle got for him.

Christmas through the eyes of a 2.5 year old is far more fun than merely through my own. He made it so fun to open gifts and his repeated “Oh WOW!”‘s were priceless. On Christmas morning, we drove home from church and Jack fell asleep. He was all cute in his new puffer vest and dapper hat, clutching a stuffed teddy bear. If I hadn’t been driving, I would have snapped a picture, because I just want to remember these moments. They are slipping by more quickly than I want them to!

Jack loved moving the Advent star on our advent calendar and lighting the candles each night when we did our devotional. He said many a “Merry Kiss-mas!’ and would always say that as we said goodnight. It was great fun to give cookie plates to our neighbors and wish them a “Merry Christmas!” too. When we had a Christmas party with our friends the Sullivans and Gulbransons, Jessica made a birthday cake for Jesus and Jack LOVED singing “Happy Birthday” and blew out the candle with joy. We talked a lot about baby Jesus in the manger and the stable, in spite of the stupid dog eating our “gingerbread nativity”. I think he is “catching” that Jesus is the reason for this wonderful season.

the strangest part of the Christmas season of 2011 was that we had NO SNOW! Super odd. I can think of one, possible two other brown Minnesota Christmases I’ve experienced in my lifetime. Hopefully this remains an anomaly and not a typical event! I miss the snow. It’s the one thing that makes winter pretty. However, I am NOT complaining about the warmer temps which have accompanied the snow famine. Last year the snow and cold came early and often and stayed far past it’s welcome. We just need snow by the time we go to Lutsen to ski in February. Please and thank you, God.

We attended several different musical events this Christmas and Jackson loved them all. His favorite Christmas song was “The Little Drummer Boy”, which incidentally was MY favorite Christmas song as a tiny kid. I called it the “Pum-pum Song”. Jack especially notices violins in music or when he sees them being played. It comes out “why-o-lin” when he says it, which is totally adorable. ūüôā I wonder how young is too young to start music lessons? He is so interested in playing and singing and everything musical.

The family events were plentiful and wonderful. I’m so grateful, once again, that we live within close driving distance of both sides of our family. We made cookies and shared cookies, gave gifts and received gifts, played games and enjoyed many cups of coffee. Taylor was fawned over, held and adored. Jackson was made to laugh, giggle and said “STOP IT” when things got too exciting for him. oh silly boy. His aunts and uncles love him to bits.

Amazon Prime saved my shopping bacon this Christmas. Hooray for free two-day shipping and great prices on the stuff we wanted to give! ūüôā I got Kyle a bunch of fun little things to “fill his stocking”, since we gave each other a night at a bed and breakfast to be enjoyed at a later date. We gave Jack an IKEA rug for driving his cars and trucks on, the Planet Earth dvd’s, finger paints, bubbles, and a puffer vest. Kyle did an epic job filling my stocking – I loved it, especially the copy of White Christmas peeking out of the top. We watched that yesterday. I love that movie, schmaltz and all. ūüôā

And now 2012 is around the corner. I was pondering a year ago, as I’m wont to do, and love thinking how Taylor was just a twinkle in our eye at this time in 2010. Now she’s here and we love her so much. She has this face-splitting, exuberant smile that is just contagiously beautiful. Though two kids have multiplied my work, they have also multiplied my joy. It’s so nice that God doesn’t give me one without the other. ūüôā

I consider the best gifts of the year to be the ones from my Heavenly Father. My wonderful husband, Jack, our sweet new baby girl, the ability to give much to others, a warm place to sleep and so, so, SO much more. And most of all, I am grateful for the gift of a little child that grew into a man who rescued my heart and saved my soul. Merry Christmas indeed!