Monday, November 30, 2009

My Advent Daybook ~ November 30th

Outside my window... there are a few strips of purple spray paint on the grass from a little project I "prepared" this weekend. ;)

I am hearing... my children talking and laughing as they work on various projects.

I am thinking... about December and all of our plans. Sometimes I really wish I knew just exactly when this little one will arrive!

I am thankful for... my wonderful midwife. She has delivered all five of our children, whether or not she has been "on call." She called me over the weekend, and again this morning since I had missed her call, to go over the ultrasound from last Wednesday. She wanted me to come in today to listen to the baby's heart again, but since I have an appointment scheduled for tomorrow morning, it can wait until then.

I am praying... for Kelly who has just been put on bed rest at just 27 weeks pregnant with her little guy.

From the kitchen... Turkey Soup and lots of other leftovers from Thanksgiving. We spent Thanksgiving at our own home this year, with just our children. It was quiet but still really nice and very relaxing!

From the learning rooms... this is our last week of "full-time" school before our Advent/Christmas break begins. The boys completed their New Testament Lap Books last week for Unit 2-3 of World History, though they do have a little bit of reading to finish over their break. We will continue with Units 4-7 next year. I am hoping they are able to wrap up Science and American History as well this week... The girls are on "N" week and most of our activities will revolve around St. Nicholas, as we prepare to celebrate his feast day this coming weekend!

Living the Liturgical Year at Home... It's Advent!! My husband blessed the wreath last night and lit the first candle. The rest of our decorations have been pulled out, and we've started our various Advent traditions. I just love this season of preparation for the Birth of Christ! This week we will also celebrate the feasts of St. Francis Xavier and St. Nicholas.

I am creating... the blocks for our O Antiphon House. Just one left to finish and they will be done! This "quick" project is taking me forever due to my own procrastination! Good thing I started when I did!

I am wearing... Mustela Instant Comfort Legs. It really seems to help!

I am going... to head to the library today. Apparently I have an overdue book, or two... {{sigh}} I am so thankful that our Christmas Book collection has gotten big enough to not have to worry about checking out any books this year!!!

I am reading... lots of picture books to my children.

I am hoping... that I deliver on the 12th. At first I thought the 18th would be nice, but with all the contractions I've been having, it just seems so far away! I'll be 38 weeks on the 11th, and the 12th, being the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, would be a great birthday, don't you think?! Perhaps God has the same plans! ;)

Noticing that... I better start thinking about packing a bag to take to the hospital soon!

Around the house... lots of hidden Christmas gifts, all wrapped and ready for Christmas. It is so nice having almost all of it taken care of before Advent began!

One of my favorite things... the St. Therese Doll my friend Amy made for "Rose." Isn't she perfect!?! I keep telling Amy that she needs to put together a book of patterns for the various saint dolls she has made. They are all amazing!

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Still to do from last week:
  • Start writing Thank You cards
  • Work on creating an address database for our Christmas Cards/Birth Announcements (Can you believe I've been hand addressing about 150 cards every year?! It will be nice to have it all in the computer for once, if I can find the time to actually input them all.)
New plans:
  • Weekly OB Check-Up tomorrow morning
  • First Friday Mass and possible Home-School Event

A Picture thought I am sharing:

A sneak-peek at our Jesse "Tea"
I'll post more about it tomorrow!

To see more daybooks visit The Simple Woman's Daybook!

For the Advent Mantel

This was such an easy craft and I just love how it looks on our mantel!  I think, while I still have a bit of purple spray paint leftover, I am going to use Elizabeth's idea and pick up the letters N & T to change "PREPARE" to "REPENT" for Lent!! 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our Plans for Advent...

... in addition to welcoming our own new little baby at some point!!

Hummm... I wonder just how many of these "plans" I'll be able to pull off! I tried to keep them fairly simple, without adding too many new activities, but I guess we will see!! Yesterday we pulled out all of our Advent Decorations, and (hubby and the boys) moved around the furniture in the living room to make room for our Christmas tree later in December. It's all so exciting! I just love Advent, don't you!?!

~ Around our Home ~

Advent Wreath and Prayers - This Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, we will begin lighting our wreath every evening for dinner and family prayers, including St. Andrew's Christmas Novena. On Christmas we will replace the four Advent Candles with our white Christ Candle (which we will make on the feast of St. Ambrose, to cover on the feast of the Immaculate Conception the next day). I've posted the Advent Wreath prayers we use here.

**photos from past years

Candles in the Window - All during Advent through Christmas Eve.

"The candle in the window, still a favorite traditional Irish Christmas decoration, it harkens back to that ancient Christmas Eve, when Mary and Joseph could find no shelter. It is a symbol of Irish hospitality, their way of welcoming Mary and Joseph...and any travelers who might happen to pass by looking for a warm place to stay.

In the days when it was illegal (and dangerous) to practice the Catholic faith in Ireland because of the oppressive Penal Laws, the candle in the window of Irish homes at Christmas also signaled traveling priests that this was a home where they would be welcome and where they could safely conduct the traditional Irish Catholic Christmas Mass." Source

Advent Calendars - This is our favorite. I also purchased one Catholic Child had on clearance to add to our collection this year.

The Jesse Tree - In the past I have compiled posts with the readings and coloring pages for each day of Advent. This year, I happily signed my children up for Holy Heroes Advent Adventure! It should be fun!! I am also planning to incorporate a Jesse "Tea" at some point, thanks to Alice's creativity!

A Nativity Set - Each Sunday, during Advent, we add a few figures to the set leading up to the addition of Baby Jesus on Christmas. The Wise men follow on the feast of Epiphany, as they slowly make their way across the room!

Baskets of Books - I just finished filling up a couple baskets with all of our Christmas Books! We will read one or two each day during the Advent and Christmas Season. In addition to the new books for the feast of St. Nicholas this year, I also purchased an Advent Storybook and Destination: Bethlehem to read each night at bedtime. Elizabeth also mailed me the most precious book ever!! It is all about a family Waiting for Noel, their new baby which ends up being born on Christmas! It is such a perfect addition to our Advent reading this year!!!!

~ Special Days During Advent ~

November 29th, First Sunday of Advent "Stir-Up" Sunday:

In addition to beginning all our Advent Traditions, I'm thinking we will be stirring up some yummy treat to save for Christmas, though probably not Plum Pudding... Perhaps the Chocolate Coconut Balls we made last year!

December 3rd, St. Francis Xavier:
In the morning, we will pray the Litany of St. Francis Xavier and then read page 20 of More Saints Lives and Illuminations. In the afternoon, I will let the kids watch Francis Xavier and the Samurai's Lost Treasure by CCC. I don't know if we will get to it or not, but we may try to make some St. Francis Xavier Ornaments as well.

Last year, for dinner, I made Xaver Suppe, but this year hubby has requested Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs), Spanish Rice, and Flan. I've never made Albondigas before, so it should be interesting! Also, since St. Francis Xavier is most often pictured holding a cross, I think I will either make the flan in a cross shape, or add a whip cream cross to the top.

December 6th, St. Nicholas:

I've already shared our plans for this year. I am hoping that most of our preparations for this feast will take place the week before, during "N" week! ;)

December 7th, St. Ambrose:

Since St. Ambrose is the Patron Saint of Candlemakers, we usually decorate our Christ Candle on his feast day. In the past we've just decorated a tall white candle with decorating wax or candle pens. This year, inspired by Jen, I am hoping to carve a little niche out of the base for a wax baby jesus figure.

For an afternoon snack I plan on serving tea with Honey Stix and a tray of Baklava I just picked up at Costco. We will also read the story of St. Ambrose on pages 5-11 Once upon a Time Saints.

For dinner I plan to serve Honey-Curry Chicken, one of our favorites!

December 8th, The Immaculate Conception:

Today after Mass, we will come home for a yummy breakfast of Blueberry Muffins and White Hot Cocoa. We will drape a Blue Cloth, or tie a blue ribbon, around the Christ Candle we decorated the day before, in honor of the Blessed Mother. On Christmas Eve the cloth comes off and reveals Christ. This candle then takes the place of the Advent Candles for the Christmas Season.

We will also read about The Immaculate Conception.

One of the special treats for the day is gingerbread... It is baked on this day because it reminds us of the passage in the Book of Sirach, 24:20-21 that describes Mary smelling like spices:
I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatical balm; I yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh; and I perfumed my dwelling as store, and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes, and as the frankincense not cut, and my odor is as the purest balm.
This year I thought it would be fun to bake and decorate a Gingerbread Nativity Scene using a Nativity Cookie Cutter Set.

December 9th, St. Juan Diego:

We will read page 19 of More Saints Lives and Illuminations and Our Lady of Guadalupe by Father Lovasik. (I still can't believe you can purchase a 10 pack of these books for only $1.50!!!) Then we will listen to Fresh Flowers in Winter: The story of Saint Juan Diego by Glory Stories while the children make St. Juan Diego Paper Dolls, and perhaps tilmas!

Since I have other plans for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we will have our Mexican Fiesta for dinner on this feast day!

December 10th, Our Lady of Loreto:

We usually pray the Litany of Loreto as a family and I pint out an online crossword of the Marian Titles from the Litany of Loreto. I've always loved Alice's idea to decorate a House of Loreto (using the Wilton Stand Up House Pan) for this feast, but I don't think this is the year to start... We'll see!

December 12th, The Christmas Rose Novena:

You can pray a novena to St. Therese at anytime, and there are a number to choose from, but one of my favorites is the Christmas Rose Novena which is prayed beginning on the 12th (12 days before Christmas), for 12 days, 12 times per day, to honor the 12 years of Christ's childhood.

December 12th, Our Lady of Guadalupe:

I am hoping to be able to have another of Alice's lovely Liturgical Teas in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They are just so much fun! And, of course, we will also read The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola.

December 13th, St. Lucy:

The girls have already started making their St. Lucy Crowns for this year. If possible I am hoping to bake another Saint Lucia Bread, but it that doesn't work out, I may resort to round donuts with candles instead. We'll see how the month goes!

The girls are loving their St. Lucy paper dolls from "L" week, and I saved Charlottes St. Lucia and Star Boy Coloring Page for this feast.

We always read Hanna's Christmas (I was so excited to find a copy for our own collection this year!), and I also ordered Lucia, Saint of Light, which I am hoping arrives by December 13th!

O Antiphons, December 17th through 23rd - You can see my old O Antiphon posts here, though I am almost done with a post with this years plans. I also have "plans" to finish our O Antiphon House... lol! I think I will wrap up this post right now, and just finish it... I only have a few hours left to get it done before Advent begins!

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires. (Mention your intentions here) Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen.

Say 15 times a day from St. Andrew's Day (30 November), ending on Christmas Eve

Shh! Don't tell them...

... but here is a quick peek at the children's Christmas gifts this year, since some of you have asked me to share.

Our tradition is that each child receives 3 gifts from hubby and I (in addition to their stockings from St. Nick and new pajamas on Christmas Eve) since Our Lord also received 3 gifts. Sometimes, I DO wrap up a few different things to make up "one" of those gifts, and occasionally the children will receive something that is to be shared, but ultimately resulting in 3 gifts for each of them to open.

I was very lazy uncreative when it came to making gifts this year, but I did try to keep things as clutter free (and plastic free!) as possible. I also have been slowly purchasing them since summer, which has made budgeting and watching/waiting for great sales much easier. I am still waiting on a couple of things that should arrive soon, but everything I have is wrapped and ready. It is so nice to have it done before Advent begins!

Here's the list:

Captain and Rascal:
  • Cowboy Rifle with Ammo (I ordered two, one for each of the boys, during a summer sale with a $25 off coupon. They are wrapped separately - one for each of the boys.)
  • An Assortment of Rebels, Red Coats, Union Soldiers, and other Playmobil Figures (which I found at a local toy store, wrapped separately - one package for each of the boys.)
  • Active Life Outdoor Challenge(for both boys)
  • Franklin Street Hockey Set(for both boys)

Twinkle Toes:
  • Fairy Forest Lodge and Puzzle Base (I originally planned on painting this dollhouse for her, but, this pregnancy, painting has been at the very bottom of the list of things I've been up to doing. Well, when I saw this Fairy Lodge I fell in love with it and decided to let the painting go until later. Perhaps I will have the motivation before one of the girls birthdays this coming year!)
  • Mother Teresa Doll
  • Catholic Cuisine Apron (the ones I ordered are actually pictured there right now! Aren't they cute!), Rose Tin Tea Set, and a little set of Wooden Play Food



  • St. Therese Doll
  • Rose Footed One Piece and matching bow fruffle from Gymboree
  • When You Were Very Small (This is the same baby book hubby had as a baby, his was in blue.)
I also have a few gifts to give to the children on various special days during the 12 days of Christmas including The Priest Game and a Music Maker, in addition to a few other treats during the O Antiphons, which I'll share soon.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Very Happy Thanksgiving

... from our family to yours!

Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us. ~ From The Catholic Prayer Book

35 weeks and 6 days...

... and very thankful for reassuring ultrasounds!

Yesterday afternoon I had a regular scheduled appointment for my weekly OB check-up. At the time the appointment was scheduled, I tried to change the date, knowing all too well just how hard it is for me to go to the doctors on the 24th-25th of November, but it had been the only available time.

The beginning of the appointment went well. I spoke with my midwife about this cold I've been trying to get over, and she prescribed me some medicine to help reduce congestion. I got the Group-B Strep Test behind me (still waiting on the results). I measured the same as I did 2 weeks ago due to the baby having "dropped" some more and, by the looks of things, I won't be making it until Christmas. Apparently all these contractions I've been having are making changes! (Thankfully a week from Friday I will be considered "full term!")

However, when my midwife went to listen to the baby's heart it didn't sound quite right. We had noticed a little irregularity about a month ago, which quickly corrected itself at the time, but this time it was very obvious. She called it an arrhythmia (which means irregular heartbeat) and wanted me to go to (my least favorite) hospital to be monitored for awhile. I couldn't believe I was headed back there... what timing!

When I first arrived the nurse couldn't hear what my midwife had heard, but the baby had been sleeping and as soon as she woke up it was once again very noticeable. After a few hours they decided to order an ultrasound and were pleased with what they saw.

They said most of the time these things correct themselves as soon as the baby is born, or soon after. Nevertheless, what an emotional night it was! Please continue to remember us in your prayers. I am more anxious than ever to have her safely delivered and to hold her in my arms!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Highlights from "L" Week

~ Letter Formation ~

In addition to their Modelling Wax letter L's and Lollypops, the girls also worked on making the letter L using Handwriting Without Tears Hands-On Materials and Kimberlee's Grey Block Paper.

~ Lily-of-the-Valley Fairy Coloring Pages ~

I can't seem to find some of the pictures for "L" week since I've waited so long to post... I'll upload them as soon as I locate them. ;)

From this Coloring Book
(While looking at the Flower Fairies Alphabet book and listening to the CD!)

~ Picture Book Science :: L is for Ladybugs ~

The Very Lazy Ladybug
The Grouchy Ladybug
Are You a Ladybug? (Backyard Books)
A Ladybug's Life

And of course, we had to make a Lap book for L week, right?!?

Since I recently received a Ladybugs Project Pack to review, it is the one we used.
I'll post pictures soon!

~ Picture Study :: L is for Light ~

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Grant Wood

By Rascal
Using Museum ABC, Museum ABC Nesting Blocks,
and one of the images printed onto cardstock.

~ L is for St. Lucy ~

Our Painted Saint Lucy,
for with An Alphabet of Catholic Saints

The girls colored the St. Lucy picture from Our Saints Alphabet on CD (50% off for Home Schoolers), worked on copywork from An Alphabet of Catholic Saints (you can print the one I made here), and also colored Charlotte's beautiful coloring pages of St. Lucy of Syracuse. We'll be saving the St. Lucia with Starboy to color next month!

I also ordered Lucia, Saint of Light to add to our celebration for the Feast of St. Lucy which is just around the corner on December 13th. It looks wonderful!

The girls also LOVED coloring, cutting out, and then playing with Saint Lucia Paper Dolls!

We printed out this darling set too!

We also read A Life of Our Lord for Children as a family, since it is also one of our world history read-alouds. What a great book!!

~ Crafts ~

We made a few different crafts this week:

Lanterns for Martinmas

(I also loved these Leaf Votives, but it was raining at the time and seemed like too much work to collect the leaves... Perhaps next fall!)

Santa Lucia Crowns

With the feast of St. Lucy coming up on December 13th, I thought this would be a good opportunity for the girls to make their crowns for this year. They are still not quite finished, but will be soon!

Our Santa Lucia Crown

If you are lucky enough to have a Cricut (I don't, but a friend of mine does!) you can use it to cut out the holley leaves and berries! (That is what we did for last December's Little Flowers Meeting.)

Painting Leaves
(For this year's Thankful Tree, which may end up just being scattered leaves this year! )

~ Serendipi-Tea time ~

Leaves, Ladybugs, and Lemonade! deLicious!!!

Leaf Shaped Cakes and Cookies

I picked up this pan (on clearance at a local store) and made Almond Leaf Mini Cakes, as well as a box of Maple Syrup Cream Cookies from Costco. Oh they are SO yummy! We also read the book Why Do Leaves Change Color?.

Ladybug Rice Cakes

Directions: Spread strawberry jelly on rice cakes to make the ladybug's body. Place raisins on top for the spots.

Ladybug Apples

Directions: Cut a red apple in half to make the ladybug's body. Place pretzel sticks underneath for legs. Using peanut butter, attach marshmallow (for head) and raisins or chocolate chips for spots. Insert two more pretzel sticks into marshmallow for antennas. (We totally forgot this last step this time -- they were in too big of a hurry to eat the ladybugs! lol!)