The Best Christmas Gift

birth

Providence Hospital
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:30 PM
Hour One of Labor

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Welcome to the World
Thursday, December 20, 2012 12:40 AM

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Born 11 days early
Original Due Date: New Year’s Eve

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6 lbs 4 oz 18 in
Tiny and Perfect

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Sweet Baby Girl

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Proud Sister and Brother meeting Baby Sister for the First Time

Handcrafted Advent Calendar :: Preparing for the Christ Child

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For our little family, trying to adhere to the Church’s liturgical seasons as much as possible, I have always resorted to crafting a new Advent calendar for the children each year.

While there are many lovely Advent calendars available for purchase, (like this lovely Kurt Adler Wooden Nativity Advent Calendar with 24 Magnetic Figures, or this: 24 Days of Christmas Musical Animated Holiday Advent Calendar 17.5″, or this one here: 17″ Magnetic and Wooden Nutcracker Suite Children’s Advent Calendar Set….), the yearly crafting extravaganza is mainly in part to my own stubbornness not being able  to stumble across a ready made, reusable, wooden calendar that contains no fewer than 28 days, (since Advent can range from 22-28 days depending on how the Sundays fall), and is not dosed in evergreen and crimson, (because I want my children to enjoy the WAITING of Advent before Christmas actually arrives!).

Well, after a stroll through the local craft store in search of a birthday gift for my mother, I just happened to stumble upon this wonderful and inexpensive chipboard Advent calendar among the seasonal decor.

Much like this one from Karen Foster!

I just knew that with a little ingenuity, I would be able to craft a reusable calendar  just like I envisioned (finally!).

Although this particular ready made chipboard calendar only contains 25 drawers, I was able to purchase 3 extra, giving me the maximum 28 days that can occur in certain year’s seasons.  In those years when Advent is a little longer, I will just place the extra boxes on the top ledge–not quite ideal, but it will do!

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I wanted our calendar to reflect the liturgical colors of violet and rose, so using violet card stock, I was able to cover the dull brown chipboard on all four sides, as well as the back of the box. Each drawer was then either painted in varying shades of violet or covered with extra card stock scraps. I even made sure to have one drawer covered in rose for Guadete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent.

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Once everything was covered or painted, I then printed out last year’s Advent Calendar Tags onto heavy card stock.

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And since I want the calendar to be reused for many years to come, I chose to adhere Velcro dots to the front of each drawer so that the tags can be interchangeable throughout the years. This will allow for the calendar to reflect the Advent season’s featured feast days regardless of when the days actually fall in a given year.

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Just as with last year’s paper tube Advent calendar, I then filled each drawer with a daily activity, treat, or surprise for the children to discover each morning of Advent, (which I am sure they will be happy to admit is their favorite part of the whole thing!)

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We have been using our calendar since last Sunday, and it is holding up nicely. Each drawer moves easily in and out of it’s little cubbie, so I am sure that this calendar will last for years to come (as well as to  help create lasting memories for our family)!

Holy Heroes Advent Adventure (Pssst! It’s Free!)

From the same lovely family that brought us all on our Lenten Adventure and a week of Summer Faith Adventure, comes another fun filled Catholic learning opportunity— Advent Adventure!

Free and emailed straight to your inbox you and your little ones can have a fun faith filled Advent right at home!

Sign up and join the Holy Heroes team   to learn all about Advent traditions and practices, the saints, and Our Lord, Jesus Christ!

And Mom and Dad, you will benefit, too, by having an opportunity to save on some amazing Holy Heroes products with your own discount code.  Take a look through the Holy Heroes Store— They have lots of awesome books, CDs and coloring books to help you celebrate Advent and our Catholic faith with your family! (And it’s just in time for gift giving!)

Advent begins in just a couple of weeks, (YIKES!), so you don’t want to miss out on this free fun!  Sign up today!

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Celebrating Advent :: New Additions to the Advent Book Basket

Throughout the years it has become a family tradition to celebrate Advent by feasting on a trove of picture books, (at least one for each day!), all while snuggled up in front of a fire in the family room.  Some of our favorited titles are becoming quite tired though,  so over the long weekend I spent some time at the library freshening up the Advent Book Basket with some new titles.

Here’s a peek at a few of the new books that will be awaiting the children each evening this year:

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The Birds of Bethlehem by Tomie dePaola

Thanks to our local Librarian, (a lovely God-send who often pulls things aside for me), I stumbled across this lovely new title from Tomie dePaola. This book is newly published, (as of this October!) and like all of Tomie’s previous work is just beautiful–both in story and illustrations!

“This inventive and fresh Nativity story is told from a bird’s-eye view. On the morning of the first Christmas, the birds of Bethlehem gather in the fields–not only to eat but to share the exciting news. People from all over have descended on Bethlehem and an angel has appeared in the night sky. Something extraordinary is coming! The birds agree that they must find this wondrous thing, and off they fly to the stable where a child has been born.”

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The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park

This is another new title to our local library and I was happy to get my hands on one of the few copies in our city’s system. Along with the heartwarming story, the ending author’s note is a wonderful little history lesson that I’m sure will spur a rabbit trail in our house!

“The three wise men, or the three kings, are familiar figures in the Christmas tradition. Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park has taken the brief biblical references to the three as the starting point for a new story. In it we meet a boy who is learning his father’s trade; a man who gathers resin from certain trees; a merchant in the marketplace; and three strangers in brightly colored robes who are shopping for a gift for a baby. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline with exquisite paintings, this simple, moving tale of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary event brings new resonance to the well-known gift list of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

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Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd-Jones

This is a sweet little picture book that I know my son will be fond of with all of the animals throughout. I’m sure he will be chanting, “It’s time! It’s time!” with the turning of the pages.

“The skies shouted it to the seas that thundered it to the waves that roared it to the great white whales that sang it to the starfish in the deep. And tiny sandpipers danced it on shining sands… ‘It’s time! It’s time!’ On one quiet night, creation whispered a secret. Grass and bees, robins and trees all spread the word. Sheep told their young while angels sang the song to the shepherds. Hushed news of a miracle echoed to the ends of the earth. The moment had come. The long-awaited child had arrived! Creation cried out in celebration, but only a few people heard. Only a few joined nature’s chorus, a song in praise of the newborn King.”

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Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel by Shirley Climo

This little book is a nod to my children’s German ancestry. I really enjoyed the interjected vocabulary and how Tante spends much time preparing for Christmas, (like Strega Nona in Merry Christmas, Strega Nona!), making it a perfect fit for Advent.

“Everybody loves Christmas at Tante’s. The old lady decorates a wonderful tree and makes certain to have something for all who come to visit, be it the nearby village children or the shy animals of the pine forest. The only creatures Tante overlooks are the spiders she has swept out of her cottage while cleaning. But the curious spiders want to come inside and see Tante’s tree, too. When a midnight visitor lets them into the old lady’s home, they unknowingly spin Tante the very gift she has longed for–a gift that has inspired the draping of tinsel on Christmas trees ever since.”

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You can find the other titles that will be placed around our hearth this year by visiting the archives.

Have you stumbled upon any new titles in preparation for this year’s Advent season? Please share!

 

Celebrating Advent :: Preparing for the Christ Child

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In just a couple of weeks time, Advent will arrive!

Our family really enjoys this liturgical season in the Church. During Advent, my husband and I try our best to help our children prepare their hearts for the arrival of the Christ Child by keeping alive treasured family traditions and adding a new one or two each year. We also celebrate the lives of the saints whose feast fall throughout the season.

I have shared some of our family traditions here with you all before, and have noticed that searches through the archives for ideas for your own families have been occurring lately– I thought you all might appreciate being able to find them all in one place!

Below is a gathering, a feast of ideas, to help you along your faith journeys in your own homes. I hope they will bless in some way!

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Handcrafted Catholic Advent Calendar

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Advent Countdown Activity Calendar (PRINTABLE)

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Celebrating the New Liturgical Church Year (PRINTABLE)

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Advent Book Basket for Children (2011)

New Additions to the Advent Book Basket (2012)

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advent adult book basket

Advent Book Basket for Adults

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Catholic Advent Lapbook (PRINTABLE)

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St. Andrew Christmas Novena (PRINTABLE)

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November 30

Feast of St. Andrew

(Doesn’t fall in Advent this year–But still fun to celebrate!)

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Holy Heroes Advent Adventure

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December 6

Feast of St. Nicholas (2011)

Feast of St. Nicholas (2010)

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Letters from St. Nicholas (PRINTABLE)

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December 9

Feast of St. Juan Diego

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December 12

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Already have plans in mind for the Advent season? Share how you will celebrating with all of us in the comments!