Sunday, December 1, 2013

First Day of Advent ... and More

Dec 1st is the first day of Advent this year and it's also the first year that we will be celebrating it as a family. I have not completely converted to The Church yet, however, my husband was raised Catholic and my children are being raised Catholic as well. 

I will be attempting to make a Preschool friendly version of the Advent wreath tonight using a few ideas that our good friends over at Learning Life with 3 Sons gave me on Friday while they were visiting. Mamma J is great for thinking outside of the box!

This year, to help us with our Advent journey we are doing a combination of materials that I found at both Holy Heroes and Confessions of a Homeschooler . Yes, I could have just used one or the other to do these lessons as both of them are complete. However, they do seem to work nicely with each other and it gives my children a more visual aspect (which is important most days to the Cracker Jacks) with Holy Heroes videos and there's more audio as well for Peanut than just Mommy reading aloud.

So, on this first day of Advent I introduced the children to Holy Heroes and let them watch the videos, and listen to the audios, for the first day. I printed off some coloring sheets which all of the children enjoy (yes, even ECJ at eleven years old). We made our Jesse Tree to hang where our Thankful wall had previously been. Colored and hung our first ornaments on the tree as well. 

 The children's theory on a multi-color tree? Jacob had a coat of many colors, so our Jesse Tree can be of many colors. Well, it sure is original :-)

Another, semi-tradition, in our home is to decorate for any holiday on the first day of the month that that holiday falls in. Some years we decorate a few weeks early and some years we fall a week or two behind. But, this is generally how we do it. (I snuck in a winter window cling in our china/book hutch a few days after Halloween...)

Being in a new home, and that home being one big DIY project, we are not quite ready to put up a tree inside the house yet. We're opting for a real tree this year as it's been a couple of years since we've had one, and actually we prefer them. Some decorations are already up inside of the house, however. My small village is now on top of the entertainment center in the living room across from the school room area. I did change one or two things after these pictures were taken but you can get the general idea. There's a church (picture on left) where my children insist that all of the town's residents go each Sunday and for Christmas mass. The other part of the village buildings consist of: a toy store, a sandy/candy shop, an antique store, and the village station. There's only two vehicles allowed in town; the fire truck and the taxi cab (my children say there's no need for police as the town is crime free). There are only 5 free standing people which includes 3 children and a mother and a father. With about five more people standing on the church steps. I'm hoping that this year or next year I can find a good size match nativity scene to place in front of the church or the center of town. Eventually I'd like to make this a larger village, sort of like my mother had when I was a child, but for now this makes me happy every year.

Something that I can tell is going to become a new Christmas tradition in our family is decorating the sun porch for Christmas. The children like the idea of having a "porch tree" and were eager to get a picture in front of it as soon as we were finished with the porch. There's a few wreaths, some fake mistletoe, and a sign or to up inside of that porch as well. Within the week our outside lights will be up which will make the whole front of the house festive for the holidays. The children think that the best thing in life right now is that they get 3 trees for Christmas this year, the Jesse Tree, our "porch tree", and our real indoor tree. Personally, I think that they may just have something there.
Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the Thankful wall before I took it down. But, ECJ was kind enough earlier today to write up a list of everything that we'd posted on the wall during the month, and how many times it was up there (all from different people).

What we are thankful for:
Gaga (Grandma) - 1
Dog - 1
Mom - 3
Caitie - 1
Fancy (bird) - 1
Cat - 1
Hope - 2
Noni - 2
Church - 1
Mother Mary - 1
Jesus - 2
God - 1
Kids who do their chores - 1
Dad - 3
Family - 1
House - 2
The World - 1
Sky - 1
Education - 1
Papa - 1
Brothers - 1
Food - 2
Christmas - 1
Art supplies - 1
Animals - 1
Plants - 1
Everyone - 1
Halloween - 1
A Working Vehicle - 1
Trees - 2
Stars - 1
Logan - 1

Nope, I didn't coach them whatsoever on any of these. And two of these are so obviously mine. I am very proud of my children for their choices and what they are thankful for ... I did notice that there is not one toy listed. Maybe I'm doing better at teaching them about the important things in life than I thought.

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  1. Wow, so many people celebrate Advent. I guess I shouldn't be surprised being the number of Catholics in this world. I'm actually shocked that I have never ever heard of it before (read the sentence before this one). I am totally oblivious of the tradition. However, I must say that I am enjoying learning.

    Thanks so you so much for this post.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post Lisa! This year most of my family, including myself, are learning as well since this is the first time we're celebrating it. My husband did as a child but until this year it's been an abstract concept to the rest of us. :-)