Celebrating the Days of Advent: 12/02/12

Last year the kids made a paper chain to keep track of the days of Advent. I don’t mind the chocolate Advent calendars as they were tradition in our house but I wanted them to attach more meaning to the Advent season and the paper chain was a wonderful way to remind them that Christmas was more than a daily chocolate and presents from Santa.

We didn’t make it to church this weekend because of Buddy and weren’t able to get this week’s chain so I went over to Catholic Mom and found the printable Advent chain here.

The site suggests printing out the strips of paper on colored paper but we aren’t that fancy. The kids just colored the strips and put the chain together themselves.

12/2: Light the first candle of your Advent wreath

This was a wreath M made in catechism class last year. It is a paper plate decorated with foam leaves and candle flames and candles made out of wood blocks.


I bought this wreath from the craft fair a few weeks ago. It was a plain gold ring with gold candle holders. A wanted to make paper leaves but ended up going with the red tinsel. I think it’s perfect.


Celebrating the days of Advent: 12/7- 12/23

A wonderful homecoming for all soldiers flying in that evening.

We have gotten a bit behind. We had to pick up someone from the airport last Friday.

Kids' signs say "Daddy". Mine says, "Any sailor will do."

A gift from the Patriot Riders

Back of the tag

Typically, Advent colors are Deep Purple & Rose which are represented by the Advent Candles. However, our priest is starting a new tradition changing Deep Purple to BLUE to better reflect the Advent spiritual season in which we are all JOYFULLY anticipating Christ’s Birth. Mary is the Patronness of Advent and her color is also BLUE.

There were many days we did not have time to complete each task on the chain. We finished activities on different days that were suggested and there were a few things could not do for various reasons (i.e. missing the mass on the Holy Day of Obligation).

But our children eagerly anticipated each activity. We reflected as a family what it meant to love, to give, to forgive, and to think of others’ daily and often.

They still believe in Santa. But they also know that giving is more meaningful than getting.

Mission accomplished.

11/27- Light the 1st Candle on your Advent Wreath.
11/28- Write “I Love You” notes to your parents and hide them under their pillows.
11/29- Offer to set the table for dinner.
11/30- Ask a parent for permission to make popcorn for your family.
12/1- Look up at the wonder of the night sky tonight and say thanks to God.
12/2- Be nice to someone you do not like a lot.
12/3- Offer to say grace at mealtime. Suggest your family hold hands around the table while you say it.
12/4- Light 2 candles on your Advent Wreath.
12/5- Clean your bedroom without being asked.
12/6- Read about Saint Nicholas, whose feast day is today.
12/7- Make a Christmas card for your favorite teacher and give it to them.
12/8- Go to church as a family for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Holy Day of Obligation).
12/9- Make a special ornament for each family member from old Christmas cards.
12/10- Get a Christmas story or poem from the library and read it to your family.

12/11- Light 3 candles on your Advent Wreath.
12/12- Make a Christmas card for an elderly neighbor.
12/13- Mail the card you made yesterday and say a prayer for your neighbor.
12/14- Practice singing Christmas carols.
12/15- Cut out lace paper snowflakes for your window.
12/16- Offer to help in wrapping presents.
12/17- Suggest making Christmas cookies as a family.

12/18- Light 4 candles on your Advent Wreath.
12/19- Say a prayer for all the world’s hungry people.
12/20- Make hot chocolate as a family
12/21- Take some Christmas cookies to a sick or elderly friend
12/22- Hug everyone in your family today.
12/23- Invite your family for a winter walk and afterwards praise God for winter gifts.
12/24- Read Luke 2:-1-20 with your family and then set up your Christmas Creche/ Nativity Scene.

12/25- Light all your candles and the white one on your Advent Wreath. Celebrate a joyful Christmas by going to mass.

This activity is from this link at Catholic Mom.

Celebrating the days of Advent: 12/2

We live on a quiet cul de sac with fifteen houses, about two dozen children, and a bazillion felines and canines. Not to mention the actual farm at the end of the road with actual cows and actual horses. [Can I just tell you how scary it is to hear a cow moo for the first time in the middle of the night? It sounds like a Scooby Doo show when those darn kids realize that the ghost making those eerie sounds was actually Old Man Jenkins!]

Life in a cul de sac hangs on a very delicate balance. Which kids rule? Who has been here the longest? Which mom bakes the best cookies? (Um. That would be MOI.)

Imagine my surprise when last week the three kids across the street told the middle daughter A that they did not want to play with her anymore.

Excuse me? Did I just not bring candy AND lumpia AND cupcakes to you and your family on Halloween?

[Yes, I sheepishly admit I thought it but I did not say it out loud to A. I don’t think.]

And while middle daughter A is admittedly sassy, she is the most loyal friend anyone will ever have.

Needless to say she was heartbroken. I suspect that maybe one day she accidentally ignored them when they said hi or most likely, that day she was hanging out with her older brother and another kid from his class who is usually nice one-on-one but watch out if you get on his bad side. He will truly make your life a living hell so most kids in his class, including my own, make an effort to play with him. Sad that they have to learn the old adage, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” at such a young age.

Later we went to the gym and after I picked the kids up from the play area, A was so happy and even turned to wave good-bye to a little girl she was playing with.

A said, “She is my new friend! Now I only need to make two more friends!”

Ahhh… how sad. She “lost” three friends and felt like she needed to replace them with that exact number.

I asked her (and I wonder why she is so sassy), “So what if you meet a lot of new friends? You only will have room for two more friends?”

She gave me a Look. Yep, she has the Teacher Look down. Or the Mommy Look. I use them synonymously I can’t tell which one I am using.

So when we helped the lead teacher of our children’s ministry get the Advent paper chains together, A noticed this particular one right away. In the midst of our glueing and cutting marathon, she said that she was going to “talk to those kids across the street”.

Be nice to someone you don’t like a lot

"I know that you do not like me a lot I am just so sad that you do not like me a lot I just want to"

"say hi but you wuld not like it marry christmas! I love you! you love whith hart I'm so sorry. you love whith star"

This activity is from this link at Catholic Mom.

Celebrating the days of Advent: 11/29

I recently went to pick up a few Christmas presents from a Christian store and um… I was a little bothered that there were several statues of Santa Claus carrying Baby Jesus. I mean, I know I am not the bestest Catholic ever and until this year my children (yes, I am going to admit this, eek!) thought Advent calendars were just for eating chocolate but that concept of the red Coca-Cola Santa carrying the baby is a bit too much for me.

But I will say that it isn’t a Texas Christmas without a plastic, lighted Nativity scene on your lawn. When we were stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, there were at least two on every block! Really! And as much as I thought those too were tacky, I told my husband that he absolutely HAD TO GET ONE when he goes to San Antonio next month to get his new leg brace. What can I say? Those displays have grown on me, they remind me of Texas (yeah, that and 3 liter bottles of soda, I kid you not) and now I kinda want one. Can anyone in Texas save one for us?

A couple of months ago R went to San Antonio to get fitted for a new leg brace and he gets it after the New Year. He’ll be there for a month getting adjustments made and going through P/T.

I asked him what he thought of his new brace and do you know what he said?

He said, “It is so awesome. I feel like I am cheating when I have it on.”

OMG. (I probably said that too.) I said, “Uh… no. That’s how badly you were injured! You feel like any extra help is cheating!”

Anyway, not only do we have the paper chain counting the days of Advent but we have a 3-D one made with lamb characters (!), another with Bible verses behind each day, and the all too familiar chocolate Advent calendars (one for each kid). Unfortunately the other ones do not start until December 1st but I look forward to sharing this reinvented tradition with the kids.

Offer to set the table for dinner

They usually do this anyway but it was nice that I didn’t have to tell them although the oldest said, “It [the paper chain] only says to OFFER, not ACTUALLY DO IT.” That’s nice.

This activity is from this link at Catholic Mom.

Celebrating the days of Advent: 11/28

The middle child made our Advent paper chain today.

Last night I bought R’s plane ticket for Christmas. My friend dropped off her two kids to run an errand and as many of you know, if you add just the right number of kids to your own, the sum will always be ZERO.

While I have reached my 50K word goal for NaNoWriMo, my novel is far from actually being done. While I may have five children upstairs, it feels like zero so put a pot of coffee on with me and we’ll toast to finishing what we start and Lady Gaga blaring from the girls’ room.

Write “I Love You” notes to your parents and hide them under their pillows

This activity is from this link at Catholic Mom.

Celebrating the days of Advent: 11/27

I am quite embarassed to admit this but I allowed the birth of each child determine how often we attended mass. When my husband and I got married and discussed having children, we (he) agreed that our children would be raised Catholic and even attends mass with us when he is home.

My own church-going habits fluctuated throughout different points of my life for different reasons. I attended church again after we got married, while he deployed, and after the birth of our son.

I know some military spouses prefer finding a parish off base but I enjoyed attending mass at the chapel on base everywhere we have been stationed. Every city we were stationed may as well have been in a foreign country. Every region, let alone every city, has their own culture and customs that I felt too overwhelmed to try and adapt to.

I was on my own with a newborn. I had a lot of things going through my mind. Catholic mass felt like being home when I had no idea what the definition of home was. There is the expression of “Home is where the heart is” but if a big piece of your heart is deployed, where is home?

For many Sundays, home was a chapel with people who I believe where searching for the same thing. There were families, some with both parents, most with one. There were soldiers there by themselves, probably like me, thousands of miles from their nearest family members.

My favorite memory of Fort Gordon is bringing M to mass when he was a few months old. I sang and swayed slightly to the music (I can’t help it! Mass or club, party or car– I feel music inside of me bursting to come out!) and heard what sounded like a little lion cub. I looked down and this chubby little boy with fair skin and black hair and ears as big as Daddy’s grinned. I giggled and we sang together for dozens of Sundays afterward.

When we moved to Goodfellow AFB, M was a toddler and could not sit still. He was no longer singing along but babbling and asking questions during mass. Needless to say, that didn’t last very long.

At JEB Little Creek, the chapel had a… cry room. PHEW! I had not seen a cry room (a separate and usually soundproof room inside the chapel and allows you to be seen and not heard) since I was a child. A never sat still and crawled in and out of the pews while L was content sitting in my lap. Luckily everyone who sits in the cry room knows what is in store for them. Not that I let my children run wild in the cry room, but there were no Looks from others if and when my children got too loud.

This was about the time that M started asking about God and church and to be brutally honest, I did not know how to answer a lot of his questions so we set out to find answers together. We would attend mass early on Sunday and head over to Barnes & Noble to read a books about religion. I bought these books occasionally and now we have quite the collection, including a graphic novel of the Bible illustrated by one of the artists from Marvel comics!

When we finally moved out to California, we found a parish two miles from our home that a lot of children from the kids’ school attend. We, including R and my friends and family, have been welcomed into the community as if we had attended all of our lives…

So welcomed that we volunteer for various ministries… and often!

Though today is the first day of Advent, we will not begin our special project until tomorrow. One of the ministries shared an Advent calendar that the children get to cut up strips of paper commemorating each day of Advent and glue these strips together to form a paper chain. Each day has a special activity that we can do as a family.

Please join us as we celebrate the days of Advent. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Light the first Candle on your Advent Wreath

This activity is from this link at Catholic Mom.