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Our Advent Traditions.

December 3, 2017


 
I love how many of you who visit each day are from different countries and different faiths! I appreciate that from time to time you graciously allow me to share tidbits of mine. This season of Advent before Christmas is one I look forward to all year because it is filled with traditions, preparation, hope, and the chance to start anew. I wanted to share a few of these advent traditions with you in case you were also hoping to find renewal in this season on your own or with your family.
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Advent Calendar Crush.

November 21, 2016

 

Advent starts this weekend, and I readily admit I am a tad ambitious when it comes to advent calendars. I find them all so enticing as they represent a time of waiting, hope, and inner change. I thought I would share a few new ones I found this year if you are looking to add one to your traditions…

advent calendar 

This illustrated advent calendar caught my eye, as it is visually stunning. Even better, it has a verse written on the back for each day you pull a card. Since advent is a spiritual experience for our family, I am excited to use this one as part of our bedtime routine this advent. You can find this one on etsy from Coley Created shop.

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6 Advent Calendar Ideas.

December 4, 2015

advent calendar of books

 

 
My sister gave me the idea of wrapping up books as an advent countdown. We put away our Christmas books during the year so they are like new to my little ones when we unpack them each year. So I wrapped up the current stack, added a few new ones, numbered them, and put them above their advent service list. Since we already read books each night, this is a fun twist to December. Some of them are advent books and some are just children’t Christmas books. (Found the wrapping paper from Waiting on Martha)

Here are 10 other advent calendar ideas I thought were really clever: VIEW FULL POST

Inside our Advent gift box.

November 29, 2015

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Every year as my children grow, Gabe and I are trying really hard to be more intentional about the traditions we start with them. There were so many for me growing up that I really loved and carried with me, and now I get to pass those along to my little ones as well as start a few new ones. 

 
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Christmas magic
 
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ornaments
 advent box // the giving manger
 Advent box // The Giving Manger
 

Since today is the first day of Advent (which means ” coming”…cool right?), we decided to start a new tradition of giving the kids an advent box the night before. Since Advent gives us four whole weeks to prepare for Christmas, I wrote down a bunch of ideas to encourage them to have giving hearts this season and focus on the significance of the Christmas Story.  It’s also an awesome opportunity to teach them about patience….waiting for something great.  And while my four year old can barely wait a whole 60 seconds for me to give her snack when she requests it, a whole 4 weeks is not in her realm of understanding. I keep having to remind her that no, Christmas is not tomorrow morning. I totally get her in that regard. I don’t want to really wait either and I’d rather party and celebrate now and all four weeks rather than wait for the 12 days of Christmas, but I know I need this time. I really need this time to learn from the journey part. The part of the story where there is a lot of waiting and hoping and praying for the newborn king. 

Here is what we put in the advent box:
Ornaments to decorate their little tree
Lights to string across the mantle
Garland 
The Giving Manger 
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (One of the best ways to unfold the story of Christmas. We read this and light an advent candle each night. And here is the book I am reading.)

The Giving Manger comes with the wooden creche, baby Jesus, hay pieces, and a book. For every giving good deed that they do during advent, they get to put a piece of hay in the manger to keep baby Jesus warm. This is a tradition my own mother started when I was young so it holds a lot of nostalgia for me and I was so happy to find the set.

I wasn’t sure how they would respond since there was no sweets or toys involved, but to my surprise they were a few notches above amused and just one or two notches below ecstatic. I’d call it a win.

Here are the items I wrote down for them to choose to do each day:

  • Write someone a Christmas card and put it in the mail.
  • Make your brother or sister’s bed for them in the morning.
  • Donate some coats to the homeless coat drive.
  • Make baked goods to bring to our neighbors.
  • Say Merry Christmas to someone you don’t know.
  • Make some friends at the local nursing home.
  • Hold the door open for a stranger when we are out and about.
  • Bring somebody special a Christmas tree.
  • Make something for the mailman to say thank you.
  • Buy and wrap some toys to donate or give some of their own.
  • Gather supplies for a Christmas meal to give to the food bank.
  • Make a thoughtful gift for their teachers.
  • Let someone go in line before them.

Any ideas to add to the list? We are all ears. Also, if you are of a different faith, what are your holiday traditions? I really enjoy hearing about them.

Happy Advent to those who celebrate and cheers the start of the most wonderful time of the year!

P.S. A good advent playlist and how I fought for more peace and less chaos last year.

Items featured:

Advent detox. (And a playlist!)

December 8, 2014

DIY Boxwood Wreath via Poppytalk
(Hoping to tackle this project on Poppytalk!)

Gabe always asks me in the weeks leading up to Christmas day if I want to open up my one of my gifts early. I am ALWAYS tempted, but the answer is always the same. It would take the fun away from the actual day of Christmas! He waits all year for this holiday, so I don’t blame him, and I often feel like a little kid who wants to peek through the wrapping paper to find out what is inside while no one is looking.

I am learning with each year, that the peace Christmas promises has to be fought for.  Every time the temptations come to unwrap the party early, to buy, eat, shop, or be merry, I have to ask myself if it will actually make room for more peace, and less chaos. I don’t want to fall for the traps this year of the fancy bells and wrapping. I know you can fill yourself full of all very good things, but there is no room left for the great things. The things you cannot quite verbally describe but fill your body and soul with an unearthly joy. That joy that beamed out of a humble stable on that first Christmas over 2000 years ago…

I guess this is why it is more quiet than usual on the blog and social media these days. Just trying to make room for inner renewal, and make as much time as possible to encourage  more purpose filled traditions in my little family.

Here are a few concrete ways we are trying to make this happen this year. An advent detox of sorts;)

1) I said no to Christmas cards. Gasp! I know, its horrible. But they are always a challenge for me to organize every year, and get them out the door. Going to find alternative ways to keep in touch with family and friends this year. 

2) Kept my calendar clean. Hustle and bustle is so easy to slip into. I had such a whirlwind year that I decided to keep my calendar free and take each day as it came. No commitments, but a true effort to do what was best for my family each day instead of the month turning into a string of events. We have many things we want or hope to do this, but keeping only the most important as a priority and the rest can come as it may.

3) Minimal shopping – Gabe and I LOVE to give gifts, and usually bite off more than we can chew with who we want to give gifts to. We decided that instead of spending all the time running errands, standing in line, and shopping online for gifts, we would keep the list very minimal, BAKE gifts,  and use the rest of the money for our favorite charities and spontaneous giving. (This has already brought us some incredible experiences!)

4) Saving the best Christmas movies/music for last. My personal favorites like It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Bishop’s Wife, etc. always deliver the Christmas spirit on a platter for me, and so I am trying oh so hard to save the best for the last week before Christmas, and the 12 days after.

5) Service. We hope that starting the tradition to serve our community, neighbors, family, etc. will become something our children look forward to. We looked into different opportunities in surrounding areas, and found places to volunteer and donate items or time. When Gabe and I first started dating, we met a very lonely women in meager circumstances who we would visit each week just so she had someone to laugh at her jokes and make sure she was okay. I think there are so many people who just need to know they are loved. This is my goal for not only in the coming weeks, but for the coming year. To let people know they are valued.

6) Reading. I don’t ever take time to read anymore and I am a former bookworm. Words move and shake me like only music can, so I am setting aside time each morning to read Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, and it has been such a good way to keep me focused. The book for little ones is what we take excerpts from for the kids each night to help connect the dots for them about what Christmas is truly about.

Would love to hear some of the ways to add to this list! How do you all serve your community, or what projects you do for friends and family to give around this time of year? Leaving you all with an advent playlist with songs that are great for this preparation time for the 12 days of Christmas:) Any I should add to the playlist?

Smoky Mountain Camping Adventure

September 3, 2014

It was a weekend of first time experiences for our fam:) I bought Gabe a family size tent a few years ago and we finally got the chance to break it in over Labor Day weekend. We met my sister Tricia and her family in the Smoky Mountains for two nights of fending for ourselves;)

 

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Family Threads: Weekend Adventures

March 11, 2013

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Gabe// Shirt: Gap, Cords: Old Navy
Anna// Shirt: Sheinside, Necklace: c/o Chicpeek, F21, Sunnies: UO, Wrap Bracelet: c/o Iristy
Gabriel// Jacket: Gap, Button down: Old Navy, Jeans: Gap (all consigned)
Veronica// Leggings: Old Navy, Shirt: Carters, Sweater: ON, Shoes: ebay, Headband: madeSpring decided to stay more than 24 hours this weekend so we crammed in as much outdoor time as we could. Everything is an adventure through little sets of eyes…even if its to your local greenhouse.

#WAALove – Things I want to remember:
How enthralled V gets with anything in the sky….birds, planes, and balloons top her list.
The way Gabriel tries to hold her hand whenever we are in public. Except half the time, Veronica would rather pull away and do things independently.
How happy my husband gets when he has time in his yard getting his hands in soil. Its a language I want to know more about. He helped me pick out a few succulents for my kitchen windowsill because.. we both know I can’t kill those.Things I wouldn’t mind forgetting:
How Veronica screams at the top of her lungs anytime we leave….anywhere.  
And boy does she have a set of lungs. Might even be a future opera singer.
Which is usually why I don’t brave the public on my own…Gabe is better at tackling the flailing sprout. Happy Monday friends!

The new Wide Angle App is running a fun contest to win a Canon Rebel T4i! Yeah, worthy of entering!
You just have add a photo on Instagram or Twitter that includes you and add #WAALove, and email to: wideangle.com/contest. Full details here!

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