Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Christmas beginnings...

It is the week of Thanksgiving and our Christmas tree is up and lit and has been so for over a week. From it hangs only one ornament but others will follow soon enough. I do feel a little like I'm cheating Thanksgiving out of some of its autumn glory but last year and for many other years, our Christmas tree only saw the fleeting light of day. 

Last year we were well into December, as in nearing the twenties of the month, before our tree was raised for celebration. Other forms of our usual celebration were cast aside last year as well. Our Advent celebrations which normally happen at least a few times a week during December were, all but our single advent evening, nonexistent. 


Friends, we have arrived at NEXT CHRISTMAS and I'm on a mission. At my mission's core is simplicity. 

Simplicity for the sake of the sacred.

It will be a difficult mission because there is so much good and gallant that can be accomplished in the name of Christmas. Cookies baked together sounds great until the stress of getting them boxed and delivered puts us all at odds with one another.  Christmas cards sent to everyone who ever knew of us are such a nice touch until you find yourself hurling toward the post office for the seventeenth time trying to beat the mailing deadline with 6 more cards you decided to send.  

Before too long at all, the cozy Christmas home of my dreams with carols humming softly in the background becomes a cold undecorated factory with an out-of-control boss lady screaming instructions to weary laborers who secretly roll their eyes and wonder if everyone's Christmas looks like this.


High priority this year shines on our Advent celebration, both as a family AND as members of a faith family with whom we celebrate. I have two new resources to bolster our efforts this year and I'm eager to begin.

First is Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift which is filled with the beauty of her writing and the glory of our Savior. 

Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles by mother-daughter team Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson is a simple straight forward advent guide that is perfect for children and their adults.

So yes, our tree is up and the mantle is decorated. I am not bemoaning the approach of Christmas. I am not dreading it. I am leaning in to the preparation, the eagerness, and the wonder of it all. We've much to anticipate...let's be about the business of the Baby and His arrival because...

It is possible for you to miss it.
To brush past it, to rush through it, to not see how it comes for you up over the edges of everything, quiet and unassuming and miraculous--how every page of he Word has been writing it, reaching for you, coming for you. And you could wake on Christmas only to grasp that you never took the whole of the Gift, the wide expanse of grace.
~Ann Voskamp The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas

Another resource-filled Advent post to consider at The Art of Simple... 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Book All Children (and Richie Incognito) Should Read

Bookshelf space in our home is at a high premium especially for children's books.

Our life is full of books.

Our school curriculum revolves around books and requires a hefty amount of reading aloud as well as individual reading.

Normal conversations around our home begin, "Hey Dad! I finished my book today!" or "What are you enjoying reading lately?" and often "Do you have time to read to me before bedtime? Pleeeeeeezzzzeeee?"

We are faithful, fine-paying library patrons and lately we've taken to ordering more and more school books and "for fun" book to read on e-readers, a large factor being a lack of shelf space.

Earlier today, Kate and Molly and I finished a book that earned its place on the shelf with my favorite childhood books. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes sits now beside my 30 year old Ballet Shoes series by Noel Streatfeild and the Betsy-Tacy books by Maude Hart Lovelace.

 I didn't read The Hundred Dresses as a child, neither did I read it to Cole and Meg when they were younger though I think Meg may have enjoyed it on her own.

I feel strongly, that every child should read it or have it read to them.

The Hundred Dresses is a story mostly about three little girls, two of whom are best friends and the third who is delicately, slightly, demurely but absolutely ridiculed by the two friends. That the story is told from the point of view of the cute little bullies causes the story to communicate on a deeper level than that of a story told from the prospective of ridiculed.

At a slight 78 pages of large print this book is neither uncomfortable in its plot, nor uncomfortably stressing as a result of its theme. The author beautifully tells a story about these three girls and how very much their lives affected and instructed one another's.

Published in 1944, and not as a response to headlines of recent days, this book is filled with beautiful watercolor paintings and a simple straightforward message for children and adults alike. If it can be said that there exists a beautiful book about bullying, this is it.

The Hundred Dresses is a book that can easily be read aloud to children as young as Molly (5) in three sittings or can be read on one's own in much shorter time for older children. I think though that the optimal way to enjoy this book is aloud to as many children as you can get in a room so that it can be talked about and learned from together.

Click here for the Amazon.com link and here for more information about this lovely read.

“Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled, ‘This could change your life.’”
-Helen Exley

Saturday, November 9, 2013

When You're Hot You're Hot

The girls had been playing upstairs so pleasantly and for such a long time that we'd let them stay up way past their bedtime. The activity that had captured them this evening was a coloring book of sorts with stencils with which they were tracing clothes on the pre-printed silhouettes of bodies.

Every 10 minutes or so one of the girls would come down the stairs, page in hand and ask how we liked the outfit she'd created, proud of her creativity and color choice. Between fashion pages, my Man and Cole and I enjoyed watching a football game and reading on the couch.

It was one of those evenings that happens what seems like once a year. Everybody was doing exactly what they wanted to be doing while getting along with one another and it had lasted for more than 7 minutes. Perfect.


{You knew this was coming didn't ya?}

"Mom, Dad!! Look at my girl, she looks HOT! " said the FIVE-year-old.

These moments, they do happen. Why was my sweet little Molly using the word HOT in such context? This is not how we communicate an appreciation of beauty in our home. Where did Molly learn to use the phrase. What have I exposed her to? Can't she just stay little for a bit longer?

What kind of a mother am I? What kind of a family are we?

With deep curiosity and a heathy measure of nervousness I asked, "Molly, what do you mean by HOT?"

"I mean," she said with conviction, "she looks like she's just been burnt !"

She held her fashion page out for me to inspect and indeed, as I studied, I found myself in complete agreement. The poor girl did look burnt as she'd been colored about the face in various hues of red and orange and pink.

{Sound of muffled snickering from the other end of the couch...}

"Crisis" averted...for now.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Magically Delicious!

I could hear her feet approaching. I looked at the clock, it was time to get up and face the thirty degree morning. Before I could get my reluctant feet on the floor though, she climbed in on her daddy's side and maneuvered over him and snuggled in between us. She propped an extra pillow under her and turned the TV to one of her favorite morning cartoons. Grabbing my hand and holding it close to her, she got lost in her show and I drifted back into my pillow. Not a bad way to begin a Monday morning.

Until her belly started growling.

"Mamma, can I have my Lucky Charms for breakfast?"

"Well, don't you think we should finish some of the other cereals first, we have too many opened boxes in the cabinet already."

"Mooooommmmmm, Lucky Charms are so healthy. They have marshmallows and marshmallows have protein!"

Oh good grief!

Happy Monday!

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