(picture us eating)
(picture us eating some more)
(picture us eating)
(picture us eating some more)
Here we go. This year’s advent calendar. An advent calendar with little bags that allow me the option of filling them with a little wooden coin with an activity written on it or, on those days when doing any extra activity would put me in a decidedly UN-adventy mood, candy. The cheap side of me wanted to fill ‘em up with leftover Halloween candy, but since I’ve already eaten most of the good stuff, I figured I’d splurge a little on some special candies for them. As for the activities, they range from watching a Christmas movie to decorating their rooms. We’ve also been working with the kids on earning a commission/allowance for doing work around the house, so this year one of the activities will be for each of them to go out on a little mama/papi date and buy their siblings a little gift with the money they’ve earned. They’re actually really excited about this part.
The scrapbook paper circles and mini clothespins are repurposed from past years’ advent garlands. I couldn’t figure out how to mark the days until I saw a surprisingly similar calendar pop up on this blog. Of course, number stickers. And now we’re set.
This calendar is the treat side of our advent celebrations. We also read from a variety of resources during the season. This year I’ve got 2 new books to go through: Handel’s Messiah Family Advent Reader with accompanying cd and Elyse Fitzpatrick’s new book Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional. Fitzpatrick’s includes daily readings for both adults and kids and one activity/craft per week. And each night we try to remember to read from one of the mini book ornaments that comes with The Story of Christmas. Evidently I have an advent book buying problem. For the past few years I buy a new one at the beginning of the season and then unearth one I bought on sale at the end of last year’s advent season. Some past reads are Nancy Guthrie’s Come Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas and Phyllis Tickle’s Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from the Divine Hours.
We never do each thing every day. Some days life just goes by too quickly and on others I simply forget, though the fact that this year there is a possibility of getting chocolate, I’m sure the kids won’t forget to remind me about the advent calendar.
I love you, November. I know this still means highs in the 80s, but I take comfort in the fact that I’ve lived down here for so long now that the 70s make me want a light sweater. My boys know no other climate so when the temps hit 75 they’ve been breaking out their new hoodies in order to experience “the cozy.”
The past weeks have marked our return to the world of the parks. Hours of them playing and climbing outside. Hours of me not passing out from the heat. School is crammed into the early hours of the morning, so we can hit up the parks later in the day. I’m also trying to relish these last few months of running out with the kids and not needing to buckle, feed, or change any little people. I know I’m about to jump back into the world of carrying diapers, snacks, and strollers around and am excited about it. But running around parks chasing toddlers? I don’t miss that part.
I love that the past days’ weather has been cloudy and dark and quite windy. It feels (looks is perhaps a more fitting word) like November. Harry Potter movies find their way into the movie rotation this time of year. And this year? The kids get to join us for the first two movies. We always said we’d make them read them before they could watch them, but we were just too excited to let them have a peek at its world that we caved. But only for the first two…for now. And if you watch Harry while it’s dark and stormy outside, you also need hot chocolate or egg nog to go along with it. Cookies don’t hurt, either. So there’s been lots of that around here, too.
And November marks the four month countdown until Asa arrives. That means four months to remedy the situation of me only having 2 onesies, three sleepers, and some worn out blue and green diapers. But if he is willing to boldly rock some girly clothes and hot pink diapers, then I’m almost set.
making trips :: I have now been to Texas! In all of its Tex-Mex, wide open spaces, super friendly glory. Omar and I got to attend a counseling conference, visit old friends, and meet up with new friends. A good friend of mine died in Iraq ten years ago this December. He was from Texas and was the first person I’d met who truly identified and loved (LOVED) his home state. (Florida doesn’t give me the thrills that Texas gave him.) Ernie was in my thoughts a lot over the weekend. He would’ve gotten a kick out of the fact that I finally made a trip to Texas.
making cakes :: I love dark chocolate. I love pears. I love caramel. So I was hoping that this chocolate upside down pear cake would rank up there with my favorite desserts. It wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t the recipe, I’m just not a fruit with chocolate fan. And I’d have to classify this as a “wet cake,” of which I’m also not a fan. (You can keep your rum cakes and glazed cakes.) But if you are a lover of fruit and chocolate and upside down cakes, this is your thing. It was fun to make, and I did suffer through and eat my fair share.
making gardens :: Omar is really the garden maker around here. This year we have two raised beds of veggies and herbs, some pots of tomatoes and pigeon peas (it’s a Puerto Rican thing), watermelon seeds about to be planted along a fence, and a couple of thriving banana plants. Thus far everything is coming along. Here’s hoping no crazy diseases or bugs descend.
making plans :: I don’t know if I’ve every been as ready for the Christmas season as I am this year. I’ve even gotten a start on present buying and advent calendar planning. This has never. happened. Our advent calendar from the past few years has run its course, so this year it’s being repurposed. Details to come, both so I can share with you all what we are doing, and so you all can give me some advent activity ideas. I’m starting to run low, even with the help of Pinterest. Seriously, some of the ideas I read were “journal about what you love about Christmas” and “just sit and think about the season.” Right, my 6 and 7 year old boys would be thrilled beyond belief if that’s what the activity for the day was. Chocolates and cookie baking are more up their alley.
Remember when Lenna turned three in May and let me off easy by telling me her wildest birthday dreams were to have cereal and milk for her birthday breakfast? I didn’t have high hopes that Asher would let me off as easily in the party department. His demands ended up not being that great to begin with and then on Saturday night, just as I was getting ready to walk into the kitchen to make his cupcakes for the next day, he said, “Mama, can we just have ice cream and oreos for my birthday?” Why, yes, you can!! And after swearing to me that he wouldn’t bring up a lack of cake the next day if his mood changed, we were good to go.
Siblings gifted him a book and a flashlight. Parents and grandparents gifted him a bike that, despite the photos, he really was excited about. And his abuela fulfilled his piñata dreams.
Happy six on Wednesday, Asher!
My gracefulness disappears a bit more each day as random things unbalance me.
Coffee reappears on the daily menu.
Accomplishing school work each day feels less like a marathon.
The kids’ tv watching has been greatly curtailed, again…for now…all bets are off the last couple of months.
So has mine. I won’t even tell you how quickly I’ve raced through the first five seasons of The West Wing.
Kids’ insights and questions into babies provide daily laughter and avoidance.
Baby is now known to be a boy.
Baby boy has a name: Asa Joel (my kids are becoming quick to point out that it’s pronounced Jo-ell, so watch out if you slip up around them)
In many ways it feels like we were just doing this whole announcing thing for Lenna. In other ways it feels ages ago.
My insatiable desire for burgers is still going strong.
This whole pregnancy gig is a bit easier with older kids.
They’re blown away with my coolness rather than being confused when I put pie in front of them for dinner.
Sitting still on the floor keeps nausea at bay, so I’ve been known to play game after game of Memory without finding a reason to escape after game two. And they’re getting good at it, so it’s actually a challenge to beat them.
I don’t have a germ phobia but the playground at Chick-Fil-A always creeps me out. But their hands don’t go into their mouths (quite) like they used to and playing in it means there is a large sheet of thick glass between their loudness and me, so I’m game right now. Stillness and quiet for me. Fun for them. My mom said she was a bit shocked I let them go in there. My response? I’m the mom who feeds her kids pie for dinner right now.
But I don’t think any number of pregnancies will ever take away the weirdness of these early weeks. I could normally spend most of my day with my head inside a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans. It’s one of the most amazing smells. But now? If it were up to me, coffee would be banned from all establishments.
For now burgers are my favorite food. Clam chowder is the perfect morning meal, and Nutella and stuffed olives are always close by.
And that occasional glass of wine? There is no guilt, friends.
Asher had a serious asthma attack the other day that landed us in the doctor’s office for a few hours. There was a lot of waiting and entertaining and nothing really seemed to put a smile on his face.
So we shared a secret with him hoping it would bring a smile to his face.
“Hey, Asher. There’s a baby in Mama’s belly.”
The kid was so sick, though, that it didn’t really elicit much of a response. A few hours later though he started sharing baby name ideas.
We don’t usually share the news this early, but I’ve been so sick and the kids are a bit older this time around that keeping it under wraps has been a bit harder. The boys are excited, and Lenna will tell you that she is having a baby, too.
So there you go. Four. Oh my.
And as my dad reminded me, hello extra tax deduction.
links up first ::
- Prufrock is my newest daily read. What is it?
Prufrock is a daily newsletter on books, art and ideas, edited by Micah Mattix. It contains links to the best reviews and most worthy literary news items, a daily essay with relevant responses, and a little bit of literary smack. Best of all, it’s free!
And here is a link to a sample for you to enjoy. I read about Mattix in Rod Dreher’s article Story Lines, Not Party Lines: Why Conservatives Must Master the Narrative Art, also a great read.
- This video is spot-on. It would’ve been even more spot-on had they worked in a way to have the restaurant only serve small plates, but you can’t win ‘em all.
- And then there is this – From Pony to Person: the Disturbing Evolution of My Little Pony, in Photos. AAAHHHH! this stuff kills me.
and the reads ::
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Sci-fi books about young boys training to fight the next alien invasion aren’t usually at the top of my to-read list, but this one kept popping up on various book lists. I really enjoyed it, but when I cracked open the next book in the series my eyes started to glaze after the first two pages. I think one sci-fi book per year (or decade) is enough for me.
Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles: A Case for Gender Roles in Ministry by Kathy Keller. This is perhaps the best, most concise defense for gender roles in the church. I appreciate her tone and approach. The only downside is that it’s only available in ebook format. I’d love to have a stack of these to hand out.
Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education by Stratford Caldecott. Here is a book on the educational model of the Trivium. Caldecott approaches the Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric stages as stages of Remembering, Thinking, and Communicating. I connect with his way of approaching and fleshing out the Trivium using these terms.
Overdressed: the Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline. Our clothes are cheaply made. Changes in styles and fashion happen shockingly fast thus pushing many to purchase more cheap clothes at an alarming rate. Sweatshops are horrendous. These are things we know, and most of what Cline discusses is nothing very new or shocking. But to have all the stories and data gathered together in book form drives her points home a bit more. It’s a good and quick read, and on her website she has a shopping directory of brands/designers that strive to combat much of what she discusses in her book.
Four years ago today Omar started his job here.
I didn’t take any pictures of the 15th of July 2009, but I don’t think they’d be very interesting. They would be pics of boxes, boxes, and more boxes because we were only here a couple of days before Omar started.
But when I think back on the past four very full, very good, very hard years, it’s this one you see here that pops into my head. She wasn’t around when we moved here and started a new job, so I think she qualifies as the biggest change in our lives since we moved here.
But she is very here now. In all her curly haired, sweet natured, bossy glory.
The boys were so much smaller, too, with squeakier voices and chubbier hands.
In some ways it feels like ages ago.
Four years from now Elisha will be 11. And that just blows my mind.
July. The month of sparklers and thinking way too much about school for the kids. While they play in the pool and run on the beach, I can be tempted to spend most of my waking hours thinking/fretting/option-weighing/praying about all options. If homeschooling were just about the researching and planning and reading I’d be a pro. But then I look down and there are little people. Little people who make me realize this isn’t just some theoretical school researching game.
But oh, the options. There are so many. Options that I get excited about but am unsure of what their reaction would be or whether it would be beneficial to them. Options that I’m hesitant about but know they might thrive under.
You should see my legal pad of lists and thoughts and pros/cons. It makes me sleepy every time I walk past it.
But then I remember it’s summer. And fretting is easier to get over when there are fireworks to watch, cousins to play with, blueberry pie to eat, and beaches to go to.
We have bananas! And now I want every tropical fruit tree in my yard! Except papaya. Because it’s dreadful.
But mango, lychee, custard apple, passion fruit, tamarind? Yes, please. But I don’t think our yard can handle all of that.
The house next to us has been in foreclosure for years. We’ve helped ourselves to the mangos growing in the yard, so I’ve been thinking maybe we should just be bold and become fruit squatters.
It’s just our luck that Mounts Botanical Garden’s Tropical Fruit Festival is Saturday, so we’re hoping to walk away with at least one new addition to our yard.
And isn’t there some rule that if you grow bananas you need to raise chickens??
Well. Greenville, S.C. is just lovely. So lovely that I felt I had to inform Omar about 30 times a day that I, indeed, thought it was lovely. At one overly-excited moment I even shouted out, “It even smells lovely here!”
This makes it the third year that I’ve traveled with Omar for work to our denomination’s meeting and declared that we need to pack it up and move to the host city (Nashville the first year and Louisville last year).
Not really. There is too much holding us here. And we know this is where we need to be, without a doubt. And I don’t know if I could handle a world without ocean and traffic and humid heat.
But rolling green hills and waterfalls through the center of town would be nice.
Omar and I have a running list of “Things They Did Not Teach Us In Seminary” (not that we really expected them to, but it would’ve been nice – ha). A lot of the list is serious. Things relating to counseling, finances, HR-like stuff, etc.
They also did not teach us about the more light-hearted side of things. The little perks.
Like deviled eggs. Lots and lots of deviled eggs. Omar and I joke that at all these new and hip restaurants that tout farm-to-table menus, you can easily spot the people who don’t go to church. They order the $4 a pop deviled eggs. Who pays that?! People who don’t attend church potlucks and get their deviled egg fix, that’s who.
Or funeral flowers. No joke. Soon after Omar started his first job out of seminary, I heard him plodding up the back steps to our apartment. I opened the door and saw two feet peeking out from under a tower of funeral flower arrangements. I was horrified. “What?! Why?! Noooo!!” Something just felt oddly wrong about it, especially when the flowers were still in those wreath-like arrangements on a stand. But now I’m over it, and once you pick them apart and gather them into separate little arrangements, all traces of the funeral are gone. And it’s free.
It took us four years to finally stumble upon Mounts Botanical Garden. It’s nearby, but for some reason when I heard it was between the airport and the DMV, I didn’t think it could be much of anything. When does one find anything good between an airport and a DMV?
But it is good. Beautiful, in fact. And despite the crazy heat, mosquitoes, and haze, we loved it. Perhaps the smaller ones didn’t appreciate it as much, but I’ll win them over when the cooler weather comes later in the year.
Rose gardens, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, ponds. It was all beautiful.