Saturday, November 30, 2013

Going off-line for Advent


The holiness of the season begins tomorrow.

Tomorrow we begin our joyful anticipation. Our longing. Our waiting for that precious baby, born on Christmas morning.

Tomorrow we begin a month of turning inward. A month of traditions. A month of focusing on our family.

Tomorrow we begin the countdown. The countdown to the arrival of the King.

We begin our celebration of what is to come. We begin our baking and our crafting and our singing.

We read glorious picture books about Christmas and giving and wonder.

We revel in each other and our home.


I don't know about you, but I have a very hard time reveling in all the wonder that is right in front of me if I am being pulled in the direction of the computer and all that the internet has to offer.

So, I've decided to go off-line for Advent this year.

I will not be blogging. I will not be on Facebook. I will not be on e-mail.

I will be here, at home. I will be reading and cooking and baking and singing and making gifts and wrapping gifts and taking walks.

I will be studying the Bible and writing in my journal and praying.

I will be out in the community, going to the tree-lighting and to Bethlehem and to The Nutcracker and the Holiday Symphony.

I will be trying to soak up as much of this season and my family as I can possibly fit inside my soul, to warm it and soothe it.

So, this is me, signing off for December. I have scheduled several re-runs of posts from past holiday seasons to fill up your reading time this month. I've even scheduled a funny post re-run or two. So, please check back often. Better yet, subscribe to receive the posts via e-mail as soon as they are published. That way you never have to worry about missing another post. Speaking of which, have you read all of the recent posts? There's been lots to see and read in November this year.

May your family have the most blessed Advent season. May you succeed in making your home a cozy and wonderful place to be. May you enjoy every moment you can with your children. May you find peace and contentment with your life this December.

May you live in His light, now and always.

Until next time,
~ Irie Momma 

November Wrap-Up

December is here, ya'll. Tomorrow. Can you believe it?

Our holiday celebrations are well under way, but they are about to get even busier. I wanted to take a minute to dump any lingering pictures or notes I have about what we've been doing this month so that I can begin to focus all of my thoughts and energy on Advent.

If you've been keeping up around here, you already know that we've been busy this month! I'll let you read through all of November's posts to see all of the fun we've had. I just wanted to drop a couple of more things here that have not been written about elsewhere.

We finished reading the first book in the Narnia series. We absolutely loved it and cannot wait to start the next one. But, that is on hold until January. We have way too many Christmas books to read this month, so we have decided to make A Christmas Carol our chapter book read aloud this month. We'll be reading that in the afternoons, our baskets of picture books in the mornings and then reading from our Advent storybook in the evenings.

Speaking of books, did I mention the few we read aloud for Thanksgiving? I had a basket filled and the girls did some reading of their own, but the only ones we really read aloud were Balloons Over Broadway (Melissa Sweet), Thanksgiving Is (Gail Gibbons), Squanto's Journey (Bruchac), Over the River and Through the Wood ( ) and Thank You, Sarah (Anderson).

The Princess did a 2-mile walk workout with me the other day. She was so cute. She was really proud of herself that she had walked two miles ... in the living room. :)

The Hippie has been reading up a storm. She's read The Story of Holly & Ivy and The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas, as well as several of the picture books. She read The Legend of Saint Nicholas aloud to the Princess and I this morning. She is also still working on Pilgrim Stories by Pumphrey.

The Princess has also been reading the picture books in the Christmas baskets. She is still working on Charlotte's Web {slowly}, though I admit it seems harder to get her to read it now that she is into Christmas. She did read a lovely Christmas book aloud to me the other day ~ Little One, We Knew You'd Come.

We're still writing in our gratitude journals in the morning and today we prepared 100 strips of paper for our Jesus stocking. Starting tomorrow evening, we will each write down one thing we are thankful for after dinner each night. We will read all of those on Christmas day. That was a lovely part of our holiday last year and we look forward to doing it again!

The holiday celebrations are in full swing here. The girls watched An All Dogs Christmas Carol the other morning and we listened to the audio books of The Christmas Story (from the Bible) and Dewey's Magical Sleigh. We also listened to Frohe Weinachten ~ a German cd of stories and songs about Christmas. We've been listening to Christmas music all day every day, switching around between Celtic Christmas, Classical Christmas, Traditional Christmas, Country Christmas, Christmas Hymns, plain old Christmas Music and our collection of Christmas CDs. We all curled up on the couch to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Shrek the Halls last night. And, our Christmas lights and candles have been on all day.

How about  you?

I'll leave you with a few more pictures from recent days.

Until next time,
~ Irie Momma

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 2013

How was your Thanksgiving day?

Was it filled with peace and beauty and time to enjoy the gifts God has bestowed upon you?

Was it filled with the chaos and laughter of children?

Was it filled with grace and gratitude?

I sincerely hope that your day was all of those things and more. I can honestly tell you that ours was, even though we were not able to be away with extended family this year.

I can truly say that I could not have asked for anything more other than to have cousins and grandmothers and aunts and uncles here as well.

Dare I say it was perfect?

The day began like most days. I got up before anyone else and came into the kitchen. As I was steeping my tea, I set to starting the green beans and tidying things up and lighting our holiday candles and turning on the Celtic Christmas music on Pandora.

Once everything was just so, I sat down with my Bible, my journal, and my pen. There's no better way to start Thanksgiving than to study what God's word has to say about it and write that down!

I had not gotten very far before the girls came in, excited like it was Christmas morning. They were chomping at the bit to turn the music to Christmas music with words. I started playing Celtic and Classical Christmas music a few weeks ago, but I insisted that we wait to start the songs with words.

Since we were not able to travel to see extended family this year, we decided to do something new to make the day special and help to ease the sadness of not having cousins to play with all day. We actually went to get our Christmas tree Sunday evening (We have never gotten it before Thanksgiving). Daddy strung the lights on it Wednesday night so that it would be ready to decorate on Thanksgiving day.

We also have a Christmas box with all of the Christmas books that we own and the Christmas lovies (stuffed animals). We made the girls wait on that box until Thanksgiving morning as well.

All of this caused them to view the morning with the same anticipation as Christmas morning. They couldn't wait to start that "real" music and get into their Christmas goodies!

But, being the "mean Mommy" that I am, I said we couldn't do it without Daddy.


So, they had to (nicely) wake Daddy up and wait for him. While we waited, we grabbed our gratitude journals and wrote in them. I think I filled up an entire page this time!

Short story long, we started our morning by turning on the Christmas music with words and digging into our box of Christmas books and lovies.

We turned on the Macy's Day Parade and watched it here and there (muting the commercials ... trying to avoid all of the disgusting Black Friday nonsense). We had read the book about Tony Sarg two times already, so the girls were excited to see the balloons. I was a little frustrated at first because we couldn't see the parade and some of the performances were a bit against what I wanted for my children on Thanksgiving morning. But, eventually they began to actually show the parade and the balloons and floats and the high school marching bands. We like that stuff better!

Around 11:30 we all gathered for a special family breakfast of biscuits and gravy, which was delicious. Then, we headed into the living room and the Hippie passed out Thanksgiving goodie bags she had made for each of us and the girls spent some time going through the Christmas goodies.

From here, the day was just a nice, relaxing pace of football in the background and putting out Christmas decorations around the house, while packing up some of the normal decor to save until January. We opened all of our ornaments and remembered who got them for who and when. We read the annual scroll from the ornament that Daddy and I got the first year we were married. We drank organic egg nog with freshly grated nutmeg. And last, but not least ... we decorated our tree.


Once the tree and house were beautiful, Daddy and the girls headed outside to string lights around the house and yard while Momma set to work in the kitchen, making the rest of the feast. Daddy and the girls also enjoyed a game (or two) of horse football. Gotta love a Daddy that will run around the front yard on a stick horse for his girls!


After a beautiful prayer by each family member, we lit the first candle on our Advent wreath, had a wonderful dinner (and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert) and then tidied up the kitchen together. Daddy and the girls headed back outside for about 30 minutes to get in just a bit more light stringing ... and football playing. Finally, everyone settled inside and we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers together.

To end a perfect day, Momma and Daddy had some hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps.

How was your day?

Until next time,
~ Irie Momma
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