Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday in Advent

I'm really striving to make bed by 10:00 p.m. so this post began last night and I'll finish it now. LOL Family, friends...I sure hope you enjoy all these inane photos and they give you a sense of living the Season with us. LOL Of course, with my memory as it is, I have to blog to REMEMBER what we do. ::snort::

The day was FULL.

We attended chapel. We enjoyed lunch as a family.

We had our first devotional.

Zander graduated from topping the tree to LIGHTING the FIRST Advent candle.


Who says inductive study has to be boring? I didn't have copies printed yet for the children to mark so we simply did actions for various words and discussed the questions. This is the sign for Bethlehem - I don't know WHY....because I wanted to see the young men do it? (No time to lighten this photo).

They really did participate - but Jamin wasn't about to snap their photos. Payback ya' know?

Mike took Nolan to Nutcracker practice. Mike went to the gym.


Jamin and I went to the mall, Walmart and Sam's. "10 and 2 son, 10 and 2."


We completed two Advent projects (details below).

Zander wanted a "ticket" and so Mike set him to folding...he thought it was terribly hard. ::snort::


We forgot our first Sunday gift and pulled it out later. Mad libs....what fun.

Stacia pulled each little book from the bag and gave it to whoever she felt it would work for.




We ended the day creating a few mad lib stories. Mike read a chapter out of Great Brain for the younger boys. We've not decided if we want to do a Jotham book this year. It was a very full day to begin a very full season. Why can't I accomplish this much in a "normal" month?

©2008 D.R.G.

Advent Activity Calendar

This another new addition to our celebration this year. Thanks so much to all who helped me brainstorm this idea.

Arielle and I took this project over. We planned out 25 (32) activities we wanted to do. We checked the calendar and did our best to put easy things on busy days etc. I'm sure we'll be flexible with this.

I experiemented with various sizes and paper (constrcution, wrapping paper, scrapbook paper)...and finally this is what we did.

Make a 5 in template from cardstock.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Fold paper in 1/2....
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

and 1/2 again.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Trim about 1/2 in off the edge (this size gave us 4 per sheet).
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Fold corners up...rotate view to the right....
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Fold third corner over
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Write activity on paper
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Close with a sticker (we used some scrapbooking ones I had - I forgot to take a close up).
Jared helped us hang the line...which became MUCH longer than I expected...I'm glad we didn't go with the original size we tried. LOL
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We finally ended up hanging them around the top of the entertainment center.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We're happy....I'm really happy to think that the things we WANT to do stand a better chance of not being lost in the busy-ness of the chapel/base schedule this year.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Every family will have a unique list. This is what we hope to do in the next month. (Yeah, the masterlist is for ME in case I lose the scrap paper.)
Today: Put Advent candles in wreath, begin our Family Inductive Advent Study, top the tree.
  1. Attend the Base Christmas Tree Lighting and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies afterwards.
  2. Make snowflakes and decorate the windows.
  3. Go to Eggemeyers and buy fudge. This is a HUGE treat around here.
  4. Make truffles and favors for the PWOC "Delight in the Light" Tea.
  5. Go to Christmas at FT. Concho.
  6. Play tickle little kids, host the PWOC Christmas tea.
  7. Attend the Nutcracker: Go Nolan, Erik, Emma and Ellie....and everyone else. Enjoy ice cream Sundaes...the Nutcracker is over.
  8. Take a walk and enjoy the Christmas lights.
  9. Start work on our Christmas Puzzle (make sure we have opened this from the calendar).
  10. Take toys to Toys for Tots.
  11. String Popcorn and cranberries.
  12. Decorate an outside tree for the animals and read Night Tree by Eve Bunting.
  13. Dance like crazy.
  14. Take a walk to see the deer.
  15. Watch a Christmas movie.
  16. Have an indoor picnic to Christmas music.
  17. Prepare the staff and chapel gifts.
  18. Bake Christmas goodies for neighbors.
  19. Pick up BreAnne and David at the airport!
  20. Make a gingerbread house.
  21. Act out the Christmas story.
  22. Have a picnic at the lake (indoors if need be).
  23. Meet Krista at the airport. Family game night with hot chocolate and appetizers.
  24. Visit the living nativity downtown and attend the Base Candlelight Service.
  25. Have a birthday party for Jesus and open our "Jesus stocking".
  26. Have a family scavenger hunt - would other famlies be brave enough to join us? What would the town think if a zillion mini-vans and 15 pass vans were zipping around town taking photos while oodles and oodles of kids spilled out????
  27. Go see the light show on the Concho river.
  28. Sing Christmas carols - who cares if we are late - maybe we can do that with the scavenger hunt.
  29. Take a candle-lit bath, paint our toes, go each his own.
  30. Family game night - dance like crazy.
  31. Play charades, attack someone with silly string and sparklers.

©2008 D.R.G.

Christmas Tree Part 2

After my desperate plea for prayers yesterday, many assumed that I did not KNOW that you start at the TOP of a tree when putting on lights. I did. I checked the lights before I began and they lit. I plugged the tree in and only the bottom ones lit. LOL

When Mike was done outside he came in with a little "light checker" and figured it out.

Another tradition we have is buying an photo ornament for each child, each year. WELL....Mom buys them an ornament in keeping with their interests or hobbies each year too. Those are so they will have them when they set up house. I some how got mixed up and offered Josiah all his photo ornaments this year. It made me sad. He said I could keep them another year. THEN I REMEMBERED...the photo ornaments are MINE to keep as long as I like. The other ornaments are theirs now. Josiah will take all his ornaments to his apartment as soon as he has time to pick them up.

This year we decorated solely with photo ornaments again. We'll put this years' new ornaments on as well. Arielle and I took the time to note each year that was missing for each person. Surprisingly, we discovered that there were years when NO ONE had anything.....1997 - the year Arielle was 3 months old, 2000 - the year I miscarried on 1 December, 2005 - the year that Stacia was 4 months old...and the year Mike deployed. We are debating if I should "recapture" those years or let the absence of tradition speak. ::snort::

Here are a few shots of the tree. I LOVE to sit in the still and remember all the years these photos represent. It spurs me on to stay engaged with the younger ones.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Bre at 18 and Krista at 4
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Arielle at 3 months
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Krista 2 - Bre 4, Arielle 3
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

A special friend sent me this ornament in 2000. She knew I was struggling. She sent this ornament as she knew that Christmas would always remind me of our loss in 2000. It's a simple clear bulb and filled with shimmering tinsel. She said to hang it as I chose, if it would help me, to remember - when all others had forgotten. It helps. I always find a moment, when I'm alone, to hang this ornament. It has come to remind me of the 8 babies we've not held, and of beloved family members who are waiting in grams, my Uncle Bill, my Aunt Gin and this year my Aunt's fitting it hangs on our "family tree".

We choose to top our tree with a crown of thorns. This is simply a way to remind us that this season is about the gift He brought and about his ultimate Advent in the future.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Each year we let the youngest child, who is capable, top the tree. This is the first year that Stacia had this job.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

She was thrilled with herself.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And expected everyone else to be just as thrilled.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

©2008 D.R.G.

Advent Countdowns....

We have many different things we do to countdown until Christmas. In the past we've had a countdown candle. Take a candle, make 25 marks on it. Burn a mark each day. This is very visual for young kids. You can do the same with chains etc.

I made this years ago.


This year we added a "real Advent Calendar" to our line up for the first time. I couldn't quite figure out how little pieces of cheap candy would be fun...and we didn't do well with the Lego and Playmobile calendars.

Becki, left a comment that helped me figure this out for my family. Mike and Jamin took over the job of writing daily clues. Those are in the box. They will (hopefully) lead us to the day's gift. This was a bit dangerous as THEY are tricky.


I found little gifts at the store and around home. I really can't say what all I bought or the young ones will know. I put them into ziploc baggies and they are ready for Mike or Jamin to hide each day.

©2008 D.R.G.

Giving Thanks

  • Our chapel was VERY cold today. We're having ongoing gas problems and CE turned off the gas until Monday. As I shivered, I was thankful that we usually have heat and that we have a place to worship.
  • I am thankful that Josiah joined us for lunch.

  • I am thankful that Josiah was able to join us for our first Advent devotional and the topping of the tree.

  • I'm thankful we've made so many memories this weekend that I am hard put to keep up with the blog.

  • I'm thankful Mike is in America this season.

©2008 D.R.G.

Tell me Quick...

I bought 10 Holiday Crackers on clearance after Christmas last year. "Each cracker contains a snap, ajoke, and a surprise novelty."

Will one of my English friends please tell me the proper day to use these? I'm not sure we'll hit it right, but I'd like to try. It's one of our gifts in the Advent countdown.

Still working to get it all together by tomorrow...but will post photos soon. What fun we are having!

©2008 D.R.G.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving Thanks!

I'm thankful that the lights are ALL up outside.

I'm thankful that the tree is up and no longer looks like a hippo. We'll top it tomorrow after our first Advent devotion, wreath, reading, activity, chocolate thingy....

I'm thankful that Arielle and I found all the ornaments we need for this week's exchanges.

I'm thankful that I'm starting to get IDEAS for Saturday's upcoming tea. We like to make a gift for the ladies to take home....I think this year's may be edible. Come to think of it, I made the Kissmas Whisks last year and they were edible too. Maybe I'll do a search for another idea...but that google search thing this time of year is DEADLY. ::snort::

©2008 D.R.G.

Deadbeat Nutcracker Mom

This is a new experience for me! You've no doubt heard the saying that "80% of the work is done by 20% of the people". I've always been in the 20% - always!

However, with this Nutcracker production I am certainly in the 80%. This is probably because this is our first year and I haven't a clue of what the possibilities for help are....and also I knew going into this that I had limited time I could invest this time of the year.

I still feel bad about this. NO ONE has tried to make me feel bad - it's my mommy guilt gene. I feel like I should be doing more. I know that I can't. If I HAD to do a lot with the production we couldn't have let Nolan participate. I USUALLY do a lot more than my "fair share" of the work when my family is involved in "most anything". I simply can't this time. I knew that going in. I try to console myself with the thought, "this is my TURN to be a deadbeat"...but goodness I felt bad seeing all those parents working to haul things to the theater as I picked up Nolan and ran for the barn.

Starting tomorrow, Nolan will be at practice every day through the last performance, which is next Sunday. I WILL be ushering for all 3 shows. I need to find some way to help out more that will allow me to also do all the other things that were on the calendar before Nutcracker....I'm not sure how...maybe I simply need to get used to be a deadbeat mom. ::snort::

©2008 D.R.G.

Deck the Pool!

Doesn't everyone clean out the pool when they put up their Christmas Decorations?



Jared's a champ! He has worked HARD the past two days and has been a huge help to Mike and I. This is a disgusting job, and it was COLD today...44*.

©2008 D.R.G.

Prayer Appreciated!

This is MY lighting responsibility. It's not going well. I'm about to simplify us right out of having a tree. I DID skip it the year Mike was deployed. ::snort::

Poor Mike and the boys are wrestling with the outside lights. All I have to do is string these. They all lit BEFORE I put them on the tree. Zander is WAITING (and has been for days) none to patiently to decorate the TREE.....and I have to get these puppies on their first.

To think I worried Nolan would miss decorating the tree because of Nutcracker practice. ::snort:: At this rate, he'll be here to help string the LIGHTS on the thing.

Back to work. It really is quite a funny photo. Doesn't it look sort of like the hippo in Fantasia....of course the skirt is slipping. ::snort::

©2008 D.R.G.

Advent Madness

Last year we added a gift every Sunday night of Advent as we continued with our other Advent traditions. I got this idea from Linda. We loved it. The gifts were mostly things I would have bought anyway - but they were saved for these special nights....calendars, family game, t-shirts...

For years I've seen some do "Advent Calendars". Last year we tried the play mobile one and it didn't work for us.... We are not fond of cheap candy (can't do the flavors, dyes and preservatives) but I remembered that Kathy does this with small gifts....and I saw those cute calendars at know THAT story. Becki suggested some ideas in the comment section of that entry. Becki, the idea to put clues in the little boxes and still use ONE calendar for ALL the children makes this doable for us.

I have gone online and searched "Advent Calendars" - DON'T DO IT!!!! ::snort:: I quickly realized the need for extreme caught to avoid the extras adding up to a budget busting holiday. I went to Rainbow Resource and bought a few things I've been planning to get for school. The kids will like them and I'll give them on some day from the calendar box. Mike is teasing that I should plan a full blown scavenger hunt each day of the month. ::snort::

Another idea that I found in my searching is to make an Advent ACTIVITY calendar. We'll make one today. I've not decided if we'll use my stash of TP tubes...or scrapbook paper. I'm leaning to paper as we may YET make that Greek Temple and need the TP tubes. ANYWAY, the idea is that you jot down a family activity for each day of the month. I love this idea....and would probably have not bought the present calendar if I'd done the google search first. This is a post with a ton of Advent Calendar ideas that I found on Kathy's aforementioned blog. This post on Paper Envelopes made me think I could really do this in a day. I'm going to merge several ideas.....Now, go ahead and do that google search if you must, but I DID warn you. ::snort::

Here's what I need from YOU!!!! I*D*E*A*S* please. December 1st will be here in no time.

What are some fun gifts for Advent Calendars that your children have particularly loved? I'm going to have the little things from Rainbow, I know candy one day, hot chocolate, coins, coupons for future outing with Mom and/or Dad....more ideas?

Here is my STARTING list of Activities for the Advent Activity Calendar. Can you think of more? PLEASE COMMENT! ::snort:: I need these to make my Activity Calendar.

  1. Take a toy to Toy for Tots

  2. Walk to visit the deer

  3. Go star gazing

  4. Decorate an outside tree for animals - read book by Eve or Eva Hunt

  5. Indoor picnic by the light of tree

  6. Dance like Crazy to Christmas music (yeah - we're not Baptist ::snort::)

  7. Make ice cream Sundaes (but we sort of do this weekly anyway)

  8. Picnic at the Lake

  9. Play tickle little kids, mom photographs

  10. Take older ones to see Concho lights

  11. Go for a neighborhood walk at night and enjoy the lights

  12. Make paper snowflakes and decorate the house.

  13. Family game night (plan several)

  14. Candlelit bubble bath (I can dream)

  15. Paint our toes (boys say NO WAY)

  16. Bake Christmas goodies

  17. Bake Christmas goodies again and take to neighbors

©2008 D.R.G.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks!

~I'm thankful for pink and purple duck tape.

~I'm thankful for the help of Jared, Arielle and Nolan today.

~I'm thankful we finally found the box with the Christmas books, movies and music.

~I'm thankful for old traditions (we watched Muppet Christmas Carol after decorating) and new traditions (our new Advent calendar).

©2008 D.R.G.

Black Friday (the title that won't show as a title ::snort::)

Does anyone find it ironic that we celebrate contentment and thankfulness on Thursday and literally trample others to get into the stores on Friday? ::snort::

No, I am not a 4 a.m. Black Friday Celebrant. Josiah and Jamin, however, understand the significance of this day for retailers. I can't wait to hear how big of a day they had today at the restaurant. ::snort::

I did a bit of shopping today. I discovered the very things I had briefly considered getting up early to fight for, were available online with free shipping. I took care of several family members that way.

It is not in our budget this year to buy PJ's for 12 folks. I compromised and bought some cute t-shirts. I decided to check at a store that usually has some cute ones and they were on I bought those.

I also went out to buy DUCK TAPE! Why? So we could decorate! We've come a long way since the days when we refused to put up any Christmas decorations. LOL

Wow - it takes MUCH longer to decorate, when the older four are not around to help. The ones at home really pitched in....but our work force is greatly reduced as the older ones leave home and/or get a job that requires working on Black Friday.

As always, we had two missing boxes, and so we didn't finish everything today. ::snort:: There is still tomorrow.

This is part of the pile of decorations we found in the attic last night.

First we had to take down fall decor...
Mike put this new Nativity up first thing...I knew the lighting wasn't going to work at high noon in TEXAS...but I couldn't miss this photo. Stacia was introducing herself, "Hello, Jesus, I'm Stacia."
The Light Crew was busy - we're about 1/2 done.
Are you wondering why it is taking so long this year? Besides the fact that the two older boys aren't home to help? Mike bought this thing that all the lights will hook plays MUSIC and pulsates the lights in rhythm to the music.....

Sweet Stacia was so good and so quiet for so long. I went to take some things to the kids room and noticed marker on a wall. . . then a door...then another door....then I said loudly, "Oh, NO," and heard, "I'm SOOO sorry, Mommy" from the closed door. Oy vey. She had drawn all over the boys' room. All over it, with a Sharpie. Here she tries her hand with a magic eraser...but this is not the room that she covered.
Wed night in the Fellowship Hall she discovered the big dry erase board and markers. She played for about an hour. Miss Joyce suggested we get a board for Christmas. I was thinking about it. I guess she really does like to draw. ::sigh:: This is the same girl that painted our fence and patio red in the summer.

She cracked me up when we told her it was naughty to draw on the wall....she picked up her phone and said, "Bre, I need to talk to David!" Later in the evening she was talking in her phone and said, "My mommy, really, really loves me." She DOES feel remorse over drawing on all the walls...

Jamin should be home shortly - I hope from a long day of work. That's our day.

©2008 D.R.G.