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It's That Time of Year ...

The beautiful Advent season begins just a week from tomorrow - it's time to prepare to prepare! A lovely time of anticipation stretches ahead of us - and, thanks to my wonderful online community, I have so many ideas this year - well, my mind just boggles! Our December calendar is already filling up, but I am trying not to over-commit, nor over-do.

But, oh, the possibilities! There are so many crafts to make, cookies to bake, books to read, songs to sing, gifts to make ... the list could go on and on! I'll have my work cut out for me keeping a balance for my family - keeping things simple and merry!

With all that in mind, here are a few things we've started working on ...

Advent Star Candle

Advent_star_candle_before_1

I found this neat project at the Catholic Mom website. It is a very easy craft that I think will encourage patience and an atmosphere of anticipation. We'll begin with a plain glass votive candle holder and a package of 24 shiny star stickers. Each night of Advent the boys will add one star to their candleholder and say this prayer:

“I pray that my star candle will shine bright
To show me where sweet baby Jesus sleeps Christmas Eve night.
I pray that this star will help me to remember
That we await the birthday of Jesus this December.”

On Christmas eve, we will light the decorated candles for the first time and the boys can carry their little lights over to the creche and discover that the Light of the World has arrived! (Baby Jesus has been placed in his manger!)

For blogging purposes, I made one up in advance (when no one was looking, LOL):

Advent_star_candle_after

Advent Bulletin Board

As I went to work on our weekly - er, biweekly these days - bulletin board, I decided to give it its own Advent touch:

Advent_bulletin_board

This is just purple and pink construction paper as a background, and this is as far as I got! I had hoped to have it filled in for this post, but my laundry pile had other plans for me. :)

Advent Garden

Advent_tree_lights

Above you see the indoor/outdoor lights I found at Target last week - in perfect Advent colors! And below you see the small live Christmas tree we bought for our deck, complete with its Thanksgiving Day ribbon. After the holidays we will plant it in our side yard.

Advent_tree

We'll soon add greenery and ribbons to the deck railings, too. I thought it would be fun to decorate our little "Advent Garden" in purple and pink until the 24th (at which point the lights will all become white).

Below you see the tree as it looks at night. As darkness falls each December eve, this will make for a very merry scene just outside the our kitchen window.

Advent_tree3

Christmas Cookie Cottage

Gingerbread_house_crackers

The boys looove gingerbread houses and after I saw these new graham crackers at the store, and then this craft at Martha Stewart's site, I knew we had found our project for this year! I think Peppermint Place is particularly charming. :)

Afternoon Holiday Tea

Advent_teas

As you must know by now (given how often I post about them, LOL) I have a fondness for specialty beverages! For afternoon "tea" (whether it be cocoa, cider or honest-to-goodness tea) I like to keep things as decaffeinated as possible. For the boys sake mostly, but also because by midday I've already had my (4-cup-of-coffee) caffeine limit!

Here is our collection so far this year: Sugar Plum Spice, Candy Cane Lane, Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride, Mulling Spices, Hot Cocoa Mix, Gingerbread Spice and Ginger Snappish. The boys and I will be having story-and-tea afternoons once a week all through the holidays. (I'm still planning them out, but will post more on them soon. I do know this coming week it will be the Sugar Cookie theme!)

(Completely off-topic, but I have to point out, in the background of that tea picture above, you can see our dear little red squirrel in the tree just outside the window! And since I love little squirrels almost as much as I do tea, here is a closer look for you:)

Advent_red_squirrel

That afternoon light looks so lovely shining through his golden red fur!

Advent Stories & Narration

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I had completely forgotten I had this sweet little book of Christmas stories for young children until I came across it the other day while down in the basement - looking for the Thanksgiving books (of which I only found a few)! (Library of Congress, I'm not, I'm afraid.) These stories are short, simple, lovely tales about the nativity. I plan to read a story a day to the boys and then ask them for their narrations. The notebook on the right is made in a similar fashion to my prayer journal - and this is where I will record their Christmastime narrations.

Well, this is where we are for now! This morning, Bill and the boys worked on our Advent Log - which came out so nicely and is sitting up now on our mantel. I will post about that tomorrow! This week I will also start preparing the children's Christmas corner. I'm trying to keep most of it a surprise, and will hopefully have it set up for the boys to wake up to next Sunday morning.

So stay tuned! And do be sure to check in at two wonderful Advent-themed carnivals this week, hosted by two of my friends, Jenn (Wednesday's Loveliness of Advent) and Mary Ellen (Friday's Carnival of Catholic Homeschooling).

And say ... speaking of carnivals ... don't forget to send me your entry for Field Day at the end of the week! :)

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