Thursday, December 25, 2008

Any Play Without Baby Jesus

This year Colin played the part of the angel in the Christmas play. Let me give you the back story on this clip. The kids are practicing for the play, but can't get over the fact that there is not actually a baby in the manger. The director, who is a little stressed out because the play is to be performed the following week, tries to convince them to continue practicing without the baby.

Watch the clip to see what happens!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Crafty Meltdown

Yesterday I hit the wall. It wasn't pretty. It started when a certain 11-year-old woke up on the wrong side of the bed and fell apart because there were not going to be donuts for breakfast. Let the record show that there are rarely donuts for breakfast here. The day just kinda went down hill from there. The last minute errands were non-stop: Hallmark, Target, post office, thrift store, mall, Target again, Half Price Books, Borders, Walmart (twice), and KFC (where they wouldn't sell me gift cards because I wanted to pay with my debit card--guess they're not hurting for business). Let's not forget that I also had to haul someone's tushie to work as well! But the deal breaker was that I couldn't find the ornament that I intended to post for today's last advent ornament. Which meant that I needed to come up with a new one. And to be quite honest, I have reached the end of my crafty rope. I have zero ideas. And the thought of wandering the aisles at Michael's trying to come up with inspiration just put me over the edge.

Enter Amy. Now Amy is young. She's hip. She's crafty with a capital C and artistic to boot. And she is capable of working into the wee hours in a way that puts me to shame. Of course, she sleeps all day...but, that's another matter. She declared that no one should be unhappy on Christmas Adam (that would be the day before Christmas Eve) and proceeded to save my bacon. She took the ornament I was working on (I should say the ornament I was crying over and ready to smash on the tile floor) and reworked it into a presentable state. Oh Amy, how I love thee.

I wish I could show you the totally cool presents she is creating for the family. I have a feeling I'm getting one of these beauties too, although I haven't seen it yet. Let's just say it involves shirts, paint, cookie cutters, plastic report covers, and the most gigantic Christmas mess on my dining room table!

Here is a closeup of one of the projects that she is keeping for herself. This is Edie Sedgwick. I told you she is artistic!

Tune in tomorrow for the fashion show!

Advent Ornaments: Day Twenty-four

...and so we come to our last day of Advent. As you share gifts tomorrow, I pray you remember the gift Christ has given you.
Matthew 2:9-11
...and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Advent Ornaments: Day Twenty-three

Christ's birth was a momentous occasion, with far-reaching effects and global implications. Those wise enough to recognize the signs sought Him out, found Him, and worshiped Him.
Matthew 2:1-2
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent Ornaments: Day Twenty-two

I love the shepherds' response to the good news. Let's go! Once they have heard, they don't waste any time finding Christ. And Mary's reaction is precious--she treasures up the experience and ponders it in her heart. I pray my heart is as responsive and reflective as the day of Christ's birth draws near!
Luke 2: 15-20
And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Advent Ornament: Day Twenty-one

Good news! Great joy! Imagine the excitement among the angels as they watched God's plan begin to unfold!

Luke 2:8-14
And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them," Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men
with whom He is pleased."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

African Nativity

When Amy was in Africa, she brought home a special Christmas present.
Christmas Corn Dolls, according to the label. I might call them cornhusk dolls, or figurines even. Here they are all nestled in their very small box.

Let me introduce you to Mary and Joseph. Mary has quite a svelte figure, considering she just gave birth.
These are the three wisemen.

And here is a shepherd and his sheep, hanging out with the donkey.

Out of the whole set, Mr. Donkey is the one who struggles to stand up on all fours. Kind of appropriate for a stubborn donkey, don't you think?

Here they all gaze upon a very tiny little Jesus, all snuggly in his swaddling clothes.

I love to see different cultural interpretations of the nativity. This one is quite a bit different from my other set, but the story the figures tell is just as powerful!

Advent Ornament: Day Twenty

Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child, and yet a King;
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hears alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious Throne.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent Ornament: Day Nineteen

Yesterday we considered Mary's willingness to serve her Lord. Today, we turn to her betrothed, Joseph. When confronted with Mary's condition, he wanted to separate himself from her secretly, so as not to disgrace her. Then the angel set him straight! Notice that he, too, responded with obedience!
Matthew 1:20-24

...behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins."

Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us." And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Stockings Were...?

Well, I can't exactly hang them because we don't exactly have a mantle. Fireplace, yes. Mantle, no. I've always wanted one of those chunky rustic slabs of wood for a lodge-like mantle, but it's kinda low (like on the bottom) of the priority list. New roof is kinda dominating the top of the list, but it's soooo boring. Okay, that's bummin me out; let's just move on, shall we?
This is one of our first stockings. There is a matching one but it has lost its hanger. I guess Santa overstuffed it one year. I made these 24 years ago for Ian and my first Christmas together! The idea was that we would stuff each other's stockings. Not gonna lie, that didn't work out too well. Hubby didn't quite get the concept of stocking stuffer and gave me a dress from Laura Ashley in my stocking! (note: I am NOT complaining, just chuckling)
These two particular stockings have lived quite the life. After being newlywed stockings they became my two oldest kids' stockings, because who has time to make stockings when you have babies?
After baby #3 came along, I had somewhat of a problem. Two matching beauties, and a cheesy fuzzy red and white supermarket stocking. Well, the baby was a baby after all, and didn't really care. Eventually, I decided to make a new set of three. I really love these stockings.
The velvet, the tassels, the gold braid, the vintage buttons...

They looked awesome in our old house, which had a traditional fireplace and mantle. But then something happened. Babies, more babies. Number 4 and Number 5 got those newlywed stockings, and Number 6 got stuck with the fuzzy one.
The other problem was that the stockings weren't big enough. They were really hard to stuff! So, back to the drawing board.
I collected up a bunch of old jeans, cut them all apart, and made new casual stockings lined with flannel. They are super roomy and durable, which is a must because without fail EVERY YEAR the kiddos put their stockings on their feet and slide around the house.
They usually get some gum or tic tacs in the little pocket, and yes, I know, one doesn't have a pocket, but you know what? It has a pocket on the back because I made it backwards. So it either doesn't have a pocket or it hangs facing the opposite direction. If you know Colin, the owner of this particular stocking, you'll get why that is totally appropriate, and you'll understand why, at age 15, I don't even think he has ever noticed that his is different!
In a nod to tradition, the kids get an orange in the toe of their stocking, because that's what was always in the toe of mine growing up. The funny thing is that we had an orange tree in our yard, so my brothers and I were a little baffled as to why an orange was anything special when we could just go outside and pick one. Apparently, mom always had an orange in the toe of hers, and back in those dinosaur days it really was something special. For my own kids, I've upgraded to a Toblerone chocolate orange, since really, we have several citrus trees in the yard, and oranges, lemons, and grapefruit are coming out our ears at this time of year!
A couple of years ago, a little birdie told me that the kids were getting up in the middle of the night, unloading their stockings, then reloading them before we got up. Last year Santa came to my closet and let me pass the stockings out the next day. Not sure what clever idea Santa has this year!
Check out the other fun stockings over at Nikki's!

Advent Ornaments: Day Eighteen

As we move into the final week before the big celebration, let's take a look at the old, familiar Christmas story. Today we focus on Mary.

Luke 1:26-38 tells the beautiful story of the angel Gabriel's visit to Mary to inform her she has been chosen by God to bear His Son, for, as Gabriel says, "Nothing will be impossible with God." (verse 37)

Mary responds with precious acceptance and obedience: "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word."

Today's passage was a bit long to type out, but it's not too long to read! Find your Bible and look it up, or go here to read for yourself.

The artwork inside the today's ornament comes from a Christmas card I received years ago from my dear friend Priscilla Burris. I love her work! I figured out how to stuff the image inside the glass ball by following these instructions.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advent Ornaments: Day Seventeen

The prophets knew the circumstances of Christ's birth would be unusual and miraculous!
Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:
Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.*

*Immanuel literally means "God is with us." How beautiful!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent Ornaments: Day Sixteen

Not only did the prophets of old foretell Christ's lineage, but they also spoke of His humble birthplace!

Micah 5:2, 4-5a
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for
Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.

And He will arise and shepherd His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.
And they will remain,
Because at that time He will be great
To the ends of the earth.
And this One will be our peace.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Advent Ornaments: Day Fifteen

Who is this Christ? From what family would He come? The prophets called it long, long ago! He would be born into David's royal line, King David, son of Jesse.
Isaiah 11:1-2
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent Ornaments: Day Fourteen

Yesterday we saw that Christ will come and reign in peace. What will that kingdom be like?
Isaiah 11: 6, 10
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion
and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
Then it will come about in that day
That the nations will resort to the root of Jesse,
Who will stand as a signal for the peoples;
And His resting place will be glorious.

More about the root of Jesse tomorrow!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advent Ornaments: Day Thirteen

As foretold by the prophets, Christ, the Prince of Peace, will reign forever with justice and righteousness. His rule will be glorious!
Isaiah 9:7
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it
with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts
will accomplish this.
Thanks to Nikki at Whimsylove for providing the tutorial for this ornament!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Advent Ornaments: Day Twelve

In addition to bringing light to a dark world and drawing the nations to His glory, the prophets also foretold Christ's coming reign as Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Peace.

Today's ornament pattern comes courtesy of the purl bee.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Random Junk

Today I woke up in a fog. Hubby is home, so he did the early morning run to school for zero hour. And just a little side note here: if your kid doesn't have a driver's license, don't let her take zero hour, because guess who's gonna pay for that one? Yeah, remember, sleep is a beautiful thing. So back to the fog issue. Imitrex fixed that. But then I had that "I've just been run over by a truck" feeling, which isn't really so bad compared to a migraine, when you think about it. In addition, Brian isn't feeling so great, so he slept in until 10. One of the beauties of homeschooling (besides going to school in your p.j.'s) is that you can still go to school even if you're sick. Well, the kids don't think it's a good thing, but if you're trying to hit a certain goal, it means you're not going to lose time just because you have mucus exploding from every cranial orifice. But, I must be getting soft in my old age, because I let him have the day off. He totally crashed on the couch all day watching cartoons. I'm blaming it on the fog. But it was nice for Teacher to have a day off too.

So, I got my advent ornament for tomorrow done while it was still daylight. Hooray! Which means, I was able to photograph it outside on some live greenery instead of on my fake-o Christmas tree. Don't get me wrong. I love my giant fake-o Costco tree. It doesn't dry out in two days, it doesn't suck water by the gallons, it doesn't fall over, and it doesn't drop needles all over everywhere. (Let's just disregard the fact that it doesn't smell evergreeny either; candles can fix that.) But after 11 days of taking close up pictures of ornaments, I've realized that a fake tree just looks, well, super fake in a picture. And I don't like it. Tomorrow you will see a little ornament nestled in the rosemary bush. Maybe I can stay ahead of the game here!

I also spent the morning cruising the web and found so many cute ideas my head is spinning. Really, this is probably not a good thing. On second thought, I don't think I'm ever going to buy a cooking or craft magazine ever again. There's no need to! The amount of creativity out there is astounding. I ran across a post for totally cute melted snowman cupcakes. I'll probably never bother to frost a cupcake like this (we have food coloring issues at our house; they aggrevate somebody's ADD) but the recipe looked intriguing, so I tried it.

Oh my goodness, these were super delish! I'm throwing my old cranberry bread/muffin recipe out and replacing it with this one--it was that good!
Here's my American translation of the original.

Cream together:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Stir in:
1/2 cup Craisins
zest of one orange
Bake 18-20 minutes at 350.
I iced mine with a powdered sugar/orange juice glaze. Double yum.

Advent Ornaments: Day Eleven

The prophets told of a Shepherd, who would gather His lost sheep and tenderly guide them, watching over them and protecting them.Isaiah 40:11
Like a shepherd He will tend his flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs,
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

Did you miss a day? You can start working your way backwards here!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent Ornaments: Day Ten

Isaiah the prophet speaks of the Messiah--Jesus Christ, our coming king!
Isaiah 60:1-3
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth,
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you,
And His glory will appear upon you.
And the nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Everyday

Whoa, four posts in one day. I think I need to pace myself. But I saw this and thought I'd like to play along.

The question is, how do we as a family celebrate the true meaning of Christmas?

Well, sit yourself down and let me just tell you!
Since some of my family reads this, I will be honest. Since some of that said family includes a certain college-aged individual who is not shy about calling me out, you can rest assured that I'm not going to whitewash this shindig and try to hoodwink you into believing that we have family devotions every morning, or that we volunteer every week down at the shelter, or even that my six kiddos so altruistically give up their presents each year in lieu of supporting orphans in faraway places.

Nope, none of that.
Here's the lowdown. My big tip to young parents, if you will.
I gave up Advent calendars because I noticed that it totally hyped the kids up and put their focus on getting. One year I made a really cute felt banner with a Christmas tree and 24 ribbons attached to it. I frosted 24 cookies with the numbers 1-24, wrapped them individually, then tied them to the banner. Cute idea, huh? Wrong! I think I had four kids at the time. That meant I had to keep track each day of whose turn it was to untie and eat the cookie. Which meant that I had to also pass out identical cookies to the other 3 in order to avoid mass hysteria. All before 8 AM. Now I love sugar in the morning as much as the next guy, but something seems fundamentally wrong with giving a toddler a frosted Oreo for breakfast. After 24 days of fighting and arguing and "me first" I decided that the advent calendar was the most unChristlike part of my Christmas, so I ditched it and gave it to Goodwill.
Now the kidlets are mostly teenagers or somewhere near that age. They each get their own Trader Joe's chocolate advent calendar, with 24 chocolates weighing in at a total of 1.76 ounces, making each serving about the equivalent of a chocolate chip. And the best part of it is that they can manage the calendar themselves. If they want to open all the doors on December 3 and ruin their Christmas, they have that freedom.
But now, Christ in do we manage it?

Well, it's reading a little less of this

and a little more of this.

To be perfectly honest, I don't really try to keep Christ in Christmas. Wha-a-a-a-a-t?
I try to keep Him in every day. It really works much better that way.
This year, as in years past, we are reading this great book. This year, unlike previous years, I will try not to read ahead and finish it on my own and then not be bothered to finish reading it aloud because I am too busy. Maybe this year a certain kid will actually solve the mystery!

In the spirit of Advent, I am crafting handmade ornaments that reflect some aspect of Christ and His Story. These are the first 9. (Get it? Today is December 9; I uncork one each day!)
Then I post about it, in an effort to force myself to actually finish making all 24. Have you picked up that I have a little trouble with finishing things? Yeah, well, my house is a complete wreck too.
Thanks for stopping by! Come on back anytime! (What I love about blogs: you don't have to clean them before people come over.)

Christ in the every day. Consider it.

Advent Ornaments: Day Nine

Over the next few days, let's take a look at what the prophets of old had to say about Christ's impending birth.Isaiah 9:2
The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.

May the light of Christ shine on you today!

Just in case you missed a day or two:
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Day 4 Day 5 Day 6
Day 7 Day 8

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Secret

I think I've discovered the secret to creating traffic on your blog. Oh yeah, this is a surefire winner all right. See, I notice I get hits every day on one certain page in my backlog of wonderful posts. So all you have to do is ...


(whispering, because it's a secret after all)

Mention a certain pro football player's name (the one who's doing jail time for that infamous dogfighting incident) in the same sentence as a certain clothing designer. Never mind that you were talking about shoes, sandals and cleats to be precise. They don't need to know that. They'll come snooping around, just to see what's going on.

Let's try another trick, shall we?

We'll see what kind of mileage we can get out of this one.

Perhaps we should mention in one sentence a certain Harry Potter star who shares our last name (and who, by the way, is not our cousin, contrary to what my kids might have told you) and the state of his clothing in a certain stage production involving horses. Dare I say it?

I can't/won't share any images of Daniel Radcliffe naked!

Google start your search engines.

Instead of the Christmas Angel

We have the Christmas Joe?

Look, all I asked was one simple task.

Please hang the gold balls on the tree while I run out and pick up your little brother from swim practice.

I walk in the door, plop myself down on the couch, yakkin' away to my mom, when I look up and see this.(Okay, yeah, I know we have a serious water damage issues, but it rains like 3 times a year here, so we're not in imminent danger.)
You've got to be kidding me.

I seriously almost put that bucket of Joes and their paraphernalia out for charity last week. No one has even played with them for at least a year. They occasionally come out during the summers to make a brief appearance as ship captains in the pool, but that just about covers their playtime duties. I noticed that last Sunday Brian had dragged them out of the closet, as they work cheaper than the SAG actors do, and he was organizing his latest video shoot. (I know this because I found his camcorder and about 10 batteries on the living room floor. Apparently, all our batteries are dead, but, pet peeve, they all get put back in the drawer instead of in the trash so we never know which are the good ones.)

But I digress.

Back to Joe, our sweet angel of mercy.

Notice he has his life vest on.

Is he worried he's going to drown up there?
Or maybe his life vest has a more symbolic meaning.
Perhaps it indicates his desire to buoy our spirits.
Or maybe he's just trying to keep his head above water in our lovely economy.
Maybe he's trying to tell us something.
Eh? What's that, Joe?

You say you're just the victim of some knucklehead kids?
I feel your pain, Joe, I feel your pain.

Advent Ornaments: Day Eight

We begin the week with the reminder that God gave us a most precious gift, a gift we celebrate each year at Christmas, the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Today's verse is an old favorite.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Amy's Ornaments

I have the most wonderfully creative daughter. Over the years she has made several ornaments. These are just a few of them! I wish I had put the date on them. What I can tell you is she was in the 6-11 range when she made these. What I love is how she would go around the house, find craft materials, and come up with these wonderful ideas. This was a popsicle stick and some twigs from the yard. Now it is Rudolph.
More yarn and twigs. Now we have Frosty.

A bead, a walnut shell from the street (the crows drop them to crack them and eat the nutmeat) and some cotton--Jesus!

Some paints and a shingle that blew off our roof in a strong wind. Now it's a nativity!

This one she created with polymer clay when she was 12 or 13 after she watched the Carol Duvall Christmas show. It's amazing. I'm still not entirely sure how she got all that clay inside there!
That's Amy--she's my crafty girl!

Dead Camera Mystery Solved

Sometimes I wonder why my camera is dead in the morning. Now I know. Busted.