Wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend…

…and Looking Forward to Advent

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  Liz made it home from the hospital in time for Thanksgiving dinner and we were truly thankful for that blessing.  Friday was spent recuperating from the hectic week.  Richard decorated inside the house Friday and Saturday.  The tree is now up.  The Christmas village is up and lit.  The outside decorations are completed and are lighting up the neighborhood tonight. Today was also a quiet and restful day.  Other than Mass, no on went anywhere.

Thanksgiving is truly over in our house.  The last of the turkey was used to make a Turkey Divan and the rest of leftovers were also finished.  So now the Christmas dinner plans begin.

We have started a technology free week for the children.  No computer, DSs, computer time (other than specific school subjects) or MP3 players.  This came about because of the constant nagging for time on the computer, borrowing my Nook, time on the Wii.  This resulted in horrible attitudes if the answer was no.  So I declared all electronics turned off as of today.  Only Richard or I can turn on the TV.  Right now we are watching Mankind.  So the children will be allowed to watch the recorded show sometime this week.  The computer will only be used for typing lessons and their spelling lessons. 

Today was a bit rough as they figured out how to occupy themselves without the electronic babysitters.  By the end of the day they were getting it.  Tomorrow we will take a trip to the library for new books to help occupy their time.  My overall goal is to have no electronics throughout all of Advent, other than special shows Richard or I OK ahead of time.  We will see how that works out.

My other major accomplishment this weekend was pulling together my Advent unit for the six year olds. This unit is based off of Elizabeth Foss’s Advent Unit using Tomie DePaola books.  I used her recommended books and pulled together a day by day lesson plan for Advent and the Octave of Christmas.  You can see my plans here.

I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed weekend.

Third Sunday of Advent — Gaudete Sunday

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent. We light the pink candle to Rejoice that the birth of Christ is coming soon. This week we have a lot to celebrate.

Liz spent the early part of this week in the hospital. Last Sunday her vision suddenly became more blurry and foggy. Since this was how things started for her in February 2010, we headed to the Johns Hopkins Emergency Room. Johns Hopkins is were all of her specialists practice and rather than deal with the local ER, who would just have to send her down there, we went there instead.

I know God was with us that day. There was no wait at all for her to be triaged and placed in a room. You have to remember Hopkins is in the middle of Baltimore, MD. The last time we went there in 2010, we spent almost 4 hours in the waiting room. So it was a minor miracle that she was in a room within 20 minutes of our arrival.

All the preliminary testing happened quickly. We saw all the opthamologist and the neurosurgeon fellows within 4 hours of arrival. The neurosurgeon fellow even expected her to be discharged and come back later in the week for an outpatient shunt patency test. However, Dr. Rigamonti, her neurosurgeon, had her admitted so they could do the test the next day, rather than wait for a future date. The neuro-opthamologist also ordered specialized eye imaging of the retina and optic nerve. Monday was spent doing these tests.

Tuesday the doctors conferred over the test results. The tests are showing the shunt is working and her eyes are looking okay. So while we do not know exactly what has caused her vision issues, we do know the shunt is working and that means no major surgery right now. We were all relieved over this.

She is completing her first semester back at college this week. She will have finals next week. Then she will have more follow up appointments at Hopkins. We are praying that her vision returns to her new baseline over the break and the issue has just been overuse and strain over these last couple weeks of the semester. If that is the case, we have all learned a lesson and she will need to pace herself more during the semester and not have to spend a large amount of time on the computer for days on end.

I hope you have a wonderful week and rejoice that the Lord’s birth is drawing close.

Pax Christi!

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome

Second Sunday of Advent

After a crazy busy Saturday, I am looking forward to a slower day spent mostly at home. We will head to 11 AM Mass, then come home for lunch. The weather is supposed to be in the high 50s and sunny so I am thinking an afternoon outside will be in the works.

One of the houses in the subdivision has a K’NEX train garden up and running. Douglas helped set it up this year (another benefit of homeschooling), so we will probably take awalk over there tonight, before the weather turns colder later in the week.

I hope you have a peaceful Sunday

Pax Christi!

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome

First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. It marks the start of the new liturgical year. This year we will again be following the Holy Heroes Advent Adventure.

This is a fun way to help learn about our Catholic Faith and the true meaning of Christmas. I have also made an Advent Calendar, well actually Advent Chain, which has activities the family will do throughout Advent. Things like writing the Christmas cards, baking cookies, and serving at the Sharing Table as a family.

We will be making a bed for the Baby Jesus. This is an empty manger into which we put pieces of “straw” (yellow and brown yarn) based on the number of good deeds or sacrifices the children make through out the day. The idea is to have a soft, fluffy bed for the Infant Jesus on Christmas Eve because the children have been showing compassion and a servant’s heart for everyone in the family and others outside the family.

We light the Advent Wreath and have a little devotional before dinner and have at least one family night a week. This includes things like a favorite family dinners, watching family favorite holiday movie or even a game night. In this hurried time of year, I think it is a good thing to try to slow down, connect as a family and enjoy each other.

What are some of your family’s Advent traditions?

Pax Christi,

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome

Advent Lesson Plans

I love the Advent and Christmas season. This is my 2nd year of homeschooling through the  holiday season. I began homeschooling in January of 2010. Last year we were all recovering from the horrors of the year, so we just heaved a sigh of relief and did the bare minimum.

In my years of researching how I wanted to live the liturgical year with my family, I dreamed of following Elizabeth Foss’s Advent and Christmas lessons using the Tomie de Paola books. This year I am doing it. I ordered most of the books. Some are out of print and hard to find, but I was able to find most of them at decent prices. I am still looking for The Lady of Guadalupe. If you find it at a good price please let me know.

My older ones will continue with their course of studies, and will be doing the family activities. For Faith Formation will be using Holy Heroes Advent Adventures.

I will be moving some of the books around to make sure they match up with Feast Days during Advent. I am also adding some stories from Tomie de Paola’s Book of Bible Stories. This is noted with a (B) next to the story. Another book is used that is called Hark! A Christmas Sampler. That is noted by an (H) next to the story title.

Week One: November 27 – December 3
Merry Christmas, Strega Nona and Jingle the Christmas Clown

Read An Angel Visits Mary (B)
Discuss the Annunciation and what it meant to Mary, Joseph and the world

Read Merry Christmas, Strega Nona.
Make pasta like Strega Nona
Make glitter glue star decorations
Make apple star prints on brown craft paper for gift wrap

Read Jingle, the Christmas Clown
Make a Gift Coupon for each member of the family. Illustrate them Tomie DePaola style
Make a gingerbread stable for Jingle’s animals. Use animal crackers.

Read The Legend of the Birds (H)
Make star cookies using the recipe in Jingle, The Christmas Clown.

Week 2: December 4 – December 10
The Country Christmas Angel, The Clown of God

Read The Gift of the Littlest Shepard (H). Compare the gift of the shepard with the gift of the juggler.

St. John Bosco could juggle. Research how this skilled helped his ministry.
Learn to juggle.

Read The Country Christmas Angel
Compare pictures of St. Nicholas with de Paola’s drawings. Draw your own pictures of St. Nicholas.

Week 3: December 11- December 17 (This will spill into Christmas week)
The Legend of the Poinsettia, The Night of Las Posadas, and Francis, the Poor Man of Assisi

Read about Christmas Plants in Hark! A Christmas Sampler.
Research Mexico. How is Christmas celebrated there.
Make a Holiday Flan
Learn about the Creche. Read Francis, The Poor Man of Assisi.
Make tissue paper flowers the traditional poinsettia colors of red, white, pink.
Describe Los Posadas.

Week 4: December 18 – December 24
Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Jesus is Born (B)

Read Jesus is Born (B)
Discuss the meaning of God becoming man

Read Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Illustrate the mysteries of the rosary.
Read the Donkey’s Dream.
Read The Donkey’s Song (H)
Break out the calendar for the new year and write all the Marian Feasts on the calendar.
Read The Legend of the Rosemary (H)
Make rosemary candles

Weeks 5 and 6: December 25 – January 6
The Legend of Old Befana, The Three Wise Kings, Strega Nona’s Gift

Read The Littlest Camel (H)
Read Babushka (H)
Read The Legend of Old Befana
Read Strega Nona’s Gift
Read The Three Wise Kings
Learn all the verses to We Three Kings
Make stars from translucent paper to hang in the windows.
On January 6th, leave a little gift at a neighbor’s door with a note signed “Old Befana”
Make cardboard Crowns, decorate with jewels as you memorize Bible verses.
Make a King cake with treasures baked into it. Serve with wassail punch.

Have you made your Advent plans yet?

Pax Christi,

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome

Preparing for Advent

With everything going on in our lives, I am late getting started on my Advent plans this year. I had a vague mental outline of what I wanted to accomplish this year, and I think it has all been blown out of the water for now.

For those that do not know follow the Catholic Liturgical calendar, is a time of preparation for the coming of the Light of the World, beginning four Sundays before Christmas.  Advent varies in length, depending on when Christmas Day falls during the week. It is also the start of the new liturgical year for Catholics.  We use Advent as a time of drawing closer to God by heading to the sacrament of reconcilation.  To represent this repentence, the church linens and the priest’s vestments are purple.

This year Advent begins on Sunday, Novemeber 27th so I have a little time to get it all planned out. Over the next couple of days I will developing my Advent lesson plans and deciding what we will be doing as a family.

Have you started your Advent plans yet? If so, I would love to hear what you are planning for your familes during this wonderful time of the year.

Pax Christi,

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome