Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Weak Link

Everyone has a weak link in their lives. I will admit to several! In my responsibilities as a wife and mother, I feel my greatest weakness in the service of my family is providing nutritious meals. It has become more apparent as the fast has started. (Isn't it funny how quickly fasting shows us our weaknesses?)

I woke up early this morning, and this subject was on my mind and in my heart. I feel the one thing needful in my duties is to start providing more nutritious meals for my family. This is where you come in! I need help! I am one of those perfectionists who likes to jump in with two feet, then quickly becomes overwhelmed and quits. Since I'm trying to be aware of this, I want to start small. My first goal is to make sure my family is served fruit at all three meals of the day, and vegetables twice. Second, I'd like my children's breakfasts and lunches to be healthier, without relying so much on "convenience foods". My third goal will be to tackle dinners.

So, please send me your ideas! Whether it's your own ideas or links to websites or other blogs, I could really use some advice!

I do ask that you be gentle with me! I am not a gourmet cook, and get easily scared in the kitchen! I am willing to work on this, but need to take baby steps.

I can't wait to see what ideas you have. I and my family thanks you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tomorrow's the Big Day!

I wish everyone a Blessed Advent Season! I have spent the last hour and a half wrapping books (see my previous post) and dragging out my indoor decorations from the attic. I was hopeful that tonight and tomorrow were going to be relaxed with tree and house decorating, but that's not the case! We usually put our tree up after the kids go to bed, and then spend the next day decorating the tree and house. Tonight, however, my husband and I have to attend a clergy/parish council dinner with our Diocesan Bishop. We have promised each other to leave early and get the tree up tonight! Tomorrow my two oldest have their final soccer games and parties. We also have Vespers and a parish-wide dinner with our Bishop. So I'm guessing that decorating will not get very far tomorrow. I'm hoping we can get in a couple hours tomorrow afternoon, and finish up Sunday afternoon. We don't decorate the outside of our house until after Thanksgiving (which we are hosting this year!!)

Though it sounds stressful, I am really VERY excited about tomorrow! I can't wait to light that first candle tomorrow night!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Advent Activities

My very favorite time of year is coming up. Advent!! Since childhood, I have loved this time of year! Now that I'm a Mom, I'm able to share my excitement with my own family. I've shared how I try to prepare for the Nativity fast, and I want to share some of the activities we do on a nightly basis with the kids.
Tree - the night before Advent ( a Friday this year!) my husband and I put our Christmas tree up after the kids go to bed. (Yes, we have an artificial tree.) We don't decorate it, just put it up with the lights. The next morning the kids wake up and see the big tree all lit up, and they know what day it is! That day, (or night if it's a week day) we decorate the tree and the rest of the house. At the suggestion of a friend we're going to wait to put up our stockings until the night before St. Nicholas Day.
Calendar - You can find a paper calendar with 40 doors at many websites, but I have made my own permanent calendar. It has been wonderful to use this every year! If you haven't seen one, here are the instructions If you need any more help I'd be happy to send you pictures of mine.
Every night we light our candles. We have 6 this year (since Advent starts on a Saturday). I personally use all purple candles, except for the one used during the week of the Presentation of the Theotokos. That week I use a blue candle. My parish provides readings for each night, so we also use those. Again, I'd be happy to share.
Nativity Scene - This is a tradition that my parents started, and it really helps my kids understand the journey to Christ's birth. We set up our Nativity scene and place the shepherd and animals in the cave. We place the Theotokos and St. Joseph far away from the cave ( we have ours on a long counter. I cut out 39 "stones" out of brown construction paper. These lead up to the cave. Each night one of the kids move Mary and Joseph up one step towards the Nativity scene. On Christmas Eve, before our service, we place Mary and Joseph in the cave. After the kids go to the car for church I sneak baby Jesus into the cave (He stays hidden during Advent) and when we get home, He is in the cave! We add the Wise Men at Theophany.
Christmas Books - I keep my Christmas books put away during the year, and during our evening Advent time I let one of the kids "unwrap" a book to read. I keep these books wrapped under the tree. Once they've opened a book, it's added to our book basket and they can continue to look at it throughout Advent.
Last year, at the suggestion of a friend, I purchased the Playm*bil Nativity Set. My older two loved playing with this set! This year, I'm going to have to be a little more careful with it since my 18 month old could easily pop any of the pieces into her mouth!
So, as you can see, Advent is a very special time for our family! Needless to say, I am so excited that we only have a week and a half before it all begins!