We've had a lot of happenings around here, including Britt's sweet sixteen birthday and today Kate's third birthday. It's surreal to me - to have a daughter with a driver's license and another still in a carseat. Surreal but crazy beautiful too. Earlier today a friend lamented giving away her nursing pillow and a bouncy seat. She cried because she says they don't plan on having anymore children. She has two very little ones, the oldest is only 3. But I wonder, how many people make those kind of "final" family-size decisions when they are in the thick of the hard toddler/baby years, only to regret it later. Because those years do pass away and the next thing you know you have a lot more time to sew ...
And what do you say to a friend who maybe doesn't have the same mindset as you when it comes to faith and family size, and yet you know that the best gift you can give your children are brothers and sisters, what do you say without coming off as righteous and uncharitable? Share your story, I guess. Hope that it plants a small seed somewhere, perhaps.
Advent - its here and I love it, its truly my favorite liturgical season. It began here with the promise of a crazy snow storm, so Tom and I took a long brisk walk on Sunday afternoon while the turkey cooked, and that storm certainly arrived later that night. This morning he got up early to plow the front yard before leaving for work. Piles of snow.
The Jesse Tree is up and running, and maybe we'll get through a few more ornaments than we did last year. We have dug into the Advent book pile and are enjoying our hot chocolate every morning with a good story. You know, there are a million and one Advent ideas and calendars and nativity crafts but this year we are just keeping it simple and trying to do a few things well. Our only other non-negotiable traditions are the St. Andrew novena with the big kids every night (love that), and hosting a homeschool St.Nicholas party on Friday.
Young Explorers and Junior Scholars - both groups taking place at my house - have wrapped up till after Christmas. I'm so glad! They are awesome awesome programs but I'm thankful to have a little reprieve for the time being. It's hard work!! But of course well worth it, which is what motivates me. I must apologize to those of you who look to the Young Explorer blog posts because I just haven't had a lot of time to keep up with them.
At any rate, we have wound down for Advent and that is the beauty of homeschooling. I typically take Advent "off" of school but that's not really true, its just that we do different things besides the formal bookwork. I love the change of pace and activities. Slowing down. Putting formal school away and just taking time to live the liturgical season a little more quietly and deeply. It's also a time where I like to think about the upcoming year and what things I'll do differently after Christmas. I really want to go through our Holy Father's new encyclical, Lumen Fidei, as a family (mostly with the bigs). I keep hearing all the controversial chatter about it so you know its going to be good.
My big kids have a few Advent plans of their own. Brittany is spending a lot of time at the piano playing jazzy-style Christmas carols. And speaking of carols, Dawson likes to read Dickens' A Christmas Carol every couple of years and this was the year to read it. I remember we did it as a read-aloud during our very first year of homeschooling and gosh, I found Dickens hard and wordy! We plowed through it because we had to for a bookclub and I was determined to read unabridged classics at the time, even though Dawson was only five years old. (That sounds ludicrous now, and I've since relaxed!) I don't remember any of us truly truly appreciating it then. And yet, when the next Advent rolled around Dawson asked for it again. So now its like his personal tradition and he has just this minute announced that he finished the book which he only started on Sunday.
I've been dabbling on the machine trying to get together a few more gifts which has been a lot of fun. An apron was completed last night and its super-cute! I'll hopefully do a post on Thursday. I also cleaned out my linen closet upstairs, and lo and behold I found just exactly the right kind of denim for another Hollyburn skirt. Its more of a black denim and now I'm excited to give it a go. Amazing what those linen closets are hiding.