Advent Crazy

I remember as an elementary student getting a free advent paper from a grocery store.  It was a picture of Santa and for each day in December you glued a cotton ball on his beard.  It looked something like this.  I love the countdown, the anticipation of the big day.  I want my kids to have the same excitement and anticipation that I had as I looked forward to Christmas morning. 

This year, we have added a few more ways to countdown to the bid day, and I don't know who is more excited...me or the boys.

The word advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming," is upon us.  These are the days of preparation; preparing for the celebration of Christmas, preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ.  Some of mine are biblical, and some are just for fun.  I do, however, want to focus on the real purpose we are celebrating the season with my boys. 

Here is how we are going to countdown to the day we celebrate the birth of Christ:

1.  Advent House.  I saw this in the Pottery Barn catalog several years ago and just had to get it.  I had
     been looking for a house that you could open up doors, inspired by the classic Christmas Vacation.
     Each door is filled with two pieces of candy for each boy.  They are thrilled about this one.
2.  Candy Cane Santa.  I got this one a few years ago at a boutique that is no longer in business. 
     Each day is filled with a candy cane to count down. 

3.  Star Wars Advent Calendar.  I found this one at the Lego Store at Downtown Disney, but my
     friend saw them at Target this week.  I am sure they can be found other places as well.  We are in
     a Star Wars Lego phase, so I just had to get this one.  Each day, they build something small.  We
     are looking forward to this one this year.

4.  Christmas Book Countdown.  A friend told me that she did this when her children were little.  I
     have been wanting to do this as well, but I just haven't gotten around to it.  This year I was
     determined!  You get 25 Christmas books and wrap them.  We had 12 already, but it still can be
     pricey.  I found lots at Books-a-Million in the clearance section.  I wish I would have had time to
     make a run to McKay's used book store in Knoxville.  It would have been much cheaper.  I like this
     idea because they get to unwrap a book each day. 
We have also been reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.  It is an entertaining book with a great message.  We saw the play last year, but we have enjoyed reading the book together as a family. 

5.  Jesse Tree Devotional.   This is also something I have wanted to do for several years but am just
     now getting around to putting it together.  This is by far the best one of them all.  My ornaments
     aren't anything spectacular, but at least they are finished this year.  This has a scripture reading with
     a short explanation about the passage for each day.  It actually started today, and it is a tradition I
     want to do each year. 

     The advent verse is from Isaiah 11:1-2, "And there shall come forth a rod our of the stem of Jesse,  
     and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:  And the spirit of the Lord shall rest on Him, the spirit of
     wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of counsel and might, the
     spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord."

     You can do this many ways, but I got some branches out of the yard and put in a vase for ours. 
        Here is a link to create your own Jesse Tree. 

So tonight, the last night of November, our advents are all set.  Candy is in place, candy canes are fresh and ready to fill up Santa, books are wrapped, and the branches are arranged.  Is it too many?  I say naaa...as long as the kids are excited about them and it doesn't cause stress.  I am looking forward to a great Christmas season.  The countdown is on!

Check out this blog I read today.  It was beautiful and it is a great reminder as we go into a busy time of the year.  How the Wait till Christmas Can Be Weightless


Yarn Wreath

At craft night at church a few weeks ago, Ashley Brandes worked on some wreaths for her project.  She made one that she found on Pinterest and I loved it so much I decided to make my own. 

It was very easy to make, but it was a bit time consuming.  I recommend getting a foam form to wrap.  I got mine from Hobby Lobby made of straw.  When Ashley made hers, she unwrapped it, and it was messy and showed through the wrapped yarn a little.  I decided to leave the plastic on mine because it is going to be covered up anyway.  I suggest a foam one instead to avoid this problem and it will be smoother.  Wrap the yarn TIGHTLY and it is okay to overlap.  I tried to make mine a single wrap and it showed a little of the form.  I had to wrap more in a few gaps later. 

The fall wreath that this was copied used contrasting colors wrapped wider around the form once your base color is completed.  I forgot to get the yarn to do this, but I like how mine turned out anyway.  If I did another one, I would do this though.  Here is the link to some more beautiful fall wreaths...

I used this tutorial I found from Pinterest on how to make the felt flowers.  They were really easy to make.

Once you make the flowers, simply hot glue them down to the wreath.  Add some berries for some more texture.  Hang some ribbon to attach to your wreath hanger and VOILA...

It makes me smile☺


Winter Bucket List

Recently I posted a "Fall Bucket List" in Happy Fall.  We checked off most of the list, but unfortunately, two of our trips didn't happen and we were unable to complete it entirely.  I found a Winter Bucket List that was similar to the fall one, only I changed it to the activities I wanted our family to do this year.  It probably should be entitled "Christmas" Bucket List instead.  Feel free to use and print for yourselves as well. 

I framed ours and use a dry erase marker to check off the items.  It erases easily off the glass.


Yesterday, my friend Rita stopped by for the morning with her family and I took some pictures of them.  It was windy, but it was a beautiful day!  Here is her sweet family that is SOOO far away now!

Isn't she beautiful?  I could just eat her up!!

Connor made me laugh my head off with his expressions...
This is torture!!!

What a cutie!



I know this is a little late, but it is never too late to show thankfulness.  It should be our daily attitude to show thanks and gratefulness toward the blessings that we are blessed to have.  Over the weekend, I listened to a Focus on the Family broadcast on thankfulness that really made me reflect and examine if I am a truly thankful person. 

The broadcast was with R.T. Kendall.  He explained that he had a wake up call when he was preaching through the book of Philippians.  When he got to the passage "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6).  He said he focused on "with thanksgiving" and was so convicted during his sermon, he prayed to be able to make it through the sermon.  He couldn't wait for the service to be over to go and repent before the Lord. 

He explained that when he finished his sermon, he went before the Lord and he spoke to him (not audibly) and reminded him one thing after another of what he should be thankful for and the Lord asked, "Are you thankful for that?"  R.T. said, "yes" and the Lord said, "Well, you didn't tell me."  He made a vow to the Lord that he would be a thankful person for the rest of his life.

How does one become a truly thankful person? 
He said his way of becoming a thankful person was to keep a daily journal and each day he looks on the day before and thanks God for what He has done.  Another thing that he and his wife started doing on each trip is to say out loud to each other what they were thankful for.  They ended up saying over forty things they were thankful for just on the trip alone.  That is praise and God loves our praise.

What keeps a person from being thankful? 
We can sometimes simply forget.  We know that God is all-knowing, so we can just assume that God knows that we are thankful.  He enjoys our praise and wants us just to simply tell him thank you, even for the little things.  We are made in His image and we know that we desire to be thanked for what we do for others.  When someone tells us thank you for something that we do, we may say to them, "don't worry about it", but woe to the person who doesn't say thank you.  God loves our thankfulness, and He commands us to do it. 

There are some who don't just forget to be thankful, but simply aren't.  Jesus tells of the ten lepers being healed and only one came back to say thank you.  He asked where the other nine were, so we know that all throughout scripture, we are called to be thankful.  One of the descriptions of the end times is ungratefulness and ingratitude.  In Romans 1, God lists sexual immortality alongside of unthankfulness. 

R.T. said that he holds the view that one of the reasons why America has been blessed is because of Thanksgiving, even though some just focus on turkey, football, and parades.  Many will stop, even briefly, and be thankful.  God loves it and honors it. 

Other resources on making thankfulness a discipline:
Just Say Thanks by R.T. Kendall
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
How to Help Raise Grateful Kids

Here is a link to listen to the entire broadcast...I promise you won't regret it.
Being Thankful For God's Blessings

For me, this broadcast was convicting and thought provoking.  I am thankful for many things, but I sometimes fall into the category of God knows I am thankful without speaking it to Him myself.  I have a long way to go.

Is this not convicting??

This Thanksgiving, as I reflected over the last year, there are so many things that I need to say thank you for.  I will not list them all here, but the thing that I am really thankful this year for is the arrival of Baby Lane.  He is the baby that I didn't think we would get to have, so my heart is full of thankfulness for the birth of our third child.  We are anxiously waiting for the middle of February.  So, even though I am beginning to feel uncomfortable, feel as large as a house, and didn't get the girl I longed for, how dare I not be thankful for a child that I so desperately prayed for.  I am thankful for the privilege to be a mother. 

On Thanksgiving day, we decorated for Christmas.  We didn't have a family meal, but the boys got together and played a football game. 

On Friday, we hosted a Thanksgiving meal for Landon's family at our house.  We had lots of yummy food!!

Logan and Trent with the wishbone. 

"In everything, give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:18