Thursday, December 1, 2016

Our Advent Plans

It's December first and I'm full of expectation. I sit here listening to Austin Stone's A Day of Glory Christmas album and diffusing pine and blue spruce, as I think back to a year ago this month when I first came to Flagler with Brandon for his interview.

Here we are a year later, having put up our Christmas tree in the parsonage we now call home.

There is so much to look forward to, as with every start of the holiday season. I feel like this is the first year our three year old daughter will really "get it" in terms of retelling the story of Jesus' birth. It has been so fun to watch her excitement when the timer on the Christmas tree clicks on in the afternoons and when we do a craft (similar to this one).

I had fun planning our family Advent activities and was tempted to "do all the things." But who can? Even with a fairly open schedule (only one kid in (pre) school), I know it is best to keep it simple and have been cautioned against overdoing it by more than one mom who has already been there (via articles like this). We also live in a rural town, so there are not as many nearby options for some activities I would have planned a year ago when we lived in a city.

So here's what we are doing/planning on doing.

I bought the Kids Read Truth table cards and we started using those on the first Sunday of Advent since there are 29. They are designed for kids of various ages with a question for 2-5 year olds, 6-11 year olds and 12-1 year olds. I thought they would be useful for years to come and they are so cute! Maggie has loved them so far and each night during dinner ask "when do we get to read the card?" There's also an answer key (which I wish I could have realized last night while Brandon was away at Bible study and I was trying to explain what it means to "act justly, love mercy and walk humbly" to our three year old).

We're also using a paper chain count down from Color + Kindness' Advent and Christmas Countdown Calendar and Activity Kit (download). The bundle has a number of ways to "count down" and pieces to color. I've been loving her shop for downloadable PDF Bible-focused files for my preschooler (and some have memory verse cards for mamas!). 

I also bought five children's books to celebrate the season. I wanted to give them to the kids in a (somewhat) meaningful way, so I decided to wrap them up and have them open one every 4 days so we can enjoy the books before Christmas. My three year old loves reading so I think this will be right up her alley. I labeled each book with a number on the tag to correspond with certain days (1, 5, 10, 15, 20) and also wrote the numbers on the paper chain I previously mentioned. 

I also purchased Amen Paper Company's Adevent Bundle, something I've wanted to do for years (you can still  download the PDF devotional here for $12). I have the calendar hung up in our dining room, which is where we spend the majority of our time as a family. On the back of the cards I wrote an activity for each day. Some are simple like watch a Christmas movie and drink hot cocoa while others are baking cookies one day and taking them to neighbors the next. I also included things we already have on the calendar like attending and participating in the Living Nativity in town.

How are you celebrating the coming of Christ Jesus? 

Monday, August 15, 2016

A new season awaits

I kind of can't believe the last week of summer is upon us. While part of me is sad to say goodbye to the concept of summer, I am mostly happy to be welcoming a new season.

For one, fall is my favorite season. I've always loved back to school shopping. This is my 14th year of not being enrolled in a class, but I am still connected to the world of back to school and am embarking on my first year solo teaching. While it's a part-time gig, I am looking forward to trying something new and staying connected to higher education.

I look forward to the return of wearing jeans and boots and jackets. I love wearing layers! I am excited to spend more time outside, since it won't be so hot during the day and I really need to get back into my walking routine to get some regular exercise.

Truth be told, I am eagerly awaiting the new season with a lot of hope and expectation. I am anxious to get into a rhythm. I am hopeful we will feel like part of the community in some small way.

While we were in California and attended the annual gathering with our church, I got to hear Dr. Bob Logan speak. He had some really great things to say about doing ministry that really encouraged and challenged my heart. One of the things he encouraged us to consider was what he called "drop two, add one" when you are thinking about taking on something new. While I haven't had a lot of commitments since moving, the idea resonated with me in the culture of busy that so often exists.

I can't say enough about Jess Connolly's Fall into Freedom worksheets (probably because she's a girls after my own heart in the need for structure department). Doing the worksheets got me so excited for establishing some routines, but also being intentional about what I am saying YES to.

Since I am teaching, I expect there will be some structure to my days (at least three days per week when the class meets). The kids and I will attend MOPS every other week. And I am exploring some options for our preschooler to get into, but I am being intentional about what I commit to. I am hopeful the season ahead will be structured, but not overly busy.

What are you looking forward to as the school year begins?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Our Summer Road Trip

Two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to travel to Southern California for a conference with our church. We chose to drive, so we could see more of the western US. None of us had ever driven from Colorado to California so it was sure to be an adventure.

Highlights of the trip included:

  • Driving across Utah. I really had no idea just how beautiful and varied the landscape would be. I am already trying to figure out when we can go back!
  • Seeing friends we knew in our dating/early married life. Two couples we shared a lot of time with in Boston were on the visit list and catching up in person, introducing them to our kids was pure joy.
  • The Grand Canyon. Need I say more?
  • Visiting my second cousin and her family and dinner with my great aunt and uncle.
  • Taking the kids to the ocean and just hearing the waves crash along the beach.
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice. I'm talking made just a few minutes ago, fresh. I may have had it in a restaurant once or twice, but when you can watch it made in my cousin's kitchen, it is just so good (and I don't even drink OJ on the regular).
All in all, it was a grand adventure. Sure we camped in the pouring rain, but saw the Grand Canyon the next morning!  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Maggie says (part 3)...

When I told Maggie she's a city girl turned country girl, she laughed and asked what kind of girl I am. I told her I was more of a suburban girl and she laughed calling me a "bourbon girl."

"I think I need some oil," referring to essential oils when her tummy was upset.

While showing me a picture of Snow White she drew I asked her if she looked at her Snow White figurine. Closing her eyes, she said "no, I just remembered she has a yellow and blue dress."

"Can I giggle him?" when asking if she can make her brother laugh too.

We pulled up outside of a McDonald's that was attached to a gas station and when I said the name, she asked "is it like Old MacDonald?"

Referring to a movie, "The Fox and the Town"

"That was some serious thunder" upon hearing a loud thunder clap.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday finds: June edition

Photo from Wildly Co.

Capsule wardrobes for kids? Check out Wildly Co's summer capsules for girls and boys and use code BETH20 for 20% off your order through June 30.

You can help refugee moms, here are five ways.

All this hot weather, makes me want popsicles and this list has me anxious to try a few recipes.

Traveling this summer? We are next month and I will certainly be trying a few of these suggestions for saving money.

Also, on the subject of travel, hacks for parents.

We've all heard about the gorilla and alligator, but did you hear about the mountain lion a mother fought off?

Some solid suggestions on how to talk to your kids after the gorilla incident.

Have you noticed how NPR reporters always have great names? Here's how you can determine your own NPR name.

If 70s moms had blogs.