Archive - November 2007

You are Cordially Invited…
Jesse Tree Ornaments
Ask Me Anything
New Words
Jesse Tree Craft Swap
Well Give Me a Tophat
The Jesse Tree
Blogging In the Shower
Hits and Misses

Jesse Tree Ornaments

Whew! The Jesse Tree Swap is completed and all the packages have been taken to the post office. I was going to share a little bit of the behind the scenes goings on, but let’s just get to the good stuff.

Everyone did such a wonderful job with their ornaments. I can’t say enough about each one of them. I had so much fun opening the packages as they arrived and marveling over the different interpretations of each symbol.

I also want to say a big THANK YOU to Mary Chris who drove up from Virginia to help me pack and mail the boxes. She’s also hand delivering 4 of them. If not for her, I think I’d still be trying to unload my car at the post office.

And so without further ado, I present, in no particular order, the Jesse Tree Craft Swap Ornaments of 2007:

Bethlehem Prophecy

God’s Forgotten Scroll is Found

Ruth and Boaz (Sheaf of Wheat)

In the Beginning

Sacrifice of the Son (Lamb)
(due to a miscommunication, 2 sets of sheep were made. The other one is similar)

Christmas Star

Bronze Serpent

Noah’s Ark and Rainbow

Angels Proclaim the Miraculous Birth

Joseph in Egypt (each colorful coat is different)

The New Covenant

Prophecy: Prince of Peace

(if you’re seeing a pumpkin hat, click on the picture and you’ll see the correct one )

Prophecy: Good Shepherd

The Fall of Adam and Eve (the apple is a truer shade of red and looks less like a tomato in person)

Tablets with 10 Commandments

Prophecy: Suffering Servant

Return to Jerusalem: Preparation for Messiah (Brick Wall)

Exile and Persecution (Fiery Furnace)

David and Goliath (Slingshot)

Mary, Mother of All Living (each ornament has a different picture of Mary)

Prophecy: A Shoot From the Stump of Jesse

Light of the World

Prophecy: The New Creation (Lion and Lamb together)
(image copyright Stampin’ Up! 2007)

Birth of Jesus

The Blessing to Abraham (Tent and Camel)


The Promised Land: Canaan (Cluster of Grapes)

Passover (Door with Blood )

More information about the Jesse Tree can be found here: The Jesse Tree

Details on how to organize your own Jesse Tree Swap are here: Jesse Tree Craft Swap

Ask Me Anything

Being short on time and creativity, I thought I’d try something that I have seen other bloggers do.  Even though I’m always open to questions and comments, I’m inviting you all to ask me anything you want.  Well almost anything.  Keep it PG.  I’ve got a spam filter that handles all of that for me nicely, but still.  I’ll answer as many questions as I can and post the answers next week.

Now here’s where the anxiety comes.  What if no one asks me anything? It would be like throwing a party and no one showed up.  But then at least I’d have a clean house and lots of food. I guess I could alway delete this post and pretend it never happened.  But that’s not what’s going to happen, right?  Right?

New Words

So how was your Thanksgiving?  Ours was low key and peaceful.  I forgot about the Macy’s parade since that’s never been part of our West Coast Thanksgiving.  The only year I’ve seen it was last year.  We watched it in the hotel in the morning while packing up to move into our new house later that day.

We only watched the first half of the Cowboys game.  I don’t care for the Cowboys and my team is having a losing decade (Phil says they’re rebuilding) and never plays on Thanksgiving.  Still, I haven’t seen a football game in a while and I thought it would be fun.  Boo enjoyed watching with me, but unfortunately for him, it led to the revelation that he’d been playing tackle football with some of his older and much bigger friends when they’d been told not to.   We had a good discussion about death and dismemberment and the dangers of football without padding.

Dinner was wonderful, especially since we ordered it from the Club this year.  Very delicious!  They improved their sweet potatoes from last year, bringing the whole meal up to the same quality I would make.  The pumpkin pie was even better than mine.

Later, we all watched that traditional holiday movie, “Star War Episode 2.”  By the end, Bip had added “Bobo Fett” to his vocabulary.  And when it was time for desert he learned to say, “punteen pie.”  He was so thrilled that he went around to everyone, letting us know that something good was coming.  “Boo!  Punteen pie!”  “Yes, Bip, we’re having pumpkin pie.”  “Daddy!  Me-a punteen pie, too!”  “Yes, Bip, you can have some pumpkin pie, too.”  “Yay! Punteen pie!”

But the best moment was before dinner, when we went around the table, everyone saying what they are thankful for.  Do you do this too?  Bip, as he always does when he prays, listed his favorite people:  Boo-a, Puntin Girl (or a close rendition of her real name),  Mama, Daddy, and to our great surprise and  delight, he added someone else for the first time.  He said, “Becky.”  Then he paused and added, “baby.”  Yes, we are all thankful for Becky Baby.


Yesterday morning was another early one as we wound our way through the city for an appointment at Walter Reed.  It was time for Pumpkin Girl to follow up with the pediatric urologist regarding her recent kidney infection.  We made good time and all five of our guardian angels, plus our own personal saint in heaven were able to stop our car from plowing into the pickup truck trying to turn left in front of us, then changing his mind and stopping in the intersection.  We were just one block away from the entrance to the hospital, so we’d have ended up there one way or another anyway.

Pumpkin Girl made it through her tests bravely, like I knew she could.   A short time later we were headed home, with one more thing to be thankful for…her reflux is gone!

So this morning we are thankful for

the friends and family who only stayed in our lives for a short time and blessed us with the chance to love and be loved.

the friends and family who have stayed with us for years.

for opportunities offered- accepted or turned down.

for the continued and newly discovered health of our children.

for the basics.

for the luxuries.

And even though we will never look around the table and say we are thankful that “we are all here together,” we are thankful for who is here today and for having the chance to love those who are not.

Jesse Tree Craft Swap

Part 2 of 3

When I read an article in Faith and Family magazine about organizing a Jesse Tree craft swap, I knew I wanted to do one.  I thought about it briefly, then dove right in.  I asked the crafty-in-a-good way ladies on the 4 Real Learning forum and the members of my local Catholic homeschool group to participate.  I crossed my fingers and prayed that I’d get the required 28 sign-ups.

The basic idea is that 28 people agree to make 28 of the same ornament before a given deadline.  The ornaments are then collected and distributed and returned so that each participant has a full set of 28 different ornaments.

Most people make their own set of Jesse Tree ornaments.  There are many advantages to doing your own – you get to decide exactly how each will look, you can have consistency in your ornaments by making them all similar in style, you don’t have to worry about deadlines and postage or someone dropping out of the swap.

On the other hand, being involved in a swap also has its advantages.  Primarily, it is easier and faster to make 28 of the same ornament.  It’s cheaper too, especially when you are dealing with supplies that come in packages, spools or sheets.  You only have to come up with one design, and once you’ve worked it out, you can set up an assembly line to work quickly.  Plus being involved in a group with a deadline helps you to actually complete your ornament.  Many of the participants in my swap mentioned trying many times to create a Jesse Tree for their family, but petered out before Advent was over.

If you are interested in setting up a Jesse Tree swap, here is where you can find the documents I used:  Jesse Tree Craft Swap.  You will need to modify them for your own needs.  If all your participants are local, your job will be easier as you can meet in your parish activity room to swap ornaments together.  If the ornaments will be mailed to you, here are some additional instructions you’ll want to provide:

  • ornaments should be packaged into one gallon size ziplock bag.  Participants should label their bag with their name and address.  They can use a 2nd bag if needed, but should not put each ornament into its own baggie.
  • ornaments should be wrapped if needed to ensure they arrive safely.
  • set a deadline for you to receive the ornaments by.  Allow yourself at least one week to process, package and mail the boxes out.
  • Participants should send ALL of their ornaments.  They should NOT keep their own ornament out.
  • Have everyone include return postage.  This gets a bit tricky.  Most of the time they can just purchase return postage and stick it in the package before it is sealed.  However, some of the ornaments were very light and it was clear that the return postage would be higher.  I would recommend setting a postage amount, say $6-$9 and have everyone include that set amount in their package.  Return any unused postage with the ornaments.

Keep good records. I thought I was doing a pretty decent job, but I found out too late that two different people made the same ornament.  We worked out a solution, but I feel terrible.  I could have avoided the whole mistake had I sent everyone a list of what each person was making and had them all double check.

Have a waiting list of swap angels.  Those are the people who are willing to step up at a moment’s notice when someone drops out.  Every swap has someone who needs to drop out, sometimes at the very last moment.  Swap angels come in and rescue the whole thing!

Well, there you have it, the basics of organizing a Jesse Tree Swap.  It seems overwhelming, but with enough time (I started sign-ups in mid-October) you can easily pull it off.  I wrote this post because I know that someone will probably ask me for help in organizing a swap in the future.  My next Jesse Tree post will show you the behind-the-scenes nitty-gritty of the swap, plus pictures of the finished ornaments.

Find more information about the Jesse Tree here:  The Jesse Tree

See the completed ornaments here: Jesse Tree Ornaments

Well Give Me a Tophat

…and call me Frosty!

Renee has awarded me the Spirit of Christmas award!

This award is for those who talk about and show the spirit of Christmas in their blogs.

What is the Spirit of Christmas you ask?

Quite simply it is those that have a generous and giving nature. Those who care about others. Those who have a kind word to say or a broad shoulder to lean on in the times that others need that. Those who display the “Spirit of Christmas”.

I am giving it to five and you should too. Those that have touched your heart with their kind and giving and caring nature.

I’m awarding

Margaret of Minnesota Mom

Sandy of Falling Like Rain

Amy of Journaling Back to Joy

Keilani of An Island Life

and brand new blogger, Merry of Hope Connections.

The Jesse Tree

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. Isaiah 11:1

Part One of Three

So what exactly is a Jesse Tree?

Well, it’s simply a tree decorated with ornaments that tell the story of Jesus’ ancestors and of the events leading to Jesus’ birth. The name is taken from Isaiah 11:1,”But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (Jesse, you’ll remember is the father of King David.) During Advent, one ornament is hung on the tree each day. You can read an accompanying scriptural passage or just say a line or two about the meaning of the ornament.

From :

THE STORY OF THE JESSE TREE Jesse was the father of the great King David of the Old Testament. He is often looked upon as the first person in the genealogy of Jesus.

In Church art a design developed showing the relationship of Jesus with Jesse and other biblical personages. This design showed a branched tree growing from a reclining figure of Jesse. The various branches had pictures of other Old and New Testament figures who were ancestors of Jesus. At the top of the tree were figures of Mary and Jesus. This design was used mostly in stained glass windows in some of the great medieval cathedrals of Europe. The Cathedral of Chartres (which was dedicated in 1260) has a particularly beautiful Jesse Tree window.

Interestingly, there is not one set of “right” Jesse tree symbols. You can do a search for them on the internet and in books, but most lists will vary in some way. If you want to start a Jesse Tree for your family, pick a list that appeals to you. Many of them have scriptural readings associated with each symbol. Or combine lists to make it unique to your family.

Ornaments can be anything you want – purchased or found items or you can craft some or all of them yourself. Fun foam, sculpey clay, felt- anything that works for you.  You could even print out pictures from the internet and tape them to the wall in a tree shape.

The Jesse Tree is so much more than a count-down to Christmas.   It is the telling of the story of God’s love and the promise of the Savior.  If you’re looking for a way to really emphasize the holiness of Christmas, the Jesse Tree can be a simple but effective tool.  While I think that the Jesse Tree is primarily a Catholic thing, there is no reason that other Christian denominations can’t start this fun tradition.

In Part 2 of my Jesse Tree Series, I’ll talk about the Jesse Tree Craft Swap that I am hosting, along with information on how to organize your own swap and some valuable lessons that I learned.

More information about the Jesse Tree Swap here: Jesse Tree Craft Swap

See the completed Jesse Tree Ornaments here: Jesse Tree Ornaments

Blogging In the Shower

I’ve been busy organizing a Jesse Tree Swap. So you’re wondering what is a Jesse Tree and why would you swap it? Good question. I’ll tell you all about it later. Just so you know that I had 5 packages delivered today, with 21 more expected by Wednesday. We’re going on vacation at the end of the month and I thought it would be fun to undertake a Major Project before leaving. It’s all good though, and I can hardly wait to fill you in.

One of the unexpected benefits of blogging is that all those shower conversations I have with myself have a place to go. Do you talk to yourself in the shower? I do. All these random thoughts float around my head- funny observations, frustrations, questions and To Do lists. All that is blog fodder now. I just write what I’m thinking about in the shower that morning. It’s like you’re right there with me. But not. Which is probably good.

Anyway. So it was brought to my attention again that when I don’t blog everyday, people get a little perturbed. Sorry. Some days I’m actually just taking a shower and listening to celebrity scoop on my waterproof radio instead of thinking actual thoughts. I’ll try to do better.

Then there are the times when I’m actually distracted by life. As much as I’d like to blog, I just can’t justify sitting at the computer when my children are practically begging me to feed them.

When that happens I get a backlog of random thoughts in head that just bounce around with no place to go. So, in no particular order, here are my thoughts for the week:

1. A house on base is already decked out in Christmas lights. Not just a tasteful string across the front porch either. They’ve gone All Out. Polar Bears, even. The Whole Christmas Enchilada so to speak. I bet they’ll rip that stuff down by sunset on the 26th. Somehow I think for them it’s less about celebrating the birth of Christ as it is about showing everyone else just how much they love Christmas. At least Homer hasn’t made an appearance yet.

2. What is a Canuck and why are they crazy?

3. I have finished my Christmas shopping! Woo hoo, extra hoo! I have 2 or three more gifts to make and then I’m done for good. That includes Pumpkin Girl’s post-Christmas birthday, too.

4. According to Pumpkin Girl, I now have a job. You know, something more than caring for and educating three hooligans delightful children. I recently made and sold 2 pumpkin hats and so she thinks that’s my job. Then the big brother of one of the pumpkin hat recipients thought he’d like a similar rolled brim hat, in gray. So I’ve actually been commissioned for a hat. Amazing. Of all the crafts I’ve done through the years, it’s funny that the one I’m getting paid for is knitting.

5. We have a mouse. I’d feel bad about my shoddy housekeeping, but that’s not the culprit. Living in multiplexes like we do in base house, it’s inevitable that you’ll either get mice or roaches. Especially when there are three empty houses between you and the next neighbor and it’s gotten too cold to be outside. I called the maintenance people and hopefully they’ll be able to help.

6. I’m almost out of shower gel.

So there you have it. Hopefully something a little more interesting tomorrow.

Hits and Misses

Since moving to Washington, DC, we’ve made it a habit of using national holidays to go visit various museums and monuments. Most are open everyday except Christmas, traffic is light and parking is plentiful. Once you get past Labor Day, the museums are less crowded, too.

We’ve enjoyed all of our adventures in and around town. Except yesterday. Yesterday we chose the National Museum of the American Indian. We were looking forward to seeing it. We haven’t gotten to American history yet, but I thought it would be fun.

Boy, were we disappointed. The museum is really cool looking from the outside. They’ve got a small wetlands display, complete with ducks. Bip really liked those. “Daddy! Quack! More Quack!” Add a really great view of the Capitol dome through the autumn foilage and we were all revved up for a good time.

The atrium was awsome and soared four stories high. However, the rest of that level had very, very little in the way of displays.

We tried the second level. Nothing to see there either.

On the third level we found a display of beadwork. That was pretty cool, but the only way to tell what you were looking at was by using the interactive computers, one per display case. There were some pull out drawers with additional items, but again, you needed to be using the computer to be able to read about the items. The children became completely distracted by the computers and the drawers. They didn’t so much care about what was in the drawers as they like yanking them open. Plus, they started bickering over who got to control the computers.

The fourth floor had a little bit more to see. Most memorable was a big display of the weapons used against the native peoples – swords, rifles and bibles.

An hour after getting started, we were Done. The children had lost interest and the grown ups were disappointed.

We tried eating at the cafeteria, which we’d heard was excellent. It might have been, if you were interested in trying buffalo or frogs legs.

What we had hoped, no expected to see at the National Museum of the American Indian were signifcant displays on the various tribes of North America. I wanted the children to see how the various tribes lived – the kinds of houses they constructed, the kind of art they specialized in, how they made clothing. I wanted to see exhibits on their spiritual beliefs (admittedly, there was an spirituality exhibit, but by that time we were more than ready to leave) and on their rich tradition of story telling. We got none of that. Only a few tribes were represented in the “history” displays and those exhibits were very small. Sadly, I’m not sure what the point of the museum is. If you’re town, this is one museum to skip.

Fortunately, we were across the Mall from the National Gallery of Art. We enjoy eating at the Cascade Cafe there, watching the indoor waterfall. If you’re going to spend a small fortune on food, it might as well be something you’re not afraid to eat. As a bonus, we could go visit the Mary Cassatt paintings which were part of last month’s artist studies.

On the way we took this fun picture next to what looks like a free standing wall. How does it stay standing? I don’t know, it just does. It’s a mystery.



After lunch and visiting the Cassatts, we headed home. Not before hitting the children’s book store, of course. Once outside, we stopped to peer down at the people in the cafe through these triangle things.


Bip liked seeing the “awa-fall” from the outside.


A day of hits and misses. Not too thrilled with the American Indian museum, but we got some fun books. And that’s always a good thing.

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