Tag - Holidays

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Q is for
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Happy Fourth
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Epiphany 2011
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He Came
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Last Minute Links
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Candy Cane Cookies
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Advent Upon Us
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Happy Thanksgiving
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Thankful
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Saints and Heroes

Epiphany 2011

Someone recently found my blog through a search for “is it too late for epiphany blessing”. The answer is no! Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas, so it is always January 6th. We may celebrate it in church on the closest Sunday, but I think you can bless your home on either day. Kind of like how Washington’s birthday is February 22, but we observe it on the third Monday of February. You can eat your cherry pie either day. You do make cherry pie for Washington’s birthday, don’t you? That reminds me of a funny story from my childhood. Remind me to tell you sometime when I’m not typing with one hand.

Anyway, here is the link to the Epiphany blessing we use. Just change the last number to reflect the correct year. But you knew that, right?

Epiphany House Blessing

He Came

The last day of 2010 and the first day of 2011 were filled with wonderful moments of family bliss. If you only knew what had really been going on here during the past month, you’d understand what a welcome change these days were. The oldest two children were in serious danger of not getting Christmas presents. We even told them so, and it wasn’t an idle threat.

You’d think they would have shaped up on Christmas Eve, but no. At around 3:30 in the morning, Philip got up to tell them to be quiet and alert them that their new no-earlier-than wake up time was now 7:15.

At 4:30 I got up to tell them to be quiet and that now they could not get up until 7:30 and if I had to tell them to be quiet again that there would be no presents for them. And for goodness sake, everybody get back into their own beds.

I heard them get up at the appointed hour and thunder downstairs, sounding for all the world like 12 children instead of 3. Boo came back up and into our room. He looked at us with such relief and said simply, “He came!”

He meant Santa, of course. But in seeing in his face the realization of how his behavior had jeopardized his Christmas presents and the happiness that he came anyway, I got struck with the true meaning of Christmas.

We are sinners and we’ve been warned. Time and time again we fail just to do as we’re told. We swear we’ll do better and maybe we do, at least for a little while. Then we fail again or fail in a different way. And yet, He came. We totally don’t deserve it.

How blessed we are to be loved so unconditionally that the best gift ever came anyway.

Yes, Boo, He came.

Last Minute Links

Here we are, the day before the day before Christmas. I hope your Advent has been full of joy.

Don’t forget that on Christmas Eve you can track Santa with NORAD. Next year Boo will be old enough to volunteer with the NORAD folks, so he’s hoping that he and his dad can get a good time slot.
NORAD tracks Santa

You can also email Santa all the way up to Christmas morning, just in case you forgot. Santa is all high-tech, so he’ll be receiving his email while en route. He’ll even send you a personal reply.
Email Santa

This has nothing to do with Christmas, but it’s a freebie too good not to pass along. You can get a free Sweater Stone by requesting one before the end of the year. If you’ve got clothing that pills, this is a good way to get those pills off.
Free Sweater Stone

And lastly, you may have already seen the Social Network Christmas, but here it is again. I bet you’ll want to watch it again, or if you haven’t seen it, please take the time to see it now. It’s totally worth it. I get chills and teared up every time I see it. There is another version out there, but this one is the best.

Candy Cane Cookies

I have enjoyed these holiday cookies for as long as I can remember, which makes the recipe at least 35 years old. They are a favorite of my children, too. If I could only make one Christmas cookie, this would be it.

    Candy Cane Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
2 1/2 cup flour
red food coloring

Beat butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla and peppermint extract. Add flour.   Divide dough in half, color one half red. Wrap each half in wax paper and chill at least one hour. Form into balls. Roll a white ball and a red ball together to form one stick with the red and white entwined.* Place on a greased baking sheet, turning one end of the sticks to form a cane. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with eggnog.

Just kidding about the eggnog. Sort of.

*This is my personal candy cane forming technique, developed over years of practice. You might find it easier at first to roll the balls into logs, then twist them together. It takes the perfect touch to roll two balls together to form a twisted log without smashing them together into a mess.

Advent Upon Us

So here we are, on the brink of Advent. This year I’m going to keep it simple, focus on the traditions that are most meaningful to our family and focus on the what Advent is all about.

I say the same thing every year. How about you? I mean it this time. Really.

This year I’m going to try to go easy on myself. I’ve got most of my shopping done and I plan to be finished by the end of the week. Instead of trying to get all the decorating done this weekend, I’m going to pace myself and do it little by little. I think I’ll let the children help, too. They’ll enjoy that. Most of what I put out is mostly for their enjoyment anyway.

I found a good devotional for children called My Little Advent. It is for children K-2nd grade, which is perfect for Bip. But I think that my 4th and 6th graders will be able to get something meaningful from it, too. Couldn’t we all use a reminder to keep a smile on our face while thinking of the happiness of others above ourselves?

I’ve finally figured out a way to do our Jesse Tree and stick to it this year! Remember long, long ago when I hosted a Jesse Tree craft swap? Well, I hate to admit it, but we’ve never actually seen the Jesse Tree through to Christmas. I think it is because the readings, prayers and reflections that accompany each ornament were too long. This year I got the idea from someone else’s blog (sorry, I can’t remember who) to read from a children’s bible story book instead of from the Bible. I think that will be much more manageable.

Will you be making any changes this year to help your Advent be less stressful and more meaningful? What have you let go of over the years, or added, that has made a difference?

Thankful

I haven’t been completely forthcoming about recent events around here. I know I’m not obligated to write about every little thing that goes on, but still – what’s the point of having a blog if you’re not going to write stuff.

Our new baby, Pipsqueak – that’s his blog name until something else fits him better – was born with an ear tag. It’s just a cosmetic thing, a little tag of skin located near his ear. His doctor tied it off and it has dried up and we’re just waiting for it to fall off, like his umbilical cord. Once it’s gone, you’ll never know it was there.

The thing is, a good percentage of babies born with an ear tag also have some sort of kidney problem. Now that doesn’t seem to make sense does it? Turns out, ears and kidneys develop at the same time in the womb.

Both our midwife and Pipsqueak’s doc made mention of the potential for kidney problems, but neither were overly concerned or indicated that it was urgent. The doc ordered an ultrasound so we could take a look.

So last week I bundled Pipsqueak up and we went off for the ultrasound. The whole procedure took about 20 minutes and little PS was more insulted by the interruption of his nap than anything else. I was told I’d hear from the doctor on Monday.

Monday rolled around and the hours ticked by. I tried not to notice. Finally the call came – ultrasound is negative, everything is OK.

I quickly called my husband at work and gave him the good news. As I was talking I started to get choked up and I realized then just how much the whole thing had been weighing on me. I was trying not to worry, but really, how can you not? What a relief to know that Pipsqueak’s kidneys are healthy and perfect. Especially because Rebecca’s kidneys were damaged from VUR that had been occurring in utero.

So this year, I am thankful not just for the addition of little Pipsqueak to our family, but for his good health.

May YOU be blessed with family, friends and good health this Thanksgiving.

Saints and Heroes

I totally forgot to post these pictures yesterday…

This was the first year that any of my children opted to go as saints for Halloween. We don’t give them much guidance on costume selection other than to steer them away from the gory and scary. They pretty much do that on their own, anyway. Boo doesn’t mind a bit of a scare on Halloween, but Pumpkin Girl hates it. She avoids houses that go beyond cute pumpkins and ghosties and we all cringe a bit at the disturbing costumes that we see.

So anyway… this year we had St. Michael the Archangel.

(It’s a gladiator costume plus a pair of wings.)

And Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.

And Batman.

When there’s a Batman, there’s always a Robin.

A merry band of saints and heroes.

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