Wednesday, January 20, 2010

christmas favorites

before we get too far into the new year, i want to share a few things that really helped make our advent and christmas special this year.

i made this bulletin board (just by covering some foam board with pretty white paper) and used it to display favorite christmas cards and images from years past. thanks to all of you for sharing your lovely images with us!

it was nice to have a special spot just for christmas pictures, in addition to hanging cards from a string across the living room. in fact, it was too hard to take this down after epiphany, so it's still up!

this was our advent calendar this year, which is a six-sided tissue-paper-lined light-filled scene. it begins on the first sunday of advent and continues through to epiphany. the pictures are gorgeous block-print style images of saints, martyrs, the holy family, etc. each window has a prayer and a meditation (in an accompanying book) for that day, activity ideas for special days like st. nicholas day, and sundays have an extra "feast day" window too.

there is so much great about this calendar: the aesthetics, the theology (focused on justice and honoring those who worked for justice), the longevity of the cycle (that it goes all the way through the twelve days of christmas) and the fun of opening all the windows and peeking at the secrets inside. we used an electric candle in the middle to light it, but a real candle would work as well. both noah and i really enjoyed this daily practice, and he really payed attention during the prayers and meditations.

this calendar was a gift from grandma. you can check it out here (though i think the version we had might not be available anymore). we will definitely be looking for this same type again next year!

and lastly, i love this nativity icon. i want to slowly build up our icon collection, trying to have one at least for each season. this is my favorite for christmastide.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

twelfth night and epiphany

we had a festive twelfth night celebration last tuesday with some friends. i made felt crowns for all the kids. not very ornate, but they worked just fine. i found the pattern in this book.

our friend josh led the kids (carrying kings and gifts) in a procession over to the creche in their house, as we all sang "we three kings." then he lit the frankincense, which was a very exciting event. here are jessa, noah and rosa checking out the scene.

i made an apple spice cake for the event, in which i was supposed to hide a bean. traditionally, whomever finds the bean in their piece is the king (or queen) for the evening. i thought it might be a little hard for three year olds to feel okay about only one person being crowned, so in my cake noah and i hid lots and lots of almonds (which i thought might taste better than a bean). everyone got one, and everyone was a king. how very inclusive, eh?

the next night was epiphany. i told the epiphany godly play story at church (to grown-ups), which was a nice experience. telling these stories has been such a great way for me to focus on entering into the mystery of christmas myself. it really works!

i rushed home after church and got the house ready for aaron and the kids. they arrived to a cozy scene: candles, christmas music, cake, tea, the full nativity set, and presents under the tree. it was a calm, happy night, and a really lovely way to say goodbye to the mystery of christmas.

here's noah in his crown with one of his epiphany gifts: tales of trotter street by shirley hughes. if i haven't already mentioned it, we LOVE this author!

Friday, January 08, 2010

planes (a movie)

in which isla demonstrates her love of airplanes and enthusiam for reading books.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

blessed epiphany

god of epiphanies,
we give you thanks for jesus,
who reveals your glory.
open our eyes to the surprises
that are your gifts to us each day.
in jesus' name we pray. amen.

Monday, January 04, 2010

new year, new special things

waldorf dolls made by grandma, one for each grandchild. isla's is on the left, and noah's is next to her. names are still being debated. aren't they so cute?

new doll gets ready for a ride in the new stroller. isla loves this little thing!

new handmade reversible jumper from sister-in-law jessica. apparently aaron has a hard time navigating the complexities of dressing little girls.

new painting to christen aaron's shop. i found the quote (from john calvin) and commissioned my friend christina to paint it. she did such a lovely job.

new teapot, new teacup (from irene) and new dining room table (for my birthday, from aaron). somehow having a round table makes such a difference! we all love sitting here for crafting, reading, eating, drinking tea, writing christmas cards...

new t-shirts from eugene and bellingham craft fairs.

new tiny tin of teabags (in not-new teacup from the wassells).

new custom-made puzzle from uncle colin and aunt nicole (with a picture of noah and aaron driving the excavator in the backyard). very cool!