Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's the story...

So, once upon a time, my life was kind of the TV Guide. (Speaking of which, I miss the TV Guide. I loved getting it, and devouring it, and I have every Jeff Jarvis review, I think, possibly ever.) My life, at one time, was made up of television, and movies, and music, and books. I had no idea that this would ever end.

And then I met this boy named Nicholas, and first of all, I had to start watching all of this stuff that he watches. Which I happily did for about six months. And then I got tremendously bored. He has never met a police procedural show that he didn't like.

TiVo was the best thing that ever happened to our relationship.

And then along came this tiny child we called Betsy. And she zapped all of my energy right out of me, and took my mind right along with her. I could not watch hour long shows anymore, because I just genuinely could not follow the plot anymore. It was too confusing, and so I had to just give up on almost everything that I watched except the news.

This continued all through the birth and nursing of Felicity as well. And then, when Felicity turned 3, it was kind of like I emerged from a haze and my brain at least semi-functioned again.

So this year I am again watching television. Movies are still really rare unless they are on DVD (and even then, probably have been out for at least a year). It's fun to be able to follow a plot from week to week again.

I am, however, busier than I was when I had literally no one but myself to entertain all day long. So I can't watch everything, and I have to draw a line somewhere. My line is at reality television. I will cop to watching Teen Mom, but other than that I haven't watched any reality tv since at least 2006. I wish that I could just watch the people singing on some of those shows, without the judging and all. I really do love the Lawerence Welk show, and really, they could be the same thing without the snarky judges.

As far as my television viewing for the this year, here is what I watch:

Parenthood, Smash, Once Upon a Time, Nashville, Vegas, Dallas, Bunheads, How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls, Mike and Molly, The Big Bang Theory, The New Girl, The Mindy Project, Glee, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family, Frontline, Washington Week, Meet the Press, 60 Minutes, and Melissa and Joey. And Saturday Night Live, which I never stopped watching.

I also watch the PBS Newhour religiously, and I watch the parts of the Today show that interest me. And (yes, Joy, be honest) I watch Days of Our Lives and General Hospital every day, and the Young and the Restless and the Bold and the Beautiful a lot of days. (But I TiVo them! I don't let the girls see them!)

I also have spent my weekend trying to catch up on Downton Abbey, which I know is the hot new thing. I am really enjoying it. The production values remind me of my dear beloved Avonlea and Wind at My Back.

I wish that I had time for Elementary, which I have heard is very good. And I wish that we had HBO and Showtime, but at the moment it isn't in the budget. Of course, if we did, I might never get anything done.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

An ADVENTure in time...

Well, Christmas has come and gone. Christmas is always my favorite time of year, not the least because it is also my birthday. I honestly have no other day to look really forward to, at least as far as getting attention and, to be honest, gifts. So perhaps that is why I kind of over do the advent calendars.

We have 5 advent calendars. I so highly recommend having at least some way to count down the days until Christmas with your children. One of my friends told me that she wraps up 25 books and lets her kids open one per day. Such a cool idea.

Our first advent calendar is a Winnie-the-Pooh calendar that is velcro, so you stick up the ornament/gift/Pooh character every day.

The second is a house that has doors to open. This is my favorite, because it is the most like the advent calendar that I had growing up. I got it from Chinaberry, which I recommend if you are looking for advent calendars because they have a nice selection.

The third also came from Chinaberry. It is called "The Story of Christmas," and every day you take our a small booklet and read a part of the Christmas story. Each booklet has a golden string attached, and so one year after Christmas I bought a very tiny tree that we hang the books on after we read them.

The fourth advent calendar I made at MOPs. Yes, you read that right, I made it. It is made of a cookie sheet, painted white with a grid drawn on it. Then (this was the difficult part) I made a different little magnet for each day. There are ones with buttons, with snowmen, with gifts, with ornaments. There is a picture of Betsy and of Felicity. I love it because I know how hard it was to make!

And then there is the girls favorite. It is on the computer, and a friend of ours sends it to us in an email every year. It is created by Jacquie Lawson, and I highly recommend it. The girls look so forward to seeing what will happen every day. And sometimes you get to create things (like a stocking or a snowflake) and that is their favorite part.

We also have an advent wreath. It is so easy to make your own. You simply make or buy a plain green wreath, and then place four small candle holders around the inside, and a large candle holder in the middle. For the middle use a large white candle, and then you can buy the 3 purple and 1 pink candles all together at Hobby Lobby.

Every Sunday night, we gather around the advent wreath. I have a book that I love called Just 25 Days Til Christmas by Rebecca Hayford Bauer that has the Bible readings for each candle. Then I teach the girls what each candle means (the purple represent hope, faith, and peace, the pink joy, and the white love). Then we put out the corresponding part of the manger scene (we have a manger scene that we just use for this purpose, one that isn't going to be damaged by small hands touching it). The hope candle is the first, and that is when we put out the stable. Faith is for Mary and Joseph, Peace is the angels, Joy is the shephards. When we light the Christ Candle (the white one) on Christmas Eve we put the baby Jesus in. Then, starting on December 26, the wise men begin their journey. They start at the front door and go all around the house until they get to the stable on January 6, which is Epiphany.

I know that I have already done a blog about our Epiphany celebration, so I won't go into all that again. But I wanted to share this, as I think that it is a really easy way to incorporate the story of Jesus' birth into your Christmas celebration, and in a tactile way that your kids can remember.

I recommend another advent book also, which has a lot of cool ideas of ways to teach kids by using their hands about the customs of Christmas and how they intersect with the story of Jesus' birth and that is The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel.

We also have an elf on the shelf, which my children love so much that they honestly cry when he leaves on Christmas day. His name is Darren, and they look so forward to finding him every day. Our elf is not very adventerous, and so he just moves around from shelf to shelf. I have a feeling that Darren will stick around even long after the idea of Santa has passed them by, that is how much they love finding him every day.

Each day of the advent season is special in our house. There is so much to do in December! And every morning I read from the 25 Days til Chirstmas book during breakfast. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I read it as a child and I still learn from it every year. Then at night before bed I read from Advent Storybook by Antonie Schneider. (Not a great title, but it's a great book!) It tells the story of Benjamin Bear, who is on his way to Bethlehem and all of the different people and animals he meets along the way.

You can imagine (if you know me at all) we have tons of Christmas books and movies, and while I admit I do try to squeeze them all in, this year I loosened up and we actually got more watched and read than when I harp and push about it. I had a fabulous advent season this year, a wonderful Christmas and birthday, and I honestly am looking forward to the new year. I hope that you can say the same, and I wish you peace and joy next year and beyond.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

No answers to why?

What do I want to say? I want to say many, many things, and say them eloquently, and make you think and reevaluate and maybe even change your mind. But I'm not going to do that.

I have purposefully avoided looking at my facebook page today. It's not that I don't care about your opinion. I value your opinion, even if it is totally different than mine. I want to know what you think and why you think that way.

But...not today. Maybe it is too raw. Too close to home. Maybe I have way too many thoughts jumbling through my head and I can't add any more. Maybe I already knew how you would feel, maybe I already knew that you would be heartbroken and sad and wanting to lash out. And that's all that it is, really. Some people want to blame guns, or gun control, or the media, or the lack of prayers in schools, or Congress, or whatever. I do some of those things (maybe all of those things) too. And I also know that it is so much more than just that-if it were one thing, this wouldn't keep happening. It is everything and nothing all at the same time, at least to me.

I read a book a couple of years ago about Columbine by Dave Cullen. It was one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. Basically, for me, anyway, everything that I thought that I knew about Columbine wasn't true. And everything that was true took this man 10 years to uncover. And I often wonder what the result of all of that misinformation about Columbine has lead to? If more people knew that that was not a school shooting born of ridicule and loneliness? If more people knew that one shooter was a true psychopath and the other an easily led, depressed boy? Would it somehow change the way that some of these other people, following in their path, have viewed a challenge to...I don't know, to their feelings of ridicule and loneliness.

I don't think that any rational person ever has shot at tons of people, much less children. I don't think that people at their heart, in their right mind, mean to hurt people. I think that, in all honesty, most people, maybe even all people, just want to love their families and have a place to live and food on their table. And that everything else is gravy. I believe that to be true of all people, everywhere on earth.

Please keep in mind that I am not speaking at all about the grief and loss and horror that the parents and friends and loved ones of those killed must be going through. I can't begin to know the deepth of their loss and I realize that.

But at this time of year, when I am contemplating the birth of my Savior, I truly believe that he came to give us peace. An everlasting peace that can and will exist in us all. "In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have hard things happen to you; but be of good cheer, I have conquered the world." John 16:33