Saturday, December 21, 2013


This post is brought to you by..... a virus! Not a computer virus, but rather a virus that has invaded Ray's body and has given him several days of achy yuckiness and a high fever. Blah! Unfortunately, this virus hit Ray right as we were preparing to head up to Michigan to celebrate Christmas with Jon's family this weekend. So, Jon and Adam are up in Michigan partying with the relatives and Ray and I are here laying low with the virus.
Although I've been worried about Ray and disappointed to miss celebrating with my in-laws, I have to admit that this surprise three days of "downtime" is a very welcome gift. It's such an under-statement to say that the last several weeks have been crazy busy. 
I had the privilege of speaking at a parish afternoon of reflection a few Sundays ago. Ironically (but not coincidentally I'm sure), I was asked to speak about Advent as a time of waiting and opening ourselves up to receive and celebrate the Love of Jesus in a new way at Christmas. When asked to give the talk I so wanted to say that I was too busy, but I knew that God was calling me to be less busy and focus on Him this Season. I think I gave really good insights and reflections at that talk, but I had to humbly admit to the people that I was struggling mightily to walk the talk. And it's been a continual struggle throughout this beautiful season. Many nights I've stayed up way too late baking, wrapping, crafting, decorating, fretting.... and haven't gotten to the computer to blog. But some nights I've lit the Advent candles, sat on the couch, recited the Psalms, and enjoyed the quiet Presence of God.... and haven't gotten to the computer to blog.
And so, to follow up on the "Novem-blur" post, I humbly submit the "Decem-blur" edition. Enjoy!

We found this beautiful angel on our dining room table on the First Sunday of Advent. She brought a beautiful scroll inviting us to spend Advent completing activities she would bring us each day. She brought us a lovely Advent reflection book to read each day as well. As a family, we have had some nice Advent devotions, discussions, rituals, and prayers. The boys keep accusing me of being the Advent Angel, but I keep assuring them that I'm no angel. We've all enjoyed the treats and activities she's brought and we'll miss her when the Season is over.


I worked with some friends to craft/create 34 of these "Mass Kits" to help teach our children about the vessels used at Mass. It was a fun, but time consuming project. My boys really like it  and it will be helpful with Adam's First Communion preparation.

The girls and boys book clubs gathered together for a Christmas book swap and party. We watched the movie of a book we had read, "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey." We love our book club friends!

We got to spend a fun day with Ava (as she was off school for some kind of teacher meeting). We enjoyed some Christmas crafting!


 We went to see Carter's school Christmas play. He was a Wise Man. The blind camel (see below) stole the show! It was a fun evening.

Due to weather and illness, our Friday Geography class only got to meet one time in December! So much for the big, fun Christmas Around the World unit we had planned! We did have a great time on Saint Lucy Day though!
The boys dressed as "star boys" according to the custom in Sweden.

Check out these cuties in their Santa Lucia wreathes!

Ray gave a report on Christmas in Germany. Adam hasn't gotten a chance to give his Christmas in Ethiopia report due to the cancellations.

We made these neat little "Christingles" (a German and English custom that is full of Christian symbolism).

We have made lots and lots of cookies and Chex Mix! Here's Adam getting caught "sampling" the treats!

We've slowly assembled and decorated our Christmas tree (just FINALLY finished today).

Our tree has a bit of a new look this year. New lights. AND.... a train that circles right around the middle of the tree (brought by Santa last year). As you can see (above), Mary and Joseph were placed (by some mischievous child) in a rather precarious position as they've been journeying to the manger scene. I'm happy to report that no figurine was injured.

We have enjoyed praying and singing our Advent devotions after dinner during Advent. I love this shot of Ray with the tree and Advent wreath in the background.

We taught Daddy all about the Christingles and used them as an Advent centerpiece.

Did I mention cookies? Jon surprised me with a new electric cookie press. I have always loved my Grandma's old press, but this one is so much easier to use! And these cookies -- with almond extract -- are awesome!

Oh yeah, Ray also had a birthday! (I'm working backward through the month here.) Ray turned NINE on December 3rd! He is growing, learning, and maturing so quickly. I just love this boy and I'm so very proud of him!

We really lucked out as far as a birthday celebration for him. Jon's firm decided to have their Christmas party on Ray's birthday.... at a super fun place for the whole family.... and let us invite our extended family to join them! I can't emphasize enough how blessed we are to be part of this firm. They are so good to our family and we love being a "work family" with them.

Ray raced down this giant slide yelling, "It's my birthday!"

Our monkey --- upside down as usual.

The climbing wall was the main attraction for Ray, Adam, Carter, and Ava.

Jon and his business partner, Mike.
(All of us who were trained to chaperone the bouncers had to wear these crazy orange bandanas...
that's not their standard issue accountant-wear.)

So many sweet and kind gifts!
I got this fun friend.

I just had to post this awesome picture of my mom's new do! ;)
Ava got a hair painting kit and gave us all makeovers.

We brought Ray's presents to the party and he was in heaven!

Our book club also read and studied Homer Price this month. We really loved this old-fashioned fun tale that is set in Ohio and written by Robert McCloskey.

We HAD to make donuts after reading Homer Price!

And finally.... a cute shot of my cute friends!
We really enjoy learning and playing together.
 So, that's the blur that has been December. We've wrapped up school and are on a winter break. YEAH!!!! The frenzy of Christmas preparations is winding down and we are more than ready to enter into a time of true celebration of the Birth of Jesus at Christmas. 

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