Wednesday, December 23, 2020

4th Week of Advent: Baking and dancing towards Christmas...

Hello everyone, and I hope that your Advent is wrapping up beautifully, just as mine is. 😊 I have allllll of my wrapping still to do, but otherwise am in good shape. I made cookies this week, I should have taken pictures for photographic evidence, ha! Because I am not the best baker, but these turned out well. Most of them have already been consumed by children living in my house. ;-) We made Peanut Butter Blossoms and Italian Chocolate Balls (we put chocolate chips in instead of walnuts, though!).

We were also excited to light the final candle in our Advent wreath:

I wasn't feeling well on Sunday morning after a terrible night of sleep, so we watched the 8 am mass that my parish had streamed for the 4th Sunday of Advent. I have us reserved for the 10 am mass on Christmas day, so hopefully that all goes without a hitch!

Prior to the bad night of sleep though, I had my online Christmas themed dance show, and that went great! Picture me dancing in a bright red gown in the middle of our living room, which was cleared of all easily movable furniture, a camera mounted on a ladder, and my family marooned in their bedrooms. 😂 As the organizer wrote to us later, she appreciated our hard work, especially because she knows it isn't easy prepping a piece, setting up your own "stage," and being your own grip and director. There's certainly an unnatural element to performing solely online, with the lack of dedicated performance space and audience/performer energy exchange, but we're all getting a bit more used to it in the dance community, and making the best of it for the time being. I've finally gotten to a place wherein I've accepted that this is the way it is for the time being, and I might as well find the joy and new opportunities that these online shows present until we can go back to in-person shows. I'm lining up some opportunities for the first part of the new year, and really looking forward to working on some new pieces. I will say that performing online means that I have become more choreographed and artistic in my approach to what I present in dance, since there is no crowd energy to feed off of for improvising. It's different for me, and challenging in the best way possible, so I'm seeing that as a positive!

In terms of holiday/wintertime crafting, I've been a busy bee. I promised an update on the Advent gnome, and so here is my in-progress Gnutmeg!

The stitch marker is holding the spot for a belt buckle. The final clue is out today, and I can see that we will be assembling some of the other pieces we knit (nose and beard, various icords for limbs, I'm assuming) onto the gnome, and also adding some final surprises! I'll post a photo after the holidays when I have him all finished. 

I also worked a bit more on Frog:

Creepy, I know, with the disembodied eyeballs. 😂 Terrifyingly, the pattern calls for you to *cut out holes for the eyes* and then stitch them on in a way to create eyelids. I have the spot marked out with stitch markers, but have been too chicken so far to proceed. I'm picturing unraveled green yarn all over my couch, and me in tears guzzling wine off to the side. Someone may have to come hold me afterward. 🤣 I'll post an update after the new year!

Speaking of, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year! I'll be posting again the week following New Years Day, and using the time to recharge and think of creative new things we can chat and pray about in 2021! 

*virtual group hug*

Friday, December 18, 2020

Third Week of Advent: Preparation and Peace

Happy Friday everyone, and happy Third Week of Advent! I'm always excited to light the pink candle:

...AND our parish is still open, so we were able to attend our favorite 11 am Sunday mass! They announced this week that Christmas masses would be by reservation (to assure that the capacity restrictions won't be a factor) so I called and made ours for Christmas day at 10 am, also our favorite mass for that occasion. I know Christmas eve is a favorite for many, but there is a serenity on Christmas morning that has really taken hold of my heart in recent years. Plus, there is way less demand for attendance at that one, so it's always quiet and peaceful. :-)

Our Advent calendars continue to thrive! Here is our magnetic one, we're progressing right now through animals, shepherds and stars:

The Holy Family, of course, is reserved for the spots of honor. ;-)

Soooo, I am very much not a huge fan of the Elf on the Shelf tradition (it's just odd to me, but to be fair, I suppose one could say that about any number of holiday traditions), but Anne LOVES IT and has talked nonstop about the elf they have in her classroom at school. Mike lives for this kind of stuff, so he bought an elf, and he and Anne have been guiding this thing around our house for the past few weeks. Apparently, elves "just appear after Thanksgiving", rather than being bought at Target, I almost screwed that one up. 🤷🤣 At any rate, Felix the elf has become a member of the family, and he even helped me photograph my Christmas doily this week to submit in a class in my online crafting community:

Weird, but true

In other crafting news, I'm making my nephew a frog:

Pattern is Frog and Toad from From and Cast

Looks like a green blob right now, but I promise, it'll be a frog. :-0 He's green, so kinda Christmassy? Won't be able to say that about the accompanying toad, we'll save him for New Years. ;-) I'll make it my goal to get caught up on my Advent gnome this weekend, and photograph him for next week's post!

Speaking of New Years, there's obviously no belly dancing this year owing to all of the restaurants being closed for indoor dining right now (amongst other factors), but I'm in an online Christmas themed show this weekend that I'm *really* looking forward to! After that is done on Saturday evening, I'm excited to relax into the holiday season with some cookie baking and wrapping the next day with the kids. 😍

How was your Third Week of Advent? Look for next week's post a bit early, given how the holiday will fall in the week, I'm thinking Wednesday!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Second Week of Advent: Re-developing a winter routine, and settling into serenity

Hello all, and I hope that your Second Week of Advent is going well! We're hanging in over here, and looking forward to some cozy hygge time coming up as we move into the coldest part of winter. This week, we lit the second candle on our Advent wreath:

...AND we were able to go to mass in-person, which was delightful! Our parish is doing some fundraising for repairs to the stained glass windows, so I purchased a CD of our magnificent music minister singing hymns that we enjoyed on the drive home. The kids have also been keeping up with our variety of Advent calendars, and everyone is quietly having a good time with those. 

That morning also heralded the feast of St. Nicholas, and as always my kids left their shoes by the hearth, and were rewarded were some chocolate gold coins and boos. 😎

We did not practice this tradition when I was growing up, but as a parent I have always been on the lookout for ways to draw Church traditions into our home life in ways that would capture my kids' imagination and help them to carry their own faith into adulthood. I have really enjoyed this one, and I know that they do, too.

Sunday was a busy day, as it was also pickup day for the poinsettia and wreath fundraiser at Anne's school. The red ones this year are particularly spectacular!

We seem to have settled into a happy Advent routine, and I'm pleased about that. In terms of other  winter things, we're trying to make things as joyful as we can. The kids are both back in school after being on remote learning for a week, and things are going great. They both are content and happy. 

I've also been crafting, and finished a Christmas doily for a gift this week!

Pattern is Eversong

I just love the color. And...

*drum roll*

I FINALLY finished Mike's cabled cardigan that I've been working on for like 10 years. 😂

Isn't he so cute?!

It's a success! He loves it, and I'm SO GLAD to have that out of my work-in-progress basket!

I'm also working on a few dance projects, including preparing for an online show next weekend, and that all has given me a much needed sense of purpose and nervous excitement! These are all good things, and right now, we need to focus on the good, for sure.

How has your Second Week of Advent been going? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Friday, December 4, 2020

First week of Advent: Acceptance, traditions, and Hallmark Christmas movies...

 Happy Friday everyone, and I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week (where applicable ;-)). We truly did; it was quiet, but lovely. And I did enjoy my Black Friday of online shopping and movie watching from my couch, that's pretty much what I do every year anyway, hee hee!

This month, I thought we would quite naturally focus on Advent each week, and we're now nearly to the end of the first week of this liturgical season. My family put up our Christmas tree last weekend, decorated the house, and of course got out our pleaothra of Advent activities. Advent week 1 candle lighting was a GO!

Everybody is ready for some fun, we did have to glue on an angel wing this year, something untoward happened in the box during the off season :0


I was glad to have a home Advent wreath more than usual this year, since once again, our parish did not offer mass this past weekend. :( Father did announce that we will have an in-person option for the remainder of Advent, so I can't wait to go this weekend! But back to Advent Week 1. The kids were a bit unenthusiastic about my Advent joy, but I gathered them round to light the candle (Anne did perk up a bit to wield the candle lighter thingy), and we read the reading and short prayer from Lisa Hendey's book, which is excellent:

We also have a multitude of Advent calendars, from chocolate to magnets to Playmobil Back to the Future. I've been exerting quite a bit of energy rallying the troops, because my kids don't seem as into it this year, which makes me sad. They are now 15 and 9, I suppose it isn't a huge surprise, but they've always loved Advent traditions. I do think this year has taken a toll in this regard, we're all having to try harder to do things that we've always loved, it's the underlying depression and anxiety of our current situation taking hold, I believe. So I just pressed on, hoping that they'll come round as the weeks go on, and I do see some Advent calendar activity here as the week draws to a close, which makes me happy.

Overall, I think that I've come to a sense of acceptance and resignation that for the time being, our lives are different than usual, and instead of wallowing in the mourning and despair, I can try to find ways to still make things fun and bright. So I really put aside any impatience I would normally feel when we were decorating the tree and the kids inevitably started arguing or carelessly broke an ornament, and just treasured the experience and joy of it, because the children *truly* love this season and are building memories from these types of family moments. I made hot cocoa for them, and had Henry select a holiday playlist for us to listen to as we decorated. From things that both have said to me, I know that they remember these experiences fondly, and I want to give them both as special a Christmas this year as possible.

I'm also slowly coming to terms with the fact that this may be our last Christmas with a true Santa experience. Anne is 9, and still wholeheartedly loves and believes in this tradition (by this age, Henry did not) and so I'm trying to just enjoy every moment instead of getting melancholy about eventually losing this unique magic. We never know what is in store for us, and so why fret about next year when next year isn't even guaranteed? It really still is magical with her, and I want to treasure every single second. 

The other thing that has been making me smile this Advent season is Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. Each weekend, I record the new ones that catch my eye (we have both Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) and then watch them when I have free moments during the week. I use their app to keep track of which ones I want to catch, and check them off after viewing. This type of organization really appeals to my innate librarian qualities, and the whole experience makes me so happy. 😍 The Hallmark Channel offerings are lighter, sometimes funny, just true romcom. On Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the themes are more serious and heartwarming, and I kid you not, I have cried during a few of them. I dare you to hold it in when a parent finalizes the adoption of their beloved child on Christmas eve! Good stuff, truly. 

That was my First Week of Advent, and hoping for continued peace as we move into the second. How about you? 🤗