Monday, November 21

The Graditude Tree

This year I didn't get my branches out for a gratitude tree, but instead used the chalkboard I recently painted in our kitchen to make a tree of Thanks.  I'm loving it and the boys are too.  We haven't been particularly planned about when we add things, but occasionally jot something up there.  I love how Athanasius (2), will come and get me and tell me to put something on the tree.  His last addition was "Bumpy Road Tractor Haybales", which I'm pretty sure was meant as one thought, no commas needed.  (He's in the rather obsessive vehicle and farm phase all my two-year-old men have gone through!)

It isn't anything spectacular, but for the sake of sharing the idea, here is 2016's Gratitude Tree.
At the beginning: (Saint Francis is still hanging from his celebration in October.)

A week till Thanksgiving (I took this a couple days ago):



Sunday, November 20

Together we Give Thanks

So, I made these felt leaves back when I was nursing newborn Rowan (now 7!) with the intent of using them for our Gratitude Tree. They are cut from felt and hand sewn, except for the button hole, which I did on my machine (I love making button holes!)  However, I never really liked them because we would write what we were thankful for on a slip of paper and then tucked it away where it couldn't be seen.  So after using them one year, we switched to using water colored paper to make leaves with clearly visible notes of gratitude. But, then I had these seventeen sweet pocketed leaves with no use.  I've simply hung them on a cord as a banner the last few years in the house.

We spend the first week of November focusing on All Saints and All Souls Day.  Mostly that means an all low-key All Saints day gathering of some sort and reading through our rather large selection of books on the lives of saints.  After thinking of the Saints, I wanted some readings to draw us to Graditude during the last weeks of November as we end the year.  So I began writing out the passages, prayers and books to share on slips of paper and then I remembered the leaves and was delighted to find that there were seventeen leaves and I had planned for seventeen days (isn't it marvelous when things work out like that!)  I realized that the white slips I had written the readings on wasn't pretty in my leaves so I grabbed some wet-on-wet watercolor paper (I always have some handy) and rewrote the passages.  We hung the leaves above the table and the boys are enjoying taking turns choosing a leaf and finding our reading for the night.  Rowan and Jonah have done the reading thus far, which is so very precious!

Here are the readings I chose:

Notes:
BCP = Book of Common Prayer
                   
The two Thanksgiving books I wanted to make sure all six of us read and made a slip  for are Thanksgiving Story by Alice Danglidesh (we ended up reading it in two parts) and Thank You Sarah! by Laurie Halse Anderson.



And here are the leaves hung above our table on hemp twine:


Friday, November 18

Giving Thanks at the End of the Year



As I was discovering the church year and beginning to practice it, I was a graduate student in Canada.  I loved that the Canadian Thanksgiving was in October, because, honestly, I struggled with the fast turn around from American Thanksgiving to Advent.  I love Thanksgiving, but Advent always starts a few days later and I just couldn't seem to flow from one to the other.  Either Thanksgiving (aside from the feast) was ignored and Advent prepared, or we'd focus on giving Thanks and Advent traditions started a week late.

However, this has changed in recent years. There are two reasons for this.  The first (and less interesting reason) is simply that I'm no longer building traditions in the same way I was in the early years of parenting.  Yes, I'm always scheming and adding things to our seasons as my Pinterest boards attest.  But, if I did nothing before the first day of Advent this year I could pull out a box marked "First Week of Advent".  I would unpack a few items and we would be off and running in a matter of minutes.  Unfortunately, this isn't something you can do much about if you are new to following the church year and are in the days of little ones underfoot while you build traditions.   (Note: If you are in the early stages of tradition building may I suggest that you attempt to build at least some traditions that are easy to duplicate in subsequent years, so you aren't coming up with a new attempt at it every year.  For example, it is lovely to pull out the Jesse tree and simply begin without making anything new.)

The second reason I now love the quick transition between Thanksgiving and Advent is that I've realized how fitting Thankfulness is at the end of the liturgical year.  It has only been in the past few years that we've put more focus on the end of the liturgical year and less on the end of the calendar year (we still toast on New Years, but make much less of it as an end of the year celebration, because January 1 is also the Feast of the Holy Name.)  Adventis the beginning of church year, which means late November is the end of the year; it is a perfect time  to reflect on all that we have been given and experienced in the past year.  I think ending the year with grateful heart is ever so much more important than ending it with resolutions.  In this light, ending the year with a feast of Thanksgiving and the Feast of Christ the King (a day to give thanks for the most precious gift of the Son and his reign) is so wonderfully fitting.


Monday, September 5

A Springtime Birthday Crown

While I have four all-boy boys, my sister has three fairy-princess daughters.  Each of them are named for a flower and so their birthday crowns are likewise adorned.  Here is the latest, which I managed to get to to her just after her second birthday while we were traveling this summer.  I really enjoyed making this crown and I'm sad that the photos didn't turn out very well, but you can get the idea.  

Happy (belated) Birthday Mariella Violet!




Wednesday, August 31

Back to School

Well, I didn't mean to be silent over the summer, but life with our four boys is very full at the moment.  It isn't super busy in the run around sense, but I just often find that when I might have time to write my mind is too full of other things to allow myself to settle.  However, the last two days have been a bit quieter as school has begun again.

I continue to be thrilled to have our boys at Veritas.  It is a thoughtful place and the habits they are forming are truly growing them in a gentle and meaningful way.  Jim is back as well and enjoying a calmer year with many classes he has taught before and one new challenge in leading the senior thesis projects for the first time, which feels just about right.  I even found myself wishing I could go 'back to school' yesterday.  That said, the little boys and I have been enjoying a few quiet days of games, stacks of books, and lots of puzzles (preschool/my work at preschool will begin in a couple weeks.)

Here are a few first day shots.







Non nobis, Domine, non nobis,
sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Thursday, June 16

Ordinary Time


I wrote a reflection on ordinary time for Grow Christians that was posted yesterday.  You can find it here.  (Also, it is a really fun site to browse!)

Wednesday, June 15

The Great Green Growing Season

Oh, there are no words to express the goodness of this earth that nourishes growing things.  The fact that dry seeds come to life and produce food and beauty that sustain us is truly good.  I've been pondering the miracle of growth often lately as I wonder through my garden and watch my four boys who are growing like weeds.  

Yes, this creation is very good.