Monday, November 23

Christ the King Sunday

We needed an errand after church while Jonah was at pageant practice. And since it was Christ the King Sunday a cheesecake was in order (because I'm fairly certain cheesecake is the official cake of the coming Kingdom.) Pumpkin cheesecake with a little chocolate drizzle and a paper crown added was just the thing.  Neighbors walked over (and saved us from eating a whole cheesecake). The boys ran for birthday candles and I thought it was a great use for the pile of pink candles that keep accruing in a house full of boys.   That said, the three year olds were singing "Happy Birthday dear king" so we may pass on birthday candles next year and avoid confusing Christ the King and Christmas. 

I am a bit in denial that advent begins next Sunday.  The weeks in this last stretch have flown by and I'm grateful but also eager to slow down, which is a perfect longing as we enter Advent.  Here's hoping it actually feels that way. 

Happy Christ the King Day!

Monday, November 16


Lord God of hosts, you clothed your servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and set him as a bishop in your Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

 - Collect for St. Martin from Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006

The night was dark and our lights were bright.    The story was told in the center of the labyrinth with figures and candles.  The children were joyful on their nighttime adventure and the cookies were warm.  "Let it Shine, Let it Shine" and "You are the light of the World..." rang out through the mild November night.  I do believe the Martinmas lantern walk is my favorite remembrance of a saint.

We've settled on the following cookies as our Martinmas tradition.  The cookies are cut in starts, moons and christmas lights to represent the light of sharing.  We all broke our first cookie after the walk in half and shared the larger half with the person beside us in the spirit of St. Martin sharing half his cloak with the beggar.  The children who ate a second (or third) cookie still wanted to share half with someone, much to our delight.

Martinmas Gingerbread Cookies
adapted from Apples for Jam

These are a subtle gingerbread cookie and go wonderfully with coffee.  We dipped the left overs in dark chocolate for a special treat.

1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
7 oz. cream (whipping or pouring)
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder

warm maple syrup and spices in a small saucepan.  Stir until all spices are disolved.
Mix in cream.

Beat sugar and butter together for 2 minutes.  Add eg.  Mix in flour and baking powder alternating with the syrup/spice mixture.

Cover and refrigerate for 4 or more hours.  Using a generous amount of flour cut out shapes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-14 minutes (if making tiny cookies check sooner.)

Sift powdered sugar on the cooling cookies.


Tuesday, November 10

Telling Time Together

There was a helpful question in the comments on my post Teaching My Children to Tell Time.  In short, the question was: what does it mean to live the church year if it isn't part of your tradition?  Is it something you need the church to support or can it be something you do alone?

The answer to this question is quite complex and something I would love to delve into at some point.   But the short answer is that while having a church community celebrating the church year together is ideal, I do believe it is something a family can do on their own.  I know families who are in churches that only celebrate Christmas and Easter; and yet these families live out the church year more fully at home.  Faith development happens primarily in the home and not at church.  The church is an important, even crucial part of faith development, yet home is the space where most of life happens and the foundations for faith are laid.

Our church is Episcopalian, but is also evangelical; so it is made of a unique mix of people from various backgrounds.  The banners change colors in front of our church, but many congregants would look at a circle of the church year and have no idea what they were looking at or why it would matter.   Others are outright skeptical of adding this extra-biblical element to the life of our church.  And while I love the church year, I don't think you need the church year.  It is fine to go through your spiritual life without it.  It simply has been the best tool I have found for orienting our lives around the biblical story and I cannot imagine life without it at this point.  It works so very well for us and we love the connection with the historical church. 

I am truly blessed to have friends at church who are also excited about living the church year intentionally.  And I am also blessed to have friends who are intrigued, happy to learn more and who will come along for a craft night, even if they aren't sure what it is they are making.

A friend organized a little get together to make wall hangings of the church year for in our homes and one for the godly play room.  Seven women came and with some good coupons and sharing the expense they cost around $5 a banner.  It is certainly a project where many hands make light work.  Some women cut while others glued and ten of these came together in a couple hours.  It was a lovely night of being together and working at something that will hopefully be meaningful in our individual homes and our life together as a community. 

Crafting Notes::

The burlap (we used a blue tone) is cut into 24 x 21 inch rectangles.  After the top is turned over to make a casing for a stick to hang the circle the completed banner is a 21 inch square.  I used a running stitch with embroidery thread to make the casing, others used the machine.

The tan wool-blend felt is cut in an 18 inch circle.  It is important to use felt so the arrow will stick in place while hanging on the wall.

The wedge shaped pieces that represent the weeks of the year are cut of wool blend felt.

The arrow is black wool-blend felt with a button hole cut at the end.  The button hole goes over a button you sew to the center of the circle.

We used clear tacky glue to put everything together.  Do be careful though if you use burlap as it goes right through.  Don't let your banner dry to the table.

The stick was found in my yard and the hanging string is off a large spool of jute twine that is an essential item on my crafting shelves.

*If I were to do it again I would make the wedge shaped pieces that represent the weeks slightly smaller and put them about a cm farther in from the outer edge of the circle.  I would then use a running stitch or blanket stitch to attach the circle to the burlap.

Happy Crafting!

Thursday, November 5

Repost:: A Circle of the Church Year

I hope no one is tired of the church year yet, because I have a couple more posts to come.

Here is a re-post of a beautiful circle of the year a friend made.  I love the button, the embroidery, and the four arrows.  A group of friends from church gathered recently to make some wall hangings inspired by this circle which I'm excited to share in this space soon.


 My friend Corey emailed me a picture of the circle of the church year she made to use with her children a while ago.  It was so lovely I asked if I could share it here.  I'm inspired and do believe many of you might be as well. 

While I love the church years with all the wooden pieces (like this one I painted for our church in St Andrews), it simply isn't practical in a home with small toddlers.  This is a lovely alternative.  I'd love to have something like this on our godly play shelves.  (That is if I can ever find some shelves that will work; on this one item the thrift stores have left me empty handed. I may just have to make them myself.)

Tuesday, November 3

All Saints Scavenger Hunt

We've been having so much fun with the stories of saints we did a saint scavenger hunt at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts this morning. 

Most collections will probably have the apostles, Joseph and Mary. We also found St. Anne, St. John the Baptist and St. Michael. And in the photo above Isaac is looking at Saint Jerome and Saint Paul. 

The Church Year Puzzle

A couple years ago I wanted to use my birthday money to purchase a circle of the church year for our home.  I debated and debated whether to buy the godly play one or this more puzzle like version.  I'm really grateful that I chose the puzzle version.  My fear was that the godly play one, which is perfect in a classroom where children are supervised and are old enough to put it back together, would either have pieces lost or would have to primarily be kept up where toddlers couldn't reach it.  The puzzle version has so many less pieces so it can be tucked under the couch and is available for work whenever the boys want.  And my fears of lost pieces were well founded, I have on occasion found the pieces of the puzzle being used as swords or tucked with other toys somewhere in the house, but they are large and easy to find and I'm not hunting down 52 tiny rectangles!   After two years, one piece has a small chip, but nothing is missing.  The puzzle also self checks a bit more than the godly play version as many of the pieces only fit in one way so a young child can work with it alone and be truly seeing how the days fit together.  This is really a lovely resource for the home and a great way for children to play with the church year.  I purchased this puzzle from Faith Alive Resources, but don't see it on their website currently.

I love the shapes as they are an extra reminder of the three great sundays and helps the boys remember what the colors mean when I'm not working with them.
The star piece has a small chip and that piece in particular is hard to get in and out.  I'm afraid one day it might snap when small fingers are trying to get it out, but so far so good.  
My photo helper.  This boy loves the camera!

Monday, November 2

Happy All Saints!

Rowan was Saint Martin.  He wore two silver capes and tore one off as he told the story of helping the beggar he found at the city gates.

This was the first year that we have done an All Saints feast.  We've done games as a family, but have never ventured into costumes or invited any friends.  We had one family join us this year and as it went well, I'm very hopeful we could invite more next year.  It was a simple meal (uhm, with four soccer games, trunk-or-treat and trick-or-treat this weekend Costco rotisserie chicken was unapologetically just the thing.)  

The ten of us dressed as saints (we wore very simple costumes thrown together or simply brought a few props).  We used a doorway as a stage and each person told their story or gave clues to see if the rest of us could guess who they were.  St. Christopher, St. Elizabeth of Portugal, St. Francis, St. Martin, St. George, St. Patrick, St. Joseph, St. Lucia, St. Margaret, and St. Joan were represented.  We let the game be the last hurrah for Halloween candy and for acting or guessing correctly you got a piece.  The kids were really into it and I think we all left feeling like we learned something about these wonderful stories.  

I found this website incredibly helpful in transforming costume box basics into saints.