Outside my window: The first Sunday of Advent, Mike and I escaped for a few hours alone to celebrate his birthday. The girls decorated the house for Christmas in our absence. when we arrived home, it had just turned dark. Through my sewing room window, I could see Nutcracker costumes piled high and in the hallway beyond, there was our Nutcracker collection. A child in our house receives a Nutcracker to mark their first performance. Since Dad has been pressed into the role of Drosselmeyer, and more than one brother has been the prince, they have Nutcrackers, too. The sight made me catch my breath. I've tried and tried to catch it adequately with my camera, but this picture doesn't quite do it justice. .
Listening to: Traffic. I'm at Kristin's keeping the dog company while they are out of town. It's noisy outside her window.
Clothing myself in: Sweatshirt and yoga pants. That dog and I are about to go for a long walk.
Thinking and thinking: About Advent. Nutcracker really consumed much of the first week. But now, I'm ready to settle into a quieter rhythm. I'm excited about my own book! (Does that sound strange?) It's been lovely to have a clickable Table of Contents and have a map for each day come alive on the screen. It's not too late for our family to live everything this season has to offer. It's not too late for you either.
Here's what some people are saying about the book:
So. I've been reading the daily advent quotes, prayers and reflections in the Ebook bundle that [Elizabeth] and [Kristin] put together this year and I've felt such a sense of calm and peace over the last few days. Nothing has changed except my attitude and perspective, but isn't that usually the most important stuff to change? That strangest part is that each day I've done one small thing to prepare for His coming rather than try to "GET IT ALL DONE RIGHT NOW" the way my results-oriented self usually wants to do it. Yesterday, we baked salt dough ornaments and I brought up our main nativity. Today, I got some extra greenery while we were out and beautified the mantel (I am love with how it looks! Simple but elegant.) The kids painted their ornaments. I'm moving from one required task to the next, but trying to leave room in my mind and heart to say "yes" to the little extras that I normally think I don't have the time or energy to do. "Lord, give me the grace to be the mom and wife I can't be on my own." Anyway! This is too long! You can get the Ebook yourself...I do recommend it. "
--Dwija, House Unseen
And it's not just for Catholics. Here's a review from a Protestant perspective:
Elizabeth Foss is a good friend of mine and has mentored me over the years in mothering and intentional traditions. As a mama of nine, she has much wisdom, experience, humility and perspective to share. She has put together a beautiful Advent ebook this year that I spent hours last night reading and pondering. Written from a Catholic perspective, her gentle voice will reorient your heart towards the Infant Jesus through teaching you to pray, to trust, to wait and also very practical suggestions for celebrations, feast days, recipes and crafts. I have read and looked at many Advent resources over the years, and this is the first one that really seems to understand the strain that mothers are under during this season and encourages and guides and gives lots and lots of grace. It's on sale through tomorrow for $9 which is the price of a fast food combo meal these days. This will be slow food for your soul. Well worth it. --Aimee Kollmansberger
Talking with my children about these books: We are using a bit of a hodgepodge approach to our Advent unit studies this year. A little from the great, good Tomie de Paola unit. A little from the evergreen botany, with some Nutcracker thrown in. And a little more from Christmas Around the World, and then all the old favorites. Plenty to read! I talked with Sarah recently about reading aloud during this time of year. Such a fun podcast:-)
In my own reading: I'm still listening to Brene Brown's Rising Strong. I loved The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. I like this one even more. It's uncanny how she's so definitely inside my head. It feels like she's cleaning things up and de-cluttering it, rearranging it a little to make it much more functional. Highly recommended.
Learning lessons In: Letting go. Michael begins his new job today. In California. I've felt this feeling in the pit of my stomach before. I felt it when I left my baby with my mother-in-law to go back to work after my first child was born. It was all I could do to hang on by my fingernails until we could work out another solution. I felt it again when Patrick left home at 15 to live for a year in Florida with the US National Team U-17s. I felt it when Michael left for college. And then when the others left. I felt it when I left my baby in the NICU and drove away without her.
They were all temporary. It is entirely possible that this separation is not. We carry them and bear them and raise them and then they leave. That is the natural order, I'm told. Every stage of life has its challenges. Saying goodbye is the challenge of this one. Temporary goodbyes as children leave. Longer goodbyes as parents die. I am in the season of goodbye. Learning lessons here...
Encouraging learning in: Self care. Whoa, Nelly! Katie, my 13-year-old, danced 6 performance between Friday night and Sunday afternoon. She literally staggered into bed last night. I'm grateful she's homeschooled this morning and I'm doing my darndest to help her understand how to care for herself during intense seasons.
Keeping house: Nutcracker costumes finished and ebook launched, it's time to thoroughly clean the house and get ready for the people who will fill it next week and into the Christmas season.
Crafting in the kitchen: A friend gifted me with the Whole Food Freezer Cooking Workshop and so far I'm loving it!
To be fit and happy: My friend Rachel is trying to make me run from afar. I'm grateful for the shove out the door.
Giving thanks: For your kind words about the ebook. It's always a little scary to send one's heart into the world on printed pages. Thank you for your kind responses. I'm especially grateful for the Facebook group of readers. Your enthusiasm and your ideas inspire me!
All Nutcracker pictures are the kindness of Kristin Foss.