Advent!

Happy Advent!

Ok, I realize that Advent technically started last Sunday. But our countdown calendars all countdown the days in December… so for that sake we’ll start Advent today πŸ˜‰

Yep, I said calendarS… we have 3!

I got (well, my mom paid for it, as a gift for Miss A πŸ˜‰ ) this cute one at our local Christian store: it’s a felted manger scene, with 24 characters to place as you count down to December 25th. I thought it was very cute! And we can use it for years to come. I find it a bit weird though, that you would end up placing Baby Jesus in the manger on December 24th… but oh well.

Combined to that, I’m using this cute countdown boxes kit I got from Stampin’ Up. I had been wanting to make boxes or envelopes in which I would put a family activity in for each day since a year or two ago, but never really had to the time to get around and do it. This kit came with all the boxes pre-folded, the numbers and layer at the back, the string, the ribbons, and the tiny clothspin – perfect πŸ™‚

I’ve hanged it over the fireplace:

My original plan was to get Miss A to decorate the boxes with stickers, glitter glue, pom poms, and a bunch of craft stuff I got at the dollar store. Our 3 yrs neighbour helped too – she did boxes 1 and 2. But, after sticking (after come coaxing) 2-3 stickers on the back of box 3… Miss A called it a day! Ah. Well. So much for that! I have to admit I was starting to wonder if letting her do all the boxes as a 2.5 yrs was a wise idea – I hope to re-use these over the years, and what if she finds them baby-ish by the time she’s 5 or 6? Her non-interest gave me an idea: we will decorate 4 per year, 2 for each girls. So we will have them until Miss A is 7 and Miss C 5. I finished boxes 3 and 4 for Miss A this year. πŸ˜‰

In each boxes, I put daily Bible verses, which I got from this site. I printed each of them on little cards, with the daily symbol as a background, which I then laminated with book covering for durability. This year, we will only read them, and hopefully, talk about them a little bit – but frankly, I’ll be lucky if I get through the card’s first reading πŸ˜‰Β  But over the years, we can plan activities around the daily symbol – a craft, a treasure hunt, a book…Β  (sorry for the flash of the camera in the picture!)

Starting Dec. 9th, I’ve placed the felt animal for the felted calendar, to place in the manger scene. Miss A was yanking out of their pockets, anyway πŸ˜‰Β  Maybe another year we’ll use the pockets from Dec. 1st, but I felt it worked well doing it this way this year! Because, starting Dec. 19th, the daily symbols from the Bible verses correspond to a character in the manger: the angels, the Star, the shepherds, the Magi, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. These characters went in their corresponding boxes, and so when we read the Bible verses relating to them, we will also be placing them on the manger scene. The reason we start the manger scene on Dec. 9th is that some characters boxes, like the Magi one, use up all 3 Magi and their 3 camels – so 6 characters in one day, instead of 6 days. But it made sense to do it that way! So when all the characters were in their boxes, I took the remaining manger animals (sheep, donkeys, etc.), and placed them in boxes Dec. 18th, 17th, and on, and it came up to start on Dec. 9th!

The idea of daily activities isn’t loss either πŸ˜‰Β  Using an ornament stamp and punch, I punched one ornament per day (from Dec. 1st to 24th), and wrote our activity of the day on the back. In the box they go!

And finally – some boxes get a treat! I got some candy canes, and had 18, just enough for 2 canes ever 3rd day – one for Miss A, and one for me πŸ˜‰ (my husband is not forgotten, he doesn’t like them LOL) Dec. 13th’s symbol is the candy cane, so I thought it would be nice to have some in that box. It just works out perfectly that every 3rd day brought them down to Dec. 1st, 4th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 19th, 22nd, and 25th – it’s like the candy cane symbol was place specifically for including canes every 3rd day LOL! I did cheat a bit and moved the 22nd’s canes to the 21st, as the 22nd is the Magi day, and the box was simply too full with 3 Magi, 3 camels, the Bible verse card and the ornament activity… πŸ˜‰
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And what are our activities?

Dec 1st – Make a hand print Christmas card
Dec 2nd – Make salt dough ornaments & hand prints
Dec 3rd – Make wooden and cinnamon ornaments (I got the wooden ornaments at the dollar store and we just colour with markers)

WEEKEND – Dec. 4th – Trim the tree, decorate the house, go see Santa/Santa pictures; Swiss Chalet Festive Meal dinner (that’s why all the ornaments crafts came before the 4th! hih)
WEEKEND – Dec. 5th – Church; Holiday party at a friend’s house after nap

Dec 6th – Christmas games (I printed a bunch of stuff, laminated, made folder games, etc. – more details on the 6th!)
Dec 7th – Library trip to choose Christmas related books, read them (and re-read them for the rest of Advent!) I also printed a Christmas Story booklet, from the text found on this site – it’s pretty much Luke’s Christmas Story, but worded a bit more geared to children. I inserted a couple of colouring pages in the booklet.
Dec. 8th – Bake Christmas cookies (for an exchange on the 10th) We’re making haystack cookies!
Dec. 9th – Make a popcorn and cranberry garland
Dec. 10th – Christmas Story Colouring Book – I googled colouring pages to illustrate scenes from the Christmas story, and added some text to make it a little booklet. We will re-visit the Christmas Story, while colouring it! So Miss A will have that booklet, the one I made for Dec. 7th, and she has a Baby Bible Christmas Story board book – repetition is key for young ones… πŸ˜‰ hehe

WEEKEND – Dec. 11th – We have an Advent potluck playdate with the ladies from my Christian playgroup. I believe she will have a small craft to do, and we’ll be watching Veggie Tales Christmas movies.
WEEKEND – Dec. 12th – We have an appointment for our yearly family pictures; Church after

Dec. 13th – Family Starbucks Breakfast
Dec. 14th – Hand print Christmas tree (did it last year, it will be fun to see the hand print cut-outs grow!)
Dec. 15th – Address & decorate Christmas cards envelopes (and send!)
Dec. 16th – Prepare dough for sugar cookies (it needs to chill overnight); go raid the bulk store for decorating candy/icing
Dec. 17th – Bake & decorate sugar cookies

WEEKEND – Dec. 18th – Christmas party with the neighbourhood playgroup
WEEKEND – Dec 19th – Church; Wrap Christmas gifts; Make a gingerbread house

Dec. 20th – Christmas Party/potluck with our dear neighbour friends (we are really good friends with our backdoor neighbours, and our girls are about the same age and best friends too! In fact, a lot of the craft activities we’ll be doing together too πŸ˜‰ )
Dec. 21st – Swiss Chalet Festive Meal dinner; Christmas Movie Night (I ordered Rudolph and Frosty from Zip, we’ll have some treats and sleeping bags in the living room, hope Miss A likes it!)
Dec. 22nd – Bake a Happy Birthday Jesus cake (early, but we’ll be getting ready to visit family afterwards)
Dec. 23rd – Christmas Light walk around the neighbourhood with hot chocolate and candy cane for stirring
Dec. 24th – Attend Christmas Eve Mass
Dec. 25th – MERRY CHRISTMAS! Family breakfast, then off to visit relatives!
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And there you have it! Advent 2010!

FIR ’10 – Reading Question #10

As part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2010, Callapider Days has reading questions for us to answer, if we so wish, every week. This week’s question is:
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Do you have multiple books going at once? Or do you prefer to stick to one book at a time?

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My answer:
I pretty much always have more than 1 book going on at once. Most of the time, it will be 1 fiction book with quite a few non-fiction going on on the side; but sometimes I might have more than 1 fiction too. That can happen when I start a book while waiting on a book from the library that I want to read more, or if a book club selection is made and I want to read that book first; or sometimes I just loose interest for a while and read another book before coming back to my first one. I can vary depending on my mood of the day too… Basically, I’m the type of person that, when travelling (even just a short bus ride into town), I need to bring 2-3 books, you know, in case I feel like reading this one and not that one… πŸ™‚

For reasons like that, I think a digital reader might be useful, sometimes!

FIR ’10 – Reading Question #9

As part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2010, Callapider Days has reading questions for us to answer, if we so wish, every week. This week’s question is:
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Once you begin a book, do you feel compelled to finish it? Or have you been known to give up in the middle of a book, to walk away from a book that is just too annoying, boring, etc.?

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My answer:
I have already answered a similar question through Booking Through Friday, so here was my answer!

Read the whole thing. I can’t do half things πŸ˜‰ Movies, books… I always have to finish it if I’ve started – plus I always wonder: but what if it got better later on??

There’s been 1 book that I haven’t finished – it was a chick lit for a playgroup book club (don’t get me wrong – I do like some chick lit every now and then), and I couldn’t really get into it even in the first chapter – something about the style and tone turned me off. And I was on holiday in Ireland, and had also brought with me “The Rebels of Ireland” by Edward Rutherfurd, my favourite author ever, and kind of REALLY wanted to read that book, while, quite conveniently, IN situs. πŸ™‚ I have to say, I don’t regret – there was something special about reading about some places while being there, I felt more connected to the book – and could identify where the characters were.

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Bonus question:
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We have less than one month left in Fall Into Reading 2010! Can you believe it? If you’d like to share…how are you doing? Are you on track with your goals? Will the upcoming holidays derail your reading plans?

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My answer:
I’m doing pretty good… considering I have a new baby around and all! I’m up to 16 books read; in October alone, I’ve read 11 books, which is more than I ever read in a month so far this year. I think all the nursing sessions and long nights rocking a baby to sleep are helping… πŸ˜‰ This being said, nursing sessions are getting shorter and nights longer, incidentally, it’s taking me more time to finishΒ  book! ha! πŸ™‚

I’m definitely on track with my goals considering my goals were something around 5 books. πŸ˜› 2 of these I haven’t read yet – I’m still waiting on them from the library. No worries – I have PLENTY in my To Read list at home to go through in the meanwhile! Problem is though, I keep finding new books to read, and renting those instead from the library… I think that, for Spring Into Reading 2010, I will make my focus my at-home To Read list, to bring that already-bought-books-yet-read pile down a bit! I paid for them, gotta read them, right?

Once you begin a book, do you feel compelled to finish it? Or have you been known to give up in the middle of a book, to walk away from a book that is just too annoying, boring, etc.?

FIR ’10 – Reading Question #8

As part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2010, Callapider Days has reading questions for us to answer, if we so wish, every week. The 8th question is:
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Where do you get the books you read? Are you a faithful library patron? Or maybe a bookstore junkie? Do you exchange books with friends or family members?

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My answer:
All of the above!

There’s something about owning your own books that’s very enticing. It looks nice, a bookshelf full of books, and that way you are not reporting to anyone, by having to give back the book after a certain time and what not. You can pile up your To Read list (a dangerous thing, sometimes…) and work your way through it as you go. Find a good book at the store? Don’t risk forgetting about it – get it, and put it in your pile for later. There’s also the fact that a new book, all shiny and unbroken, is very, very trilling. πŸ™‚

However, I don’t have an unlimited budget, and I’m also conscious of resources used to print all these news books. Then, there are also the books that I think look good, but I’m not sure if they are THAT good, or if I would want to actually keep them afterwards. For example, book club selections are sometimes not my cup of tea, but I always try to give them a shot, in respect for those who chose them (I would like people to give MY selection a shot), and because you never know, I might discover a gem (and I have discovered many!). But those I usually borrow. It would, also, get expensive to buy each and every one of them πŸ˜‰

Sometimes I just browse the virtual shelves on my library’s website and select books that look good. I do enjoy borrowing books from the library. There’s something about a well-worn and loved book that many have read before you that’s just nice.

Finally, I often hose “book exchange playdates” with my various playgroups. I have a bin full of books, and the premise is that people bring a few books they don’t feel like keeping anymore, and then can leave with some “new” books to enjoy! It’s basically a regular free-play playdate, except for the fact the bin is out, and we all take turn browsing it πŸ˜‰ I host these with various playgroups I’m involved in, so books get suffled around by different groups of people; whenever they come for one of the playdates, they will find new books – not always the same ones in rotation. It’s been a huge success since I started those! And again – it’s green πŸ˜‰

FIR ’10 – Reading Question #7

As part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2010, Callapider Days has reading questions for us to answer, if we so wish, every week. The 7th question is:
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How did you get into reading? When and how/why did you really become β€œa reader”?

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My answer:
I can’t really remember… I simply always read. When I first learned how to read in 1st grade, I was reading everything and anything from milk cartons and cereal boxes to our reading books from school. I always LOVED the library, it would be my ideal plan for a weekend afternoon. I remember going to browse books for hours (probably not hours, but it felt like hours to me!), and I was probably one of their best patrons. There were always library books at home.

The first series I remember reading was Anne of Green Gable, about mid-elementary. Perhaps 3rd grade. The “Easter Bunny” brought me the whole series, and I just devoured them. πŸ™‚Β  It’s on my To Read list to revisit these books, as I don’t think I’ve ever re-read them since!

Until then, I had mostly only read in French. Although I was raised speaking both language, my mother tongue is French, and I was going to French school. In 4th grade, my mom thought it might be a good idea for me to read in English as well, so she brought me to the book store (another of my favourite activities – still is!!), and I chose a book from The Baby-Sitter Club series. I ended up reading the WHOLE series up until the end of 6th grade or so – I think I stopped reading them when I started high school (our “high school” is from grade 7 to 11). The series continued after that, but I wasn’t reading them anymore. I most have a hundred or so books from it… I think my mom still has them in a box!

My mom is an avid reader herself, and always had a book on the go. So I think that my influence to get into reading came from her. Very early on, we had our classic bedtime stories, and as children, we had lots of children books to read. My mom always encouraged us to read, and brought us to buy books at the store. Growing up, my birthday gifts were very often books too! So I suppose we could say my sister and I grew up with books – and we are both very avid readers today! In fact, we just went to the annual Book Show yesterday, and I couldn’t think of anyone else I would have enjoyed going there with as much πŸ˜‰Β  (I have a few friends who enjoy reading very much as well, and it would have been nice to go with them too (they were otherwise engaged that day and couldn’t come), but with them AND my sister. My sister had to be there πŸ™‚ )

I hope to pass on this love to my girls too!

FIR ’10 – Reading Question #6

As part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2010, Callapider Days has reading questions for us to answer, if we so wish, every week. The 6th question is:
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Where do you love to read? Note: I don’t mean where do you actually do most of your reading, because that might be the carpool line, the work cafeteria, or even the bathroom (if you have to escape from a few small children in order to read a chapter of your book). I mean, what are a few of the places where you LOVE to read?

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My answer:
I think that, in a way, the places that I actually do most of my reading are also the places that I love to read!

When I worked and took the bus to work daily, I had about 1 hour of bus to do to and from work, and so I read, and read, and read. I love reading on the bus, and looked forward to those moments in my day – I remember looking at the clock for the last hour or so of work, and getting giddy and excited because I could sink into my very good current novel soon. πŸ˜€Β  If the book was particularly VERY good, I would even start my reading standing up at the bus stop! (thought that’s not quite my favourite reading spot… It would get uncomfortable to read standing up after a while :P)

These days, I do a lot of nursing reading. Miss C still nurses 8-10 times a day, and although she doesn’t quite take as long to gather her sustenance, it’s still a nice break. Of course I can’t read at every feeding – if my oldest is up and about, I have to do some entertaining and interacting at the same time. Although I’ve been known to casually glance at my book if she happens to be watching a show at that moment, or happily involved in her own toys… tee hee. I like to tell myself it’s setting a good example LOL

My favourite time is when Miss A is down for her afternoon nap, and I nurse Miss C to sleep. I will then let her sleep in my arms, while I read the afternoon away. Lovely! (often though I end up falling asleep too… sleep deprivation will do that, interfere with your reading like that 😦 )

I love, love, love to read a good book and a nice warm {hot} bath. Especially when the door is lock. Ha!

Finally, I CANNOT go to bed without reading. My mind would simply race too much, and I end up not sleeping – I’m very prone to insomnia. Even if it’s 2 am and I finally got both kids settled for the night (when they decide to tag-team wake up…), I have to read a bit before closing the light. Usually I will read until I start falling asleep on the book, and then I’m assured of closing the light, my eyes, and being immediately asleep. However, if the book is TOO good… oops!

FIR ’10 – Reading Question #5

As part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2010, Callapider Days has reading questions for us to answer, if we so wish, every week. The 5th question is:
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When you read a book, do you read EVERYTHING? In other words, do you read the dedication, the acknowledgements, the foreword, the afterword, the prologue, the epilogue, the appendices, etc.? Or do you just read the β€œmeat” of the book? Or is your approach somewhere in between?

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My answer:
Perhaps somewhere in between.

I normally don’t read the dedication (might glance at it) nor the acknowledgements (it’s all very good and nice, but it’s mostly a list of people I don’t know!).

Foreword and afterword depends on the book, and whether they add to the book or not. I might start them, glance them quickly, and then decide if I want to read them or not.

Prologue and epilogue I’ll read, as they are typically part of the story.

Appendices, it depends. It they add to the book (facts for non-fiction, or add to the story), I might read them. If not, I might glance those that interest me, and skip those that don’t.