Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Quick December Catch-up

Not much to describe here at the Dawson house... but I happened to borrow my parent's camera, which means I have pictures for you.

 Having more children = more laundry. There are an additional 5 piles on the couch in the background.

 We are praying family prayer with the advent wreath, and Jacob sets up all the chairs for us; then he proceeds to spend the entirety of prayer time switching from one chair/lap to another.

John Paul is like a super brother! Seriously, he is such an awesome kid. We are so blessed to have him in our family.
 Micah Man is meeting one milestone after the other, sitting up, crawling, and pulling up has happened in less than one month... not joking. This is a first for us. John Paul and Therese sat up at 5 months then crawled at 8. Jacob sat up at 5 but didn't crawl until 10 months (which was such a beautiful thing.) This guy...
 If you are wondering, these sets of pj's are worn pretty much every night by all three.
 Is this kid cute or what?

 David and I gave another Domestic Church retreat this past weekend... isn't David so handsome? Sigh...

Our friends the Franco's were participants in the retreat and brought their BEAUTIFUL baby Gianna, who is 2 weeks older than Micah. As Michael said, "Well, they've already attended a married couples retreat together...

And the rest of these are just some shots from around our little lives...

 (This one is Father Nathan Long, our dear friend telling the children the story of Queen Ester for the Jesse Tree)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Advent... an invitation to anticipate

It's always somewhat of a difficulty for me... in these days between Thanksgiving and Christmas when we hear and see "ALL CHRISTMAS 'TIL CHRISTMAS" it feels like I have to be very purposeful in avoiding seeing and hearing it. Why do I do this? I do it because there is a VERY big difference in the the weeks BEFORE a baby is born and the weeks AFTER a baby is born... if you've ever been pregnant or awaited the adoption of a child, I am sure you can relate. I do it because there is such grace that comes with accepting God's invitation to anticipate the coming of the Christ-child... the grace comes through the very short, but very powerful season called ADVENT.

Look at the language that comes with Advent: watchful, vigilant, hope, waiting, anticipation, preparation, journey, rejoice, conversion... Come, Lord Jesus (implying, of course, that He's not here YET).

 I have small children who see Santas EVERYWHERE (which is another controversial blog post entirely) lights, music, Grandma got ran over by a reindeer, etc.... but I really value my family recognizing and living the difference between "All Christmas 'til Christmas" and "From Advent to Christmas." I don't just want to "white knuckle" through Advent and never leave the house so that we're not overexposed to too much Christmas. I don't want my children to resent the season of Advent because they don't get to do the stuff other kids get to do. I have to get creative (which does NOT come naturally to me).  So I thought I would share a list of some things (that other people thought of) that we do in our family while I figure out how to joyfully accept this invitation...
  • We wait to put up that Christmas Tree until the 3rd weekend of Advent or "Rose Sunday" as we call it in the Catholic Church (and when the kids ask why our tree is not up yet, I simply answer, "because it's Advent, not Christmas")
  •  We let the children journey toward Christmas using a Jesse Tree, which has ornaments that are specific to the old testament stories and people that lead up to and participate in the birth of Christ..
  •  We pray each night (or almost each night) around the advent wreath with the candle(s) lit for family prayer. We sing "Oh come Emmanuel" instead of the other song(s) we usually sing to end family prayer.
  • We don't listen to Christmas music constantly (sorry LA 929, the Lake), but instead we attempt to be intentional in teaching them the Christmas Carols so that when the Christmas season DOES begin, and all throughout the 12 days of Christmas (it's not just a song, who knew?) we can sing and listen to the songs as much as we want! NOTE: Radio stations will stop playing Christmas music pretty much after Christmas day, so you'll have to provide it yourself.
  • When we see Santa here and there, we remind them that Santa is a nickname for St Nicholas, who WAS A REAL PERSON!
  • The kids actually ask if it's Christmas yet... so we answer them with "It's Advent. Jesus is still in Mary's belly"
  • We keep the decorations to a minimum, save this:
      • After Christmas even we change to statue that is the center of family prayer from the one above to this
        (notice Jesus is out of her belly... the kids go nuts of that)
  •  We go absolutely CRAZY with excitement in the last week of Advent (which follows Rose Sunday).
  • We avoid putting presents under the tree at until Christmas Eve. I notice the kids are usually less focused on "what am I getting for Christmas" when there aren't any presents under the tree.
Why do we do this? Because there is joy and excitement that comes with Anticipation! I LOVE the feeling I get when I hear the readings in mass! It totally prepares us... it's like, "Get ready people. You know that long awaited savior that you and your ancestors have waited for for years and years and years? Well guess what? He's on the way! It's gonna blow your mind! It's gonna be greater that ANYTHING or ANYONE you could ask for or imagine."  We have the awesome advantage of already knowing that the God-man is coming as a humble little baby... on a silent night. AH!! It's so exciting! Please help yourself to some of these advent ideas. I can promise you that it will bring REAL joy on Christmas morning that can last for 12 full days instead of crawling to the Christmas morning finish line where you swear you'll hit someone who even whistles "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas"

God is inviting us... Anticipate!

"Rejoice, Rejoice, Oh Israel. To the SHALL COME Emmanuel"