Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Year of Less

 Last year I took on the goal of simplifying my life.  In some areas I was successful, in others a complete and utter failure.  It is a long, slow process, but well worth the effort.  The past few months have given me a better handle on the direction in which I should proceed, as well as a more clear plan of action to make it happen.  After reading Ann's challenge to name your year, I feel I want to give this year a goal as well; one that continues with the theme of simplifying, as well as listens to the huge blinking signs God has managed to put in front of me on a daily basis this past Advent.  I christen this the Year of LESS  LESS commitments, LESS spending, LESS consuming, LESS acquiring, LESS chaos, LESS clutter, LESS distraction from what matters. 


It is a hard goal for me.  I am a MORE kind of person.  I like to go all out.  I really LIKE big projects, elaborate parties and garland hung from every banister at Christmas.  While I value the beauty and joy of those things, I think I need a year to experience less.  In doing so, I hope I am able to experience MORE.  

More time with God, MORE awe over His creation,

MORE fun with my children, MORE connecting with my husband, MORE quiet evenings on the porch, MORE books read aloud,
MORE hands in the dirt,

MORE hands in the dough,

MORE contentment with life. 
What will you name your year?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Little Babushka

I did a lot of sewing in the past few weeks.
This little number was for my god-daughter for Christmas.

The Queen was gracious enough to try it on for me and give it a whirl.

Don't you just love that fabric!  Wish I could find more :(

Warm and cozy red top for winter,

breezy white tee will carry her into the spring.

I think the Queen likes it.  I might have to make her one too.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Making a Cave

Need a cave for your nativity set?  Here was our solution.
2 sheets of foam core board

roughly sketched cliff lines

a box cutter and a very sore arm

lots of elm*r's glue

paint (okay, so the paint job is incomplete, but we need these for tomorrow morning in Sunday School, so they will do until next week when I can do a better job :)

add a few figures, and we are good to go! 
(I did NOT paint the beautiful figures, an artist friend from church painted them for us!)

I like the cave so much, I may do one for our home nativity set, since these must go live at church now.  Interested in how they will be used?  Next week I will share all about the beautiful transformation that has occurred in childrens' religious education at our church since August.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My thoughts exactly!

After much pressure from my children, who are "the only ones" of their friends who have yet to see the new Narnia movies, I rented Prince Caspian to preview it.  I came away greatly disappointed, and very torn about allowing my kids to watch these movies.  Why?  First, why mess with a good story?  The Chronicles of Narnia are fantastic stories, with no need for embellishment or adjusting.  I understand that translating a book to cinema requires a bit of adjusting, but that does not justify complete character changes - such as Peter and Caspian and the overarching tension between them, and the "subtle" sexual tension added between Susan and Caspian.  Beyond that, the removal of key elements is even more frustrating.  The story is missing deep meaning when you leave out the entire conflict between Lucy and her siblings over following Aslan.  Eliminating Aslan's appearance to Lucy and her realization that she must follow him regardless of what anyone else does is a pivotal point. That is the kind of message I want my kids to take away from these stories.   And how can you forget the moment when Edmond stands up for Lucy, acknowledging that in the past when he didn't believe Lucy, it was to great detriment?  If that is not bad enough, after removing these beautiful and significant moments, I guess the writers needed to fill time.  They chose to do so by dreaming up a long battle scene at Miraz' castle which does nothing but portray Peter as an arrogant boy who thinks he knows better than Aslan - again completely distorting his heroic and worthy character.   I admit, it is hard to say no.  What kid doesn't want to see these movies?  Am I being unreasonable?  Am I just being a controlling parent?  Am I reading too much in to the distortions of the story?   I was beginning to feel guilty, until I saw this article, and it echoed everything I have been feeling.  So, while many may think I am being unreasonable, I think not, and I stand firm in my decision, when a movie destroys truth found within great literature, this family will pass.

A Bonnet for the Princess

A dress for inspiration ......
...... a Y*u-Tube Video for guidance...
.... a little bit of extra dress fabric, a few late hours last night...
....and a happy little girl I hope grows up an Elinor, but whom I fear may well be a Marianne.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

St. Nicholas and the Sailors

This year our older kids shared a collection of stories about St. Nicholas and sailors. 

Recognize that ship?  I scaled it down a bit for the performance, and am grateful to finally get it out of my garage!  Don't tell me I don't recycle :)

Our sailors welcome St. Nicholas aboard, but are faced with a devastating storm, and begin to take on water....
The sailors attempt to bail water from their sinking ship, a fun suprise for the kids in the front!  Thankfully, they were saved by the prayers of Nicholas, and arrived safely in the Holy Land.  Later, Nicholas becomes bishop......
Nicholas the bishop and the hungry peasants in need of food.

A peasant is overjoyed by the arrival of a ship bearing grain after St. Nicholas appears to the captain of ship and directs him to turn course and save the people.
This years script was created from stories taken out of The Real St. Nicholas as well another Orthodox book about St. Nicholas.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

St Nicholas and the Secret Gifts

Last year we tried something new at our church.  Instead of a party on St. Nicholas Day, the 5th and 6th graders performed a play about St. Nicholas for all of the other children in our parish.  The goal was to try to put the focus on St. Nicholas and his spirit of giving.   I ended up with no photos (as I was crouched behind scenery hissing directions at the kids the whole time :), so I never got to post about it last year, but a friend just found a few I thought I would share.
The play related the story of St. Nicholas saving three young girls from slavery by providing them with gold for their dowries.
It was by no means a professional production (see the heat lamps hanging from scenery for spotlights :) but the kids really enjoyed it, and considering they pulled it off in just a month of rehearsals, and the scenery was made out of refrigerator boxes, I think it went pretty well! 
Here is the father and his daughters, praying to God to help them in their need.
And here is our cast taking a bow.  Before the play began, all of the children left their shoes outside, and at the end of the play they retrieved them to find gold coins waiting inside them.  We finished the evening with a fasting potluck.  This year, we are performing stories about St. Nicholas as the patron of sailors, hope to get someone to take photos for me this year!  Last year's script was a combination of several from my old parish which has been doing a St. Nicholas play for over 20 years, so I cannot give credit to the person who originally created them* (edited: see note below).  I made a few changes, and the script uses readings from Demi's The Legend of St. Nicholas as well.  What does your parish do to celebrate St. Nicholas?

Note:  Thank you Erin for letting me know Esther was the author of the original script. May her memory be eternal.