Monday, December 31

Six Geese A-Laying...

During Vespers on Saturday Night
On the Sixth Day of Christmas we remember Saint Melania of Rome

1.  Read (or retell) pages 26 and 27 in Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas

2.  Visit someone that is sick or in need *


3.  Make up a batch of Peppermint Play Dough (we add peppermint extract and glitter to make it sparkly) for your little ones to enjoy


4.  Make Peppermint Milkshakes... Or take the family out to get them (we really like Chick-fil-a's!)

5. Collect the ingredients that you will need to bake a Vasilopita Bread (there is a recipe included in 
Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas, but here is one from An Orthodox Kitchen


:::::

Using Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas  as a framework, I am going to plan little activities and readings for the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Because of family obligations (we have two family parties back-to-back these next two days) and church events (Metropolitan Tikhon is visiting our parish this coming weekend!), we will not get to everything.  However, it will  be nice to refer to these Christmas Learning Baskets in future years.  Also, I would love to hear your suggestions for things to add...  this is a work in progress!

*Idea taken from Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas

Sunday, December 30

Five Golden Rings...


Watching Papa receive his first priestly award from Metropolitan Tikhon
 On the Fifth Day of Christmas we remember Saint Anysia

1.  Read (or retell) pages 24 and 25 in Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas

2.  Make Thank You cards to write to family and friends for the gifts that were received.  Youcan decorate premade cards from the craft store or fold construction or computer paper in half to make them.  Decorate a lot of cards at once and then have your child write out a few each day until they are all finished. *


3.  Download Handel's Messiah (we found one on iTunes for under $10) and enjoy listening to it throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas


4.  Stock your pantry or refrigerator with special Christmas drinks.  Eggnog is Father John's favorite and we all like Twining's Christmas Tea and Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider.

5.  Play family games like Charades, Old Maid, or Hide and Seek and opt to have a night without the television


:::::

Using Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas  as a framework, I am going to plan little activities and readings for the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Because of family obligations (we have two family parties back-to-back these next two days) and church events (Metropolitan Tikhon is visiting our parish this coming weekend!), we will not get to everything.  However, it will  be nice to refer to these Christmas Learning Baskets in future years.  Also, I would love to hear your suggestions for things to add...  this is a work in progress!

*Idea taken from Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas

Saturday, December 29

Four Calling Birds...


On the Fourth Day of Christmas we remember The Holy Innocents

1.  Read (or retell) pages 22 and 23 in Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas

2.  Place one small candle for each child in your home in a pretty centerpiece to remember the Holy Innocents who were the first to suffer for Christ*

3.  Collect clothes, toys, or baby supplies to give to your local crisis pregnancy center

4.  Look at all of the Christmas cards you received this year (especially the ones with photos included!) with your little ones.  Tuck them into an envelope labeled with the year and put it into your ornament box to compare to next year's cards with this year's, next Christmas!

5.  Start reading a Christmas chapter book together.  One of our favorites is The Lion in the Box

:::::

Using Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas  as a framework, I am going to plan little activities and readings for the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Because of family obligations (we have two family parties back-to-back these next two days) and church events (Metropolitan Tikhon is visiting our parish this coming weekend!), we will not get to everything.  However, it will  be nice to refer to these Christmas Learning Baskets in future years.  Also, I would love to hear your suggestions for things to add...  this is a work in progress!

*Idea taken from Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas

Friday, December 28

Three French Hens...


On the Third Day of Christmas we remember The 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia

1.  Read (or retell) pages 20 and 21 in Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas

2.  Enjoy eggs today!  We're going to hard boil some eggs that we bought from a friend's farm.

3.  Build a church out of wooden blocks together as a family to remember the 20,000 martyrs that perished in Nicomedia

4. Fill bird feeders in your yard and clean out a birdbath if you have one

5.  String cranberries and popcorn on embroidery floss and  hang from the branches of a tree for the birds and squirrels to snack on
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Using Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas  as a framework, I am going to plan little activities and readings for the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Because of family obligations (we have two family parties back-to-back these next two days) and church events (Metropolitan Tikhon is visiting our parish this coming weekend!), we will not get to everything.  However, it will  be nice to refer to these Christmas Learning Baskets in future years.  Also, I would love to hear your suggestions for things to add...  this is a work in progress!

Thursday, December 27

Two Turtle Doves...



At the Akathist to Saint Stephen at my Father-in-Law's Parish


On the Second Day of Christmas we remember Saint Stephen the Protomartyr

1.  Read (or retell) pages 18 and 19 in Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Read any other books your family may have on Saint Stephen.

2.  Many times, we bake and are given many delicious treats at this time of year.  Put together a few plates of goodies or a container of yummy leftovers to bring to an elderly person that you know, someone in need, or someone that lives alone.*

3.  Place an Icon of Saint Stephen in a prominent place.  It would be nice to add one to the centerpiece on the dining room table, on your feastday table, or in the icon corner 

4. Host a night of Caroling!  Ask everyone to bring their favorite type of cookie and set up a hot chocolate bar with lots of different marshmallows, sprinkles, cinnamon, whipped cream, peppermint sticks, etc.*

5.  Plant bulbs in pots to enjoy when the decorations come down

 



:::::

Using Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas  as a framework, I am going to plan little activities and readings for the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Because of family obligations (we have two family parties back-to-back these next two days) and church events (Metropolitan Tikhon is visiting our parish this coming weekend!), we will not get to everything.  However, it will  be nice to refer to these Christmas Learning Baskets in future years.  Also, I would love to hear your suggestions for things to add...  this is a work in progress!

*Idea taken from Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas

Wednesday, December 26

A Partridge in a Pear Tree...

The Children in Our Parish Kissing the Cross After the Midnight Liturgy for Nativity

On the First Day of Christmas we remember The Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos

1.  Read (or retell) pages 16 and 17 in Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Read any other books your family may have on the Mother of God.

2.  Enjoy pears today!  We might add them to a fancy salad for lunch!

3.  Place an Icon of the Mother of God in a prominent place.  It would be nice to add one to the centerpiece on the dining room table, on your feastday table, or in the icon corner 

4.  Spend time together as a family.  Play games or work on puzzles together, find good places for presents that were received and organize a box of things to give to others (gifts that cannot be used and items that are no longer needed) or to donate, craft or bake together, etc.

5.  Watch a good Christmas or religious movie together with delicious snacks!  Our children watched several selections from Jesus of Nazareth with us (with of course, lots of  commentary!).


:::::

Using Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas  as a framework, I am going to plan little activities and readings for the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Because of family obligations (we have two family parties back-to-back these next two days) and church events (Metropolitan Tikhon is visiting our parish this coming weekend!), we will not get to everything.  However, it will  be nice to refer to these Christmas Learning Baskets in future years.  Also, I would love to hear your suggestions for things to add...  this is a work in progress!


Tuesday, December 25

Christ is Born!


Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, 
has shone to the world the light of wisdom! 
For by it, those who worshiped the stars 
were taught by a star to adore Thee, the Sun of Righteousness 
and to know Thee, the Orient from on high. 
O Lord, glory to Thee!

Monday, December 24

Christmas Feasting...


Since Orthodox Christians abstain from meat and dairy products during the Nativity Fast (which is 40 days in length), the feasting on Christmas is a serious business!  Here is our menu:

Breakfast
Eggs by Papa
Bacon
Bagels
Grapefruit
Orange Juice

Lunch
Cheese, Pepperoni, Sausage, and Cracker Tray
Vegetables (Carrots, Cucumbers, and Peppers) with Bacon Ranch Dip

Dinner
Pork Loin
Mashed Potatoes
Stuffing
Applesauce
Cranberry Sauce
Christmas Cauliflower
Peas
Gravy 

Dessert
Christmas Cookies and Candies
Eggnog


Sunday, December 23

Reading...

Hello, Matti,"  his father said.
"We didn't catch the Gingerbread Baby."
"Did you make that beautiful gingerbread house?"  his mother asked.
"Yes," Matti said, smiling.
Only Matti could hear the tiny voice from inside the gingerbread house.

"I'm the Gingerbread Baby, 
Lucky as can be,
To be living in the house
That Matti made for me!"

Jan Brett

Clove Oranges and Cranberry Popcorn Strings...




Saturday, December 22

Snowflakes...



I spent a little time this past week removing our pretty autumn leaves from our playroom windows and replacing them with snowflakes cut from coffee filters and cupcake liners.  I love the way they turned out this year...  It looks so festive when I peek in from the kitchen! 

Friday, December 21

Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas...


Have you seen this book yet?  Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas by AmandaEve Wigglesworth is a slim volume packed with lovely ideas for celebrating the Nativity of our Lord and the Twelve Days of the Christmas Season.  It offers a two page spread on the life of the saint celebrated on each of the twelve days, a small lesson to be learned, and suggestions of simple activities and crafts to complete each day.  I am so happy that we added this book to our collection and will be able to use it this year.  If you hurry, I think that there is still time to get it for your family to use!


Thursday, December 20

Archimandrite...


My father-in-law just sent me a link to this 51 minute film that has won seven awards so far.  I'll be watching it this evening!

Wednesday, December 19

Yarn Along: Christmas is Coming!

When we went away this past weekend, I brought along this gorgeous skein of Madeline Tosh yarn to make a Honey Cowl with.  I wish that I knew the name of the yarn, but I accidentally tossed the label when I was tidying up my knitting basket.  It is a gorgeous color and I knew the moment that I bought it who I was going to give the finished product to!

I am still working on my Edith Shawl, but I snapped one of my knitting needles in half when packing it into the car!  Whoops!  I'll be picking up a new pair (and maybe this time I'll go with needles in the round) on Thursday.

We're reading a lot this week.  Little Man received several Magic Tree House books for his birthday and we finished the last of those tonight.  We also have one more book left in Tumtum and Nutmeg:  Rose Cottage Tales to read aloud and we are listening to the Ramona books in the car when we run errands.  I picked up A Child's Christmas in Wales at the library today after seeing the gorgeous pictures on Ginny's blog and I am in the midst of Christmas at Thrush Green.

Tuesday, December 18

Saint Juliana...






While we were visiting The Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City this past weekend, we were able to see a beautiful icon of Saint Juliana of Lazarev in the church.  I had never seen it before, and thought that some of you would like to see it!

I had hoped to buy a print of the icon while at the monastery, but there were only two very small ones in stock (the details on this icon are such that a larger icon would be optimal).  One of the nuns directed me to Uncut Mountain Supply where it can be purchased in several different sizes though, so after Christmas I plan on ordering a copy.  I am sorry for the terrible quality of the photos.  They were taken with my mobile phone in dim light while holding a squirmy toddler!

Monday, December 17

Embroidery...








Last week, Sugar Plum was given the gift of an embroidery hoop from a friend.  On a quick stop at the store for milk that night, I passed the craft supply aisle and chose a few skeins of embroidery floss, cloth, and needles for her to use.  The next morning, she began to stitch and I confess that I was impressed!  I cannot embroider or sew and could not really help her much, but she figured it out.  Her idea to embroider a Nativity Scene was such a good one and though I would have loved to keep her finished product, she decided (on her own) to give it to Father John's godfather's widow while we were visiting for the funeral.  She says that she will make me my own soon...  I cannot wait!

Sunday, December 16

Reading...

Nelly Piggot knew that it was going to be another busy day in The Fuchsia Bush, and had arrived especially early to make the cakes and scones that would be needed.  The High Street was bursting at the seams with people who looked increasingly harassed the closer it for to Christmas.  By mid-morning, the tea-room would be full of exhausted shoppers who had decided they couldn't face another moment without a restorative cup of coffee and a piece of lemon drizzle cake or a warm scone and butter.  

Then there would be lunches.  The Fuchsia Bush didn't have a large menu.  There was always the 'soup pf the day', something wholesome at this time of year. served with a home-baked crusty bread.  Nelly had prepared some creamed fish today as one of the two main courses - it was funny how 'fish on Fridays' was still an accepted ritual - and there was also steak and ale pie, which was always a great favorite with the men."

Miss Read

Saturday, December 15

Ask Father: One Question and One Answer...


Q. Why is the Nativity of Christ celebrated on December 25th?
 
A. There are two main explanations as to why the Church chose to celebrate the Nativity of Christ on December 25th.


The first says that the day was chosen to oppose the great pagan feast of the sun god, which was celebrated near December 22nd at the Winter Solstice, the time of year when the days started to get longer again (at least in the northern hemisphere). It is believed that the Church chose December 25th, because it ensured that Christians would be fasting during the pagan celebration and would therefore not easily be tempted to participate. And also because it would help the pagan peoples to leave off worshiping the false sun god and instead celebrate the coming of the True God, “the Sun of Righteousness”.


The second explanation says that the day was chosen in relation to the feast of the Annunciation, which was celebrated on March 25th commemorating the supernatural conception of the Lord in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Annunciation was celebrated on this day because of the belief in the ancient world that great men died on the same day as they were conceived. Since the Lord was believed to have been crucified on March 25th, it also came to be believed that He was likewise conceived on this day. And since it followed that the Lord’s birth would be nine months after His conception, the feast of His Nativity was set on December 25th.

Friday, December 14

Small Changes Make a Big Difference...

Before

After Staining

A Better Representation of the Color!
We have had these nice little cubbies for years now, and I have never felt the need to stain them.  We bought them at Michael's Craft Store and stuck baskets inside to sort our toys (Legos, wooden blocks, baby toys, musical instruments, and farm pieces).  I love that they are just the right height for little ones to explore and for several years, we have displayed seasonal and/or festal items on top of the middle cubby.  

Yesterday, Miguel (our church's handyman), came over to stain some built-in cabinets in the church and I had a flash of inspiration!  The unfinished cubbies!  We quickly spread on some stain and one coat of sealer and voila!  A whole new look that really compliments our floor, the baskets, and the toys!  I really like how it looks and wish that I had done it earlier!

Thursday, December 13

Saint Herman of Alaska...

 
Joyful North Star of the Church of Christ,
Guiding all people to the Heavenly Kingdom;
Teacher and apostle of the True Faith;
Intercessor and defender of the oppressed;
Adornment of the Orthodox adornment of the Orthodox Church in America:
Blessed Father Herman of Alaska,
Pray to our Lord Jesus Christ
For the salvation of our souls!
 
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The Saint Herman Learning Basket can be found HERE.

Wednesday, December 12

Tuesday, December 11

Yarn Along: Rose Cottage Tales...


Though it looks like I have done nothing on my Edith Shawl this past week, I have.  I had to rip it back (yet again), but this time I used stitch markers as one of my readers suggested last week.  Huge difference!  I knit what I have here in two evenings and am hopeful that I'll get a bit more in before our Knit Night on Thursday night.

We are reading Tumtum and Nutmeg:  The Rose Cottage Tales this week (the children love these books!) and I am about to start reading Christmas in Thrush Green .  I love Miss Read...  especially at Christmastime!  My absolute favorite of her Christmas books is No Holly For Miss Quinn.  Maybe that will be next!

Monday, December 10

Memory Eternal!

Please keep the servant of God, the Archpriest Michael Mihalick, in your prayers.  He fell asleep in the Lord today, after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis.  He was Father John's godfather and though we know that he is free from suffering, it is still a sad time.

Sunday, December 9

Reading...

Late that night, the two sisters sat each side of the hearth, working their rug.

'D'you know what Vanessa said when her father fetched her?'  asked Margaret.  'She said:  "This is the loveliest Christmas we've ever had!" 'Twas good of the child to say it, I thought after such a muddling old day.  It touched me very much.'

'She spoke the truth,' replied Mary slowly.  'Not only for herself, but for all of us here in Fairacre.  'Tis a funny thing, sister, but when I crept up the stairs to take a first look at that new babe, the thought came to me:  "Ah!  You're a true Fairacre child, just as I was once, born here, and most likely to be bred up here, the Lord Willing!"  And then another thought came:  "You've warmed up us cold old Fairacre folk quicker'n the sun melts frost."  You know, the Emerys have put us all to shame, many a time, with their friendly ways, and been snubbed too, often as not.  It took a Christmas baby to kindle some proper Christmas goodwill in Fairacre.'

"Tis true,' admitted Margaret, putting down the rug hook, and gazing into the dying fire.  Into her tired mind there floated irrelevant memories...  Mrs Emery's scarlet petticoat, a ginger cat lapping milk, Anna-Louise fumbling with her egg-spoon, while her sisters watched her with squirrel-bright eyes, laughing at her antics...  all adding up to colour and warmth and gentle loving-kindness."

Miss Read


Saturday, December 8

Living and Learning: December...



Faith
Saint Alexander
Saint Nicholas
Saint Herman of Alaska
Saint Lucia
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Homemaking
Finalize Plans for Little Man's Namesday and Birthday
Christmas Planning, Shopping, and Wrapping Gifts
Christmas Decorating
Christmas Tree
Nativity Preparations with Children
Perfect Stovetop Popcorn Recipe
Follow Cleaning Plan in Preparation for Nativity
Solidify Plans for the Twelve Days of Christmas
Decorate Kitchen with a Winter Jasmine Plant and a Potted Rosemary Plant

Themes
Saint Nicholas
Gingerbread
Winter
Nativity and 12 Days of Christmas

Rituals
Keep to the Bedtime Routine
Redouble Efforts to Turn Off the Television and Computer Before Bed and Focus on the Little Ones

Special Days
Uncle Gregory's Birthday - 3rd
Little Man's Namesday - 4th
Auntie Kate's Namesday - 8th
Little Man's 3rd Birthday - 12th
Uncle Nicolas' Namesday - 19th
Full Cold Moon - 28th
Auntie Anna's Birthday and Namesday - 22nd
Lucy's Namesday - December 26th
Little Man's Hospital Homecoming Anniversary - 31st

Learning
Practice being still and quiet during services and prayers
Practice patience and love towards one another
Learn to Sing "Beneath Thy Compassion"
The Sign of the Cross for Button
Clearing the Table after Meals
Tidy bedrooms each morning  
Tidy the playroom each afternoon
Put Away Own Laundry 
Work on Letters and Numbers with Little Man
Use the Moveable Alphabet with Sugar Plum
Nature table scene
Christmas book basket
Watercoloring
Gingerbread House Party at the Bookstore
Christmas Parade
Winter Wonderland of Lights Display
Living Nativity
Puzzles
Decorating the Children’s Christmas Tree
Children’s Nativity Play Set

Encourage imaginative play by not over-scheduling our days
Take the children for walks in the woods
Polish wooden toys together
Attend a Performance of the Nutcracker
Read Pippi Longstocking for Children's Bookclub
Celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas

Friday, December 7

The Nutcracker...










This past Sunday was the first time that the children and I have ever gone to see a live performance of The Nutcracker!  What fun it was!  We were able to go with a family from our church and upon arrival, the little ones were each given their own nutcracker by my friend.  This thrilled the children, as you can imagine!

The performance was quite good.  We were able to see a local ballet studio perform the majority of the ballet and they brought in two women and one man from the state's ballet company to do some of the dancing.

When we got home, I dug out my copy of A Very Young Dancer for the little ones to look through.  It has been paged through dozens of times by Sugar Plum and Little Man already this week!  The children have also been inspired to dance a lot (we just find some of the music on YouTube and they hop, skip, and jump around quite happily!).  I've also been revisiting our Nutcracker Learning Basket and just found out this morning that the winter edition of Rhythm of the Home has a free Sparkle Story called Living Room Nutcracker!  We'll listen to that this afternoon.

What seasonal joys are you experiencing?

Thursday, December 6

Saint Nicholas...




Hymn to Saint Nicholas
O who love Nicholas the saintly,
O who serve Nicholas the saintly,
Him will Nicholas receive,
And give help in time of need:
Holy Father Nicholas!

He who dwells in God's holy mansions,
Is our help on the land and oceans,
He will guard us from all ills,
Keep us pure and free from sins
Holy Father Nicholas!

Holy Saint, hearken to our prayer,
Let not life drive us to despair,
All our efforts shall not wane,
Singing praises to your name:
Holy Father Nicholas!

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The Saint Nicholas Learning Basket can be found HERE.

Wednesday, December 5

Yarn Along: Farewell to the East End...





I am drowning in a sea of knitting frustration! My project this week is the Edith Shawl. It is a project that I am working on with several ladies from my Thursday Knit Night group and it is hard! I began this shawl last Thursday and have ripped it out too many times to count! What I have here is far from perfect, but I am going to try to just keep moving. 

 I did make myself feel a bit better by quickly crocheting scarves (who knew that I would remember how to crochet?  I learned when I was a wee one!) for our family of bears tonight! They were made while I waited for a cake to bake and were very satisfying...  much more so than making scarves for humans!

I am happily reading Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth. It is as good as her other two! I am recommending her books to everyone I know! 

What are you knitting and reading? 

Monday, December 3

The December Beach...





With highs in the upper sixties, the little ones and I decided that it would be nice to take a jaunt to the beach. We were surprised by tide pools which made for a nice place to play and discover. Of course the water was quite cold and it was impossible to stay dry while wading and exploring, so we were there for only a short time. It was a nice treat to see the beach in December though!
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