Monday, December 1, 2008

I am about to Explode from Making an Advent Calendar

The Holidays do weird things to me; I start to feel “creative”. I am not too talented in this department, though, Martha Stewart would certainly not approve. But, because I try to allow creative, crafty thoughts to enter my head, every so once in a while I will explode with what I think is a fantastic idea.

Now, when I try to be crafty in the summer or fall, espec
ially for homeschooling, the results are often shameful. Take for instance this past fall when I thought it would be a great idea to take the kids out and gather natural materials to make bird's nests. During our walk on that sunny afternoon we collected sticks, leaves, hay, and whatever else we thought we could use, as I talked about the different materials, where birds might build their nests, and how long it must take for a bird (uh…a FEMALE bird, the guy basically just sits around and sings) to make her home, as her beak is tiny and she can’t pick up a lot of material like we can. So nature lesson, vitamin D, and materials acquired, we walked back home to assemble cute little bird's nests. Yeah, right…

I started with the idea that we would glue the sticks and what-not to the sides of a paper bowl, just to have a base. OK, three problems right off the bat: sticks are straight, bowls are round, and my kids have an extreme aversion to glue. As the sticks fell off again and again, my kids began to freak out and focus on the glue drying on their hands. They ignored the mess on the table they had made and started frantically picking glue off their fingers. At this point, my own frustrations led me to think that the home-made play dough I made for them would be a great substitute for the bowl, and no glue would be necessary. Well, I have a lot to write here so let’s just cut to the chase ok? It looked like I took purple play dough, threw it outside, and kicked it around a bit and said, “look, kids, a bird's nest!” No, I do not have a picture of that. I normally don’t like to record my mistakes that way… Let’s just fast forward to the Holidays, OK?

My mai
n focus is setting up wonderful family traditions and peppering them with just enough crafts to make the season fun, but not so much that I pull my hair out and have to move furniture around to make space to put them all. Cookies turn out pretty well, like these here. Easy enough, I just downloaded tons of recipes from the Internet and got to work with the kids. They loved it. Stained glass, candy canes, triple chocolate chunk, log rolls, coconut thingies…all good…so good, in fact, I braved massive snowstorms to drop them off at people’s homes. Oh yeah, I went all out.

My favorite tradition/creative idea (which I actually took from my mother-in-law) is making a birthday cake for Jesus, which we have, candle included, on Christmas day. I bake a white Bundt cake and dump tons of red food coloring in (I’m sure that’s healthy) then I cover it with white frosting. We sing that song about birthdays being happy, and we eat the cake, talking about how the white represents Jesus’ purity and the red represents the blood he shed for us when he died on the cross for our sins. The kids quite often want to give Jesus gifts, so that is where I explain that when we are giving to others in need, during this season and all through the year, we are actually giving to him. As of late they have been busy picking out toys of their own to give to the gift drive coming up at our church. They are wrapping them, with tin foil, and adding ribbon. They are having a blast.

So this year, more so than other years, I have heard lots of people talking about Advent calendars. Well, that is something I haven’t implemented until now! And, again, in the spirit of saving money, an idea exploded from my head. No, not just a light bulb, a nuclear blast, right from my head!

I have a hard time throwing away Christmas cards we receive, and often just pack them away with all the decorations come January. So, I decided, I would make an Advent calendar using the cards from last year! Oh, I was so proud of myself! No one could possibly get hurt doing that, right??? Here’s what happened…

I set out all the materials, and the rules: no running with scissors, no dripping g
lue on the carpet, no stepping on any of the materials, and NO complaining! We laid all the cards out and set up our stations; Jacob cut the cards, Audrey glued them to red paper, and I cut them out with a border. Not too bad…

2 minutes in: Jacob started singing the tune, “Jingle Bells” to the last word of every sentence I said, for example, “Jacob, don’t do that! “ “THAT THAT THAT! THAT THAT THAT! THAT THAT THAT, THAT THAAAAAAAAAT!”

2 ½ minutes in: Audrey announced she is tired of gluing, that her hand hurts, and she sat on the couch to pick glue off her hands.

3 minutes in: Jacob found the card that plays all the Christmas songs. He announced this should be the last card we “open” on the calendar (good idea!) and proceeded to sit w
ith the card and sing all the songs, shirking his cutting duties.

4 minutes in: I have already said these things several times; “Audrey, keep going, and put the glue on the edges of the cards!”; “Jacob put the music card down!”; “Audrey, stop picking your fingers!”; “Jacob, PUT DOWN THE CARD!” I snatched the card away as he started singing, “CARD CARD CARD! CARD CARD CARD…”

5 minutes in: Jacob nearly head-butted my scissors several times as he bent over to pick up more cards.

6 minutes in: Audrey was back to picking glue off her fingers.

7 minutes in: Most of the
cards were glued to red paper, of which we had none left so we had to get “creative”.

8 minutes in: Jacob yelled, “I have itchy spots!” Still not really sure what he was talking about…

9 minutes in: Jacob snatched the singing card away from under my knee. I threatened that the card would be “broken” if he didn’t leave it alone until Christmas Day. Audrey had lost all interest.

10 minutes in: Audrey was dazed on the couch, complaining that her hand still hurt, Jacob was running back and forth from the garbage to the living room, throwing away useless scraps, singing, “TRASH TRASH TRASH! TRASH TRASH TRASH! TRASH TRASH TRAS

20 minutes later: Kids were off somewhere as I tried to finish placing the car
ds on the green poster board and adding the border.

Here’s what we came up with . I still have to attach the bible verses under the cards, and number each card, but, you get the idea. OK so, in my mind it looked FANTASTIC! And, actually, I am sure others could do a much better job, like making pockets, or doing a mobile, or using all musical cards or whatever. But, even if this example is merely a template of what others could do, the sentiment is still what is most important to me. I have finished picking out 24 verses to put under each card and will paste them under each card. I am excited to explore a verse a day with them, verses that cover everything from praising God, to loving/helping others, and becoming more Christ-like.

So there ya go! No one was hurt, I barely lost my mind, I recycled Christmas cards, we will get some bible time in each day, and now the kids won’t have to ask, “when is it gonna be Christmas?” every two minutes.


w said...

well. it looks great. and um. jacob's singing. i do that all the time. drives my hubby crazy.

cray-zee zee. cray-zee zee. cray zee zee zee zeeeeee...

oh. and i love picking glue off my fingers.

and one last thing. stop checking live feed.

StudiusMaximus said...

yeah. that was funny. Audrey with the glue fixation, Jake and the singing...I can just hear it... it it it, it it it, it it it it ittttttt (t's, being fricative, don't have a prolonged sound like a nasal continuant--m or n, but you get the idea)

Pam said...

I thought I was the only one who couldn't bear to throw away Christmas cards. ;) This is a great idea for them! I love it!! I might have to copy....

Anonymous said...


My children are not allowed to sing Jingle Bells because they turn it into the Song That Will Never Ever End...Ever. It is banned from our house.

This Crazy Thing Called Motherhood said...

Wow, you are a brave soul! lol I am trying to incorporate more crafts into our holiday this year, but I still am nowhere near as creative as you are!

I really liked your idea of the white/red cake and talking about Jesus and what the colors represent. We always bake a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas to help remind them what we are celebrating. But I will just have to keep your red/white cake idea in the back of my mind to shake things up in future years if they get bored with our tradition! (Or to use at Easter, perhaps.)

Glad I stopped by your blog!

ginger said...

Just found your blog & was scrolling thru your all-too-familiar stories (plane trip!), enjoying myself immensely & just had to stop & comment on this one. I have tears rolling down my face from laughter b/c I can just picture my children reacting the same way to this project: My son singing EXACTLY the same way & my daughters having to be redirected for lack of interest...I think it's a great idea, BTW. Very creative.

Insanitykim said...

Thanks Ginger!

Ya know, with kids like this, these blog posts write my kids!

Thanks to you, and to everyone, for commenting!

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