Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Calendar

Finished the planned advent calendar, just in time!!

I did decide to re-create something different to last year, which I discussed previously.

Thinking about how to make the one I use more fun for the kids, with things to open, etc, I decided on a box creation. A store in Central Markets has all these cute little noodle shaped boxes, and in lots of colours, so it was easy to set up. I just stuck a number on each.

The more important thing was deciding what to actually do with the calendar. In the end, I made up my own, using the one by Kent and Barbara Hughes, in Disciplines of a Godly Family, as a base.

I have changed a number of the readings, questions and prayers, but the general format stayed the same.

So, I have now created a booklet with all 25 days in it, each containing bible verses (NIrV), a special verse, questions, a prayer and an idea of what to draw in a picture. We will draw a picture each day, and put it up on the wall near the boxes.

I felt there was a challenge to make it appealing to 2 levels of children, one who is reading well  (5) and another who has not even started yet (age 3).

In the end, I selected a 'special verse' as the Hughes did for each day for Mr 5, and then summarised it into a phrase or short sentence for Miss 3.

A print out of each is in the box, as well as a treat of some kind (balloons, bubbles, and a whole lot of Christian knick-knack things from Koorong - stickers, bouncy balls, erasers, etc)

I have had fun doing it, and since I really only started on Saturday, it has not taken long at all.

In theory, I am happy to share the booklet with others, however, I am concerned about breaching some sort of copyright with regard to the Hughes' calendar. I have acknowledged them as the main source on it, but I want to be careful.

I am looking forward to doing this with the kids, especially as we are getting more and more Santa-drivel from school!


They looked cute stacked too, until they all fell down!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lucky, blessed or just thankful?

I had an unfortunate accident last week, which resulted in our large steel toolbox falling on me in the laundry. It hit my head and arm, resulting in some impressive bruising (which the photo does not really do credit to!) and quite a bit of pain.

However, when I thought about it later I realised it could have been much worse. My baby daughter had been in the room only minutes before; I was looking down (not up) so it hit me on the skull rather than the face; it hit me with a flat part, rather than a corner (which, I suspect, could have caused quite severe damage); and if it landed any other way, it could have broken my foot, nose, wrist, etc.

So, when I later explained what had happened to people, I was forced to look at the language I use. It's easy just to say "I was lucky", but I don't like saying that, as it implies that's all it was. I feel unnatural saying "it was a blessing", and really, being hit in the head by a steel toolbox is not a blessing!

In the end, I realised I was thankful. Thankful it had not been worse and that all was fine, and it was a timely reminder to look at how we store some things. Of course, I mean thankful to God, who controls all these events, large and small.

As an aside, I was amazed how few people commented on the bruises except close Christian friends, quite a few who joked something along the lines of "has Husband been at you again?". It did make me think how unprepared we are to confront potential signs of domestic abuse. I wonder if I would ask a friend or an acquaintance what had happened if she sported similar marks, and in a way to allow her to speak whatever the truth was (although, I suspect victims of domestic abuse don't show their scars quite so openly and happily as I did). These are much more sobering thoughts.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Advent calendars/Jesse tree

Do any of you do one of these - I mean a distinctly Christian version, not something where the kids get a chocolate each day and nothing else!

For the last two years, I have done a version of Kent & Barbara Hughes' in Disciplines of a Godly Family. Overall it has been good, but has been a bit advanced for the stage my children are at. Having said that, A could probably follow most of it this year and read along with the readings, but I have been thinking about re-writing it a bit, or finding another version. I found one at which I still have to look into in some depth.

I am wondering whether anyone else out there has one or does one that they like? It's only a week until it is supposed to start and so time is running out!

I suspect as a backup I will go with the Hughes' version again, and take detailed notes as to ideas or changes as we do it, with the hope of actually thinking about in in January, rather than next November, again!

Nicole commented that she would like to see what I do for the actual tree, so I have now attached some photos. I made a very simple one two years ago - 2 large white pieces of cardboard stuck together, a tree drawn on it and then ribbons fed through it via punched out holes. The ribbons hold up the numbers/bible verses which are printed on the computer on business cards. An opened paperclip attaches them to the ribbons. Hopefully this is clear when you look at the photos (mocked up for tonight, so yes I know most of the numbers are missing!). I fix it to the wall and it's done.

This is a simple option, which appealed to me as I don't mind if the children play with it and wreck it - it's easily fixed and all the verses etc are on the computer and easily reprinted. As they all get older I may make a nicer one, but I want to keep the appeal for my son, so I don't want it looking too 'girly'.

For each of the days, there is an extended reading as well as a verse for the day, the verse is what is printed on each of the cards. There is also a suggestion as to what you can make for a craft. We have just drawn a picture each day and pinned them up in a big line around the wall, near the tree itself.

For the first year, we are really competing with Santa (thanks to Mr 5 now being at school), so a friend suggested we make this as appealing as possible - perhaps I will figure out a way to attach little parcels as well, or make a pocket type as others have done. However they have really enjoyed it for the last two years.