'Muff'in Dome

Category Archives: Holiday

#write31days ~ day 5: planning ahead for Advent

Advent-light

It’s on the horizon, folks.

It seems like Advent is always upon us so much sooner than I had anticipated, so I’m making an extra effort this year, at least, to have a general plan about what we will be doing so I can prepare things in advance.

Last year, I purchased Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest GiftWe are already set to do it this year {minus a “tree” to hang our ornaments on} as I printed out her wonderful ornament accompaniments for the children to color while we read the passage for the day. It seems an excellent way to introduce children to the Jesse Tree, as well as involve them in the spirit of anticipating Christmas. There are several questions at the end of each day easily tailored for different ages.

nativity-advent-calendar

My girls love the hands-on aspect of working with an Advent calendar. We our on our third year of using one similar to this. We may have a chocolate one for each of the girls too. {I waited too long last year to pick ours up at Trader Joes so I will be running to the display this year.} I imagine we’ll also do a paper chain. These girls love their countdown helpers. We greatly anticipate the unwrapping of our Advent/Christmas books that Elizabeth introduced us to last year. It’s definitely worth the extra effort. It’s one of the reasons why I get started early — so I can find those books to add to our collection from used shops! And we love, love, love this child-friendly Nativity that gets played with throughout Advent into the Christmas season too.
blessed is she advent 2016

Coincidentally, Blessed is She just released their Advent products for this year, today. The artwork of the journal by Erica is strikingly beautiful; I know the words by Elizabeth Foss will equally be. I’m adding mine to my cart pronto because these typically sell out very quickly. I purchased the Jesse Tree cards last year and they are a great addition to our devotions for the adults in the family. Not sure I can pass up the print this year either.

 

Links are affiliate. Please support the blog by clicking through when you order — thank you!! <3 

The Beginning and The End

annuncation fra angelico

Although we will not celebrate it today, it is the feast of the Annunciation–one of my favorite feast days to commemorate.

But the reason the celebration has been suspended is that today is also Good Friday.

bouguereau-pieta

I think of Jesus today. I think of the moment of His conception in His mother’s womb. I think of His consummation, His final breath. The beginning, the end.

I think of Mary today. I think of the Annunciation — her ‘yes’. I think of her standing at the foot of the Cross witnessing her Son pass from this life — her ‘yes’. Her unwavering ‘yes’ to all God had planned for her.  The beginning, the end.

When I contemplate the life of Our Lord, I often turn to Mary for help. I feel as if the mystery of her Son becomes just a bit clearer seen through the eyes of His mother. I identify with her well as a woman, a wife, a mother. She knew how to live that ‘yes’ to God with her whole being. She kept her eyes on Him no matter where or in what circumstances she found herself. ‘Yes’ when the news was good; ‘yes’ when the news was bad. But, still, sorrow in her heart when the news was difficult to bear.

My sorrow always fills with gratitude on Good Friday, just as I can imagine Mary’s heart did in each step of her sorrow. Contemplating His Wounds, I see His Mercy, His Love. I want to walk that path with Him, being able to say ‘yes’ to all — to the wounds, the crosses, the derision, the misunderstandings — just as He did…for me. From the beginning, throughout, to the end of my life.

Surrender. Surrender to His Love.

Quietly Preparing

It gets pretty quiet around here come November. I begin to get into Advent and Christmas-prep mode, so little time is left for writing my thoughts and happenings. The cooler weather also makes me pause and become more contemplative. The introvert in me comes out full-force. I miss writing, but I’m happy to be more reserved for a time.

Advent-light

I’m gathering bits and pieces for the beginning of Advent {just only over a week away!}. This year, I’m catching on with the tradition of wrapping a book for each day and opening it as a sort of Advent calendar. The bookworm bug is strong around here, so there is always much reading done, but now Evey also gets a kick out of opening packages, so it’ll be fun to add on that extra element. I’ll be wrapping them in old, brown paper bags as I could see purchasing enough Christmas paper to cover so many becoming rather expensive.

We also will be doing our beloved Advent Nativity. This was Evey’s favorite last year. She never forgot a day, as it was her first act upon rising in the morning. More important, even, than breakfast. 😉

nativity-advent-calendar

We’ll be following along with Ann Voskamp’s, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, together as a family and making our own Jesse Tree ornaments as we go along each day. And, of course, lighting our Advent wreath on the appropriate Sundays.

A small chocolate Advent calendar may also make it’s way to our counter too. 😉

One thing I was fairly successful at last year, which I’ve made even more of an effort to do this year, is purchasing Christmas gifts before Advent starts. It allows us to really dive into the quiet preparation for Christ’s birth. And really remember the reason for the season, without fretting over whether presents have been purchased or not and rushing to beat crazy crowds.

 

What kind of Advent/Christmas preparations are happening in your household? 

Moments {Vol. 10} : 4th of July Celebration

We spent 4th of July weekend at my in-laws’ newly renovated cabin. It is absolutely gorgeous!

And, although I didn’t think it was possible, the view from the deck got better!

4th of July

Not sure if she’s trying to go out or he’s trying to come in, but they’re looking to help each other out.

4th of July 2015

Hanging with Gram!

4th of July 2015

Hard at work on multiple projects.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

Playing ‘spinning’ with Aunt Lindy.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

Her favorite pastime currently is placing one object inside another. Spatial awareness lessons for free.

playing

4th of July 2015

The annual 4th of July Serene Lakes sailboat race!

sailboat race Serene Lakes

sailboat race Serene Lakes

4th of July 2015

sailboat race Serene Lakes

4th of July 2015

Many refreshing drinks served all day long.

4th of July 2015

corona and lime

Chillin’ on the deck.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

Aunt Lindy was, hands down, the favorite of the weekend.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

reading with Aunt Lindy

4th of July 2015

Only dancing finally put Lulu to sleep. She wanted to keep the party going all day long.

4th of July 2015

Delicious ribs for dinner straight from the smoker, skewered with bamboo from the backyard (Uncle Eric’s genius move).

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

“What’s yours is mine, right, Nicky?”

4th of July 2015

The lack of fireworks was not a problem with the sunset we received.

sunset at Serene Lakes

sunset at Serene Lakes

Early morning walk the following day….

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

wildflowers

wildflowers

a man and his pipe

And the weekend wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach for splashing and sand digging!

beach at Serene Lakes

beach at Serene Lakes

beach at Serene Lakes

beach at Serene Lakes

Hoping your 4th was as enjoyable and relaxing as ours! 🙂

Moments {Vol. 6} ~ Christmas edition

My girls caught the plague of 2015 pretty much from the moment the clock struck midnight. {Never let the thought pass through your mind, ‘Yay, we escaped any illness this holiday season!’ because you will pay for it.} My already full hands have never felt fuller and I’m under the impression I have more like ten kids than two right now.  We’re still in recovery mode but weaning off the need to be held 24-7 {and I mean 24-7 as I (and Steve) have spent several nights sleeping with a baby held upright so they could breathe easier}.

The kind words my sweet, sweet husband wrote the other day were a great salve to my heart. <3 I’m still in awe of how I was blessed with such a wonderful man to journey with through this life.

I’m hoping to write a review of 2014 but we’ll see how life goes. It could be February….or August….before you see it.

 

In the meantime, here are a few memorable moments from over the Christmas holiday.

living roomExploring the cabin renovations happening at Steve’s parents’ cabin. We can’t wait to party there in the summer!

stairwell

Lindy at the window

red doorGram is ecstatic about her arched, red door!!! 🙂

snow playPlaying in the snow with her cousin before the Muff family Christmas party.

selfie stickOne of Gram’s best Christmas gifts: the selfie stick!! She put it to good use at the family Christmas party.

Nancy xmas storyNancy sharing the Christmas story with the family.

L + EQuality time with Aunt Lindy!

Muff family xmasSteve’s family with spouses and children included. 🙂

cousinsA whole lotta cousins!

chillin' on the couchHow Lucie preferred to do Christmas morning. {This kid!}

xmas treeOur tree on Christmas morning.

opening giftsOpening gifts with Evey on Christmas morning.

reading togetherReading her Christmas book with Daddy on Christmas morning.

LuluLucie perfecting her roll.

scooteringTrying out her new scooter. She’s a natural!

upside down snowmanThe reason why her stocking featured an upside-down snowman.

xmas morning breakfastEggnog cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. {Accompanied by the entire Hundred Acre Woods crew.}

xmas morningA quick pic before Mass on Christmas morning. My dolls. 🙂

avocadoLucie’s second food: avocado. Liked the taste of it, but even more, smashing it!

xmas readingMy brother, Ethan, sharing a beautiful essay with the family that he wrote about serving Midnight Mass at Christmas.

Munsill family xmasMunsill family Christmas photo!

Merry and Bright – Dovewood Court

Dovewood Court is a highlight of the Christmas season in the Sacramento area. The homeowners on this street have it written into their CC&Rs that they are required to put together a light display in their yard to be viewed by hundreds of thousands throughout the month of December. {This certainly isn’t a place to live if you want access to your driveway on December evenings.} One can view it by car or on foot. We usually prefer on foot to get the full experience.

They do not disappoint. Take a peek:

frosty

roses in December

penguins

Margaritaville

grinch

o holy night

support our troops

family

E and snowman

snowballs for sale

Noel

holy family

christmas around the world

magical

gingerbread houses

airport dovewood

garage display

frozen boat

winnie the pooh boat

charlie brown

snowflakes

light dome

in the lights

aglow

Merry Christmas!

train tracks family photo

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Much love, the Muffs

Reindeer Games {and Candy Canes}

This is turning into a rather crafty Advent and I’m not one bit sad about that. On my own, I’ve been knitting whenever I have two hands free {which isn’t too often}, but what I’m really enjoying this year is getting Evelyn involved with making things. And I believe she takes after her mama on this one.

cousins

E rolling out dough

R cutting out

cutting cookies

My mom invited the girls and their cousins over for a little hands-on Christmas fun. We started out with some roll-out sugar cookies, taking turns with the rolling pin, then frantically trying to cover every space possible with cut-out snowmen, stars, and trees. We found out quickly who was fastest on the draw.

O cutting out

O rolling out dough

quick cutting

baking cookies

Candy cane reindeer is a long-time favorite in my family. We’ve been making them as long as I can remember. We would make them by the dozens and use them to fill out a mug of Kisses for our teachers that we would gift during the holiday season. Some might make it to the tree but they would never hang there for long.

candy cane reindeer

candy cane reindeer 2

candy cane reindeer 3

The easiest way to do these is with a squirt from the glue gun but that’s not a good idea with little hands around. This year we used tacky glue, and it did the trick. {Although, for some reason, the nose of mine kept sliding off. No one else seemed to be having this problem….}

candy cane reindeer 4

candy cane reindeer 5

The intricacy of the craft really stepped up when my brother, Seth, got in on the game and began creating superhero reindeer. {Can you guess which one is which?}

Green lantern reindeer

batman reindeer

superman reindeer

I can’t even.

green lantern protection

A Visit to Santa ~ 2014

The town we live in has some great Christmas celebrations, increasing the holiday cheer around these parts. A family favorite is the Country Christmas where local craftsmen and women come to sell their wares and the carolers and music-makers come out by the dozens. Two of our favorite things to support! Also, Santa makes an annual visit and it’s a lot cheaper {free!} and quicker than the mall Santa. {Two excellent points in my book.}

We showed up downtown early to snag a spot in the local brewery/restaurant for dinner. Despite our early arrival of 4 o’clock, there was a 45 minute wait. Fortunately, they have a new system where you give them your phone number and they text you when your table is ready. Genius, I’m telling you. So we leisurely strolled through shops and snagged an adorable pilot-snowman-flying-an- airplane for Evey’s Christmas ornament, as she’s in love with the snowmen this year. Lights up like a Christmas tree when she spots one.

snug as a bug

Steve’s parents came just in the nick of time as our table opened for dinner. We got settled in to enjoy a brew and brat {well, I did} when Lucie literally broke down. This kid is one of the happiest, jolliest people I know but she just lost it in the din that filled that space. I have to admit, I thought it was rather noisy myself, but, as an adult, it is a little easier to cope with. Steve and I took turns eating and holding her outside, but she was nearly inconsolable, poor thing.

Which leads me to the next stop of the evening. Even THAT jolly, old man didn’t help her. In fact, I’m pretty sure he made it worse.

santa visit

Evey was hamming it up for camera. {At least she didn’t react like last year.}

hamming it up with santa

Presenting~ the whole family and Santa. Lucie still wasn’t having any of it and, I think, Evey was bored at this point. At least mama and daddy are enjoying themselves. {Although, I’m about to lose my phone.}

family and santa

And that’s a wrap! {Note: Evey’s little poodle that quickly turned into a weiner dog in about 5.6 seconds flat.}

ready to go

{A big thanks to my mother-in-law for the photos, that just wouldn’t have happened without her.} 🙂

Toddler-Friendly Gingerbread House Alternative : Christmas Tree Cones

We enjoyed some quiet time this morning constructing cone Christmas trees. This is a fabulous way to do holiday frosting and sprinkles with toddlers. Because unless you have a gingerbread house that is as sturdy as bricks, I can see it becoming very frustrating for little hands. Those things make me frustrated, for heaven sakes.

cone tree decor

detail cone tree

I won’t include a tutorial on these because that would be silly. I will, however, suggest that you place a small amount of sprinkles in a separate container from what they came in if you don’t want the entire thing on the tree {or floor}. A small muffin tin worked perfectly for this.

muffin tin use!

cone trees

I don’t think she enjoyed herself one bit. 😉

cheesey!

Ever since her daddy told her that choo-choo was inside her birthday hat, anything that is conical has the potential for becoming a train tunnel. This was no exception.

choo choo cone

She’s telling me there’s a ‘choo-choo!’ here. 🙂

choo choo

Finished it off with a little gingerbread star that she happily decorated and munched on for her morning snack.

cookie decorating

gingerbread star

%d bloggers like this: