Monday, December 31, 2007


Our 11 Favorite things about 2007
11 The Emporer's Genealogy bonanza/ the Prime Minister's sewing streak.
10 Mxyl n' Zorg doing Scouts & Klenda n' Leena doing Super Girls Night.
9 Starting our blogs.
8 Seeing a live giant squid in its natural habitat (on film).
7 The Plutarch party.
6 Seeing almost all of our nieces and nephews and the big trip to NJ.
5 Making the gingerbread houses.
4 Choclo being 2.
3 Seeing Zorg make his First Communion and also really start to read.
2 Angel deciding to stay for another 5 years!
1 Welcoming a new Zoomlian: it was The Year of Oob!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What Zorg learned about Santa in CCD

Disclaimer: If you and your family have a "Santa" tradition, I am OK with that!

First, about Santa: we thoroughly enjoy Santa under his more formal title, "St. Nicholas." The kids know about the conventional North Pole/reindeer silliness, but we present it as made up stories and we tell them the real stories about St Nicholas. When they ask, we explain that we don't call him "Santa" because the made up stories featuring "Santa" tend to get kids focussed on what they are getting, whereas St Nicholas helps lead them to Jesus and helps them think about what they will give. I've always thought that Zorg didn't really buy this.

Second, about CCD: it's the equivalent of Sunday School or Catechism class (it actually stands for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine). I am co-teaching Zorg's class this year and it is the first time I have taught kids who have not been taught the Faith at home.

I asked the group if they knew the story of Christmas. Hands shoot up! Pick me! Pick me! The answer: Santa comes and brings us presents. CLUNK.

The CLUNK was Zorg's jaw hitting the floor. In point of fact, the kids with that answer collectively had a hazy idea that there was something about Jesus and animals, but that was a minor detail to the Santa side of Christmas.

OK. I always wanted to be a missionary and proclaim the Gospel to the "pagan babies who had never heard of Jesus." Here was my chance...

It all ended happily with each child able to explain the actual Christmas story with the help of their own nativity set, but I don't think Zorg is quite the same. They really didn't know...

Zorg Would Like You to Know

That he lost his tooth! Also, he does not like the flash. But he does like the Tooth Chicken (who brought him a Spider-Man Pez dispenser).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Contest

Who can guess how high up Choclo can reach? Winner gets to have Choclo come over and redecorate their tree!

The Manger

On the right is our little manger stuffed with cotton balls (representing acts of kindness or prayer). The pail behind it holds the cotton balls.

On the left, we have the nativity sewn by Klenda, Mxyl, Zorg, and me. We got the panel as a gift from Angel, got on clearance at Wal-Mart last year.

The shiny thing in the back is our hermit crabitat. Glory, one of our 2 crabs, has been molting for a month and we are wondering if she will come out for Christmas...

The Jesse Tree

This is our Jesse Tree. Since flat space is at a premium around here with all the nativities, we put it on the wall. Each ornament symbolizes something in salvation history and the booklet that goes along with it gives Old Testament and New Testament readings. These, as well as instructions on making your own ornaments can be found here. The easiest way to do it is to get a group together from friends/family/church and have each make numerous copies of one ornament, then have a party to exchange them.

The Advent House

We got ours as a gift from Mumpy (my Mom). She got it at Cosco, and I've seen similar things at other warehouse clubs. If you are interested, looking for one after Christmas makes a lot of sense. Before this, we were using the Playmobil Advent calender, but the card stock boxes didn't hold up for more than a year or two, and this has room for candy!

Plan B is Working

So far Choclo is better, Leena is better, Zorg is better, Klenda, Mxyl, and I are getting better, Oob seems too young to get it and the Emporer had the good grace to not get sick while taking care of the rest of us. He's a hero!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It Wouldn't Be Advent Without

A stomach bug!! Surprise! Choclo woke up sick at 2:30 this morning, Leena and Zorg announced at breakfast that their tummies felt funny too. Perhaps they are only interested in watching movies all day. Perhaps they are actually sick. Several years ago I didn't believe Mxyl when he said he didn't feel good, partly because he seemed fine, partly because I really needed to go to the library. The library janitors still give me dirty looks. So, fine, truck videos for everyone!

Update: Choclo is playing with trains so he must be feeling better. It would be so nice if Choclo were the only one who got this and if it were to be this mild. But I have learned 2 things: 1, everyone will get this, and 2, it will get worse as it makes it's inexorable way through the ranks. So we are on Plan B: everyone catch it as quickly as possible and let's all be healthy by Christmas. Work with me people! Everyone give Choclo a big smooch!

I'm dreaming of a green Christmas, just like the three other times we've had it so...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Gaudete Sunday!

Rejoice! We've lit the pink candle! Our Advent house has 16 doors open! Our Advent calenders are opening! Our nativity scenes are growing a cast of dozens! Best of all, the manger is growing an ever fluffier bed of cotton balls! Jesus is coming!!!!

For those who aren't cradle Catholics: The Advent wreath has 4 candles, 3 purple, and 1 pink, one for each week of Advent. Pink is the color of joy (gaudete means "rejoice"). Our Advent house has a door for each day. Behind each door is a piece of the Playmobil nativity set (and 5 pieces of candy!)

Since we have 5 kids old enough to "do" Advent, we have 5 daily Advent things (the kids rotate who does what). The Advent house is one, then there is a velcro/felt nativity scene, a traditional 3D paper Advent calendar, a Jesse Tree (daily scripture with representative ornament recounting salvation history and how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament), and the last kid gets to pick a Christmas decoration to take out.

The manger is my favorite Advent tradition. Every time some one does a good deed, says extra prayers, or makes a sacrifice, they put a cotton ball in the manger. The idea is actually that we are preparing a soft bed in our hearts for Baby Jesus, but it's a great visual aid! I have also seen this done with grass, hay, straw, or even shredded paper. The highlight of Christmas morning is seeing the lovely statue of Baby Jesus resting comfortably in the manger.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Advent Blogging

has been practically non existent. Sorry. The truth is, Advent is usually my favorite time of year. I love to do Christmas cookies and make decorations with the kids. It' s a lovely spiritually focussed time. Usually. That would be on those years when I manage to have the gift monster tamed before we get the Advent wreath out.

This is how it works (when it works). We make most of our gifts. I need to figure out who is making what for whom. Ideally I figure this out over the summer, buy the materials on sale and have started making things by August. It's nice. Spare evenings are taken up by handcrafting special items for special people. We buy kids presents in September. I usually have the last few stray presents done the first week of December so the Great Mailing can take place in the second week. Everything gets there on time. Our days are merry and bright.

This year, I started figuring things out in late October. Ouch. Trying to give the spiritual preparation pride of place while frantically jabbing at the gift monster causes headaches.

On the plus side, the heavy lifting is now done and I hope to return to more regular blogging. I hope to post later today about our advent traditions.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Today's Discovery

Kids in mittens can't buckle themselves into their car seats. I have gotten so spoiled with not having to buckle anyone but Oob!

For all those Moms with just little ones: everything is easier when they can buckle themselves (and when the older can buckle the younger you will feel invincible!)

Secondary discovery: matching goofy hats are fun!

Gingerbread: The Great Pyramid

How do you decorate a gingerbread pyramid? Zorg decorated by creating a (lengthy) myth involving displeased gods who required gifts of precious jewels to be left at the base of the pyramid.