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Large Family Life

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Advent goes best when I keep my expectations low – that’s actually true of all holidays at our house. We’re one day behind on our Jesse Tree and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, and nearly a week behind on Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent. But it doesn’t matter one bit because Advent is a time to anticipate the coming of Jesus, so simply enjoying the celebration is enough.

We’ve come up with a good rhythm. On school mornings, we gather at the table at 7:30 and read Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. The kids take turns adding an ornament to our Jesse Tree, which is a gangly  and rather large branch off a bush in our backyard. I found a tall, square vase at Ross and filled it with ornaments (Katie’s idea) and small white lights. Katie put it together one Sunday and we’ve enjoyed it every day since.

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I’m giving away a copy of Ann Voskamp’s new Advent book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas!

Last week I wrote a post about preparing for Advent and mentioned that I plan to use this book with our children. The book arrived on Friday and is more beautiful than I imagined. It is colorful, large, and the story of Jesus coming to the world is told in a lovely way. The book comes with a free download for ornaments children (and adults) can color and hang on a Jesse tree.

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In the nearly 28 years that I’ve been a mom, I’ve seen my share of toys come and go. I’m not a fan of toys that break easily or only hold a child’s interest for two days. I want toys and games that will last for years.

I hope you enjoy our family favorites and find new toys and games your children will love.

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Advent begins on Sunday, November 30th, which you know will get here far more quickly than we can imagine. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, y0u know that I love Advent. Thankfully a reader sent me a message on my One Thankful Mom facebook page (thanks Cheryl!) asking about resources and she prompted me to google “2014 first Sunday of advent.”

This year I’m using Ann VosKamp’s new book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.

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We have a Sunday night tradition we all enjoy. Since we have our big dinner with the entire family in the afternoon, our evening meal is usually popcorn, cheese, and fruit. I like this for about 25 different reasons, one of which is that the kids make it themselves, and there is nearly no clean-up.

Russ was always the popcorn maker in our family. Years ago he mastered the art of popping it on the stove in our largest pot. I, however, preferred the ease of microwave popcorn…the problem was that I knew the bright yellow color and other chemicals weren’t good for us. I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle of making it in the big pot.

Enter the Wabash Valley Farms 25008 Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper- which transformed our Sunday nights.

 

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I have this thing about writing with pencils. I used to write everything with black ink, but the more children I had, the more necessary it was to make adjustments, rearrange, reschedule, and sometime scratch things right off my calendar and to-do list. When I couldn’t stand the mess of changes continually happening in my life, I began to write with pencils; at least with a pencil, I could erase and write in the new plan.

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I pre-ordered this book, No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind and it arrived a few days ago. I haven’t pre-ordered many books, but I’m a big fan of the authors’ earlier book, The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind and highly recommend it. I even wrote a series of posts on it, one for each of six chapters, which I invite you to read.

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For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Romans 6:4

Last night Sunshine and Eby were baptized. I love baptisms; they make me cry as much as weddings. To see people publicly commit their lives to Jesus is incredible; to see my own children be baptized, well that just pretty much brings me to my knees. This was the first baptism in our new church building, and the place was packed; thirty-seven people were baptized.

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If you never want to be bored, have a large family. Something is always changing.

Over the last few months many of our kids have made big changes. Noah got married (it still surprises me to see a ring on his finger), Hannah became a third year resident, Samuel decided to go to graduate school, and Isaiah surprised us all by deciding to go to college.

He also surprised us with metal in his nose. Thankfully, he sent me a text saying, “Mom, I got a piercing. Just wanted to tell you before I post a picture on Instagram.” Warnings are always appreciated – he’s a good son.

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When I published my post Monday, I felt some anxiety – I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. You poured your kindness on me through your comments and my heart was encouraged. I honestly have the best readers – thank you.

One of the keys to successfully parenting children from “hard places” seems to be flexibility. If we cling to what we’ve known and refuse to consider new ways of doing things, we’ll miss out on insight, healing, and joy.