Tuesday, December 30, 2014

12 in 2014 A Photo Link-up

I'm linking up with Dwija because she is so awesome! Also because I love photo heavy posts and I so rarely post these days, it seems I may have needed an excuse to get started again. :)


We spent a lot of time outside, it seems like January left us plenty of nice days that allowed for outside play. We learned that Christopher loves being on a merry-go-round, he could spin all day.

February was tough for a reason...I went through all of the baby clothes and sent them on to my friend with whom we've exchanged clothes. I came to a realization that we might always be a family of four, and I tried to come to terms with it. I'm still working on it. Dominic learned to pain and Christopher decided he liked ice cream...so long as it's plain vanilla and he isn't forced to use a spoon.

We decided to try out bunk beds for the boys in March in hopes of getting bed times working a little better...it actually helped a lot. We have since enjoyed many nights of sleep without small children in the bed with us.

Daddy and Grandma's birthdays are a day apart and Dominic began his obsession with birthday cake this year in April and really, who can blame him?

The heat came early this year, May gave us plenty of days for outside swimming before the swimming pool even opened.

We took a vacation in June to Texas and enjoyed lots of train rides and parks!

I set up a family altar in July in hopes that we would find a place where we could pray together as a family; we've finally gotten into a good habit. We also visited as many splash pads as we could...none in our town, but we found them where we could.

Earlier in the year we bought a tandem bike, and August gave us plenty of opportunities to try it out. We make quite the spectacle.

We went hiking for the first time all together in September, and we found some fun places to try out only about an hour away.

We joined a play group at a local kids' gym and in October it seems that Christopher started feeling comfortable and actually playing with another kiddo. Definitely an amazing experience! We also had Christopher tested, and received the diagnosis of Autism.

Jason spent an entire day in November getting these tree swings put up, and they continue to be a major joy to the boys.

The boys enjoyed Advent and preparing for Christmas this December and enjoyed what that brought.

What an awesome year! Hard to stick to just one picture a month, but as Dwija says, it is my blog so it's OK.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Integrating Advent Traditions When You Weren't Raised With Any-A Blog Hop Post

Hi all! I'm taking part in Beth Anne's Best's blog hop this Advent and I'm really excited about it!

Something that I'm constantly thinking about throughout the liturgical year is how I can make things exciting for the boys and also help create traditions that they remember for years. Since I wasn't raised in a particularly religious home, most Holy days seemed to pass by without notice. We didn't have things that we did for special saint days, and we weren't baptized so obviously we didn't do anything celebratory for those. I'm slowly trying to integrate some of those things now for our family, and it is fulfilling but also hard! Family life is hectic for all people, so I'm finding that having a tradition is something that I have to force for a while. Like a habit.

Last year for Advent I bought a calendar that I could fill with some chocolates and I had a pop-up calendar with small verses from the Nativity story that I read before Dominic got his chocolates. Last year, all he really understood was that he got some chocolate, and still that is definitely the primary thing for him, but he sits and listens to what I say this year before eating his chocolate. We try to do this in the morning so it's one of the first things that we do and maybe it will stay with him throughout the day. (In case you're wondering, Christopher doesn't eat chocolate anymore that's why he doesn't get one, and he doesn't really eat anything on demand, if he's hungry he'll eat, but if not it doesn't really matter.)

A few months ago I set up a family altar in our bedroom so that we have a place where we can say our prayers that is quiet and away from most of the toys. I've placed our largest Nativity set on the altar along with our Advent wreath and I made a big deal to describe the people to Dominic and explain why they are separated right now. We light the candle and say a small Advent prayer every night before we say our family decade of the Rosary.

I've been looking at one of the Little People Nativity sets as well, but I can't decide if I really want to let the boys "play" with the pieces. I understand the idea is to give them something they are allowed to play with so they'll leave any of the breakable ones alone, but I still can't decide. In the meantime, I have this magnetic one on our fridge and Christopher likes to take all the pieces and throw them on the floor. 
Dominic has been known to line them all as though they are standing on each other's heads.

The thing that I'm noticing the most, as I stated earlier, is that creating these rich traditions takes work. Another important thing is to not think you have to do everything! A lot of people have great ideas that seem so amazing and I would love to try, but they just aren't a good fit for our family or where we are right now. Jesse Tree? I'd love to, but I don't think it would be that interesting to the boys right now, so I'll wait a while and maybe try it in a few years. I have a friend who has an Advent tradition of reading a couple short books in the evening and sing a verse of a song (we purchased this one and this one last year and they are lovely), but between Dominic who hates when we sing and Christopher who tears up books, this isn't a good fit for us right now. And that's OK. It's OK if I never make an Advent chain out of paper that we tear apart every day and read and do the task on it. It's OK if it takes us the boys' whole childhood to develop these traditions because that's how traditions are made. We'll probably try lots of things, and those that stick will be the ones that become traditions.

Keep checking in on Beth Anne's blog to see what else there is this Advent!