I received my December issue of Cooking Light, and there was a great article about eating mindfully. Like I discussed in this anti-dieting post, the article encouraged readers to think in terms of choosing to do something or choosing not to do something rather than telling yourself, “I should eat this,” or “I shouldn’t eat that.”
The article also included a great quote that I’m going to type up, print out, and put in a prominent spot as I enter what can easily become the holiday-binge-fest-I-feel-rounder-than-Jolly-Old-Saint-Nick–right-about-now-season.
“Never eat anything you don’t enjoy and truly enjoy everything you eat.”
The message here is beautifully simple: Don’t swear off gastronomy during the holidays – or ever. And don’t rush through the ritual of eating. I’ll add these tips as well: Don’t mindlessly nosh on Doritos at the holiday potluck. (You can have chips any old time.) Instead, make your taste buds happy. Dive into the chocolate fondue. Eat foods that are special during this special time of year. And if you overindulge, try to keep the focus on the present. Put the fork down, think about how delicious your treat was, and then start choosing healthy bites (not boring ones) that you still will enjoy. When we overeat, it’s so tempting to tell ourselves we’ll start anew tomorrow, so we eat another sleeve of Oreos since we’ve already screwed up instead of trying to eat more mindfully right at the very moment we realize we might have caved in to gluttony.
But enough about food. I have other things on my mind like Advent.
I meant to get my act together and compile a post of Advent activities, but ever since our fourth baby arrived I’m finding it increasingly difficult to devote all that much time to this blog. Taking care of my family and myself is a full time job. (That simple statement is fodder for an entire post or column – one I plan to piece together one of these days, but don’t hold me to it.) Since there will be no official “how we do Advent” post, I’ll share a past link that includes some of our family’s own traditions as well as links to other folks’ Advent-themed posts: Preparing Our Hearts and Homes.
One new tradition I’ll share is our Giving Tree. I recently read Shell Silverstein’s The Giving Tree to the girls, and we discussed it together talking about things like how the tree could symbolize our all-loving God. Since we’re going to be preoccupied with Turkey Day business this week, we went ahead and made our Giving Tree and hung it up on the kitchen even though I’m intending for it to be an Advent activity. We all worked on coloring the trunk together. Madeline was in charge of drawing the leaves. I cut them out, and Rachel glued them onto the branches. All the girls colored a few apples, and Madeline and I cut them out.
I told the girls that during the Advent season they could earn “apples” by making sacrifices or by doing something above and beyond their normal calls of duties. Madeline, for instance, wanted to get an apple for making her bed, but I told her that’s something she’s expected to do daily. However, when she voluntarily offered to let her sister pick what to watch during their special screen time, she earned an apple. The wonderful Catholic Mosaic: Living the Liturgical Year With Children actually recommends something similar during the month of Lent, but we always make Lenten mice and tie knots in their tails for sacrifices, so I wanted something different for Advent.
We’ll also be reading and pondering Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families by Sarah Reinhard. I had the honor of reading this treasure of a booklet when it was still in the draft phase this past spring, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the finished product come Advent. Well, I’ve got it now and plan to read it with my daughters as we journey closer to Christ this Advent and Christmas season. Starting with the first Sunday of Advent and ending with the Feast of Epiphany, each day is divided into a “Think,” “Pray,” and “Act” section that are based on Scripture. Its easy-to-follow format is perfect for busy families and at $1.99 on Amazon currently, it’s quit the steal! With Sarah’s help, I’m eager to help my littles along the path to discovering the Christ-Child and the true spirit of Christmas.
The only other big plans I have for the season this year is hosting an Advent tea in our home on December 5th. The girls are so excited. Madeline has just started her own homemaking journal and is eager to play the little hostess. We’ll be using some of the tips and recipes in Alice Cantrell’s Tea & Cake with the Saints.
I’ve been meaning to give a recap of Madeline’s dinosaur-themed party. We had it at our local nature center, and the kids got to dig for fossils in a giant sandbox as well as meet some cool critters including a box turtle, Madagascar cockroach, and a bearded dragon. The highlight was touching million-year-old dinosaur poop.
Thanks to Family Fun, I whipped together a super easy cake that fit the dinosaur theme perfectly.
The bones were made from sugar cookies. Download the bone template here.
In other news, I recently had the chance to chat with Lisa Hendey and Sarah Reinhard about embracing an attitude of gratitude and holiday shopping. Tune in to the Faith & Family Podcast here. As always, it felt like I was dishing with old friends.
During the podcast I shared a Thanksgiving tradition the girls and I have embraced for the past two years and plan to repeat again this year. It’s super easy even for moms who are somewhat craft challenged like I am. Inspired by a craft from Family Fun, the girls and I go on a nature walk and collect natural artifacts like leaves and acorns. When we return home, I spell out “Give Thanks” on construction paper with glue (one letter per sheet of paper). The girls then sprinkle on some of the bits of nature onto the glue. We bring the letters to wherever we’re celebrating Thanksgiving (either my parents’ house or my in-laws’ home), and we use string and clothes pins to hang up the sign by the table where we’ll feast. You can see a photo of the first sign we ever made here.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, won’t you join me in taking the Gratitude Challenge hosted by Let’s Take the Metro? If you have a blog, post 100 things you’re grateful for on Thanksgiving Day. Even if you actually clean your home because you don’t blog, why not make a gratitude list? Stay tuned for my 100 blessings this Thursday. (I’m hoping to eventually count my 1000 gifts.)
I keep blaming the fact that I have a new baby on my dearth of though-provoking blog posts these days, but it really could be more of Pinterest’s fault. I’d started an account a long time ago but never had really done much with it. My babysitter kept gushing about it, so the other day I clicked over there. Oh my goodness. It is truly inspiring, fun, and addictive. If you want to keep up with your laundry, stay away from Pinterest.
Have deliciously lovely Thanksgiving!