Sunday, December 16, 2012

Keeping Christ in Christmas

I’m participating in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, hosted by Arma Dei:Equipping Catholic FamiliesRaising (& Teaching) Little SaintsTruly Rich Mom and the Catholic Bloggers Network. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries (available starting December 20th).

I mentioned briefly in one of last year’s Christmas posts about the importance of keeping Christmas focused on family time and Jesus.  I want to take this opportunity to explain how this is an extension of our overall family philosophy that spending time interacting together as a family is a priority.  My husband and I believe that our children will reach their best potential if they spend the majority of their non-schooling time interacting with other family members.  This is why our children do not watch television after school or during breaks.  This is why my husband comes home for dinner every night.  This is why we always attend mass together as a family.

We have taught our children that Advent and Christmas are about waiting for Jesus and celebrating his arrival.  I will explain more about how we do this later in the post.  Of course, my children know that we buy gifts to exchange with family members, and they look forward to opening the gifts they receive.  However, they don’t really think much about that part of Christmas.  Every year, their grandparents and uncles ask them what they would like to receive, and they rarely have an answer prepared.  They just don’t spend time picking out the toys they want to receive, making a list, or dropping hints.

I believe their nonchalance is the result of another family philosophy: an absence of materialism in our home.  For many reasons, we live frugally, buying only what we need, and avoiding excess.  While we sometimes buy ahead when things are on sale, we often wait to buy seasonal clothing and shoes until that weather arrives.  We try to buy seasonal produce, avoiding costlier out of season items, such as watermelon in winter.  From these habits, the children learn that everything has it’s time, and you get what you need when the weather or season arrives.  On Christmas Day, you open presents: no need to spend much time thinking ahead if you aren’t in charge of the buying (which the children are not).

Something that really helps to minimize materialistic thoughts in our home is the limited television and internet time our children have.  They rarely watch television programs and the commercials that accompany them.  When they do watch, we are all watching together, and the commercials are muted.  We are also planning to watch less live television and watch programs with the children through cable on-demand service to avoid even more advertisements.  The less encouragement children see to become consumers, the less likely they are to ask for the latest toys and gadgets.  In fact, we have only recently re-subscribed to cable after taking a year off to save money and the children did not even notice the cancellation.  And while they certainly know about most of the trendy toys, they rarely ask for them, preferring to play with the ones they already own.  Keeping the children away from internet sites and games sponsored by toy companies in the guise of entertainment also prevents them from focusing on the next new toy that is being promoted.

So, how do I keep the kids busy during all this technology free family time?  During Advent, I organize faith activities in a calendar.  You can read more about this and some of the specific activities we have done here.  We also bring home many books about Advent and Christmas from the library.  Find a list, along with more faith activities, here.  We mark our progress through Advent with a family Advent wreath.  Also, each of my children makes a wreath that they can “light” on their own with paper or yarn “flames.”  They made the wreath pictured below two years ago.

I also keep the kids busy with crafts and learning activities focused on Jesus during the Christmas season through Epiphany.  This year, we are planning to do similar activities; if I have time, I will post about them.

I look forward to your thoughts about these topics, so leave a comment if you have something to say.

I am not yet returning to full time blogging, but I wanted to participate in this special carnival that reflects a key part of our family life this time of year.  I am still trying to use my free time to revise my poetry manuscript, and I’m making slow progress.  I hope to make more progress during the semester break, and to post now and again.

Thank you for visiting, and Merry Christmas.

Carnival Links:
Homeschool Mosaics: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Joy: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Advent Interruptions
The Breadbox Letters: Interrupted by Glory
TwentyTuesdayAfternoons: Keeping Christ in Christmas/ The Season of Giving / A Wee Bit of Beach Holiday Angst
The Learning Basket: Staying With the Nativity Story
Tercets: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Rosary Mom: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Ate Maui: Hoping and Bringing Hope
Written By the Finger of God: 12 Traditions for Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Felix at Fifty: What Jesus Wants for Christmas
Mommy Bares All: Birthday Cake for the Birthday Boy on Christmas Day
Between Now and Later: Keeping Christ in Christmas, I am trying...
Lique's Antics: Family Antics: Christmas Reflection
Life of Fortunate Chances: Our First Ever Christmas: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Mommy Journey: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Roller Coaster Ride: How to Remind Your Kids of Jesus Christ This Christmas
Cymplified: Christ -Centered Christmas: Cymplified!
Mountain Grace: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Touring Kitty: Grown-up Christmas List
Mommy Chinkysoup for the Soul: A Very Special Christmas
City Girl, Country Home: Finding Jesus in a Flurry
Coffee Moments with Sam: Christmas Unwrapped: 5 Presents Our Kids Truly Deserve
Raising Lifelong Learners: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Diary of a Sower: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Celebrating the Golden Days
Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising (and Teaching) Little Saints: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Truly Rich Mom: The Greatest Gift of All This Christmas
Joy-Filled Family: CHRIST in Christmas
Blueberry 010: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Jesus is the Reason for the Season
Deeper Truth Blog: Keeping Christ in Christmas Carnival
Holy Ducklings: 10 Ways to Make Advent Special for Your Little Ducklings
Green Eggs and Moms: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Green Eggs & Moms Style!

You can read my 2013 post for Keeping Christ in Christmas, about joining church ministries, here.  You will find the 2013 blog carnival list of links at the end of the post.

In 2013 I am linking with: Christmas in July

In 2012 I linked with: Catholic Bloggers Network, My Favorite Things, Peace in Preparation, Advent 2012, Keeping Christ in Christmas, Faith Formation in Young Children, Better Mom Monday, Welcome Home

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Writing Project, Blogging, and All Saints

Have you wondered where I have been lately?  BUSY, BUSY.  I have so much I want to blog about, but very little time.  And now, I will be posting less often for a while.  Not sure how long this blogging slow down will be.  Here’s why: I have a new writing project!

Actually, it is an update to an old poetry manuscript.  You see, last week, I read at the Houston Poetry Fest.  I had a great time: listening to other poets, meeting those poets, reading my own work, and feeling like I was part of a poetry community again.  One of the poets I met there is an editor at a small independent Texas poetry press.  He has asked me to submit my full length poetry manuscript to him for publication consideration.

Have I mentioned before how nurturing, welcoming, and friendly small presses can be?  This is not the first time I have encountered a poetry editor who is willing to take a chance on my work and is offering a generous amount of time to read and consider my manuscript, knowing little or nothing about it.  I was fortunate enough to encounter the same generosity last year with Maria at Mouthfeel Press after a friend suggested I send a chapbook manuscript there.

You are probably wondering: Elisa, didn’t you just publish a book?  How did you find time to write another one already (you do have limited writing time after all)?  I did just publish a chapbook, which is a small book of poems, usually about 14 – 30 pages long, with a limited press run.  The editor I just met is interested in a full length volume of poetry, which is at a minimum 48 pages long, and usually has a larger print run (meaning the publisher prints more copies and keeps the book in stock for a longer time).  Often poets will include poems from their chapbooks in their full length books, so a chapbook is like a preview of a longer book.  You can learn more about chapbooks at my friend Katie’s blog, here.

So, I have not actually written a whole new manuscript.  I have an old manuscript that I started revising, updating, and reordering a few years ago.  But, I never finished doing that after I had my second child.  That is what I will be working on a few minutes at a time for the next couple of months.  When I put together the chapbook manuscript last year, I included some of the poems from this full length book, and some from a second full length book manuscript (still mostly unwritten, sigh).  I plan to use the moments I previously spent writing blog posts to work on this book so I can send it to the patiently waiting editor.

New Writing Project Means Fewer Blog Posts.

I hope you will also patiently wait for me to rev up the blogging again after I complete the manuscript.  I do plan to post now and then because I will need some time away from the book manuscript to gain perspective.  Also, I have promised to write about so many things.  For example, I really hope to write Part 2 of the Dual Language Learning post soon.  Plus, I’ll be reading and responding (although slowly) to your comments, and making a few tweaks to the sidebars.

In the meantime, I leave you the link to last year’s post about All Saints Day, where I describe an easy way to put together saint costumes, and different ways we have made saint images to learn and play with.  This year, we are working on costumes for Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who was canonized today, and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Read about how we put together saint costumes, and find links to other costume ideas and games here.   

You can see my other posts about saints here.

You will always find me linked at The Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Round up.

Karri at My Life’s a Treasure hosts a weekly My Favorite Things Link up, and I am linking this post there.

Hazel at Tell Me a Story hosts a weekly True Stories Link up, so I am linking there too.

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