Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent: Fun And Reflections

Today started with me wrangling two hyper-active boys and all of their stuff within a three foot long section of pew in Mass. Wedged between an older man and an older woman, I spent an entire hour mostly shushing my two boys, telling Ryan to stop coloring on the pew, answering Jacob's questions about how to spell randomly-selected words, physically restraining Ryan's feet when he insisted on swinging them in every direction, and picking Cheerios off the floor (and trying not to stick my butt in anyone's face in the process). I think I heard (and recited) the Our Father prayer, the rest of the Mass is just a blur.

Oh, except for the part when my son yelled during silent prayer time, "Mommy, are unicorns real?!"
"No. Shhhh."
"Please, shhhh!"

During the offering, I handed Ryan an envelope with some money and told him he could put it in the basket. Finally, the basket started to make it's way down the aisle in front of us. As it passed in front of Ryan, he chucked the envelope straight at the basket, nearly grazing the people standing in front of us. And, for the record, just barely missing the basket. The entire pew erupted into stifled laughter. I guess I should have make it more clear to Ryan that he was not supposed to "make a basket."

After Mass, our church celebrated the first Sunday of Advent with a St. Nicholas Festival. The kids got their photos with St. Nick. I made an Advent wreath. We all had cookies for breakfast. Hey, it's better than donuts, right?

Also, this is the note Jacob wrote me during Mass. He wrote "I Love You God" all by himself. I helped with the "St. Joseph."

Then I wrangled all the kids to the grocery store and then the fabric store. At the fabric store, Ryan fell asleep in my arms which made it really tricky to carry fabric up to the counter for cutting. And Jacob knocked over an entire rack of ribbon spools. The lady at the store tried to help him clean up but Jacob insisted on doing it all by himself, which took approximately one million seconds too long.

We got home to discover that my husband had finally purchased the new TV he had been talking about buying for YEARS. He likes to research, and compare, and read reviews, and measure, and research some more. I have a light trigger finger when I go shopping. When I want something (if I decide that I can afford it), I simply BUY IT.

We went from a 32 inch TV to a 51 inch TV. I never really wanted a TV this big. I grew up with a 13 inch TV and I still think that is good enough for anyone. But I have to admit, I like the way the TV fills up the blank space against the wall that used to taunt me every single night. Now the space between the two hangings above the TV taunt me (too far apart in my opinion). But I'm too lazy to move them. We have officially become a 2 TV household. That means, we have one TV per 475 square feet of house. Yikes. Too much.

One tiny living room. One ginormous TV.

My homemade Advent wreath with olive wood candle holders (from Bethlehem)

As if my day wasn't busy enough with shopping and organizing and laundry and making dinner, I decided we should have a family gingerbread house night. I have a fantastic recipe, I can't remember where it came from. But it actually TASTES good (unlike most gingerbread house recipes). And it's super easy.

Gingerbread Cookies/Houses
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbs butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 Tbs water
Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Combine, a little at a time, then knead until dough forms a ball. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch think. Cut out shapes. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

By the time I made the dough, let is refrigerate, cut out the shapes, cooked them, cooled them, assembled them,and then made the frosting, it was already 8:30 p.m. But Jacob and I had our hearts set on gingerbread houses, so we forged onward.

After years and years of making gingerbread houses that never stayed up, I finally got smart and used a hot glue gun this year. Worked like a charm. It was amazing. Considering that I have never met anyone who actually eats the gingerbread part of the house, I figured this was a safe bet.

Beautiful houses in progress:

Ryan is helping, kinda.

Is he putting candy on or taking it off? We shall never know.

Then he got a little bit sugar drunk. 
Actually, he was practicing his pig sounds when I snapped this shot. But this is how I look when I get drunk.

So proud (and excited to be up past 9:00 p,m,)

All done!

Before bed, Ryan flushed his sugar high out of his body by accessorizing his outfit.

Ryan walked around the house like this for approximately 15 minutes, while playing ball. Except the hanger kept falling off when he would reach down to pick up the ball. This made him a little angry. But he kept putting it right back on.

Most of my pictures of Ryan actually look like this (sans hanger):

Oh yeah, we also made Christmas ornaments. Although, we won't have a tree for another two weeks. Jacob decorated the one on the right. My husband "helped" Ryan decorate the one on the left. My husband spend way too long decorating his ornament and making sure it was just right. I think he has some childhood holiday angst to work out. Or just OCD.

It was a LONG and TIRING day. But my boys brought me so much joy and so many smiles. Sometimes I look at the boys with appreciation and sentiment and think, "Wow, God could have given you to anyone on the planet, but I'm so freaking glad he gave you to me."

Although I'm a born and raised Catholic (and would never chose to be any other religion- I truly love Catholicism) I do struggle a lot with my faith. The beliefs that came so easily to me as a child are so hard to accept as an adult. I feel a lot of skepticism and doubt. I've been unsure of a lot of things lately. I sit in the pew and I try to pray. But I just feel silly. Like an actor. It doesn't feel genuine. 

I'm the epitome of the Doubting Thomas. I have to see and feel to know that something is real. There's a lot about religion that I cannot feel or see, but the warmth and love and community of my church is 100% real. I can feel that, stronger than anything. I'm just holding on, hoping that one day everything will finally click. 

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