Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Advent Conspiracy

I've been giving this video a lot of thought lately:

The commercialization of Christmas is a lot easier to handle and avoid when you are single and childless. As a mom, I want my son to learn that Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, not to get presents and spend money like there's no tomorrow. But I also want to create the memories of family traditions for him that my sister and I reminisce about. So how can you find the appropriate line for your family? Here are some of the areas we've discussed:

1) Advent Wreath - Last year, our church offered a family event after first service one Sunday: making an Advent Wreath using a wire frame, artificial garland, candle holders and taper candles. So much fun, so durable, and so safely stored in our utility closet ready to come out and face another December with Monkey!

2) Advent Calendar - I grew up with a handmade Advent Calendar, crafted by my paternal grandmother for my older sister before she was even born (my sister is a Christmas baby). That same grandmother died in a gas accident 6 weeks before I was born. Even though there was a tinge of sadness to the family memory, using the Advent Calendar always made me feel that I had a connection to the grandma I never met. I picked up a Veggie Tales Advent Calendar on clearance at Family Christian last January and have had it tucked away all year, ready to pull out this weekend and fill with delicious chocolates for Monkey. He is so excited, I don't know if he will manage to wait until December 1st!

3) Christmas Tree - Just call me Scrooge, 'cause I have always been vehemently anti-Christmas tree. The first three Christmases of Monkey's life, he couldn't have cared less, of course. Last year, when he was four, we went home to visit all the grandparents for Christmas and he fell HARD for the Christmas trees. He would lay down under them, stroking the pine needles and the ornaments, gazing at the what's a mom who doesn't believe in giving Christmas presents, cutting down trees unnecessarily or wasting money to do? I got a second-hand faux tree off of Freecycle, along with some paint-them-yourself glass ornaments and picked up some Christmas lights and glass paint at a local crafts store. We spent most of Thanksgiving Day painting & hanging ornaments. An old, tropical tablecloth is covering the base of the tree. Monkey loves it!

4) Presents - We don't buy Monkey/ourselves/others gifts for
Christmas. His grandparents love to send him packages, of course, since they live 2000 miles away, and we would never begrudge him a gift. The point is not NO gifts, it's curbing the EXCESS we see around us. Still, all of the things start to pile up, Monkey gets tired of toys and they sit unused, and we still have to go through everything and pare down at least twice a year. So when one of the grandmas asked Monkey what he wanted for Christmas when they talked on Thanksgiving, we decided to be proactive this year. Monkey helped us make a Christmas wish list that targets activities, rather than things. His list (in order of preference) was soccer class, swimming lessons, cooking classes, and piano lessons. That's my boy!

I'm currently debating whether our teeny-tiny kitchen can stand a round of holiday cookie baking for Monkey to wrap up for his friends and our coworkers. Another great idea I heard recently was packaging up hot chocolate mix or cookie
mix in a really pretty (reusable) container. and then making a date to prepare the mix together. I love the idea of giving a friend a treat they may not necessarily take the time to prepare otherwise. A sampler of tasty teas would have the same effect.

How do you balance beliefs/budget in the midst of commercial Christmas madness?

Crafty Note: Like my hand-painted ornament, pictured above? Check out a super-easy tutorial for another way to use glass ornaments at Craftopotamus!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Meal Planning - November 8

Our apartment smells amazing this evening. This morning, Monkey Boy decided we should make raspberry/blueberry pancakes. This afternoon, I realized the two bananas on my counter were pretty much do or die today, so a batch of banana oatmeal muffins were in order (aaaand I'm set for breakfasts this morning, woo hoo!). This evening, my husband got a hankering for his mother's amazing gumbo, minus the seafood so I can eat it, as well. Food allergies can be a drag, but no more so than when your in-laws are consummate creators of food and also happen to be from Louisiana, home of some of the most amazing American cuisine to date. In my humble opinion, of course ;-)

Our menu plan is a little bit shorter than usual this week, as we will be taking off right after school on Friday to drive South for the Salado Highland Games in Salado, Texas. It's kind of amazing that I've been writing this blog for the better part of a year and have yet to go off on a tangent about Scottish Highland Dancing, actually, but let's save that for another day. On to the food!


Monday - PB&J on wheat bread, orange slices, baby carrots

Tuesday - Leftover gumbo (mommy & daddy)/Lunchable (Monkey), applesauce, yogurt

Wednesday - Turkey sandwich, apple slices, broccoli

Thursday - Leftover spaghetti (mommy & daddy)/Lunchable (Monkey), orange slices, baby carrots

Friday - Hot lunch in cafeteria (making it easier to head out of town right after school)


Monday - Homemade gumbo

Tuesday - Cheeseburger soup, salad (made ahead & frozen)

Wednesday - Spaghetti with meat sauce & Alfredo sauce (meat sauce made ahead & frozen, Alfredo sauce crafted by my husband)

Thursday - n/a (Bowling league night)

Friday - n/a (Road trip!!!)

What are y'all eating this week? Need more meal planning ideas? Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie, home of Menu Plan Mondays, where I link up each week along with hundreds of other bloggers. Have a great week!