Tuesday, November 27, 2012

First Snow!

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we had our first real snow! As a double bonus, we were able to experience it with all of my siblings in town and with Sawyer's cousin Cal...who we found out is a snow-lover, just like his Minnesotan mama. 

The boys spent some quality time in the yard sledding down a "hill" that to them was heavenly bliss. For some reason, when Sawyer would make a snowball and throw it toward anyone he'd yell, "Happy Birthday, (insert name)!!!" and threw it up in the air. This kid cracks me up!
My sister-in-laws are quite the photographers...this next one is from the one and only Rebecca Ondrey and the black and white close-up is from Jessica (Cal's mom).

Over the weekend I also got the lucky joy of spending time with my dear sister Hauna who was in town for the holiday from Scotland where she's currently getting her PhD at St. Andrews. She's ever the stylish girl and I miss her already!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Meaningful Advent Calendar

I'm humbled by the positive response to this Advent calendar! Thanks for your interest, but the free download was only available for a limited time. You can still purchase it through my Etsy store.

I'm not sure which is my favorite holiday, Christmas or Easter. However, one can't deny that when it comes to the seasons leading up to these most holy days in the church calendar, Advent's got Lent a little beat as far as "fun" and "warm feelings" go. Am I right? All my life I've been a real sucker for Christmas, but it wasn't until several years ago that I began to truly enjoy the season of Advent...the intentional waiting, preparing, and thinking on the most amazing, crazy idea that God came to this world to be one of us.

I have a huge soft spot for liturgy and church symbolism. I also have a growing distain for much of the Christian "art" that is out there, and I'd like to play my part in stopping its spread. Since I couldn't find the calendar I was dreaming up, I decided to create my own for my family this year. For the last month or two finding the right scripture, the right activity, and creating the right design for each of the 28 days has been a real labor of love. It's finally complete and printed, hung by the fireplace, and waiting for Wednesday, November 28, to let the games begin! Here are some of my favorites...

So...my Christmas gift to you this year, dear reader, is sharing this Advent calendar with you (the print-yourself-version at least) for FREE for a limited time! I'd love to charge a pretty penny for all the work I put into it, but I'm not about to be a Grinch and hinder anyone from experiencing the Advent season in a new and intentional way this year: a way that goes beyond a daily piece of cheap chocolate, or a little gifty trinket that may soon be forgotten (not that I won't also probably buy the cheap chocolate one).

Each day has a 4x6 card with a seasonal design on the front by yours truly and a back with the day's summary, Bible verse, and suggested corresponding activity (concept inspired by this). Many of the activities are simple and won't take much work and some days are a little bigger, but each is intended to prepare our hearts for Christmas (day 1) and intentionally experience the season of Advent, filled with waiting and wonder. We used clothespins to attach each card to one string of twine and hung it up by the mantle, but you could hang it down the stair rail, as a decoration somewhere else, or come up with some other way to display/use it.

No matter how you spend your holiday season, I hope that you'll find time for quiet, coziness, and togetherness with the ones you love, and that you'll take time to ponder and behold God's love for the world. Please download the calendar and enjoy using it this season and for Advent seasons to come!
Download FREE Calendar
Thanks for your interest, but the free download was only available for a limited time. You can still purchase it through my Etsy store (see link below).
Please note that the file is large and may take a minute to download. If you are printing this yourself, I recommend 110# cardstock, which you can find at your local office supply store. This paper weight may be too thick for your home printer, but you can have it printed double-sided at Office Max, Kinkos, etc. If you end up using the calendar, I'd love to hear how you set it up or how it worked for you.
Order Printed Calendar

If you are interested in purchasing an already-cut, professionally printed version of this Advent calendar, you can use the link above to order it through my Etsy shop. Be sure to order by this Monday at the latest in order to get it before Advent begins. If you work at a church and are interested in ordering copies for multiple families in larger quantities, contact me at sarahondrey(at)gmail.com and I can hook you up ASAP!
Copyrights & Fine Print
This calendar is copyrighted 2012 by Sarah Johnson. Please use it to enjoy the season, but do give credit where and if credit is due! Biblical texts were taken from the New International Version (NIV) or New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). There are four cards with backgrounds that I did not create, and those are Day 2 - painting by Gerard van Honthorst, “Adoration of the Shepherds”; Day 9 - Colliers Magazine, illustrator unknown, December 1955; Day 10 - Painting by Guido Reni, “Adoration of the Shepherds”; and Day 12 - Illustrator/woodcarver unknown. Three days were inspired by other artists and they are Day 7 - Dustin Wallace; Day 23 - Joe Cavazos; and Day 25 - Nathan Strandberg and Katie Kirk.

Blossoming Romance

We're settling into our new abode which I can elaborate on later, but for now, I think what Sawyer is missing most was this little lady he had a blossoming romance with before we snatched him away. These star-crossed lovers were on a roll until we broke up the party...poor kids!

Sweet little Charlotte lived in the floor above us and Charlotte's mom and I had a good thing going. We could sip tea and chat while the kiddos played, blissfully unaware of our presence. When either of us had an errand to run or needed to get something done (i.e. moving) without our 2.5 year old around, we could ship them off to the other floor where a willing playmate was waiting with toys that probably seemed more interesting than the ones the guest was used to.

While we would encourage them to give each other an occasional hug or kiss goodbye, after a while I'd catch Sawyer steeling a kiss that was unprompted (and probably unsolicited).

Since we've moved, I hear Charlotte has been asking about her Romeo and when he'll be back to play. Sawyer has asked a few times to "go back home," and I'm confident a lot of his nostalgia has to do with missing his little friend from upstairs and all the fun they had recently had together. Sad!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A New Beginning

Our dear friend and former worship pastor sent us this blessing/poem as we prepared for our move, so I'll share it with you today as we embark on our journey east. It's by John O'Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us, and really says so beautifully what my heart has felt leading up to and through this transition to a new beginning for our family.

For a New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eeek! Too Scary!

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Halloween is my least favorite holiday. It's a tiny bit better having a child since you can dress them up and watch them get excited about something new, but even still, I just think it's pretty lame. I've always felt this way. That being said, I've tried my best to dress my boy in homemade costumes to at least make it somewhat interesting. (So far he's been a mummy and a viking.)

Due to our pending move, this year's Halloween was on the cheap and easy. I originally had grand plans to make Sawyer a Peter Pan costume, complete with dagger and unattached shadow, but then I realized that - among other things - I had an entire apartment to pack up and a massive to do list, neither of which allow for the time or energy for something original and creative. As I was frantically searching through Old Navy for some hunter green leggings for Peter Pan and about to call it quits on this year's festivities, I looked up and saw a skeleton pajama set for the lucky price of $6.49. I brought them to the register and called it a day.

We spent our evening with Batman, a bunny, and a cupcake (sorry for the blurry pictures) and my little skeleton quickly figured out the drill. He was hesitant at first and was understandably confused and angered and the notion he would not be able to eat each new piece of candy on the spot. After a while though, things clicked and in one swift motion he'd say "Trick-or-Treat-Thank-You," grab the candy, throw it in the bag, and was off to the next house. By the end of the evening, he was basically welcoming himself into each person with an open door's home after taking the candy to just see what was going on inside. The only thing that threw him off was teenager in a "Scream" mask to which he said to the kid's face, "Eeek! Too Scary!"

My next goal is to avoid eating all his loot by myself!