Advent 2021–Day One

We have been waiting for this year’s Advent Lego project for a long time!

Almost two years ago now, I purchased a set that everyone in the family dreamed of building, but no one person could afford…the Lego Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon. The plan was to build it last Advent, in advance of the big trip to Orlando, and especially Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney, that we were supposed to take this summer.

Of course, COVID-19 happened, and we quickly realized that we would need to postpone our trip to (God willing) summer 2022. So I offered the children the option of building the Falcon anyway, or building another set I had on hand and saving the Star Wars set for the Advent before our vacation as planned. They chose the latter, and so the GINORMOUS box for this set became a fixture in our den while we (kind of) patiently waited to build it. Seriously…it could play the part of an end table it’s so huge!

Today Turkey got started on the build. He took care of bag one of seventeen. I know seventeen bags doesn’t sound like enough for 27 days of Advent, but this set has over 7,500 pieces, making it one of the largest Lego sets created, so one bag is more than enough for one day…we’ll be splitting many of the upcoming bags in half, and that will still be plenty of building for a day! He took care of the base of the frame, and looking at it right now, you wouldn’t necessarily have any idea what the completed set will even be! Also, check out the enormous, spiral-bound instruction book…that’s definitely something new!

I’m very excited about this set, because of what it represents: a dream that had to be postponed that will hopefully be all the sweeter for the wait!

Sartorial Saturday–An Australian Hello Kitty Christmas

This year, Erstwilder surprised me with not just one, but two Christmas brooch launches!

The first, and biggest, collection highlights an Australian Christmas. There are familiar pieces, like the wreath I bought, and some that those of us in the Northern Hemisphere might consider a little more unusual, like koalas (my youngest purchased on of those).

I wasn’t even planning on getting two brooches from that collection, but Ryan went ahead and ordered the Volkswagen Kombi “Seasonal Delivery” piece that I couldn’t quite decide on so I wouldn’t miss out. And then Erstwilder announced a small, four-piece collection of Christmas Hello Kitty brooches to round out the three-part Hello Kitty collaboration they did this year. I tried to resist…really I did. But I had a coupon for one of their US stockists, so I added one more piece to my Christmas brooch collection.

I’m looking forward to wearing all of my Christmas brooches this season!

Thanksgiving 2021

Time for a look at our annual three-day-long Thanksgiving celebration, beginning with a beautiful sunrise on Wednesday morning, which gave me encouragement to bake nine pies, prep two different kinds of stuffing, and make the cranberry sauce.

On Thanksgiving Day, we had fun watching the Macy’s Parade and playing Thanksgiving Day Parade Bingo, picking our favorite dogs at the National Dog Show, and playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Of course, there was dinner to attend to, as well. I thought the table looked extra pretty this year…maybe that’s because we had guests to set it for!

The menu was a mix of old and new. I made our traditional stuffing to go with the turkey, but also a new recipe for everything bagel stuffing. I also tried a new roasted winter vegetable dish to go alongside our usual green beans with almonds. Of course we also had mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and cranberry sauce:

It made a very pretty plate!

For dessert, all of the pies. Sadly, the pie I was most looking forward to trying, cranberry custard, didn’t set right, so even though it looked pretty, it didn’t come out right at all. I guess that’s the risk you run when you try a new recipe on a holiday!

This morning started with one of our favorite traditions of pie for breakfast.

I was very happy to get to go see Moose march in our town’s Santa Parade for the first time since 2019, and for the first time with the high school marching band! We honestly weren’t planning on staying for the whole thing since his group was near the beginning, but it was fun as well as short, so we ended up seeing it all!

I enjoyed having a place to wear one of my new Erstwilder Christmas brooches:

Turkey sandwiches for lunch are another great thing about the day after Thanksgiving!

And more pie:

We built the annual addition to our Lego winter village:

And had turkey soup for dinner:

After dinner, some of us went back downtown for the tree lighting and community sing:

And more pie for dessert when we got back home:

There you have it. It was a mostly normal holiday, and it was good to do things that felt familiar again!

Pie Day 2021

That one day of the year when the kitchen turns into a bakery is here! This year I made nine pies, and I even tried a new recipe! I also worked a bit at making my crusts look prettier, with some mixed results…pie crust is just not something I’m good at.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Cranberry custard
  • Nutella
  • Blueberry
  • Butterscotch
  • Pumpkin
  • Pecan
  • Caramel apple
  • S’mores
  • Apple crumb

It’s going to be hard to wait until tomorrow to dig in!

2021-22 School Year–Week Thirteen+

This time, I’m wrapping up a week, plus a couple of days of school!

Ladybug learned how to calculate the area of a circle and an ellipse in geometry. She learned about Roman Catholicism in her study of Christian denominations. In biology, she wrapped up her study of cellular energy by learning about cellular respiration and fermentation. She finished the second part of Beowulf. She finished reading Invincible Louisa, and is now working on Little Men.

Chickadee is starting to lay the foundation for long division in math…I’m a little scared! She finished the chapter on primeval reptiles in her science book by learning about pliosaurs and ichthyosaurs. We’re still trying to untangle Zeus’s family tree in her literature study of D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths! After Ladybug finished it, she started reading Invincible Louisa…it’s interesting to listen to her compare the lives of Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder!

Over the last seven school days, we also read some of our favorite Thanksgiving books:

  • Native Homes
  • Tapenum’s Day
  • On the Mayflower
  • Sarah Morton’s Day
  • Samuel Eaton’s Day
  • If You Were At…The First Thanksgiving
  • Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving
  • Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration
  • An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
  • Sarah Gives Thanks
  • Milly and the Macy’s Parade
  • Pardon That Turkey
  • Over the River and Through the Woods
  • Time for Cranberries
  • A Turkey for Thanksgiving
  • The Night Before Thanksgiving

This week, we wrapped up a few regular school things, and had some Thanksgiving fun! We visited Cahokia Mounds and had a lovely nature walk, where we saw lots of deer and even a few turkeys. We also made the 10-story climb up Monks Mound.

And we did a couple of fun turkey crafts, including my favorite, hand-and-footprint turkeys:

Next week, we get to start some of our Advent activities, not to mention the countdown to Christmas vacation!

Christ the King Sunday

I learned something interesting about the church year in church this morning!

The final Sunday of the church year prior to the first Sunday in Advent marks the end of the season after Pentecost. Many churches celebrate it simply as the Last Sunday of the Church Year (for obvious reasons), or occasionally as the Sunday of the Fulfillment. I remember when I was a child, this Sunday was referred to as “Christ the King Sunday,” but that seems to have fallen out of favor in the LC-MS, and most churches reverted back to just marking the Last Sunday of the Church Year. Our church, however, did celebrate Christ the King Sunday this morning, and I learned where the occasion came from! In the aftermath of World War I, in 1925, the Catholic Church celebrated a Jubilee Year, and Pope Pius XI established the celebration in the encyclical Quas Primas in response to, among other things, growing nationalism and secularism around the world:

…”We lament them today: the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these…”

As the name suggests, this church day emphasizes Christ as King of not a single country, or even denomination, but of all. Why set aside a specific day for this celebration?

“For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year – in fact, forever. The church’s teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man’s nature. Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God’s teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life….History, in fact, tells us that in the course of ages these festivals have been instituted one after another according as the needs or the advantage of the people of Christ seemed to demand: as when they needed strength to face a common danger, when they were attacked by insidious heresies, when they needed to be urged to the pious consideration of some mystery of faith or of some divine blessing.” Quas Primas

Originally the observance was set for the end of October, but was moved to the Last Sunday of the Church Year in 1970. Although it no longer occurs prior to All Saints’ Day as originally intended, it does still fall at the end of the liturgical calendar:

“It seems to Us that We cannot in a more fitting manner close this Holy Year, nor better signify Our gratitude and that of the whole of the Catholic world to Christ the immortal King of ages, for the blessings showered upon Us, upon the Church, and upon the Catholic world during this holy period.” Quas Primas

I knew that this was a fairly recent addition to many church calendars (which may be part of the reason many of our churches have stopped observing it…it’s too “modern” for them), but I didn’t know the origins of it until today, and hearing about it in the context of the growing nationalism in many countries around the world today made it even more impactful!

Sartorial Saturday–A Year of Shopping with Miss Candyfloss

It occurred to me this week that I’ve been shopping with Miss Candyfloss for a full year now! Here’s a look back at the 13 outfits I’ve purchased in that time…one per month, plus an extra, because why not (I’m also waiting on one more, very special piece that I’ll be sharing in the future)?!?

I don’t think I could pick a favorite if I tried. I love every piece…I have a pretty wide variety of styles, and they’re all different and each have a special place in my wardrobe. I really love how well Miss Candyfloss understands fit and sizing…as long as I follow the size chart for each piece, I know I’ll get a good fit. And the fabrics they choose are outstanding…some have texture, there are different weights for different times of year, and the colors and prints are lovely. Each article is well-made, and I’m pretty sure each piece I have has some kind of unique detail that makes it extra-special. I’m so glad I finally took a chance on a new-to-me company, because Miss Candyfloss is now a staple in my wardrobe!