Christmas 2016 in Photos

I have legitimately no idea what day it is, but my calendar told me to post today. I haven’t eaten a real meal in like a week, and I have a wedding to be in/help with a little bit in like FOUR DAYS and yeah, no real thoughts.

NEXT WEEK THOUGH, Y’ALL. I have posts already written about various things like my NYE makeup, and why I’ve started wearing a chapel veil, and all sorts of fun stuff like that.

I KNOW. STAY TUNED.

We (finally) bought a tree because we abide by the liturgical calendar darn it, and certainly not that we’re lazy at all.

The kids decorated it, and then Buddy was devastated when we were finished. He’s a…special boy.

They also decorated cookies, which was less decorating and more eating sprinkles by the spoonful. So that was super fun.

The first family Christmas was a rousing success. My kid got a perfume lab, which is apparently the most exciting thing ever. Buddy did a little liturgical dance during the Nativity Play. There was tinsel. And kringle. Totally awesome.

We did presents from Mommy and Daddy on Christmas Eve night. I feel like we’ve finally hit our stride of celebrating Christmas. Everyone gets to spend time with family, and we even have time together as our little family.

Joey loves his Mater chair. He refuses to get up from it.

Santa came overnight and it was delightful. Squeaks got a Flutterbye, which was the one thing she desperately wanted. Of course, two minutes later it got stuck in her hair and she hates it now and won’t touch it. Of course.

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Someone (*cough*my mother*cough*) gave Buddy a motorcycle that makes noise. He plopped his 16-month old cousin on the back and took off. We haven’t seen him since.

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My niece hates everyone except her mom. I was literally there when she was born and have seen her almost every single day since then and when I hold her IN FULL VIEW of her mother, she shrieks like I’m having her put on an orphan train.

Except my husband. She looooves Buzz. Will go with him anywhere. Or sit with him for a long time. I don’t get it.

But it’s adorable.

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My sister realized we have (DECORATIVE) candles in our bedroom and finds it hilarious. So she gave us a lovely gift.

I’m burning it right now.

(IN THE LIVING ROOM. NOT LIKE THAT PERVERTS.)

Final family Christmas was at our house the next morning. We had a wonderful brunch with my in laws and the BRIDE AND GROOM OMG and no one even caught the stomach flu (fingers crossed) so YAY!

Buddy will not take off his firefighter costume. Like, we bathe him and he demands to put it right back on. It’s been days. It’s hilarious.

It was a successful Christmas I believe. We spent wonderful lovely time with everyone we love and got to celebrate the Incarnation. Super awesome.

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Holiday Makeup Looks, Part 2: Glitz and Glam

Look 1: Glitzy Party Look

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This is a more…um…intense look than yesterday. Falsies, highlighter, red lip, basically every other product I own, etc. But if you have forty-five minutes and a tablet with you to watch TV while  you chillax on your own in blessed silence and YES MATT I HEARD YOU I AM ALMOST FINISHED…*ahem* Sorry. That might have happened last night.

Whatever. I like to be fashionably late.

I used the following products to create this look:

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For the face, begin with clean and moisturized skin.

  • Apply a mattifying primer (like TooFaced Primed and Poreless) with a beauty blender.
  • Combine L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte and Pro-Glow foundations for a satin finish, and apply with beauty blender. Build coverage to create a full coverage foundation.
  • use a heavy-duty concealer (like Tarte Shape Tape) under eyes and in highlight areas.
  • Set concealer with translucent loose powder. While that bakes, do rest of the face with a pressed powder (TooFaced Pressed and Poreless Powder.)
  • Contour under cheekbones, forehead, sides of nose, and under the chin. This is a look that calls for a FULL contour. (I used Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour palette in Light/Medium.
  • Sweep a deep pink blush across the cheeks and blend with a fluffy brush into your contour.
  • Finally, apply highlighter with across high points of face. Again, this is not a look to be demure. Go for BRIGHT highlighter. I used BECCA Cosmetics Powder highlighter in Moonstone.
  • Spritz twice with Mac Fix+ spray.
  • For the lips, line with a neutral pencil. Fill lips with red lipstick (I used Nars in some red color) and then layer on a red gloss (ELF ruby)

For the eyes:

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  • Prime with Milani Eyeshadow primer. Allow to dry.
  • I’m using two palettes here- MetalMatte by Kat von D and Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance. I basically stole this look from ThisGirlShae.
  • From ABH, I applied Tempura over my entire lid and swept Buon Fresco into my crease.
  • Also from ABH, I put venetian Red on the outer third, and layered Love Letter in the outer corner.
  • Switching to KVD, I used a wet brush to pack on Glitz over the inner two-thirds of the eyelid. I kept blending and packing it on until I was satisfied with the amount of glitter (A LOT.)
  • Using a dry brush, I packed Tinsel on the middle of my lid lightly, just to highlight.
  • Back to ABH, I used Antique Bronze to blend out the red shades, but kept layering with Love letter. I wanted to keep the red look on the outer corner.
  • I highlighted my brow bone with Vermeer.
  • Going for drama, so I applied some lashes. I love Ardell Demi Wispies in Black because they’re dramatic but don’t look overly fake.
  • After applying the lashed I used Eyeko Black liquid liner to make sure the band wasn’t going anywhere.
  • Using a waterproof liner, I tightlined my waterline on the upper and bottom lashes.
  • Finally, I swept a coat of Ulta Twisted Mascara on my lashes (well, also the fake ones.)

 

Look 2: Green Smokey Eye

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I love the MetalMatte palette because of the gorgeous colors that you can sheer out. So I was able to create a smokey eye with black and gray, but add a pop of green too. Here’s what I used:

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For the face: Basically kept it simple- the eyes were the focus of this look.

  • Apply Smashbox Light primer with hands or brush.
  • Build coverage to full coverage with a light foundation, like Tarte Water Foundation (used yesterday too)
  • Use a full coverage concealer under eyes and on highlight points.
  • Set with matte powder, and sweep an illuminating powder all over face (here, Laura Geller Balance-and-Brighten.)
  • Apply contour under cheekbones and on forehead.
  • Sweep soft pink blush on apples of cheeks.
  • Highlight with a warm golden highlight (Laura Geller Gilded Honey)
  • Meld with Mac Fix+ spray.
  • For the lips, fill lips with a neutral lip pencil, and layer a neutral matte lipstick over it. I used BareMinerals GenNude Juju here.

For the eyes:

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  • Prep with eyelid primer.
  • I covered my lid in Bone up to the browbone, and swept Suede and Oak into my crease, lightly.
  • Using a c brush, I packed Stone onto the entire lid, and blended.
  • Using a densely packed eyeshadow brush, I applied Jet into the outer v and blended into the gray tone as well as the crease.
  • Using a dry brush, I applid Glitz to the very inner corner of my eyes.
  • Using a damp brush, I applied Watt to the middle of my eyelid and blended it towards the inner corner. I kept layering and blending until it was seamless but I still had the color payoff of both the black and the green.
  • Using Eyeko black liquid liner, I did a dramatic (for me) wing, and tightlined my eyes with a waterproof black pencil.
  • I did this look for the blog, so I didn’t bother putting lashes on, but that would really amp up the drama.
  • I smudged Watt on my lower lashline and then blended it out with Moss. I used It Cosmetics Superhero Lashes mascara on top and bottom.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Holiday Makeup Looks, Part 1: Easy Glam!

Look One: Easy, Everyday Holiday Look

(Chapel veil not required. The light outside Church was just the best for getting pictures of my eyeshadow.)

(I’m a mom okay? I work with what I have. There’s no fancy youtube studio here. Just a bunch of people needing crap from me.)

This is a pretty, sparkly every day look that you can wear basically anywhere. Church (obvs), shopping, even parties with friends.

To get this look, I used the following products:

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Some drugstore, some high end, but really any incarnations of these will work fine.

Begin with a clean, moisturized face.

  • I prepped my face with Laura Geller Spackle, applied with a beauty blender. I’ve been really into that method lately because it smooths out my pores, and stops foundation from getting sucked into the sponge.
  • I used a medium coverage long wear foundation, in this case, Rimmel  Lasting Finish 25 hour, applied all over with a beauty blender. I definitely wanted to look finished, but wasn’t overly concerned with having a full full coverage, so I didn’t build it up too much
  • Concealer under the eyes and on highlight points (Tarte Shape Tape works amazingly well.)
  • Use setting powder where needed (I use it on my nose, undereyes, and forehead to lock in the foundation over my infuriating wrinkle.)
  • Use a cool bronze shade in a contour palette to add dimension to the cheekbones, forehead, and chin. I was NOT going for a full-on contour here, and I didn’t even set it with powder or anything. Just enough to make my face look less like a dough ball.
  • Sweep Urban Decay Fetish (or any nude rose blush) across your cheekbones and blend it well.
  • Use a warm champagne color highlighter on the high points of the face.
  • Lips are done with a dusty rose lipliner (Mary Kay), a cool pink (Rimmel Kate 104) and a light neutral pink gloss (L’Oreal Brilliant Gloss 101.)

For the eyes, I used a combination of palettes and singles.

  • Prep the lid with an eyelid primer (I used Ulta’s primer here.) I swept a neutral white color across my entire lid to the browbone (Kat von D Luteus, but any would work.)
  • I used a matte transition shade in light taupe (also from Kat von D) in my crease, and blended it out to almost nothing, just a shadow.
  • Using a wet shadow brush, pat Urban Decay Moondust (or a champagne color) all over the lid, into the inner corner.
  • Using a different, dry brush, sweet a dark brown shade in the outer v and into the crease a LITTLE bit. In this case, I used the Laura Geller in Chocolate.
  • Highlight the browbone with a light shade, like Laura Geller almond.
  • Tightline with a brown shade (I used Smashbox always sharp in Sumatra.)
  • Curl lashes and layer two coats of TooFaced Better than Sex Mascara. This is my favorite mascara for not wearing falsies. It’s really dramatic, but not clumpy.
  • Finally, because I’m the one person who likes to do my brows last so they don’t get ruined with powder, I shaped and set my brows with Maybelline Eye Studio Brow Precise in Soft Brown. I LOVE this eyebrow pencil. It has a super small pencil and such natural results.

A spritz or two of setting spray (pretty sure I used NYX Matte here, but I didn’t take a pic) and you’re good to go all day!

Look Two: Pretty and Pink

This is also a fairly tame look, but dewy and based in the pink/plum color family.

(Also sorry I didn’t comb my hair before doing the pictures.) (Again, mother.)

I used these products to achieve this look:

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For the face, again, clean and moisturized to start.

  • Prime face with any moisturizing or luminizing primer. I used Smashbox light.
  • Apply a light, luminous foundation over the entire face. I used Tarte’s Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation, which is relatively new but I am in love with. It’s medium-full coverage, but it looks like skin on me. Very nice finish.
  • Apply concealer to highlight areas.
  • Before applying powder, use a beauty blender to apply an illuminating blush product. I love Nars Illuminator in Orgasm.
  • Set all the liquid makeup with translucent powder.
  • With a fluffy brush, finish with a brightening powder (in this case, BareMinerals luminizing face powder.)
  • Since I was more concerned with the soft look, I didn’t contour at all. I did sweep a brightening bronzer over my forehead and under my cheekbones for a little dimesion.
  • Sweep a soft pink blush on to the apples of the cheeks. I used Maybelline’s Fit Me in Rose first, but the color payoff wasn’t great. So I layered Smashbox in the lightest shade shown (I don’t remember the name,) and blended well.
  • Using a stipple brush, sweep liquid highlighter over the cheekbones and highlight areas. This is BECCA Cosmetics Liquid Shimmering Skin Perfecter in Opal.
  • Lips were lined with a netural liner (Mary Kay again) and a bright pink gloss (toned down by the neutral liner.)
  • Spray lightly with Mac Fix+ Spray to meld makeup and give it a totally natural finish

For eyes, I went with a rosey look using Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette.

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  • I primed with Smashbox eyeshadow primer, and swept tempura all over my lid.
  • I used Buon Fresco as a crease/transition shade, and blended well.
  • Taking a fluffy brush, I swept a little bit of Venetian Red into my outer lid and into the v. I deepened it with a tiny bit of love letter on a densely packed brush, and blended the ish out of it.
  • I used Vermeer on the inner corner of my eye and brow bone.
  • Finally, I took a little bit of antique bronze on a fluffy brush and blended the pinks together to tone them down a little.
  • I used a nude liner on my waterline, and smudged a combination of Venetian Red and Antique Bronze under my lower lash line.
  • Curled lashes (no falsies) and used two coats of Tarte’s Lights Camera Lashes mascara on the upper and lower lashes.
  • Brows were done lightly (I wasn’t interested in being dramatic) with the Chella Eyebrow pencil in Taupe.

Abandoning Recipe weekends tomorrow in favor of more holiday looks. This time, more dramatic! Stay tuned!

 

 

Ipsy December Unbagging!

Here in the 21st century it’s not so much fun to get the mail. I mean, I don’t even get bills in the mail. Those are taken care of in a monthly “discussion” with Buzz about how Sephora doesn’t count as groceries. It’s basically just the village newsletter and real estate pamphlets. Seriously guys, we’re not moving. I’m getting carted out of here in a bag.

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But I do get ipsy, so that’s a super fun mail day. And it’s almost always a surprise. (Because their tracking software SERIOUSLY lacks.)

This month was amazing. Like, seriously. I absolutely love literally everything in it. img_6101

The bag itself this month? Meh. Not my jam. It’s like a fake cheap fur with sparkles that go everywhere and Lord knows I do not need more to clean up. I gave it to my six-year-old, who loves all manner of tacky things, as she is a six-year-old.

She loves it.

I received a concealer brush from some random company, a theBalm mascara, Hanalei Lip Treatment, a sparkly copper eyeshadow from M Princess, and Tarte Maracuja Oil

If there was a dud in the bag, it was the concealer brush. I have a ton of brushes and while I am ALWAYS excited to get new high quality ones, overall I’m not overwhelmed with the quality of the ones I’ve received in subscription bags. And concealer brushes aren’t terribly helpful for me, since I’m in a beauty blender stage. But I use them for eye shadow or contouring or something. It was a perfectly good brush, just not exciting or amazing.

The lip treatment is super good. It’s a very thick, vaseline-like consistency. Here in the frozen tundra, that’s super nice. I drink gallons of water a day, constantly reapply lip balm, and I’m still always dry. I slather this on while I’m getting ready after a lip exfoliant treatment and by the time I’m ready for lipstick my lips are soft and hydrated.

And they stay that way too, for like five minutes. That’s not the product’s problem. That’s the fact that I live on Hoth.

The eyeshadow is interesting. I wasn’t sure I was into it at first, because when I opened it, it exploded and glitter literally floated through the air. I’m not a huge glitter person, so I didn’t think I was going to use it a whole lot.

But the base color is a really nice maple-copper, and I’ve fooled around with it enough to know that if use it dry as a highlight in the middle of my lid, it’s lovely. Today I used a wet brush and packed it on the inner two thirds of my lid as the main color, blending with a matte brown in the outer v and crease. It came out really nicely I think- winter-y and fun but not overpowering.

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The mascara is AMAZING YO. It’s a really nice curved brush, and the consistency is more of a gel than a liquid.

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I have crap lashes and I didn’t do anything except curl them here I was really impressed. My only complaint is that that the container doesn’t close easily- maybe mine is broken or something, but I have to push the wand in really hard.

(Undereye wrinkles say hey.)

My favorite though? The Tarte Maracuja Oil. I can’t use most oils because I’m allergic to argan oil. And again, THE AIR IS HURTING MY FACE. Mama needs an oil. This one is AMAZING. I use three or four drops at night instead of a moisturizer. If I go without makeup for a day I just slather it on several times during the day.

I legitimately have noticed a difference in the brilliance of my skin. My major problem with wrinkles is around my mouth (probably from pursing my lips in disgust so frequently) and on my forehead. I feel like I’m inordinately wrinkled for being 29 and taking relatively good care of myself, but whatever. This has made my mouth a lot better and my forehead even a little bit too. I am totally in love. It’s a decent sized sample, and I will definitely replace it when I run out.

5/5 this month, ipsy. I’m glad you won out over Birchbox.

 

 

Halfway

We’re halfway through our last week of the semester here at L’ecole Agony and Ecstasy, and as usual, I feel like I’ve learned more this year than my actual school-aged child.

(Part of that is probably because, try as I might, I cannot get excited about learning suffixes. Yes it’s a big deal I suppose. But seriously.)

If you’re, well, my mom, you probably remember that this summer I meticulously planned the year. And that was great. To a point. I absolutely love some things about the way I planned it, and I hate (and so have ignored) some of the other things.

(YAY HOMESCHOOLING!!! You get to stop doing what you hate doing!!!)

(Also statistically higher test scores and greater demonstrated intelligence.)

(WHEE!!!)

I love the way I planned out the things I need to do every week. That has been amazing. I know exactly where I should be for this point in the year, and I don’t have to worry about finishing the books, because I know I will. My lesson planning (which last year was a good chunk of the morning on the weekends) now takes me about 20 minutes on a Saturday.

I built in a good chunk of vacation days/weeks too. Again, an awesome benefit to planning. I know I have enough days/hours to satisfy the state should it ever become an issue, but we also get to take guilt-free breaks pretty frequently.

(Like the coming huge break we have for Christmas and New Years.)

(Which is awesome because it turns out we have a huge family wedding on New Year’s Eve, which I didn’t know about when I planned the year.)

(Because the bride and groom hadn’t met yet.)

(I’m really excited about this wedding guys.)

I love that I built in  a lot of seasonal stuff. I’ve been trying really hard to keep the liturgical seasons a part of our family life and so I scheduled certain things for Advent, Lent, Easter, etc. I bought all the books this summer and planned everything out so now I literally just have to do the readings and stuff I already planned, which is a huge departure from my attempt last year which involved me sitting on the couch the night before Ash Wednesday googling “What to do with a six-year-old for Lent???”

(Guess how well that worked.)

Things haven’t gone completely according to plan, of course. What does? Certainly nothing in my life. Just like last year, I figured out that I hate a few of the books I had picked out. I HATE our American history book. Like, for serious. It is so stupid, and at the same time heavy-handed. I just, ugh. Do not like. Because she’s so little, we’ve been able to get around it by my reading to her from the parts that aren’t horrible, and supplementing with other books and materials.

You might think the fact that I have an MA in history would prove useful here, but it’s remarkably unhelpful as I just cannot get her interested in Vatican Ostpolitik. I know, right? Maybe in second grade.

I hate a bunch of the stuff I thought I’d do for religion too. I had this book on the lives of the saints for kids but once I started reading it it’s really dumb (Jesuits, pssh), so I found another series that I really like. We aren’t as strict about doing a bunch of the stuff I thought we would, but she’s learning the Sacraments and the commandments, and we do a family rosary and read the Gospel for the coming Sunday every Friday. Overall, I like the organic nature of our religion class more than “let’s sit down and memorize this.” Last year we were more based on the Baltimore Catechism, which is wonderful. But this year, as she prepares for her first Communion and first Reconciliation next year, I want our faith to be a part of her every day life in a way that she recognizes.

My favorite subject, Latin, is going really well, but not in the way that I necessarily thought it was going to go. Once again, I failed to realize that MY KID IS SIX. So obviously we aren’t sitting down and declining nouns. But she’s learning vocab words really well and even uses them around the house which I think is adorable. We’re learning prayers in Latin (and I do mean we, because I grew up int he ’90s and despite the fact that my mother is the most conservative person I know, nobody taught me anything except the sign of the cross in Latin. And then I took it in college at a Lutheran school, so sol there too.) So that’s been really cool.

I haven’t had a baby-related breakdown yet this year (probably because no one I know has one.) (Still!) (Counting it as a win!) It’s definitely a lot more difficult than last year, since she already pretty much knew everything from K5 and this year I have to actually teach her stuff? Like a real kid? What?

But I am so thankful for this opportunity to raise our family this way, despite the work it sometimes creates. I absolutely could not do it without Buzz’s support, or my family’s help. But since I am lucky enough to have those things, this is an unbelievable blessing for us.

Here’s hoping 2017 is as wonderful!

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Romantic weekend!

With the in-laws and a bunch of kids!

(My husband is so nice to me. For reals. Every year I give him a list of death anniversaries for which he’s required to host a dinner, and then tell him where we’re going on vacation with my parents.)

We did our traditional weekend in Galena last weekend, and it was every bit as magical as it always is. We’ve been going since before I was born (I say we because I did the math and it was alarmingly close to 40 weeks before I was born. Eww.) and it is so special to share with my kids now.

The couple in the room above us also had a magical weekend. A very loud magical weekend, multiple times a night. A magical weekend I was really worried I would have to explain to my six-year-old. A magical weekend I was awake for not because of similar sextytime reasons but because my three-year-old got scared and was only comforted by sleeping on my husband’s face with his feet in my neck.

And they say marriage isn’t sexy. Lies, I tell you.

Anyway.

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We caravanned with my parents and sister, so it took us roughly eighteen hours to make the 175 mile drive. But that was okay because we had coffee and I stopped and bought cinnamon rolls at a Kwik Trip and yeah I know that sounds super janky, but you know what? BEST DAMN CINNAMON ROLLS I’VE EVER HAD. So there.

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Seriously. Cannot explain how amazing it is to see these two little people, people whom I wasn’t sure I would be lucky enough to have, in my most favorite place on earth.

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And now that we have Poppyseed???? SERIOUSLY GUYS it’s amazing.

No there’s no hotel sex. But look at those little heads!!!

I tried to take a nice picture with my kids. One complied. I’ll let you guess which one.

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Cooper even flew to meet us!

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J Kids Christmas album cover.

Buddy has some thoughts on how amazing hot chocolate is.

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She wanted to play fancy ladies so I let her play with makeup and gave her contact dermatitis. Oops. Oh well, we had fun.

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On Sunday it snowed, which was magical because we were leaving and didn’t have to walka round in it.

(Or at least it was magical until I turned into my mother and flipped out about the dangerous roads.)

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And of course, the sign of a good trip, both kids passed out in the car after about ten minutes.

Already can’t wait for next year.

Advent for Kids (and Yourself)

Guys, I think Advent is my favorite liturgical season. I love the solemn nature of it- we’re not celebrating, not yet. But it’s not the same kind of solemn as Lent, which is mostly just a bummer.

(I’M KIDDING. Lent is lovely as well. Just more…intense.)

I also love that there are so many things that we can do as a family to mark the season. Again, Lent is so intense. Other than the stations of the Cross, it’s hard to come up with cute craft ideas for hey-let-me-explain-all-of-salvation-history-to-you. I know they’re out there, I do. But it’s just harder to ram home without being depressing..

And let’s be honest, I’m not doing any crafts anyway. I hate crafts. HATE THEM. Creativity and making a mess. Literally my two least favorite things.

ANYWAY. Homeschooling, we obviously have a lot of freedom to mark Advent and prepare for the Birth of the Lord. I have a six year old and a three year old, and frankly, the three year old is just phoning it in. He’s present for everything that we do, and we sing Advent songs with him and stuff like that. But he doesn’t really get it.

(Things he also doesn’t get: going to the bathroom IN THE BATHROOM. Fingers crossed by next Advent.)

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But Squeaks is almost seven, and she totally gets it this year. We have an Advent wreath (with flameless candles, natch) and so she “lights” it and we all read a devotion every night that we have dinner together. (Which okay hasn’t been much this week but hopefully that will get better.) We’re using the Catholic Family Advent Prayers and Activities book by Susan Hines-Brigger. I’m really loving it so far. It has a prayer, scripture passage, and discussion for every day of advent.

Also lots of craft ideas. (Blech.)

We also have an Advent book we got through Seton, the company we use for homeschooling curriculum. It’s int he Living and Celebrating our Catholic Traditions series, and it’s lovely too. There s a great story for each week that we use for school, and again, tons of crafts.

The one I’m actually going to do with her is a paper chain that leads to an empty manger, and then we glue Jesus in on Christmas morning. That sounds cute. (And easy.)  Everything in that book is reproducible too, so you can use it for years with different kids or even pass it on to family.

We do have an Elf on the Shelf, which I know is anathema to many Catholic families. But for us, it’s totally fine. I don’t see any reason to abstain from the non-heretical parts of secular life, and we have been able to use the Elf (Cooper) to talk to us about how it’s not important that we’re good for Santa, but rather that we need to make ourselves ready for Jesus to come at Christmas and the end of the world by being good children.

He hangs out at the Nativity a lot.

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The biggest, and also smallest, thing we’ve started doing is keeping Squeaks up with us to say a rosary at night. Buzz and I would say rosaries separately during the weekdays, but together on the weekend. And that was such a nice thing for us that we decided to include Squeaks for Advent. She LOVES it. She (against all odds) is able to sit calmly and quietly and say the prayers with us. She’s also learning a lot of the mysteries, which she is very proud of and makes my heart as a mother burst literally every night. It’s also a great way to teach her prayers that we’ve forgotten to pass on, like the St. Michael the Archangel prayer, and the Memorare.

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But it’s not all about the kids, right? I mean, I’m a firm believer in the concept that if your own spiritual life is empty, you can give nothing to your children. And also that the easiest way to pass on the faith to your children is to let them see you doing it. And we all know I am ALL ABOUT THE EASE OF THINGS. So I’ve decided to make sure that I made this Advent count for myself, too.

I’ve begun some more physical devotions- veiling, making sure I go to confession regularly, attending Eucharistic Adoration, etc. Those have been a wonderful way to make my actual time reflect my sense of waiting and hope and the desire to make myself ready for God, whenever He comes again.

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I also downloaded the Magnificat Advent 2016 app. It’s available on all platforms for $1.99, or $2.99 for the ebook format if you want it on kindle. This  is amazing, guys. It has a really user-friendly interface, prayers for morning, evening, and night, the Mass for the day, and additional prayers, songs, and rubrics (like for a penance service, blessing of the Advent wreath, etc.)  I am really, really enjoying it. HIGHLY recommend, and I am not a normal Magnificat girl. I can’t get into it. But this is amazing for me.

(And if you do the app it sends you touch reminders. SCORE.)

Finally, I’m switching up my “good-for-me” reading that I do every  morning. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but basically I take about half an hour before the kids get up to read a selection from the Bible, the Catechism, and a book about parenting or faith or whatever (anything except murders- I’ve been really into thrillers lately, guys.) I abandoned my Catholic Guide to Depression (ironically, AMAZING!) and am slogging my way through Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. It’s a slim book, but if you’ve ever read anything Ratzinger has written, um, don’t expect a quick read. I’m absolutely loving being able to a.) focus on exegesis again, something I haven’t done since grad school, and b.) turning little parts of my day towards the anticipation of the Lord.

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So, what do you do for advent? I’d love more (non-craft) suggestions!