And just like that, Advent is upon us!
Things have been moving at super-sonic speed here in our household. Is that true of every household this time of year? I'm starting to think so!
We finally announced our little addition to the whole world (AKA facebook + instagram) with this little diddy . . .
In real life, it took about 30 pictures to get it just right. But it turned out pretty presh if I do say so myself. John Paul is super excited to be a big brother, not that he gets what that means at all. And if I'm being honest, neither do I. Eek! Two kids under two? We got this! But seriously, what's it gonna be like?
I'm 32 weeks now and am scratching my head over how we're in the SINGLE DIGITS of weeks left 'til due date. Time, you fly.
We had an ultrasound today and baby looks great! Well, we couldn't actually see babe's face since he/she had both hands scrunched up there and in the way. But honestly, it was so dang cute to see baby snuggling up like that, how can I be mad? We were just thrilled to see that baby is in head down position and looking healthy as can be, measuring about 4 lb 7 oz at this point. The doc even saw some hair! Could it be?! A not-bald baby Schweitz?!?! The doc called it "peach fuzz," so I won't hold my breath. :P
We're finally starting to buy the few items we need to welcome this sweet babe, all the things we skipped out on last time but regretted, like a bassinet and changing tables and zip-up outfits. We're also making a mental checklist of all the things that need to be done before babe arrives, mostly house related stuff (paint this room, buy a rug for that room, unpack the remaining boxes . . . eek!). And we hired a doula, who's also training to be a midwife, so that's pretty neat! AND I'm starting to read my favorite prepare-for-birth book again: The Birth Partner. ACCOMPLISH ALL THE THINGS! No big. Only took me 32 weeks to get motivated.
Let's rewind a little now, and see what's being going on the past few months . . .
For Halloween, John Paul and John dressed up as Luke and Darth Vader from Star Wars. (But seriously, if you didn't already know they were from Star Wars, we have a problem. Also, you deserve the following spoiler . . . )
"Luke, I am your father."
Get it? ;)
John Paul was a leeeettle freaked out by the Darth mask (and pretty much all the people we saw on Halloween in masks), so we decided Darth should go unmasked for their lightsaber duel.
Oh, fun facts . . .
1.) Our new neighborhood seems to be the type that people drive to and drop their kids in for some quality trick-or-treating. So we were living it up as our first year with actual trick-or-treaters. We started off giving out 4 pieces of candy to every kid, since we figured we wouldn't get many, but by the end of the night, had to rummage through the closet to pull out leftover candy from last year's trick-or-treating and other oddball candies (Lindt and Gharidelli chocolates and such) to be able to last through the night. Lesson learned. But a fun one!
2.) Apparently adults drink adult beverages as they take their kids out trick-or-treating, out of inconspicuous plastic cups or travel mugs. Is this real life? Or perhaps this is another quirk for our neighborhood?? All I know is that my husband was not shy about joining in once he saw the other parents doing it. Ha!
Moving on to Thanksgiving.
John Paul is actually a pro kitchen helper. He was eager to stand on a chair and watch me create our Thanksgiving dessert contribution: Peanut Butter Lasagna. (Don't judge me.) It may have been because he got to sample every last ingredient as I layered it in the baking dish. Or perhaps we have a future little chef on our hands. I'll let you be the judge . . .
And now Advent!
Just like last year, we're still sorta figuring out how we want to do this Advent/Christmas thing. When do we get the tree? What music do we listen to? What feast days do we focus on? How many presents does John Paul get? We try to answer all these questions with the real Reason for the Season in mind, but we're still not exactly sure how it'll play out. And we still feel like we have a bit of time to decide on things since John Paul isn't exactly aware of what's going on. Yet. Prob by next year though.
So our rough sketch currently looks like . . .
1.) Only listening to Advent music (at home and in the car) during the season of Advent. To me, this reeeeally builds the anticipation for Christmas because I love love LOVE Christmas music. So to hold off on it for these 4 extra weeks makes it feel like we truly are waiting for something special. Now, truth be told, the pool of Advent music is rather small. But, I've found some pretty great Advent playlists on Spotify, specifically this one called "Simply Advent." So whenever I'm feeling tempted to get my Christmas music jam on, I listen to one of my Advent playlists instead and I'm reminded of exactly what we're waiting for. Plus, these songs are dang beautiful. So it's all good!
2.) Decorating only for Advent during the season of Advent. That basically means the Nativity (minus Jesus) and the Advent wreath, plus pink and purple decorations (once I find the time to buy some).
This year, I finally got around to making an Advent wreath! I found a picture of one similar to this online and went with it . . .
Apparently each candle of the Advent wreath symbolizes a deeper meaning, which is new to me this year. (Sorry! Clueless Cradle Catholic, party of one!) The sample picture I used to make my wreath had them like you see above. This website tells me otherwise. Oops. It's apparently Hope, Faith, Joy, and Peace, in that order. But anyway, I'm loving that we have one specific virtue to focus on for each week now. And that, with the use of some fancy shmancy purple and pink ribbon, I can get away with never buying the all-too-difficult-to-find 3-purple-and-1-pink candle combo again! John Paul is happy about this too!
3.) Celebrating St. Nick's feast day (Today! December 6th!) by putting out our shoes the night before and getting candy and some other small gifts in St. Nick's honor in the morning. Being honest here, TOTALLY failed to do this this year. But like I said before, I think we have another year before John Paul really gets into all this stuff, so . . . phew!
4.) Celebrating St. Lucy's feast day (December 13) by putting up ALL THE LIGHTS. Her name means "light," so it's basically perfect. We'll put lights in all our windows and set up the tree, but only decorate it with lights. This is another one of those things that's so hard to hold off on. I've wanted to put up a tree since Thanksgiving now. But I'm glad we're holding out. Another reminder of the anticipation we're supposed to feel as we await the birth of Christ!
5.) Really go crazy decorating the tree on Christmas Eve, when we are only one sleep away from welcoming our King! ALL THE DECORATIONS FOR JESUS!
6.) Only giving 3 gifts to John Paul on Christmas day (and all future kiddos). These three gifts will be a nod to the three gifts Jesus received from the Wise Kings. We're also thinking they'll always follow this pattern: one item you need, one book to read, and one gift you really want . . . or something like that. And they'll be presents from us, not Santa Claus. We've chosen to leave Santa Claus (or Santa as our culture knows him) out of our Advent and Christmas seasons, for many reasons. This post from another Catholic blogger really resonates with many of our reasons, in case you're curious.
7.) LIVE IT UP celebrating the birth of Christ during the true Christmas season, December 25 through January 9 (the Baptism of the Lord). That means all the Christmas music, all the homemade tasty Christmas treats, all the Christmas movies, ALL THE CHRISTMAS!! All the waiting of Advent finally pays off in the biggest celebration we can throw, for the Coolest Guy we know. :)
We'll still go to Christmas parties during Advent (if we're invited) and listen to Christmas music when it's blasted at us in shops and restaurants and eat tasty Christmas treats if they are gifted to us over the next few weeks. We're not going to try to shut down the rest of the world or poo-poo anyone else's celebration. But in our home, we'll do our best to make Advent and Christmas two different seasons, as they truly are. And we're pretty excited about that!
But also, I'm pretty sure many of our Advent and Christmas traditions will continue to change and grow over time. So don't hold us to it. We're just trying to do our best for our family, trying to create our family culture as we grow. And this is what feels right for now. Can't wait to give it a spin!
Wishing you and yours a hopeful, faithful, joyful, and peaceful Advent!