Every Year

The night before Advent began, Jonny and I pulled down the boxes of Advent supplies from the attic.  Five days later, and I still haven’t managed to find places for the things that ended up all over my dresser, including the manger we fill with “straw” for baby Jesus each year.  The Stable that we use for our Nativity is in two pieces, still waiting to be repaired.  Last night I found myself going back to read the words I wrote here last year at the beginning of Advent (that post includes links to most of our Advent traditions.)  It’s kind of funny to go back and read my older posts pertaining to certain recurring events and holidays.  My thoughts and feelings tend to repeat themselves year after year.  Evidently, I usually feel a little crazy as Advent begins, not sure that I will be able to slow down and really sink in to this season.  Actually, I think I am feeling pretty relaxed this year about Advent.  I am not “on top of things” generally speaking as far as housekeeping, homeschooling, homemaking, and any other pertinent words that begin with “h” go.  Yesterday, I spent the little hands free time I had cleaning out my pantry.  My entire house is a mess, but there are three tidy shelves in the pantry now and that feels like a great accomplishment.  Tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day.  I am feeling pretty good because we’ve been reading about him all week in, St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker .  Tonight the kids will set out their slippers, hoping to find treats from St. Nicholas in the morning.  There will be the traditional foil wrapped coins (and the kids totally know that the bag of chocolate coins I have stashed in my closet from last year are the ones I will be using!) a satsuma mandarin orange for each, wool socks, and I am planning to make some toffee for them tonight as well.  We plan to start reading this new book tomorrow as well:  Kersti and Saint Nicholas.  This year we will carry on with our traditions as always, only with a messier house as a back drop.  I doubt that my kids will remember the mess.  They’ll remember the stories we read, the traditions that we celebrated together, and the year that their baby brother, Job, was born.  A friend recently commented that having a new baby is one of the best ways to celebrate Christmas.  Yes, I think she’s right.  Job is definitely helping me to focus on what truly matters.

p.s.  I’ve been working on a list of more gift ideas (here’s a link to my first list,) so here is another that I’ve come up with based on some of my family’s favorite things.

For grown-ups:

This is the perfect time of year to give the One Line a Day Journal.  With the exception of a few weeks surrounding Job’s birth, when I just found myself unable to write anything, I’ve been keeping up with mine since June this year.

Other nice little organizational books that I really like are this Moleskine blank recipe journal, and this very simple address book.

I did end up buying a Kindle for myself.  I bought the Paperwhite.  So far I’ve only read one book on it, but I definitely see that there is a place for this gadget in my life, although it won’t be replacing paper books.  I think that it will allow me to do more reading though, and that is a really good thing!  It certainly is easy to hold, and I love the built in light!

Jonny says that the best gift I’ve ever bought for him is this Leatherman.

I bought myself a complete set of color cards from Quince & Co. just before Job was born.  planning to make myself wait until after he was born to open it.  Of course once he was born, I forgot all about the package that was waiting for me, and didn’t open it until a week later or so.  I think this is a fun gift for a knitter.  I really like Quince yarn, and love that it is spun from American wool and is reasonably priced.

For the tree lover, we are on our second copy of Remarkable Trees of Virginia (you don’t have to live here to appreciate this book.)  I also really like The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups.

I am planning to start reading this Daily Catholic Bible with Seth in the new year.

For kids:

For kids (and adults!) who like to collect things, and would like an inexpensive way to display them, I recommend riker mounts.  This is what we store our nicest shark’s teeth in along with some of our other fossils.  We order ours here.

It used to be possible to purchase a complete set of The Chronicles of Narnia in a radio theatre audio format.  My family loves listening to these so much.  Now it looks like you have to buy each audiobook separately.  They are still worth purchasing.

And for some nice books that would make great gifts, we have really enjoyed this Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales for years.  You can’t go wrong with Beatrix Potter!  We also really like the Calla edition of Stories from Hans Christian Andersen. The illustrations by Edmund Dulac are some of my favorites.

I know I have recommended it several times in the past, but a great book on art for children is The Artful Parent.

And finally, I haven’t updated my Amazon bookstore in ages, but there are some good lists there including our favorite board books, and some of my boys’ favorite chapter books.


  1. It was fun to read your initial post about gift giving ideas for kids. We have a small specialty toy store in our independent pharmacy and we actually stock most of the items you reference. Great minds think alike.

  2. Job is such a beautiful baby. Such happy pictures.

  3. Thank you for posting the gift ideas. I always appreciate seeing what people really use and love=the best gifts!

  4. I had Beatrix Potter books as a child, and now in my 30’s, I still love them. I have one vintage Beatrix Potter stuffed animal (Hunca Munca), and a few newer ones. And collect some of the books now too. I have no order to the collecting, I just see a book or stuffed animal here and there and just have to have it. 🙂 They are definitely a wonderful set of stories! I have a version similar to the one you linked that is one giant book with all the stories and I still flip through it sometimes.

  5. How nice you’re celebrating Saint Nicholas! In the Netherlands we call him Sinterklaas. Last night we celebrated his birthday with our familiy. We bought each other present, made funny packaging and poems to go with it.
    It’s a great Dutch tradition.
    Putting the stuff in the slippers of the children we do every Saturday beginning half November. But your manner is a good as any. In the Netherlands we have Sinterklaas-time, which starts half November, when Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands after a year of absence. (he is leaving today :))
    Have fun and good luck in Advent celebrations.

  6. I have never commented on here before but I have to thank you for your reading list for your boys. I have always been a great reader but it has been difficult to find books to specifically interest my 9 year old son. I have read quite a few on your list, but most of the titles are new to me. These are just what he tends to gravitate toward. Thanks!

  7. We have The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups. The little girl in the illustrations (the author/illustrators
    ‘s granddaughter) was in my preschool class when I was a teacher. It’s a great book!

  8. Love all the ideas, got to check them out.

  9. Thank you for the gift suggestions! I didn’t know Quince & Co. sold color cards…I’ll be looking at those! Blessings and love to your sweet family this Advent! And I think you are absolutely right…they will remember the love, the traditions. 🙂

  10. My goodness, did I need this today. Thank you! I desperately needed the reminder that what state my house is in doesn’t matter. I tend to get anxious and overwhelmed when I have a mess everywhere. I am pregnant and due in February and not feeling well – pure exhaustion as well as some other things – and have little motivation for anything lately. It’s our first year homeschooling our four kids and I feel like I’m drowning. I still have a couple of months left, but feel like I am ready for this little one to be here so I will hopefully be feeling better! Thank you for the reminder of what is truly important. Such a blessing to have found your blog. You bring such peace and calm to my days – thank you!

  11. I find your space, here so inviting and calm. I wanted to thank you for the Yarn Along, I’ve been linking up and really enjoying the community here.

    I was opposed to the kindle for a long time but I actually found if much easier to manage with my daughter nursing in my lap than a real book – there are obvious complications with this but let’s just leave that for now:)

    I think Quince and Co is wonderful. I just finished the Wee Ambrosia for my daughter and I’m going to make one for my son too with some alterations per his request. The colors and the texture are just so lovely.

    To be sure, your children will not remember your messy house. They’ll remember your kindness. It will endure. And your baby son, yes!

    Thanks again for having us all here, it’s truly a treat!

  12. Remarkable Trees of Virginia is just that. Remarkable. I have even met many of the featured trees. NRH and RL have put together a beautiful book. I can just picture your children turning the pages and soaking in the imagery.
    Happy Advent!

  13. I love Hilda Van Stockum, and just read the Kersti and Saint Nicholas story today. If you haven’t read it, you would probably love The Winged Watchman, which is a book she wrote about a Catholic family in occupied Holland during the war. It is a beautiful story. Happy Saint Nicholas Day!

  14. Larkspur is gorgeous in the second picture, what a beautiful moment you have captured…

    I have had a Kindle for a while now, and find that I sometimes don’t touch it for months, and then all of a sudden I pick it up and read non stop.
    We moved recently and I now spend a lot of time on the train to pick up my 9-year-old from school (long story..)
    I have downloaded for free as many french children classics as I could and I am amazed to see her devour them one after the other, time flies this way.
    I have it in my bag all the time, and it saved the day on many occasions !

    One drawback is that you can’t really share the book you have just read with a friend by lending it…

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