Advent Musings

I feel a bit underqualified to be posting any sort of “What to do in Advent” sort of post because I am a newbie to this.  I would say I grew up celebrating Christmas starting the day after Thanksgiving.  My dad’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving so it was never skipped over, but then Christmas just started right after and that’s just the way it was.  A few years ago, as Jason and I decided to live out the liturgical year a bit better, we were sort of stunned to hear that we really weren’t supposed to put up the Christmas décor until… gulp… Christmas Eve.  What?!?  All that effort for a day or two of celebrating? Wait… there are really 12 days of Christmas?

We were beginning our learning and it seemed sort of unfair.  Everyone seemed to have the fun in December! The parties! The sales! The shopping! The cookies!  Why did we have to wait and try to have fun when no one else was anymore? Well, theologically – its supposed to be that way.  It is a season of waiting…. of anticipation… duh.  Practically however, for me the answer came when I realized that it wasn’t all about taking away and it was about finding all that we had missed.  There are advent songs, traditions, and joy that we didn’t know about because we were busy rushing through Christmas.  Now I was on to something… here is what our family has chosen to do this year.

The Jesse Tree


This particular year, this little 4′ tabletop tree will also serve as our Christmas tree.  We will put on the Jesse tree ornaments that I bought on Etsy because making them myself would be just the way I could procrastinate and analyze and ruminate my way right out of ever starting the tradition so I ponied up and bought some.  A good investment.  Many people make them though, and use that as a way to cement the ideas in the minds of their children.  You can search Pinterest and get loads of great ideas so if you’re crafty – go for it.  My idea is to put up all of our Jesse tree ornaments and then on Christmas Eve, take those down and decorate our Christmas tree.  Other years, I plan on trading out for a big tree and doing a big event around buying the tree that day and putting it up and decorating.  This year, this little guy is it.

The Advent Wreath


This we do for sure each Sunday, but also each night that we remember or are home to eat dinner together.  Some evenings we go out to dinner and forget, some evenings we are going from one thing to the next… it isn’t every night is what I’m sayin’.  We aim to do better in this arena, but it is a start.

Advent Books!


This one I have loved doing.  I went through my own collection of books and then did some research.  Luckily, many bloggers are willing to share their favorite Advent books and I have benefitted from their experience.  Looking for good lists to peruse? Here. You. Go.  I also did like Jessica at Shower of Roses and wrapped them in paper that corresponds to our advent candles. For the win. Sundays = silver, two weeks of purple, one week of pink, and the last week of purple. Next year I aim to also have 12 books of Christmas wrapped in Christmas paper but that was not in ye olde budget this year.  Cest la vie.  I’m sure we’ve got enough Christmas fun planned.  The kids have loved this new tradition so much.

Advent Rosaries

This year, my husband realized there are exactly as many days of advent as there are people in his immediate family.  Perfect.  He decided we could pray the rosary each night with one person as our special intention.  He then passed an email around to ask that everyone who is interested could pray along for that member of the family.  Sweet, simple, easy.

This little list has been so life giving for us, and we are only about 4 days in.  Of course, choosing these items means we have chosen not to do so many other wonderful ideas that are out there on blogs and Pinterest and so many other places.  That’s intentional.  I have a tendency to get overwhelmed and just wanted simplicity – so here is where we landed.  What are your Advent traditions?


Hello dear Camp Patton readers. Welcome to my little blogspace. I’ve been on a bit of a sabbatical recently, but wanted to make sure you could find what you were looking for when you clicked over! All of my renovations and redecoration stuff is found right here or by choosing the home decor category from the drop down on the right-hand sidebar.  Have fun perusing and I welcome your comments and emails with any questions!

Seven Quick Takes (Vol. 32)

1. So I opened up my blog reader this morning to find that Kelly has already posted her 7QT and it is all about running and it is funny and I think, “Ha! I just went for a run too!” and since I am clearly the expert between the two of us since I am on week 6, day 2 of the C25K app (though it might have taken me four months to get there…) I thought I too would share some thoughts.

2.  First of all, best running app ever.  Only one I’ve tried, but I’m sure it is the best.  Since I haven’t run since I lost all that weight after my first child, but have replaced my couch due to overuse… well… the Couch to 5K app seems particularly well suited to my current exercise style.

3. So, now I’m running.  The first three weeks were hellish, but then I sorta found my groove and while I won’t say it is fun, it is a blessedly lovely break in the day.

4. You know what is one of the key components of my run that get me out of bed – I get to listen to whatever I want on my headphones.  I need a little Justin Timberlake, Flo-rida, or the like to get me movin’.  I may incorporate an occasional dance move into my run.  Mayyyy-be.

5.  So now, I’m running (at least in spurts between walking, work with me here).  I’ve got good music.  I’ve got a good running buddy.  IMG_5445Things are going well.

6. Then, I get up this morning and get out the door and start my run.  Feeling pretty good, I head to my favorite loop round the elementary school and this happens…


I get behind this woman who must be roughly 70 years old.  And that is where I stay for the duration of my run… BEHIND the 70ish-year-old woman.  I blame the jogging stroller.   When I get home to look for pity from relate my funny tale to my husband, he says… wait for it… “Why didn’t you pass her?”

7.  It isn’t yet 5 o’clock.  I had a peach and a cup of coffee and looked forward to 5 o’clock.

Happy Running!  Go see Jen for more quick takers!


Our 2013-2014 School Year Plan!


Our “Free Reads” Shelf

A new school year is almost upon us around here!

This year, we’ll be starting the last week of August so that our Term 1 will end directly before Thanksgiving.  We’ll be able to enjoy a nice break for Advent and then start off again in the new year.  Because we homeschool pretty much year round, I love that we can take a nice long break from official schooling for the holiday season.  It leaves plenty of time for us to enjoy some of our free reads and favorite holiday tales cuddled on the couch as well as the very important business of cookie baking, present wrapping, tree decorating, and focusing our religious studies to the liturgical season.  We kick things back off after the Christmas season (that would be after the Epiphany for anyone wondering when our Christmas season ends) with Term 2.  I am debating accelerating Term 2 and 3 a bit to have a longer summer break, but right now Term 2 will be ending right before Easter and Term 3 beginning the following Monday and running through the beginning of summer.

As with each new school year, we continue on with the things that work and that we love and find new ideas to replace those that didn’t work so well and don’t want to go forward with.  Here are our picks for this year…


Math Mammoth has become a really good fit for us.  We liked Saxon Math K and 1, but once there was a baby on the scene, it just became wayyy too much.  It was entirely dependent on me taking lots of time to set up the lesson, prepare lots of manipulatives, and teach for a long time.  Math Mammoth engages the student from the get-go with step-by-step instructions and they can really learn on their own to a large degree.  Obviously, I am around to help and to encourage, but I don’t have to lecture and read a script.  This also focuses on mastery of a concept before you move on to another topic, which I prefer to the Saxon spiral method.


All About Reading is a really great program.  I honestly cannot say enough about how it turned Charlie’s attitude toward reading around and now he is a good reader for his age.  Their approach is auditory, kinesthetic, and visual so all types of learners can follow along and stay engaged.  We are finishing up Level 2 and the only thing I can say I can not happy about is that Level 3 isn’t going to be released until “Late 2013”.  I may have to fill in with something else in between and I’ll update here if that is the case.  Genevieve is in Level 1 and loves it.


Virtues in Practice by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia.

One saint story per week from a variety of books we have at home (Once Upon a Time Saints [1, 2, and 3], My Best Teachers were Saints, and numerous picture books about saints)

Either attending daily Mass or reading the daily Mass readings at breakfast.


Copybooks.  We do things old school around here.  Charlie will move on to cursive as soon as we finish copybook III.  Genevieve is currently in copybook I.

We follow the Ambleside Online program for the rest of our subjects.  It is a great books program so the kids will be exposed to stories and poems, music and art, and then we can dive deeper into a topic to make the stories come alive.


Charlie’s Shelf


For Charlie:

Tales from Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

Parables from Nature

Understood Betsy

Pilgrim’s Progress

For Genevieve:

The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh

Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales

Charlotte’s Web

(Also, a whole series of picture books far too numerous to list here.)


Genevieve’s Shelf


For Charlie:

A Child’s History of the World

The First Christians: The Acts of the Apostles for Children (not an AO pick, my addition)

Our Island Story

The Little Duke

Joan of Arc

For Genevieve:

Stories of American Life and Adventure

Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans

Turn of the Century: Eleven Centuries of Children and Change

The Children’s Book of America


For Charlie:

Tree in the Trail (with maps)

Seabird (with maps)

For Genevieve:

The Twins Series


The Handbook of Nature Study (as a reference and tool for our Nature Study classes)

For Charlie:

Burgess Animal Book

For Genevieve:

Old Mother West Wind

Mother West Wind’s Children

Among the Forest People

Seed Babies


Walter de la Mare

Eugene Field

Christina Rossetti


Franz Josef Haydn

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Igor Stravinsky

Artist Study:

John Singleton Copley

Edouard Manet

The Hudson River School: Cole, Church, Cropsey, Durand (American)

Habit Training:

Laying Down Rails for Children.  I haven’t tried this book before, but I think that it seems wonderful.  Each of us certainly has a few habits that should be replaced with better ones and this program we can do as a family and work on one habit at a time.

This year, both kids will be taking piano (Genevieve is so excited!) and we will also be doing some Latin and some French.  Those I have not fully planned yet, so I still have some summer homework to do!

Writing all of this out has made it seem like a lot, but I guess with a literature based homeschool, we’re bound to have a lot of books, right?  These also last us the whole school year, so some we won’t even start until Terms 2 or 3.   We also do hymns and scripture memory and handicrafts, but I didn’t put all of that here either since it is still subject to change as to the specifics.

Whew!  Looks like I’ve got some schedule planning to do!  Goodness knows, I’m going to enjoy this 25 days of summer before our school routine starts again!

Seven Quick Takes (Vol. 31)

1. It has been “one of those days” for two days straight.

2.  My favorite navy linen dress?  Nice enough for church but casual enough to wear grocery shopping?  I was all ready to step out for a trip to Wegmans wearing said dress and thought that it would be good to throw a load of laundry in so it can wash while I am away… well… A bleach splash meant sparkling whites, a ruined dress, a change of clothing for me, and general irritation.

3. What does one do with a favorite dress that is now ruined?  Bleach the whole, darn thing – that’s what.  The idea being that if I bleach it all out to be a uniform color, I can re-dye it and it will be good as new.  Let me have my moment of hope, that’s all I ask.  I realize this probably won’t go all that well.

4. Try to leave the house again, phone is lost.  For a long time.  Baby needed a nap mmmmm…. 30 min ago…. still searching… ugh…. found it.  Baby and mama cranky.

5. Today, I go back to do some more laundry and… (yes, I am overusing the ellipses today.  Got it.)  This guy was there to greet me.  BURIED IN MY LAUNDRY.  I did the natural thing and shrieked and ran to call my husband and urge my 7-year-old son to take care of him.  Then I got it together enough to sweep him into a trash bag and run/walk to the trash can (outside) while holding the bag with the bare minimum of two fingers as far from my person as I could.  You know, because the dead bug could somehow jump out and all.


6.  Then I go to take a walk with my children through some beautiful gardens near us only to get a wicked case of cramps.  Great.

7. But, to end on a hopeful note – I just calculated that I can indeed healthfully lose all of my “baby weight” (40lbs entirely gained during three pregnancies which I blame on the fact that I am only not nauseous if I am full of protein and cheeseburgers have lots of protein) by Christmas and feel like myself again BEFORE the new year and I won’t have that whole “lose weight” resolution to deal with.  Thinking ahead people, thinking ahead.   I would also be passing my “pre-Leo” weight right around his first birthday in November, so there’s that too.  Woo-hoo.  Now its on the internet so it must be true and must be carried out.  Say it with me… accountability.  But you aren’t getting a before picture in a bikini.  H-E-L-L no.

Ok, join up with Jen for some more quick takers who are probably also much more cheerful.

Why crying rooms probably should be filled in with cement…

So, I think I might come to this from a slightly different angle from Kendra who asked the question, “Do you think crying rooms should be filled in with cement?”  It would seem that she, being a resident of the state of California, might be privy to one of those new-fangled rooms that is usually glassed in and reserved especially for those children who are too young to behave properly or for parents who don’t believe that their child is up to the task of behaving during Mass.  I would think she refers to something along the lines of this:

If so, then go ahead – cement it in.  Or better yet, just open up that wall and make it a part of the rest of the Church.  These, to my mind are ridiculous.  Generally, the volume at any given time in one of these spaces is a couple decibels above a jet engine and one cannot possibly hear or participate in the Mass.  This is place that parents bring toys, iPhones, and whatever else they think will entertain their child for an hour and it could not be more distracting.  Parents have often all but given up and have taken to discussing their weekend, their commute, and the bachelorette.  I’m not sure this room “counts” as Church.

I say I come to this from a different angle because well…. over on the east coast, we’ve got some of the oldest Churches in the country.  Mine in particular was built in the 1800s.  Let’s just say it wasn’t built for anyone’s comfort or to appease toddlers.   It was built to be a beautiful house for God, and quite frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way.  With that said, the echoing in there allows for the slightest bit of noise to be enough to make me paranoid that no other parishioner could possibly be hearing what is going on and so, when Leo decides to practice using his rather-loud-for-an-8-month-old voice, we find ourselves in the narthex quite often.  Here is a layout for a traditional Catholic Church, and ours follows this almost to a T (sans the lectern).

First off, the back corner of either transept is a good hiding spot for a child who is quiet only if you are standing.  Babies have this talent for knowing when you are sitting and if I can stand in a good hiding spot, still pay attention, and have a quiet child then I would very much prefer to stay in the main part of the Church.  My husband can mind the bigger ones, but even when I am there without him, I can see the other two from my spot very well and since they look for me often and know they are still under the watch of mom and cannot start fooling around.  For days when baby isn’t won over by my standing and rocking side to side dance routine…

Oh, the narthex, how I appreciate you.  I can see into the Church and hear what is going on, but it is also for no one’s comfort.  There are doors directly to the outside so especially in northeast winters, it is no joy to be back there.  There are tile floors that you generally don’t want to let your little ones crawl all over because everyone who entered that Church all day walked right over those tiles and who knows what is on the bottom of all those shoes.  There are no pews, no seats, and not a whole ton of standing room.  This means that the child must be carried by the parent and may be rather chilly or hot (depending on the season).  It is not a spot for fun for anyone and kids in our Church generally are found in the main nave as soon as they are able.  The narthex  is a spot for those who have wiggly one year olds who really do have trouble sitting quietly that long, with the occasional screaming newborn or tantruming toddler thrown in for good measure.  It is an escape when absolutely necessary, but it is not a spot to claim as your own.

Perhaps this is another example of the old way sometimes being a bit better than the new.  Maybe this is why traditional architecture is seeing a bit of a revival.

Seven Quick Takes (Vol. 30)

1.  Praying and asking you to pray with me for Dwija, who lost baby Nicholas this week.  He made it to 21 weeks in utero through a very rough pregnancy, but is now in heaven rather than continuing the fight.  Miscarriage is so hard.  Mine was much earlier than hers and I was a wreck so my heart truly breaks for what she must be going through right now.  I ask again for prayers for her and for her family.

2. Soooo… I was doing a little perusing of Jenna’s blog and saw that she did some shopping at ThredUp and Twice.  I had not heard of either one and so I clicked over to find amazing new sources of clothing.  They are online consignment stores that weed out anything low quality or damaged, price it low, and then ship it cheap.  They also each give you a $10 credit for your first purchase so click on over.  You’ll find great stuff for sure, but you can’t have these… because someone else beat you to it.

thredUP order mosaic

3. Mid-July already?  Homeschoolers – time to panic plan!  School starts before you know it and if you haven’t cleared out from last school year and ordered your curriculum for next… now might be the time.  Maybe.

4.  Speaking of which, I found the sweetest and most complete and most wonderful religion resource for K-8 kids.  Each month has a saint and virtue focus and it goes through a three-year-cycle so many saints are covered and at an age appropriate depth.  It was developed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia in Nashville, who are such a sweet and vibrant group.  I also have their art appreciation/art practice DVD set and highly recommend it.

5. Leo started crawling.  As in, super fast crawling.  Naturally, all of his toys have been unceremoniously eschewed in favor of things he shouldn’t have access to.  Trash cans.  Fireplace tools.  Fuzzies on the rug.  It’s been great.

6. I am looking forward to running again.  I never really thought I would type that and mean it, but I had been running about three times a week for a few weeks and then got interrupted by a trip to the in-laws and now hotter-than-Hades temperatures.  Next week is looking cooler and I want to be out there for my 35 minutes of peace, quiet, and huffing and puffing.

7.  Looking for some good reading for the weekend?  Just read Chapter 6 of this book from Charlotte Mason.  Do it.  It is refreshing and invigorating for parents and teachers alike.  It’s free.  Grab a lemonade (or wine, whatever) and enjoy some reading time.

Go see Jen and the other for some more QTs!