Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reflecting on Jesus during the Christmas season

Here we are, barely out of the turkey leftovers, and quickly entering the CHRISTmas season.  I struggle with keeping my children grounded in the fact that Christmas isn't all about presents and Santa because that message is all around us; in catalogs, television ads, in the stores and in the news....but in fact, Christmas isn't about those things AT ALL!  Last year, I decided I wanted to implement another facet to our Christmas traditions, one that I had the opportunity to participate in as a child during my CCD (Catechism) classes and during the Sunday masses of the Advent season.  I wanted to work on a Jesse Tree with the kids.  Of course, I waited too long and didn't have much time to prepare and had lots of difficulty finding  just the right branches to use.  You can create your own "paper" tree branches to hang on the wall, but I wanted the real thing...real branches...from the nature that GOD created for us.  It's how I remembered it, and how I wanted to do it in our home.  Since I couldn't find anything that would work, we never got to create a Jesse Tree last year, sadly.  Now the Christmas season is upon us again and of course, the thoughts of creating a Jesse Tree came to surface in my memories.  I thought that I would venture out into the woods behind our new home this weekend and find something.   Today after Church, just like most Sundays, the kids go to play on the playground on the Church grounds.  I was so wonderously surprised to see 2 GREAT and PERFECT branches that I could use for our Jesse Tree.  Well, first I found one that was a bit lopsided only having branches sprouting out on one side.  I thought to myself, that just won't do.  I need it to have branches on both sides.  I turned around and there was another set of branches, perfectly fit so that when I tie them together, they are perfect for what we will use it for!!!  I've included some pictures here


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Now, I suppose some of you will wonder to yourselves...WHAT is a Jesse Tree?  The best way to explain it is it is a set of bare branches used to hang ornaments from that depict the story of Creation through the birth of Jesus, our Savior!  Each day we will read a passage from the Bible and participate in a family devotional.  That is the message of Christmas I want my children to learn; that there is NO GREATER gift than that of the gift of  JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR!!! 

Would you like to learn more about Jesse Trees and how to create one for your home?  Here are some resources that I pulled from to create our Jesse Tree and to learn more about the tradition.  I hope that you will enjoy using them with your family.

www.cresourcei.org/jesse.html
www.jesse-tree.com
www.eriercd.org/jessetree.htm
www.christiancrafters.com/jesse_tree.html
www.simplemom.net/jesse-tree

http://www.shalfleet.net/advent/JesseTree_symbols_printable.pdf (this is the set of ornament templates we will use.  I really liked the colors and clipart on these)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Homekeeping with a Happy Heart

Let's face it, not many people really ENJOY the tasks involved in homekeeping...well, at least I don't.  And my kids certainly don't either.  Nonetheless, they are tasks that MUST be done.  Over the last few days, I seem to have had a change of heart though...not that I enjoy the tasks any more than I did, but that my perspective and attitude seem to be changing.  I recently attended a Seminars for Encouragment and Enrichment at our Church.  One of the sessions was presented by a mom of TWELVE!  I know how much clutter and chaos happens in my own home and I only have five children and one is off to college.  I figured I really needed to listen to what she had to say.  If she could manage a house, homeschool, take care of all those children and still smile at the end of the day and maintain her sanity, well then I could too!  One question was on how to keep the house clean with all those family members passing through her home non-stop.  She mentioned that her strategy was that each person had a task in the kitchen and in addition to being responsible for their own bedroom space, each was responsible for another space/room in the house entirely.  I thought about this one long and hard.  Today I finally sat down with the kids and discussed it with them, along with some ground rules.  We decided that as far as the extra room/space and kitchen duties go, each child would hold those particular tasks for a month and then they would be rotated.  I decided the best thing to do for the first month was to assign the tasks/rooms myself and then as they are trained in those tasks, they can determine if they can find an easier or more efficient way of handling the task.  Here are some of the tasks we determined needed to be done in the kitchen.

  • pick up the trash

  • set the table/island (we actually use our island as our eating area)

  • wash counters

  • sweep floor

  • clear table/island

  • straighten chairs/put away

  • wash dishes

  • clean inside refrigerator

  • clean inside microwave/stove

  • dry dishes

  • mop floor

  • wash down stove

  • put dishes away

  • wash down refrigerator

  • wash down microwave

  • take out trash


Now these tasks have different frequencies, but most are at least once a day, if not more.  Each child (of those at home) has 3 tasks to do, Mom (me) has 3 tasks and Dad gets 1.  Additional tasks are cooking (mom or dad), organizing cabinets, cleaning out the pantry closet.  Mom will most likely take on those tasks with some recruited help.

Our common area rooms include: living room, upstairs bathroom, upstairs hallway/stairs/coat closet, downstairs hall/laundry area, downstairs bathroom, classroom, and basement storage area.   Each person will be responsible for one of these areas entirely.  Of course, we'll continually work on training to keep things in order so the job isn't so overwhelming.  All these tasks will be covered by specific children during the month of November.  I'll re-evaluate then and hopefully move forward.  I really am looking forward to a less chaotic space.  I'd love to hear YOUR ideas on how to take the chaos out of homekeeping while homeschooling (or even while working outside of the home).