Well if there has ever been a December I have been ready for getting really stuck into celebrating advent then this one is it. The year has been a really tough one. I'm not sure why I've not been blogging through it - the past few months have been the most financially stretched ever, so for a money blog I've had plenty of material to write about. Maybe its because the finances have been so depressing and consuming that I've just not wanted to talk about them. So, in brief, we have baby no. 3 on the way and the most disastrous few months of Joel job hunting. We can cover bills at the moment (just about - and with such a minimal amount left over for food, petrol and everything else) - but as soon as maternity leave kicks in we cover only about half our bills and because of how disastrous the last few months have been we're not really holding out any hope of things improving on the job front.
So after a tight few months of saying no to every social event, school trip, coffees and a lot of denied requests from the children we are doing advent as normal - parcels every day and lets bring a bit of joy into the house again. Our advent calendar is not as cheap as a moshi monsters one from Tesco - but its much more fun and the idea is that the parcels are full of treats and activities that we would normally fit in in December anyway - as part of normal festive fun - so shouldn't cost extra, at least.
2 years ago we had brown paper parcels that hung on an 'advent' tree, last year it was a basket of newspaper wrapped parcels and this year I had a load of red tissue paper left over from making giant flowers for Holly's party so this year we have a trunk of red parcels. :-)
The most difficult thing is planning out the calendar. With busy children and nights that I'm not back from work till late etc. I've had to match trips out or time consuming activities with the least busy days and speedy activities with the crazy days... and keep a really clear record of plans for each day day so that on days like today (when the trip was supposed to be to get the Christmas tree) you can do a quick switch round if you happen to have a car break down and be left with no vehicle to collect it!
So Day 1... I got them onsies a little while ago and saved them up. Today they were all wrapped up with a tub of hot chocolate, a sandwich bag of marshmallows and our Snowman DVD. I could have just got the hot choc, marshmallows and DVD out of the cupboards today but wrapping them up makes them much more exciting - and the main thing - they're a surprise.
Our second calendar is a stick I found on the way home from the school run the other day, painted white and hanging with envelopes of Bible verses. The children wrote these - so this is their contribution to family advent. "It is good and pleasant when God's people live together in peace" Psalm 133:1 was todays. We also have a Thank You we write and post each day into an advent house. Today Holly says Thank You for ONSIES and Elijah says Thank You for ADVENT. I love encouraging thankfulness as often as possible - it really helps when things are not going as well as you'd like them to. It reminds us that there are always things that blessing our lives even if we're a bit preoccupied looking at the difficulties.
So each day of December I will blog what we've done. If nothing else it will really help me next year to do my planning again!