O Advent Wreath Sing A-long

Welcoming in this second week of Advent with some creativity love! I came across a creative Advent challenge by @BarbinNebraska with a tech twist that I couldn't pass up. Those following me on social media know I can't pass up a good social media challenge. :) Anyway, the challenge was to design an Advent wreath with Minecraft. Quite creative right!?  My kids are so into this game and I found it to be a perfect way to evangelize by integrating their faith life with their tech life; this is tech-vangelist after all! They had fun with this. I just might have had more fun with the idea of the project. :) Below is a picture of my daughter's design. My son missed the deadline. I tell ya Admin is rough around here. lol. I will have to do an update post with his contribution later.
To compliment their tech-vangelist creativeness let's gather 'round the Advent wreath and do some caroling! Sing with me O Advent Wreath a little diddley to the tune of O Christmas Tree. If you need a bit of a reminder of the melody click here for the instrumental background music to the words below. We are caroling together here folks! One, two, ready go! (Second to last verse is my fav)
Advent wreath created with Minecraft designed by BFelter

O Advent wreath, O Advent wreath
Thy leaves are so unchanging

O Advent wreath, O Advent wreath
Thy leaves are so unchanging

Not only green when summers here
But also when its cold and drear

O Advent wreath, O Advent wreath
Thy leaves are so unchanging


O Advent wreath, O Advent wreath
Such pleasure do you bring us
O Advent wreath, O Advent wreath
Such pleasure do you bring us

Oh every year this Advent wreath
Brings to us such joy and glee

O Advent wreath, O Advent wreath
Such pleasure do you bring us

(sleep in heavenly, sleep in heavenly)

 O Advent wreath, O Advent wreath
Oh ever green unchanging
A symbol of unending love 

 You'll ever be unchanging
Each shining light proclaims noel
No other light spreads cheer so well

O Advent wreath, O Advent wreath
You'll ever be unchanging

Bravo! Beautiful singing voices! Now fix yourself a cup of hot tea to soothe those vocal cords and click through to Catholicmom.com Advent wreath link-up. Enjoy a tour of Advent wreaths around the globe all from the comfort of where ever you are. 

Because too much Advent is not a thing, click though to Advent Week 2 link-up going on at CatholicBloggersNetwork.com.
Tis the season to #spreadjoy ya'll!

Advent, Hope and Gardening

This week our small success is found in savoring Advent.  We took advantage of the long holiday weekend and prepared our own Advent calendar.  This was a fun project for my daughter and I to work on together.  We enlisted the help of baby (in birth order only) brother and he reluctantly appeased us. Sadly, I must report that all of our efforts came crashing down, quite literally, within an hour of us proudly hanging our masterpiece. Bummer.
Our next little success story comes from our kitchen window. My husband has been doing some indoor gardening. This week we harvested the fruits of his labors! Fresh radishes and basil for our chicken soup. We have had a touch of some flu bug plaguing us and with the cold weather on top of it all; well Chicken soup with a few fresh homegrown ingredients was a savory dose of just what the doctor ordered. 

As we continue our recovery here we are thankful it is only a 24 hour bug. I am one of two to remain untouched by this bug. A small success in itself that earned me the title of "Super Mom" (as proclaimed by my daughter).

How has your week been?  Share your #SmallSuccess here in the comments below.  Have a blog? Link up your Small Success story with myself and other bloggers at www.catholicmom.com/smallsuccess

Advent Activities Going On NOW!

I have joined in the Advent festivities! From photo challenges, reflections by email  and downloadable activities it is all happening now! Here are a few I am participating in.

BustedHalo.com Advent photo contest going on now on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using #bhAdvent.  
Be sure to visit BustedHalo.com website for their Advent surprise calendar with a daily microchallenge as we prepare for the birth of Jesus.  
While you are there be sure to also enter daily into their Advent contest.  An Ipad mini is up for grabs as the grand prize. 

CatholicSistas.com  has their Advent photo a day challenge going on now using #csAdvent. CatholicSistas is on all major social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. Click the link above to visit their website for more details. The theme for each day of advent is shown on the right. Capture a moment that portrays that theme to you and post it! Don't forget to use #csAdvent on your post.
This is my first time participating in a Catholicsistas photo challenge. I am excited about their themes and looking forward to seeing what I can come up with.  One more outlet for me to share my passion!

Over at one of my favorite blogs of inspiration and insight CatholicMom.com, they are hosting an Advent wreath link up on December 7th. If you have a blog and would like to participate be sure to follow the link for more details. A fun way to highlight this tradition of the Advent wreath. Unpacked and spruced up, my wreath is photo ready! Have you unpacked your Advent wreath?
Be sure to visit me back here on December 7th for a quick gander at my Advent wreath.

For the kids, there is HolyHeroes.com with there Advent Adventure conveniently sent to you in a daily email. My daughter will be participating this year. She likes to take advantage of the activities and inevitably persuades her brothers (younger and older) to get in on the fun. The conversations that take place while they sort out and solve the various activities together are proud momma moments.

I am in Advent social engagement bliss! What Advent social media campaigns are you participating in?

#Grateful for Today

In the wee hours of the morn
A look of distress
My child dost adorn

There in the door way
She begins to weep
I sleep no more,
to my dismay

The bug that plagued her brethren
Has claimed it's next victim

I can not take the pain away
My presence is my only gift
For this,
I am grateful for today

The Family That Says YES Together Witness Grace Together

As a family we have committed ourselves to helping our local Knights of Columbus chapter deliver Christmas baskets to the needy of our community in recent years. This is such a great time for us as we all load up in our pick-up truck and venture out to the back woods of our community.  These are  areas of our town we would never otherwise explore simply because they are a good distance away from anything. Having a mission to accomplish; we venture out far and wide making these deliveries. 

Regardless of our attitudes (as in I'd rather be sleeping in right now) the morning of deliveries, once we get rolling making deliveries our attention is immediately refocused on the mission at hand. With the kids running in and out like busy little ants loading and unloading I imagine to be a comical sight. We each have designated duties to help speed the process along. Dad checks the tags and verifies we have everything in order to complete the delivery. I am the navigator in charge of the GPS and keeping a sharp eye out for street signs. Older boys are responsible for the heavy boxes. Little ones get to Knock on the door

Our pursuit of the gifts and graces of gifting ourselves for the benefit of others has become a family affair I look forward to each year. The #GraceofYes with this line of action comes to us in many forms, but the most immediate is in spending time as a family not bickering but serving. A family "Yes" that is rewarding and fulfilling to us and we prayerfully hope it is equally so to those we serve.

What is your #GraceofYes?

The Grace of Yes To My First Book Club!

I have committed to my first book club! I can't think of a better book to be introduced into this world of companion reading than that of 'The Grace of Yes, Eight virtues of generous
living' by Lisa Hendey. 
The richness of Lisa's reflective writing style promotes an intimate bonding amongst the reading club as we share how her words have touched our hearts. 
I must admit that my curiosity has gotten the better of me and I have ventured ahead of the group in my reading. I was most intrigued by the title of Chapter 7, 'The grace of no'.  A pivotal chapter I will savor. The graces stemming from a no response, for me anyway, all too often have been overshadowed by disappointment in myself and lingering guilt. 
The graces found within this book reach well beyond the pages and into the depths of readers. I eagerly embrace the opportunities to grow and exercise these eight virtues Lisa so eloquently shares. 
Interested in joining the Grace of Yes book club? You can find it at CatholicMom.com  
How have you said Yes to God today?

Small Success Thursday: Typing Class = BLEH!!

Oh so many years ago when typing was an actual course in school I despised it. Typing tests consisted of a piece of cardboard over your hands while you typed out a series of toggled case characters and spaces. I don't remember how well I performed in that class however I remember not liking it at all!

And there was my first job as a clerk in an Ag office.  I had the grand responsibility of typing (on a typewriter) file labels and (get this) Rolodex cards. HA! While typing class did help me to be familiar with the set up of a keyboard I was not at all interested in all that proper mumbo-jumbo of form and placement of hands/ fingers over the keyboard. My peck and hunt typing got the job done.

Fast forward a couple of years in yet another clerical position that required typed form letters and memorandums. My mentor was a proficient typist and I marveled at the sound of her typing away. It was then that I chose to implement those propers of typing class. Silly as it is I wanted to type away just as my mentor did.  I forced myself to adhere to proper hand placement and practiced typing the alphabet or my name over and over and over again without lifting my fingers and without looking at the keys. I was a bit slower, but I was quite a bit more accurate. That little bout of self discipline paid off when I landed a position as a medical transcriptionist where proficient typing skills are essential.

These days I am thankful for the instruction I received all those years ago and opportunities to exercise those skills. Typing, jut as my typing teacher said, is an invaluable skill. Becoming proficient at it allowed me to contribute to the financial stability of my young family and it has since become second nature. This little skill doesn't exactly make me to stand out in today's world, however it has greatly benefited me in conquering day to day tasks as mother, student, and volunteer.  
Current course work has me typing up a frenzy and I am again reminded of the sentiments of my typing teacher. As tedious and monotonous of a task as typing can be, I am ever so thankful that I effortlessly accomplish this portion of assignments and my mind is free to process the nuances of the current course of study. 
Heck, I don't even think twice about spewing my unimportant ramblings about nothing with all of you...you're welcome. :)
Small Success Thursdays at CatholicMom.com 
In a nutshell my small success is perseverance and self-discipline.  I persevered through typing class and that first job only to decide that typing was important enough to practice and become proficient at.
Do any of you have a similar experience in loathing a grade-school course that has become a foundational skill? How did you come around to embracing it?

DeVine Saints: An All Saints Day Project

During my time as DRE I looked forward to celebrating All Saints Day with the families.  I had big plans for a festive evening of games, crafts and food with all the children adorned in their saintly attire. My favorite activity developed from a last minute trip to the grocery store for the final provisions. The collection of decorative gourds caught my eye and a fun group activity was born: DeVine Saints (tongue in cheek moment ya'll).  I crack myself up. 
Any-who, here is what you need:
Minimal supplies for creative crafting fun
Seasonal gourds (the variety in shapes, sizes and colors add character to the project)

Felt pieces or other fabric remnants

Yarn/ string

Construction paper

Googly eyes

Saint cards or image
Glue sticks
Hot glue gun

DeVine Saint Cecilia
Use the saint cards as a basis for what the gourd saint might look like.  Seek out defining features of the particular Saint. For example in the picture shown we have a music note. You can use construction paper and clip art to come up with accessories for your saint.
Dressing your gourd can be as simple as draping the fabric around the gourd and securing it in place with yarn or string.  I used an 8.5 x 11 white sheet of felt as the undergarment.  Looking at the sheet of felt portrait oriented I made a fold about two inches down from the top and cut a small half circle to create the hole for the gourd to fit through.  I use remnants of colored felt and fastened it to the white undergarment using a stapler.  I wrapped a sequence string around the mid section for decor and to secure the felt to the gourd. Glue sticks work to secure construction paper to the gourd, however with the googly eyes and raffia your will want to use a hot glue gun to secure those in place.
After you complete your saintly crafting snap a pic of your DeVine creation and share it with others using #DeVineSaint and #AllSaintsDay. You will find my DeVine creation on Twitter and Instagram.
Note: These DeVine Saints can last for several weeks (as long as no punctures were made to the gourd) and add a heavenly presence to your Thanksgiving table.

Post-It: Best Technology EVER!

 Sorting, storing and flagging key concepts have held my mind captive in recent weeks. My database concepts course has proved to be quite challenging. In the thick of completing recent assignments I found myself constantly reaching for those post-its. My hands were busily compensating for my overclocked mind.

This week, having a  bit of a reprieve, as I looked at my book I couldn't help but laugh. The seemingly chaotic dominance of all those post-its directly reflected my mental state.

Even with my use of notetaking apps and picture snapping of graphs and charts the physical need to write down the information and easily locate it in the book proved necessary.  Call it nostalgia or call it primitive; I call it DONE!  Thanks post-it!

Can you count how many different styles of post its I used?  LOL! Each style meant something and made "at a glance" referencing just as robust as using a hashtag.  The mind is a crazy beast! Based on the pic do you have any ideas on what exactly held my mind captive?

Surrender to Service

I was once very happy enjoying the view from the pew. It is much easier (and much more comfortable) for me to be another face in the crowd. I for some reason don't do easy. Easy isn't very exciting. Easy is too...easy. I enjoy the adventure that comes with serving the Church and overcoming a good challenge. And nothing says challenge like "Go, in peace glorifying the Lord by your life".

I don't exactly live my life in complete opposition to this, however there is just enough self doubt to keep me striving for betterment. Like many things in life there is always room for improvement. When I examine carefully where most of my time and energy is spent I can confidently say it is spent serving others. With love in my heart and a joyful disposition...not exactly.

I walk that line between contentment and discomfort where trust and doubt reside. It is very easy for me to condemn myself for not saying yes to the latest request, or for being less than cheerful at an event when other responsibilities are being neglected. As stated above, I don't do easy.  

I dare to hold my head up high and challenge myself to trust that I am where I am supposed to be. When I falter with criticism, hatred, jealousy, and envy toward others I hold myself accountable for my weaknesses; my humanity. This is when things get uncomfortable. Doubt takes up residence within and fear enters my thoughts. Fears of inadequacy, acceptance, and making a fool of myself.  

This crazy battle within my being is one I have grown all too familiar with, but nonetheless continue to battle. I have learned to address my fears with self honesty. I hold myself accountable and I also forgive myself for being weak. But what I cannot do is surrender to the fear. I lay off the self induced guilt trip and faithfully allow my weaknesses to be my motivation. When things get uncomfortable for me I surrender my being to reside in the hands of the Lord.  

Fondo Complete!

MapMyRide Stats of Fun Fondo Course
I completed the 16 mile Fun Fondo course in 1:39:25 with an average speed of 9.8 mph, despite my bike chain issues.  A personal best!  

I rode the course several times before race day as part of my training.  As race day neared I focused on uphill endurance.  There was about a three mile stretch of the course that was particularly challenging for me.  With a total gain of approximately 713 ft for the full course; 440 ft of that total gain is achieved in three grueling miles! I felt good going into it and I rode strong.  I was comforted in seeing other riders stopping along this stretch of the course (quite cynical of me) as it validated the difficulty level, but mostly because I had great walking companions. I am an amateur cyclist and walking my bike up this hill is par for this course.     

With the most challenging stretch behind me I was geared up for the smooth gradual climbs ahead. My bike wasn’t as willing as I to conquer the remaining course.  As I made my way up those rolling hills switching into low gear my chain fell off. Feeling good I jump off my bike fixed the chain and pressed on.  A few peddles in and there goes the chain again.  This happened three more times as I attempted to switch through the gears.  A fellow rider witnessing my struggle with the chain stopped to help me get the chain aligned and offered some advice. “You’re going to have to stay out of those lower gears.” 
Fondo fun selfie of mom and me.

This made me laugh out loud. All I could think of was how once again those uphill endurance rides were paying off. I did not fear these rolling climbs in front of me as I was quite familiar with them and this was my favorite part of the course.  In high gear and high spirits I sped my way toward the finish line. 

As I neared the finish line I noticed a particular rider off in the distance that, prior to my chain difficulties, her and I had been alternating lead for a short distance.  I found new motivation to finish strong.  Peddling hard I was closing the gap.  As she made the final turn to the finish line I took it wide and swooped in for the lead.  Woohoo! I took it as a personal win. 

16 mile Fondo complete! Cool down in effect.
I realized later that she wasn’t even a competitor in the particular course I was riding. She actually rode one of the larger courses. Kudos to her; I should be so ambitious.  I just liked hearing my name announced with my stats over the loud speaker.  It was quite a rush flying through that finish line.  Being greeted with a medal for completing the ride and having my family there to celebrate this feat with me.