Friday, December 12, 2014

Back to Blog: Ironing Ribbons and Advent

I think the real reason I'm back is to brag about the Advent calendar I made (with the help of some internet friends). 

What's that you say?! We are already half way through Advent and I'm way behind on this DIY Advent calendar thing that most blogger moms out there have had completed-blog-post-written-about since Thanksgiving?

Oops. I guess I put a few other things ahead of Advent this year. (Yes, I admitted that to you!) Like quitting my job. And being pregnant and sleeping. And moving. And cleaning. 

And I never put cleaning ahead of anything. 

Unless we're moving. 

That's when it becomes competitive and I decide that  our house is going to be - has to be - the cleanest house IN THE WORLD even though it's full of unrecoverable places where our two-year-old has drawn, painted, and destroyed. I'm talking shampooed carpets, chemicals used, and naptimes spent hands-on-knees scrubbing baseboards because strangers kept coming in to look at our house to judge us and decide if they want to make this their home . <stress> Am I using past tense? Because actually, this is still going on. We have a showing tomorrow.

But after the first set of showings, I noticed I had forgot to stow away one item. I had meant to put it away because I wanted the house to be somewhat neutral territory. 

It's a gold-leaf painting of the Virgin Mary with her baby Jesus that I got while I was traveling in Peru. I didn't stow away any other religious items, but this one, I wanted to, because in the painting, the Virgin Mary is breast feeding and it's really out there - way more than we are used to seeing in depictions of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus. (Although it's nothing compared to the amount of skin you'll see if you turn on the television any night of the week; and isn't this a much more beautiful depiction of a woman's body?!)

As a 19-year-old traveling in Peru, I thought so. I spent a good amount of money on this painting because, even then, I loved it. I made the guy at the market go to his house to get a larger size for me. (He claimed to be the artist). I made a frame, attached the canvas, and gave it to my parents as a Christmas gift the year I came back from Peru; they returned it to me a few years ago. It's been hanging in our upstairs hallway for a while now, in between my room, and my son's room, staring at me each time I went in to comfort him from a nightmare, wake him up from a nap, or read him a story. I'm a bit ashamed that I meant to hide it.  But this blog would be boring if I didn't tell you a bit about what I'm ashamed of, no?

When I did began my Advent-calendar making, I knew it would make the perfect backdrop. I also had packed away all of my empty frames and was left with no other choice. As it turned out, it sort of makes sense!

After each week, you can pull away a ribbon to see a bit more of the painting until the baby Jesus and Virgin Mary is fully revealed! 

How I made it:

1. I used envelope templates from i heart naptime. It took a bit of time to fold and glue, but I only did the second half.

2. Iron the ribbons (this was necessary for me.) I never in my life thought I'd be ironing ribbons but here I am.

3. Measure how far apart you want the ribbons to be (vertically on the frame), then hot glue the ribbons to the underside of the frame. If you're not using a backdrop (or not using one that is stapled directly to the frame like mine!), you can just flip the frame around. I pulled my ribbons as tight as I could across the frame. If you want to pull the ribbons away each week, use a piece of tape on one side instead of hot glue.

4. Hot glue the envelopes to the ribbon.

5. The fun part. Populate your daily activities. I wanted mine to be fun for Caleb (who's 26 months) and give him a sense that something special is going on, but I also wanted it to be a spiritual journey for James and I.

For most of the cards, I put a "family activity" on one side, and an adult activity, like a Scripture reading or even that day's O'Antiphon on the back. I found about a hundred family Advent activities from Adriel Booker. Many of them are too above my lil guy but wow, I need to bookmark her list for later!

My favorite: "Enact the story of the birth of Jesus with your nativity set. Lie on your bellies and each family member take on a character or two." 

The adult activities came from the Loyola Press Advent calendar and a few were inspired by the kids activities. "Choose a toy or stuffed animal to give to a boy or girl who doesn't have any toys or stuffed animals." became "Select at least 1 item of clothing to give to the resettlement center charity."

That's it!

Any other (late) Advent calendars out there? 

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Thanks for reading! It's great to hear your thoughts. Peace!