Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our home to yours! May this Season of Christmastide be blessed for each of you. Thanks for your faithful reading of my ramblings this past year. You're the best!

"The phrase admirabile commercium, current in the theology and spirituality of the Nativity, is used to describe this ‘admirable exchange between the divine and the human.…The first act of that exchange comes about in Christ’s own humanity. The Word assumed our humanity and, in exchange, human nature was raised to divine dignity. The second act of the exchange consists in our real and intimate involvement in the divine nature of the Word.…Thus Christmas is the feast in which God comes so close to man as to share the very act of being born, showing men and women their most profound dignity: that of being children of God. Humanity’s dream which began in the Garden of Eden – we want to be like God – is realized in an unexpected way, not through the greatness of man, who cannot make himself God, but through the humility of God Who came down among us in His humility, raising us to the true greatness of His being.’"
                                                                        Pope Benedict XVI

Friday, December 21, 2012

Weekly Capture XXXIV

Yeepers. Christmas is only 4 days away! Celebrating Christmas when it starts and letting the Advent season be focussed more on preparing ourselves has left me a little scattered as far as everything being ready for Christmas. I did get any and all gift shopping mostly done before Advent began, but wrapping is a whole different story. Plus, I have this slight obsession with having my gifts look as beautiful on the outside as on the inside, if not more so. We'll be traveling during part of the 12 Days of Christmas, so I'm kinda trying to figure out how to fill the days we'll be home with some homey Christmas fun. Cookie baking, ornament crafts, and the like. It's very hard for this plan-ahead, like to have things a certain way, organized personality to stay simple and just let the schedule flow. Here's to trying though. =)

This past week included my birthday, for which my loving husband took a half day at work, beginning my day by taking over any and all monotonous morning chores. He surprised me with several gifts that I hadn't "wished" for necessarily, but that are super perfect all the same. I also got to connect via phone and Skype (amazing technology, what did we do without you?) with my fabulous family, which is always a treat. 

Otherwise the week was spent wiping runny noses with lots of cuddling and book reading as well since we obtained a yucky cold that left everyone feeling a little under the weather. Speaking of weather, it's snowing right now, so perhaps a White Christmas?

Out of the Mouth of Dom
"I need to figure out how to get Luigi out of my pants."
Me: "What?"
"Well, he's just stuck in my pocket."

"Mama, I think you should get yourself a hooker for the kitchen."

To me: "What were you yelling about?"
Me: "I wasn't yelling, was I?"
"Ok, then, what were you quieting about?"

Updates on my Blaise boy
And he stands! Not always solo, but I do keep finding him randomly pulled up on everything. The other day I heard him screeching in the other room. I rushed in to see what was wrong, only to find he'd stood up holding something and just couldn't figure out how to sit down again. Animal sounds are a surefire way to bring a smile these days. Annnnd, he's much more obstinate than his brother ever was with the touching of the Christmas ornaments, a major "no" in this house. 


My husband got me this book, My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir, for my birthday after hearing about it on Catholic Radio and being reminded of me. I've only gotten a chapter and a half into it, but thus far I'm thoroughly enjoying the mix of righteous feminism, intricate stories of strong women saints, and personal episodes from the author's life. More to be shared as I read on.

Listening to
The last bits of Advent music... Christmas music, cannot wait for you! Dom sweetly sings me "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" at least once a day at this point. We've also been listening to many dancing tunes in preparation for my family's epic New Year's Eve celebration.

Links I've enjoyed
That Mourns in Lonely Exile Here :: Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas
The Reason for Our HolyDays :: Molly @ Molly Makes Do

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why We Don't "Celebrate" Santa Claus

Santa Claus seems to be a widespread debate amongst Christians. Whether it's to avoid him completely or embrace him fully or to be somewheres in the middle, there are so many reasonings behind it all. We have decided not to "celebrate" Santa, but we aren't avoiding him altogether. I've had several people question our decision purely as a way to learn more, so I thought today, as we approach Christmas Day quickly, I'd share a little behind why we have decided to bring in certain parts of the Santa excitement but stay away from most of it.

David and I both grew up in strong "anti" Santa homes, if you will. I grew up always responding to the question, "What's Santa bringing you for Christmas?" with the response: "Oh, we don't celebrate him," which always elicited the most surprised looks on adults face. In my house growing up, we knew mom and dad supplied gifts that made it under our tree and into our stockings. When I was little we also mostly stayed away from any movies and books that were focussed on Santa. We did have the rule that if a child asked us about Santa, we were to respond, "He doesn't visit our house because we don't celebrate him" so as not to ruin some other child's belief. I still remember thinking my 11 year old friend was probably old enough and knew of Santa's non-existence, and then breaking her heart when I casually mentioned, "Oh, well you know he's not real..."

St. Nicholas traditions made it into my family's annual celebration later in my childhood, closer to when I was nearly done with high school. This is something our family has chosen to embrace fully. If you want to see how we celebrate, read my post: Celebrating Holy Days: St. Nicholas Day from earlier this month.

We love legends and stories. We love teaching our kids of the truths of our Faith. We love whimsey and magic, and we love passing on traditions. But, as far as Santa Claus is concerned, we have chosen to focus on Christ for Christmas and to celebrate St. Nicholas on his feast day for the godly, loving, and giving man he was rather than "believe in" the jolly, plump man that magically slides down the chimney to deliver gifts galore.

And here is why:

We don't want to purposefully deceive our children. I know Santa Claus isn't real, and I plan on teaching my little ones that. I'd rather not create this false world for them to believe in, only to dash their dreams in a decade when they learn I made it all up.

I truly abhore the gimmies. I hate the lists in which children write down their demands. Granted, I don't believe that every family who celebrates Santa goes to the full extreme, but I have seen way too many kids declare how Santa better be bringing them this ridiculously overpriced item. Really? That's the "giving" spirit that Santa brings? I just don't want it in my house.

And lastly, we already have a #1 star of the holiday. Why do I need to create a competitor? In our house, we talk about Jesus' birth, make plans for his cake, and prepare for His coming as Emmanuel all throughout the season of Advent. Why would I bring in a 2nd character to "share the glory" on Christmas Day?

We want to teach our children that the Feast of the Nativity is a miraculous and glorious event, not to be foreshadowed by a man squeezing down our non-existent chimney to deliver up the goods. We want them to know the true "goods" are our Salvation and Christ being with us, not the latest toy.

So, yes, we do still read tales, sing songs, and watch movies about Santa Claus. He's a lovely made up and fun person to enjoy. But, we've chosen to never impress upon our children that he is real. Rather we have chosen to embrace him as a fictional character that falls way behind the Nativity story and the Christ Child in our Christmas celebrations.

Please note, this is just our personal decision, not a standard we're judging anybody by. So, please don't feel like I think you're wrong or leading your children astray in how you choose to celebrate Christmas. Everyone has a reason for they way they do things; this is just ours. 

Linking up at:

Little HolyDays Link-up

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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
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This post Why We Don't "Celebrate" Santa Claus first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 20 December 2012

6 Points of Slapdashery

First off, go check out the new Facebook page, and ' like' it if you would. I need to get to 40 likes in order to use all the perks of being a page manager. Zankes.

Just got asked this morning by my boy if I was a nun.

Perhaps we need to re-explain that one better.

I keep getting invited to very random Pinterest boards. While super flattered, I'm not sure how I could help the Texan Parents board. I'm sure it's a wonderful place and all, but I've only been to Texas once, and I was 11. Hmm, a little confused here.


On a Pinterest note, I found this recipe the other day for Bacon Gruyere Stuffed French Toast. Yummy, I think yes. I'm typically a fan of any sort of French toast, so why not go the more savory note?

A friend of mine just started an Etsy shop: Toddler Hats - go check it out, pin some items, heart something, you know, give it some online love. =)

I'm pretty sure today shall be full of cries of "Ack Boogers! Get em!" from one son whilst oozes of slime run down the other's face. Oh the joys of sick babies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Social Networking Updates

Hey, hey folks! As this blog has been gaining fans and readership seems to be much higher these days, I have been exploring some social media outlets. Now that I know less than half of you personally (feel a bit like Bilbo writing that...), I think I need to work on my online presence. Here is what is happening now:

I have created a fan page. Find me here: www.facebook.com/twoOsPlusMore On top of blog updates, you'll get a peek into my family's life and I'll share products/events/articles that I think are fantastic. It's still in the works, but you might as well go 'Like' it now. =)

I'm still learning the ins and outs of Twitter, but follow me at @TwoOsPlusMore for daily blips of life, shared links, and updates on posts!

I'm a little extreme in my Pinning. So, be forewarned... Pinterest provides the perfect way for me to organize my own brain (thus admits the extremely visual memory oriented lady). I have somewheres around twenty boards focused on everything from Children's Activities to Green Living to Recipes Galore. My boards are under: SarahGO

Also, to be noted... I'll be working on revamping this blog a little visually over the next month. I'm hoping to make some major changes in what you see in the sidebars. If any readers have a blog with similar purposes/readership and would be interested in exchanging buttons, let me know!

Last note:
I fund this blog purely from my Amazon Associates account. If you'd like to help me out with making this a worthwhile venture and financially help our little family some, you can easily do so. Just click on any of the links that lead through to Amazon. To be noted, you can purchase anything - it doesn't have to be what I'm recommending. Also, be on the lookout for a little widget on the right side of the page. Thanks for your support!

Monday, December 17, 2012

12 Nativity Focused Christmas Picture Books

The season of Christmas is right around the corner. Beginning on Christmas Day, the Feast Day of the Nativity, it continues for 12 Days - that's right 12 days after Christmas Day, not before. Reading + books being such an important part of our family, I figured it was fitting to share a dozen of our favorite Nativity books. It's not too late to look for these at your library or bookstore either. 

I think one of the perks of celebrating the True 12 Days of Christmas is taking advantage of post Christmas Day sales to add to our book collection. Plus the library seems to get every Holiday book back on the shelves right after Christmas. Yay simple perks!

 Each of these stories is focused on the Christ Child and Nativity rather than wintery goodness, Santa Claus, and all that bit. I think those type of stories also have their place, but in this collection, you'll find unique tales celebrating the birth of our Savior, with a variety of approaches and a delightful display of art. Enjoy!

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
by Sally Lloyd-Jones + illustrated by Alison Jay

A lovely new discovery this year, this book tells the nativity story from the perspective of all the earth rejoicing in the coming of its King. It's such a different twist on the traditional story, and the art by Alison Jay is endearing as well. My boys are getting this for Christmas day as the last of the books they get to open.

by Frank McCourt + illustrated by Raul Colon

From the prize winning author of Angela's Ashes comes this Christmas tale of his mother. 6 year old Angela sees the Baby Jesus lying in the manger scene at her church and thinking he must be cold, decides to take matters into her own hands.

by Karma Wilson + illustrated by Jane Chapman

Mortimer, a small mouse, has been searching and searching for a home of his own. He finally finds one filled with strange "statues." After displacing them, he hears the Nativity story for the first time and realizes who he's moved out.

by Barbara Helen Berger

A ordinary donkey has a dream of the miraculous wonder he carries on his back. This story brings to small children the beautiful imagery and symbols tied to the Virgin Mary. It's a great starting point for further discovery yet simple enough to be shared with young listeners.

by Ezra Jack Keats

Delightful art to accompany the traditional song. We have the board book version of this one, and it's been a fantastic book for the really little ones.

by Joseph Slate + illustrated by Ashley Wolff

A very simple approach of the animals preparing the stable for the birth of the Christ child. This is another great one for really little ones.

by Susan Wojciechowski + illustrated by P.J. Lynch

A tale of a grumpy old woodcarver won over by the love and care of a widow and her 7 year old son. The town has judged this woodcarver to be a Scrooge-like character; the widow requests a custom creche, and her son asks to be allowed to watch. A sweet story of a man transformed because of a little kindness.

by Margery Facklam + illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

This version tells of how nature decorated for the first Christmas. There could be a little more focus on the Christ Child and his importance, I think, but it's still a lovely addition to the Christmas bookshelf.

by Norma Farber + illustrated by Petra Mathers

This is a collection of poetry telling the memories of meeting Jesus from the perspective of different animals as well as a few people. While I enjoy the animal's tales, I would say be forewarned about the people as one adds a tale about 3 Queens, which could be very confusing for small ones. We chose to skip that poem and joy the earlier ones included.

by Tomie dePaola

I love learning new tales and legends, and this was my favorite for this year. This book tells the tale of a little girl from a town in Mexico. Her mother is supposed to weave a new blanket for the baby Jesus for the annual Christmas procession. However, she falls ill, and the little girl is worried she will have no gift to present. She is reminded by an old lady what truly makes a gift beautiful.

by Dandi Daley Mackall + illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

Silent night? Not so much. This book explores all the sounds that surrounded the night Christ was born.  From the owl to the flutter of angel's wings, this adaptation tells of the joy surrounding the preparations for this miraculous.

by Pamela Dalton

This book is primarily here for the art. Beautiful cut-paper illustrations, done in the manner of the Pennsylvania-German parts of this country in the 1800s, couple with passages directly from the Bible. The art takes on an almost medieval look with the colored cut outs displayed against dark backgrounds. It's a beautiful book to be enjoyed by all ages.

Linking up at:

Little HolyDays Link-up

Want to follow my blog? It's easy - subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
::This blog post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. 
By clicking through to make a purchase, you help to financially support TO+M::

This post 12 Nativity Focused Christmas Picture Books first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 17 December 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Musings for a Sunday :: In Times of Tragedy

I have no word for what happened this past Friday. My heart breaks for the parents and families of the little ones who lost their lives. It's horrible that such evil exhists in this world, but in the midst of it all, Light prevails. 

"The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it."                                                                                                 —Blessed John Paul II

Also, I loved this article, That Mourns in Lonely Exile Here, by Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas. A beautiful response for when we have no answers, but Christ still is. Thanks Haley for sharing such a moving piece. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

6 Points if Slapdashery

That Stash Holiday Chai Tea I was sipping on while typing up this post on Peace the other day is truly amazing. It's like December in a cup.

Learning to crawl with attempts to stand up for the B boy has led mama to find a patron saint for head injuries. Nothing too serious, just too frequently was the noggin whacking into things. So, Blessed John Licci was called upon.

Can I just say how much it bothers me that retailers use the 12 Days of Christmas to make excuses for sales leading *up* to Christmas? You'd think their research departments would look up the history of what (and when) the 12 Days are. There, said it.

My birthday is next week, and this is the first time in a long time that I don't actually have a specific "wish" in mind. Still a few days to think...

{5} Bathtime is now a frequent happening for Mr. "I-think-avocado-banana-food-in-general-makes-a-terrific-mousse." He loves the extra bathing time. Mama not so much.

{6} Who knew allowing Dom to add cars to his playdough would make both activities THAT much more exciting. He's entertained himself for about an hour several times this week. It's a tiny taste of Heaven for this mama.
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