Orthodox Advent Study {download for sale}

Advent Study

Many of you may have already noticed the Advent Study tab at the top of the page.  Thank you so much to all of you who have already purchased a copy, I hope it serves as a great resource for you!  For those of you who have not seen it yet, it is a 6-week study with weekly devotionals and stories along with daily Scripture readings, recipes, and other activities.  This  66-page study was created to help us keep our minds and hearts on Christ this Christmas season instead of the hustle and bustle happening right outside our doors.

I’ve wanted to create something like this for awhile now and finally decided to give it a go a couple of years ago.  But not long after I started working on it, I realized what an enormous project it really was.  Soon, things that required immediate attention forced me to set it aside–again and again…  This year I was determined to get it all together and so it is finally available for download for only $5.50! [Read more…]

The Gifts of the Magi

Icon of the Magi bringing gifts

One of the many things that fascinate me about the Orthodox Faith is the treasure of relics and history we have preserved.  Many people read the Bible and wonder about the things they’ve read about.  Do they still exist?  What did they look like?  Is there special significance behind the story?  But they don’t know where to even begin searching to find the answers to those questions.   The gifts of the Magi are one of those things.  Everyone, regardless of denomination, is familiar with the three gifts the Wise Men came bearing.  What most people don’t know is that those gifts are still intact today and are safeguarded at the Holy Monastery of St. Paul on the Holy Mountain.

Another thing most people don’t realize is those gifts were not given to Christ at His birth.  They were given to Him when he was almost two.  The Magi followed the star for over two years, which is why we see in the icon below the Virgin and Christ being in a house not the cave where He was born.  It is also why Herod gave the decree to kill all male infants two years of age and younger. We read in the book of Matthew 2:10-11,

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child (not infant or swaddling babe) with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.  And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Notice that it reads, when they came into the house, not cave, they saw the young Child, not newborn, swaddling babe or even infant, but young Child.

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All Aboard the Minivan Express! {free ticket download}

Minivan Express Tickets

Last year, we had so much fun our Minivan Express ride that I am super excited to do it again this year! I strung lights in the van, popped popcorn and poured our thermoses to the top with tea and hot cocoa.  The boys had a blast!  We listened to the Polar Express audiobook and we read stories from this vintage Christmas book.  It was so wonderful.  Except for one minor detail that was overlooked…we forgot we lived in the country.  Which basically means we had to drive for miiiiles to see enough lights to satisfy our bunch!

 

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Snowman Christmas Party + craft

Snowman Christmas Party

I love snowmen.  They’re just so cute and fluffy and well, cute.  For the past two years, I’ve had a little snowman party for the boys and some of their cousins.  It’s always so much fun!! [Read more…]

A Kindness Kids Giveaway!

Kindness Kids Giveaway

Kindness Kids Giveaway

*****GIVEAWAY CLOSED*********

Congratulations to Lisa for winning!  Please email your shipping details to Sylvia{at}OrthodoxMom{dot}com asap!  Thank you all for entering and stay tuned for some more great giveaways after the holidays! <3

I’m thrilled that so many of you love The Kindness Kids as much as I do!  Many of you have already gone out and brought home your own and I am really loving all the photos and posts about the fun things you’ve been doing with them in your homes!

If you couldn’t find them at Target (most stores sold out), you can order similar ones here.  They are slightly more expensive, Target’s were 2 for $5.00 and these are 2 for $9.99, but if you really want them they’re here and here while supplies last.  But hurry, I don’t think they’ll be there for long!

Lisa of Daylight Rising posted about her Kindness Kids here and Jennifer over at Illumination Learning picked some up too and blogged about them here. There are photos floating around Facebook and Instagram, too!  The best part about this whole concept is that so many people feel the same way and are now joining forces by coming up with fun new ideas and sharing them.  Kindness Kids are popping up all over the place and they are all doing wonderful acts of kindness and pointing to Christ through their “good works”!  :)  What a blessing!  [Read more…]

40 Ideas for The Kindness Kids {an alternative for elf on the shelf}

The Kindness Kids

Now that you’ve all met The Kindness Kids, here are some ideas we’ve been using with our new little friends.

Below is our list of RACK’s (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness).  It is similar to the list we used for our regular RACK project last year.  (Here is a link to that where you can print the cards below along with blank ones for your daily RACK), with the addition of some fun and silly things for your Kindness Kids to do to switch things up a bit for your bigs and littles. [Read more…]

The Kindness Kids {an alternative to elf on the shelf}

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Am I the only one struggling with the ever popular Elf on the Shelf tradition?

Last year was the first year Ace came home from school asking for one.  Of course, he heard all the silly things his classmate’s elves were doing and wanted in on the fun.  Who can blame him?  Secretly, so did I!  DH and I went back and forth with thoughts of getting one for our house but there was something that just felt unsettled with both of us.  We don’t celebrate Santa Claus in our house at all.  It’s not that we completely ban the man in red entirely, we have quite a few movies with him in them, but generally I veer away from things centered around him.  For the simple fact that I think Christmas should be centered around Christ’s Nativity.

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Felt Christmas Tree Tutorial

felt christmas tree diy

felt christmas tree Last year, I remembered the adorable little felt tree I’d seen on Pinterest but like always I remembered a bit too late.  It was only a week or so from Christmas so I just made one really quick to see how the kids would like it.  They all had so much fun with it that this year we made a bigger project of it.

While the point of this tree is to help keep little fingers off of the real tree, I’m not quite sure I think it will do that.  At least, not in our house, lol.  But it’s worth it anyway to watch them use their imaginations and have such a good time with it.   This morning when they woke up, it was the first thing Lucky and Sprout ran to.  <3 [Read more…]

2013 Orthodox Kid’s Ornament Swap {sign-ups}

Orthodox Christmas Ornaments

Whew!  It’s been a busy couple of weeks here on my tiny piece of internet homestead! Fall Favorites Swap packages were due out on Friday, Psalter Groups sign-ups began on Monday and now we’re getting ready for our annual Orthodox Kid’s Ornament Exchange!  Hooray!

Every Christmas for the past five years, our family and readers of Adventures of an Orthodox Mom have teamed up with our littles to create the most beautiful Orthodox Christmas ornaments that we swap between our families.  It is a much anticipated project, with emails starting in September asking if we’ll be doing it again this year and making sure they haven’t missed the sign up deadlline, lol.  (No worries in that department folks, I’m definitely not that organized!)  :)  Both parents and children love opening the mailbox throughout the next several weeks and finding creatively decorated envelopes filled with Christmas joy.

In our home, we have a special box reserved for all of the precious ornaments we’ve received over the years.  The boys love taking them out and reminiscing on the times they arrived and what goodies accompanied them, before hanging them on the tree.  It’s so much fun for all of us.

Last year, we made icons out of Shrinky Dinks.  You all know how much we love our Shrinky Dinks; we’ve done so many different things with them in the past and they’ve always turned out very well and held up over time, making them perfect for a project like this.

So, I placed a big pot of hot cocoa and bowls of marshmallows and peppermint sticks on the table and we got to work.  [Read more…]

ways to involve children in the nativity fast

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This morning I dusted off my Christmas binder and began to flip through the pages.  My heart fluttered at the sight of all the beautiful decorations, yummy recipes and sweet memories of Christmases past.  I began to add reminder notes for projects I want to do with the boys this year and scribbled a few new names onto my Christmas card list.  I can hardly believe Christmastime is almost here.

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The Nativity fast, or Advent, begins every year on November 15.   Unlike the start of Great Lent, the start of this fast gets lost somewhere among all the other fall activities.  This means we must make an extra effort to mark it as an important event in our homes.   Advent is also different from Great Lent because there is excitement in the air as we anxiously prepare for God’s greatest gift to mankind.

The Nativity fast is also a slightly easier fast because fish is allowed on most weekends and seafood throughout the week, yet it still ends up feeling more difficult, doesn’t it?  I think this is mainly because the majority of our friends and family are not fasting and are busy pre-celebrating Christmas with parties full of all of the things we are abstaining from.  So, I wanted to compile a list of some suggestions on how to make the holidays a little bit easier so we can continue focusing on the upcoming birth of our Savior.  

It’s so hard not to get caught up in the secular hustle and bustle of the season, but by guarding ourselves against all of that we take so much pressure off ourselves and that creates more room for the peace of Christ to enter our homes and hearts during this special time of year.

Below you’ll find a few delicious recipes to serve at this year’s Christmas parties and lots of ways to help your children prepare for the wonderful feast of the Nativity.

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