Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry CHRISTmas!


He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
2 Timothy 1: 9-10

Celebrating God's grace being revealed,

Ricky, Aidan, Aolani (almost 5), and Micaiah (3) DiMartino

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Imaginary Play and Real Parties

  • The week has been full of goodness: friends joined us for 5-player Agricola and homemade pumpkin pie, celebrating Micaiah's 3 years of life, light Advent candle and devotional at church, Ricky's work Christmas party, our small group's dinner party, Teresa coming to visit this week, lunch with missionary friends (whom we haven't seen in 3 years!), a pre-wedding reception, amidst the weekly grind and Advent and preparing to leave home for 15 days :) Busy and rich!
  • Aolani's antics: picked me out a rose at the store when she went with Daddy to pick out birthday balloons for Micaiah; nicknamed Teresa's white, fluffy dog (Button) "Snowflake", frequently tells me about her other family/house/kids (imaginary), and called the OT book of Micah "Maracas" ;)
  • Micaiah's mishaps: has been using really big words lately; and, will come ask me a question then go tell Daddy my answer even though he didn't ask me the question he was suppose to ask (i.e., Daddy will tell him to go ask Mommy if he can have a cookie; Micaiah comes up to me and asks if I picked out his socks for tomorrow, and I answer affirmatively. Micaiah goes back to Daddy, "Daddy, Daddy, Mommy said yes!")
  • I will likely take a break from writing my mosaic posts while on vacation (until after the new year).
Pretending to be Mary and Joseph -- sleeping on the side of the road, by the fire, with their donkey tied up ;)
Painting snowflakes with liquid watercolors


Yummy cupcake
We got him two floor puzzles; my parents got him a book and t-ball stand
And, boy, does he love it! He is at just the right age for it. After knocking wall bits off, Micaiah has to enjoy it outside now ;)

  • Verse to memorize this week: John 16:33 ~ I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holy-days {Advent 2014}

[edited version of last year's Advent post]

Simple. Focused. Intentional.

That is our motto for this time of year.

If you want bunches of ideas for celebrating Christmas, you should probably go to Pinterest. We are more about cutting out a lot of the hoopla -- going for special and memorable (yes) but simple. It is Jesus' birthday; so, we focus on Advent ("waiting with hope") and then throwing a birthday party for Jesus. Simple as that. However, we will be going to stay with extended family over the Christmas week this year, so we will not be hosting our own Christmas at our home. Yet, here is what we have been doing so far this month:

Devotions: Advent is where I put most of our emphasis, because what is this holy-day about if we do not prepare our hearts waiting for the Christ-child to come? You can see our Advent wreath (carved out of wood, with 24 candle holes, and there's a movable donkey carrying Mary). We light the candles after moving the traveling one forward. This year, we are using the Ann Voskamp's new family devotional book for Advent -- Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. Ann Voskamp offers free printable ornaments to go along with the day's story, and Aolani colors it earlier during the day. After dinner, we read the Scripture passage and story, have a short discussion, hang the ornament on our "Jesse tree", and let our kids blow out the candles.

Activities: Our days have been so nice, special, and fun. I love having this time to change up our routine for the month. Our days consist of: 
  1. Unwrapping a Christmas book and reading it together. I wrapped all of the Christmas books we owned, plus two new ones. I ordered them according to our schedule. Each day, they alternate opening the book. After we are done reading, we put it in a "Christmas book bin" which is normally the "library book bin". [The two new books I bought happen to be my favorite ones -- The Tale of Three Trees (not necessarily Christmas) and The King's Christmas List.]
  2. Coloring aforementioned ornament
  3. This is our second year doing an Advent Calendar. I came up with 25 things to do, one for each day leading up to Jesus' birthday. I typed each day's activity on card stock paper to cut out. I then put each one in a small, muslin bag. I found a free printable of numbers online to use by cutting and gluing each number on a clothespin. I hung the bags in order on a piece of twine; the photo below is self-explanatory :) I adjusted the calendar so that the daily activities suited our monthly plans (i.e., we baked cupcakes for Micaiah on the day we were celebrating it). However, when plans change and I need to switch activities with another day, I can and have, several times already, very easily (which is great)! The list of this year's activities are below. We are also adding in a few spontaneous activities :)
  4. Schooling: I did not take the month off from schooling Aolani like I did last year, but I way decreased the amount we do so we have more time for Advent stuff.  While I still do reading and writing as on our normal schedule (as she is presently learning these skills and I do not want to lose any progress), I am stretching one-week of curriculum across the month -- like I said very little.
  5. Our Advent devotional

Here are the activities:
  1. Decorate our home while listening to Christmas music
  2. Make cards with stamps
  3. Make paper snowflakes to hang (used coffee filters)
  4. Invite family friends over to watch Christmas Veggietales movies in jammies
  5. Make and decorate sugar cookies 
  6. Celebrate St. Nicholas Day by reading his biography and doing a secret act of kindness
  7. Watch The Nativity Story movie under blankets
  8. Interview each family member on record (We had a hot seat and recorded on video answers to What was your favorite thing you did this past year? and What is one thing you will remember from this past year? The kids LOVED this!)
  9. Make a paper garland to hang 
  10. Make snowflakes for window art (used liquid watercolors on #3 and taped to pane)
  11. Watch The Star of Bethlehem and make paper crowns
  12. Make apple bread and give to our neighbors
  13. Make a birthday treat for Micaiah (pumpkin cupcakes)
  14. Go to a dinner party
  15. Dance to Christmas music 
  16. Make snowmen crafts (thumbprints and cotton balls)
  17. Wrap Jesus’ birthday gift 
  18. Paint pine cones and make centerpiece
  19. Using the nativity set, act out the nativity story 
  20. Call Nonna and Grandpa in car and sing a Christmas carol
  21. Go on a Christmas light scavenger hunt
  22. Make a pillow bed on living room floor and watch Christmas cartoons
  23. Sing Christmas carols around the tree
  24. Make a birthday cake for Jesus and decorate for party
  25. Throw Jesus a birthday party!
Decorations: Most noticeably, we do not have a Christmas tree. We are not fully against them; we just choose (for several reasons) not to erect one. We have other items (ornaments, stockings, nativity sets...) and the things we are making on display and hanging around. We have a Christmas book bin and keep the Christmas music playing. Also, we simply hang the Christmas cards we receive on ribbon with clothespins. Then, when the season is over and it comes time to take them down, we usually pray for the person/family that sent each card as we remove it :) [Last year, we kept them up the whole year!]

Treats: Our treats are sporadic this year and less planned -- sugar cookies, apple bread, cupcakes, pumpkin pies, pound cake, ice cream, vanilla drinks, coffee cake, etc.

Presents: As a family, we do not exchange presents amongst ourselves, but we usually get small presents or donations for our extended families. Again, we are not totally against gift-giving amongst friends and family, but we choose to give a gift as a family to Jesus (see Matthew 25:45) for His birthday -- just keeping it simple. This year, we donated to Abort73 and Blood:Water Mission. We do buy a few New Year's gifts for ourselves as a family and some friends that are to encourage faith and witness (such as Voice of the Martyrs' prayer calendars) in 2015.

CHRISTmas joy to you in your celebrations and preparation for the coming of the King,

Friday, December 12, 2014

Cuttin' Up and Out

  • We've been enjoying the Advent season, in all its richness. I will share more this weekend about what we're doing.
  • My dad came over the weekend to visit and fix our new cabinet (it was warped, but he straightened it). My mom and I just arranged it to hold arts and crafts supplies; love it (and seeing the cleaned-out closet again) ;)
  • Updates: The kids have runny noses. Aolani has good and bad days, prone to moodiness. Micaiah has not wet his bed during naptime in weeks. Ricky lets them nap together occasionally, meaning short naps :( Aolani is really into making her bed into a tent. Micaiah can throw down some food; he eats more than me! They enjoy playing with the new dollhouse Ricky's parents got them (Aolani). They absolutely adore playing tackle with Ricky (and Micaiah is throwing the football nicely) :)
Making and decorating sugar cookies

"Show me the cookie you made." Blink. "Where'd the leg go??"

  • Verse to memorize this week: John 8:12 ~ “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Chosen for Shout-outs

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light.
~ 1 Peter 2:9
Whenever I get overwhelmed or feel like I am not doing enough or not making a spiritual impact or feel like a failure... 1 Peter 2:9 brings me relief.

God made me a part of His chosen people or royal priesthood or holy nation or special possession, not to go out and prove my worth. But to simply sing.

He did the saving work -- calling me out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

And now, I just declare the praises of Him, the great one, the Mighty one, who indeed called. No spiritual to-do list. Just love Him loud ;)

[Not that doing stuff doesn't declare His praises; I'm talking more about feeling the need to do stuff in order to feel validated (versus receiving His validation and declaring that).]

Friday, December 5, 2014

Thankful Howls

  • It has been quite a week -- unpacking (almost done!), getting back into groove, laundry, getting end-of-the-year stuff prepared, beginning the wondrous time of Advent... My mom returned earlier this week, and my loving daddy just came today to visit this weekend :)
  • Our Hungarian friend, Gergő, flew home the day before went on vacation. Here is the only picture we took of all five of us and a darling video of the kids playing "farkas" (wolf) with him. It was a great visit!

  • We drove up to Cincinnati to spend time with Ricky's family for Thanksgiving week and had an enjoyable time ;) A lot of downtime to relax, some games, reading, cooking, birthday celebrations and desserts, Thanksgiving, gift-giving, and family... I got to meet one of Ricky's uncles for the first time when he made a very unexpected detour :) The kids slept together in a separate bedroom from us (we room-share here at home, so that was different for them) and did super (after their first slap-happy night).
Reading One is a Feast for Mouse (cute book that the kids acted out once we finished it)
We found this when we were ready to go upstairs to bed for the night -- Aolani made sure Sarah was safe ;)
Playing Mickey Mouse Yahtzee

Cuddling with Uncle Robby
Aolani's first time playing Guesstures; she loved it (see video below).
with the trophy (see her first performance below)

  • School verse: Exodus 20:16 You must not tell lies.
  • Verse to memorize this week: John 6:29 ~ Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”