Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Five gifts for hiding on the roof

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
12 nutcrackers for guardin' (seriously I feel safer)
11 cards for mailin' (to people we don't have the addresses for), 
10 minutes for recuperatin' (thank you Lord), 
9 gifts for wrappin' (aw... shucks, none of these are for me), 
8 smiles for Christmas card-makin' (OK, this has GOT to be easier next year), 
7 wreaths for hangin' (perilously from a ladder), 
6 stockings for stuffin' (to hold little toys to trip on), 
5 wrapped gifts for hidin' (on the roof), 
4 darlin's for helpin' (or trying), 
3 garlands for drapin' (out of reach), 
2 glasses for fillin' (to the top) 
and 1 big crooked tree for trimmin' (while darlin's climb underneath me)

Now, that I've created the worst rendition of this Christmas song ever, let me share with you something I discovered about this traditional tune while homeschooling the darlin's.

The Twelve Days of Christmas -The Meaning Behind The Song

   The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between Christmas Day, Dec. 25th, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, Jan. 6th, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (Wise Men) and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world. The Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" may sound silly and contrived to many of us. But it actually had its origins in religious symbolism - and with a serious purpose. It dates from a time of religious persecution. The song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," was written as a kind of secret catechism that could sing in public without fear of arrest - a learning or memory aid to Christians in fact. The song can be taken at two levels of interpretation - the surface meaning, or the hidden meaning known only to the Christians involved. Each element is a code word for a religious truth.

1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.
2. The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.
3. Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
5. The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.
9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
11. Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles.
12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed.
When you think of Jesus being symbolized as a partridge in a pear tree, remember: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so." (Luke 13:34 and Matthew 23:34)  The "true love" in the song refers to God Himself. The "me" receiving the gifts is every Christian. If you want more info on the Catholic terms, check out this link: The real meaning behind the 12 Days of Christmas "Christmastide"
I hope you enjoy your holiday to do's, necessary moments of insanity, and memory-making traditions this special Christmas season! I sure plan to!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Magical fairies find their way to darlin'ville

Yesterday was my sweet #3 darlin's 3rd birthday. She is my only December child, and so I try to "pull out all the stops" for her special day because it's easy to be lost in the hysteria of the holidays. Each year I try to hone in on something they love and this year it was fairies. Usually I can tie the party into literature as well, and to my delight I was able to find Mary Cicely Barker's flower fairy books. If you haven't heard of this collection, it is really stunning. You can learn more about Ms. Barker here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicely_Mary_Barker
I began looking on ebay and amazon and I found a whole collection of activity books, paper dolls, stories, and craft books. This one was the best and you can click here to see it on amazon: Flower Fairies Book for Girls So after looking over this fantastic book brimming with ideas I was ready to make a magical land in the middle of darlin'ville. You know they say you are never too old for fairies so I recruited some adult fairy lovers to help me out. Luckily I know two people drippin' with creativity! My sister and grandma
came over and brought pinecones, branches, small twig doll chairs, tulle and ribbons. They draped them from our chandeliers and made table centerpieces. We placed flower and ribbon bedecked brooms on the front doors to greet our fairy visitors. Even our boy darlin's were interested in all the trimmings. The book had suggestions for foods too so we went all fruits, veggies and nuts like the fairies do. Healthy and authentic. That doesn't happen often..sigh. As the party neared, I found a sweet game that helped little girls choose their fairy name. We placed velvet slippers and magical fairy rings in party favor bags with our traditional bookmark made to commemorate the way that darlin' is at the time of the special birthday. If you got one, you know I am no poet, but I make an effort at least. I usually match it up to the invitation I design because I am a little nuts, but if you know me well, that's no revelation either! I do love making these things for the darlin's though! It takes time but I am glad to give it and I enjoy the creative expression myself. ;-) Once, I had the party prep all settled, I pulled out my gift for the darlin', my first-born girl. A few weeks ago, I found this fairy forest lodge here: Fairy Forest Lodge by Enchantmints
Since I bought it, the price has naturally gone up for Christmas, but I suspect it will go down again afterward. Once it arrived in the mail, the oldest darlin' and I made a homeschool lesson out of it and assembled it once the others were fast asleep. This thing is made out of REAL wood, not pressed or hybrid. It was very receptive to my watery paint stain and has doors that open and windows you can see through. Now, if I didn't have darlin's I would possibly have made this for myself anyway because I am seriously pink on the inside with a shade of steel magnolia if you know what I mean. I really did enjoy dolling up this fairy abode for my girl. My grandmother passed along some wood pieces she had and we made furniture: a wood stove, table and chairs, a bed and nightstand, mushroom fairy dust pots, mushroom lamps, a fairy light, a wash bucket, rosebud lamps, and a bird nest stand. My darlin' helper added some pet cats to sit on the steps. I was really pleased with it until I realized I had no fairies to live in it.
My sweet friend, Renee, showed me some little wooden people the size of chess pieces she'd painted into saints in her homeschool endeavors and I was struck with an idea.

So late one night, these little blossoms in front of the fairy house were "born". As I pulled it out to wrap the gift for the party I was hoping and praying the baby raptor from last week's post there's a baby raptor in darlinville didn't mangle the new fairy people but hey, that's life, and at least I know how to make more-reference my post on quotes brevity is the soul of wit and how it's always faster the second time you do something! I am thrilled to say our fairies seemed to have a lovely time sipping frozen fruit punch and playing the fairy name game. The birthday girl turned out to be Pear Blossom Featherfoot. OK, so you are never too old for fairies. I turned out to be Apple Blossom Starlight. That's better than any nickname I had in high school!
Seriously, you have never seen anything sweeter than four girls dressed as fairies and sitting under ribbons, pinecones, and tulle and eating toothpick fruit and veggie cabobs and drinking pineapple-cherry-white grape punch giggling over new fairy names. I am sure the innocent play of my children will be fleeting since our culture will grow the girls (and boys) up before their time, hardening them up for "the real world". I savor the sweet femininity while it lasts and try as hard as I can to S L O W things down. If I could smash the clock for them I would but in the meantime, I intend to encourage the magic and wonder of childhood by giving as much freedom for play and exploration as is possible.  From what I've learned, there's power enough in the pure heart of an innocent anyway.

Friday, December 3, 2010

There's a baby raptor in darlin'ville

Tis the season I know, but in my house deep in the heart of darlin'ville, we aren't thinking so much about Christmas as we are about our new invader. There are "raptor" roars of delight as she has realized her power to communicate. There are slamming of toys on the floor as she has discovered the thrill of "bang" and the control over all four limbs. There are feats of defying gravity as she has learned to pull up *everywhere* especially when mama isn't looking. There are crawling sprints across the house to the center of the other darlin's prized creations for a smashing, crashing experiment in demolition. I know this stage is fraught with disaster-for the other darlin's play as well as for the *impending* holiday decorations, but, I love it. It is when a baby goes from living on your shoulder to managing herself. It is the beginning of independence, choice, discipline, and power. There are many stages to darlin'hood and once upon a time my mother-in-law gave me some good advice about that. She said always enjoy the stage your child is in while they are in it. Don't be wishing for babyhood or adulthood. You miss so much in the process. She is a veteran mom of seven wonderful children all grown with children of their own-nearly 21 at last count! This perspective has been useful, especially on days when the baby raptor stage enters around the six to seven month window. I mean, seriously, this darlin' is fearless. She is crawling, pulling up, cruising along the sofa edge, and sitting well enough to be left to her own posture in the bath. Needless to say, my temporary freedom is now over for a while anyway. I think she'd drive the car if she could. She's got places to go as my papa says! Nothing cracks me up more than a baby who can get up but not down. She is both thrilled with her power and freaked out about how to manage it. I still see this in darlin' #3 who is becoming quite the young lady at the sweet age of three in a few days. When I hear the word "no" shortly after this raptor stage, in our home at least, it is encouraged. I believe the word "no" is about power and when safety is not involved, I *try* to give the darlin's the experience of making that choice as long as it is delivered with respect. Saying "no" to others is saying yes to yourself, right? I want the darlin's to learn to say "yes" to themselves when they need it. Of course, manners work, so they are encouraged *strongly* to say "no thank you", but the point is still the same. I want the baby raptor's courage and inner strength to be preserved for the journey ahead where others will try to sway and control their paths. Hopefully at those critical decision points, my darlin's will harken back to their inner baby raptor and say "no thank you" if the situation calls for it. In the meantime, it's fine with me if they practice the "no thank you" here in darlin'ville, just as long as I remember to say "yes" to myself too, once in a while anyway!
....uh oh, gotta run, looks like the raptor has struck again! I think this is why they make baby gates to encircle the tree-and probably also why God makes the darlin's so adorable! I mean, how upset can you get when met with a sweet face like that one?!