My friend, Jenny, was gracious enough to share “how we Advent” here at Team Whitaker over at Catholic News Agency. It’s definitely been an evolution. This week, I’ll be sharing some photos of what Advent and Christmas look like. That means I actually need to vacuum and pick up the 8,000 toys, 4,500 art projects and 35 kids’ cups that are all over my house so you can actually see it all.
In the meantime, let’s catch up on a few things.
Gianna’s eyelashes, for one. Women pay good money for those things. Also, can we talk about that curl on the side??
She’s been “helping” me wrap presents while the bigs are gone. And by helping, I mean destroying the wrapping station. I’m pretty sure she played with her Christmas present earlier today, just before I wrapped it. Oh well, this is the only year that can happen and she won’t spill the beans!
Let’s revisit all my sous chefs in the house, shall we? 4-H isn’t just cows, sows and plows anymore. We joke that our club is for all the city kids. We pull up to competitions in our minivans. HA! Even still, one of my kids’ favorite projects is food and nutrition. In the Food Show, they select a recipe, make it themselves and then present it to a panel of judges. During the interview they must share the preparation steps, nutrition information, My Plate recommended allowances, substitutions, what they’ve learned in the project and a cost analysis. In Food Challenge, they work in teams, are given a set of ingredients, a clue and a 45 minute window in which to create something fabulous using their mobile kitchen. Then, it’s presented to the panel of judges, much like the food show. I’m proud to say the kids all came home with a stack of plaques and ribbons. I was quite proud. We had three first place plaques and one second place ribbon in food show and a first, second and third team placing for food challenge (the girls were on the same team). The most exciting part? Will is headed to state with his foccacia bread. Looks like he’s going to be making a lot of that between now and June. I might need some taste testers…
I don’t have any photos, but sometimes an experience really refocuses your heart on the things that matter. This weekend, several families gathered in downtown Austin near the ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless) and passed out bags of food, hot chili, gift cards, hugs, handshakes and smiles. We engaged in real, and humbling, conversations with these men and women in need. I have to be honest here and tell you that just a few short years ago, I would’ve refused to even consider anything like this. My reasoning? I was afraid. I was afraid to encounter a situation of which I had no knowledge. Afraid that “those people” were just a waste of my time and taxpayer dollars. This was me, then. But, more than anything, it made me grateful for my blessings and reminded me of the importance and the obligation we have, to serve. To serve with a grateful heart, an open mind and a welcome smile. There was one conversation in particular that drew me in. I should really write about that in more depth at some point. But, if you can offer up a prayer for David today, I know he’d appreciate it.
Last Friday, I hosted our school rosary group here at the house (forgive the grainy iPhone pic). It was a beautiful morning. Yet another thing I can put in the category of “things I never would’ve done.” Funny how God does that to you. The recitation of the rosary was moving, but equally so was seeing my living room filled with good, holy, faithful women. On the hard days, I look at their faces, rely on their prayer and hug their necks in thanksgiving for always having my back. We also had mimosas. Because that’s how we rosary.
Finally, can I see some raised glasses for date night/s? Scott and I had two, TWO, this week. We left the sleeping kids in Will’s able hands earlier in the week when we caught a movie at the theatre. Boy, did we need that. And then this weekend, our favorite college babysitter was in town and watched the whole crew while we enjoyed the Cathedral’s Celtic Christmas. It was a fantastic 2.5 hour performance filled with signing, Irish dancing, bag pipes, poetry and laughter. Man, what a night. If you haven’t ever gone, may I be the first to recommend it. The show is usually in mid-December for a Friday and Saturday night performance. Mark your calendars! We were honored to be Fr. Albert’s guests and get to sit in the balcony area. What a view. We even ended the night with Taco Cabana. Just like the old days.
I’ve got two more posts coming at you this week and then I’ll be on holiday break. Can you believe the blog is about to hit the eight-year mark on December 26? That’s just nuts. I’m looking forward to a final recap of the year on December 31. That should be fun.