In the nearly 10 years that we've been married, Andy and I have cultivated our own series of Advent traditions, which are almost more important than the Christmas traditions which are kinda like everyone else's.
Having an Advent Candle and an Advent Calendar with Bible passage or reflection as part of that time together.
Eating a meal together every night.
Giving thanks in different ways - sometimes through giving donations or sending special gifts to people or acts of service (Andy was Santy one year at my work Christmas 'do!)
Last year we added Andrew Peterson's 'Behold the Lamb' album to that list which I had discovered on my trip to Tennessee in September. It has been played a few times already!
When Matilda came along 5 years ago, those fluid traditions gained a different and clearer perspective and now with Isaac on the scene, we're excited to have this first Advent together as a family of 4.
Last year I attempted, with some success, to blog daily on what was happening, our reflections on the season and telling some of the funny and important stories of our day. You can read them starting here or click on advent or december daily labels to the right.
So today - December 1st. Our niece Ellie's 10th birthday first of all - can't believe she is 10! She was just a babe in arms when we got married...time has flown and she's a wonderful, clever, kind girl and a very talented gymnast - tipped for Olympics in the future!
The day started well as Isaac slept til 6am - he's gradually stretching the time he sleeps in the night and currently has a dream feed at 11pm and wakes for an early morning feed, sometime between 5.30 and 6.30am.
Matilda was very excited about the first pocket in her Advent Calendar - made for us in 2006 by my aunt when she was just born. Today she got a shiny chocolate coin and a tag saying 'Family prayers and thanks with candles'. That will be our activity over dinner this evening.
After Matilda had been taken to school and Andy had taken to his study, I got on with some preparations for Smith Lane Hodson Christmas weekend. My sister Ellie, husband Ollie and their son Freddie are going to New York this Christmas so we're all getting together at our house this weekend to exchange gifts and have some family time together with my parents too. It's a collective effort with us all bringing different elements of the meals so it should be fun.
Andy had a break from essay writing and came with me on a visit to our local butchers, just a short walk away, to get meat for the weekend and we enjoyed some fresh air with Isaac in the papoose on Andy's front.
Matilda had a play in the park after school with her friends Oscar and Alfie.
Pray and give thanks night with the Advent candle at the dinner table went well, with Matilda wanting to pray first and praying for children who don't have a nice school to go to or have enough food.
Tonight, I've been helping Andy with ideas and planning for an Advent Labyrinth he's setting up over the weekend while he has been squirrelled away Essay writing - something about Athanasius!