Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Review is In :: Countdown to Christmas: 24 Days of The Jesse Tree Tradition

Every year at Christmas, the boys and I celebrate Advent through a variety of ways. This year, we were wanting to incorporate the Jesse Tree into our Christmas tradition as a way to celebrate the birth of Jesus. For those unfamiliar with the Jesse Tree, it is a depiction of Christ’s ancestors and begins with Jesse of Bethlehem, the father of King David and is a representational family tree. Its origins are found in a passage of the Book of Isaiah, "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots."

Here is an artistic depiction of a Jesse Tree created in 1485 by Jacques de Besancon of Paris. It depicts 43 generations. While beautiful, our tradition would need a more modern Jesse Tree.

Countdown to Christmas: 24 Days of The Jesse Tree Tradition written by Theresa Seidlitz and illustrated by Katia Lara helps recreate the Jesse Tree for children and families who would like to incorporate this idea into their Christmas celebrations.
The author, Theresa Seidlitz wrote this book when she was ten years old in hopes to share their family tradition with others. Each night, before they began a new story about Jesus’ ancestors, her family would sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” together. In the book Countdown to Christmas: 24 Days of The Jesse Tree Tradition, the author has included the words to this cherished song.

The book begins with the December 1st reading featuring Adam and Eve and a paraphrased story from Genesis 2. Following the reading, a child may hang the corresponding paper ornament which are included in this book. Each subsequent night, a new reading about Jesus’ ancestors accompanied by a new ornament to hang, guide families through the Jesse Tree tradition. The very last story to be read on Christmas Eve is about the birth of Jesus and should be followed with the singing of “Silent Night.”

Easily read, single-page stories combined with beautifully illustrated pages and ornaments make this book extra special to children. I see it quickly becoming a family tradition in our home. Editor, Marguerite Hartill, feels this book allows, “Children to learn that Jesus had a family just like they do. They learn that, with God, families grow confident and strong.”

Everything you need to start your own Jesse Tree tradition are included, save the string and something to hang your ornaments with. The paper ornaments have already been hole punched for ease of hanging. Best of all, this is a children’s book written by a child, which helps to soften some of the harder parts of the Bible for young readers.

Be sure to order your copy before December 1st and start a new tradition this year with your family! 


{Disclosure: This book was provided to me free of charge by the publishing company Canter Press and marketing firm PRbytheBook. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.}

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Je Suis Paris

Yesterday was beyond tragic. Yesterday, all the feelings of 9/11 resurfaced and in a moment I felt the stomach lurching panic, the overwhelming sorrow, and the subduing fear that cascaded down upon me in my twenty-first year. Yesterday reminded me of the wickedness that seethes within man and the violence which we are capable of. Hot tears of sorrow welled within my eyes at the memories and emotions that overrode my senses. My empathetic nature ached with knowing those in France suffered the same pain Americans did in 2001. Je suis Paris.

Yet today,  while perusing Facebook, I saw images of friends and family covered with the French flag. A sign of solidarity in the face of the abhorrent actions of terrorists. I felt a kindred spirit of love, liberty, and understanding. Nearly every profile picture had been changed and shared a oneness of compassion.  In 2001, we were all Americans. In 2015, we are all French. 

We are all together in this fight against evil. There is hope. We can stop this. Now is the time to call upon our world leaders and to have them end this wickedness before it can no longer be contained. We should not live in fear.

Our world reels with violence; our communities overflow with it. At a local level, we can all be helpful to each other, keep a watchful eye upon our neighborhoods and report crimes, and volunteer more in our cities to make them better places for our children to grow up in.

Liberte, egalite, fraternite. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mommy & Me Owl Handprint

Here is a throw back post from an activity I did for Dandelion Moms a few years ago. It has made the rounds and has garnered 29 thousand plus pins on Pinterest! I hope you enjoy it as much as the rest of the internet has!

Owls can be wise, all-knowing, and even whimsical. This autumn, owls seem to be all the rage in fashion, art and d├ęcor. Here is a delightful Mommy & Me craft to create with your young children this season.
  • Non-toxic acrylic paint of your choice. (Owls typically are brown, white and grey; however, pink owls are cute too.)
  • Craft paper of your choice. (I used a manila paper, but any craft paper will do.)
  • Various styles and sizes of paintbrushes.
  • A nearby sink to rinse small painted hands.
Let’s begin:
After selecting your color choice for the owl body, gently paint your child’s palm. Once the palm is painted, place the palm down on the paper to create a handprint. Lift your child’s hand gently and rinse off the paint.
With your child, select the different features and the colors you both will use to create your owl art. Add eyes, a beak, talons, and other details to your owl. Create a tree limb for it to rest upon. You can add more than one owl or tree to your creation. Imagination counts!
Hint: When layering paint for eyes or body coloring, ensure the bottom layer of paint has properly dried to avoid smudges or smears.
These owls would make adorable Fall Cards for grandparents or other family members, especially when signed “Wishing you owl a Happy Fall!”

Texas Travels :: The Grapevine Botanical Garden

Tucked away on a quiet street in the bustling city of Grapevine, Texas, shoppers and visitors alike can escape to a serene plot of green space frothed with flora and fauna. Our family recently visited this boutique botanical garden and thoroughly enjoyed our time away from the normalcy of Dallas.

Upon entry, we were promptly greeted by migrating monarchs in the butterfly sanctuary. Gathering in bunches, they performed varied acrobatics on their way to each new flower. Quite a few of these charming beauties were tagged with tracking stickers for the great migration count at Monarch Watch.

Beyond the butterflies, the Grapevine Botanical Garden offers streams, woodland bridges, ponds and learning alcoves. In one such alcove, vertical gardening was prominently featured and reminded me of the lovely vertical displays in Parkland Gardens I visited in Brisbane, Australia.

As we crossed one water garden, a flicker of orange and gold caught my eye. The discovery of a gorgeous koi pond put a smile on my lips. I watched each fish delicately glide through the water skirting the lily pads as they went. I could have stayed for hours caught in their mesmerizing movements.

The garden also offers visitors a lovely stroll in an open park-lawn setting with a picturesque water feature, as well as a gazebo and stage. Weary legs can find ample sitting areas throughout the gardens, too.

The next time you're in the Grapevine area visiting Lego Discovery Center or shopping at Grapevine Mills, be sure to take time out of your day and enjoy the serenity of the gardens at Heritage Park.