Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Christmas baby!







I can't believe its been a year since we welcomed little Max into our crazy home! Since this picture he's gotten used to us all a bit more and we don't seem to promote such a stark reaction, so its a win-win. 


He's been such a fun baby, in that he'd actually sleep when it was dark outside, no day-long scream-a-thons, lots of happy smiles and a cuddly little face to kiss!

He's become amazingly tough with three older siblings who mostly want to play with him, but occasionally think the walk-by punch is a good idea. He already loves wrestling with daddy and the brothers.

I'm sure the more kids you have the faster the years go by. It definitely doesn't feel like a year, its amazing how fast newborns become babies, become toddlers. I feel as if I've forgotten so much of past first years, even though they were only a few short years ago! The babyness is all at once a lot of work but so much fun. I'm always a little sad when a first birthday rolls around, even though it means such great steps towards a little more independence for them, which I usually love as well! 


He's so loved by his siblings and loves them back so much its so exciting to see, and I really shouldn't take it for granted. Max's loveable and easygoing nature has most definitely come out early, and can I say that I think he'll be one of those people that everyone likes? I'm sure every mom says that about every child, but his personality already seems so friendly and fun to be around. He's also got a great sense of humour which is also a great thing to have, I love that he finds the crazy stuff his brothers do hilarious!


Happy Birthday to my little man! We all love you!








Thursday, December 27, 2012

What I Wore on Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are still celebrating with a gusto-because that's the Catholic thing to do! 

Anyone else suffering from extreme Toddler Christmas Hangover?? Because around here I can barely move from exhaustion and turkey. The hubby had to get back to work today and after not stopping since Saturday? the kids are a tiny, itsy bit grumpy. Theres toys everywhere, and wrapping paper in heaps here and there since we had to book it to the fan-damilies as soon as we opened our gifts Christmas morning. I've decided today is a lazy day and the only chores getting done around here is the bare minimum of underwear washing. And maybe eating...but theres still a lot of gingerbread cookies left! 

But heres my not-exactly-magazine-quality outfit shots for lovely Grace (thanks to her for her fun-tastic hosting as usual!):


These are the only shots of me probably from all of Christmas. I've got on a stretchy/cheap sequin tank from Joe Fresh-because if you can't wear sequins at Christmas time then when can you, dammit!? A navy pleated skirt from H&M borrowed from my sister, it was the only remotely cute skirt in our collective possession with a generous elastic waist. And my navy cardigan because I didn't want to scandalize at Christmas Eve Mass, and my braided belt to create the illusion of a waist. I'm well aware that the waist illusion is probably only visible at about a thirty yard distance...but still.


This pic just makes me laugh. 


Clearly things went downhill from here on out. 

But there was so much fun, chocolate eating, gift unwrapping, and happy toddler playing that the craziness was the very best kind.

I'm out to lie like broccoli, drink coffee, and watch an illegally gotten Christmas episode of Downton Abbey with the sisters, oh, and of course eat another couple boxes of chocolate! If my children slide into a sugar coma my husband will find them this afternoon!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What I Wore Sunday

Hey everyone, I'm back, because I think I may be addicted to What I Wore Sunday.
Wishing all of you linking up from Fine Linen and Purple a very Merry Christmas!

Now on to the festivities.


What the what?! She's wearing a skirt! I decided that apparently its just going to be -25 for the rest of the winter so I might as well bite the bullet and finally wear a dress again to Mass! I busted out the ol' tights and took the polar bear plunge of running from my house to car to Church, and then Church to car to house. And I have a rule that if I'm going to wear horribly uncomfortable tights they damn well better be a colour. These are supposed to be "violet". The nighttime glow doesn't really do them justice.


And its official. I'm getting worse at looking even close to normal every single week.

In full disclosure I totally wore boots, but had to put four kids to bed instantly after returning from Mass tonight because it was our Parish Christmas supper and everyone was completely exhausted and unreasonable so the boots had to go. And this cardigan makes me look McFrumpy but its really cozy and I have to maintain my Queen of the Cardigan status. 

The cute shoes, by the way, are the pair I won from Grace which I have hardly had the chance to wear...which just makes me sad. 

I look forward to eating my five pound Toblerone bar of chocolate while catching up with the more fashion conscious!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Seven Quick Takes-Christmas edition!


Joining reality star and hot Christmas mama Jen and all the takers again this week!
(I wasn't able to watch last night's Minor Revisions episode so I'm painfully out of the loop, but I loved, loved the first episode! Of course!)

{one}

How to perfectly wrap a Christmas present designmom.com? Nah, I'm good.

I've been blogging deprived this week due to our extreme overage on our monthly internet allotment, and the sudden realization as of yesterday that I have hundreds of gifts to wrap. Hundreds! Ok, obviously not hundreds, but its shocking how fast they add up even when we only get each kid three or so gifts. But never fear, I wrap half-ass-ed-ly so I'm sure I can wrap up the last of it while I watch a whole season of Duck Dynasty tonight! 

{two}




 Peeps have been asking about our tree sitch from that photo of me wearing clothes from last Sunday so heres the scoop. We've always had a child of prime Christmas-tree-destruction-age for the entirety of our marriage, (except that first Christmas when I was just preggo and too sick to get out of bed to put up a tree at all, oh and last Christmas when everyone was over the age of two-weird I know!) so we've just gravitated to putting the tree on a coffee table. It gives an extra 18 or so inches of child protected-ness, and we still usually have to put a further coffee table as an extra deterrent around the tree, and I still only put very cheap unbreakable ornaments on the lower quadrant, but so far its actually a handy idea. Our house is too small to have it more roped off than that so thats the best we can do. I'm sure I stole the idea from Martha. 

{three}




I obviously love the crazy charlie brown-ish type tree. I refuse to have anything but a real tree, and my whole life I've only had trees that my dad and then my husband have chopped down themselves. Living out here on the edge of the arctic, err I mean arboreal forest, it takes only five minutes driving along a road that cuts through my dad's property for us to spy a tree we think will be good enough. I'm not going for perfection, clearly, but it seems much more charming having random holes in places. And I think my decorating scheme I'm going for is vintage/handmade/red and gold chic. Maybe if one day I have a ridiculously large house and get to go to town and put a Christmas tree in every room I'll break down and do a "blue" tree or a "pink and red ombre" tree, but until then I think its more important building memories of imperfect charlie brown trees and all our collected mish-mash of ornaments. Hey I could go on about Christmas tree decorating and the philosophy behind it but you probably have a couple hundred gifts to wrap too.

{four}

I barely recovered from my horrible start to the week. I was a complete irritated, angre, grumpy, probably hormonal total Grinch. And what added insult to my already really poor imitation of a good mother, was how I felt I had so many good intentions to just love, love, love my kids especially in the wake of last week's tragedy. But lo and behold Monday it was all I could do not to yell at the fortieth request for a glass of water. One of those days where it feels as if every single thing you say to your toddlers is met with an extremely hostile "NO". Which of course always spurs me to a demenour of kindness and syrupy smiles. Tantrums over napping? Throw those in too. Tantrums over an incomplete cracker? We're on a roll already, why not. Needless to say I yelled everyone into napping for a couple hours and then I just wrote the rest of the day off with the only goal of not being a total ogre to everyone. Tuesday was a bit better but with my irritation aimed at everything else in my life. Can't finish things before Christmas? Cancelled appointments? Even trying to get to confession a complete pain in the ass? All things that completely irritated me. I think I'm almost to the point of trying to let go of all the things I can't control but wanted to get done, all my epic mishandlings of the week, and concentrate on the fun times of the next few days and ya know, Jesus and stuff. But my track record has been abysmal of late so we'll see. And if you could say I prayer that I actually do get to confession this weekend it would be great!

{five}



Ok. This is the second straight Christmas that I'm pregnant. Albeit last Christmas I had a baby three days later so I had a glass of wine with Christmas dinner because a woman nine months pregnant deserves SOMETHING, and I most probably will have a drink at each holiday dinner this year too, but I so miss alcohol this time of year! I miss hot buttered rum (which is really weird and gross if you've ever made it from scratch but tastes ridiculously awesome!), I miss my signature cranberry cocktail, I miss my champagne, I miss eggnog and rum, I miss eggnog and kahlua, I miss eggnog and brandy, I miss a good scotch while filling the stockings Christmas Eve, Christmas morning mimosas, Christmas afternoon Spanish coffees, wine. I just miss alcohol dammit! And this makes me sound like a complete lush come Christmas time, but when is there a more festive time to drink any ridiculous concotion of alcohol?! So please, if you're not pregnant, have a drink and think of me!

{six}

Oh remember when I was pontificating all that Christmas/Advent advice?! Well this weekend we have our parish Christmas party, company coming for the weekend, the Husband working half of Christmas Eve, me and my planning of all the Christmas Eve Mass music which I haven't even thought twice about yet, Christmas Eve, then Christmas Day and then travelling to the in-laws and back again Boxing Day. And my hundreds of gifts to wrap, and zero baked cookies. Basically its chaos from here on out. Chaos without the benefit of a good drink people!

{seven}

And to leave you with something that is the complete opposite of merry and festive this is our forecast for the upcoming week:

 SaturdayDecember 22SundayDecember 23MondayDecember 24TuesdayDecember 25WednesdayDecember 26ThursdayDecember 27
Conditions 
6am - 6pm
Scattered flurriesFlurriesCloudy with sunny breaksMainly cloudyScattered flurriesVariable cloudiness
 Scattered flurriesFlurriesCloudy with sunny breaksMainly cloudyScattered flurriesVariable cloudiness
P.O.P.60 %40 %30 %30 %40 %30 %
High-17 °C-19 °C-21 °C-23 °C-20 °C-20 °C
Feels Like-25-27-28-34-33-29
Low-21 °C-20 °C-29 °C-29 °C-26 °C-25 °C
WindN  10 km/hE  15 km/hN  5 km/hS  10 km/hSE  20 km/hSE  10 km/h
24-Hr Snow2-4 cm2-4 cm--close to 1 cm-





Doesn't seeing a forecast like that feel you with horror?? Apparently its the coldest Christmas in over 40 years. Hurrah! So our happy Christmas will most definitely come from what's important like enjoying the excitement of "Baby Jesus being born to Mary and Josept in the barn with the cows!" Every day Gemma and Dom wake up and run to the nativity that lacks a baby Jesus and say "Aww, but when is baby Jesus coming?!" And its Max's first Christmas so I'll most definitely try to get as many forced Christmas poses and wrapping present-eating pictures as possible! Christmas is really wonderful with children, and somehow all the work and chaos is totally worth it. So if I don't get on here before then, I wish everyone a very blessed Christmas and hope you all celebrate to the fullest!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What I Wore Sunday vol. 5

Hey everybody, I'm completely keeping it real this week and putting up my sad looking outfit just to be honest! Somehow it makes me feel less guilty enjoying looking at what everyone else is wearing over at Fine Linen and Purple when I at least contribute! 


We had a whirlwind weekend of Christmas shopping, seeing family, sneaking in a date night (yay!), then speeding back to make our 5 pm Mass last night. By the time we took these pictures I was completely exhausted and it was the late, late hour of 8 pm. 


We ended showing up at Mass only right at the end of the opening hymn...which I was supposed to be playing...whoops...with only one kid without shoes! Clearly, the one kid was the one who doesn't walk on his own yet or else that would have been an awfully cold walk through 8 inches of snow from car to church. 

And this is actually a nice shot of our tree. We always go about two minutes down the road and end up having to make a tough choice between the many trees that grow along the side of the road on my dad's land! The kids start getting ansy if theres no chop chop within five minutes. The spoilt little tots!

Ignore me and keep focusing on pretty Christmas tree. But heres the ensemble: a little preggo number of boring/now completely hated jeggings, me now graduating to embracing form fitting tops again when out in public and a little black tank top, and another of my many cardigans I think from H&M last year. And that pendant is one of my owl pocket watch-type necklaces...I have more than one...draw your own nerdy conclusions!


And I was trying to go for a side preggo shot but ended up looking really tired and with an expression that says "I'd eat that!". Attractive. I'm also totally not allowing my husband to take accurate pregnancy shots...I need to work on the vanity. And I just had to check my pregnancy app to figure out I'm 22 weeks. Which seems ridiculous. The thing with being pregnant all the time is you completely adapt to thinking pregnancy and all its weird effects are just normal which makes you loose track of pregnancy time! Or maybe I'm just losing it. I have bad pregnancy brain, which my husband is still refusing to believe is a real thing, but its real right??

And I'm going to work on finding an extension cord thats not bright orange.

Happy Gaudete Sunday!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

G.K. Chesterton and How to Celebrate Christmas



G.K. Chesterton wrote a lot about Christmas. Mostly in the form of essays but also in his journalistic endeavours, as well as poems and stories, and a book was published solely composed of his opinions and tales on Christmas in 1984 entitled The Spirit of Christmas. He's got a lot to say about it, and he's got a crazy ability to compare and draw similarities between things that no one else would ever think of, and his infectious wonder and appreciation of the important things in life is contagious.

I've just read the essay "Christmas", from his book of essays All Things Considered, and its been rolling through my mind for the last few days especially in light of reading posts and articles about the joys of Advent and trying to reemphasize Advent in our lives in order to better celebrate Christmas itself. Here's how he opens the essay:

"There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes, as I am doing in this article. It is the very essence of a festival that it breaks upon one brilliantly and abruptly, that at one moment the great day is not and the next moment the great day is."

What immediately springs to my mind when reading is the marvellous feeling of Christmas morning when we were children. Waking up full of excitement over a day that is unlike any other all year. Its a momentous feeling, really. I know my children are young enough that they're pretty impervious to time, days of the week, and months even. They only know what we tell them to prepare for and live blissfully in the moment, enjoying the security of routine yet finding the joy of the everyday. Chesterton reemphasizes the importance on saving all the presents, and secretly purchasing the needs of Christmas to make things special.To wake up and have a day so filled with magic, lights, and yes, presents must seem amazingly out of the blue to them. What a great way of expressing the goal of our Advent preparation, even for us cynical adults who are inundated with Christmas "music" blaring in every store from the middle of November on. 

Of course, Chesterton wasn't exactly in charge of the daily chores of his household. He most definitely didn't plan his Christmas turkey, the trimmings, the decorations, the simple gifts. His wife Frances handled most of his everyday needs and in working with his personal secretary scheduled his work life as well. Chesterton famously got on the wrong train when trying to return home, he was so absent-minded. In other words, although this advice is completely apt and insightful, it seems pretty far from reality to today's mom who has a huge list of preparations for the big day in order to make a magical Christmas for everyone. I don't really have any answers to this problem. I think its a challenging part of life to be a mother and still cultivate an atmosphere in oneself that accommodates the true excitement and celebration of Christmas. But I think it requires tough decisions. Saying no to too many Christmas parties before Christmas, too much shopping, too much noise, too many toys for the kids. Maybe simplifying travel, cooking, decorating. To wake up on Christmas day as a mom surprised that it has sprung out of ordinary days would be a modern day miracle for sure, but cultivating a quiet during Advent in an effort to acknowledge the joy of Christmas is a little more attainable in small steps and brings us closer to that moment of amazement.

Another reason I love Chesterton is that we share the same annoying habit of having opinions on everything and being willing to share them. I love this line a few more paragraaphs into the essay:

"Of course, all this secrecy about Christmas is merely sentimental and ceremonial; if you do not life what is sentimental and ceremonial, do not celebrate Christmas at all"

Now I don't believe Chesterton is saying that Christmas itself, the birth of Christ and the celebration of the Incarnation, is in any way sentimental, but the festivities and how we celebrate the occasion is, when you boil it down, sentimental and ceremonial. I think today, many people think the practice of Advent to be needless, a little sentimental in a religious type of way, but really in shunning Advent they really are shunning the practices of Christmas. Chesterton is also giving a smackdown to those Scrooge's who say Christmas is just a time of needless tradtion and sentimentality that these people shouldn't celebrate Christmas at all, in other words no Christmas presents for them! 

Chesterton furthers this line of thinking by commenting upon how modern society, while eschewing Christianity, Christ, and the real reason for Christmas itself, but still keeping up the pageantry of the party in essence makes Christmas boring by taking away its true meaning: 

"There is no mark of the immense weak-mindedness of modernity that is more striking than this general disposition to keep up old forms, but to keep them up informally and feebly. Why take something which was only meant to be respectful and preserve it disresepctfully? Why take something which you could easily abolish as a superstition and carefully perpetuate it as a bore?"

This was written about 100 years ago yet is completely visible in today's society. Isn't society without Christ, without faith, perpetuating Christmas to only make it boring? Does our culture make Christmas just another excuse to shop, consume, entertain ourselves? 

Chesterton furthers his point by connecting Christmas to the rise of humanitarianism of his day that much resembles the extreme enviormental movement of today. Chesterton defends the eating of turkey, how it fits the custom and celebration of Christmas and how it is in no way inhumane for the turkey. But in a curious twist Chesterton introduces the strange and odd example of animal vivisection which at the time was a popular scientific endeavour. He says that vivsection is an "ugly action done in cold blood", which of course is true. And it all seems like a very strange example to be giving in an essay on Christmas. But then as I was thinking about Chesterton's point on vivisection being an extreme that serves no use or purpose, I thought it a disordered and extreme thing done out of human curiosity. Just as the extreme modern obsession with consumerism has become associated with Christmas. We've taken the good human inclination towards sentimentality and ceremony that should be properly placed at Christmas to a completely disordered place of needless buying, endless noise, and constant entertainment. All of which is done by a society that shuns Christ, the real reason for the season. In this sense Chesterton's use of the argument against extreme humanitarianism and the practice of vivisection suddenly hits a little too close to home, and seems to ring true in more ways than one. 

Chesterton is never dire though when issuing these warnings about modern thinking, never leaves the mind hopeless. He is imploring us to simply not be indifferent to the Christmas season, to Advent. We simply need to take a position, to have faith. A proper faith in Christmas, and maybe a little more thoughtfulness towards its preparation to make it a true festival.  

G.K. goes on to say so much more in the essay so I really recommend reading the whole thing here, because as with any piece of Chesterton writing every individual will discover new hits of truth. So in hopes we will all have a little more wonder this Advent and Christmas here's Chesterton's own conclusion to his essay which I find hilarious:

"A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished."


I'm linking up to the lovely Little Holy Days link-up hosted by Carrots for Michaelmas, MollyMakesDo, and Dualing Moms. Head over to read a lot more great ideas for Advent!



Sunday, December 9, 2012

What I Wore Sunday x4



Hi lovely readers of Fine Linen and Purple! Thanks for dropping in, and I hope everyones having a great Advent!

We had Mass on a Sunday! Totally throwing off our schedule, and making all the kids extra cranky and my hair extra not done. 

Without further ado heres the much ado about not so much outfit for this week:


Still holding on to the drape-y preggo camouflage as you can see. We woke to a toasty temperature of -29 so it was most definitely sweater weather. And this "sweater" is all crazy and roomy, I could hide all kinds of babies under this thing! 

But major downer-fully resorting to leggings for Mass. Which saddens me. I miss wearing skirts, and I feel pretty scandalous only wearing leggings, but such is preggo life! 

I don't know if its coincidence or not, but ever since I started posting on What I Wore Sunday its become progressively colder each weekend...I hope this isn't the key to our ridiculous weather or else this blog business is over.


My modelling skills have also gotten progressively worse as the weeks have gone on too.

And here's a closeup of my necklace:


Its a faux quartz/agate necklace from Etsy, a shop I'll have to track down. I like the looks, and its not heavy like a real one would be, but still hurts the baby enough to pass as legit. I know, I know, I should only be wearing teething friendly necklaces...yuck!

Well, that's it for me, I'm going to spend the rest of the day hibernating in the house and refusing to go out of doors yet again. Everyone pray I beat the husband in our fantasy football league or I'll never hear the end of it! 



Friday, December 7, 2012

Seven Quick Takes vol. 26

Very quick takes for ya'lls. Enjoy, and go visit the wonderful Jens!

{one}




 It was another wonderful week of weather up here. And I hate complaining about the weather, but I'm complaining about the weather. I really can't even put kids outside even in 14 layers of clothing without risking severe frostbite within minutes, so I've resorted to making everyone take "naps" for a good hour in the afternoons. I think its a coping mechanism. A coping mechanism that involves me watching Downton Abbey Season 3. I savour even a few minutes free of questions/whines/needs. 

Horrible mom confession over.

{two}

You know you're in the throes of winter when my television consumption rises to new heights. It was a week of traumatic television. There was the really disappointing episode of The Walking Dead, where I screamed at the television out of frustration making my husband impose the ban on no screaming while watching anything with him. Downton, of course, and I'm not going to be a spoiler so anyone who has seen it...you know what I'm talking about. Emotionally traumatized. And then we also are slowly making our way through Breaking Bad, and finally hit the season four finale, which if you watch it you also know what I'm talking about. So I'm pretty sure tv is going to be pretty disappointing for the next little while.

{three}

Not the big city, but on the road to the aforementioned. 

I made it to the big ci-tay yesterday sans little peeps. I wish I could have basked in all that is the city AND no littles but I had so much Christmas/grocery shopping to do it was a whirlwind of shopping that wasn't the most enjoyable type. It was the mom type. I think I'm still in denial when I think that somehow I shouldn't be included in the mom shopping category...BUT I AM! 

{four}


St. Nicholas Day was a hit around here. Theres something to be said about not allowing your kids a ton of candy, because a couple chocolate coins and a candy cane really make there day! Gemma keeps asking where St. Nicholas lives and I say heaven and she seems confused. Should I say North Pole? I don't think thats theologically correct at all. Navigating St. Nicholas with small children is tricky business. Maybe this could have been avoided by never introducing Santa...but thats fairly impossible isn't it? I'm not sure. 

{five}


We were all reading a little nativity book the other day and got to the part with the three wise men bringing presents to Baby Jesus. This is the kids favourite part. Everybody's asking what the presents were, Gemma of course asks what they were wrapped in??, and I explain gold, frankincense, and myrrh. To which Luke says, "Myrrh?! I LOVE myrrh!" Right. Of course you do. 

{six}

And everyone should go see my friend Rebekah and her fun blog and enter to win one of her beautiful handmaid headbands
You're welcome!

{seven}


We haven't got any exciting plans for this weekend. We're still in the process of building a new bedroom in the basement since we're rapidly outgrowing our little house, so that's what the husband will be doing, I will probably be finishing Downton Abbey instead of being all productive and stuff. No one really has started wrapping yet have they??
And its going to be beyond cold! So hopefully I'm still alive come Monday! 
Have a good Second weekend of Advent!



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ugly Advent Wreath Pinterest Round-Up!

I fully understand that I should probably go to confession over what's about to follow here, but I just couldn't resist!

The other day I was looking for some inspiration for my Advent Wreath, because it is in sore need of some sprucing up, and I wanted to hip it up a little. And for some reason Real Simple and Traditional Home don't have a lot in the way of Catholic liturgical season decorating. Which is weird. Also; since every interior design blog is written by an uber-chic Mormon I'm outta luck there too. I just hit a simple search of Advent Wreath in Pinterest and came up with these winners. I won't link back because I don't want to be too mean, and clearly that'll make a difference to my penance. 

Prepare yourselves.


Sadly, I think there are some liberal parishes out there that would be all about this guy!


Its hanging from a chandelier and has fake flowers. Enough said.


Under this pin read the caption "pretty advent wreath". Clearly, this pinner was colour blind.


This one's a doozy. I'm trying to imagine the theological arguments someone would make for it. Something about the linking of the celestial beings...


AN ANTLER ADVENT WREATH!?!? Seriously, lets call the time of death on this trend right now.


I can almost appreciate this one. I too have a lot of wine bottles kicking around. And it has that cheap Italian restaurant vibe going for it...

The moral of this story is we Catholics need to rise up, come up with some pretty Advent wreaths and then Pin them! My only instructions are to use the liturgically correct colours of candles, no spray paint, and for the love of all that is good, no pine cones! 








Monday, December 3, 2012

The Beauty of Advent Music

One of my favourite parts of Advent is actually the music. This is probably the direct result that I've been doing the music for Mass in the parishes I've attended since I was about 10. I seem to always land in small towns that have no one else with even a smidgen of musical talent and once people know you can play the piano while carrying a tune the job of music leader is yours! I've been the only person who does music ministry in my tiny parish for the past 5 years, so I've got a pretty good handle on "Church" music. Although I'm sure everyone at Mass knows how little time I have to practice, I try to give it my best effort while at times disciplining the masses of my own children.

Don't worry-I'm not trying to convince anyone to halt all their Christmas music and demand they only listen to "Every Valley Shall Be Exalted" for four weeks of Advent. But I just thought I'd point out the beautiful parts of Advent music which can easily be overlooked, and if all you hear of Advent music is at Mass on Sundays it really can be music that reflects the mysteries of Advent and brings us a little closer to our Advent goals of penance, preparation, prayer, and maybe a simplifying of our faith.

Advent is one of the nicest times in liturgical music. (Now, everyone try and not glaze over at those two words "liturgical music". I know to most those words are as interesting and fun-sounding as "elective surgery" or "tax preparation" but I promise you Advent is one of the most interesting times of the year for music.) Good Advent music should be subtle, unassuming, profound, yet approachable.  Good Advent hymns are an interesting mixture of a usually simple, often minor, melody that rises and falls, while the lyrics should reflect the mysterious nature of Advent as a time of both waiting, reflection and praising. Most Advent hymns have a beautiful history as well as gorgeous melodies and impressive lyrics. Also; Advent is one of the few times in the year where it seems the modern decimation of traditional and very good music hasn't completely cleared out the generic hymnal.

One of my favourite hymns is "Gabriels's Message" or "The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came" and its a perfect example of how a beautiful melody can be both minor in tone yet still contain the praising element of the "Glorias" of the chorus. It really encapsulates the idea of Advent as a time of solemn reflection in preparation for the Messiah and praising God in that anticipation. Its the paradox of Advent's spiritual reality. The carol itself is Basque in tradition and dates from the 13th Century and wasn't translated into English until the 19th century. The lyrics are of course a poetic version of the Magnificat, and it makes a perfect hymn to be used in the third and fourth weeks of Advent.

As Advent music is used but once a year I find that hearing these timeless songs again conjure up memories of past Advents. The return to the familiar should also help direct us to a more concentrated focus on the time of year, its meaning, and our spiritual focus. Hearing "Wake, Awake for night is Flying" always seems to make me think of past winters, past Christmases, past times of renewal. "Wake, Awake For Night is Dying", as its known in most Catholic hymnals, is set to a Bach chorale and to hear it performed by a choir is exciting, but even if only the melody is used it makes for a beautiful addition to the liturgy.

The biblical themes of Christ's coming as a bridegroom is used in both "Wake, Awake for night is Dying" and also in "Awake, Awake Fling Off the Night". The spiritual themes of Advent such as light, darkness, and waiting are also seen in the hymns as well. "Awake, Awake" is based upon a latin chant melody which brings a simplicity to the music which is also a refreshing reminder of our need for simple faith during Advent.

Then the great classic hymns, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "O Come Divine Messiah", truly some of the most beautiful songs in liturgical music, and should be heard in the last two Sundays of Advent. Unfortunately there has been some brutal renditions of both, but please don't let that put you off! The thoughtful performance of both hymns showcase stunning melodies. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is based on the O Antiphons that are part of the last days of Advent beginning on December 17, and are part of the Divine Office that speak of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. "O Come Divine Messiah" is based on a French hymn which uses both words of praise and a major key to emphasis the joy of the coming King of Kings, and is lovely in its perfect description of our joyful anticipation for Christmas Day.

I'm by no means an expert, but just wanted to share a few thoughts about the Advent music you may be hearing at Mass, or may have overlooked in the past. Of course, the problem with liturgical music is that it is heavily dependent upon human beings and can thus be completely mangled, botched, and downright abused. The best Advent music is that which is approached reverently but with a simplicity that directs worshippers to a deeper reflection on the mystery of Advent. The music and use of instruments should be used sparingly, it would be nice if all parishes could bust out the chant for these weeks as it gives such an austere feeling to the liturgy that is most fitting for Advent, but since most don't have that kind of talent and resources it's much more fitting to the season to par down instruments and arrangements in order to contrast with a more full and glorious Christmas liturgy.

I've only mentioned a couple of the truly great hymns, let me know your favourites, and if you're in the mood for a whole album dedicated to great sacred Advent music I really recommend the new Advent at Ephesus by Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. Its beautifully done, and the song choices are all really helpful in cultivating the right mood towards a prayerful Advent. Even my toddlers seem to like it!

So theres my rant about some church-y Advent music. I hope we all have a faith focused Advent, and please go visit all the lovely contributors to the Little Holy Days Link-Up, they'll have great stuff!


Little HolyDays Link-up

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What I Wore Sunday- vol. tres

Hello, everyone clicking over from Fine Linen and Purple
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my mediocre outfit this week! 

I feel this week's edition is pretty lacklustre. It really is just a plaid shirt, with a granny cardigan thrown overtop because I felt a plaid shirt was definitely not classy enough for Mass, and I was freezing. Actually, now that I look at the pics this outfit reminds me of what Anne Perkins seems to wearing a lot  of these days on Parks and Recreation. I personally prefer her cute patterned dresses and blouses with skirts but I'm going to say I was going for the "Anne Perkins" look this week anyway. 


And it was one of those weeks where I had to use dry shampoo and throw things around out of my closet. With it being so awfully cold out we have to get the kids ready about 5 hours before Mass, but somehow I always end up leaving about 3.5 minutes to dress myself. Which was poor planning on my part for this blogging thing! 

Also; I'm sporting another pair of stretchy, preggo-friendly-but-not-super-cute jeggings this week. Riveting stuff.

But here's my exciting contribution for this week:


I bought a new coat! Its camel, wool, real fur (take that!), and cute? 
I always question major clothes purchases I make by myself while pregnant. As soon as I'm not pregnant I realize things I bought are hideous and no one wanted to say anything. So hopefully this coat is a pass? I'm also sadly going to fit in it for another two and a half hours, but luckily for me winter lasts but 10 months a year in blissful Alberta so I'm sure I'll get some wear out of it before its out of style. 

Another winter Mass beginning and ending in darkness on a Saturday night. At least tonight it was fitting for Advent. It was also -15 going to Mass with a windchill of -abillion with snowfall of some sort. This winter is feeling long already so I hope it warms up for Christmas! 

Happy Advent everyone, and thanks for stopping by!


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