My Favorite Advent Calendars

December starts tomorrow! The first of December is the traditional day that Advent calendars begin, and I’ve gone a little overboard this year and have four separate calendars going for my family. Possibly five if I don’t get off the internet soon.

Here is a list of my favorite Advent calendars, buildables, and printables, including several I am using this year, and a shameless plug for my own creation.

**Click on the photos to take you to the Advent calendar you want to explore.

Let’s start with my very own Advent card printable. I have a new secondary blog called Bad Mister Kitty for artwork and printables, and this card set is available for free over there.

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Bad Mister Kitty’s Advent Cards ~~ 25 days to unravel the marvel and the mystery of the birth of our Savior
Hattifant's Woodland Cuties Printable Advent Calendar. Head on over to her website and check out everything. You'll fall in love, I promise.
Hattifant’s Woodland Cuties Printable Advent Calendar. Head on over to her website and check out everything. You’ll fall in love, I promise.
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Mr. Printables Christmas Street Advent Calendar ~~ Stay awhile and check things out on this website, too. It’s another one of my favorites.
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This is my Mr. Printables Christmas Street Advent Calendar. I printed it on colored cardstock. These boxes are filled with Lego pieces that will make a total creation by Christmas Day.
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Pure Sweet Joy’s Tiny Box Advent Calendar
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Lumberjock’s Santa Down the Chimney Advent Buildable ~~ Plans can be purchased on furnitureplans.com. This is adorable.
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Home Naturally’s Rustic Spiral Advent Calendar. No instructions or building plans, but nonetheless a beautiful way way to anticipate the birth of Jesus.
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Little Bins for Little Hands’ Lego Advent ~~ includes many, MANY Christmas Lego ideas for a new build every day in December. Legos fit perfectly into any tiny box Advent calendars.
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Your DIY Family’s Mini Forest Advent Calendar uses simple supplies to make a delightful little Christmas forest.
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Hello, Wonderful’s Santa Advent Favor Boxes. If it isn’t obvious, I love tiny boxes.

 

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The Full Routly’s Advent Nativity Set. A 25 piece nativity set is almost impossible to find. I printed this set onto cardstock, colored each piece, and adhered them to felt to use on a felt board.
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This is our printed and colored set on the felt board. The kids love to put together the whole nativity scene and add in butterflies and bugs and rocketships and aliens. It’s quite a sight.

 

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RedBirdBlue’s Printable Christmas Story Advent Calendar. This is a beautiful set and story, and the silhouettes look great in both color and black and white.

 

Which one is your favorite?! I can’t choose, can you?

Something New! Advent Printable Cards!

I wanted to share a little something that is going on behind the scenes! I’ve started another blog, affectionately titled Bad Mister Kitty!! My new site is just that – new, and not a replacement for this one. I will continue to post here also.

Bad Mister Kitty will be featuring original artwork, art and craft ideas, mandalas, Zentangle, coloring pages, and other printables.

You can connect with Bad Mister Kitty on Facebook and Twitter, too.

My platform is (a little) larger on The Lunch Hour Gardener, so I wanted to share my newest creation here to jump start a following on Bad Mister Kitty. I have created a free pack of 25 Advent cards to print and use during December that unravels the marvel and the mystery of Jesus leading up to His birth.

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Go here to get the free printable cards and start your Advent journey with me on December 1st.

Print a set for everyone you know and share it, then join up with Bad Mister Kitty in whichever way suits you best.

There’s also a pretty cool Zentangle turkey over there to print and color.

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Send a comment and let me know how you plan to use the Advent Cards this Christmas season.

Christmas Blessings,

The Lunch Hour Gardener ~~ Also Known As Bad Mister Kitty

 

Happy 9th Birthday, Hillary!

I remember this time last year, when you turned eight years old. We were struggling with the drama du jour, and I didn’t write you a happy birthday letter because I didn’t want to write about my parenting shortcomings. If it makes you feel any better, no one told me that my children’s struggles would be a reflection of me. It’s not in the instruction manual.

But now you are nine. Whatever you were struggling with at seven and eight is long gone. The transformation has happened before my eyes, and it delights me to watch you grow into your own person.

You are kind, polite, and overall wonderful to others. You understand the basics of injustice. You share and give easily. You wholly understand that others are watching you and behave accordingly. Honestly, if you learn nothing else, these things will be your greatest asset in years to come. I am so proud.

You are coming out of your shell. Long gone are the days when you look to me for approval or hang on my arm waiting for rescue. You say what you want to say and certainly don’t need me to intercede for you anymore. Just a few weeks ago we went to dinner with some friends, and you spent the whole time engaged in conversation with adults like you’d done it all your life. I was so proud. I am so proud.

You understand that life isn’t fair, and not just because I say it all the time. You know that responsibility increases with age. You know that sometimes it’s easier to do the thing you hate than to argue about it. You know when to speak up for fairness for others. I am so proud.

You are so smart. You got straight A’s and A+’s in school this year. Your teacher says you are the first person to raise your hand, that you offer to help others who struggle, that you are a great team and individual player in her class. I am so proud.

You fill an important place in our family. You take your role of oldest child very seriously, often better at keeping the peace between your brother and sister than I am. You love to be near me, either helping me cook or keeping me company when I am writing or working on art or grocery shopping. I love your company, too.

You are nine now. As of 7:54 AM on Saturday morning, you were nine. You had your first friend sleepover and two parties, too. You had funfetti cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. You got your ears pierced. You blinked and smiled and pretended it didn’t hurt. You hugged me all day because I finally let you pierce your ears. You called it the best day ever.

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I already know this is going to be a great year. You’ve got every tool you need to make the world wonderful and your whole family behind you to help.

Happy 9th Birthday, Hillary. I love you so much. You are my best friend.

With love,

Mom

A Post-Election Guide For Democrats

It’s 4 AM on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, and I’m so very wide awake, as many are after last night’s stunning election upset. We have a new, unlikely president-elect and his name is NOT Hillary Clinton as we might have expected.

The questions are many. How do we tell our children, especially our little girls, that Hillary didn’t win for them? How do we respect the office of a president that is so reviled and detested? How do we wrap our head around this new, unexpected reality? How do we hold our heads high and simultaneously work through our emotions, which according to anecdotal evidence across the web, range from anger and extreme sadness to rage and complacency?

I cannot stress this enough: It is what it is. No take-backsies.

First things first. There will be a segment of buffoons on social media who will gloat and gloat and gloat. I anticipate this to be a larger-than-average amount of people than one might expect. Let them have their day. They aren’t speaking directly to you or to me, but it will feel like it. Resist the urge to fan their flame. It will go out on its own, unattended.

Secondly, let the sunrise be your guide. It came up, after all. Today is also a day for Democrats to rise and shine. Half of America may claim victory, but the rest of us have a chance to show grace, decency, kindness, and respect. Our children are watching our reaction to defeat. This is of greater importance than any victory celebration.

Third, and finally, because I hope to get a tiny sliver of sleep yet tonight, do not waver on your beliefs even a millimeter. For the briefest of moments in the throes of shock in a sleep-deprived haze, I wondered if I was wrong. Do not allow yourself this thought. We have important work ahead of us, some of it known by nature of the election results, some of it not yet known, and we must be watchful for those opportunities.

As you wake up today, stay proud in your political affiliation. Keep showing kindness and love, generosity and fairness toward others, and be bold to call out anyone who won’t adhere to our high character standards.

It may not feel like it right now, but we do live in the greatest nation on Earth. The power is still in the people, and we can and will make forward progress in the face of this setback.

If you do nothing else today, put your feet on the bedside floor, rub the sleep from your eyes, and get up. You are courageous and bold. You have lost nothing.

All-Ages Craft: Leaf Garland

Garland, bunting, banner, pennant. I am smitten with anything I can hang on a string.

I am always on the lookout for crafts all the kids can do together. They are 12, 10, 8, 6, and four. Garlands fit this bill most of the time, plus the display is always wonderful.

Today’s craft is a leaf garland.

I purchased color diffusing leaf cutouts, but the same results can be achieved with coffee filters and a steady scissorhand.

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Begin by preparing the color medium you will be using. I diluted a variety of food coloring in water. The less water, the more vibrant the color. I used about one-quarter cup water and 10-15 drops of food coloring. We also used a watercolor paint palette with a variety of colors for a subdued color effect and Faber-Castell watercolor crayons for bright and bold leaves.

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Place a paper towel underneath each leaf or coffee filter. Use a paint brush to apply food coloring or watercolor to the leaf and watch the colors spread and blend. If using watercolor crayons, draw the design on the leaf or filter first, then apply water and spread the crayon.

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Lay aside each leaf, including the paper towel, and allow to dry completely. To hang on a garland, use a hole punch and run a string through each leaf then hang using thumb tacks.

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The leaves came together quite quickly, even for my youngest artist, and because the paper diffuses and blends the colors, it is very forgiving and difficult to differentiate artistic level.

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One of the kids would find a cool new technique and the rest would copy for a similar effect. The oldest in our group is 12 and she created some very intricate designs. My husband even got in on the action and created a leaf accentuating his favorite football team’s colors.

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Any art that brings together the entire family is the best kind of art.

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