30 11, 2020

Observing Christmas with an Advent Wreath

By |2020-11-29T14:47:40-06:00November 30th, 2020|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade signals the beginning of Christmas preparations and traditions around our home. The Advent wreath also triggers the start of our Christmas celebrations too.

If you attend a traditional liturgical church, you lit the first candle of an Advent wreath yesterday. Or, under COVID-19 quarantine, watched the lighting via video like I did.

Unfamiliar with the tradition of Advent? Let me explain.

Advent comes from adventus meaning “coming” or “visit” and includes the four Sundays before Christmas ending on Christmas Eve. Advent also serves as the beginning of the liturgical year for churches.

Modern-day Advent services feature a garland wreath with four candles.

First candle, the “Prophet’s Candle,” symbolizes hope. The prophets of the Old Testament foretold the Messiah’s arrival. The purple color symbolizes royalty, repentance, and fasting.

Second, the “Bethlehem’s Candle,” represents faith. The prophet Micah foretold the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem. The second candle is also purple to symbolism preparation for the coming king.

Third, the “Shepherd’s Candle,” symbolizes joy. Angels announced the Christ child’s arrival to shepherds. The rose (pink) color rose signifies joy and rejoicing.

Fourth candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” signifies peace. The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace. It’s also purple to represent the culmination of love through the Messiah.

The (optional) fifth candle, “Christ’s candle,” stands in the middle and represents light and purity of Christ. It is lit on Christmas Day.

You can read more about the symbolism of the advent wreath here.

Individuals sometimes incorporate advent activities into their home holiday traditions when their church does not formally recognize a season of Advent. You can purchase wreath rings and candles. Or, with our COVID-19 holiday restrictions, you might consider constructing your own Advent wreath. Here’s a how-to video.

Observing Advent with an advent wreath is a great way to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Advent Candle from Unitarian Universalist Association
25 11, 2020

Old Irish Blessing for Thanksgiving

By |2020-11-20T10:04:17-06:00November 25th, 2020|Holidays|0 Comments

At Thanksgiving we think about all the things we are thankful for. For Chicken Wrangler Sara and I that’s you, our readers.

It’s our tradition to offer this Old Irish Blessing rich in what we wish for you and yours.  And, perhaps this crazy, mixed-up, pandemic Thanksgiving Day we all need the thoughts and words more than ever.

Happy Thanksgiving!

23 11, 2020

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Quarantine

By |2020-11-19T18:17:28-06:00November 23rd, 2020|Holidays|1 Comment

Thanksgiving arrives this week for those of us in the United States. Before COVID-19 struck, we had a week filled with family reunions, food, fun, travel, football games, Black Friday, and being thankful.

Not necessarily in that order.

All that was very different from how Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1607. Those were days of prayer, not days of feasting with services deeply grounded in religious beliefs and gratitude to their Heavenly Father.

Some of that changed in 1621 when the Wampanoag Indians were included in the festivities. Dancing, singing secular songs, playing games were added. A very secular celebration that would have shocked those first celebrants.

During this pandemic when we’re being told not to gather at all. Celebrating will be different again. Difficult. Sad.

Thanksgiving won’t be the same as last year’s, which may be a good or bad thing depending on how your day went last year.

But don’t let this pandemic madness stop you from celebrating. Here are four ideas for quarantine celebrations.

  1. Host a virtual get-together. Zoom is lifting it’s forty minute call limit so you can visit together longer.

If you want to avoid controversial topics of conversation? Download a printable list of conversation starters from the Alice&Lois blog.

Are missing the younger grandkids? Start with a Zoom craft-making session. Tracing hands to make a turkey and then writing something you’re thankful for on the finger-feathers is always fun.

  1. Light a fall-scented candle and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s still happening though different thanks to COVID restrictions. It’s reassuring when Santa arrives at Macy’s.

3. Take family walk or bike ride. Enjoy the fresh air outside.

4. Keep a notebook handy and jot down something each day that you are thankful for. Then share on Thanksgiving.

Use your imagination. Be creative. And don’t forget to include things from the original holiday like prayer and thanksgiving.

20 11, 2020

2020 Addition to Turkey Game

By |2020-11-18T15:58:56-06:00November 20th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Every November I play the Turkey Game with my classes. I made it up based on a song in an old music book given to me by my aunt on my first birthday titled “The Turkeys Run Away.”

“With a wobble, wobble, wobble and a gobble, gobble, gobble

all the turkeys spread their feathers on Thanksgiving Day!

When they see the farmer coming all the turkeys start a running

and they say “You cannot catch us” on Thanksgiving Day!

I am the farmer and I chase the students as they run from one side of the room to the other.

Anyone I catch becomes a farmer with me.

This year we are doing most of our singing outside – one of the many adjustments to teaching during a pandemic.

It’s really not so bad – except for the holes in the field and the fire ants.

So I guess that means that the turkey song counts as a multi-purpose activity – a chasing game and an obstacle course.

16 11, 2020

Piglet and Pandemic Gratitude

By |2020-11-12T14:55:09-06:00November 16th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Winnie the Pooh was a favorite of my youngest daughter, the older edition, not the Disney character. At nap time we read a chapter from A.A. Milne’s book and then at bedtime we re-read the same chapter.

The stories never got old. Ernest H. Shephard’s illustrations always brought the tales to life.

The wisdom of Pooh and his companions was sometimes beyond her young experience, but Milne’s never failed to impress me with the compassion and insight his characters imparted with humor.

In the midst of this coronavirus pandemic and election mess, I needed something to cheer me up and thought about those Pooh books I’d read to my daughter. I decided to dig out the books.

My daughter’s a grown woman with grown boys herself now. I’m grateful I saved them all these years. I’m also grateful A.A. Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh. Reading it again has sure perked up my attitude.

You know what I discovered?

Piglet’s wise words about gratitude are just as true today as all those years ago.

In fact, in this chaotic world we’re living in right now, I think filling our hearts with gratitude can be key to getting through the days.

13 11, 2020

Naming Chickens

By |2020-11-13T21:22:07-06:00November 13th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The fifth grade class at my school has started bringing me their leftover vegetables from lunch to give to my chickens.

One of the students asked if the chickens have names. I explained there are too many for me to name.  I didn’t tell him that I also get too attached if they have names and then when they die, I am sad.

He asked how many chickens I have – a question I seldom can answer with complete accuracy. I told him there are 30.

The next day he brought me a list of 30 chicken names with a few extra for good measure.

Since he had specified names for the fastest, loudest and most patterned, I took pictures of those to show him.

Cookoo – the loudest

Cookie – the most patternedJet – the fastest (I was able to catch her in the nest box)

Today I mentioned how much the ducks had enjoyed the broccoli and cauliflower yesterday.  Tomorrow I will get a list of 10 duck names.  Lucy and Ricky are already named.

I suppose this is another good thing to come out of this year – a new nonmusical connection with my students.

11 11, 2020

Veterans Day 2020

By |2020-11-07T07:57:30-06:00November 11th, 2020|behind the books, Book Release Announcement, Holidays|0 Comments

Today is Veterans Day.

I come from a family of veterans which means I have a deep-rooted interest in the day.

My husband is a retired Army officer. My father served in the Army Air Corps as a navigator. My uncle was a Marine on Imo Jima. My cousin was in the Air Force. Three brothers-in-law served in the Navy.

To all those who have answered when called, gone where ordered, and defended our nation with honor, I send a sincere thank you.

I also served as a Department of Army Civilian at Eighth Army Headquarters, Yongsan, South Korea, during the Vietnam War. That time provided the spark for my novel, Love in the Morning Calm. Lily and Alex’s story expanded into a four book series titled PROMISES.

The PROMISES boxed set is now available for a limited time for $.99. Click here to get your copy.

9 11, 2020

Creating an Attitude of Gratitude with a Gratitude List

By |2020-10-31T22:25:01-05:00November 9th, 2020|Monday Motivations|1 Comment

Gratitude is not most people’s natural disposition.

I understand.

It’s hard to be thankful when all around us is hurt and pain and disappointment and anger. It is 2020 and finding things to be thankful for seems impossible.

Gratitude doesn’t make sense, but it’s a needed discipline to push off negativity.

Being grateful is a choice. It’s not so simple to change our choices.

Developing an attitude of gratitude can take time and effort. One way to begin that change is to write a daily gratitude list.

I’m not saying it will be easy. On those Judith Viorst terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, it might seem impossible. A daily gratitude list can help with an attitude adjustment.

How do you start a daily gratitude list? What to put on your list? Here are some suggestions:

  • Write out a list of things you’re thankful for. The kinesthetic experience of tangibly writing is valuable for two reasons:
  1. The physical act imprints a feeling of gratitude at the cellular level.
  2. Handwriting is a slow process and provides more time for contemplation.
  • Begin with two or three at first and work your way up to whatever number makes you feel comfortable.
  • Chose simple things to put on your list. You woke up. In a warm place. The sunrise/sunset. There is so much to be thankful for, if we only have eyes to see.

Most important, you may have to pretend at first. So, fake it, if necessary, until the habit is established.

As your list making becomes habit, you’ll discover two things:

  1. Gratitude is all around.
  2. Gratitude grows the more you use it.
7 11, 2020

Something I Learned on Miller Farm

By |2020-11-07T07:12:29-06:00November 7th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I have learned many things living on Miller Farm. For example, I know how to tell a girl duck from a boy duck, also called a drake.

Girl ducks are actually louder when they quack.  Drakes make a softer sound.

Drakes also have a curl in their tail.

I guess it is the duck equivalent of really long curly eyelashes on human boys.

I’m not sure how useful this information is but it does make for interesting conversation while waiting in line at the grocery store.

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