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December Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Advent”

For this entire year (I can’t believe it is the last month of the year already!) I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 4, Beatrice 1). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme. Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

Our theme this month is “Advent.” To me December is a month of anticipation. Our family is OBSESSED with advent calendars. We literally have 5 that we will do every day this month. For me it is a way of slowing down and fully enjoying these favorite of days. I am going to share some of my favorite advent traditions here, as well as our own little “activity” advent of 25 perfect December activities – one for each day until Christmas.

DECEMBER Dates to Take Note of:

December 6-12 – Hanukkah
December 13th – The Feast of Santa Lucia – we are hoping to take a trip up to Georgetown to partake in their annual European Christmas Market –
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December 22nd – Winter Solstice – I love the tradition of making a small bonfire outside on this day.
December 24th – Christmas Eve (Also my grandmother’s Birthday!) (for us, it is Christmas eve services, followed by takeout, leaving cookies for Santa, and opening a package that is always pajamas)
December 25th – Christmas Day – (for us it looks like – photos on the stairs before coming down, sausage souffle and cinnamon rolls, opening stockings and presents as slowly as possible, playing all day, a family walk in the cold, and grilling outside)
December 26th – Boxing Day

Local: Greeley, CO events:

December 5th – Teddy Bear Bash at the Festival of Trees – 9-11am
December 5th – Handmade for the Holidays 10-3 at the Kress Cinema
December 11-13th – The Nutcracker at UCCC
December 11-13th – Twas the Night before Christmas performed by the Stampede Theater Troupe

Let me know if you have other fun Greeley events I should add to this calendar!

 

The Coon’s Family 2015 ADVENT CALENDARS:

You might laugh at this one. But our family LOVES Jacquie Lawson’s advent calendar she releases each year. It shows up as a Snow Globe on your desktop and each day another little animated short or activity is released. It borders on overly “thomas-kinkade” sappy, but at the same time it is SO great. We all unabashedly love it. This year the theme is Victorian Christmas.
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If you haven’t yet discovered Sparkle Stories, I am so happy to get to be the one to introduce you.  The stories are very simple but sweet original audio stories for kids. They have a specific Advent calendar as part of their Martin & Sylvia Series. Each day showcases a very simple holiday activity. They released the advent calendar in 2014, but it is still great. We listened to it last year and are excited to relive it again this year.
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Partly thanks to having a brother who manages a Lego store, we can’t miss out on the Lego Advent calendars. This year we opted for their Star Wars edition (in anticipation of the new movie). Each day you get a tiny set of legos to build.
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Tim loves playing the Angry Birds seasons (which unlocks one new level each day)
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We are participateing in our church community Atlas’s Random Acts of Christmas Kindness list12314495_10153078112937470_3401969149545698084_o

25 ADVENT Activities:

These don’t have to be done in any particular order, but this is our list of 25 “Christmasy” activities that don’t require much extra money or time, but are what this month is all about for us.

  1. Make Gingerbread Cookies/houses (my sister just recommended this recipe)
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  2. Cut Paper Snowflakessnowflakes 4
  3. Visit a Christmas Tree Farm to pick our tree

  4. Take our time decorating the Christmas tree and tell stories and memories
    Ornaments
  5. String popcorn and cranberries
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  6. Bake Christmas cookies for the neighbors – Here are some recipes to get you started.
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  7. Drive around and look at Christmas lights (especially the Greeley Grizwalds)
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  8. Go caroling
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  9. Eat dinner by candlelight

  10. Go Ice Skating (The Greeley Ice Haus or the Ice skating rink at Centerra are good choices if you are local)
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  11. Go on an icy walk and then have hot chocolate with marshmallows
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  12. Make snow angels
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  13. In Hutchinson, where Tim and I grew up, they have an INCREDIBLE night of illuminaries in the Hyde Park neighborhood the Saturday before Christmas. Blocks and blocks are illuminated. They don’t allow traffic through and instead have hay rides of carolers and horse drawn carriages. I would love to have our own tiny version one night.
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  14. Write and send Christmas cards (just wait until you see the adorable family photo I have…)
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  15. Go sledding – just need a little more snow first!!
  16. Get matching pajamas for our whole family. Shhh… don’t tell Tim…and have a family game nightmatching-family-pajamas
  17. Eat a candy cane – I have heard that the Hammond Candy factory tour in Denver is pretty cool
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  18. Make a wreath (isn’t this gold feather and leaf one pretty?)
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  19. Read all the Christmas stories out loud – We love: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Max’s Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, and so many more…
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  20. Go to the Nutcracker (or at least listen to it)
  21. Write letters to Santa and deliver to the Currier Inn Reindeer Route mailbox.
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  22. Lucy really wants to have a Christmas scavenger hunt. I am not sure what that means, but I’m working on it.
  23. Keep the bird feeders filled and chart the visitors
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  24. Have a Christmas movie watching and present wrapping party
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  25. Watch Charlie Brown Christmas and Ice Skating – the two shows we would always watch on Christmas day at my grandparent’s house.
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A Tribute to Atlas Church’s 10 Years

Atlas, our church and family community in Greeley, CO, that we helped start, turned 10 this last Sunday. As my friend Kelly put it, Atlas celebrated their 10th Anniversary – not birthday. Birthdays happen no matter what. Anniversaries are something you work hard for. You are celebrating work, blood, sweat, and tears. So, Happy Anniversary Atlas!

Since it’s very beginning, I have been in charge of the series artwork for the services. It’s one of those rewarding little side projects that can also drive me crazy. These were almost always put together at the last minute with little or no direction. Usually Jeff or Tim would send me the series title pretty late in the week I would kick myself for forgetting to be more on top of things and stay up late creating the graphics. Some of these are embarrassingly bad. Really I can’t believe I’m not just hiding them. And some, in my opinion, are still pretty lovely.
I thought about putting up all 10 years worth of art, but that was too much! But there are quite a few here. These are just some highlights (and low lights… ha). These are not in any particular order, so keep scrolling.

One of our very very first series was called 7 and was about the seven deadly sins. Each week I designed and printed these photo postcards and hand stamped and stuffed paper bags for every person. It was our first really successful series. I don’t have a slide graphic, because we didn’t have a screen back then.
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All sorts of Advent Series:
great hall slide
advent in luke advent_joy
incarnation slide
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I still really like the way this one looks:
Incarnation

the four loves copy


My favorite Easter series artwork. We also wheat pasted these giant flowers all over the walls of the building inside and out. It was pretty great. BBM slide
This one had a series of watercolors starting with a seed. Each weed the little sprout would grow. On easter morning it turned into a flower. I still don’t get the series title.
seed slide_week7Become_lantern series artwork beginnings in luke_option 2
gods series artwork_title_slidebless_series_artwork

I would really like to take off that bad vignette filter on this one…
Branches Broadcast changed
This was from a larger painting I made. I still really like this piece.city_slide
Another one from the very early days. Called “Elements.” Every program was a hand stamped block print. If I recall I think I printed them on watercolor paper and spent hours carefully tearing the edges of every sheet.
elements
Pretty sure I was working on our very first church directory when I made this one. Lots of people I love in those tiny photos. There are still 11 or so of us from the very early days.
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Another one from one of my paintings. I totally forgot about this piece.
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If I remember correctly, I think I did this on Tim’s laptop while driving home from KS. I still like how it turned out.Insides
These are kind of hard to see here, but I loved this set of collages. This series was from the very beginning of Atlas when I was still young and crazy enough to make one original piece for each week instead of an entire series. These were a Lenten series. Each represents a chapter in John leading up to Easter- water to wine, washing feet, palm branches, black friday, etc. We printed them out tall and skinny. They looked really cool.
john programs1
john programs2
I still like this one. Grunge lives on!

letters
These two photos were from a series called Holy is Normal (I think…). I took a different photo for each week. This one with the names was about loving the street our church is on. I had the various business owners hold up signs with their names and took a photo of them.
Names
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This is a more recent one. I really love it. It feels very “me”.
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Another one from the very early days:
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I can’t take credit for this one, but it was pretty cool. Two artists in our community – Brenton and Amy. Converted parables into graphic novel form. They did one for EACH week. it was crazy awesome.
parables
I this was from this last year. I still really like this minimal design.subtraction_v2
I LOVE this wood texture. I think for the Black Friday artwork I did an inverse of this so it was black with white highlights instead.
tangible slide
This is definitely still one of my favorite series and artwork. We had just gotten kicked out of our space. We spent several weeks meeting in the back yard of a house instead. It felt holy.Temple
This was for a Thanksgiving series. I think I printed cards out that people could write thank you notes to people on as well.THANKS Program
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Another oldie.
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This series ended in having a giant picnic in a park.porches title
I have no recollection of anything about these next couple…PulseRekindle
The only thing I ‘remember’ about this artwork was that I HATED it at the time but got so frustrated with it that I just sent it on anyway.Remember_series Art
This series was really fun. They had artists do live painting each week. The idea was about repainting the way we look at our faith.repainting copy
Whoa. This one looks SO outdated and cheesy now! I swear it was cool at the time. Hopefully…ha! I think this was our second or third series we did. Everyone had these really elaborate 3-ring binders that I made and added stuff to each week. It was so much work.
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I still really love the subtlety of this one. Reminder to self – use more neutral colors…
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Some seriously bad filters on this one…
Romans
This one is kind of odd. It was one of those where they sent me the series title and I was like “What? Seriously?” Now what am I supposed to do with that…salt light city

Obviously from about 6 years ago. Not cool any more.
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I wish I cropped this one a little differently. I still like the color scheme though.
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I want to get rid of the secondary text on this one.
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Why oh why is that bird graphic pixelated? Really Betony? spirit_slide
I really love how the word here is slightly off kilter.spokes slide
I like how this background turned out. But that font is just way too much…Stars
Another one that looks so outdated now… 🙂
STORM

The diety formerly known as...these_three copy
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Another collage series that I still really like.
Week_1_slideWeek_2_slideWeek_3_slide
This was the original Atlas Logo and title slide, later switched to the current circle with triangles (designed by Kathryn Nash).atlas prayer request postcard_front
Thanks for indulging me 🙂

Happy 10th Anniversary Atlas!!