**This post contains an Amazon-affiliate link to a product. Purchasing the product through the link provided will give me a small referral-fee at no cost to you. The other links contained in this piece are to simply assist the reader in learning more about products explored. I was given a free copy of the My Little Patron Advent Guide pdf for an honest review, but offer a 25% discount to readers for their ability to purchase the product. I was not paid, and will not be paid, for this review – I simply, truly, honestly believe in this product!**
For perhaps the first time in years, I feel truly ready for Advent. Well, let me re-state that. For perhaps the first time in years, I am truly excited to see what Advent has in store for me… as Anni.
And, as a Religious Education Coordinator, I feel as though I have done my level best to prepare the families in my program.
As a mom, however, this year’s Advent was ushered in as usual… frantically, rushed, and altogether too quickly. I had no clue how I would be centering myself, to prepare my children this Advent.
But, thankfully since
our Religious Education Coordinator I found Jesse Tree Kits tucked in the bowels of a long-forgotten closet in one of the classrooms, I felt like super-mom last Sunday when I hugged my oldest’s kit to my chest, secretly thanking the woman who had retired out of my job two years ago for having never used the kits. Yet, I still felt a little disappointed that I had nothing prepared.
Here’s the Jesse Tree Kit that was provided to our students this Advent:
Then, last week, I was offered a free opportunity to review My Little Patron’s Advent Guide by Aleesa McCarthy, available online in a downloadable pdf form. Typically, when I look at guides such as what was being offered, I find myself overwhelmed and exhausted. There are always so many amazing ideas, and I quickly bite off more than I can chew. I wind up feeling like an abysmal failure… and, since Advent starts today, the jury is still out.
However, as I scrolled through the file, my jaw dropped as I started internally thinking, “I can do this! Wait – this is already done for me?! Nope, this one is too much work, but hey, I can tweak this one!” And, as I scrolled through the pages, my confidence began returning. Between the Jesse Tree Kit from my religious education department and this Advent Guide pdf, I found myself embracing the first theme of Advent – hope. I became hopeful that my personal, internal preparations were beginning to see outward manifestation as a mother, too.
Let me share some of my initial thoughts:
The color pallet is absolutely stunning! As an adult, I have truly found myself becoming attracted to the liturgical hues used during Advent, and Aleesa weaves them together so beautifully.
I can swing many of these crafting supplies needed, just from the extra school supplies left over from last year. And, the ones I don’t have, I can readily turn to our local UPS Store for assistance – they know me by sight these days anyway.
If you’ve followed my blog any length of time, you know I don’t like to craft – in fact, there’s a reason I enjoy teaching older students, rather than the little ones.
Cutting? I need to go back to Kindergarten myself… or, perhaps PreK.
Glue? That’s just a sticky mess, no matter how careful I try.
Coloring? Well, there’s a reason for the saying, “We are our own worst critic.”
But, I wanted to give this review a good ol’ college try. So, on Thursday night as everyone played their various video games, built Lego projects, or dove into cabinets filled with clean dishes, I pulled out the supplies – glue sticks and scissors and sat down at the kitchen table. Eventually, all three kids tried to join me as I assembled our Advent calendar. And, my husband entertained my excitement as I spoke about Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s beatification, and how thrilled I am that he was included in this guide.
Eventually, I found a way to entertain my middle child, by frantically providing her with a coloring sheet designed to come much later in Advent. As I watched her delight in coloring “the bird,” I started trying to see how I can use these sheets with the O Antiphon Reflections for Military Families, created several years ago. I was – and still am – eager to incorporate the O Antiphons into my family’s Advent, but I am currently lacking a way to explain things on a child-friendly level. Just having a coloring sheet to present to them, though, will begin early exposure to this deeper, Scripturally-based devotional.
However, today, both of my children took four sheets to Mass. One was this page with the theme “Hope” spelled out, the other was the Advent wreath that can be colored once and laminated, or colored in every week throughout the season. The other two featured images of the saints coming up this week – St. Francis Xavier and St. Nicholas. I am all about encouraging my children to learn the saints and their stories from a very early age, and Advent has some amazing saints throughout the season! Aleesa has included them all in this pdf guide, and for that, I am extremely grateful!
I confess I squealed when I saw the St. Andrew Christmas Novena page. Initially, I felt the familiar twinge of anxiety start to creep in as I started to internally whine that my kids, even with these counters, won’t sit still long enough for this prayer… and, won’t care about my favorite Advent prayer. However, a gentle voice silenced the anxiety in its tracks, “My Little Patron created this to be used year after year, after year. They aren’t ready this year, but try in a couple years.” Until then, they are gaining exposure as I pray this beautiful prayer, and encourage them to color in a bead whenever my oldest recites it on his own.
When I saw this page about following the star to Christmas Eve, I immediately printed two… one for my oldest, and one for my middle. But, if you’re running out of ink, you can risk having your kids take turn every other day or so, to fill in a star. My children want their own of… well… everything. So, this was a quick double-print!
Altogether, this pdf file contains 52 pages of amazingly crafted, simple-to-follow, lovingly compiled activities to celebrate the entire season of Advent! Even better, it can be printed each year, and can be tailored and tweaked to best meet the needs of any family.
There are more activities than what I printed. I don’t have card stock right now, and didn’t want to print more colored pages than I already did this week, but there are also the following activities:
— Letter to Baby Jesus writing prompt, perfect for beginning (or even skilled) writers and pray-ers;
— Interactive Advent Wreath that allows children to put a paper flame on a paper wreath, this cutting down on possible flame snafus;
— Our Lady of Loreto Gingerbread House Ideas with some templates to make your own tiny gingerbread house. This may get modified to making a cardboard gingerbread house this year, since none of my children express burning desire to eat gingerbread;
— St. Nicholas gold coin toppers or cupcake toppers, which would be great if I had a little extra time to cut out and glue this year, before Friday… Maybe next year…;
— Abigail the Altruism Angel is a beautiful concept and will most likely be added to our Elf on the Shelf next year. It looks like a quick assembly, and the idea is super sweet for Advent. There are cards to cut out to write “mercy mission messages” that she will bring daily for your children. The only reason I am not doing Abigail the Altruism Angel this year is because I need some serious help to create 25 “mercy mission messages” for my family. So, I am giving myself an extra year before Abigail starts her messages of mercy;
— O Antiphon Ornament Assembly has simple instructions, and Alyssa has provided the gold or yellow backing, along with the ornaments. The only extra thing needed is the recommended gold ribbon or string, if you desire;
— Fully illustrated and colored saint cards for those of us who do not want to color during our spare time. I plan to print these off when I have card stock… whenever that occurs;
— Lots and lots of coloring pages, some of which is displayed above.
All of this can be yours for 25% off for being a reader of this blog! Simply head over to My Little Patron’s Etsy shop here and put in the code: ANNA25 to knock two dollars off this already reasonably-priced activity guide!
I will admit that I am disappointed that Abigail the Altruism Angel didn’t come with some ideas for the mercy messages. But, that is an easy-to-overlook preference as a consumer.
This guide, if printed in its entirety at once will take up perhaps an entire cartridge of black ink and colored ink. However, printing “what you need, when you need it” will mitigate that potential issue.
As I sit here, long-winded as this post is, I am energized and hopeful for this Advent. My Little Patron’s Advent Guide pdf quite truly has me more than confident that I can help my children live slightly more liturgically this Advent, as I also experience a rich Advent season in my interior life.
I hope you will take advantage of the coupon code (don’t forget the all-caps) ANNA25 for this great guide. If you don’t need it, don’t forget to share it with another family who may like to benefit from this amazing product!
And, if you need another gift guide for this season, I recommend heading over to Catholics Online’s Only Catholic Gift Guide you Need this Christmas, a group that both Aleesa and I are members of, which featured a recent article highlighting many products by an entirely Catholic artisan group. If you are looking for other gift guides, don’t miss Amy’s Spiritual Stocking Stuffers Gift Guide and Giveaway over at Prayer Wine Chocolate for more ideas this holiday season!
What has helped you live more liturgically at the last minute in previous Advent seasons?
How will you help your family keep the “reason for the season” this Advent?