November 27, 2011

Shepherd's Pouches

Here's the first of two promised Advent Activity posts.  We usually start this one on December 1st, so you'll have a few days to get started on your own, if you decide you'd like to adopt this tradition.

The "Shepherd's Pouch" idea is taken directly from Noel Piper's Treasuring God in our Traditions.  I love that book. So much.  If you haven't noticed, we love to celebrate around here...all occasions...the everyday and the especially. This book has shaped the way that we long to worship God through our traditions...especially the way that we celebrate Christmas.  You can download a pdf of the entire book from Desiring God here for free.  Or you can buy it here. Even from the foreward by John Piper it challenges me to examine all the things I've put on my list for this Holiday Season.

Noel explains it way more beautifully and eloquently than I ever could, so I'll let her fill you in on the Shepherd's Pouch from page 86-87 in her book:

Gift to Jesus
It may be easy for us to forget that this is Jesus’ birthday. That usually means gifts to the birthday person. Children especially will think it normal that Jesus should receive something for his birthday. We’ll need to talk with them about what it means to give a gift to Jesus since we can’t put it in his hand. One of the unusual things about Jesus is that when we give a gift to him, other people benefit. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:40)

If you decide early in the Advent season where your gift is going, you can be praying for the recipient throughout the season. Your prayer becomes an added gift to the family with special needs, the Christian relief agency, the local ministry, the missionary, or whomever you have chosen.

Money isn’t the only thing we can give, but for the moment, let’s think about financial gifts. How might you decide on the amount? One possibility is to determine what percentage of your total gift expenditures will be set aside for Jesus. Another is to give him your December coffee break money or some other regular expenditure.

What about our children? Some years I have offered “wages” for special jobs or even for regular chores during December, with the understanding that this money is being earned for Jesus’ gift.

Shepherd’s Pouch
The children at our house have had a simple drawstring bag—a shepherd’s pouch, we call it—in which to collect Jesus’ gift throughout December. On Christmas Eve, during a special family worship time, the children lay their pouches beside the manger of our special nativity scene. We speak to them then of giving their gifts to Jesus, as the shepherds came, giving Jesus worship and wonder.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. . . . And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.    ( L u k e   2 :   1 5 - 2 0 )

On Christmas morning, the coins have been removed and added to our grown-up gifts, ready to be sent to our chosen recipient. And the children find in their pouches several small gifts. We speak of a God who blesses those who love and trust him. Although these particular tokens are tangible and physical, our children know from our lifestyle and teaching throughout the year that God blesses in many ways. In fact, many people who are most blessed have very little visible wealth. The blessing of God is his presence with us, which gives us constant cause for praise. 


The way this played out last year with our young kids: a few days before December 1st we started talking about buying a birthday present for Jesus...and how the Bible says the way we do that is by giving to others...specifically the poor, the oppressed, the orphan, the widow, a missionary family, etc.  We reminded them of the mosquito nets for Compassion and how there are so many children without anything to eat, not much to drink and very little access to supplies that would make them healthy if they got sick.  We pulled out our Gospel for Asia catalog and began to sift through the pages and talk about how each of these gifts would be significant for a family who has close to nothing to receive.  The kids were eager to pick out so many gifts that we decided we'd pray throughout Advent and ask God what He'd like us to give His Son for his birthday.

I made them these special pouches using Dana's Hobo Sack tutorial.  I cut the measurements in half so that they'd be smaller.  So, instead of her original measurements, mine measured 6 inches on two sides (with one of those sides having .75 inch cutouts and 4.5 inches in the middle of the cutouts) and 6 inches (+ the.75 inch cutouts) on the other two sides.  I tried to add the cute ruffle to the top of McKlayne's pouch but I was using some thicker upholstery scrap fabric that I had lying around and it was too thick with such tiny proportions to do much with. So, in desperation, I added a zipper. (This was my first time to add a zipper to anything!)  It looks terrible...but it worked for her last year.  (She'll be getting a remake when I make Oliver's in the coming years.)

BUT...if you're not a sewer, or you just don't have time, go ahead and buy a cute little pouch or coin purse. Easy! (These got packed up with the Christmas decorations last year just like stockings would, so they'll each have their own Shepherd's Pouches...that will only be used for this reason...for years to come.)

We told them that ALL month long, we'd be giving them "an allowance" to save up to buy Jesus his Birthday present.  We had a big jar of coins ready to pass out when we saw them helping out around the house or when they completed "a chore" (they were 2 and 3 last year so picking up a toy, or putting their shoes in their box were simple tasks they could complete.)  Asher was so anxious to earn money that he'd often ask what he could do.  So, we found things for him to do. It was sweet to watch his eagerness to serve and give to the least of these grow in the heart of my three year old. As soon as they'd receive "payment", they'd rush back to their room to put the money in their personal "shepherd's pouch" and often times want to count their new total.

The week of Christmas Eve, we talked about what types of things they'd like to buy Jesus for Christmas with the money that they had each earned in their shepherd's pouches and with the money that we'd set aside as a family.  During our time of family worship on Christmas Eve, as we read through the above referenced passage, they laid their pouches down at the Nativity at the appropriate time.  We prayed for those who would receive our gifts to come to faith and worship of our Newborn King.

The following morning they were surprised to see that in place of the money they'd earned, there were little surprises in their pouches.  They had never intended to receive anything back, but it was a sweet moment to teach them about how God's presence with us is his continual blessing to all who believe. His presence. Emmanuel  God with us. The very thing I pray that we'll celebrate. Truly. Deeply. This month and always.

November 25, 2011

Jordan's Bacon Candy

Heather gets the credit for naming this...and since it is her birthday today...this post goes out to her...the namer of "Bacon Candy".  (Heather, if you weren't in Haiti I would make you a big ol' plate with 35 pieces of Bacon Candy piled high. All.To.Yourself.  That would be my present to you. You know it would be the best present ever. Maybe the best present, or at least hypothetical one, that you've received in 35 years. Happy Birthday!! I sure love you.)

Juliette first introduced me to the goodness of Bacon Candy at Blaire's bridal shower...way back before Heather even named it "Bacon Candy". Juliette got it from Jordan.  And, Jordan, I don't know where you got this recipe...or if you're even the originator...but you'll get the credit for being the creator of this recipe forever and ever, as far as my family is concerned. It'll go down in the Apel family cookbook as "Jordan's Bacon Candy" to be passed down to my great, great, great grandchildren. Truly.

Okay...I'm done with my Grammy Acceptance Speech.  But, I feel like I need to give that every time I make Bacon Candy, as the response is always adoration...and I just don't feel like I deserve the credit. It is so simple.

So...back to bacon candy...what the what? I know. You're curious.  Everyone is always curious when it's mentioned.  Curiosity.  Skepticism. Humility. Adoration. Say it with me, now...that's usually the correct order of emotions in response to Bacon Candy.

Now that you're curious, let's move onto skepticism as you find out what it's made of: bacon, dates, almond butter. That's it.  I won't mention any names, but I've had people stick their nose up as I've listed the ingredients.  Some even down right refuse to try it.  And some are adamant that they will NOT like the delightfully deadly combination...but those same people usually decide to take a risk, in all their skepticism, and try it. 

And then they enter what I call Step 3: Humility.  Humility looks like them getting down on their hands and knees and asking for forgiveness for seeming so smug and stubborn and like I'd actually lead them astray when it comes to something like food...and once the begging ensues, I'd say we've reached Step 4: Adoration...where they're asking for me to write Jordan's Bacon Candy recipe and asking me to sign my autograph at the bottom of the recipe card.

So...this is where we'll pick up...I'm sparing you the Four Step Program...are you ready? This really is good. I promise.  So good that my kids gladly traded in their large bags of Halloween candy for a batch of their own.  No lie.  But, also so good that my husband will learn of this for the first time as he reads this post because...they ate ALL of the Bacon Candy on November 1st before he even got home from work at 5:05 p.m.  I figured it was better than half of their Halloween candy...

Here's what you need:
1 package of Bacon 
Pitted Dates (strips of bacon x 2)
Almond Butter
Toothpicks (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut strips of bacon into fourths.  So, if you started with 10 slices of bacon, you'll now have 40 pieces. (Sorry...this is for Heather, afterall, so I'm breaking down the math for her.)  Cut enough dates in half, so you have a 1/2 date for each 1/4 piece of bacon. (So, if you have 40 strips, you'll cut 20 whole make 40 half dates.) (I think the original recipe calls for whole dates and half strips of bacon, but this way you get twice the amount of goodness for half the ingredients.  And we don't think this compromises Jordan's Bacon Candy one bit.)

2. Spoon the almond butter into the date halves.  Wrap the almond butter-stuffed-dates with bacon.  You can secure them with a toothpick or just wrap them tightly without a toothpick.  (I've done them both ways.)  Place them on a baking sheet. (Tip: Line baking sheet with foil and fold all four sides up 1/2 an inch from each edge. This will keep all bacon grease inside the lined foil...and you won't have to clean your baking sheet.  Easy cleanup.  I'm all about that.)

3. Bake for 10 minutes.  Then turn them over and bake for another 15 minutes or so until done-ness.'s where you're going to have to trust me.  They taste great hot out of the oven.  But the taste EVEN better about an hour or so after they've cooled.  They congeal into the perfect gooey-ness after they've cooled.  That's how we like them best.  (If you happen to have leftovers, they keep well in the fridge.) 

After Asher (we call him the Paleo Police in our house) traded in his crap Halloween candy and while he was snacking on his bacon candy, he was recounting the night before when we'd Trick-or-Treated at the Morchat's...who live in our neighborhood...but weren't passing out candy.

Asher: I know why Jordan and Danny didn't have any candy for us.
Me: Why is that?
A: B/c they love us too much.
Me: What do you mean?
A: They didn't want to poison us. Candy is poisonous. It's not worth having a tummy-ache. 
Me: You're right, buddy...some of us just aren't so quick to learn that.
A: Danny loves us the most, though, because he wanted to give us meat. He wants us to have big muscles like him one day.

November 22, 2011

Preparing for Advent (a re-post)

A few of you have emailed, asking me for more details on a couple different advent activities.  I'm taking some new pics and sifting through old ones from last year so that I can show you what we did with the Handprint Nativity Animals and the shepherd's pouches in the next couple days.

More details to come on those...but for's a repost of our Christmas Book Countdown/Book reviews from last year:

Like I mentioned in my previous post, the kids and I unwrap a book each day during the month of December as we count down to Christmas.  There are many "holiday" books out there, but it's harder to track down some sweet, gospel-centered children's books (for younger children) that are more about preparing their hearts for the birth of our Savior.  Or is it? I thought that it was a daunting task, but over the last year, as I've done some research and between garage saling, thrifting, and the surprisingly good selection that our library has to offer (I just returned 6 books to the Bryan library yesterday, so if you're in the area, you can have a chance to enjoy these, too) we've found a good number of books to add to our rotation.

Here's how it all works:

Though we're not "doing Santa" we still want our kids to experience the anticipation, excitement, wonder, awe, and use their imagination and creativity for this most special time of the year as we celebrate our Savior. I found a cute idea (and now, of course, I cannot recall where I found it. I just know that I aimlessly happened upon was a stranger's blog. Yes. I'm guilty of being one of those creepy lurkers.) that I knew my kids would LOVE!

And since I can't find it, I will just have to show you mine. The inspiration...with a few of my own spins:

Gather 25 children's Christmas books.

Wrap them.

And place them in a basket (that normally houses your library books) under your tree. Let the kids choose one book to unwrap and read each day in December.

But wait...there's more.

Designate the Christmas story for the "Do NOT open until Dec. 25" book. Yes, you can see through this paper. Charlie asked why I wrapped it like that. "Because we don't want this story to be kept a secret. It's the greatest story ever told. We want everyone to be able to know about it."

********************** now that you know how it's a list of books that we have really enjoyed.  I will try and give a brief summary or review of the ones that we've read so far and denote with an"*" if I think it's worth adding to your collection.  I hope this serves to give you some sweet stories to share with your children, as it will also serve me when I am trying to plan our booklist for next December! 

Disclaimer: Some of these re-tellings of the Christmas story are not completely accurate compared to Scripture. The following two mistakes are often made: 1. Mary and Joseph were not married (Luke 1:27) 2. The wise men came to see Jesus at the home of Mary and Jesus, not at the stable. (Matthew 2:11). Both of these mistakes happen often in the retelling of the real Christmas story, but I wanted to let you know that before purchasing. You may want to check into it if it bothers you, because I don't ALWAYS include that in my "reviews".  This does not, often, bother me about most "Christmas books", I think it can be a great teaching moment to remind your children of the truth from Scripture.  I just don't like it when a story claims to be "The Christmas Story" and it's not entirely truthful.
This is a cute, simple story where the "stable" animals are preparing for Jesus to come stay at their house. We have this in a boardbook, and is great for itty bitty ones to young children.

Rhonda Gowler Greene
This is a simplified version of the story of Christ's birth with beautiful pictures introducing the "stable characters" in repeating rhyme. I love that it is not too advanced for toddlers but still appealing for the parent that will read this over and over.  

The Manger Where Jesus Lay*

Martha Larchar
This is very similar to the book above, but I don't mind having both in my collection! 

 Each page adds a new line, with a key word represented by a picture. Once my kids saw each picture, they were able to recite the entire sentence and "read" along with me.  They love this book because of that!

Christmas in the Manger*

Nola Buck
This is a sweet board book to add to your collection IF you are just starting this tradition as your family if this is your first or second baby or toddler and you plan on having more children, I would recommend it, but I'd pass if you youngest child is 3 or over.  It is simple and sweet, but there are still other books that I'd rather add to my collection, or maybe you could see if your library had it?

Maggie Barfield
This is similar to the three books above this on the list. (And my kids enjoyed it.)  It is sweet, simple and makes a great read-aloud.  I would recommend it over Christmas in the Manger because it had more depth, but I don't feel it's necessary to add all of these to your collection because of how similar they are to one another, unless you just find all of these for $1 or less. 

One Shining Star: A Christmas Counting Book*

Anne Vittur Kennedy
This is a GREAT book to have if you have little ones.  It is a sweet, Christmas counting book with really cute illustrations.  My kids love helping me count the items in each picture.

We check this one out from our library, so we don't need to purchase it, but it's one that's worth adding to your collection permanently if you can find it second hand if your library doesn't carry it.  Kind Ox slowly makes room for more and more animals to share his stable on a cold winter's night and finally the animals make room for a donkey, who, of course, is carrying Mary great with child as they make room for THE "little one who came for the world."
Will Hillenbrand
This is a cute book for little ones that, once again, I would add to our collection if our library didn't carry it, about Baby Owl who asks his Momma Owl lots of questions about the Holy Child, who came from the Heavenly Father, sleeping in their stable.  My kids enjoyed this is especially good for preschoolers.

If I hadn't gotten this at a garage sale for a quarter, this would not be one that I would be spending my "Christmas book budget" on.  The illustrations are beautiful and the villagers are awakened by shepherds who are bidding, "Come see, Come out and see." The entire village gathers to worship and rejoice as Jesus is born...though, the name Jesus is never mentioned.  It's great for a supplemental book, and since we have so many other Christ-centered books in our collections, I enjoy it.  If your library has it, I would still encourage you to check it out, but not to necessarily run out and buy this book.

I'd gotten this at a consignment shop for fifty cents, and once again, this is not one that I would spend more than that on.  It is cute and I love the adorable illustrations, but it's not an accurate retelling of the Christmas story.  I would not want this to be the only source of the Christmas story that my kids were learning.

Fear Not, Joseph!
Julie Stiegemeyer 
This was a surprise find at our library and I really enjoyed this re-telling of the familiar Christmas story from Joseph's point of view and how we were constantly reminded to, "Fear Not," but to trust the Lord.  I would definitely add this one to my collection later on, as my children grow older.  This was a harder one (since it was longer) for McKlayne to stay interested in, but Asher was engaged most of the time.

The Christmas Pageant
Jacqueline Rogers
This was another great surprise find from our library!  The text is almost completely, if not completely, from the gospels of Matthew and Luke and is the re-telling of the Christmas story while the illustrations show the children performing in their Christmas Pageant.  What we really enjoyed about this book was how every couple pages, at appropriate breaks in the story, the page had a verse or two of about 6 or 7 traditional Christmas carols: Hark the Harold Angels Sing, Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem, We Three Kings, Joy to the World, etc.  My kids liked that I would stop and sing these throughout the book and we used this as a guide to help us insert songs as we plan for our Christmas Day reading of The Christmas Story.

Animals Christmas Carol 

Helen Ward

We got this book from our library.  The illustrations are beautiful but I wasn't too impressed with the story told from the animal's viewpoint.  It is based on the Carol of the Friendly Beasts.  My kids happen to know if since they have a Veggie Tales Christmas CD with it on there, but they didn't seem to make the connection.  I would only check this one out again if I needed a filler book.

This is SUCH a cute book that I would love to add to our permanent collection!  It's great for young children to intermediate.  The Christmas story, from the sheep's perspective, is told by Grandpa Wooly, a sheep who is retelling the Christmas story of three curious sheep who followed the shepherds, to his young grandsheep.  It's a super cute book, HOWEVER, we checked this out from our library in BOARDBOOK and I would NOT purchase it that way. I would want to buy it with the full version b/c the board book has too many words crammed onto a page with very few/small pictures.  That is my only complaint.  If you're buying online, the full version of this book should be 8x8 inches and contain 44 pages, not 32.

Rick Osbourne

The storytelling was a little bit cheesy as the author lays on the adjectives a little thick but my kids didn't seem to notice.  We enjoyed this story and I would add this to my collection BUT would not pay full price for this book.  I have no idea how entirely accurate this is, since I have not researched my history of the Christmas tree :) but this "legend" definitely pointed to Christ and I appreciated that. (Great for young-older children...this held Asher's attention, but McKlayne was a little fidgety through this.)

Lori Walburg

I enjoyed this story much more than the one above.  I loved the emphasis of Jesus in this book as it talks about how the colors of the candy cane symbolize his death and his purity through his death.  We ate candy canes while reading this book, so McKlayne was much more still during this one, but I would say that it is also suitable for older children. 

An Angel Came to Nazareth*

Maggie Kneen
I REALLY like this book and would definitely add it to my collection (if I didn't already own it) as it is great for young to probably even older children.  My kids ask to read this one over and over.  An angel approaches four animals in Nazareth and asks them who of the four travelers they'd like to carry, warning them to choose wisely for one will carry the greatest of them all.  The strongest animal chooses the brave soldier and all the way down until the donkey is left to choose Mary.  It is a sweet story that I can't recommend enough!

Christmas in the Barn

Margaret Wise Brown
(This is an updated edition with new cover/illustrations...the original is very old.)
I normally love most of Brown's book and this was a cute one, but not compared to all the other ones to choose from to buy for your own collection.  If you're familiar with The Big Red Barn, it reminded me a lot of that.  Once again, this is one that we checked out from our library, so I would check it out again if we needed another book to fill in, but wouldn't spend my money on buying our own copy.

Franklin's Christmas Gift*

Pauletter Bourgeois 
This book is obviously not any re-telling of the Christmas story, but I knew my kids would like it because they love Franklin books.  And, I actually LOVED the message of this book! Franklin must decide which of his old toys is special enough to be given away to a child who may only receive one toy for Christmas.  This would be a great book to use as a "prep" if you're cleaning out toys for a toy drive, etc.  It can encourage much discussion on thinking of the least of these and loving others, if you take the opportunity.

Dandi Mackall
I love this book, told from the lowly Shepherd's perspective of how Angels could have appeared to kings, nobles, religious leaders, or rabbi's-but God had chosen to reveal such news to humble, uneducated, commoners.    This book is great for young-older children...not itty bitties, but if you see it for a good price, I'd grab it and save's that good...and it won't be long before your itty bitty is  BIG!

Jeannine Q. Norris
Our library had this one. We really enjoyed it.  I love that it's from Mary's perspective, who is in "awe" of her first baby but also in "awe" of Her King.  We talked about how though Jesus is God (so He is his mother's Savior, too) he was also her baby...a human.  It provoked lots of questions from my children as they really began to think about this.  The illustrations are beautiful and, being a mom, of course, I loved it since I could relate to how a new mother feels about her baby.  (I'd say if you have toddlers, wait until they're preschoolers who can begin to formulate questions and really dialogue about this's a great read, but the little, little ones may not enjoy it as much as my preschoolers did.  They are so many other simple books, for toddlers to understand and appreciate.)

Kate DiCamillo
The illustrations are BEAUTIFUL...they truly make this story. But even the pictures are not enough to make me recommend this book.  I was SO EXCITED when I saw that Kate DiCamillo had written a Christmas book.  My kids LOVE the Mercy Watson series.  They are obsessed. When we began reading Great Joy, it seemed like it was going to be such a cute story but the conclusion felt incomplete and left me wanting more.  She could have done so much with this storyline, but I was disappointed with the rushed conclusion.  I really had to coach my children through thinking about what may have happened in the end...they seemed confused.

Pauline Palmer Meek 
I found this OLD book at a garage sale.  I love the old, quirky pictures in this book. The angels are a bit scary, but maybe that's a pretty biblical illustration? I also love the way the author told this story...I wish this book wasn't so old so that it was more readily available...because I'm guessing it's out of print now...since it's been 40 years since it's been published. My kids really enjoyed it, too! If I came across it again at a garage sale, I would definitely pick it up for my nieces/nephews to add to their collections.

M. Christina Butler
This was a darling book about different animals seeing the Star of Bethlehem which leads them to the stable where Jesus is born.  It doesn't mention "Jesus" but the message is pretty clear. the illustrations...the very last page is a star that "twinkles" with lights. I think young children would enjoy this book up to around 1st graders or so. 

O. Henry
I didn't love this book...or the message it was sending. It did provoke some good discussion with the kids about how some people think Christmas is primarily about gifts. You can go read the reviews on Amazon to see if this is something you'd really may be a good read for older kids;  I just wanted to make a note not to check it out at the library next year.  

O. Henry
I may need to retract my statement from last year's post regarding The Animal's Christmas Carol.  If I recall correctly, The Friendly Beasts is along the same premise.  Basically, when I read this I just "sang"  The Friendly Beasts carol, which my kids know well (and sang along, too) from The Incredible Singing  Christmas Tree. My kids asked to do it again and again they liked it so much.  I'll have to look back into The Animal's Christmas Carol because I do remember the pictures being beautiful.  Maybe they'd like it better than they did now that we all know that song well...?

Sally Lloyd-Jones
Cate got this for my kids for Christmas.  We haven't actually received it yet but I know my kids are going to love it.  It's by the same author of The Jesus Storybook Bible.  I previewed it on Amazon and it from what I can see (I don't know if any pages are even missing the preview?) it looks like a really cute book.  I know my kids are going to love how "all of creation" comes to meet their "Rescuer". 

I read this book at Meg's the other night.  It was so cute.  I definitely want to add it to our well as look into the other titles by this author.  She seems to about four other Christmas books that look really cute! (Good for Ages 2 and Up) I think I'm going to have to replace The Legend of the Christmas Tree (it's just too cheesy, though I love the "history" behind it...and my kids are just so disinterested...maybe I'll try again in a few years?) with this book and read it on the day we put up our tree.  The book describes the meaning behind various ornaments and symbols of Christmas in an easy to understand, captivating way.

(A little Golden Book)
Jane Werner
This is an old book that was first published in the 70's (I think.) It is an accurate re-telling of the Christmas story from Scripture, although not every part of the Christmas story is included in detail (Joseph wanting to divorce Mary and the Gabriel appearing to him)...but most of the text was taken directly from Scripture.  My kids enjoyed it.  This would be a great book to add to your collection, if you don't yet have a re-telling of the Christmas story from when Mary is greeted by the angel all the way until the wise men visit Jesus as a young child.
(A little Golden Book)
Gale Wiersum
This is another sweet, old book. This cute and clever book is retold by the animals that gather in a stable on Christmas Eve to re-tell the story of long ago, as they remember the Savior's birth. It's a counting book told in rhyme.  I got this at a garage sale, and will definitely be on the lookout for it to pass on to friends and family. I bet you can find a very inexpensive copy of this secondhand.

Gaby Goldsack
This book was an excellent surprise! My mom found it at a thrift store and sent it to us in the mail this December during our Christmas Book Countdown.  In my opinion, it's a better re-telling of the Christmas Story than The First Christmas (above).  We enjoyed the beautiful pictures, the rhythmic verse, and the detailed retelling of the traditional Christmas story from Gabriel appearing to Mary all the way to Joseph being warned to pack up his family and flee to Egypt.

That's all for now...I will continue to update this list as we unwrap more books! Happy reading!  And, feel free to chime in with any good book recommendations!

You can see all my advent-related posts here.