Meet Rita Buettner:

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” After struggling with infertility, my husband and I were blessed to adopt our two sons from China. I’m a working mother who writes about family fun and faith. Oh, and I own hundreds of flyswatters. Join me on Twitter, say hello at, or follow me on Facebook


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Thank you, Allison! You are much too kind! I had seen the idea of picking a person to pray for every day on another blog and LOVED it!


YOu always come up with the greatest ideas!! Those lucky boys!! #RockStarMom


Making hay while the Advent wreath shines

When we visited my parents’ house this week, Daniel and I admired a nativity scene on their mantel.

“Where’s Jesus?” I asked our almost-4-year-old, and he happily pointed to Joseph. That’s when I realized we need to focus on the Christmas story this Advent.

So tonight we pulled out the nativity felt board their Aunt Treasa made for Leo on his first Christmas home in 2009. Leo moved the felt figures around as he told and retold his little brother the greatest story ever told.

We will be telling that story—perhaps with less focus than Leo put on Herod—a lot over the next few weeks.

But I also wanted something more tangible to share with our children, in addition to our Advent wreath, which I am hoping we can find in one of the boxes we haven’t unpacked from our move. So I’m borrowing an idea from a column written by Chris Gunty, and we are filling a manger (it’s a basket) with hay (pieces of yellow yarn) to prepare it for the Baby Jesus to arrive on Christmas.

I’m not sure whether there are official rules for this Advent activity. Our rule is that anyone in the family can award anyone else a piece of hay to place in the manger based on acts of kindness or helpfulness toward a family member. Daniel started earning hay for the manger immediately, cutting dozens of pieces of yarn using the bluntest child-safe scissors in the house.

The boys were immediately excited about the idea, and when I mentioned that I still had to find a baby to put in the basket on Christmas morning, Leo ran to find a stuffed animal that was just the right size.

After we all agreed that a bright blue lemur couldn't play the role of Jesus, Leo suggested we use the felt Jesus his aunt had made. It’s small, but the boys were pleased that it fit in the basket. And there's a lot of room left for all the hay we plan to add.

And Daniel even put felt “baby toys” in the basket to entertain Jesus, too.

Then we took Jesus out of the manger. He has to wait. After all, Advent is just beginning. And that manger doesn’t look very comfortable yet.

At dinner John asked the boys what they would give Jesus for a birthday present, and Leo fell silent to think. But Daniel had his answer right away.

“A mousetrap!” he said.

Hmm. How about we make him a soft, warm manger instead? We’ll see how it goes.

What are you doing to keep Christ in Christmas this Advent season?

See other blogs on ways to celebrate Advent through the Keep Christ in Christmas blog link-up hosted by the Catholic Bloggers Network.

11/30/2013 11:16:05 PM
By Rita Buettner