Every year when Christmas would near I wanted to make an Advent calendar for our family. Something that would enrich the season, not just add more stuff to it. Last year I finally buckled down and did the research I had been wanting to do. I was so blessed by the journey and the outcome. I have had a few people ask me about it so I thought I would post it here so it is easily accessible.

Having children has made me aware of cultural things around us and the messages being sent to us in crashing wave fashion. Sometimes I feel smothered in cultural opinion. Also within the last few years I have become increasingly aware of my subconscious assumptions based on how I have "always done things" or assumptions that affect my decisions and perspective. All this to say, I have been in a season of taking a step back, slowing down and really thinking and praying before moving. Of course I don't do this all the time and I run around in default mode quite a bit. BUT I have had many moments of reassessing and trying to go about things in a new and different way. It has been freeing and disorienting all at the same time, with an overall outcome of refreshment.

What does all of this have to do with an Advent calendar? Well, it is the underlying reason why I put so much thought and effort into this Advent calendar. Being a person of faith, Christmas time has always been a season of mixed messages and being torn between 2 worlds and one always seems to scream louder then the other. Running around thinking of what to get the kids this year, how to get gifts for all the people you love, spending money to the last dime, busyness and stress with a slammed on seal of "Remember the reason for the season!". Having kids just makes everything so much more intense and I started to think "What message am I sending my kids? What message do I WANT to give my kids?". It was also a personal journey to redeem this sacred Holiday to be something more then just presents and parties.

To put this Advent calendar together I did a lot of research. I really wanted to find out and share with our family in a simple, but meaningful way what Christmas is. A few of the topics go pretty deep into things. This is not a calendar to appease the painful wait till we get to open presents, not a religious reminder so we could check-off our Christian duty for the day or make us feel better about the "non-religous" activities that were consuming our schedules, hearts and minds. But truly to redeem something beautiful and soul filling that had been covered up and mixed with shallow, unsatisfying cultural high fructose corn syrup.

So here it is!  Each day has a focus/theme, a little thought or activity and for most there is a name of God too. All names of God and information can be found here so if you would like to you can add a name you like on the days one is missing you can. Typically I will put something in the day's advent bag/pocket that signifies or goes with the theme or activity of the day. All of the days are moveable according to your schedule and available time to give.  There are a few optional days for you to add some of your own personality or things you want to learn about. 

day 1

Focus: Advent 

Introduce the advent wreath: each candle will have a meaning for that week

What is Advent? 
-the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event
-the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

(information found when I Googled "advent" here)

-Advent is celebrated in a spirit of expectation, hope, preparation, longing and anticipation for the arrival of Jesus

There is a ton of information about Advent herethere are many different ways to celebrate and use the Advent wreath. Everything from the colors, the candles, the wreath (etc) can represent a few things. it is fascinating and beautiful. 

Name of God: King (Isaiah 6:5)

day 2

Focus: Light first Advent Candle (candle of HOPE) and Evergreens

We will make little wreaths on this day.

People would decorate homes with evergreens signifying everlasting life

When we see the evergreens in our home we can remember the everlasting life brought by Jesus.

Evergreens also represent hope in the midst of winter just as Jesus coming gives us hope in our winter of this broken world.

Name of God: Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6) 

day 3

Focus: Spirit of Longing

All Creation groaning for redemption (Romans 8:10-25)
May choose to fast from something till Dec 25th.

O Come, O Come Immanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
R: Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel,
to thee shall come Emmanuel!
O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go. R.
O come, o come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe. R.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
from ev'ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict'ry o'er the grave. R.
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav'nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
that we no more have cause to sigh. R.
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight. R.
O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace. R.[5]

Name of God: Immanuel “God with us” (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14)

day 4

It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

Name of God: Light (Isaiah 9:2, John 8:12)

day 5

Focus: optional (maybe a fun little gift, ornament or activity)

day 6

Focus: optional (maybe a fun little gift, ornament or activity)

day 7

Focus: optional (maybe a fun little gift, ornament or activity)

The next 2 days we made our own Nativity Scene......

day 8

FOCUS: Light 2nd Advent Candle (Bethlehem candle)

Read the lyrics to O Holy Night, they are WOW.

What is prophecy? found here
What is Messianic prophecy? found here and broken down a bit simpler here

Name of God: Messiah (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:4-6)

day 9

FOCUS: Make Nativity (this was really fun)

day 10

FOCUS: optional (maybe a fun little gift, ornament or activity)

day 11

FOCUS: Poinsettia (source of story found herehere and here)

The plant's association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson "blossoms" sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.[10] From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations.[11] The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.[12] In Spain and Puerto Rico it is known as "Flor de Pascua", meaning "Easter flower". In both Chile and Peru, the plant became known as "Crown of the Andes".

There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettia's and Christmas come together, it goes like this:
There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
'Pepita', he said "I'm sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy."
Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the 'Flores de Noche Buena', or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'.
The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.
Name of God: Star Numbers 24:17

day 12

FOCUS: Peace on Earth (what a beautiful concept this is to discuss together as a family)

Name of God: Lord of Peace, Prince of Peace, King of Peace (Heb 7:2, Is 9:6, 2 Thess. 3:16)

day 13

FOCUS: make Gingerbread Houses 

Name of God: (revisit ones already learned and have them pick their favorite so far)

day 14

FOCUS: The Candy Cane
According to folklore, in 1670, in CologneGermany, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral, wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church during the Living Crèche tradition of Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some sweet sticks for them. In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who paid visit to infant Jesus. In addition, he used the white colour of the converted sticks to teach children about the Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus.

Name of God: Great Shepherd John 10:11

day 15

FOCUS: Christmas Movie Night (popcorn, hot chocolate, warm blankets)

Name of God: (craft or artwork about their favorite name of God)

day 16

FOCUS: Light 3rd Advent Candle- Joy (arrival is soon!)

Name of God: Rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4-6, Isaiah 25:9)

day 17

FOCUS: Study Snowflakes 

Name of God: Job 38:22

day 18

Name of God: (Forgiver) Isaiah 1:18 

day 19

FOCUS: Make snow globes 

day 20

FOCUS: Make Cookies

day 21

Focus: optional (maybe a fun little gift, ornament or activity)

day 22

Focus: optional (maybe a fun little gift, ornament or activity)

day 23

(this article is pretty intense)

Name of God: Lord of hosts (angels) Isaiah 6

day 24

FOCUS: The Announcement, Light 4th Advent Candle
Angels (Luke 2) 
Fast over!

Name of God: Faithful (Acts 1:10-11,Duet 7:9)

day 25

FOCUS: Light the last candle: The Christ Candle
He has arrived
His faithfulness to the first promise gives us comfort that He will be faithful to this next promise

Name of God:  Faithful (1 Thess. 5:24,  John 14:1-3)

Society6 Free Shipping PROMO till Nov 9th!

Free worldwide shipping available for a limited time in Louela's Society6 store! 
Click link at bottom for PROMO. 
Available now thru November 9th:)

Louela on Society6

I am so excited to FINALLY announce the launch of LOUELA! Louela is a project of Elly, Lucy and I. Born out of our love for art, beauty, collaboration and design we decided to take a leap and turn it into something we share with others. We plan to share our latest art projects and collaborations here on Yawni Tiger as well as some exciting news..........We are on Society6!
After positive feedback on Instagram of Elly and Lucy's art work and people requesting pieces I have been searching for a way to answer those requests in a quality and affordable manner for myself and also for the customer! So now you can purchase PRINTS, TOTES, MUGS, PHONE CASES and MORE on our Society6 account! 

So go check out LOUELA on Society6! Like, share and purchase at your leisure:)

Moon girl on Society6

Moon Girl Art Print


This summer my daughters, brothers and I worked on a collaborative short. Jeremiah and I (pictured left) had been texting back and forth prior to our arrival in California to visit them. Inspired by the recent Sia music video, Jeremiah talked about doing a choreographed piece with the girls to a song. 

Jeremiah and the girls chose the song "Falling Star" by Florence and the Machine. We slowly built the story and choreography all together.  Elijah brought his cinematography skill and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life!



All these photos were taken with my iPhone behind the scenes

Celebratory dance at the end of shooting:)
I get overwhelmed watching all the talents my brothers and girls have. And then all the love they have for eachother went in to this, it was truley beautiful! I could not be prouder.

Created by: Jeremiah Chandler
Story by: Jeremiah Chandler and Aiyana Taylor
Choreography: Elly Taylor, Lucy Taylor, Jeremiah Chandler and Aiyana Taylor
Cinematography: Elijah Chandler
Costumes: Jeremiah Chandler and Aiyana Taylor
Make-up: Aiyana Taylor
Music: Florence and the Machine

YT Photo

Played with some lighting the other day with the camera and the girls. Here is a little preview.

Art by Elly

I am currently working on some projects that I have had on my to do list for months. This is a scanned image of one of Elly's watercolors. Hope to get some more up here on the blog and eventually have them available for purchase some time this year. You can see more of her work on my Instagram (Aiyana Taylor) #ellywatercolor #ellywatercoloretc

YT Photography

Lucy had her friend Cecilia over and we decided to do a little impromptu photo shoot. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. These girls are growing up so fast.