Category: Togetherness


Lovingly decorated by little hands.

Lovingly decorated by little hands.

Christmas season is in full swing in our home. It is my most favorite holiday. Normally, I decorate the weekend after Halloween because I like to enjoy my Christmas decorations, but I don’t really start getting into the holiday spirit until after Thanksgiving. Normally, I am in total control of the whole holiday. I make the lists out based on things the kids have asked for over the course of the last few months and based on things I know they’d like to have. I do the decorating, I do the shopping, I crochet some gifts, I do the bulk of the wrapping, I make the grocery list, I do the baking, I do the cooking. You get the picture. Christmas is pretty much my show. I put it on and sit back and enjoy watching my family enjoy themselves. It is stressful. It is rewarding.

We glittered some of the ornaments today. Even with careful application, I am covered!

We glittered some of the ornaments today. Even with careful application, I am covered!

This year, I’m giving up some of that control. (I may have just passed out. Did I miss anything?)

This year my mantra is Kids’ Christmas. My kids have never decorated the tree because my tree has to be PERFECT. This year, they decorated it. Now, I put some of the ornaments up high and wound the tree with the garland, but they did all the rest. This year they helped put out the other decorations. This year the kids have a stake in Christmas. They even picked out the presents they got one another. I usually give them a pre-chosen/purchased selection from which to choose the gift they will give their siblings. This year we went shopping. I think they are happy with their choices. This year, they still did not put out the Star Wars Ornaments BECAUSE THEY ARE FRAGILE! What?

I may be in love with this thing.

I may be in love with this thing.

This year, as with last year, we are making some of our own decorations. We made a felted wool ball garland, we made borax crystal snowflakes (my kids’ interpretation of ‘snowflake’ is highly amusing). We made salt dough ornaments (probably WAY too many). We made cinnamon/applesauce ornaments which smell divine.

Next week is baking week and we will make LOTS of things that are DElishUS, but I’m fairly certain are not nutritious. Also, this year, we aren’t doing a big dinner, although I’m hoping I can still talk my brother and his family into joining us for….wait for it…. RIBS! It’s Hubs favorite and it’s easy and also DELICIOUS! And also. Not nutritious, but HEY it’ll be tasty and the company will be great and the tree will be kid decorated and then on the following morning there will presents opening.

I am SOOOOO excited!

IMG_0473 IMG_0468 IMG_0460

All in all, this whole Kids’ Christmas thing is working out pretty well. I don’t hate the tree. In fact, I love it and I was worried. The garland is my most favorite new decoration on the tree and I look forward to making more.  The borax snowflakes will probably be done again, if for no other reason than the cool factor. I don’t foresee the snowflakes looking sparkly for long, but you never know. The applesauce ornaments are super cool because they smell SO GOOD.  The salt dough ornaments have been fun, but seriously time consuming considering the number we made. AND THE GLITTER IS EVERYWHERE. It’s really pretty, but VERY messy. Maybe next year we’ll make one or two ornaments per kid. Chi had the right idea.

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I needed this, so maybe you do, too.

A blogger I follow (Mir over at Would Coulda Shoulda) has a daughter in a teen long term care facility whose personal care products kept getting stolen. After talking with all the pertinent authority figures at the facility, Mir discovered that many of the girls in the ward are given nothing by family members and rely solely on what the hospital has to offer by way of personal hygiene (You know those diaper type pads with the ties from the WAY BACK that tie into paper underwear? Those were just ONE example of what the hospital offered. And NO tampons). So Mir had an idea, why not let the internet help out. So many of her readers had been asking what they could do to help her in this difficult time. Well, here it was. Girls in need. So she opened up a mailbox at a UPS store (who wants to give out their home address to the internet at large?) because they accept UPS package deliveries and sent out the word via her blog. The following is the result. It’s amazing!

http://wouldashoulda.com/2012/07/27/i-dont-even-know-where-to-start/

ps. I posted this on Facebook already, but not everyone who reads my blog is my “friend” on Facebook and vice versa. Also, I just wanted to say that I cannot stop laughing and crying about how amazing the response to this has been. I love how selfless this act is and how much good it’s going to do. I do so hope that this little gesture, that has grown so big, can in some way impart how even strangers can care for one another and help in the healing of some of these girls.

We’re coming on fast to the end of our first school year as Lamp Post Academy. It has been an exceedingly interesting and rewarding year. We’ve learned a lot, but I think I may have learned more than anyone.

What I learned (in no particular order):

  • I am strong. I can be brought low with depression but I will still do what I have to for my kids. My kids are my saving grace.
  • I am changeable. There are things I have always enjoyed changing, but none of them are related to my schedule or my plans for the future, however mundane. With homeschooling, changeability equals strength. If something isn’t working for one of my kids, I CAN CHANGE IT. I don’t have to try and cram their pretty, smooth edges into a tiny square hole. No sanding necessary. That “something” doesn’t even have to be curricula based, but it can simply be the order in which we do things or the length of time spent doing one particular thing.
  • I can be patient. Patience is not a virtue that inhabits my person. I do not exude patience. I am not the person you would expect to be this patient paragon of a parent. Mainly because I’m not. I have learned through parenting that I CAN be patient, but I’ve learned through teaching that patience reaps high rewards and is, of itself, one of the best tools I have at my disposal. Sure, it’s a tool that I had to dig out of the back of the garage underneath the unused bicycles and the empty snake terrarium, but I did find it. And, I’m putting it to good use, honing it to a fine edge.
  • Pynni was very broken. Her self-esteem and confidence were destroyed after Kindergarten. I helped rebuild that, but mostly she had to do the work herself. I encouraged, and practiced my patience while she learned to trust me and trust herself.
  • It took a fabulous teacher over half a school year to put Chi back on track after 2nd grade, but even with that he flapped and squeaked and beat on things. He slammed himself around until you’d think he’d be covered in bruises. He will never be neuro-typical, thank God, but he is himself. He is not ruled by his Asperger’s anymore. He makes better decisions about how he acts, and they are actually becoming his own decisions and not a reaction he can’t control. Sure, he has his moments. Sure, he melts down occasionally, but he is so present and a part of what’s going on around him, I will not ever doubt my decision to teach him myself. Best. Decision. Ever.

Homeschooling has brought many things forward that I may not ever have known I was missing. My favorites are (in no particular order):

  • We learn in which ever way we want. We do math practice on iPad apps, or on the white board, or on paper, or on computer programs, or on little chalk boards, or writing in sand. WHATEVER. We read and read and read and it’s not a chore. We learn about spelling and tornadoes and bees and molecules and ancient Egypt ALL AT THE SAME TIME. The kids have started asking questions about the things around them and we look those things up. We watch documentaries and youtube videos and search the library and even wikipedia.
  • We don’t get bored. Done doing one type of thing? Let’s do something else, then.
  • The kids are growing closer. Yes, that’s right. They are bonding tighter and loving being together. They get along great. It is so awesome to see Chi, who’s five and half years older, and Pieces really get to know one another. I love seeing them spend so much time together. Pieces is learning from Chi and Chi is loving that.
  • I LOVE having my kids home. I thought I’d struggle with getting tired of them and irritated. I thought I’d crave alone time and quiet. While I still value quiet (no cable helps with that A LOT), I can not get enough of being with my kids. We talk more than we ever did and we interact in ways we never have. I look forward to the day with them. It has surprised me that I don’t look forward to bedtime every evening. Most days bedtime is suddenly upon us and I wonder how that happened.

So yeah. School at home has been fun. Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, I wonder how we are going to keep it up, but then Pynni asks if we can learn about butterflies and Chi wants to know more about computers and off we go.

Speaking of. I’m gonna go microwave some soap!

Yar! Chi's Jack

My Three Bandits. Out to take your SUGAR!

We carved our pumpkins too early and they rotted in a most dramatic fashion on the front porch steps. Gross!

Our costumes were ready in time (read: not last minute), which isn’t in the buckets of fail per se,

Pie's Pumpkin

but it causes little kids to beg to dress up and trickertreat NOW even though Halloween is a couple of days away. It also results in being dressed for trickertreating much earlier than strictly necessary.

My kids were costumed and ready to rock an HOUR before we were scheduled to trickertreat, right around the time it started to rain while the temperature dipped into the lower fifties/upper forties.

Pieces Jolly Jack: A self portrait

They had to be de-costumed so they could consume some nourishment and then re-costumed after that.

Then we had to decide: Do we trickertreat in spite of the weather? Do we not trickertreat? Do we go to the mall and trickertreat inside?

We go to the mall and trickertreat inside! Brill! I bet everyone and their damn dog will be there and how fun is that? To cram shoulder to shoulder and chest to back with a bunch of pushy, self-ish strangers?  we’re the only people to think of that! I bet we’ll make out like successful bandits!

Piece-E

(Maybe I should have crossed out that last part, instead.)

Yeah, so the mall was more packed than I’ve EVER seen it. There were lines of cars just to get into the parking lot and people cruising the isles for a spot, any spot. Then the nightmare of the interior of that place is hard to relive. 7 billion people indeed. INDEED!

Fancy Nancy Pynni Pie

So after an hour of trudging through the masses and getting like 5 pieces of candy and lots of pushing,we returned home. Sad. Things were not looking up for the my children and their quest for the yearly harvesting of large quantities of sugar in all its glorious forms.

We, the parents, decided that this was not to be born and decided to do some trudging in the rain along the

Chi was Mac from SSX. When asked he said, "I'm Mac from SSX. It is a video game that is coming out for the PS3 in January 2012. All other SSX's were on the PS2!

sidewalks of our little neighborhood the usually turns out en masse for this yearly harvesting. And do you know what? There were quite a few people trickertreating, too and more people that I thought were handing out candy and the two coolest Halloween houses were all decked out and battery powered and SPOOOOOOOKY. Pieces

Hubs made the snowboard. Chi chose a Pokemon and Hubs freehanded the drawing. We wrapped it in plastic because its made of paper which isn't really waterproof.

was convinced the ghosts and the witch that fly through the air all around their house were real.

In the end, we trickertreated with friends from the neighborhood, hit a few houses, got soaked and cold, and harvested a decent amount of shaped sugar. The kids? Well, you couldn’t tell by the way they acted that there was anything amiss with the weather. Hubs? He was sopping wet and cold. Me? I hung out under the umbrella so that I didn’t go into anaphylactic  shock (I’m allergic to the cold! Sheesh.) Still, I was itchy, but I made a good holder-of-parts-of-costumes-the-kids-were-tired-of-wearing.

I like that the kids had fun anyway. I want to be more like that.

Post Trickertreating GORGE!