Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Favorite Christmas Tradition

We love our Advent book tradition.  Every year I wrap up 24 Christmas books and we open one each day.  I try to match the books up with an activity or event that we are doing.  It is a fun way to count down to Christmas and share a great story time together. We are having a Victorian Christmas this year so all of the books are wrapped in brown paper, as will be all of our gifts. Here are our books and activites for this year. 
  1. Christmas Farm ~ Cut down tree and decorate it
  2. Amazing Peace ~ Set up Nativity
  3. The Last Straw  ~ Make shoe boxes for Meals on Wheels
  4. The Cricket on the Hearth ~ Make Victorian crafts
  5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas ~ Make Christmas cards at the library
  6. The Legend of St. Nicholas ~ The kids will get new socks and candy in their shoes
  7. The Christmas We Moved to the Barn ~ Go to the live nativity, Return to Bethlehem
  8. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree ~ Christmas at Carl Sandburg's home
  9. The Chanukkah Guest ~ Make Latkes
  10. The Legend of Papa Noel ~ Deliver books to kids in need (got names from the library tree)
  11. The Other Wise Man ~ View window decorations and give coins to street musicians
  12. The Baker's Dozen ~ Make and take bread to neighbors
  13. Gingerbread Baby ~ Visit the national gingerbread house competition at the Grove Park Inn
  14. Winter's Gift ~ Make snowflakes
  15. The Crippled Lamb ~ Attend the hospital children's Christmas party
  16. An Irish Night Before Christmas ~ Take a ride to look at Christmas lighting
  17. Grandfather's Christmas Tree ~ Take food to the foodbank Christmas tree at the mall
  18. The Dog Who Found Christmas ~ Take dog toys to the Humane Society
  19. The Legend of the Poinsettia ~ Sibling shopping and gift wrapping
  20. Night Tree ~ Clean the house for Christmas
  21. The Steadfast Tin Soldier ~ Host a Victorian nutting party
  22. Woodland Christmas ~ Decorate a tree with food for the wild animals
  23. Grandfather's Christmas ~ Drink hot chocolate under the stars
  24. The Legend of the Stocking ~ Set out stockings and attend church

Blessings, Dawn

Week 14 ~ Parades, Thanksgiving and Reality

On My Mind ~ It seems everyone is instantly in holiday mode now.  I am not there yet.  I still have to get through Tim's surgery before I can enjoy the season with a more relaxed state of mind.  We leave for Duke early Monday morning.  He has pre-op Monday afternoon and surgery Tuesday (we do not know the time yet).  Tim is really uncomfortable and taking naps during the day.  It is so strange to find him in bed reading.  I look forward to having my energetic son back.  Even our very short Thanksgiving walk was exhausting for him.  He says his heart hurts all the time now.  He is not one to complain so I am one worried mother.

Everything is still moving along on the sale of our old home.  We have a back up contract now.  I never imagined we would have two contracts on our home. It is such a blessing.

Out and About ~ Our city holiday parade last week ran perfectly between our kids Nutcracker rehearsals.  The parade route went right past the studio so we were able to see much of the parade.  It was a mixture of bands, strange sights and companies advertising themselves.  The girls loved getting a little bit of candy and Tom Sawyer loved hanging out with his theater friends.

The kids are ready for the Nutcracker.  We hope to make it back from Tim's surgery in time for them to make dress rehearsal and the three shows.  The dance studio says they are welcome into the show whenever we get back.  This year the kids are a bonbon, mermaid, and little puppet boy.  I did not get a picture of Tom Sawyer or the Little Red Riding Hood in her costume, but here is Goldilocks.

Homeschool ~ We are enjoying The Secret Garden and finished watching the 6 hour documentary of The Manor House on YouTube.  Tom Sawyer finished his current level of Teaching Textbooks and is ready for the next level.  I plan on having him practice the multiplication tables for a few weeks until he is really quick with them.  Goldilocks wants to do more workbooks and to do them in her bedroom.  She finds her siblings and my fun teaching style to be distracting.  I had some workbooks and gave them to her.  So far she loves the workbooks but isn't staying in her bedroom much.  I am not terribly surprised.  She is very social and wants to know what everyone is up to at all times.  She is also our most disruptive student, so it drives her crazy how quiet it is when she is not in the room. LOL  She has to find out what the rest of us are doing.  All of the kids are doing more workbooks right now.  It is just easier on me and they seem to be enjoying the change of pace.  Workbooks don't take very long so they can go play outside faster.  We plan on schooling straight through Saturday since we are not going to get much done next week with Tim's surgery.

Around the House ~ I love this house!!  I love that I can see the kids from any back window.  When I see them being too wild, I just knock on whatever window I am near.  It is funny to seem them looking all around to see from where Mom is watching them now.  The below picture is from one of my kitchen windows.

Counting Blessings ~  We are so blessed to have a great hospital to go to next week.  I have total confidence in Tim's doctors.  We know that he will receive the best of care.  We are so thankful to have a reservation at Ronald McDonald House.  In addition, we are leaving Goldilocks with her wonderful mental health caregiver who has taken care of her for the past eight years when she needs to be away from the family.  Goldilocks is being crushed by her RAD and PTSD right now and is not up to dealing with hospitals and someone besides her being the center of attention.  She needs to be in a very stable environment where good quality RAD behavior modification can be provided.  I cannot do that at Duke, so she will stay with her caregiver for a few days.  Her behavior has been hard to manage for weeks now, and I am so blessed to be getting the break.  I really need it.  We were in a minor car accident this week and I am glad that no one was injured.  We also had a lovely non-traditional Thanksgiving.  Tom Sawyer can't eat all the good stuff (pumpkin pie, stuffing, gravy and rolls) so we made a special feast of our own.  It was very good.
mashed potatoes, fruit platter, spare ribs, green beans, organic rolls, London broil, butternut squash casserole, and chocolate milk
I am joining Homegrown Learners.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, November 16, 2012

Week 13 ~ Life Goes On!

In My Life ~ We survived the move and are getting settled into our new home.  We are still deep in boxes.  How could we own so much?!  I got rid of lots before we moved and have carted eight more boxes to Goodwill in the last week.  The goal is to get rid of at least a third of our belongings!  I think we are well on our way to accomplishing this goal.  We also are happy to announce that our former home is under contract!!!  We did not get as high a price as we had hoped for, but it is enough to let us do the most important repairs in this home, replenish what we have taken from our small savings and buy a "new to us" second vehicle.  All in all, we have no complaints.  Now we are just praying that nothing goes wrong and the contract holds.  We hope to close on the 17th of December.

In Our Homeschool ~ We restarted school this week and are working hard on memorizing the multiplication tables.  Hopefully, everyone will have them down in the next few weeks.  We are also starting a unit study on the The Secret Garden.  We found a secret garden of our very own right next to the carport!  I thought it was just an overgrown, weedy mess, but there were little paths and a bench tucked back in there.  We are very excited to bring it back to life!  We are watching Manor House on YouTube, which was a PBS special a few years ago.  It is a wonderful example of what life was like on a manor around the end of the Victorian Era.

Special Events ~ We are very busy with Nutcracker rehearsals.  We are hopeful that we will make it back from Timothy's surgery in time for the kids to perform in at least one, if not all, of the performances.  Goldilocks took part in the homeschool choir, and they had a lovely concert this past week.  It was very impressive.  Their choir director is amazing.

Around the House ~ Besides digging my way out of boxes, I am enjoying getting to know my new home.  It is so much more user friendly.  The huge laundry room in the basement has built-in clothes lines to hang up all of our clothes (we still do not have a working dryer).  We live and school in the kitchen/dining room.  It is so nice to have a place to relax and school away from the front door and windows.  I don't feel like people are going to show up at the door and see our mess at any second.  We did get all of the most critical electrical problems taken care of and hope to put more light fixtures in after our home sells.  We also look forward to enjoying our family room some day.  However, the concrete has a strange glue on it and I am not sure it is safe, so for now we spend very little time down there.  I think it will be a wonderful play space after we lay a floor down.

Clockwise ~ The alto section at choir; planting daffodils in the secret garden; a secret bench; mulling apple cider; my little cook loves the new kitchen, too; and collecting oyster shells found in the secret garden, which we will lay as edging along the path.

I am joining homegrown learners.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ Making a Home

We are so happy with our new home.  It is turning into the perfect fit for us.  What an enormous blessing it is to be able to finally call this house that we have wanted for seven years our own.
Pretty ~  I love my kitchen.  It deserves a blog entry of its own and will have one soon.  I still have to paint the cabinets and put the doors up and buy hardware ... but it is great.  The flow is wonderful and there are THREE built-in "Lazy Susan's"!

Happy~ There is a lot of overgrowth all over our yard.  We found a secret garden right next to our carport.  It has so much potential and the kids are busy clearing it and cutting away all of the dead branches.  We will plant lovely things and rebuild the paths.  By spring it will come back to life.  How fortuitous that we are studying the book, The Secret Garden, this year.

Funny ~ There are jobs a plenty around here.  The most popular job in the past week was cleaning off the roof of the carport.  There were lots of big branches and tons of leaves on the roof.  What kid wouldn't want to climb out the kitchen window to clear off the roof?

Real ~ Timothy's pacemaker surgery is scheduled for November 27th, just three days before the rest of the crew is supposed to be on stage for the Nutcracker.  His energy is very low and he is feeling queasy most of the time.  He isn't going to his volunteer job or any of his fencing classes because they take too much energy.  The surgery the hospital is planning to do is the easiest of the three choices, so we should be home within two to three days.  We thank you for your continued prayers.

I am joining Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Surprises

What a week!  There has been such devastation along our country's East Coast and our hearts and prayers go out to them.  We make the big move this weekend.  Yikes!  I think we are ready. 
Going clockwise with the collage ~
  1. I was preparing to lay a paper bag floor in Little Red Riding Hood's room when I spied some hardwood in the corner of her bedroom closet.  After a bit of excavating, I found hardwood flooring throughout the girls' bedrooms and hallway that were covered in a variety of hideous floor coverings. My dear contractor ripped out the ancient linoleum and mason block.  Then my Mother and Goldilocks scraped up all of the glue off the floors, which is really hard work.  Thank you, Mom.  The end result is that we have hardwood floors throughout the living room, hallway and three of the bedrooms now.  They need to be refinished some day, but for now they give the home a cohesive look and are in better shape then the nasty floor coverings that were here when we bought the house.  I LOVE these kind of surprises.
  2. Lady dog gave in to the anxiety of moving this week and attempted to eat her foot (to the bone).  She is now the proud owner of a cone collar and is enduring being called such names as cone head, coney and funny face.
  3. Although book work has stopped, there is plenty of learning going on.  The kids are working on work ethic, painting, mopping, cleaning, carrying, and NOT whining.  (I am trying not to whine to much, too.)
  4. We did have a little bit of fun this week.  The kids went to a trunk and treat at a nearby church and voted on their favorite display.  Each car was decorated with a different theme.  They were all very impressive.  The kids especially loved the theme from the movie, UP, and the Charlotte's Web display.  We prepared Tom Sawyer for nearly a week to have five pieces of candy on Halloween.  He prepped his body with high doses of vitamin C and Transfer Factor and took Activated Charcoal after eating the candy.  He did great and we saw almost no effects.  What a blessing!
One big surprise this week that was not welcome is that Tim's pacemaker has gone into the final stage of failure.  We can now schedule surgery and he will be having it in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, he does not feel too well.  He is now paced at 65 beats per minute all of the time, no matter his activity.  This means that walking his dog, helping move and doing any level of activity is quickly exhausting him.  His heart rate will not support any kind of active lifestyle.  He is also having chest pains, tingling in his arms and waves of nausea.  The cardiologist says this is all normal while the pacemaker enters emergency mode.  I hate that the insurance companies in this nation require him to suffer and get to near total failure before they will pay their portion of surgery!!!  Please pray that he will get scheduled quickly and that all goes well.  Also, we need prayer that all of the details will work themselves out during this very complicated time.  The month of November is just insane to have to add this new issue to our plate.  We don't even have a car with enough seats to get us to Duke.  I guess that is a worry for another day.  I am off to get everyone up and ready for moving day.

Blessings, Dawn