Well, I know you’re going to hate to hear this, but I’ve pretty much got to write a blog post every day this week. There are all the Christmas-sy things to document, the books I read this year, and The Top 16 Photos of 2016. Oh, and we finally joined a church, so I guess I better blog about that.
In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, it’s time to saddle up my horses.
Although this Christmas season was just as busy as any other Christmas season, it also felt strangely relaxed. I guess it’s because last year, between being out of town for family business, and grieving, and being faced with the decision about the big move, we pretty much lost half our Christmas season. Because of the schedule change due to circumstances, the kids and I were frantically squeezing in the end of our semester on top of everything else.
It was just a delightful month, really.
This year, we had the whole month of December to enjoy Christmas activities. And I took THE WHOLE MONTH! In fact, I broke my strict “No Christmas Stuff until December” policy, and we got started on holiday baking and making advent tree ornaments on November 30th. It was therapy for my soul to take back Christmas…and I guess the kids didn’t mind, either!
It would be way too much to blog about all the Christmas things at one time, so I’m going to blog our pre-Christmas activities in one post and our actual Christmas Day in another.
So here are some things we did this month:
- The ABCs of Advent. This is the “curriculum” we used for the Bible portion of school this month. If you want to see the day-to-day of this process, you can check out my Instagram. But I wanted to put a linky on here in case anyone was interested in using this in the future. I’m pretty sure this is one of the Advent books my parents used with me as a child. This year, Linker Academy made an exciting change; instead of making paper ornaments to hang on a paper tree that I would cut out of poster board, we made real ornaments to hang on a real (well, artificial!) Christmas tree! We have a lot more room for that type of thing in this house. This is something we will be enjoying every year! And YOU have a great advantage! Because if you want to get an Advent tree for your kiddos to decorate next year, you can get one in the after-Christmas sales RIGHT NOW.You’re welcome.
Full disclosure, I discovered I’m TERRIBLE at doing an Advent lesson with the kids on the weekends in December. So instead of doing what we normally do, which is getting way behind and then feeling very defeated about rules that I made up for myself, I thought ahead. Instead of doing one letter every day, we did two every school day. It worked out that there were 13 school days left…26 letters of the alphabet…voila!
I also realized that I’ve been homeschooling long enough to start rotating Christmas/Advent curriculum instead of coming up with a new one every year. So I guess next year we’ll be starting over!
2. Decorating the House! Decorating was very therapeutic for me this year. Since it’s our first Christmas in this house, we had to take some extra time to figure out where everything should go. For the second year in a row, we did NOT put the Christmas tree in the play pin, and Arrow actually did fine with it! (It helps that my standards are low and, if it can be broken, it probably already has.) We also decorated outside, and I think it’s been a few years since we’ve had the time to do that! (Nothing fancy set to music. We will leave that to the pros!)
(Obligatory Kids-Wrapped-in-Lights photo taken on Decorating Day!)
3. Walk-Through Bethlehem, light displays set to music, and a free viewing of Home Alone on the big screen – all treats that we found in our new town!
4. Christmas Dinner #1. The weekend before Christmas, we took a trip down south to celebrate Christmas, or should I say Navidad, by taking Grandpa Dan and The Girls to “Christmas dinner” at the Mexican restaurant. We figured the queso would compensate for the fact that we weren’t actually cooking them a Christmas dinner!
5. First Annual Gingerbread House Making Party. We’re in a new place and the kids are getting older and I felt it was time for a new tradition. Somehow we had never made gingerbread houses before. (There was that one time that Josh’s Dad and Bonus Mom sent us a kit, but whoever was two at the time got into it and broke the pieces and ate most of the candy before we realized what it was. Sorry, guys – it was very thoughtful, though!)
We have met a sweet homeschooling family at church who was game for being a part of our First Annual Gingerbread House Making party. It is a lot more fun to do something like this in a group, and I wanted to use it as kind of a school Christmas party.
It was also helpful when I realized that the only way I knew how to make a gingerbread house was with a small milk carton, and I had no idea how to obtain one for each child since the only place I know to find them are public school cafeterias. I texted Lisa with my dilemma and it turns out that she had 6 heavy whipping cream cartons. Now, I can’t ask questions or judge her for any whipping cream habits she might have (remember my old hoarding cabinet?), but I was very thankful that she was able to save the day for our gingerbread houses!
So here are all of our final creations!
Clearly, our children are architectural geniuses and will be totally going into the house building biz together.
I figured that, since the children wouldn’t be allowed to eat the gingerbread houses and that would be rather torturous, we could also use the icing and toppings to make our annual sugar cookies! Sometimes we don’t even get to this until the week after Christmas (check out little Ava and Dana making them in 2010!), so since this was about 10 days before Christmas, we were winning!
All the sticky stuff meant Arrow needed a man bun!
Arrow has a tendency to pinch off icing and help himself. Hopefully he didn’t do that to cookies that other people ate.
It was a delightful time doing something new with new friends in our new house!