We’ve been eyeing this catalog with interest each time it arrives in our mailbox. If you’re sad to see VF go, this company has a similar flavor in their toy selection. Just thought I’d share their latest sale since I’m an affiliate. They have hundreds of items at 60% off, and there’s still time for Christmas delivery if you really want it.
Today was another beautiful day, with a high in the low 70′s. The little ones played outside a lot, running in and out in short sleeves and bare feet. Strangely enough I smelled snow in their hair and clothes each time they came in. I’m sure it wasn’t wishful thinking because I hate snow. I’d love to hear a hypothesis if you have one. I’m thinking it has to do with ozone.
I can’t believe it’s only a week until Christmas. Less, since I’m writing this at the end of the day and you’re reading it at some point after that. [breathe...breathe...]
This morning we finished the last chapter of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The end was more moving and less comical than I remembered. It was also the best part, where all the funny snarking became sweet, simple observation of human nature. It was still funny, but in a kinder, gentler way. My little ones were alternately horrified and in uproars at the antics of the Herdmans until the end; then they were suddenly quiet and thoughtful and full of questions. I’m glad we read the book.
I spent most of the afternoon running a series of errands with Rachael and Perry. We made 5 stops in 3 hours. It was hardly a record, but we covered a lot of ground and spent a lot of time wandering around making decisions. You can’t rush these things.
I didn’t actually buy any gifts unless you count a single stocking stuffer, but I’m feeling less panicked. What gets done in time will be done. I’ll do the rest later – or not at all. Have I told you about my stack of unmailed Christmas cards? They stretch back at least four years, and come out to haunt me every Christmas like one of Scrooge’s ghosts. One year we made it as far as addressing the envelopes. Another year I bought 100 postage stamps. I’m still working my way through those.
Anyway, I think I have a plan for most or all of the kids. Now I just need to get final approval and execute it.
Oh, we also ordered 10 dozen handmade tamales from a friend’s brother. These will be for the nth annual Brown Family Tamale Party on Christmas Eve. I say nth because I have no clue how long this thing has been happening. I guess I should ask somebody what year it started before we all forget. We’re hosting it for the first time, since the sister who has always hosted in the past moved away. She and her husband and 4 children will be driving in to join us along with a wide assortment of our siblings, their families, and Mom and her fiance.
After tamales, we’ll try to drag as many as we can to the Christmas pageant that evening. Maybe we’ll hold dessert until after the pageant, to motivate them to stay. What do you think? Would it work on you?
Today was the 2nd annual Christmas party for our church’s small homeschool group.
Megan looks exhausted, and the party hasn’t even started yet. But at least her bedroom is clean. I have a pic of the other girls’ room, but it’s scary. REALLY scary. I’m not posting it, because this is a G-rated blog.
Meanwhile, Rachael is downstairs waiting for things to get started. Real things, not work things like setting up.
Like this! See?
A quiet moment in the kitchen
A not-so-quiet moment in the living room
Of course there are no troublemakers in this bunch. Why would you ask?
The biggest thing on the agenda was our first pageant rehearsal. It was really just a quick run-through and a fit-check on the costumes.
The angels took their place at stage right…
…while Mary got pregnant in the kitchen. WAIT! WHAT? Well, that’s how Mrs. N put it.
We’re going to have the cutest sheep and donkey ever!
After rehearsal, we set the
hounds kids loose on the cookies. You should have seen them attack! There was also a big bowl of wassail, which was gone in 2.5 seconds.
We flipped our lips for a while, then remembered we were supposed to have an ornament exchange.
A selfie, as the party winds down. See? Still sane, no new wrinkles or frown lines. It was a good day.
Please excuse my stress yesterday. It was truly one of THOSE days. Near the end, the kids and I were jokingly wondering what else could possibly go wrong, since we had already covered all the bases. Then we worried that maybe we were right and our jokes would come true, which wouldn’t be funny at all, so we quit joking altogether.
Today was much, much better. It sounded busy when I ticked off on my fingers all the things that were happening, but it felt relaxed. Maybe that’s because I didn’t do a stitch of laundry. I’m sure it also had something to do with the fact that the sun was shining and the air was warm but crisp, and I was running errands alone in the Mustang with the windows down. I feel refreshed and ready to revisit the crazy that is Christmas.
Early this morning, the older girls moved some tables around in preparation for tomorrow’s party. We’ll be hosting a cookie exchange, an ornament exchange, and doing a play rehearsal. I forgot until I typed those words that Sunday won’t be our only rehearsal before the pageant, but it will be the only rehearsal on-site, where the kids will actually learn where to stand and how to get there.
This morning I bought gifts for 3 children online, and made plans for a few more. I still need ideas for some people, but at least I’m moving in the right direction.
We desperately needed some groceries (what is December without butter?), but before I left on my errands, I dealt with the pile of snow sitting on the mantle. We now have a proper Texas snowstorm. The Christmas explosion continues.
I arrived home to learn that our box of See’s chocolates from my grandparents had also arrived! This is a longstanding tradition created and maintained by my maternal grandparents, something we always look forward to. Now I know that Christmas is really coming! We’ll wait as long as we can to open them, but we rarely make it until Christmas. When the box is opened, I have dibs on at least one of the two chocolate-covered toffees. They’re flat and square, and always in a corner, one per layer.
This evening we read 2 chapters of Luke over dinner. We’re one chapter behind, but we’ll catch up tomorrow when (I hope) the little ones will be less wiggly. Why do I think they’ll be less wiggly after gorging on cookies all day during our homeschool group Christmas party? Because the whole Christmas season is all about hope, and hope is the substance of things not seen. Well, I’ve not seen un-wiggly kids lately, so I’m hoping.
After reading, a few enterprising souls finally decorated the tree…
…while I did some online Christmas shopping with a string of children who had money but were too young to shop independently, and Kaitlyn baked eleventy-dozen cookies for tomorrow’s cookie exchange.
Tomorrow, we party like homeschoolers!
Sorry. I just had to get that little scream out. Today will definitely make it into the archives of the Gone Awry category, if I can ever find the presence of mind and nerve synapses to remember and recount the events gone wrong. Or maybe we’ll just pretend today never happened.
In the meantime, our Christmas tree still stands naked and forlorn, leaning against the far corner of the living room. I guess we need to get it dressed for Tuesday’s Christmas party.
The church Christmas pageant is just over a week away, and we have yet to make costumes, although kind volunteers have done much of the work for us. We also need to start the backdrop for the stable. Not sure when that will happen since all my big people are working again this week. We’re hoping it will sometime before the first-and-only rehearsal. Did you hear that? FIRST AND ONLY?! Oh, this should be interesting. :)
I have not started Christmas shopping. At all. Nuthin. And I don’t think it’s happening this week, unless I can get it done at the grocery store. Don’t know when that’s happening, but it has to at some point. Right? Right???
My Christmas spirit is flagging. I’m not a grinch, or a scrooge. I’m just keeping it real for you. With a family working in retail, this is an extremely busy time of year for all of us, and I don’t mean because we’re busy addressing cards, wrapping gifts and baking cookies. I stay home, but when all my help is gone I’m still cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry for 12 – and nursing an active toddler, and teaching an eager 5yo to read, and keeping 3yo Parker from auto-destructing and taking down the whole house with him. Ooh, that boy.
And the dog follows me around the house all day, calling me Mom because he wants a bite of whatever he thinks I have.
We are very blessed, and I know many others have much worse problems than ours. Excessive busy-ness is not a big deal. It just feels like it sometimes, especially when you want to say yes to everything and everyone, because who wants to be like Ebenezer Scrooge? This is time for rejoicing, and rejoicing takes work.
Tomorrow, we make cookies.
I’m going to stop saying that the day was a blur, and just tell you if and when I have a December day that isn’t.
Instead, I’ll just hit a few highlights:
I finished Parker’s stocking! I did it last night, but it was after 1 AM when I finished, so technically it was today. He wanted solid green, like the Hulk, but I insisted on adding a little color because I had a feeling he would change his mind in future years. He approved.
This morning, we had a snowflake party, cutting snowflakes out of coffee filters. This may be the first time we actually made six-sided snowflakes. Becca went over them with an iron when we were done, but we agreed that they probably need starch. Right now they’re in a pile on the mantle, but I’m hoping to hang them from threads over the mantle.
This afternoon, I went shopping with a little elf. He turned a lot of heads and got a lot of compliments. He loved every minute of it, but his favorite part was probably when we bought bananas. He doesn’t go the grocery store as often as the older girls did since I usually have a convenient sitter. He never goes with just Mom, and I’ve never been to the grocery store with an elf, so this was a new adventure for both of us!
Later this evening, our family attended a Christmas party hosted by a family in our church. I loved what she did to personalize the wine glasses – little beads and pipe cleaners, with tiny name tags in case we forgot our colors!
Also, I learned that when you want to add a touch of peppermint to your coffee, you should use a single drop of peppermint extract or. 00003 drops of peppermint oil. Basically, don’t use peppermint oil in your coffee unless you want to feel like you just sucked an entire candy cane up your nose. My sinuses still feel fresh.
What did you do today?
When somebody mentions Christmas videos, most of us think about full length films, but this one is special. This version of White Christmas has almost become a tradition of its own in our house.
I don’t care a bit for snow at Christmas. I’d rather be wearing sunglasses and a pair of shorts, but I can’t hear this song without seeing Santa’s skinny little pipe-cleaner legs sticking out from under his Santa suit, and I laugh every time I hear the reindeer solo on the radio. Looking for more serious, thoughtful recommendations? Deep Roots At Home has a list of five worthwhile Christmas films.
What are your favorite Christmas videos?
Also, this is not specific to Christmas, but it’s certainly related. I just wanted to share it because I love it. It is posted on the inside of my front door. I really love that the panels on the door form the shape of a cross in the photo. I didn’t plan that, but Somebody did.
Every time I leave the house (or come down the stairs, or cross from the dining room to the living room), these words serve as a reminder to us that we are servants of the Most High. My dad always used to remind us that when we are in public, we are like ambassadors for the Lord. If people peg us as Christians – and they should! – our actions and behavior affect how they think of God. We need to be a good witness for Him everywhere we go.
Today was another busy day, with a lot of coming and going in many different directions. The morning swept by so quickly I only remember one accomplishment: we read two chapters in Luke, bringing us up to chapter 10, just where we should be.
I’m still pleasantly surprised at how engaged the younger ones are in this process, taking it in as though they’ve never really heard it before. They really wanted to hear that second chapter, objecting when I suggested maybe we should do it later in the day. I think doing this at Christmas time while we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus makes a difference. It seems to bring home the reality of what we are reading – not just a narrative from long ago, but the real earthly life of Jesus.
I also managed to trim the trunk of the Christmas tree with the circular saw. Not the ideal tool, I know, but it got the job done.
As soon as it was done, Natalie and Becca hauled the tree into the house and we tried to set it up. Since we’re helpless wimminfolk, we couldn’t make the stupid thing stand upright. We had to lean it in a corner and wait for Perry to come home and fix it.
I was afraid the trunk was too small for our base, and Perry agreed – until he took a closer look. He had a good laugh over this, since the problem was pretty obvious: I had neglected to trim the lower branches, so the tree wasn’t seated firmly in the base. It dangled and swung freely from the points where the four screws hit it.
Once he fixed that little problem, we realized there was a second problem: the trunk really was too small to be held firmly by the base we had. Now it was my turn to laugh, but I held my peace in quiet dignity. Then he mentioned that IF ONLY SOMEBODY HADN’T THROWN AWAY THE DOOR SHIMS, WE COULD USE THOSE TO MAKE IT FIT. Yes, it was me. I threw them away. I threw away perfectly good little 10 cent scraps of wood. See why my house is a mess? One of us is an aspiring hoarder, and it’s not me. If he had his way, we would be buried in an avalanche of DVDs, blankets, hand tools, and paperwork.
One of us is an aspiring minimalist, and it’s not Perry or any of his offspring. That’s not to say I am a minimalist, because if I were, he and the kids would bury me in a shallow grave somewhere. I just aspire, then go with the flow.
No, one look at our house and you’ll know we’re not minimalists. We have more books, children and loveseats than any sane person I know, and the Christmas explosion is growing day by day. Today we were the happy recipients of a beautiful little angelic candleholder, and a thick, heavy 8′ long piece of artificial pine garland. It’s almost too big to go indoors, so we’re thinking it might make a very nice wreath for the front of the house if we coil it into a big ring.
For a fun touch today, I dabbed drops of peppermint oil on some of the light bulbs around the house. Bethany had no idea what I was doing, but after I visited the room where she was playing I heard her yell out, “Candy canes! I smell candy canes!”
What happened in your day?
Today was a shopping day. Not groceries, but gifts.
This morning, I took Natalie, Becca and Rachael to Hobby Lobby where they bought some carefully planned gifts for a few lucky individuals. I also picked up part of Bethany’s costume for the church’s Christmas pageant…and I just realized I forgot to get the materials for a backdrop we volunteered to create for the pageant. Guess where I’ll be going tomorrow?
Later in the afternoon, I took 5yo Bethany shopping for a gift. Together, she and I came up with a fun gift for the whole family that she could pay for all by herself with just $3-4. She’s working very hard to keep it a secret, so I won’t spoil it by telling here where her sisters might see it.
While we were out, we went to a feed store and bought the dog a couple of early Christmas gifts: a duck foot and a pig snout. I confess, I bought both mainly for shock value. I was successful. You should have seen the kids’ faces! It was best $1.89 I’ve spent in a long time!
The dog was insanely excited about the duck foot. Have I ever told your our dog can talk? He only says one word: Mom. When he wants something from me, he follows me around just like one of the kids growling, “Ma-ma-ma-moooom!” Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
On his way home from work, Perry got a tree. He took a bunch of the kids to work with him today, so they were with him when he stopped to choose it at a local nursery.
Just before he snapped the photo below, he told them to look busy. I think each person’s idea of what it means to look busy says a lot about that person. What do you think?
After dinner, Perry and I went out on yet another shopping errands. T’is the season, you know.
And the tree? We didn’t decorate it, or even bring it in the house yet. It’s sitting outside in the cold cold COLD, waiting to have its trunk trimmed tomorrow, right after we find the saw.
Tomorrow’s goals, among a hundred other things:
- Decorate the tree
- Work on Parker’s stocking, at least a little bit
- Settle on a plan for Bethany’s costume