Sunday, December 27, 2009
I can so identify with this problem as when I buy presents throughout the year and tuck them here and there, I end up spending most of December searching for the items in different little nooks and crannies. Apparently, this has actually brought some admiration of my DD who at almost 15 knows the secrets of Santa and has begun to be impressed by the true secrets of a parent that can keep such secret gifts hidden until the morning of Christmas.
How do you hide Christmas gifts? and if you have any thoughts on the missing candy canes, my children would love to know.
Friday, December 25, 2009
The excitement I am feeling is coupled with so many fears: What if we are not enough? What if I can't remain calm? What if we do something stupid to this child who is already so delicate? How do I best keep everything in balance for this child, for our current children, for my husband, and for myself?
But the biggest question that echoes in my heart is how as a society can we continue to let these children down?
This new coming year will certainly be a year of new things for us; This new child certainly being the largest. As you contemplate your new year, might there be a place for another child in need. Jesus was born in the manager, wrapped only in swaddling cloth. As he grew, he talked to us about helping the least, the lost, and lonely and he encouraged us to help. Can you hear his call?
How can you answer? I pray that you have had a wonderful Christmas and that in this new year you will think about how you will make next Christmas wonderful for a child who was hurt and lonely this year.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
It is interesting that a friend recently made a comment that you know you are doing what you should when it brings tears to your eyes. As I sat at the table with all the associated social workers, telling them why we would be a good family for this child, and hearing all about his issues, I found myself tearing up. I was able to control the tears, but I had to stop to take a breath before the reality of this child's life overwhelmed me. So based on my friend's philosophy, we are doing what we should be. I just wish things would come together faster for both him and us.
So, I am asking you all again for a prayer. A prayer this holiday, as we sit with our family around us, that all the children in the world can feel God's love and that one by one each of these needy children will find a home and people that love them. Amen
Monday, December 21, 2009
Spritz cookies have been a part of my family traditions from my earliest memories. My mother was not a big baker, but these I remember firmly. They are actually fairly quick cookies to make and do not require refrigeration, but they do require a cookie press. I so miss my mother's. Hers finally broke after over 30 years of usage a couple years ago; since then, I have gone through about five, but have yet to find one as durable and trouble-free as hers.
This year I was actually making the cookies for Breakfast with Santa that the library was sponsoring, but like an elementary school child who doesn't do their homework banking on the upcoming snow storm, I put off my evening cookie making. When the snow did not come, I started making them at 7 am.
Of course, as I wrapped up the cookies to go. I could see it in my husband's eyes: "More cookies please". And when my daughter and I drove to our old hometown to see their Christmas pageant the men baked away and by the time we got home cookies were freshly baked. Oh, so yummy.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
1. Book written by a long lost lover i.e. an author you enjoyed pre-kids.
This one was tough, but I read a great compilation of essays that my daughter picked out, Eloquent Essays that included many of my favorite authors: George Orwell, Barbara Kingsolver, and some very intersting essays by Carl Sagan and Martin Luther King Jr.
2. A book that allows you to travel to a place of your dreams.
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown - What I would give to see the art of Italy?
3. A book that brings you back to a place you’ve been before by location, character, job, or some other way.
Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. This book takes place primarily in Maine, has a scene in Boston, and has a huge section that is based on the cancer his father is facing. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in all three of these places.
4. A book recommended by your librarian (If you haven’t met him or her yet, it is time to get reacquainted).
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
5. A book that is or was on the NY Times Best Seller list.
The Alchemist by Paula Coehlo
6. A biography of a person that interests you.
The Knockout Entrepreneur by George Foreman or Still Life with Chickens by Catherine Goldman. In these cases, I wasn't interested in George Foreman before I read his book and I had never heard of Catehrine Goldman, but both were great reads.
7. A book that is found in the Children’s or Young Adult section.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
8. A book on which a movie is based. Then plan an evening to watch the movie too.
Ok, I have to cheat and use Angels & Demons twice. I was dying for the movie to come out and was thrilled when DD brought it home as a suprise. Next, we are going to read his Digital Fortress. Do you think I'll get a movie for that one too? Tom Hanks, if you are listening, please start filming for a March 2010 release: ; )
9. A book of historical fiction.
The 19th Wife By David Ebershoff - - - This was an incredibly good book that intertwined the life of Brigham Young's 19th wife and a current day 19th wife in a fictitious Mormon sect.
10. A book recommended on any blog. Ok, I have to stretch this one a bit two, mostly because I don't recall who recommended specific books or how I came to read them. However, I know that Faithful Ruslan was recommended by a fellow book club member. Recommendations from others is a great way to expand your regular reading repertoire. This book for example I would have never read without a recommendation but am so glad that I did.
11. A book that claims it will make your life better because you read it.
Guinea Pig Diaries - by AJ Jacobs. While AJ does not claim that he will make your life better, his experiments do open your eyes to looking at the world in a new way which can in turn improve your life.
12. A book that is recommended by someone else in the comments of this blog (hopefully the list will be longer toward the end of the year).
Well, I can't do this one, because I need you all to talk. It is great to read, but we need some interaction to know about some new books.
Well, we didn't get all twelve, but pretty close. So now I will need to set up the 2010 reading challenge. Do you have any ideas or recommendations?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Ok, I have to share this one. A dear friend recommended this book to me the other day. She is a 1st grade teacher and she read it to her class and was astonished by the way it touched them. The book, irronically, is by Madonna or more specifically re-told by Madonna. The story is about rumors. The story vividly shows how rumors can hurt and sometimes all the hurt and pain cannot be fixed with an "I'm sorry": some damage is irrepairable.
I must tell you that I took the book out from our library here and was as impressed as she was. So I am passing on this recommendation to you as well.
HOME-SCHOOLING: Socialization not a problem - Washington Times
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
It looked like we were getting close to yet another year without a tree. We have not had a tree for two years. Two years ago, we were getting the floors done at the old house to prepare for selling the house, and then last year, we didn't put up a tree because we needed to be ready for showings. Unfortunately , a giant tree in the living room made the room look very small. So we settled for a 3' psychedelic Home Depot special for two years running. It is still used as a decoration in the house but not quite so prominently, though it has found a special place in my heart.
By the time that I got home from work, they had the tree up and decorated.
Now we just have to find tinsel which is almost impossible to find around here. Apparently we have about the same chance of finding tinsel as we do in getting the H1N1 vaccine. Why, we do not know, but DH and kids went to four different stores looking for it and could not find it. So right now the tree is a little bare, but soon will have it glittering.
Tinsel has a long history in my family. I have to admit that I was surprised to find out how cheap tinsel was. When I was growing up, you would have thought tinsel was gold. I remember being instructed by my mother to only put three strands on each branch which we would methodically remove and save at the end of the season. I figured that tinsel had to be incredibly expensive and so when I had my first tree, I did not even question doing the same thing. DH looked at me like I was insane. "Honey," he said. "A box of tinsel is only 99 cents. We can throw it out. It is ok."
What funny Christmas memories do you have? Show us your tree. Include the link in your comment and we'll come check it out.
Friday, December 11, 2009
In typical fashion my family kind of jumps in and out of it and looks down all different lineages to see what interesting tid-bits we can find. My aunt, however, is much more methodical and has created a wonderful book on my mother's side which she gave to all the descendants for Christmas a few years ago. Now I'm sure, in many households this book is a dust collector, but in ours it is a great reference book. What a better way to make history come alive than have a direct connection to a historical event. This week, the kids got the book out and were doing a comparative table of jobs that have been held in our family. DD found out that we had farmers, silk workers, bankers, entrepreneurs, gas company employees, inn keeper, blacksmith, and a whole boat load of teachers. DS was especially interested when he found that part of the Shaw family owned a grocery store. He immediately wanted to know if we were heir to the Shaw's supermarkets. He is no fool. Genealogy suddenly became very important.
Most interestingly though was that this common interest brought the siblings together to work, which is not always that easy. They worked cooperatively at this for several hours. They would scour through the histories of individuals that my aunt had compiled and glean out the occupations, which DD put in a spreadsheet on the computer.
If you have a genealogy, you may want to dig it out to work with as you work on graphs, geography, language, culture, etc. And if you don't have one, this might be a great time to start one.
We frequently use:
http://www.ancestry.com/ - this is a web page that you need to pay for, but there is an initial 14 free trial.
Burial ground records are sometimes online and can be a great help.
My aunt gave DD a great book called Climbing Your Family Tree: Online and Off-Line Genealogy for Kids by Ira Wolfman.
and easiest and most importantly, talk to the relatives that are still alive to get down their history before it is lost. Perhaps a great gift this Christmas would be
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
My belief in this comes from the personal experiences of many homeschoolers. There is a plethora of anecdotal evidence of homeschoolers who have taken their children out of school because of reading / behavior problems and with a little space, some extra time, and success in other areas, these children not only learn to read; they recognize their own intelligence; they are not behavior issues; and they may even go on to love reading instead of hating it. Reading is not knowledge. It is one way to obtain it.
In our case, my son has many issues with reading and writing and the only thing that he learned in Kindergarten and first grade in public school was that he was dumb and that he hated school. Taking him out didn't solve everything, but we were able to reverse his feeling of self loathing and his dislike for education. His learning disabilities will never leave him, but he is learning tools to compensate. Most recently, I was impressed with this:
He was tasked to put together a cooking demonstration for Boy Scouts. He is a wonderful Dutch Oven cook as I have mentioned previously (and interestingly will happily pour through cookbook after cookbook to look for the perfect recipes). This diagram is his plan for tool, space, and equipment needed for the evening. This could have been written in a list, but for him the visualization was easier for him. Frankly, he accomplished what was needed. So is there anything wrong with this approach? I can't even imagine what the response would have been if he turned something like this in school, but this homeschool mom for one is very proud and I can guarantee you that everyone that eats the food that he cooks on Thursday won't know that he has done it any differently. Plus, look how effective this diagram will be when he explains what he is expected from his 3 or 4 helpers. They will know what he expects and where he expects. It would probably take your or I several pages of words to get this same point across.
How can homeschooling help a child with learning disabilities? It can give them the time and space to develop their skill set without outside pressures that begin to beat them down to such an extent that they give up and end up hating learning, possibly get angry, and become the statistic that the speaker recited the other night.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I have long since given up on the crazy decorate all in one day concept. I think the holidays should be savored like a lollipop or lifesaver, not chomped down like a cookie. This year the decorating is going to be especially drawn out due to the addition of the caroleers. So Christmas decorating started a few weeks early. Now, I have added layer two and three.
Layer two, was the majority of all the other self standing decorations. (You can see the front door in the new header above). Layer three, I broke down and went to the store. As our new house is a reproduction colonial, I couldn't resist the pull of candles for the windows.
Of course as I put them in the windows, I found out that we need yet another plug. The center window upstairs, which is actually in the attic stairwell, has no plug and so sits dark until I can get DH to put one in.
Layer four will be the addition of the actual tree, which I still have to find a place to put and the time to search for. Tree hunting in our family though is a process. It can truly take an entire day. The dear daughter of a friend of ours agreed to go hunting with us one year thinking it would be a very romanitc ideal - after six hours, she swore she would never tree hunt with us again. While I wish my husband wasn't so picky about his trees, I do love tree hunting. Growing up we always had an artificial tree so I appreciate getting out and finding a tree. Plus, the whole hunt alligns with my philosophy of enjoying and savoring the holiday.
Layer five will be one of our favorite traditions - gingerbread house making. I'm going to try to hold off on this one a little while as I'm kind of hoping that our foster child will be here before Christmas and this would be a great family project. Who can frown when you are decorating a gingerbread roof with Necco wafers? When we are done with these beautiful, sometimes rather unique creations, they become part of our decorations.
Intertwined with all of these steps is cookie making here and there, some Christmas carols playing, and the wrapping of presents. All of which I have also learned not to do in one night.
How do you decorate for the holidays? Do you do it in on fell swoop or do you laze it across several days?