As much as possible I tried not to freak out over Christmas planning and execution this year. It's supposed to be joyous, right, not draining? So, there were several things that fell through the cracks or didn't go as planned and I tried to just let it go.
Well, I never got a chance to look for an additional coordinating stocking holder since Mei-Mei has been born. Nor did Bo or I fill each other's stockings. So we left ours off this year. The kids might help us fill next year cuz they were concerned that the grown ups didn't have any. My sweeties.
We're trying to encourage a love of nature in the kids, so I was able to order these awesome tree colored pencils, and these crayon holders also from Etsy so they could draw in their field journals. I was glad that I was able to find so many homemade gifts for the kids (better for the environment!). They loved them so much these were the things the chose to bring to grandma and grandpa's later. We also got them thermal underwear to brave the cold in nature this winter.
BUT....NO FIELD JOURNALS. Despite it being my first idea as a gift to them, and the inspiration for all the other aforementioned gifts that we got them, my homemade field journals didn't get done. I got the paper and the covers from the I.D.E.A Store. Bo punched holes in the paper, but the covers were too thick. Because other stuff came up, we didn't have enough time to solve that problem so we didn't finish them yet. Hopefully later this week we'll have the field journals ready.
Later this week, we might also put up our nativity too. The kids have just been playing with their magnetic one in the meantime. We might also put ornaments on the tree. If anything, maybe we'll just do the ones that tell important stories of our family cuz our tree is B-A-R-E!
And my kids NEVER all looked at the camera this Christmas. I probably shouldn't hold my breath that this is something we can accomplish next year either, huh?
Today was a bit busier cuz we had to (not really had to, but it was nice to) prep for church and Bo was playing in the band so he had to leave by 1pm. Luck would have it that Tey didn't nap and Mei didn't take her second nap. Really it was a miracle we were all ready and sane to get to church before 4pm and that I squeezed in a shower. MIRACLE!
Church was amazing. It was extremely worshipful and I really connected with our savior and celebrated his miraculous birth. I'm praying that my kids felt like they were worshipping too, cuz they rocked out their Christmas show! Tey is in the white collared shirt on the left and Bean is in the red checked collared shirt on the right.
Then we headed our for Chinese. My mom's side is Chinese, so no, we're not copying a Christmas Story. Chinese people each Chinese food on Christmas! This is 4 years know that our church family has joined us in continuing this tradition when my nuclear family is away from our extended biological family for the holidays (now with 3 kids, it's easier for us to meet up with my mom's side of the family over the summer).
It is tradition for us to do Christmas stockings on Christmas Eve. We're pretty practical when it comes to stuffing them. The kids got new toothbrushes, some flossers, toothpaste, a couple play animals, a small candy cane, a dreidel, a sticker sheet, and a small Heifer International bank to collect for that charity.
Yay! Friday! Finally, Bo was off from work and we had plenty of fun celebrating Christmas Eve Eve. I dunno what anyone else does regularly on this day, but we've got have a couple great new traditions in the making.
To start the morning off we all got bundled up and headed outside. I can't believe we were out there for about an hour and a half! Here we are seeing if we all touch hands and hug the tree. I'm thinking by springtime we can get Mei involved and it's a done deal.
We also needed to prep a bit for our contribution to the Christmas meal on Sunday. Bo took Bean to the grocery story and returned home with an impulse buy of crab legs. I'm not complaining :) (though they did freak me out at first when I was unloading the groceries). It was Bean's idea (can you tell how excited he is to eat ferocious crab legs) and Bo went along cuz they were on sale. Everyone is happy. Yum!
For one of the desserts that we are bringing to Christmas, Bo wanted to make the flourless chocolate cake that we used to be famous for. I mean really, you can never go wrong with something made of just eggs, butter, and chocolate! Here the boys are beating 9 eggs. Yes, that is the volume of just 9 eggs!
Tey, my little chef, learning the proper way to mix the eggs and chocolate to keep it frothy and light. The kid just loves to help in the kitchen.
Take a look at this: so good, you could just take a bite...of the cake, I mean. ;)
We wrapped the day up with "A Muppet Family Christmas." Seriously, it's THE best kid's secular Christmas movie ever. It has the Muppets, plus Sesame Street, plus Fraggle Rock. And they all sing. 'Nuff said.
I realized that last year when we watched this, Bean was also pants-less. Maybe this is a new tradition too! Not so sure how well that will go over when I they are teenagers.
This has been a trying week. I know I have not been the best mom, wife, teacher, (insert all other roles I have). I had a new thought this week that I've never had before. Beyond a doubt, at least Bean needs to be homeschooled. But the doubt crept in about whether or not I am the best teacher for him.
I'm feeling better about it now. Maybe this is usual to have confidence then lose it than gain it again. I got out of the practice of writing my positive reminders at the end of the day. I think I need to do that again. Or I might just blog them. I hope that by including that kind of stuff it does not come across as bragging. Really, I'm just trying to maintain my sanity, remind myself that homeschooling is the right choice for us, and that we are in fact making progress.
My biggest positive reminder for today is that Bean is writing AND drawing. After Bean wrote his "My Story" for his baptism, he has been more amenable to practice writing a little bit everyday. Also because he has tremendous respect for the Bible, that's where we started for regular handwriting practice. He did not at all complain or drag his feet when I first introduced the idea of having him copy verses, which he had done any other time he was asked to write something.
BTW, I'm sure you knew that in the middle ages, monks copied the Bible. But did you know that some were also warriors. We've been watching some videos about the middle ages, and that was a cool fact. Bean loves the idea of warriors, knights, fighting, etc. and some of them copied the Bible. Coolness!
Anyway, over the past two days, he has written Matthew 2:11. I can see how his handwriting has improved over the past couple weeks. More noticeable growth is in his attitude and willingness to write. Before I would describe it as "loathing." Now it is a daily practice, a non-issue.
Secondly, he drew of his own will. After reading a book on owls, he drew an elf owl and a great horned owl. The great horned owl is on an evergreen tree with prickly needles.
When I think of where we were when we started homeschooling (absolutely no interest in writing, drawing, or anything that involved a writing implement), this is big.
As much as I would like my kids to play outside everyday, it just doesn't happen. Today was just too gorgeous not to push them out the door despite them being deep in collaborative play indoors. Thankfully, they continued outside and together they made the most creative mudpie with mud, grass, and cardboard that we were using to choke some grass. They played for quite a while before they asked for ingredients from the pantry.
What? Are you serious?! Real food? Then I remembered it.
It was probably two years ago when someone on Freecycle posted that they were getting rid of jars of old spices. At the time we were going to start buying our spices in bulk, so these jars were exactly what I needed. And for FREE! Not surprisingly they have sat on a shelf in our basement since then. I guess I felt bad just tossing the spices out to use the jars but had no idea what to do with it. Never would I have imagined that it would be perfect for this:
The kids were thrilled to be using real ingredients. This was the final product.
It's baking in a oven made from a shopping basket inside a cardboard box. I think it's hilarious that just after yesterday's post about them playing with String, they spent most of the morning playing with Dirt and a cardboard Box.
Have you seen this funny post on Greek Dad? I have to agree that the best toys are ones that are simple, have multiple uses and stretch kids' imaginations. Of the five on the list of best toys, String (I love that Jonathan Liu capitalizes "string") is by far my kids' favorite, especially for Bean. To document this, I just went around the house and snapped these 5 photos to support my claim:
Exhibit A: String from a yo-yo is used to tie the barn door shut.
Exhibit B: Ribbon is used to tie a bandanna to Mei Mei's walker toy and inside are two baby animals. For a stork? I dunno.
Exhibit C: Lanyard is tied to a bracelet around a dog's neck to make a leash.
Exhibit D: This is my personal fav.
The yellow String is holding penguin's jet pack on. Why? Obviously because penguins are birds, but can't fly. Poor penguin :( The green bracelet around the jet pack keeps water from coming in when she goes underwater and the goggles keep water out of her eyes. I love Bean's creativity with this one and that he considers some of this animals and other playthings to be girls when nothing suggests that they should be.
Exhibit E: I have no idea what this is except that it needed to be controlled by computer (a computer keyboard was added later).
The best part about String is that it doesn't even need to be bought. In the above pic, the dark Strings at the top came from hoodies of mine, the green and yellow Strings came wrapped around bath towels my mom got the kids last Christmas, the green bracelet (around the white canister) came from an old key chain, the blue lanyard came from my previous job and the orange spiky bracelet (dog collar in Exhibit C) was a handout from a company cookout of my husband's a couple years ago. Each has its own history, kinda like ornaments on a Christmas tree, though DH and I joke about buying the kids a bunch of brand new String for Christmas becuase they love it so much. It's better for the environment to play with repurposed string anyway. That original post could just have easily been posted on Green Dad rather than Geek Dad.