Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to You!

No matter how you observe this day (or don't observe!) I wish you and your families all the best this Christmas and every day.
And that's all I have time to say because I have a pile of toys in the living room taller than my oldest child that my children need help opening. And new music to listen to. And new books to read. And new clothes to wear. Not to mention all the candy..

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This day not so long ago...

7lb. 11 oz.


1st Birthday

2 years old
3rd Birthday
4th Birthday 5th Birthday

Polly gets a hug from Tigger while they wear their matching robes

Raising Polly is an honor and joy I could not have imagined before she was born. God has blessed us beyond our dreams. She is a helper, an encourager, sharp as a tack, gentle with her baby sister, funny, energetic and, in short, well worth 9 months of pregnancy, 27 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing.

Happy 6th Birthday to Polly who will always be my baby, no matter how tall she gets.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Easiest Christmas Treat Recipe Ever

In honor of the Christmas season I'm going to give you the easiest Christmas goodie recipe you will ever see:

1 bag Butterscotch chips
1/2 bag Chow Mein noodles

Melt the chips, stir in the noodles, place by spoonfuls on wax paper. Store in an airtight container (if you have any left to store). My family calls these "Haystacks" and they ask for them every Christmas. They are so good. You can make another versions with melted chocolate chips but I personally have other things to do with my chocolate...like,
eat it straight from the bagbake other cookies.

There you have it: easy, frugal, and popular. What more could a busy mom ask for? If you've got some yummy recipes that are simple and quick, I'd love to see them!

Meanwhile, find lots of great frugal ideas at Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WFMW- Make Poetry Part of Your Life

I have to be honest here, when I was growing up poetry was not a big part of my life. Yes, I was homeschooled, but it wasn't one of our strong points. My parents both like poetry but that didn't seem to pass to me or my siblings. So I'm attempting to educate myself in poetry while I teach my children to love it.

Here are some ways we've included poetry in our lives:

- We read poems every day before nap time. Nap time has evolved into "quiet time" for the oldest girls who do still, on occasion, fall asleep. But anyway, this is the same time pretty much every day and we read poems before they lay down to sleep (or not).

- We are always working on memorizing one poem and one section of scripture. In November the girls memorized 2 poems and Psalm 100. In December they have memorized 2 poems and a section of Luke chapter 2.

- We quote poems or sections of rhymes often. Anything is fair game, even Dr. Seuss books.

- Read poems about the seasons when the seasons change.

- Write out poems and have your children draw and decorate a picture representation of that poem. Be sure to display the best ones on the fridge!

- Check out books (or buy them) with illustrated poems. One of our favorites is "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening". It has gorgeous pictures and we've been known to read it over and over again.

These are some things that have worked for us. How do you include poetry in your life?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

No Matter How Small

Today my mom and I took the kids Downtown (yes, you must say it with a capital letter) to Children's Theater. We also walked around to see the decorations, the big train display, and of course we had lunch Downtown.

The play was Seussical Jr. It was cute and Polly really enjoyed it. Tigger sat on my mom's lap the whole time, so that was $7 wasted, but I digress. Sweet Pea wiggled from my lap to The Bear's lap (aka my brother), nursed once, and enjoyed a rousing game of "Throw the pacifier on the floor and watch who gets it".

In the midst of all the fun and frivolity one thing really touched me. Horton the Elephant is a major character in Seussical (You have read Horton Hatches the Egg and Horton Hears a Who, haven't you?) He sings several songs, some silly and some sweet but one line, which is straight from the books, resonated with me today:

"A person's a person, no matter how small."

Dr. Seuss got it right. Oh that we would all take those words to heart! A person's a person, no matter how small!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

More Christmas Spirit

Today we got in the way helped my parents decorate their Christmas tree. The girls were feeling very festive. And they thoroughly enjoyed their lunch dinner, as you can tell by looking at their clothes and around their mouths. I have, rather sloppily I'm afraid, cropped the pictures for the sake of adults who did not wish to be pictured, or for the myriad detritus that decorating a tree seems to create.Polly was very careful, frequently asking, "Is this breakable?" before adding anything to the tree
Tigger's Kool-Aid mustache matches her hair!
Sweet Pea enjoyed eating bits of biscuit that we fed her to atone for the fact that she had to sit in the highchair and watch instead of "help" with the ornaments.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Controversy

I don't like to talk about controversial things here at my personal blog. (That's what the blog my husband runs, Doses of Reality, is for! Although lately that seems to be our "Why not to vote for Huckabee Blog...) But I was browsing some blogs tonight and one caught my eye.

A blogger that I read frequently had a bee in her bonnet about some child telling her child that Santa Claus wasn't real. This blogger has seemed, to me at least, to have a very negative attitude lately, which is a shame because she seems like a nice enough person. I will agree that that child (merely 6 years old, I might add) should not have told this blogger's child (4 years old) that Santa isn't real.

But can we be honest for a minute? That child told the truth. Santa Claus, as portrayed on all the Christmas specials or in books, isn't real. And don't get me started on the "Real St. Nicholas". I'm Baptist. We don't swing that way. Ahem.

Christian is a very big label covering a very large segment of our society. And we don't agree. We don't vote for the same people and we don't handle situations the same way. We make personal decisions for our own families that we think best. We sit around and think that the decisions others are making are probably not for the best, but we'll keep that just between us.

You can probably guess where this is heading.

We don't "do" Santa Claus in our family. The fact that we "celebrate" Christmas at all probably offends some people we know. The fact that we don't include Santa in our traditions probably offends a few more. I haven't lost any sleep over it yet.

Lest you think our children miss any of the joy: you should have been here yesterday. We had Christmas spirit coming out our ears! And I don't blindfold my children before we walk down the aisles at the big T or W stores. We enjoy watching "The Grinch" or "Rudolph". We enjoy reading books and poems about Santa Claus and even singing, gasp, secular, Christmas songs. And while I've made a decision not to decorate with images of Santa Claus, we do have quite a few snowmen!

I don't see how my girls are missing anything. We enjoy fantasy and "let's pretend". They love to dress up and can play "Fairy Princesses" for literally hours at a time. I like that about my children. They seem sweet and innocent, dare I say, childlike, compared to so many children. We do not avoid fantasy. Prince Charming has already read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian to them, just this year. We like make-believe.

Here's the fine point: my girls know the difference between pretend and real. Sometimes that line is more blurred than others, but they know it is there. Prince Charming and I do not perpetuate falsehood in their lives. It's one thing to read Prince Caspian. It's another to pretend that he is real and could walk in our back door any minute now.

So, I guess I'm saying that the blogger who got my dander up doesn't have all the moral authority at Christmastime. I'm sorry some kid tried to burst her child's bubble. But see it from my point of view. Prince Charming and I get very tired every year of seemingly everyone at our church or out in public asking our girls "What is Santa Claus bringing you this year?" Um, nothing?

I usually grit my teeth and say something like, "Santa doesn't come to our house", especially if there are other children around. Hey, the kids at our church already think my kids are weird for being homeschooled, what's another bit of peculiarity?

So don't sit around and gripe about the materialism of Christmas with one breath and continue to perpetuate the myth of the all-knowing wish-maker-come-true-jolly-old-elf with the other. There is a way to have the fun without the falsity.

I know. I was raised that way and I'm raising my children that way. And yes, I've told my daughters that "people like to pretend" and sometimes we just need to play along with that. But if my daughter tells your daughter there is no Santa Claus, I will not be apologizing. If you think that makes me less of a Christian than you, so be it. I still won't lose any sleep over it.

Merry Christmas to all, no matter where you fall on this issue. And to all, a good night. Some of you need your rest: you're getting a little touchy. (And yes, I realize that the person I'm actually talking to doesn't read my blog. It feels nice to get it off my chest anyway.)

This concludes Karen's soapbox for today. You never know, politics may be next. Here's a hint: I can't stand Mike Huckabee. But I'll save that for another time.

Happy Birthday, Gorgeous!

We love you and we miss you! Your card is in the mail, it was...unavoidably detained.

Happy Birthday to Aunt Lulu!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Prince Charming and I decided to get a real Christmas tree this year. And because we had a free day on our calendar today (I know, it never happens!) we made this our Christmas-y Day of Fun. These are pictures of the girls while out on our Christmas Tree Quest. We also made gingerbread men, decorated the tree, and watched the cartoon Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! Sweet Pea bundled within an inch of her life. I love her coat, I actually wish I had one!
Tigger in her royal purple winter attire.

Polly's new coat and a new hat that doesn't match but she doesn't care. But goodness forbid her scarf actually touch her neck.

And no, the van wasn't running when I took these pictures. We were waiting for Prince Charming to finish haggling over buying our perfect tree. My girls believe in safety first. Those seat belts are on before Daddy can even think about putting his key in the ignition. I don't know if it's a commentary on his driving or our parenting skills. I don't want to know.

Books of 2007 - October

1. A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison. Non-fiction. I own Karen Andreola's book about Charlotte Mason but I hadn't read this one. This is a short, easy, practical read.

2. Unwrapping the Pharaohs by John Ashton & David Down. Non-fiction. If you are a Christian, homeschooler, or both: BUY THIS BOOK. You will not regret it.

3. Why We Read What We Read by Lisa Adams & John Heath. Non-fiction. One of my favorite types of book is a book about reading or books. I have a sickness, I admit. This one was not quite as good as some I've read. And I'm still not exactly sure why people read what they read. I know why I read what I read, and I can't tell you because then I'd have to kill you.

4. The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer. Non-fiction. This is a thick book, a companion to her History of the World curriculum. She has a very readable style. This book would be a good reference or text book in homeschooling, although I disagree with some of her timeline.

5. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker. Non-fiction. Excellent book. A must read for all Christian fathers. This book also made me realize what treasure my own Dad is, and what a wonderful man I've chosen to marry. My girls truly have the best Daddy in the world and I hope they appreciate him properly as they grow up.

6. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. Fiction. We listened to the Focus on the Family Radio Theater version of this while on vacation. Even Prince Charming enjoyed it. I read the book again when we were done with that. Anne is one of those people who would absolutely wear me out if I knew her in real life, but in a book she's good fun.

7. Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery. Fiction. I was on a roll here. I love Davy Keith in this book. One of my primary disappointments in the Kevin Sullivan films is that we didn't get to see Marilla interacting with this bundle of perpetual motion.

8. Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery. Fiction. This is the last one in the series I read. Usually I read them all in a row but I just didn't have the heart for it this time. I realize now just how tired Montgomery seems with her heroine. She spends Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island making up new characters. Anne of the Island, despite the budding romance of Anne and Gilbert (which I love) seems to be mostly about Phillipa Gordon. That's o.k., because I like Phil, but the books are supposed to be about Anne.

9. Buckley: The Right Word by William F. Buckley Jr. Non-fiction. This is a collection of essays, letters, articles, and a (long) word list. Not light reading. I've been reading bits and pieces at a time for about a year!

10. The Happiness Myth by Jennifer Michael Hecht. Non-fiction. Interesting book. Not sure if I agree with all (or any) of her points but it was still a good read. The idea that there are three kinds of happiness and you can't have all three at the same time makes sense to me.

11. Bertha Venation by Larry Ashmead. Non-fiction. This is a small book about funny or unusual names, and anecdotes of people the author knows.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Christmas Meme

Here's a quick Christmas Meme to kick off my Christmas season:

Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags: they're reusable, storable, quick, & easy!

Real tree or artificial? We've had an artificial every year we've been married but this year we're going real. We're excited!

When do you put up the tree? When we can set aside a night. It requires gingerbread men, egg nog, and lots of Christmas music.

When do you take the tree down? Usually before New Year's. I get tired of everything by that point.
Favorite holiday theme? I'm not sure what this is asking. I have a lot of snowmen and snowflakes if that counts.

Favorite gift received as a child? Either my Felicity (American Girl Doll) or the year I got a lot of Barbie furniture that I had thought was for my sister (I was with my mom when she bought it).

Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, several. One is cloth for the girls to play with.
Hardest person to buy for? Our dads and grandpas.

Easiest person to buy for? My girls!

Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I can't think of anything specific although I can remember a few years I got gifts that were not age appropriate.

Mail or email cards? Cards should come in the mail and they should have pictures! I don't care whether you went to the Bahamas on vacation this year or your husband got promoted but send pictures of the little ones, people!
Favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas. I always watch this at least once.
When do you start shopping for Christmas? We try to keep our eyes open all year 'round but we start in earnest after Thanksgiving.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, but it was thoughtfully recycled.

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My Mamaw's fudge. I can make fudge but I can't make her fudge. Also, Peppermint Bark, which I buy at World Market every year.
White lights or colored on the tree? White. I like the big, retro colored ones but I can't buy any right now.

Favorite Christmas song? No Eye Had Seen - Michael W. Smith, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, I admit to loving most Christmas music. Although I don't like "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" or "Winter Wonderland".

Travel for Christmas or stay at home? Both (sigh).

Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen and of course, Rudolph.

Angel on the tree top or a star? Retro white star.

Open the presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Both. Christmas Eve is a big get together at my grandparents' house with my aunts, uncles, & cousins. Christmas Day is go to my parents house with my other set of grandparents. We open presents for about 7 days before and after "the" day.

Most annoying thing about this time of year? The pushing, shoving, grasping, snapping, snarling...and that's just at the grocery store.

What I love most about Christmas? For about a 1/2 second everyone thinks about God's most incredible gift. I feel the awe and wonder the shepherds must have felt 2000 something years ago: God's Peace is on earth with us.

Let me know if you play along, I'd love to see your answers so consider yourself "tagged" if you're reading this! (H/T: In Beauty and In Grace)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Books of 2007 - September

Reading picked up again as our homeschool year started.

1. Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth. Non-fiction. Interesting but not life changing.

2. Dragon's Lair by Sharon Kay Penman. Fiction. Series mystery. Decent.

3. Writer's Workshop in a Book edited by Alan Cheuse. Non-fiction. Very interesting, full of ideas. I still haven't finished my book, though.

4. Shakespeare 101 by Michael LoMonico. Non-fiction. Helpful review of all that Shakespeare "stuff" I'm supposed to know. (Ha!)

5. No Graves as Yet by Anne Perry. Fiction. Series mystery. This started a new WW1 series for Anne Perry. I've enjoyed some of her Victorian mysteries. These books are intense and portray the Great War realistically, or so I assume. I don't think they're quite as genius as Perry obviously does.

6. Prince of Darkness by Sharon Kay Penman. Fiction. Series mystery. Not quite as good as some of the stories earlier in the series.

7. Taste by Letitia Baldrige. Non-fiction. Amusing, historically relevant anecdotes but one is left feeling that if you weren't born Jackie O or Clare Booth Luce you are decidedly out of luck. We can't all be Audrey Hepburn (sigh).

8. Shoulder the Sky by Anne Perry. Fiction. Series mystery. #2 following No Graves As Yet (see above). These books practically absorbed me in September. I read them as quickly as I could get my hands on them.

9. Angels in the Gloom by Anne Perry. Fiction. Series mystery. #3 following above.

10. Our Mothers' War by Emily Yellin. Non-fiction. I suspect I've read this book about the Second World War before I started listing everything I read in my notebook. Helpful, informative book. (Fair warning: some blatant feminism)

11. At Some Disputed Barricade by Anne Perry. Fiction. Series mystery. #4 following above listed titles.

12. For Parents Only by Shaunti Feldham & Lisa Rice. Non-fiction. Probably meant more for parents of teenagers. Well researched.

13. We Shall Not Sleep by Anne Perry. Fiction. Series mystery. #5 and the series finale. Didn't conclude to my satisfaction. Some fairly gaping plot holes but still, riveting and distracting reading. At times these books (not just this one) make you feel as if you can almost smell the trenches or feel the cold. The blood, the mud, the men...Not enough has been written about the First World War, in my opinion. These mysteries inspired me to seek out some non-fiction books, which will be mentioned in my October list.