Every day they've laughed together.
To me, that's a foretaste of heaven, and it's what I want to remember about this first week of December.
I chronicled Sunday for our "A Homeschool Day in the Life--November" post. But here are a couple of pictures of our game night:
|Right behind Dad you can see S12's very bored, very peeved face. She'd hurt her toe the day before at the park and felt left out of the Twister game. That was my plan, however, so that everyone would feel happier when I pulled out the Uno cards.|
|33 weeks . . .|
|Dad's Twister victory dance.|
|Waiting for Dad to deal the Uno cards.|
|This is how I3 holds his cards! We thought it was hilarious!!|
It was back to school for all of us. I held individual conferences with each of the older girls to determine what goals to set for this holiday month. We put some books/subjects away for later and put extra effort into others to just get them done before Christmas and the arrival of the baby.
It was a hard day--no one liked being back at the grindstone except the littles--until I got back from the library.
After dinner that night we decorated the Christmas tree:
Everyone woke up in far better moods and were better prepared to get to work today than they were on Monday. It was a cheerful, focused day--the kind of day that we love to have.
We'd abandoned our usual preschool schedule of one alphabet letter a week in favor of random Christmas-themed preschool activities. By chance I happened upon a blog that included this recipe for dish soap "dough." It seemed snowy and wintery and Christmasy to me, so that's what we did.
It was a major hit with the two littlest. I3 stuck with it for well over an hour, and he got the most satisfaction out of seeing me revitalize the "dough" with the mixer. Every time it started to get watery and weak, I'd just plunk the mixer back in, and the bubbles would froth higher, lighter, and more fabulous than they were the time before.
Even though it was dish soap, clean up was a pain because that much soap requires A LOT of rinsing! I think I spent more than half an hour just getting the table, chairs, floor, and kids soap free. But it was worth it.
We might even do it again.
I started having contractions that afternoon. They were irregular, but they wouldn't go away no matter what I did. Even though Dad had spent the whole day stringing up our Christmas lights in anticipation of our lighting ceremony that night, I put myself to bed and let him take over the popcorn and hot chocolate preparation as well (I'd at least made the dry hot chocolate mix before lying down).
|Grabbing snacks before the big event . . . because Dad is patient with things like that. :)|
I got up for the actual lighting of the lights. We drank hot chocolate, ate popcorn, ooohed and aahhhed, and sang Christmas carols.
I think this is my favorite of our holiday traditions.
I went back to bed with a huge jug of water and some dinner because I was still contracting, while Dad handled dinner and a movie with the kids that night.
The contractions did stop, and at the end of the week I am still safely pregnant with a very active baby boy.
It was my turn to lead the lesson for our Explorer's Club meeting, but because of my uncertain Tuesday night I'd asked for someone to cover for me. I'm ever so thankful for the wonderful families in our group because there was an immediate outpouring of concern, advice, and volunteer hard work to take over at the last minute.
I could have gone ahead and led the meeting because my lesson was all ready, but I was exhausted, sore, and emotionally vulnerable. It was a joy for me to just have to show up and then sit in a corner while other dynamic, delightful mothers led the show. We did our winter service project of making winter decorations for a local nursing home: snowman scenes on construction paper backgrounds, snowflake ornaments, paper
plate snowmen, sparkly blue and silver ornaments, etc. They'll be delivered in time for the nursing home to put them up after Christmas so that the halls won't seem so empty once the Christmas decorations are taken down.
We hit the grocery store after the meeting, stocking up on easy-to-fix meal supplies just in case Tuesday night was a warm up for things to come. All of the kids were super-duper helpful. At one point M12 looked at me and said, "Shouldn't you be sitting down? We can handle this."
I did sit down, almost in tears with relief and gratitude.
That night we headed off to the church for youth activities. The older girls designed modest and darling "formal gowns" out of tin foil, plastic garbage sacks, and duct tape. Then they did a fashion show for any family/friends who were also in the church that night. They even had a lighted runway. It was a lot of fun, and the girls were really creative.
The younger kids played in the gym with toy cars. When some of the older boy scouts finished with their meetings they came into the gym and played with my little guys. Those boys won their way into my heart with their patient, loving play.
We were all so tired when we got home (2 late nights in a row!) that there were some pretty wild meltdowns. I was so thankful that E14 stepped in to help in a very gentle, very soothing way with I3. She was so good with him that even when I was free to take over his stories and tucking in, he chose E14 to stay with him.
Thursday was dark and chilly. There was nothing better to do than to light a fire in the stove and hunker down with school books. The highlight of this day was this game that the 3 littles and I played for preschool. We're going to play it again soon!
When school was over for the day, kids with time on their hands got to work crafting presents for one another. Whatever they've made has been created with "found" materials, and I have had absolutely no hand in any of it. They pulled down the gift-wrapping box and filled gift bags with their homemade presents. The tree is surrounded by well over a dozen gifts.
And the kids are all very proud of themselves.
We had poetry night Thursday night. I knew the little guys had worked on their poems, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that most of the older girls had poems ready, too. I hadn't seen any evidence of their efforts, so I'd thought they'd let it slide.
Sometimes I like being wrong. :)
We dumped our current read-aloud of Anna and the King of Siam because it isn't a good read-aloud. All of us want to read it, but we want to curl up with it individually. We pulled out our much-loved copy of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever instead. Suddenly our evening reading is exciting! All 4 older girls have heard it many times over, but this is the first time A7 is hearing it. Her eyes are wide with anticipation, shock, and amusement with every page we share.
H5 is listening to Ramona the Pest for the first time. She fought it at first, but by the time I'd read a few pages, she was hooked. What I enjoy is how the older kids creep into the room, pretending not to listen, but actually loving hearing the familiar adventures of one of our favorite literary heroines.
Friday was dark and chilly and rainy. It was something of a repeat of Thursday except that I felt better, so I had the energy to make homemade bread for lunch--what a treat with butter melting all over it and spread thickly with homemade strawberry freezer jam!
J10, M12, and E14 all finished their penmanship books.
J10 finished her current reading log.
J10, S12, and M12 finished typing up their geography reports.
S12 has entered 5,000 words of her NaNoWriMo novel into the computer--only 5,000+ to go!
Lately M12's scripture journal has gotten quite lively:
I so enjoy opening it up each day to see what she's added.
E14 and I have settled on a routine of her reading her history text aloud to me so we can talk about it--on Friday night she read while I cleaned I3's room. She talks out short essays quite beautifully when there's no pen and paper involved.
Dad and I had quite the conversation about what to do for/about our girl--what is she capable of? What is beyond her? How much guidance does she still need? We didn't arrive at any answers, but it felt good to talk things over. We have a better focus for our prayers and pondering.
We got a call about a potential adoptive placement--4 little ones 5 and under. We're not sure if this is the "right" placement for us as the oldest one has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (though he sounds only mildly affected) and we feel our calling is more with kids with behavioral problems than developmental challenges. The adoption worker told us it will be several months before a decision is made, so we've left our names on the list of interested families because there's plenty of time for consideration and prayer.
Our hearts really still lie with the family of 5 in Oklahoma about whom we inquired in September, but we've heard nothing in weeks, and my most recent efforts at contacting the adoption worker there have been fruitless. The last I heard was that the agency was waiting on the final tribal recommendation (these kids are registered under Arapaho protection).
It's hard to wait.
Today is Saturday. We have a baptism to attend at the church this morning, and then we have a list of chores on the whiteboard to knock off. After that we'll deliver dinner to a friend who had a baby this week.
I'm not sure what else the day has in store, but it's been a good week.