A Week, Briefly (Christmas, Week 1)

I feel as though I spent the whole week shopping.  When I look back at the actual hours I spent away from my family I realize that I was actually home quite a bit.  But it feels as though I spent the whole week away, and now I'm glad to look forward to a week at home.

E14 still had a bit of school work to complete before taking her break.   She did it.

*She finished her Alpha Omega Lifepac High School Health course with an 89% average.
*She finished her Rod and Staff spelling level 4.
*She finished her most recent literature book--Bulfinch's Greek and Roman Mythology.

And seminary concluded for the term, too.  So she's got quite the break from school.

The conclusion of this seminary term was stressful because for the first time ever, passing a brief exam is part of the curriculum.  As the exam drew near, E14 began to fall apart.  The stress of taking her first-ever classroom exam was overwhelming.  I spoke to the teacher about our suspicions of dyslexia and E14's particular learning abilities.  She was wonderful!  Completely willing to accomodate E14's needs in an unobtrusive way.  In the end we decided that E14 would take the exam with no special accomodations whatsoever just to see what she could do.  If it proved too difficult, we had some back up plans in place (e.g.  If E14 couldn't concentrate in a room full of people, she had permission to quietly move to another classroom to work alone.).

The students needed to score a 27.  E14 got 29!  She came home triumphant!  What made the triumph even greater was the fact that some of her peers who have been in public school all along (a fact of which E14 is quite envious) and who E14 considers perfectly brilliant did not pass.  They had to take an alternate exam the next day.    E14 did not revel in their failure--only in the proof that she is not a failure.

The sweetest part of her experience to me was in her explanation of why she missed some points, "I wrote the essay, and I did a pretty good job, but I didn't write about one of the things the instructions said to write about.  I looked at the directions again when we graded the test, and I could see that I hadn't understood them at first.  So I had to mark off for that.  But I got all the rest of it right!"

(The students graded their own work.  I'm so curious about the rubric they must have used for grading their own essays.)

My heart is so full of gratitude for this success for my girl!

M12 has been sewing, sewing, sewing.  She's making these cute headbands for all of the girls in our family for our Santa Game.  We lucked out on finding some sparkly chiffon on sale, so she got 4 different colors for only $.75 each. We already had a 5th pattern and some lovely twill in our fabric stash, so she's mixing and matching away.

Yesterday she got Dad to take her to the dollar store to pick up other presents for each family member.  She spent the afternoon wrapping, wrapping, wrapping.

S12 finished her Santa Game crafts last week.   She used this idea to inspire her own creations.  I can't wait to see them. 

She has spent the rest of the week reading library books.  We discovered Jessica Day George books, quite by accident, and my girls have been devouring them.  Every day I hear, "I'm done with mine.  Anyone ready to trade?"

J10 went to work on the craft (picture 3 if the link only takes you to page 1) she chose for our Santa Game, but it's a complete bust.  The cork we bought is too fragile and even though we've had it pressed flat (it came in a roll) for 3 days, it still has too much roll to work with.   It is a rather expensive failure, but at least I have some pretty elastic being shipped to the house, and I picked up some pretty wooden beads, so she'll be able to make some hair ties for her sisters.  Then she'll join M12 in making felt road pieces for I3's Santa Game present. 

A7 has reveled in hours and hours of creative play with her younger sister and brother.  She also got to spend all of Friday afternoon using the sewing machine to make fabric treat bags for her Santa Game gift.  She stood in front of me at the sewing machine and learned to raise and lower the presser foot, how to line up the fabric for a correct seam allowance, and how to sew back and forth at the start and end of each seam.

She was glowing with happiness and success by the time we finished. 

She says she misses her daily violin lessons with M12.  I hope to convince M12 to give her one or two lessons this week ahead.

H5 spent the week losing teeth.

Barely 5, and already missing her two front teeth.  (Yes, we've been singing the song around here every day!)
The first one came out when she was accidentally elbowed in the face at our church Christmas social Saturday night.  It was already loose, but not really loose enough to come out.  That elbow knocked it badly askew, and it bled copiously.  Dad pulled it out, but not without great pain and rather a lot of emotional trauma for our H5. Oddly enough that first tooth led the way for 2 more to suddenly become loose, and they came out only 3 days later--within 2 hours of each other!

The tooth fairy has been hopping at our house!

Now 3 teeth are gone!  She stuck all of her tooth fairy quarters on a piece of tape and then wore them for the day.
Each day H5 and I sit together for a few minutes to make another pom-pom bookmark for her contribution to the Santa Game.  I'm irritated because ours aren't quite as fluffy and perfect as the ones in the picture (is it the yarn we're using?--ours is 100% cotton), but H5 loves them and is proud of the ones we are making, so I'm practicing the art of contentment.  They're sure pretty colors, and they will definitely be used around here!!

I found a comprehensive preschool workbook for I3 one day when I was out.  I snuck it onto the school shelf, and it took the kids less than 3 minutes to notice it was there.  I3 pulls that book out every single day and asks for help to do some school. 

Here he is doing school with Dad while I made dinner.  Dad deserves a prize for practicing patience as he worked with I3. (Dad's always been glad that Mom runs school each day.)
In addition, I3 is helping me Modge-Podge some pretty paper to some plain clipboards so that each kid gets a custom clipboard for the Santa Game.  We learned the hard way to be sparing with the first layer of glue.  I'm glad paper was on sale for $.25 each this week, so our mistakes were inexpensive to fix.

Daily events:
Sunday we missed most of church because H5 woke up with pink eye.  I gave her super doses of probiotics, and it healed up nicely in only 3 days.

We also found out that a friend of ours in our church congregation was brutally beaten by a drunk man.  She'd left her apartment to get the mail, and the man attacked.  As soon as he began punching her, she dropped to the ground to protect her 7 month's pregnant belly and screamed for her husband, who couldn't hear her because he was in the apartment getting their two little daughters ready for bed.  The attacker kicked her repeatedly while she was down, not caring that she yelled, "I'm pregnant!  Please stop!" over and over.

I spent much of my Sunday afternoon assisting our Relief Society president in organizing meals, child care, and other support for this woman.

She'll heal.  She's terribly hurt.  But she will heal.

The baby is fine.

All I could do was cry with her on the phone (she wasn't ready for visitors).  I did most of the organizing with her sister and husband.  The members of our congregation rose to the challenge.  This family's needs have been and continue to be generously met.

Monday morning I took a couple of kids grocery shopping with me.  Their eyes just about fell out of their heads when they saw all of the supplies I bought for making Christmas Jars as gifts for friends and neighbors.

Later that afternoon was my OB visit.  My blood pressure was lower, less protein in my urine, and I still feel fine (for being 8 months pregnant).  Looks like all is well.  I did some Christmas shopping while I was out.  The kids watched holiday movies while I was gone.

Tuesday was the day we made ornaments for our upcoming Explorer's Club ornament exchange.

I also had a Relief Society luncheon to attend, so I got some more Christmas shopping done while I was out.

Wednesday was our final Explorer's Club meeting for the semester.  The older kids did Christmas-y Chemistry experiments while the little ones explored the properties of solids, liquids, and gases.  We had our ornament exchange, shared some treats, and had a generally happy time with our friends.

Afterwards I dropped 6 of the kids off at the local library (we were up north, near our old house) with M12 in charge while I took E14 with me to the dollar store to run even more Christmas errands.  We checked out another 3 dozen books before heading home.

By the time I got home it was time to make dinner, and my energy levels were dangerously low.  Ice and snow were predicted for the evening, so I was very uncomfortable with taking the kids to the church for their weekly activity night.  I asked if they were willing to skip it for one night, especially because the 3 little ones were clearly exhibiting signs of developing colds.  They were willing, but obviously disappointed.

Dad was off work, but he was scheduled to attend a session and then help clean the temple that night.  As my voice dissolved into tears that I could not hold back, he offered to take the older girls to the church so I could stay home with the littles.  It meant he'd have to skip the temple session, but he'd still be able to get to the temple in time to clean.  I felt terrible about having him miss the session, but when I looked at the bleary eyes of our 3 little ones I knew it was the best decision.

The tire blew out on the car on the way to the church!  It could have been dreadful, but Dad's cool head and skilled hands kept everyone safe.  Kind church members got the girls to and from their activity, and AAA got dad home and the car to a tire shop for repairs.

Dad never made it to the temple at all, but the whole family was safe.  My evening prayers were full of gratitude for the watchful care of our Heavenly Father that night.

Thursday the kids played in the snow that eventually fell Wednesday night.  It didn't last long, but they made the most of it while they could.

Dad got a Christmas card from one of the colleges he attended while pursuing his nursing degree.  It included parody lyrics to a Christmas song.  He was in a silly mood, so he started singing it, and then E14 came in the room and sang, too.

I laughed and laughed at this father/daughter duet.

Friday I finished the last of the Christmas shopping.


The kids and I filled the Christmas Jars, but only after we realized that the recipe I'd planned to use was for a larger jar than the quart jars I'd purchased.  (Naughty me for not reading the directions closely enough!).  The kids practiced astonishing patience while I looked up alternate recipes.  Eventually we filled a dozen jars--6 with an M&M cookie mix and 6 with a chunky brownie mix.

Dad took the older girls out shopping while I stayed home to read to I3, sew with A7, make a pom pom with H5, and cook up a batch of homemade pizza.  I also worked for a few minutes on the pin cushions I'm making for the sewing kits that A7 and H5 are getting for Christmas.

I started fighting a headache, and then I remembered that I'd had some fuzzy vision moments earlier, so after dinner and baths, I asked Dad to check my blood pressure.  The little guys all gathered around first to watch, then to ask for a turn, then to actually use Dad's stethoscope and blood pressure cuff.

(I'm perfectly fine.)

We tucked the three littlest ones into bed early as they're still fighting colds, but then Dad popped popcorn for the rest of us to munch on while we watched Elf together.  (I gave up 45 minutes into the movie--I was too tired!)   Before the movie we finished reading The Forgotten Carols; we've been listening to the music during our morning devotionals. 

Today is Saturday.  Dad has to go back to work, and he'll work straight through to Christmas Eve.  I'm moving our usual Saturday chores to Tuesday so the house will be ready for Christmas, and we've got so much crafting to do between now and then that there's not much point in cleaning it up now.  :)

I3 has already spent nearly an hour at my side while I've written this post doing his preschool workbook.  The other kids are slowly waking, munching on left over pizza and popcorn for breakfast.  I owe Dad a haircut; we'll do a bit of Christmas baking.  I'm hoping that before Dad has to head to back to bed to be ready to work all night, he and the kids can deliver some Christmas jars while I lie down to give the ache in my back a rest.

(It's kind of hard work to be 8 months pregnant at Christmas time!  But I have not forgotten that it is an even more tremendous blessing!)


  1. That is quite a busy week! Love the picture of your little one's missing teeth. My almost 6 year old really wants to lose her two front teeth but they don't seem to be at all loose yet. What a terrible tragedy for the lady in your church. I will be praying for her and the baby. I hope she is recovering. I love the gift jars! I turned some leftover canning jars into decorated candle holders this year using ribbon, fake "snow" spray, scented pine cones, and epsom salts in the bottom to look like snow. They turned out really cute, though not as good as they looked in the picture I had seen on Pinterest. I hope your family had a great Christmas!

  2. Just had to take a moment to comment and say I love reading your blog. It is so nice to see another large family juggling everything to get through each week. It is such a full life and so blessed! Some people don't understand that but you do! Praying for you as you go through the last weeks of this pregnancy.


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