A Week, Briefly (In Which We Only Kinda-Sorta Get Ready for Christmas)

It's Christmas week. Something is very wrong with my back (how old does that make me?). And we are all tired.

So we are on a break . . . sort of.

Rose Red is required to write 1000 words a day as we seek for enough credits to get her through her junior year. We'll call it a creative writing intensive.

Pixie is going to finish her photography course. It's no hardship 😊.

Super Star is going to work on her French course.

Belle is continuing with Latin.

No one else is required to do any formal school, but Nature Angel will probably do some art lessons.

We'll have morning meeting each day because that is our devotional time, and there's more than enough memorization, singing, reading, and critical thinking to keep our brains alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic.

We started the week with Santa's Favorite Story as our preschool book of the week.

While I lived on prescription strength ibuprofen, Super Star led the littles in a half hour of dancing to Christmas music (to get a few of the wiggles out). Then she read them a story to settle them down, and they all played with various building toys after that.

Belle helped me clean out the mud room.

Rose Red and Pixie did academics in the morning. Super Star and Belle did theirs in the afternoon.

The sun came out to bring the temperature up into the 20s, so most of the kids went sledding after lunch.

Eventually I was incapacitated by pain.  I spent the late afternoon on the couch with a heating pad while I wondered whether relief would ever come after my scheduled dose of pain meds.  I was so grateful for my kitchen helpers who washed potatoes to bake for lunch and who put the tuna casserole together for dinner that I started but couldn't finish.

Belle managed serving dinner to the littles, while Super Star managed kitchen clean up.

Nature Angel and Little Princess beamed with pride because they managed the babies' baths from start to finish all on their own.  They did a really good job with our temperamental toddlers.

I laid on the couch and listened to the stories the littles created as they played with our new Zoob building toys.  (Lots of birthdays this month)  I served as a mountain for the creations to conquer.

Pixie came home from babysitting and put me to bed.

It was really bad.

I almost couldn't get there.

Then she and her sisters managed all of the bedtime routines and watched Christmas in Connecticut while they waited for Sir Walter Scott and Rose Red to get home from work.

It was a day full of real-life homemaking skills for my girls.  I hate being ill or hurt because I feel guilty passing the work to my daughters, but in the back of my brain, I know how much they are learning when they are called up to take my place.  They will be more than ready to run their own homes and families when the time comes.

I woke up even less able to walk than I had been the night before.  Sir Walter Scott called in to work so he could take me to see a doctor (where they gave me 2 steroid shots and a prescription muscle relaxer--the challenge was to find something relatively safe for me to take while nursing and that wouldn't interfere with my anti-depressant) and then take Pixie and Little Princess to their scheduled eye exams.

Another 1,000 words for Rose Red.

Another 15 minutes of French for Super Star.

Pixie completed another photography assignment.  This one was about mood.  She used a mix of newer and older photos--challenging herself to search out and edit photos that met the criteria of the assignment.

Here are a few that speak to me:

Belle never got any Latin done on Monday because she worked too hard helping me, but she made it up today.

The temperatures rose above freezing, and the 4 littles had a blast out in the remaining snow, scooping, throwing, dumping, pouring, sliding, climbing, and laughing.

Belle and Mister Man spent a long time lost in a make-believe world of building creations.

And tough medications notwithstanding, I still can't pick up the babies, so they got away with wreaking even more havoc than usual.

In the evening, we read some more King Arthur, and then the older girls and I explored the web for some background information about The Great Gatsby--their next book club selection.

I became officially too irritated with Santa's Favorite Story to keep reading it, so we switched to The Crippled Lamb for our morning preschool story.

We're all happier for the change.

The day passed in a blur of pain management for me that ended in a trip (finally) to the chiropractor.  I'll be seeing him a couple of times a day for the next many days, and the adjustments hurt so badly that Sir Walter Scott could hear me crying from his seat in the lobby, but I feel that some progress is being made.

I know the kids played board games, built fantastic constructions with our ball-and-stick toys, played make believe, and got outside on their bikes and into the creek.

Pixie baked cookies to contribute to the church youth Christmas caroling activity (at an assisted living facility), and all four of the older girls participated.

Oh, those babies enjoyed the results of Pixie's work!
 She also played around with "light art."  She had to work around her lens limitations, but she and Little Princess and Nature Angel had some fun with a flashlight in a dark bathroom.

(These are unedited--Pixie isn't feeling well enough to edit right now.)

Sir Walter Scott took the younger kids with him to drop off the older girls, and on the way home they drove around looking at Christmas lights.

The kids came home with lights in their eyes.

As temperatures soared into the high 40s, the little kids got to play outside for hours, tromping around the 1/2 acre of woods and creek we have in our yard.

The big girls baked Christmas cookies and managed the household.

I visited the chiropractor, iced my lower back, and cried.

When I came home from my afternoon appointment (2nd visit of the day!) I felt so beat up, bruised, and sore that I could hardly speak.  Sweet Pixie met me at the door, sent me to bed, and fixed me a cup of herbal tea.  Precious Belle retrieved my ice pack and filled a bowl with fresh-baked Christmas cookies for me to munch while I rested.

Earlier in the day Super Star and Nature Angel came with me to run errands--doing all of the lifting, carrying, and loading that I couldn't do.

Rose Red did a lot of chores that she hates doing because I needed her to take my place.

I felt so loved, so tenderly cared for, that after I finished crying out my hurt, I cried in gratitude for my wonderful, wonderful daughters who actively live what they've been taught of Christlike love and service.

In the evening the girls and I talked about King Arthur--how we're getting bored of all of the battles and the high-and-mighty-I'd-rather-die-than-be-humble dialogue.  That's when Mister Man, who recently started staying up to listen to the big kid stories, exclaimed, "I love them! I love this book!"

All of us girls just laughed.

There's truly a difference between boys and girls!

I cried right on the chiropractor's table.  He helped . . . a lot.  But it hurt so, so, so, so, so, so much.

The kids carried on with Christmas traditions while I rocked the babies with ice at the small of my back.

Lola helped Pixie roll and cut sugar cookies.

Smashing candy canes
Mixing the candy cane popcorn we'll bag and deliver to friends and neighbors
Little Princess claimed the bowl the almond bark had been melted in.

Chopping, melting, and stirring yet another couple of pounds of almond bark

It crossed my mind that my kids will have no standard to live up to for holidays.  They'll not grow up at all wishing they could do it as well as Mom did.

Instead they're establishing their own level of Christmas fun right now.

Perhaps that's a rather good gift to give them.

I'm comforting myself with that thought because the alternative--that I'm a terrible mother who should be working through the pain to "do it all"--feels revolting.

We've had preschool story time, Morning Meeting, outdoor play time, quiet time, evening routines, and family prayers every single day.

Rose Red wrote 4,000 words this week; Pixie organized and edited dozens of photos; Super Star completed a French unit; Belle completed another Latin unit.  Kids have decorated, drawn, wrapped, shopped, planned, counted, cooked, explored, read, written, and memorized all week long.

While tiny doubts niggle the back of my mind about our family culture, when I lay it out in black and white like this, I feel reassured that we're doing just fine.

Merry Christmas to all!!!!

(linking here)


  1. Oh my. What a trying week. Praying your back makes amazing recoveries this weekend and next week. I understand the feeling of guilt but hope that these homemaking and home-running real life lessons are really a good thing.
    Can I tell you a secret? I don't love Christmas traditions, so we don't have many beyond putting up a tree. And on especially grinchy years it gets put up on Christmas Eve by the family and I take it down late in the evening on Christmas day all by myself. Truly. We don't even have a traditional 'Christmas meal'. I try to be open to some Christmas-y activities each year, but we don't have traditions that we repeat. Some things just take more energy and brain power than I have energy to devote to them.

    1. Thank you more that I can say for telling me your secret! :) If I didn't love you already, I certainly do now. You have lightened my heart and proved yourself a kindred spirit. I'm just beaming here knowing I'm not alone.

  2. Wow. You've been having such a tough time this week. Older girls are wonderful in such situations though. I'm sending lots of healing vibes your way and truly hope the chiropractor and the pain killers combine to make you more comfortable soon. And it is great that your kids can establish their own level of Christmas fun right now rather than trying to live up to some impossible ideal. Pity the circumsatnces weren't better though. Merry Christmas to you and your family. I hope you're able to enjoy it.

    1. Thank you for your healing vibes. I'll absorb every single one of them! I'm doing much better, and while the older girls will be called on to help play Santa tonight, I think Christmas will be fun.

  3. What a hard week for you. I do hope you feel better very soon. I used to have lots of back pain in my lower back or shoulders. I discovered the BackJoy a few years ago and it has helped so much. I just sit in it as often as I remember (20 to 30 minutes total a day). It doesn't cost to terribly much and may be of great help to you. It can go into any chair or even in the car.
    Merry Christmas, Dawn

  4. So glad that the older girls are able to step up and carry things through... I have to comment on the light photos: They are amazing! How did she do that?! Prayers for your back, then getting back to normal life after all the magic and goodies...

  5. Prayers for your back! Such a long week when you are in pain but thankfully you have the older girls! I love those light photos! Positively stunning! Merry Christmas and here's hoping that your back feels better soon!

  6. Ouchie! Hope you're feeling better soon!

    I've seen Santa's Favorite Story floating around our house. I'll have to read it now that you've mentioned it.

  7. I am so sorry to hear about your back! Praying you feel better soon!

    I feel guilty when I am sick or unable to do things too, but I also feel proud that the children are capable of stepping up and taking care of things when they are needed. Your girls are so sweet to take such good care of you when you need it.

    I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!


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