A Week, Briefly (In Which the Week Gets Rough)

Sunday We made "gingerbread" houses after church.

Then we went for a walk.

 Then we started reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

 I know the story of Christ's birth should be my favorite Christmas story, but it's really The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

It's about discovering the power and love of Christ's birth, so that's pretty good, isn't it?

Lots of folks are on Christmas break, but my big girls still have seminary until the 21st, and I don't really know what to do with the kids that prefer routine to break, so we're sticking with our school routine until inspiration comes.

Honestly, my crew NEED to be outside a lot, and they NEED structure to their days, so dumping it all in favor of "relaxing" into holiday activities is an absolute joke. Our summer days were long and free, but we had the luxury of 10 hours of outdoor play available to us then. Right now we're looking at 1-2 hours of successful outdoor play (more today because the high climbed above the freezing mark), and the rest of the hours that I'd love for the littles to spend with Legos or crayons or blocks or music or costumes or dolls or other wintery-indoor pursuits are actually spent climbing the walls.

 I think I may have to invest in higher-quality outdoor gear.

That being said, play dough is a winner every single day right now.

 And the littles are far better at playing creatively this year than they were last year. I have to give them that credit. They have grown and learned and are growing and learning every day.

 But I do have a 24-month-old and a 22-month-old, so seriously, no matter how much I try to plan ahead, the days are spent in crisis management.

*sigh*      They're so terribly cute that they're worth the craziness.

 Little Princess and I finished and ordered her Silly Stories book. It should arrive by Christmas!

The littles have formed an outdoor percussion band under the direction of Nature Angel. They're preparing a Christmas Eve surprise for the family.

We reviewed the entire Living Christ during Morning Meeting.   It was an amazing experience to sing our testimonies of Christ all together.

What a boring word "amazing" is.


They're all such generic adjectives.

As I sat at the table, looking at the faces of the people I love most in the world, testifying of Christ and listening to them bear their own testimonies, I felt full of the grace and love of God.  I felt heaven in my dining room.

Brother had his eyes squinched shut as he concentrated on the words.

Little Brother had oatmeal smeared on his shirt and chin, and he flung oatmeal onto the wall as he waved his spoon in time to the music, but his eyes were alight with joy.

Mister Man sang Joseph Smith's testimony, " . . . for we saw Him even on the right hand of God . . ." with all of the gusto he could muster.

Super Star's voice lifted above all of ours in quality and sweetness.

Rose Red sat silently, refusing to join us in song.  But I know her better than that.  She's subtly borne testimony in her own way, and I know that eventually she'll find her voice.  In the mean time, she's hearing ours. 

And every one of the other kids' faces and voices touched my heart in their individual ways.

I guess that's what I mean by "amazing."

The rest of our school day was predictable, safe, stable--the usual.

The toddlers were anything but predictable, safe, or stable--the usual.

In the end we ate warm soup and homemade bread, gave everyone baths, read 2 more chapters from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, started A Christmas Carol, and went to bed.

I burned my hands.

After our usual morning routine, I settled down to do some phonics and math with Ladybug, but then Little Princess finished her scripture reading and came to me to do math.

It was a recipe.

She's on a learning to read thermometers unit, and we were assigned to make saltwater taffy so she could practice reading the candy thermometer and review simple fractions at the same time.


And we had all of the ingredients on hand.  She gathered them while I finished school with Ladybug.

Win, again,

We set to work.

Waiting for the temperature to climb to 256 degrees is long and boring.  Little Princess and I took turns stirring, and just as the temperature reached 250 degrees I handed the spoon off to her so I could finish loading the dishwasher.


Somehow the temperature shot up quickly, going past the desired mark before I turned around.  I snapped the heat off, shoved the pan off the burner and stirred for all I was worth, but it was clear that the candy wasn't going to pull well.  It was crackling even as I stirred.

We poured it in the buttered pan anyway and waited for it to cool.

After a few minutes, I touched it and thought that maybe I could work with it.  It was hot, but if I let it sit between pulls, and only pulled the edges, I could cope, and by the time it was truly cool enough to handle it would be solid.  We'd have to get out a hammer and crack it.

I started pulling.

I made faces and let go quickly.

Kids gathered to watch.

Super Star made fun of me for being a wuss.  Little Princess tried touching it and jerked her hand back quickly.

I thought I was being careful, but it was really hot, and by the time I'd pulled and dropped and pulled the candy into beautiful, satiny swirls, my hands were red and blistered.

Oops, again.

There ought to be a lesson or two in this experience. :)

We listened to lots of SQUILT music while I iced my hands and we sucked on the yummy hard candy we made.   Then we memorized 4 more lines of  " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas," did a history review and called it good for Symposium.

Nature Angel studied another artist and completed the assignment to paint a Thanksgiving painting.

When I edited the picture, the computer saved it with the weird line in the middle. :(
The temperature stayed low, but the sun came out, so the kids played happily outside for a long time.  I had a doctor's appointment, and while I waited for my prescription to be filled, I hit the thrift store to get warm clothes for a few kids who were still layering summer t-shirts to stay warm.

But I also found a copy of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table for less than a dollar.  I'd just been wanting to read a good version of King Arthur to the kids, and this one serendipitously appeared.

I call that a blessing!

Rose Red studied for her Spanish final all day.

In the evening we finished The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (yes, I did cry--so did Pixie), finished the first chapter of A Christmas Carol, and started King Arthur.

My plans for the day were certainly not the Lord's plans for the day because almost everything on my to-do list was shunted aside for other work.

We did make it through Morning Meeting with few problems.

But Ladybug played passive-aggressive again, so no school for her.
Nature Angel was out of sorts (unusual) and struggled to work on her art project.
Lola and Baymax continued to wreak whatever havoc they could--climbing, throwing, and biting were the activities du jour.
Little Princess spun like a top from one activity to another, "Can I do this? . . . Can I do this? . . . Can I do this?" until my head spun off.
We process laundry every single day, but it managed to pile up again, and 5 loads needed to be folded ASAP because the little boys were out of pants.

Then it was time for Symposium.

We actually did a good job until the end.  We got through all of our usual material (ugh, Empress Wu Zetian was a terrible person, even if she was considered a great leader), but when I passed out a knights and castle coloring sheet to keep hands busy while I read aloud about King Arthur, chaos came to stay.

Babies cried.
Toys flew.
Kids complained.
Ladybug and Brother left for therapy.
Teens left and returned to the table over and over and over.
The phone rang.
The phone rang.
The phone rang again.

And Rose Red's ride home from school fell through, so I had to go pick her up.  (Three cheers for her final being over!!!  Now all we have to do is wait for her final grade.)

We never did read about King Arthur.

But at some point in the day Pixie entered some of her photos in a contest.  

Then in the afternoon I spent 2 hours at Old Navy trying to solve the problem of receiving someone else's order that was accompanied by my correct invoice.  The employees were deeply apologetic, but solving the problem was no picnic, and I was tired by the time I left to finish my other errands.

What a blessing that Sir Walter Scott was home while I was gone for so long.  Everyone was playing peacefully and creatively when I got home (and Nature Angel had been inspired to finish the painting that had bothered her in the morning), but I'd snagged a box of sidewalk chalk, and I happily dangled it in front of the kids to entice them to bundle up and get outside for the last hour of daylight.

Rats!  Ladybug and Brother are not at their best after therapy, and they both ended up on time outs--Ladybug for throwing sticks at people, Brother for breaking the chalk so that no one could color any more.

I am so grateful that pasta was on the menu for the night.

I love pasta night.

It's so easy on a day that was anything but.

The 5 oldest had church activities, so it was me and the littles at home for the evening.

Brother had a melt down . . . but he recovered much faster than he used to, and he sweetly apologized when it was all over.

That's a blessing.

I woke to a headache in the wee hours of the morning.

I'm so grateful for medicine!

Pixie came to me at 5:11 am to talk out the trouble between her and one of the youth leaders at church.  My heart just hurts for my sweet, sweet girl who is having to learn early on that good people are not perfect.  It's an important lesson--one that will free her to make and repent of her own mistakes later on--but it is one that hurts right now.

We took an easy day for school--still maintaining our usual routines of preschool storytime, chores, Morning Meeting, and Symposium.

Rose Red joined us for Symposium now that she's done with Spanish, and I laughed at her question, "Is this all you do?  Color and listen to music?" as we settled in with SQUILT and our knights and castle coloring pages from yesterday.  We definitely did more than color and listen to music!  And we finished the first chapter of King Arthur--about King Pellinore and Excalibur.  Then then everyone ages 7 and up drew a picture of a favorite scene from the reading while everyone 6 and under narrated to me and drew a picture in their journals.

The rest of the day was busy with Christmas work.

In the evening we read about the ghost of Christmas past in A Christmas Carol.

Everything has been wrong today.

I overslept--sleeping so hard that Sir Walter Scott actually checked me to see if I was still breathing.

I was.

I am. :)

Sleepiness is a side effect of my medication.  It has a fierce hold on me lately.

Ladybug is acting like she used to when she first lived with us.  She's lying, whining, complaining, and tantruming every few minutes, and I had to hold her deeply with my whole body for one of her fits  I haven't had to do that for months.

I had to do the same for Brother, too.

He ate playdough--which wasn't that big of a deal--but he freaked out when we told him to stop.  He returned to his horrible banshee cry, and I had to hold him tightly to keep him from damaging me, the house, and himself.

Little Brother is covering his ears, rocking back and forth, and making strange noises over and over again.  He's jumping, yelping, and jerking away from any touch.

The babies have cried and cried, and only being rocked to sleep would console them.

My lower back aches badly.

I feel sick to my stomach--I ate a handful of M&Ms this morning--perhaps candy doesn't make a good breakfast . . . even if I did follow it up with a bowl of cereal.

I feel lost and confused.  I'm struggling to focus my eyes and my mind.

Most of my crew (the babies are out of camera range) gathered for Symposium.

Morning Meeting and Symposium went well enough today, but I'm worried that my choice of How the Grinch Stole Christmas for our preschool story of the week was a bad idea.  We've talked about being grateful and how "Christmas doesn't come from a store," so that's been good, but Mister Man has been asking me questions about being robbed (like the Grinch did to the Whos), and Brother has been very worried that someone can come and take Christmas away from us.

I've been as reassuring as I can be, but there's tension . . .

Today just feels wrong.

The babies are napping, and lunch is heating.  The older girls are working on their independent school subjects, and the medium/little kids are bundled up and running around outside.

It still feels so wrong . . . wonky . . . off-kilter.

I'm not sure whether to pop some popcorn and put on a Christmas movie or bundle everyone back up after lunch and take us all on a hike.

The hike might be a better idea.

But I'm off to serve lunch first.

The weather is cold, and a freezing drizzle is falling.  We won't be out exploring, and now I'm worried about my teens who are driving up north with friends to go to the teen homeschool Christmas party.

I'm off; the kids are off; it's not a great day.

But my husband will be home later, and I've texted my sister, so I'm not an isolated, scary psych-case.

Actually I am a psych-case--it's in my medical records--but I've got loving support, so I'm okay.  We're all okay :)

It's just a hard day.

But tomorrow will be new.

(Linking here)


  1. I am sorry for your hard Friday and all of the hard moments in other days. Our daughter who is place out of the home in a mental facility always went off the deep end during December. I never could figure out how to keep her even remotely stable. We kind of came to dread Christmas while she was living with us. I hope you get some well deserved rest this weekend.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. Though I am very sorry to hear of your hard Decembers, I am very grateful to you for sharing your struggles with me. I feel less alone. I wonder what it is about December? Lack of light? Christmas hooplah? We're pretty low key around here, but the kids are struggling just the same.

  2. Just wanted to wish you and your family a very happy Christmas, Anne. I don't envy you your winter weather even though we've had some awful scorchers here in recent days. May the New Year hold good things!

    1. Funny, I don't envy you your scorchers! To everything there is a season. :) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, too.

  3. I always want to say "hey, it was a nice, normal week" when I write our weekly review posts. No illness. No crazy appointments. No grumpy or out of sorts mom or kids. And it's pretty rare when I can, especially in winter. So I love coming here and reading another very real weekly post! What is it about the weather changes and lack of light that mess with some of us so much? My kids are a mix, some it bothers less. Add in the fact that someone is always sick or dealing with allergies/asthma and it is just not my favorite time of year.
    On the other hand, I love when it feels cozy to be inside reading together. Even when they get loud. I've been using audio books more often for reading aloud this fall because I can turn up the volume and not strain my voice trying to read over kids. LOL.

    We had a off our routine week. My husband is home on vacation, his mom flew in for the week (we only see here every few years), and by yesterday the kids were climbing the walls. Today grandma flies home so we'll have total meltdowns and sadness - but it also means we can begin to get back into our routines. Next week we're back to school even though it is the week before Christmas. We need routine.
    Have a good week heading up to Christmas! Hang in there momma, your newer kids are feeling the stress of a holiday that was probably always different and brings out a lot of emotions for them. They feel safe enough in your family now to let those out - which is good and hard. I'm praying for you every day!

    1. Thank you for your prayers. Your faith means the world to me.

  4. Ouch, ouch, ouch to the hand burns! How are they now? The taffy certainly ended up looking beautiful. So sorry that the week deteriorated emotionally as it did... I myself am counting down the days/hours/minutes to December 21st!!--my favorite day of the year. The lack of light has a profound negative effect on me. My heart will lift next Wednesday, and I will be able to feel more hope--I hope!

    1. The burns healed really well. I was only able to use aloe on a couple of the blisters that were on my fingers because a lot of the blisters were on my palms where bandages won't hold. I'm counting my blessings that I was in as little pain as I was all week and that none of the blisters popped prematurely or got infected. :)

      Here's to hope!

  5. 1) thanks for being real, because honestly, as I scroll down through all you do, I feel tired and inadequate. Seeing that you fall apart just like I do is comforting.

    2) I hope you're having a better day now.

    1. YOU feel inadequate when you read about my days? I feel the same as I read yours! :) I guess it's true that the Lord gives each of us what we uniquely handle.

      I am better now than I was. Thank you.

  6. Your two little ones are very cute! I can see how they would be more than a handful though! So sorry about your hands, and a hard week. Here's hoping that things look up for you.

    1. Thanks. Pixie and Super Star are only 5 months apart, but I don't remember them being as much of a handful as Baymax and Lola are. Perhaps it's the rosiness of time passing . . .

  7. Your poor hands. So sorry. I've been off a bit myself this month. I have the tree up, the outside lights are on. I've got a plan for neighbor gifts. But I feel detached from the season. Sorry the new littles are having such a hard time. I'm with your mom. I'm looking forward to the solstice too. Craig was teasing me that it is actually in January. Whatever, I'm glad the days will be getting longer. Hugs.

    1. Christmas is not my favorite time. We don't do very much hoopla, but there's still enough to cause problems. I feel detached as well. We're just becoming old Grinches!

  8. Hope next week is better than then end of this one was, and that your hands are recovering.I love how real your blog is - the good as well as the not so good.

    1. Thank you. I hope the "real" of the blog doesn't degenerate into whining or complaining.

  9. Oh no! so sorry you got burnt, you are one dedicated taffy puller!

    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is my favorite too. The kids are reading it this week here as well.

    Friday wasn't the best of days for you, but everyone survived, so take it as a win! Praying all goes well this week. Merry Christmas!!


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