December, and especially the Winter Solstice, seems like a good time for reflection to me. With cooler temperatures, I want to stay home and curl up with a good book. Or write some poetry. I never get to do that, but it’s nice dreaming about it. 😉

I know this time of year can be very difficult for some people. There are people who are grieving or dealing with anxiety, or they are lonely, or any number of things. I am glad I have experienced these things so that I can understand other people’s suffering….at least to a point. I can never truly understand someone else because we all handle Life very differently.

I know there’s a lot of depressing and anxiety-ridden current affairs too. I find it very hard to listen to the news, but I try to keep up with it as much as I can. As I study history with my boys, I have found countless, other troubled times. In fact, there’s no point in history when someone or some group isn’t suffering. I hope someday that we can truly minimize suffering in this world, but I also know that nothing ever stays the same. As the saying goes, “This too shall pass.” Good will come. Bad will come. Contentment will come. Frustration will come. Highs. Lows. You can’t have one without the other. It’s important to do what we can to make the world a better place, but it does no good to hold too tightly to any ideal.

I feel very grateful that I’m in a good place right now. I will appreciate it for as long as it lasts. While not everything is perfect, I remind myself that there is no such thing as perfect. It all has to do with my perspective.

I try to remember that there are things that transcend all disagreements or gloomy days. For me, these have universal appeal, and I think the world would be a better place, if everyone focused on them a little more. But maybe your list is a little different than my list. That’s okay. In the end, our lists, our goals, and our lives are all very similar. (Different, but similar….I remember my college professor saying that.)

Here’s my list:

  1. Kids.
  2. Birds.
  3. Dogs. (Or any kind of pet or animal.)
  4. Music, especially classical.
  5. Birds.
  6. Dessert. (Whichever is your favorite.)
  7. Good books.
  8. Nature. Get out into it more!
  9. Birds. (You can never spend too much time birdwatching! It’s very good for your mental health!)
  10. Kindness. Just be kind to everyone you meet. In the end, we all pretty much want the same things out of life. We get too caught up in how to make those things happen when it’s really not that complicated.

Maybe you can add something to this list?

A very, rare, shared photo of me. But sometimes I should probably show my face. 🙂 Have a Happy Winter Solstice and Happy Holidays.


Not that we needed more ornaments, but I felt compelled to buy these at our local music store to represent our musical family. 😉

Season’s Greetings!

Lately I haven’t had much time to blog, so I’m trying to write an occasional post that will update you on the state of our homeschool. If there’s anything you’d like me to expand on, let me know.

My eldest son is in 6thgrade now, which many people consider middle school. But when I was a kid in Las Vegas, it was the last year of elementary school, so that’s how I’m thinking about it.

I also thought I’d better start thinking about next year now because it’s going to be different. It’s going to challenge him. And as I began to think about what I wanted to do, especially regarding literature study, I realized it might be easier to think about the next six years AS A WHOLE. So that’s what I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been thinking about my son’s junior high and high school years – 7ththrough 12thgrade.  I haven’t made any hard and fast decisions. But in the fall I began reading about requirements, making lists of books, jotting down ideas, and looking at possible resources. It is not so overwhelming when you start as early as I am starting. It is giving me time to really think about what we’re going to have to do and what I need to do in 7thand 8thgrade to prepare him for high school work.

When I start a project like this, it’s hard to think about anything else. It’s rather consuming, but in a good way, I guess, because it needs to get done. As we implement my plans, I will be sure to write about them here, but, of course, that is a long time coming. If it seems like good material for a blog post, I may write about my thought process on this. Would that be something you’re interested in reading?

What else have we been doing?

In November, we were fortunate to get to use my aunt’s timeshare, and we spent a week on Ormond Beach, Florida over Thanksgiving with my in-laws. The best part of that trip was the birds, which we actively sought out for my little birder, but on this trip, we didn’t have to go far. The birds were not afraid of people on that beach! It was quite fun. You can see some photos I took here.

My little pianist has been very busy. He performed at a retirement home and in a festival in October, a local recital for area teachers in November, and then at his teacher’s studio recital in December. I’m very excited that we were able to put videos of these last two performances up on his YouTube channel, which you can see here. This one is especially fun and short. (If you haven’t already, I would love it if you subscribed to his channel. He would be thrilled to get more subscribers!)

We are also planning future events in 2019 and beyond for our young musician and looking at ways of giving him new musical, educational experiences that will serve him on this road long-term. The possibilities are exciting, but financially, it’s overwhelming and frustrating. We will do everything we can to squeak through and give him and his brother the best of everything.

I have, of course, been getting ready for Christmas, and while I am not someone who needs or wants to go overboard in her preparations, there is still so much to do! Thankfully I have finished and mailed off the Christmas cards, and I think (I hope) all the presents have been purchased. Still need to do some wrapping!

Tomorrow is the winter solstice, and I haven’t given it much thought either. I like to celebrate it in a small way each year, so we’ll figure out something together, I am sure.

I have also – and this goes along with my obsessive lesson planning – been thinking about how to plan our foreign language lessons better. I think I have finally come up with a plan that might make my life easier – if I can follow through. lol. I don’t know. When it comes down to it, there is just no easy way! But if I figure something out that works, I’ll be sure to share it with you.

So as you can see, we’re plugging along, and I am in the midst of planning EVERYTHING. It’s too soon to write about most of it, but if you have any questions, I’m always happy to try to answer them!

Also, I’d like to thank those people who write me e-mails occasionally. Usually it’s someone new to homeschooling who has a lot of questions and uncertainty. I love to hear from anyone, though. I try to help as best I can, and I always appreciate the feedback I get. If there’s something you’d like for me to write about on my blog, don’t hesitate to ask that too.

Whatever holiday(s) you celebrate, I hope that they are a peaceful and happy time for you. I hope you’re sharing them with people you love. Wishing you a warm and safe 2019.

December & Christmas Activities with Small Children

These are snowflakes that we made last year for the tree. I hung them up in the entrance way of our activity room. They make a pretty decoration.

A while back I wrote about my desire to make new family traditions for my family, and December seems like a great time to do that.  However, I have to admit, I have kept this December extremely simple and I’ve done nothing to intentionally start anything new.  This might also be laziness on my part too.  But right now with a 5 and 2 year old, it feels like an accomplishment to get our regular chores done let alone begin new projects!  So I haven’t stressed.  I’ve just done what I could do easily and what the boys were receptive to.

(However, part of the reason I haven’t had to do much is because my husband initiated a new goal for the family!  I’ll be writing about this in an upcoming post. You can read about that here!)

So let’s see.  What have we done?  We have done what we’ve always done…..

  • We decorated a Christmas tree.  And this year, my five-year-old put all the ornaments on by himself!  That was special.
  • We also put a small tree in the five-year-old’s room.  We’ve done this the last few years, so I think we can call it a tradition.
  • This should have been written up under my “November Activities” post, but in early November, I always help my son write a letter to Santa Claus. This year I forgot to put a stamp in the envelope, but if you put a stamp in the envelope and address it to “Santa Claus, North Pole,” you’ll probably get a reply like we did last year!!
  • My five-year-old and I decided to make puppets with some extra cardboard I found and popsicle sticks.  We drew pictures on the cardboard, cut them out, pasted a popsicle stick on the back, and voila! a puppet!  We made some for my little nephews, and then my son wanted to make some for his friends. (A proud mama moment!)
  • We have been reading our Christmas books.  (I keep all the seasonal books tucked away so that we can pull them out around the holidays and they seem like new.)
  • Yesterday I baked one batch of oatmeal raisin cookies with the five-year-old while the two-year-old was napping, and yep, that’s the extent of my baking for the holidays.
  • This week I’ll let my boys watch some Christmas specials on T.V. if they want to.  We own the Charlie Brown Christmas special.
  • We strung up frosted Os for the tree.  We also did this last year, so maybe we can call it a tradition.  Frosted Os (or some kind of generic version) are big and easy for a little one to hold and string!  (That is, if he’s willing to do it.)  (Also, word to the wise: do not put them low on the tree if you have a dog.  Also don’t leave them on the kid’s activity table while the dogs are in the house.)
  • For an easy craft, I cut out the shape of a Christmas tree out of green construction paper, and then I cut out different colored shapes such as a star and circles, squares, triangles & small rectangles to make ornaments.  (My intent was to help my 2yo learn his shapes, but the craft didn’t hold his attention for very long.)  I put all the shapes and bits of paper into a plastic bag with a glue stick and a few extra Christmas stickers, and I told my boys they could make a Christmas tree whenever they wanted. I wasn’t sure my five-year-old wanted to do it, but he finally asked for it today.

So that is what I have done this December. There’s also a few things I didn’t do:

A simple craft: cut out the shape of a tree and several different shapes to use as ornaments. Stickers are also fun to add.
  • We didn’t decorate the outside of our house.  (Except for a small wreath on the door.)
  • I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. (Needed to save time and money.)
  • We didn’t do a lot of baking. (Except for that one batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.)
  • We didn’t drive around looking at Christmas lights.  (This was a favorite tradition of mine growing up.)
  • I didn’t buy a lot of presents (don’t have the money anyway), make any presents (except for the easy puppets), or invite anyone over for a Christmas get-together.

My main goal this December was to just enjoy the time with my boys, husband and keep up with our daily routine because when I don’t do that, we can all get quite frazzled.  Like I said above, with a 5 and 2 year-old, it’s an accomplishment to get anything done, and routine is important to them.  As their mom, I have to be ready for their mood changes (which can be swift), illnesses or whims (“I don’t want to do a craft, Mommy!”)  I also want to honor daddy’s ideas for family outings while he’s home on winter break.  So, not overwhelming myself with extra chores or expectations is key to making me a good mother.  (At least, most of the time.)

Whether you celebrate Christmas, another holiday, or none at all, I hope this winter season is warm, happy and peaceful for you!  Please leave me a comment and tell me what celebrations or activities you are participating in this December.