Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December 2016 In Our Home

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas"

"Peak Season"
    Phew! It's the most.. stressful, busy, exhausting etc. time of year! From the weekend before Thanksgiving up to Christmas Eve, it's "peak season" at David's job. Work days and weeks are longer, and the stress is palpable. There's an unavoidable consumption in doing everything possible to get the job accomplished before the Christmas deadline. It's not my favorite time of year and usually by the second week into the season I'm declaring "bah humbug" and ready to pass over the entire occasion. 

     In years past, we've kept our celebration and activities very, very small to decrease additional overwhelm. We've also taken his one day a week off from work as a full day of rest (we don't even attend church). This year, we plowed through. I also had appointments frequently, which added quite a bit of strain to an already tight schedule. We ended up being busier than ever! We also all came down with a cold/sinus crud for a week (two weeks for me. ugh!). The atmosphere in our home was regrettably more tense than joyful. The children watched more videos than I want to admit. The Sunday before Christmas, we decided a single day of rest was necessary. It was so good to all be home and together for the day! I think we were all needing that moment. Next year, I think we will definitely take more full days on his off day to rest and be together. This Christmas season was... well, we made it. haha.

"Christmas"
     In the mess that was this past month, we still tried to fit in a few festive activities.
This year we:
     *baked cookies to send to our extended family with their gifts
     *baked additional cookies and delivered them to our neighbors and mail carrier
     *went caroling with our church
     *attended our church's children's Christmas carol & dinner
     *decorated the tree and put out a few decorations in our living room 
     *colored and painted several Christmas coloring pages 
     *packed hot cocoa and drove around to look at Christmas light
     *(David and I) used Christmas conversation cards during dinners
I also prepped something new for us for next year. I don't know what next year will hold, but I thought it might be helpful to myself to use this time post-Christmas to prep for next Christmas. 
      
     We spent Christmas Eve getting a few things and the house in order. It wasn't the greatest of days, honestly. It was the first day off we'd had in a month and we were all a bit tired and grumpy. Fortunately, we were in much better spirits for celebrating Christmas Day. David and I woke early to get ourselves ready and bake the homemade cinnamon rolls we prepared the day before. (Tennyson called it "Christmas cake!"). We then woke the children to open their gifts and have a chance to play a bit before we went to church. I think they were equally excited to see the gate around the tree open as they were for the presents underneath it! haha. They enjoyed unwrapping their gifts and seeing "what's in there?" (a phrase frequently asked by Tennyson- the boy with a million questions at all times). I was so pleased to watch their contentment in our "merry little Christmas." (We celebrate in the same ways each year, which you can read more about how we celebrate Christmas in Our Home here). 

    It was such a delight to watch Tennyson, in particular, be of an age to really begin understanding the many little aspects and moments that comprise the Christmas holiday. I may never forget his little voice shouting from the backseat, "I love these Christmas lights!" as we drove through a display. Or, his face beaming with exciting at the mention of making cookies. Or, the wonderment as he and I stood around the Christmas tree talking about the various ornaments. These are the moments that I hope will continue and last in his memory. Next year, I anticipate having two little ones enthralled by the simplicities of the season!
    
"Tennyson"
He's as happy as can be simply playing in the dirt!
(35 months old)
     We checked out and read one book about a backhoe from the library and now Tennyson is obsessed with construction vehicles (in addition to rescue vehicles). One. Book. Haha. He received a couple of big metal construction vehicles for Christmas, and his favorite activity is to go outside with them and play in the dirt. (We have an old garden bed in the backyard that we dug up and is now just a fun dirt play area for the children). We also found an episode of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood that features a backhoe, and he'll watch that short segment over and over. Take a guess what I'll be using as a theme for his upcoming birthday party?

          Somehow in the span of a few weeks Tennyson transformed before our eyes into a three year old. His manner of play showed a leap in development, his emotional state (ie tantrums) matured, his speech and conversational skills grew. He also grew physically, and our "long and lean" little guy became even longer. It's amazing how each year within the little years is such a huge leap. We've come to recognize that he is reaching a new stage and our approach and interaction will need to change a bit. This a good thing though. The little years are delightful, but I so enjoy getting to know each of my children as they grow into themselves more and more.

"Annelise"
She really enjoyed wearing out silly holiday hats!
(18 months old)
     Annelise is quite the spirited little one! She absolutely keeps me on my toes both in physically keeping up with her busyness and in parenting strategies. She's certainly not the calm and quiet little one like her brother was! But, that's not a bad thing. She finds such delight in things and really enjoys herself. She has enjoyed participating in our school time songs,and will do all the motions to songs like "Follow My Directions" and "If You're Happy and You Know It" (from our My Father's World curriculum cd). She is so fun to watch!

     Her favorite activity, though, is without a doubt playing chase with big brother. We're fortunate to have the rooms in the main area of our home connected and so the children can run in circles. I love watching them enjoy each other and hear their squeals and giggles! She adores her big brother! (She adores him so much that many mornings she will go wake him up! She is ready to play and he should be too! haha).

    She's also begun to say words! Up until now, what she's lacked in verbal speech she's made up for in signing. (Thank goodness for signing!). I absolutely love hearing her try to say so many words. I have a feeling we're on the brink of a language explosion. So fun!

"Have the right response"
      The children have reached an age in which the behavior of one will upset the other. They each demonstrate their frustration in their own way, and their limited comprehension and emotional-control often results in poor choices. In those moments, I'm needing to repeatedly say to them: "No matter what he/she does, you have the right response" and then guide him/her back through the situation but with the right response. It's a constant and tedious effort. I question some days if I'm getting the message across at all. Nonetheless, I persist because I feel it is my job as their parent to teach them to make wise choices and behave appropriately. Eventually, they'll come to understand much more and will be able to resolve their differences independent of me. But, as for now I feel it imperative to be actively teaching them.

      While I'm teaching them, God is teach me. Honestly, how often do I need to hear the lesson "no matter what he/she/they do, you have the right response" in regard to poor behavior on their part? How often does my voice raise and tone sharpen? How often am I exasperated by the job before me? Far too often I am reactionary to poor behavior and respond with my own poor behavior. God has been showing me the fault of my own character and the need for growth through the same lesson being taught to the children. 

      
      Each day brings new opportunities for the children and for myself to learn and to practice having the right response regardless of the prompt. 
Afternoon coloring for "school time."
(Notice we have one lefty and one righty!)

"Finally, a break!"
     The Christmas holiday concluded "peak season." We actually had a three day weekend together that weekend! It was wonderful to have David home and he get to do life with us. (I won't deny that I thoroughly enjoyed the extra set of hands and opportunity to relax and get some things done more than normal!). He'll get another three day weekend the following weekend as well. Yippee! I intend on focusing that time on him getting additional rest and opportunity to do the things he's been needing to do but hasn't had time. 

     Afterwards, we'll be back to busyness! There will be many, many preparations needed for birthdays in January (3/4 of us have birthdays in this one month!), as well as for Huxley's arrival in February. Exciting times ahead! :)

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