When I Genuinely Envy Homeschooling Mamas

Christmas Break. Or Summer.

Because while everyone has their plan or way of doing things, if a break gets to be too much, Mama has the authority to put school back in session. Just the knowledge of that option makes me envious.

Today we are two days removed from Christmas, well the first day of Christmas. So, lemme back-up and tell you about Christmas.

Christmas Eve I was afflicted with a lovely GI virus, as was Shelby and at least one boy which made mass impossible. 😦 Le sigh. Anyway, we tried to make the best of it. We put the ornaments on our Christmas tree, I wrapped presents, Jeff ran out and got a few last minute things (which somehow included a trip to Wal-Mart which I was sure he did NOT have to make, but I digress) and we generally enjoyed one another’s company. Our Christmas Eve tradition is Chinese dinner. Jeff decided this year to make our own Chinese food. We enjoyed homemade Pork Lo Mein and Cream Cheese wontons. Shortly after dinner our phone rang. It was my brother Ben with his good news about getting engaged. After the luminaries burned out, we watched the animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (my kids don’t like the live-action Jim Carrey one), followed by Merry Madagascar on DVD and finally A Charlie Brown Christmas. By the end of the third one, I had two kids who had fallen asleep. Will was my lone hold-out having had 2 naps that day for some reason. But he didn’t want to stay up without his brother so everyone was in bed by 9:30. I had to wait 30 minutes to set presents out and stuff stockings because even though my kids know about Santa, if anyone catches me, we have a battle royale about when we get to open our presents. Finally, about 10:30, I crawled into bed.

I woke up to Shelby at about 6:30. And Joseph coughing (more on that in a minute). I got the kids up, changed and fed. Jeff was still in bed so we had the whole “when can we open presents” thing on my own. I don’t have any pictures because I find that whenever I’m taking pics, I’m not participating so, sorry, pics are not coming of the unwrapping of presents melee of Christmas morning 2013.

Our tradition is 3 presents per child as the Christ child received. This year the kids also opened their presents from Nan and Poppy (Jeff’s step-mother and father) on Christmas Day. Shelby got a small Disney Princess figurine set to go in her “venturing out bag” for when we need her to be quietly distracted, a stuffed Clarice from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and a copy of Spongebob’s Christmas (featuring “Don’t be a Jerk”). Joseph got a Leonardo Ninja Turtles sword, a stuffed Abominable Snowman from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Despicable Me 2 Operation (the game of Operation but with a  Minion). William got some of the action figures from Planes, a stuffed Rudolph and the movie Despicable Me 2. From their grandparents, the kids really got a haul. Shelby got the new Elmo that hugs you, the Target Exclusive Disney Princess dolls set (the Barbie sized Princesses, seven of them including her favorite, Tiana who we could not find by herself anywhere) and a scarf and hat. Joseph got a Gamestop gift card and hat and scarf. And William got a Fisher Price digital camera, and hat and scarf. The boys got a Chromebook to share.

Since Joseph is in kindergarten this year, he was able to participate in his school’s “Santa Shop” where he got to purchase presents for the rest of the family. He got Shelby and I necklaces, William a NY Giants little football (Joe picked it out because Eli Manning is the “little brother” like Will is), and Jeff got a “Dad” ornament.

After hot chocolate and lunch, we headed 2 1/2 hours northwest to my parents’ house. We rarely get to visit them on Christmas Day, so this was a very enjoyable visit. My parents had gone to evening mass the night before in Gastonia, NC with my brother Ben so that they could be present for the proposal which was beautiful and theatrical (although that second part was not entirely intentional). The church they attended St Michael, handed to each person who came in a copy of Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s Rome Sweet HomeBoth my mom and I thought it was a wonderful way to evangelize and help bring people home. Think of how many lapsed Catholics attend mass on Christmas either out of guilt or with family? Think of how many other people just show up not really knowing or understanding why. I love how this church thinks! Neither of my parents had read the book so they love having copies and my brother insisted on keeping his.

My parents didn’t get home til around midnight and my brother Matt was at their house. When we arrived around 1 pm, they hadn’t opened any presents so it was nice to share that with them. Since Jeff and I do not exchange gifts and all we had opened were Joseph’s presents for us, we got to open our first presents of the day there too. Again, my kids cleaned up. Shelby and William got sneakers. Shelby got much needed jeans and a couple of Strawberry Shortcake books and a small leg0-like figure (is the best way I can describe it and we didn’t take the package home). William also got some books and a lego-like figure. Joseph did not get sneakers but got the Skylanders Giants starter pack for the Wii. He also got books and a figure. They also all got jackets from my grandparents on my Dad’s side. I got sneakers that I desperately needed, pajama pants, a candle and soap from Extraordinary Ventures, a really cool lip balm and $20 from my grandparents. Jeff got soaps from EV (sandalwood, LOVE), a “gift card” and $20 from my grandparents. Each year my parents give all their kids and kids’ spouses, $100 cash. Every year they try to find a creative way to give it to us. This year they found cute decorative tins and put the cash in with some candy and attached to a Crucifix. The Crucifixes they gave us were purchased in Vatican City and blessed by Pope Francis during his general audience on October 23, 2013 when my parents were traveling in Rome and Italy.

It was funny to watch my parents exchange gifts and hear some of the stories behind them. My brother, Matt, gave my Dad 2 sets of new work gloves. Apparently last year oppossums got under Matt’s townhouse, tore up the insulation, pooped and died. And he and my dad had to clean all of it up and my dad threw away his work gloves from that day (I mean, of COURSE he did!). My dad also told us that in shopping for my mom he felt like Clark Griswold. He was buying presents, wrapping and hiding them and then forgetting where he had hidden things. In fact, he thought for a minute he had forgotten to put a gift out for my mom and when he went looking for it didn’t find it (he had put it out, it was under something else in a gift bag) he did find something else he had bought for her.

After dinner, we all watched Christmas Vacation, because we had referenced Clark so much throughout the day, and just chilled before going to bed. And then the fun started.

Originally the plan was for Jeff to sleep in the guest room with Shelby and the boys to sleep either on couches and I would crash wherever as my parents have a bonus room with couches and twin beds too. Joseph decided he wanted to sleep on the floor in the room with Jeff and Shelby. And they had a battle between the two kids about keeping the lights  on…William and I decided we would sleep on the living room couches. I was going to sleep on the couch and he was going to sleep on the loveseat but that got reversed when Will cuddled with my mom and my dad fell asleep on the other end of the couch. I curled up on the loveseat and I fell asleep. About 1 Am I woke up to Joseph coughing his head off (I told you I’d get back to that). I got him out of the room and he used the bathroom and drank some water. He continued to cough off and on throughout the night including waking Shelby who decided a giggle-fest was in order…I could not get comfortable on the loveseat again, so I ended up walking up to the bonus room and sleeping on one of the beds.

We left on Thursday early but no too early as it had rained lightly the evening before and then the temps dropped so there was ice. Everywhere. The road just outside of my parents’ development had been salted but the road we turned onto next wasn’t and we did hit an ice patch and slide but it was imperceptible because we have some kind of “anti-slide” technology in the car. In fact, if an indicator hadn’t flashed on the dash, we wouldn’t have known. We headed home with Joseph’s cough acting up the whole way.

We got home around lunch time and Jeff ran out for a few supplies and decided to grab McDonald’s for lunch. We haven’t been doing much fastfood lately so the kids really thought it was fun. By the time late afternoon rolled around, I realized we needed to take Joseph into the pediatrician in the morning.

So fast forward to this morning. We met the new pediatrician at our practice (we love her already) who was alarmed at how bad Joseph was wheezing. It took 2 breathing treatments for her to release us and she was close to admitting him! Now we’re rotating breathing treatments. Which would be less annoying only if he were actually acting as sick as he is! I’m not complaining though. I’m very grateful. Our pediatricians office was actually open today. Some others, we heard, are closed til the 2nd!

But today, I would love to be doing some “school” unfortunately all of the kid stuff to do locally costs an arm and a leg and everyone is bringing their kids today. Plus we are rather homebound because of Joseph’s lung situation. But for him and William, I wish I could pull out some poetry to work on. Or a science experiment. Even Shelby, who’s not wed to schedule, would enjoy a little more of it right now. And I could throw some of those things together, but homeschooling does pre-dispose a parent to planning and so, it would be really nice to pull out those plans and not feel like it’s all cobbled together on the fly.

So, there you have it, our holiday, and a time of year I find envy hard to fight for those of you brave mama homeschoolers out there! My hat is tipped to you.

PS- I promised a pic of the advent wreath project I worked on, well, an unnamed child tore it up and there we are.