Saturday, December 9, 2017

Countdown to Christmas - Days 1-5

For over ten years, I've done a countdown to Christmas for Sophia and Olivia. I started with brown-construction-paper gingerbread men in a chain. Each one had a date and label on it with things we would do that day.

Eventually, I made an advent calendar with little embroidered envelopes made from wool felt and embroidery floss.

It hung by the wood stove for the first couple of years. One year, I moved it to the banister in the front hall.

Cooper, who was still a young dog at the time, ate some of the envelopes when we were gone. I haven't replaced them so we don't use the calendar anymore. (I need to repair that this year so we can use it again.)

This year, I have the days planned out - special things that we will do each day. Some days have more "exciting" things than others. The point is that we are doing something a bit out of the ordinary to enjoy time together as a family and/or do new things that are meaningful to us.

My overall goals for myself on each day during December/Advent:

-          Start a gratitude journal. I am using a special book for this and am using the following links that have gratitude images and prompts:

I printed and cut each one, and glued it into the gratitude journal. Using Prismacolor markers and colored pencils, I color them and write on them. 

Around them, I am using a kindness calendar that Mothering Arts offered during December. I write about the things I did each day.

-          Clean the house and declutter for 15 minutes. (I'm doing this more in blocks of time rather than each day.)

-          Gather one bag of items that can be donated to the second-hand store. Do this every day until Christmas so we donate 25+ bags of items that we no longer need, but may be useful for another person or family. The money from the sale of the items will help support programs that help others in the community. (Again, this is being done in blocks of time so some days I'm getting more items than other days.)

-          Read one Christmas story each day from now until the 25th. (I haven't started on this one yet since we are still going through the Christmas bins. Will catch up this weekend with reading.)

- Use the Family Reflections during the month and write down what each person says. (We haven't done this yet, but I would like to do this each year from this point forward and see how our answers change.)

December 1, 2017

I walked Scooby by Demontreville Lake while Sophia had her harp lesson. He was so happy after his walk.

We even found a tennis ball on the walk which we brought back with us in the car. He's watching for Sophia to come out of her lesson in the photo below.

I donated three bags of items to Goodwill. Felt good to get them out of the house.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sophia hosted a blood drive with the American Red Cross as well as oversaw the assembly of 30 comfort bags for children who have cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy.

During the last couple of weeks of November she had purchased lots of items to fill the comfort bags thanks to donations and grants from individuals and businesses.

She instructed people about what to include in the comfort bags - giving each person the opportunity to fill a bag for a particular gender and age group.

Olivia was in charge of giving rewards to each of the blood donors as well as encouraging them to eat a snack. Each donor received a thank you card, heart-shaped window star, one of Sophia's CDs, and a gift certificate to either Kwik Trip, the movie theater, or Pizza Hut.

Family members, friends, and people who were attending the holiday fair in the same building helped create the bags. Below, my sister filled a bag.

This is an example of what was included in the comfort bags:

We tied eight fleece blankets. There are six more that we still need to complete at home.

We were so grateful to have the help of girls who knew how to tie the blankets and enjoyed doing making them.

The bags were created throughout the day by people of all ages.

By the end of the day, all 30 bags had been assembled.

There were 12 blood donors - of which 25% were teens. This was the first time that a blood drive had been held at this location, so the American Red Cross was pleased with the number of new donors as well as teen donors.

We were pretty exhausted by the end of the day since we left the house around 7:00 a.m. and didn't get home until close to 5:00 p.m. Ended up having pizza for dinner.

That night there was a super bright moon. It literally lit up the entire backyard.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

We picked out a tree today from Prairie Restorations. Sophia chose it and ended up hauling it over to the ruler on the post that determined how much it cost.

The girls helped tie the three to the top of the roof of the Jeep.

That afternoon, we had another fire in the fire pit in the backyard. We're trying to burn brush that has been sitting there for quite a while. If we didn't burn it now, birds and wildlife (rabbits and skunks) would nest there over the winter and into the spring. We would have a huge brush pile that would have been there another year since we wouldn't want to burn it when they were nesting in it.

It's nice to have it cleared out now (for the most part). We'd like to create a smaller fire pit next spring and sod around the area that we burned.

Also on Sunday, I cleaned my home office and put things away that were on the floor. Spent 2 hours and 45 minutes doing this. Got rid of 7 bags of garbage, recycling, or donations.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The intention today was to celebrate Chalica - a Unitarian Universalist holiday. It starts on the first Monday of December and goes for seven days. Each day represents one of the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism.

The first one basically is that each person is important. So, there were two things that I wanted to do: have a meal where everyone’s favorite food is represented and watch Meet the Robinsons.

We ended up doing the meal, but didn’t watch the movie since I had a Lions Club foundation board meeting that night.

The meal included: Papa Murphy pizza (Olivia's choice)...

 bratwurst (Paige's choice)...

fresh fruit (my choice)....

and sparkling grape juice (Sophia's choice).

Everyone was happy because there was something that each person liked that was included in the meal.

While I was at the board meeting, the girls decorated the Christmas tree.

They each picked ornaments that they wanted on the tree.

Many of the ornaments are ones we bought in China when they were adopted in 2001 and 2003.

Aspen and Danny oversaw the decorating of the tree.

When we turned the light out, I monkeyed around with the camera. Had fun with creating "light pictures."


The girls wanted to make sure I got a "normal" picture of the tree...which I did:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

This was an unusual and memorable day. Sophia was able to observe three bunion surgeries with her podiatrist/surgeon. He gave that opportunity since she is doing a 4-H project/presentation on the surgical removal of bunions.

After driving on very icy and slippery roads thanks to an overnight rain, freeze, and snow, we arrived at the hospital by 7:45 a.m. One of the surgical nurses showed Sophia where to change into scrubs. 

She was able to observe up close the procedures which were fascinating for her. She learned a significant amount in the three hours she spent in the operating room watching the surgeries. 

There she is taking photos (one of over 400 photos from the morning!) with Dr. Benjamin Clair doing a bunion surgery. Techically, it was a "Lapidus arthrodesis (also known as a first tarsometatarsal or first TMT arthrodesis) hallux valgus correction." 

After the surgeries, Sophia went to the homeschool co-op to take her piano lesson and PSEO course (American Government). It was full day.

While she and Olivia were at the co-op, I dropped off five bags of donations at Family Pathways. I'm up to 8 bags of donations so far this month.

For the second day of Chalica, the focus was on doing something nice for someone else - or being kind in all you do.

So, I wrote two Christmas cards to the Charlie and Yovani through the prison ministry program I'm involved with that focuses on letter writing. I write letters regularly to these two men who are in prison in Missouri and California respectively. I've been writing to Charlie now for a few years and Yovani since earlier this year. 

It's been rewarding and enlightening for me to correspond with both me; and I've learned quite a bit about the prison system. I wish there were more things to help inmates improve their lives, gain marketable skills, and receive a solid education so that when they are released the recidivism rate would be lower. 

1 comment:

Smily said...

I like reading your posts about everyday pleasures and joys, it's a kind of a "kitchen talk", I think. Thank you for sharing!
Kind regards from Hungary,