Blogmas Day 5: Top 5 Tuesdays- Holiday Bucket List

Welcome to Day 5 and in true fashion to my blogs, since it’s Tuesday, we are counting down the top 5 activities on our holiday bucket list.

 

5. See Santa.

This is really more of a formality than anything, and the reason it is number 5 on the list. It just isn’t Christmas without the annual trip to see Santa, however it isn’t something I am terribly excited about this year either.

 

4. Gingerbread Houses.

This is another every year activity, however, this year we will be making it a weekend long ordeal and creating the houses one day and then decorating the next. I am excited to see how my kids handle putting them together. This will most definitely be more fun for them this year as well.

 

3. Cinnamon Ornaments.

Last year we made lots of cinnamon ornaments for staff at the children’s hospitals in town. I’m not sure where we will take these that we make this year, but I love seeing the girls happily giving something to someone else that they made.

 

2. School Christmas Party.

So even though my oldest is in Online School, we still get to go to a Christmas party this year. I am very excited for her to meet the other kids and make some friends. It will be a bit of a drive, and an all day event, but I’m excited we get to go and share this moment with her.

 

1. “Elf” a Neighbor.

This is number 1 on my list because it is something I have wanted to do for about 3 or 4 years now. I am not sure who we will “elf” or when it will happen, but this year it is definitely happening.

 

So there is our top 5 holiday bucket list. I would love to know what activities are on your family’s holiday bucket list, let me know in the comments below. Be sure to come back tomorrow for Day 6 of Blogmas 2017.

Blogmas Day 4: Our Weekend

Welcome to Day 4 of Blogmas 2017. I’m super excited to give you just a glimpse into our weekend,

This weekend was a lot of downtime.

Friday

we did some math & science lessons, and then had appointments in the afternoon. It was also the first day Zippy Apple our Elf on the Shelf came.

 

 

Saturday:

We got up and found Miss Zippy and a note about the days activities.

We got a bag full of toys to donate.

Here they are painting the Christmas Tree.

And here it is up before the decorations.

Sunday:

We got up and got breakfast and then the girls got to work on puppets.

The tree is all finished

 

Work time for me, then…

Puppet Show:

 

And there you have it. A look at our weekend. Come back tomorrow for day 5 of Blogmas 2017

Blogmas Day 3: Online School & Holidays

Welcome back to Day 3 of Blogmas. I am so excited to be cruising right along… 22 days to go. Yesterday, I talked about holiday traditions of my childhood and our new family traditions. So today I am going to tackle a question I myself didn’t really think about until Mid-October or so… “How do you handle Online School during the holidays?”

Some of you have followed me for a while, and there was a time not that long ago that I was considering homeschooling. I had preschool all planned out. It was going to be exciting and fun and we’d get to take from the week of Thanksgiving until the 2nd week in January off. I had it all planned out and I was so amazed at how well it seemed to be working, until I actually started. When the girls didn’t want to do stuff, or things got crazy and we missed a day here or there, I knew I needed some back-up with school.

When I signed The Oldest up for Kinder with Connections Academy I was not even thinking about how hard it would be to try to do school in the midst of holiday chaos. I know a lot of people will say, “Don’t all kids have issues with school during the holidays?” and most teachers might even say they have a harder time keeping the kids attention during this time of year (maybe, if you’re a teacher, feel free to weigh in here). However, it seems I have a 5.5 year old and almost 4 year old who are very aware that they have full control of themselves and I can not “make” them do anything. So, we flail around most days and eventually get some form of work done. I didn’t think about it until Halloween started getting closer and I saw just how distracted they were getting.

After a few days of brainstorming, I came up with some guidelines that we will live by this holiday season.

3 Tips For Online School During the Holidays

1. Lower Your Expectations

This one was the first step I found to getting through these long crazy days with at least some of my marbles still rolling around in my brain.. I had to lower my expectations for the school day, attention span, and also for holiday activities. Kids are excited this time of year, and all the activities and extras mixed with their imaginations about the big day, they won’t be able to focus nearly as long as they could in September. With less focus means it takes longer to get through lessons and also longer to learn a new skill. This means possibly a longer school day, or less busy work if she grasps the concept. I am also only scheduling activities and outings on weekends (Fri-Sun). We will still do something each day with out Acts of Kindness and an activity of sorts from Zippy Apple our elf, but the main outings and activities that require a lot of prep, will happen on the weekend when we have more time to devote to said activity.

2. Change Up Routine/Add More Breaks.

We were starting the day off with some PBS Kids and breakfast and then into lessons, now I try to add a fun activity between breakfast and our first lesson. Play Doh or Legos or Coloring all have their place in helping with fine motor and problem solving, and once they have had some fun, we do 1 lesson, then another break and so on and so forth. Creating more breaks and more times for them to move around or just relax for a bit means the work that we actually get done is better quality.

3. Plan, Plan, Plan

Once I lowered the expectations and realized I was going to need more breaks, I was able to start planning. For us, we have 4 hours of therapies a week and 2 hours of live lessons we have to plan around, plus getting all lessons done on time before Winter Break. I now have a plan for getting through a certain amount of lessons per day, if we get through those lessons, we are done. I have 2 days a week with more free time than the others, and those are the days we get the most lessons done, and the other days are planned out according to the amount of appointments we have that day. I am also working some of our fun holiday activities into lessons. Making cards works on reading and writing, and baking works on math and science.

So there are my tips for getting through online school days during the holidays. If you homeschool or do online school and have any other tips, feel free to drop them in the comments below, and come back tomorrow for DAY 4 of Blogmas 2017 which will be all about our first weekend of the holiday season.

 

Blogmas Day 2: Old vs. New Traditions

As a child, I used to dream about having kids one day. Holidays were very special times for me growing up, and I wanted to pass down sooo many traditions to my kids. Having children with high or special needs can make those traditions much more difficult than you remembered growing up. This is why I am comparing old and new traditions to make our holidays amazing.

Old Traditions

I can remember being young and looking forward to the advent calendar my mom made. It was a super cute angel with fabric pockets. Each day there was a little slip of paper with a different activity to do each day. It could be making Christmas cards, or a paper chain, or decorating the tree, there was always something fun to look forward to.

Another memory I have was of all the homemade items at Christmas time. Every year I made Christmas cards, and we added to our ornament collection each year with new paper punch out ornaments. As I got older, there were bread dough ornaments and more intricate Christmas cards made.

One of my absolute favorite holiday traditions was taking the train to downtown Chicago to see the window displays and the huge Christmas tree in Marshal Fields. There was so much magic in the hustle and bustle of the shops in Chicago, and amazing displays that brought the Christmas magic to life.

With all these memories, it’s hard to not want to pass on all of these amazing memories to my kiddos. When I was a “new mom” I had so many grand plans for holidays, It was hard when things didn’t seem as “magical” with my girls. This brings me to New Traditions.

New Traditions

These days, there is even more commercialism aimed at our kids than there was when I was a child (and there was quite a bit back then, anyone remember Cabbage Patch or Teddy Ruxpin???). I was on the fence for a while about that darn “Elf on the Shelf”. However I am pleased to announce that our elf Zippy Apple will be making her 3rd annual appearance this year. In our house, we use the elf as an advent calendar, bringing new projects and activities each day as well as Acts of Kindness daily.

Acts of Kindness is another new tradition. I am working on teaching the girls the real meaning of holiday spirit and that giving is always an amazing feeling. Our elf brings an easy to do act of kindness in addition to an activity or project. Talk about a way to mix old and new traditions.

Another new traditions is the Christmas Eve Box. It is a large box that is wrapped and contains Christmas PJ’s and a new Christmas movie, popcorn and hot cocoa to enjoy the evening before Santa comes.

So there you have it, traditions both old and new. What were your favorite holiday traditions? What are your favorite new holiday traditions? I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and be sure to come back tomorrow for Day 3 of Blogmas 2017

Welcome to Blogmas 2017

Welcome to the Holiday Season.

A time to sing songs, eat yummy food, give amazing gifts… deal with stress, over-stimulated kiddos and drained bank accounts

About the last 3, let’s see if we can change those.

 

Welcome to Blogmas 2017.

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I love the music and the food, giving gifts and the light in my children’s eyes when they see the magic of the holiday season. Over the next 24 days, I hope to offer some tips and tricks and ideas to help you and your family have the most amazing holiday possible.

I will be doing Blogmas, and Vlogmas, with the same topics, and adding the vlogs into my blog posts so you can watch AND read all about the ideas and tips and see my family enjoying yet another holiday season, while giving you ideas and tutorials on how to make yours enjoyable as well.

So, make sure to come back daily, or sign up to get the posts delivered directly to your inbox. You won’t want to miss a day!!!

A New Beginning: Gratitude and Authenticity

 

 

Welcome to the BRAND NEW blog. When I first started blogging, I wanted to help people. I always knew our life was different, and my hope was to build a community of those of us in the same boat, those of us looking for our “new normal”. I have tried all different approaches and all different directions, however, what I really didn’t try was sheer authenticity. Sure, I would talk about real life, and give glimpses into our life, but there was always a facade of sorts that was made to help me be “professional”. Now, I’m not saying that being “professional” is a bad thing, but I’m not some super mega professional person. I am a real mom with real struggles (both in my personal life and as a parent) who wants to help other parents in similar situations. My goal has always been to rally around our special families and pull them up into the spotlight that they deserve.

These last couple of months have been hard on our family, and I sort of drifted away. I needed time to process the new evaluations we were given, and wrap my head around how to proceed. I am starting to realize, for our family, flexibility is a must. Being able to pick and choose our schedule and our priorities has been a huge help in these last couple of months. While we are working on some more structured times ahead, I’m excited that we are finally finding people who understand that novelty and flexibility are super important.

So, now that I have been super vague about what we have been through in the past couple of months and a mini update of sorts, let’s talk about the blog going forward. Going forward I will be bringing you a whole lot of my own thoughts and feelings on our life and our journey, some tips and tricks, and I will also be highlighting 1 amazing family a month who will get to tell their story on their journey thus far. Building a community that lifts each other up and helps each other out is what I feel called to do in life, and I am super thankful everyday for this amazing calling.

My plan is to post twice a week to give some encouragement at the beginning of the week and to celebrate the wins at the end of the week. I’m looking forward to this new chapter and all the great friends I will meet along the way.