Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

I awoke this morning to find such beauty in the second day of this New Year.

We took our tree down yesterday and put it outside with the lights still on it. I came down the stairs before the little ones were up and was greeted with a beautiful view of the tree lights glowing underneath soft piles of snow. Martin had already been up for awhile and we sat snuggled on the couch by the fire reading, drinking coffee and talking about home schooling, the friends we have made, the habits we are changing, and the wonderful things we have learned in the past year.

For those who didn't know it, I took a "media break" for the holiday season and it was a great experience. I found time I had no idea I had been losing on a daily basis. It resulted in me being a more plugged in mother to my children, wife to my husband, and nurturer of my self. I had never realized how much emotional investment I was wasting on what I will kindly term "nonsense." While I enjoy using facebook for keeping in touch with friends, if I start using it again I will be weeding out quite a bit of what comes through on my homepage. 
I was pleasantly surprised to find myself with time spent more productively and genuinely. I read more stories to my children and was able to relax and enjoy playing with them. I spent more nights snuggled with my husband by the fire. We spent so much time as a family- crafting, reading, and learning together throughout this holiday season! 

We temporarily "fixed" the camera I dropped and broke in early November, so I was able to capture pictures of all the fun we were busy having. I say "fixed," because you will see some interesting shadows in the corners of the photos. This is not intentional. It is a result of the lens cover not staying quite fully open.

The children in our home school group had fun during the lead up to Christmas. We helped them make snowflake ornaments, wreaths, and candle holders. They also had lots of fun hearing advent stories and singing songs of the season. 

We were fortunate enough to partake in a Winter Solstice party with our friends that also included an advent spiral for the children.  The spiral is a time for reflection, recognition of the light within us,  and a reminder of our ability to bring that light into the darkness of the shortest days of the year. It was a really beautiful experience!

The night before the Solstice we got our tree. It was a bit of a run-around trying to find a tree so late in the season, but it was so much fun!

We bought a new star this year- made of grape vines wrapped around pine cones and acorns!
So fitting for our family!

These ornaments were made for the boys last year by one of my aunts. They looked so beautiful on our tree and are such a beautiful reminder of her! It warmed my heart each time I looked at them!

Charlie, Matthew and I made quite a few ornaments this year. These were my favorite- so sweet!

Our stars- made from sticks the boys gathered outside.

Do not let this picture fool you. We had so much fun decorating the tree that we never took any pictures! Charlie was kind enough to pose with an ornament as we were packing up the tree yesterday.

The boys on Christmas morning. They were so excited to get candy canes and oranges in their stockings!

We hosted a New Years Eve party this year. We made the celebration extra special by having cake for Charlie's _5th_ birthday. We were able to spend time with family and friends we hold dear and it was such a fun time. Everyone was home and in bed by 9:30- isn't it amazing how life with small children changes your perspective of what "late" means?!

These were the wishing sticks we put out by the fire.
What better time of year is there for self-reflection and initiation of change?

Charlie asked that I make birthday hats for everyone coming to the party. He decided on crowns after picking up a really neat castle book/playset. We picked up some felt and had a great time making them. The kids will be having fun decorating them with their friends next week.

In other news, our little guy is figuring out the whole "going on the potty" thing. I forgot how exhausting and fun and frustrating that can be. His joy and pride in being able to use the potty is fantastic. The need to use the potty for the 32nd time since waking is a bit harder to take.
Matthew is so very proud of himself (and we are too!)

To get started on some of our New Year's goals, Martin and Charlie built a set of shelves in the basement yesterday. Charlie is always _so_ excited to help Daddy with a project! What a great learning experience- planning, measuring, cutting, drilling, etc.

On top of all of the fun stuff, we tried to maintain some sense of routine and enjoyed getting out new stories for the season. Here are some of our favorites:

One of our favorite books in the Fall was "Let if Fall."  We were so excited when we awoke on St. Nicholas Day to find the other three stories in the series alongside of a box of clementines! What a treat! 

I hope you were all blessed with a holiday full of Peace, Love, Joy and Contentedness. 
In the coming year, I have genuine hopes you will find the inspiration, persistence and support you need to meet your aspirations for 2014. 

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