Sunday, December 30, 2012

The oh so Joyous Holidays

The holidays didn't go exactly as planned. The restaurant Jay picked for his birthday dinner closed early that day. He chose IHOP as a backup once we got to the original place & found it closed. The eggs were undercooked & my bacon & my husband's steak were overcooked. My crepes were fantastic, though. Jay & Dea loved their pancakes, which was good. It wasn't the plan, and it wasn't great, but Jay enjoyed his birthday dinner.

We ended up ordering pizza for our Solstice dinner because I wasn't feeling up to cooking. I got that damn respiratory virus everyone else just got over. So, for Solstice, Christmas, and Jay's birthday, I could barely breathe & felt like crap.

We did our Christmas, just us & the kids, on Christmas Eve. We opened presents & looked through our stockings in the morning. Then, my husband headed off to my sister & brother-in-law's house to help my brother-in-law work on their car. He took Dea & the dog with him.

My husband got into a fight, kind of, with my brother-in-law's brother & his wife. They posted a video of their kids performing on Facebook & asked my husband to take a look at it. He did & then he commented on it. He said that they did a good job. He then added a little friendly advice, that one of them would play more fluidly once he relaxed more, and the parents didn't take kindly to that. They deleted the comment & sent him messages, from both of them, chewing him out for criticizing their child. He wasn't rude, disrespectful, or nasty in his comment. They both just seriously overreacted. All they really wanted was praise for their kids. They wanted everyone who watched to tell them how great their kids are. My husband, a musician, did say they were good & was just being honest in his added advice. It wasn't meant to be an insult to the kid, but that's how they took it. Then, after chewing him out for his comment, they unfriended both of us.

On Christmas Eve, we got a Christmas card in the mail from my husband's sister. I wrote a whole post about that one (will be posted soon), so I won't go into detail here. Let's just say it didn't make for a great holiday.

We were going to have cheeseburgers for dinner on Christmas Eve, but the meat smelled funny. So we had stuffed shells in a meatless tomato sauce, broccoli, corn, and waffle fries. My husband & Jay didn't like the cheese mixture in the shells. I bought them pre-made & frozen, only making the sauce & heating the shells (I really didn't feel up to cooking, due to being sick). So, it's not like it was an insult to my cooking or anything, but it would have been nice if everyone could have enjoyed the meal.

Throughout everything that went wrong, I did my best to relax. I didn't expect the holidays to be perfect, but calm & relaxing would have been awesome. I am trying to be more positive, so fought hard to stay relaxed & see the bright side of things as one thing after another went wrong. With most of it, it was pretty easy. I don't care what my husband's sister thinks of me, so am not bothered by the current thing with her. I am bothered by its effect on my husband, though, and wish I could do something to make it easier for him. I am also not bothered by the unfriending on Facebook. I have spent many years dealing with petty, immature behavior from various family members (along with a serious dose of crazy from many family members), so adding some more petty, immature behavior isn't a big deal. I do feel bad about Jay's birthday dinner & our Christmas & Solstice dinners, though. I will have to try harder to make sure things go as planned for holiday & birthday meals next year.

Christmas day was fantastic. Yes, I was still sick, but we had a great day anyway. We did Christmas with family. They aren't technically related any more, it was at the home of my ex-step-mom, but we still consider them family. My dad is on wife three. We spent Christmas with wife 2, her husband, and the members of her family that live here. She & my dad divorced shortly after Jay was born, but we have maintained contact throughout that time. I truly enjoy spending time with them, and have never stopped thinking of them as my family. We had a great time. We opened presents, ate good food, played games, sat & talked. It was just such a nice, fun day. The only problem I had was the recurring issue of our dog & one of her dogs not getting along. It was so great to have a day where nothing went wrong.

Days after Christmas, we had our last Christmas party. It was Christmas at my grandpa's with my mom's side of the family. There was some drama, as usual. There was some tension, as usual. There were issues, as usual. There was insanity, as usual. However, much of the insanity was directed at other people, instead of at me, which was nice. It ended up being a rather enjoyable evening. I got to see many of the people who matter to me. I got to hold my cousin's baby, she is gorgeous. My kids were fairly well behaved & weren't among the children who got screamed at to shut up by my mother. Much of the drama was understated, as well, which is quite uncommon in our family. It is usually out there, front & center, loud, and obvious to all. It was still fairly obvious, but much quieter & low-key than usual.

Honestly, the only thing that would have made my holidays better is seeing my dad. We got a card, an ecard, a box of presents, and a few emails. I would really have loved to see him, though.

Well, my holidays are over. I am going to spend this next week focusing on getting the house clean, holiday decorations put away, and making sure everything is set for school next week. I hope you all had wonderful holidays! If you celebrate New Year's Eve, I hope that is also a fantastic & safe celebration.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Break Time!

We're done with school & ready for a break! Dea has finished 8th grade, pretty much. She's doing an Anatomy & Physiology course through Universal Class, to make up for not passing the one we planned. I told her she has until Jan 7th, when we start up again. If she has finished it by then, with an 80% or higher, I'll add it to her transcript. With the possible exception of adding another course to her transcript, I am done with her 8th grade year. So, I'm making sure we have everything set for 9th. I'm pretty sure we do, but I will go over it all once more just to be certain.

As for Jay, he still has a few months left of 3rd. I've been spending a lot of time planning out details for his 4th grade year. With the budget being so small next year, I have to work so much harder to make sure he will be getting as good an education as he has been getting. It takes a lot of planning, searching, & creativity, but I will make sure his education does not suffer one bit from this budget cut.

Anyway, instead of doing a regular Week in Review post, I thought I'd give a general update on where he is right now. So, here goes.

We'll start with what he has finished:
LOF Decimals & Percents
LOF Fractions
Perfecting the Point (Mastering Mathematics Decimals & Percents)
Finishing Fractions (Mastering Mathematics Fractions)
AAS 3
Logic Safari 2
CTD
Key to Measurement bk 1, 2, 3
Key to Metric Measurement bk 1, 2
Science: Meteorology
Science: Water
History: Middle Ages & Renaissance
Word Winks
LFC Primer A - started last year, but finished last 10 chapters or so this year

Of course, he still has plenty to do. He's more than halfway done with EG3 & EG4. He's working in LFC Primer B. He might not finish it this year, but it's fine if it runs over to next year. We've started AAS4. He's working in FTD, the next book in the Stack the Deck series for Writing. We've barely started on Geology. He'll be starting Pirates & Explorers after the break. We've watched all the Signing Time dvds, and moved onto some other ASL dvds from our local library. We'll continue with dvds from the library, possibly doing some more than once (as review), to finish out the year. Basically, there is not a single area where he has fallen behind schedule or that I am concerned about.

This last few weeks, we've done very little school. They caught a cold. The cold turned into croup for Jay. Then, Jay got a sinus infection & Dea managed a double ear infection. Then, we got hit with a stomach bug! Both kids got the stomach bug, as did I. My husband finally had to take a day off last week because he got the respiratory virus the kids had & he felt awful. So, it has been difficult to get school done through the coughing, vomiting, pain, and fighting over the only bathroom. For the next two weeks, we are on break. I won't post much, if at all over our break. We have the Winter Solstice, Christmas, and Jay's birthday to celebrate over this break. Plus, I've got prep for Dea's 9th and planning for Jay's 4th to do still.

Oh, I did figure out what Jay will be doing for Math after the break. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday he will play online Math games for 30 minutes. Tuesday and Thursday he will do practice problems on Khan Academy for 30 minutes. He will watch videos on MathTV every day. He loves that site & has already started watching the videos. I told him to start at the beginning, with Basic Mathematics, and go through them in order. He will also watch a few videos from Art of Problem Solving each day. He also enjoys these videos. He still has 3 Key to books left, and will be doubling up on those, doing 2 pages a day. Plus, I have scoured our library catalog for fun Math books for him. I've got a list of ones that I think he'll enjoy. I did try to find ones that aren't too young for him, but it's difficult to tell without seeing them. We'll be picking up several each week for him to read. That's the plan. Hopefully, it will be enough for him until we get the next three levels of LOF for next year. He'll start Elementary Physics as soon as it gets here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pre-Break Eval

Our Christmas break is fast approaching. Just prior to planned breaks, I assess how things are going. Actually, I assess regularly throughout the year, especially whenever something needs changing. I actually plan to evaluate prior to planned breaks, though. At these times, I look at not just what isn't working, but also what is. I generally do it internally. I don't bother with formal assessment, writing it down, etc. I just do it mentally. That works for me. This time, though, I thought I'd give you all a peek into my thoughts. I don't separate it as what is working, what isn't working, and what needs to change. Instead, I just go through subject by subject, evaluating each program, plan, etc., see how they are working, and decide what, if any, changes should be made.

I'll start with Dea. She is finishing up 8th grade & will be starting 9th when we start back up in January. This will make her schedule even more drastically different from Jay's. There are no major 'moving into high school' changes, since she started high school level work years ago. So, it's just normal year end evaluation.

Schedule: Letting her have full control over her own schedule has obviously not worked. That is why it took her a year and a half to get through 8th grade. So, we have worked together to plan a new schedule for next year. She will still have say in her schedule and will take over more control as she is ready, but she won't have full control.

English:
Grammar: We used Easy Grammar Ultimate series this year. I knew she didn't love it, but figured not many people really love Grammar, so I wasn't concerned that it wasn't her fave. As long as there hadn't been tons of complaints about it, I didn't see any reason to change. Well, this year I got tons of complaints. I guess she finally got tired of it. This is slightly inconvenient, since I had already purchased the next level for next year. We will be changing programs, though. I don't know what we'll be using at first. I won't be getting the new program until I purchase for the next year, which will probably be in February. So, I need to find something to use prior to that showing up. When I purchase for Jay's next year, I will be getting Giggly Grammar for Dea.
Writing: She did two writing classes, through Universal Class, as the Writing portion of her English this year. This was okay. I don't feel the classes are especially challenging or thorough. However, they did have one aspect that was vastly more important this year, someone else grading her writing assignments. She gets seriously overemotional & takes any criticism from me as a personal offense.When someone else critiques her writing, she is fine & accepts whatever they say with grace. I would prefer a better Writing class, so next year she'll be doing one at Saylor.
Spelling/Vocab: We didn't do anything formal for these this year. In fact, we tend to go back & forth between formal study & life for these. Next year, we'll be putting a little more focus on Vocab. I think it will mainly be through games, and continuing to look up unknown words when she comes across them, of course. For Spelling, we are going to start working through All About Spelling, but only reading the lessons together & reviewing with the cards. I think she needs a little refresher on Spelling rules, and AAS will giver her that.
Literature: She typically loves Mythology, which was the theme of our Literature selections this year. So, I thought she'd enjoy the choices. However, she really did not enjoy reading The Iliad, The Odyssey, or The Lord of the Rings. I don't know if this was her natural dislike for anything she is being required to read or if she just legitimately didn't enjoy the books. She helped to pick out the books for next year, so hopefully there will be no issues.

Math: This year, she used the book my sister had from the Algebra course she took for college. That worked fine for her, though we haven't had a lot of luck with textbooks in the past. For Geometry next year, we're sticking with the more traditional textbook approach, which will hopefully continue to work. Maybe she has finally gotten past the desire for her Math to be fun and is finally more appreciative of thorough & understandable.

Science: She had planned to do both Anatomy & Physiology and Intro to Psych this year. However, she never even got started on Psych. So, we're moving that to next year. She hasn't been doing well with the A&P. In fact, I told her it was not going on her transcript because of the total lack of effort she has displayed & the lack of work she has to show. So, she has decided to take an A&P class on Universal Class instead of finishing the planned course. If she finishes before we start up again in January & finishes with an 80% or higher, I'll put it on her transcript. I think the problem was mainly that she was expecting it to be a lot more fun.

History: I think the main problem here was the schedule. If she had been forced to stick to a strict schedule, I think she would have done better work. Luckily, that will be changing next year.

Latin: She has, again, started Oxford Latin. I don't think there is anything wrong with the program, and I don't think it is a bad fit for her. I think her only problem is that she did not specifically choose Latin as a language she wanted to learn, so she does her best to not learn it. There really isn't anything we can do to fix this, unless I let her drop Latin. I really want her to study Latin, though.

Well, that's really all that she was supposed to do this year. I think the most important thing is for us to take care of the scheduling problems.

Okay, now onto the eval for Jay's school year. He still has a few months left to his 3rd grade year.

Math: Mastering Mathematics has worked for him for years, and this year has been no exception. Of course, he'll be done with it before we take our Christmas break, which means I need to find something to fill the gap.
I was pretty sure he'd like LOF. It moves fast. It doesn't waste time on massive amounts of review & repetition. It's fun. I figured he enjoy it. Luckily, I was right. He has done quite well with LOF this year. As with Mastering Mathematics, it will be done before our Christmas break, so I need to find something to fill the gap for it also.
The Key to series has worked great for measurement & metric. He will continue with these books until he has finished them, which won't be before Christmas break.
He had asked for more story problems, which was why I bought the Tall-Tale Math books. He isn't really enjoying them, though. The first section is review & has no actual story problems. The rest of the books, while there are some story problems, aren't really interesting to him. He had taken a break from them a little while ago. I thought about having him do more from them after Christmas break, to help fill the gaping hole finishing 2 programs will leave. I might do that, but am still unsure.

Language Arts:
Writing: We've been using the Check the Deck series, and he really enjoys it. I like that it is thorough and incremental. It is a program we will definitely continue with. Unfortunately, we'll be taking a break from it for 4th, due to budget cuts.
Spelling: He has been really enjoying using AAS. We will definitely continue with it.
Grammar: He has been using Easy Grammar. He seems to enjoy it, and we will not be making any changes to Grammar after the break.

Latin: He is still enjoying Latin for Children, and we will not be making any changes here, either.

ASL: He has finished all the Signing Time DVDs, as well as a few others we found at the library. I hope to continue using DVDs we find at the library to finish out this year.

Logic: He has enjoyed all the logic books we've been using this year. We'll continue using them to finish off the year. The Logic Safari book was too easy for him, but we will still be getting the next one anyway. He really enjoys the Logic Safari books, and since we only have one more, I figure it won't hurt to let him finish the series.

Muisc: He is still practicing drums & NAF, though not as often as I'd like. He hasn't yet started the music theory program. I will likely have him wait until next year to start that.

Art: He has been enjoying his Art this year. He likes all the materials I got for art work, and enjoys studying works of art. I see no reason to change how we are doing this.

Geography: He has been doing fine with Map Corner. Though, we haven't been very good about doing a state study. We need to work harder at doing the state study, or we'll never get done.

Science: There have been no problems here. He still loves the semi-formal, hands-on, fun way we do Science. There will be no changes to this after the break.

History: Again, there are no changes to make here. He truly enjoys the way we do History, and has enjoyed the subject matter greatly.

So, that's more or less what I've been thinking. There are only minor changes to Jay's schooling that need to take place to finish off this year. For the most part, everything we're doing & using has been a success.
 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Week in Review 12/9/12

This was not a full week for us. Last weekend, my husband went over to a friend's house. His friend's whole family was just starting to get over a virus. By Tuesday, both kids were sick. I'm pretty convinced that my husband brought the virus home to us. I had a migraine on Wednesday & Thursday. By Friday morning, Jay's virus had turned into a severe case of croup. He woke me up at 5am with that awful barking cough. We spent three hours in the ER. Later that morning, Dea had an appointment with her psychiatrist. So, very little work was actually done.

We're on quarantine until further notice. I am sleeping in my recliner, so Jay can have my side of the bed. I'm not sleeping much at night, since I hear him cough every time I start to doze off. Dea is quite upset with me since I haven't allowed her to spend time with friends or do her volunteer work this week. I just don't want to risk getting anyone else sick. The last time Jay got croup, I got a case of infectious laryngitis that came & went for an entire year, with doctors totally baffled as to what the hell was going on.

As of Monday, we will be doing school again, even if we don't get everything done. Jay can still do at least some of his school work, and I think we've watched too much TV already.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Week in Review Dec 2

Snow may not have hit us yet, but the colds & other viruses that come with this time of year have. By Thursday, both kids were feeling kind of yucky. They're ok, nothing seriously wrong with either. They're just a little congested, coughing a little, and sneezing occasionally. They also get an occasional headache, and the muscles in Dea's upper back have been a bit sore. So, our schedule has been a bit wonky.

Dea is almost done with her work for 8th grade (about damn time, too). She just needs to finish her Anatomy & Physiology and Grammar. Christmas break is coming up in just a few weeks, and we are all working toward finishing up a few things before then.

So, here is what Jay got done this week:

MAth:
FF - p.136 - 145
LOFF - chap 28, 29, bridge
Meas3 - p. 23 - 28

Language Arts:
AAS4 - step 1
FTD - chap 1
EG3 - p.88 - 97

LFC B - chap 8

ASL - Getting Started in Signing section 3

Logic - MWW, FWL, Mensa Whodunnits

Art - charcoal drawing

Geography - online Geography games

Science & History - read books

Our deal with Dea, about her being in charge of her own schedule, was only for the year of 2012. We said that we would revisit it at the end of the year & decide if she had proven capable of managing her time efficiently or not. Well, she has not proven ready to take full charge of her schedule. So, I will be much more involved in her scheduling again, starting in January. I won't be planning her days for her, but with her. So far, we have come up with a weekly schedule for how often & on which days she will do each subject. Jay and I came up with a weekly schedule for his 4th grade year, too. We also came up with a daily schedule that should allow me to work with both kids on the subjects they need me, give them both time for independent work, give them both free time, and allow time for chores. This was just slightly challenging considering the number of courses & expected number of hours planned for each.
Since she'll be sticking to an actual schedule, I'll be including Dea's week in my Week in Review posts, starting in January.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy Freaking Holidays!

Ok, this will be a bit snarkier than originally intended, at least at the start.

It is that time of year again. Do I mean Christmas time? Nope. Do I mean the joyful holiday season? Nope. Do I mean winter, with its snow, ice, and frosty mornings? Nope. I mean the time of year when some people do their absolute best to ruin the joyful holiday season for everyone else.

It actually started in October, when Christmas stuff was already in stores before Halloween! Why can't they wait until one holiday is over before throwing the next one or two in our faces? Wait until Halloween is over. Then, put out Thanksgiving stuff. After Thanksgiving, you can put out the Christmas stuff. There is no reason I should turn the corner & run into Christmas garland, ornaments, and tinsel when I was just looking at Halloween makeup and skull candle holders in the previous aisle.

Next comes the Black Friday sales & all the advertising that comes with them. I delete every single email I get that mentions Black Friday in the title, without reading them. We don't watch regular tv anymore, so at least we're spared the commercials. Flyers come in the mail & go directly into the recycling, without being opened. I have to skim over Facebook posts about them. Sale, sale, sale, sale, sale! That's all people can talk about.

Finally, once the Black Friday mess is over with, we get the utterly ridiculous "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" rubbish. Really? Do you people have nothing better to do with your time than over-analyze other people's holiday greetings? How freaking egotistical can you be to honestly believe that anyone who says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is intending it as an insult to you & your religion? Does it not occur to you that maybe, just maybe, you are the one being insensitive & insulting?

Honestly, I think many people say "Merry Christmas" because that is the holiday they celebrate, and most of us grew up saying "Merry Christmas." I don't think  most people who say "Merry Christmas" are doing it to be insulting to other religions. However, those who throw fits about people saying "Happy Holidays" instead, those who post messages on Facebook yelling about how "IT IS MERRY CHRISTMAS! NOT HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!," I kind of think they do it out of spite & to insult others.

How can you honestly be offended by people trying not to be offensive? Oh wait, it's because they are trying to be inoffensive to people who believe something different than you, and you are intolerant. "Happy Holidays" is not an insult. It is not an offensive statement. People who say "Happy Holidays" are doing it out of respect for the fact that not everyone is Christian. They say it in an attempt to include everyone in their wishes for a wonderful holiday season. They say it because they don't assume that everyone else is the same religion & celebrates the same holidays. It is not an attack on Christmas or on Christianity. It is an attempt to include EVERYONE!

You do realize that there are other holidays in December, right? In fact, here's a list of them:

Advent - 4 weeks leading up to Christmas
St. Nicholas Day - December 6
Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe - December 12
St. Lucia Day - December 13
Las Posadas - December 16-24, though now mostly condensed to just one night (usually Christmas Eve)
Yule/Winter Solstice - December 20-22
Soyaluna - December 22
DongZhi - December 22
Christmas - December 24 & 25
Chanukah - 8 days beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev
Kwanzaa - December 26 - January 1
Boxing Day - December 26
New Year's Eve - December 31

People may celebrate one or more of these holidays. Would you prefer that someone go through all of them, instead of just saying "Happy Holidays," to make sure they have covered them all and aren't offending? Oh, that's right. You don't care if they leave out all the others, as long as they say "Merry Christmas" because Christmas is the only that matters, right?

Some of those holidays listed are cultural, though most are religious. Those of us who say "Happy Holidays" say it to include all of those holidays, even those we don't celebrate. Some of us realize that a holiday isn't  unimportant, just because we don't celebrate it. When I say "Happy Holidays," I say it because I actually do respect every person's right to their own religious beliefs & their right to celebrate whichever holidays they choose. I say "Happy Holidays" because I don't assume every person I meet celebrates Christmas. I say "Happy Holidays" because I celebrate multiple holidays in December. I say "Happy Holidays" because I want everyone's holiday(s), whichever one(s) they celebrate, to be happy! I don't say it to insult or offend anyone, and I don't know anyone who does.

I also don't care if you say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." If you want to say "Merry Christmas," that's fine. Just make sure that it is sincere and not you trying to make some point about how holiday greetings should be said. What I do find offensive, though, are posts on blogs, Facebook, etc. complaining about people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." I find it offensive that so many people refuse to acknowledge that there are other holidays in December, holidays that are just as important, even if they are less commercialized. Stop taking people being respectful and trying to include everyone as some kind of attack on you. You are not the center of the universe! Your religion is not the only one (it's not even the only major one)! The holiday you celebrate is not the only or most important holiday in December! Get over yourself!

By the way, since only Christians seem to have an issue with this topic (I have never heard/seen someone complain that someone said "Happy Holidays" instead of "Happy Chanukah" or "Blessed Yule," etc.), let me remind you of something. Your religion teaches tolerance & acceptance of other people, their cultures, and their beliefs. So, maybe you should stop being so freaking hateful, self-centered, intolerant, and disrespectful to everyone who isn't exactly like you.

Exploring Genres: November: Classics

This one was actually fairly difficult.  I wanted to keep in mind books we would be reading soon. Dea has some classics on her list of books for English next year. We're including required reading in Jay's Language Arts next year, and the list includes some classics. Plus, there are also the historical fiction we have planned for them next year. So, we wanted to stay away from the ones we have planned for next year. Since I'll be reading the books just before or with the kids, I didn't want to read them myself, either. Plus, I just wasn't in the mood for reading classics the month. Life has been so stressful, I am really just in the mood for quick, easy, fluff.

Jay:
Matilda
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh

ME:
The Scarlet Letter

Poet of the Month: November: Yeats

Yet again, our library is sorely lacking in the works of this month's poet. They did have one book, though.

The Yeats Reader

Christmas/Advent/Solstice

We celebrate Advent in our own way. We haven't yet done the wreath, candles, and weekly reading of the Nativity, though we do read the Nativity story each year & plan to get (or make) an Advent wreath. We use it as a way to keep the Christmas season from becoming stressful, overwhelming, & making us not want to celebrate. We read Christmas stories/books, watch Christmas movies, donate to local organizations, do fun, family activities, and keep the focus on what Christmas is to us & not on the commercialization we're bombarded with starting before Halloween. So, the whole month of December is basically a celebration of Christmas, for us. We also celebrate the Winter Solstice. However, that is generally more of a low-key thing, since there seems to be a shortage of Solstice themed movies, shows, and books.

Books:
A Season of Gifts
A Child's Christmas in Wales
Christmas Treasury
The Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas
The Gift of the Magi
The Family Under the Bridge
A Christmas Carol
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
T'was the Night Before Christmas
The Christmas Box

Movies:
A Christmas Carol
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas
A Charlie Brown Christmas
The Polar Express
A Very Merry Pooh Year
Seasons of Giving
The Bishop's Wife
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Frosty the Snowman

Activities:
Drive around looking at Christmas decorations/lights
Go the the Festival of Lights our city does each year
Christmas Scrabble
Holiday Word Puzzles
Buy food to donate to the food bank
Read holiday poems
Learn some Christmas Carols
Make Christmas & Solstice decorations

Meals:
We haven't actually decided on Christmas or Solstice dinner, yet. All I know fir certain is that the meals will be simple. Our year has been pretty stressful and we've had some financial struggles. So, we have decided that our goal for all the holidays this year is simplicity.

Gifts:
In keeping with our goal of simplicity, we went very light on gifts this year. The kids are each getting 2 things, and my husband & I are each getting one. I also picked up some candy for our stockings. Not one things cost more than $10. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't get my husband more pieces for his Nativity scene, but I will get him one next year. The kids aren't upset at all about not getting much. Luckily, we have some pretty un-materialistic kids.