Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's still Advent!



I had great plans to link to Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife’s Advent Post Link Up . Since it was announced before Advent I decided to wait until Advent began so I could include pictures of our Advent wreath. I read several linked posts. Many of these discussed what they did with their young children during Advent. Since we have elementary school age boys I wanted to post what we do.

I was so proud of myself for hanging up the Advent calendars and getting out the Advent wreath on the first Sunday of Advent. Grandma went overboard buying us Advent calendars and many are used every year at our house. Our boys are old enough to take care of the Advent calendars themselves. This year they took turns on 6 different calendars. The calendars went well this year and our six year old knows exactly how many days until Christmas.

Unfortunately we didn’t do as well on the Advent wreath. I didn’t dig out the candles until the second Sunday of Advent. We only lit the candles one time this year so that each boy had a chance to put them out. I still haven’t taken pictures of our Advent wreath. (The photo above was taken at church.)

This year was very different because instead of counting days until Christmas, we had a build up to my second son having surgery for some nose blockage. There were lists of things to do before his surgery, to prepare for his recovery, and quiet activities inside for our family to do together while he recovers. In my head I also had lists of things that we are not going to do this year during the Christmas season because of his surgery. I even started referring to events that we planned to go to as that is the day of his surgery, that is the day before his surgery, etc. This upset my oldest son and he requested that I say the real day of the week instead of that.

Because of this the focus for us has been attending church services and not a whole lot extra this year. I must admit this is the most relaxed Advent season I have had since I was in middle school. Our boys attended church services on Thanksgiving Eve, Sundays, and all midweek Advent services (except the son that will miss the last midweek service during his surgery recovery time). I have attempted to really concentrate during the sermons as all my boys are old enough to behave in church now. I would love to have family devotions and light the Advent wreath every night during Advent. But this year that didn’t happen. I'm thankful that attending church services was the one thing that did happen for us this year.

Here are some of my tips for Advent that I have learned after 12 Advent seasons as a wife and 10 Advent seasons as a mother.
1. Plan for Advent before Thanksgiving-Whether you have a cute Pinterest idea for an Advent calendar or just plan to do what you did last year, have a plan for Advent before Thanksgiving. Add “Get out Advent decorations” to your calendar on the first day of Advent. If you plan to make something for Advent try to complete it before Thanksgiving. Plan your family devotions before Thanksgiving. If you have grand plans to make something like homemade Jesse tree decorations, begin working on that in July. Add "Purchase Advent candles" to your September calendar. 
2. Plan for Christmas before Advent-I purchased ornaments for the Sunday School children last August when they were just put out at the store and on sale. I made extra dessert for our church bazaar in November and froze it for our ladies Christmas party. I bought St. Nick Day presents for my boys when there was a sale in July. I was so thankful that I did all of this before Advent. I did less shopping this December than I have for years.
3.  Consider waiting until at least the third Sunday of Advent to decorate your house for Christmas. Then try to leave your decorations up until Epiphany (January 6). Most years we waited until Christmas Eve to decorate our tree when I was little. While I don’t wait that long any more, we do usually wait until it is Gaudete Sunday. I have friends that decorate for Christmas on Veteran’s Day. While I understand you have to decorate while you have time, I do think if you wait it is one more way to celebrate Advent first. I have also found that we are less busy as it gets very close to Christmas when the holiday parties and holiday events are done. The rest of society begins decorating so early and stores have Christmas items for sale in July. I like to wait and have my decorations up for the true 12 days of Christmas. (We have not put our tree up this year yet.) 
4.  Honor a few traditions and don’t stress about the rest-Are you just not up to making two dozen different kinds of cookies this year? Do you just not feel like putting up a Christmas tree and dragging out all the decorations? Then don’t. You are probably the only one that considers you need to do all that because you do it every year. Make a list of the top three things that you want to do at your house this Christmas. Do those and nothing extra. It won’t be the end of the world if you serve store bought cookies this year. You don't have to go shopping for a new Christmas outfit for everyone, it is fine to wear regular church clothes. Everything does not need to be wrapped perfectly, especially after the toddler age when they like the box more than the gift. Less is more and if you limit what you do your children are more likely to remember what you do. 
5.  On Christmas Eve pack up the Advent decorations. Last year I packed up the Advent wreath and calendars and put them in a tub marked “Advent”. It was so easy to set up for Advent this year because I prepared for it last year.
6. Be gentle with yourself if you have a reason for grieving. I don't care if your reason for grieving happened this year or 50 years ago. I know the song says "It's the most wonderful time of the year", but I have found this is also a time with many memories that can be a trigger for my tears. I am so thankful for extra chances for Holy Communion at this time of year so that I can be with all the company of heaven. Try to take some time for yourself during this season if you need it. Do whatever you need to do to survive this holiday season. If it helps to hang ornaments that remind you of your loved ones do that. If it is too painful to hang those ornaments it is ok to keep them packed up. If you can't sing during a Christmas carol, just listen as everyone else sings. Remember that because baby Jesus came at Christmas, Easter will come.
7. There will be another December-If your plans didn't work out this year, you can try again next year. But remember that it is ok to not follow the plans if that worked this year!

This post was shared at Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife for their Advent Link-up Party.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lamb 2's Surgery Update

Yesterday Lamb 2 was allowed to have liquids until 11:30 and nothing after that. We were blessed with a child that loves broth. I had some leftover homemade chicken noodle soup that I planned to strain the broth for him. He wanted store bought. :) For breakfast he drank two cans! At 11:30 I took everyone to the park to get their mind off of eating. When we were at the park he had to go to the bathroom twice after all that broth. When we returned home he was thirsty but it was almost time to go to the hospital. Ewe, Lamb 1 and Lamb 3 ate lunch after they left for the hospital.
The surgery went well and he returned home doing better than I expected. Lamb 1 had a piano recital so Ewe, Lamb 1 and Lamb 3 went to that. When we returned home Lamb 2 was home. The first thing he had to tell me was he had 6 popsicles.
I had expected to need Lamb 2 to sleep on the couch, but he was doing so well he slept in his bed. I set my alarm to give him pain meds through the night. It reminded me of Ram's surgery. We had a difficult time waking him to take his midnight medicine, but he woke right away for his 4 am medicine and asked if he could get up yet. That's my early rising child!
I had a difficult time getting back to sleep after the 4am meds. Today was a day of giving medicine at the right times, doing dishes (especially the medicine measuring cups), and watching all three Lambs that they didn't ask Lamb 2 to do anything too active. We did everything well but I was exhausted by 2pm after not sleeping well last night. I was so glad Ram was working from home so I could take a nap at that point. I felt much better after a nap.
When I woke up Ram was defrosting meat for supper in a way that I didn't think was safe to eat. I hadn't thawed anything and our microwave is broken. So three lbs of meat went in the trash and he went for take out. I'm quite proud that this was the only thing we messed up on in the last few crazy days. We are definitely going by the "if in doubt, throw it out" rule and it's not the end of the world to need take out. 
We have been blessed that the child that needed surgery is also our son that drinks the most liquids. He is getting plenty of water during this recovery. 
I sent an update on Lamb 2 to his speech therapist as she has been very concerned about Lamb 2 after being his teacher for 2 years. She was so happy to hear that everything went well. We are glad to be done with therapy but we miss seeing our therapists.
We will continue the meds at the proper times and return for a checkup with the ENT in one month.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Living in Boise

I will blog about our Jan Brett book signing when I get the pictures downloaded and time to write about it. First I wanted to share what happened at the book signing.

First, after Jan Brett spoke I took the Lambs to go check out books from the library. I was surprised that the auditorium went directly into the library and there was no security to go through first. Can you tell I worked at a big city library? There were many librarians ready to help. I had never checked out books at this main library so we had lots of questions where items were located. They were very helpful and prepared for lots of patrons during this event.

The library was prepared for this event-there were librarians helping at the front and back of the book signing line, one taking dressed up Hedgie around, and several other librarians helping in the auditorium.

There were tons of people at the book talk by Jan Brett including lots of school children that went back to school after her talk. I'm guessing their teachers were disappointed to not stay and have a book signed. The auditorium holds 250 and there were people standing every where.

After she spoke the librarian asked us to clear the middle aisle for the school children to leave. She then asked for two lines-one to purchase books and one to get books signed. She also announced that the first 100 hundred families to get their book signed would receive a free poster. She announced that Jan would sign books for two hours after her talk.

I would guess we ended up in line as number 97 so we did receive a free poster. I'll blog more about that later. After we had our books signed I was in no hurry as most of the people had cleared out. I thanked the local bookseller for being there even though I didn't purchase any books from them. That began a conversation between the bookseller, Jan Brett's husband, and myself.

The bookseller said several teachers did not RSVP and showed up with a school bus full of children ready to listen to Jan Brett. The librarians felt so bad to turn away so many children but there simply wasn't room for them. The teachers should have let the library know they were coming. He said that no one got upset about this and those buses just returned to school for a regular school day. He said Boise people are pretty laid back.

This is where Jan's husband interrupted our conversation and said he never saw another city in America like Boise. He said that he couldn't believe the way our library handled the free 100 posters. He questioned if they planned to give out numbers or tickets. He couldn't imagine with all those people what they were going to do. They said no numbers, it would work out fine. And it did! There were about 10 families in line after me. No one was upset that they ran out of posters. The line was very orderly and everyone waited patiently for their turn.

Jan's husband said that he just couldn't believe how nice everyone in Boise is. He said he grew up in Portland in the 1950's. He said Boise is just like Portland was then.

This was a great compliment for Boise both by how we acted at this book signing and with what Jan's husband said. Thank you to the Boise Public Library, to Rediscovered Books, and to Jan Brett and her staff for this event.

*Note: I wasn't positive that I was speaking to Jan Brett's husband, but he was with Jan helping her pack up and I assumed it was her husband. When I came home I looked her up and saw a picture of them from 2009 which told me it was her husband. He was (is?) a bassist for Boston Symphony Orchestra and their biographies are both very interesting. Just the fact that they did this book tour doing book signings at two different cities a day going across the country in a little more than two weeks is amazing. Even with 39 million books published, both Jan and her husband were so friendly and nice and took time with each person in line. You can tell they enjoy these book tours and meeting her fans.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Oh, Ewe!

This morning I took the Lambs to a Jan Brett book signing. I have lots to post about our fun day! We got home for a late lunch and Ram went to run some errands. I told him to be sure to be back before Lamb 2 had a doctor appointment at 4:45. At 4:20 I looked at my calendar and realized his appointment was at 4:00, not 4:45! Ram called and apologized and said we were on our way but we would be late. They said they were completely booked and the first time they could get Lamb 2 in would be Monday.

I scheduled Lamb 2's appointment for today so he could see the naturopath one more time before his surgery while still in this calendar year where we have met our deductible. So this means that because we missed the appointment today he won't be able to go to the naturopath until he has recovered from surgery and we can make an appointment-which I expect to be in January. Which means that his follow up appointment with the naturopath will not be covered by insurance as I had planned.

We will try in the morning to see if he can see us at his other office. I'm also working on remembering that Lamb 3's appointment is set for next Thursday at 4:30pm. I don't ever remember messing up a doctor appointment this badly before.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lamb 2

Lamb 2 is scheduled for nose surgery on Monday. Today I went to the pharmacy to pick up his meds to be prepared for after surgery. The pharmacist was full of directions-how to mix the antibiotic since it is too early to mix it today, take antibiotic twice daily so he doesn't get an infection, take probiotic once daily because antibiotic is so strong, mix something like Neosporin with saline spray and spray that several times a day while he heals, etc.

We would appreciate your prayers for Lamb 2's surgery and recovery. I would especially appreciate your prayers that I get all his meds organized and given correctly! I'm sure once we begin it will become routine for 10 days. But right now it seems so important to get it right so he doesn't have complications or infection.

I must say that I was so thankful we have found a local pharmacy in this big city that still takes the time to explain everything to their customers. I thank God for them each time someone in our family needs a prescription. Plus they gave the Lambs candy canes today for waiting so patiently while the pharmacist talked to me. I was also thankful that insurance paid for the prescriptions and I only had to pay for the OTC stuff that went along with the prescriptions. I also thank God that medical advances have given us meds to help our children recover after surgery.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Day Off

Lamb 2 began vision therapy about this time last year. He went to a few sessions in December of 2013, had a Christmas break, and then began twice a week VT in January 2014.
His schedule was Mondays and Tuesdays during the school year, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the summer. There were a few Mondays where they were closed for holidays. He was sick for one week in the spring so he missed two sessions. But other than that he attended every single scheduled VT day. We even planned our vacation to WA around his VT-we left after VT on a Wednesday and were back before his therapy the next Tuesday. He had a sub a couple of times but therapy was never canceled other than the few holidays they were closed.
We have also alternated piano lessons between Mondays and Tuesdays based on what worked best for the piano teacher and with our schedule. Lessons are currently on Tuesdays. Lamb 2 had less piano lessons in the summer, but he still took lessons. So many of the days that he had VT, he also had piano lessons. This was really rough for him in the beginning of VT but it got better.
During the summer Lamb 1 and 3 usually slept in while I took Lamb 2 to his early morning VT one day of his therapy. During the school year they usually went to VT and did their school work in the break room during Lamb 2's VT. There were a few exceptions where Ram watched them while I took Lamb 2 to VT without them, but they went along to VT for the majority of Lamb 2's sessions. There were a few times where Ram had to coordinate his work schedule to take Lamb 1 to the orthodontist while Lamb 2 had VT and appointments like that.
So all 5 of us were thrilled to be done with VT last Monday! We only live a short distance from the doctor. I can't imagine the people that live far away from VT and have to add in traveling time. We all feel like we have a "day off" of therapy every Monday and Tuesday now!
I am looking forward to January and really settling into a school routine that we haven't had for the last year and a half with all this therapy. Lamb 3 especially is ready for more academic work and needs more time with the teacher than he has been given. Lamb 2 needs to continue with the progress he has made in reading. Lamb 1 needs to do some more challenging work as he is in 5th grade. It simply wasn't possible to do all this with all the time we were at therapy last year. I look back at the year and I am extremely proud of what we did accomplish while we also got Lamb 2 the help that he needed too.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

This morning at our house

I loaned my St. Nick Day book to a friend so we didn't read the story today. All the Lambs know the story well so I didn't feel too bad. They enjoyed eating chocolate coins and playing with their new Lego minifigures. I love giving presents on St. Nick Day and saving the focus of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for worship.