So sometimes juggling a lot of demands and responsibilities can be hard and, at other times, it can be effortless. I found myself somewhere smack dab in the middle of that statement last semester. I knew it was going to take some work to make juggling my college commitments with homeschooling a bright (read: needing to be continually challenged) fifth grader work. But of course, life doesn’t exist in a vacuum of school. There’s the house, obviously (and my tendency to need to frequently (read: daily and thoroughly) clean. And we can’t ever, never, ever forget The Mister. Just because my hands are full doesn’t mean he gets relegated to the wayside. I’m a big believer in continuing to date your spouse after The Big Day. And granted, we don’t always get away on our own, but dating can mean making all those little mundane moments at home seem magical; it’s flirting, it’s finding ways to compliment him (read: not hard at all), it’s spending time with him one on one, listening to him, meeting his needs. And of COURSE, that also means that just because I spend so much time with Little B teaching him (and goodness, he’s home with me all day) that I haven’t spent time with him engaging in the things that matter to him. That’s huge too! It’s finding time to do art with him, it’s getting on the ground (why is it always the ground?!) to play endless rounds of Yu-Gi-Oh (which between you and I dear friends, I find incredibly confusing and which I am learning to love just because he loves it so), it’s taking him outside to work on his basketball, and baking with him, or running around the house like nuts, nerf guns at the ready, while my thighs scream in agony from ducking around in bizarre positions in the hope that although I can’t see him he can’t see any little bit of my body to shoot at (what can I say… I like to win). We can’t even forget the dogs! Those things, er… animals, are like CHILDREN! They need attention, and love, and help with hygiene. And they are both very distinct (pet owners get me here while the rest of you think we pet owners are a bit bizarre). Sweet Nya needs TONS of affection (I swear she lacks a healthy self esteem). She needs to be kissed and hugged and petted and a soft place needs to always be available for her to lay upon. Marley loves hugs and kisses. He has no clue he’s so big and will jump up for hugs at the most inopportune times, nearly toppling me over. He LOVES to play hide and seek, which, let’s admit, is too much fun not to play with him. He loves to be chased when he’s playing with his toys and he will cry if you aren’t so inclined.

So I was doing pretty great all semester keeping all those needs and things running smoothly. I was feeling pretty good about myself but I quickly found that keeping all those things in line began to mean that anything EXTRA thrown my way was quickly set aside to be dealt with in…. wait for it… DECEMBER! I just didn’t have any extra time because any extra time was time set aside for myself (because that is huge too). The dryer that began making weird noise? December. The CLEP test I need to graduate on time? December. Medical appointments for myself? December. So as I sit here, a few days away from an even tougher semester I am resolute in not putting things off. In reviewing the last few months, even though I was great about setting time aside for myself, I wasn’t doing great in taking care of myself (other than resting so as to be kind to my ol’ little heart). I need to be okay with scheduling in appointments for myself instead of seeing those things as inconvenient or unimportant. The dryer that went wacky? I waited all this time for the Sears man to tell me that the part is almost as expensive as getting a new one and with an eleven year old dryer he just worried something else would go wrong. In other words, I could have been drying my clothes at home weeks ago! You have to laugh at things like that. Because it’s truly funny.

So changes. I’m a bit of a scheduler. If it’s not on the schedule I tend to forget it. And B, my sweet little B is not so little anymore. When we moved here I transitioned from calling him Baby Brooks to LIttle Brooks because his new friends, unaccustomed to the name as his old friends were, looked shocked when I called him that (as they should have been, he was nine when we moved here). He’s growing like a weed lately. And he’s sleeping in, a lot. One of the blessings of homschooling is that we are able to adjust to life circumstances to his schooling. When Brooks was deployed and came home on leave we were able to stop schooling to spend time with him. When his schedule was insane at work we would take off when he was off. So now, as the boy begins sleeping in later in the morning I’ve adjusted our day to officially start later to allow him to sleep longer and wake slowly (he’s a slow waker). I really detest starting the day later than we have traditionally but it’s not really about me. And I think, in a lot of ways, I’ll find the extra time in the morning conducive to exercising (which I am in dire need of) and completing my own schoolwork. It’ll be an adjustment for me and a blessing for B. He’s already quite pleased with our new schedule and quite grateful for the ability to rest a bit longer in the morning.

So with all that being said, Christmas was pretty fantabulous. We were able to spend a good deal of time with Brooks’s family, and though I became ill towards the mid point and our car got smashed in the fender (not our fault, it was just parked there, minding its own business) it was pretty great. Traditions are so great and I really really embrace them. I have no idea what things B will carry with him into adulthood but I hope and pray it was a childhood of play and “magic” and excitement. And I hope that he’ll remember our traditions fondly and find comfort in them. This year we stuck to some oldie but goodies: making Santa his mouse cookies, making gingerbread houses, tons of crafts leading up to the big day, and of course, a relatively new one, the annual Christmas play with the cousins. I’m not sure if we’ll be here next Christmas. And that surely sucks but I can’t allow those what-ifs to mar our today. That’s just crazy talk! There were other beloved traditions that we partook in but I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy! It was definitely one to remember!

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Uncle Brooks and Baby Ty. I truly love this picture for so many reasons. We are so grateful to be here while he’s been growing like a little weed and changing daily.

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Although B is making the craziest face I love how sweet the girls look in this picture! I love the way these three love each other. I pray and hope that as time and distance takes us away from these sweet girls that these three will keep in touch and love each other fiercely as only cousins can do.

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Singing karaoke for the packed “house” ie. mommas and poppas and loved ones.

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Waiting her turn patiently.

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Oh my gosh, these two! Love it!

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Beautiful Tali was rocking it out! This little girl FEELS the music when she is dancing. She radiates joy!

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still rocking!

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Baby Ty got in on the action too!

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Blurry photo, I know! But I love B’s face in this picture because he is radiating such joy at spending time with Ty. Too precious for words!

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More singing!

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Be still my heart!

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Making gingerbread houses with Addison who is pretty adept at baking and using her little rolling pin. I really loved making these with her.

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There she goes!

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An invitation to play: Gingerbread house making. And look at Tali’s face when she saw the set up! Priceless! I used melted sugar to hold the houses together instead of icing and although it worked FABULOUSLY my finger suffered a bad burn from trying to assemble them too quickly. Note to self: next year… take your time! 🙂

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Love that everyone packed in here to watch the kiddos!

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More sugar! 😉Image

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Look at that smile!

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Silly…. willy.

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Jess’s family portrait for the set. Love it!

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Sweet Addie peering around the side of the set.

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Playing with a polymer (which happened by happenstance when Addie and I were attempting to make white dough ornaments). When life gives you messed up ornament making dough, make a polymer!

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I hope she always find joy in play dough!

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Checking out the lights at some park somewhere in York County… I truly forget the name. Maybe Rocky Ridge?

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Reindeer games!

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Reading the kiddos The Night Before Christmas by the tree Christmas Eve. We read this one every year. Right before I tuck B in bed, reminding him to fall asleep quickly, we pull out the Bible and read the Christmas story together. I love doing that while he’s all snuggled in, visions of Christmas morning dancing in his head, a very timely reminder of why we celebrate this very special day. I truly love how traditions mark our passage through time.

Some photos of Christmas morning:

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And with this last picture I truly hope the Christmas season found you and yours making new memories to be treasured always.

Life remains truly sweet.

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