Monday, December 22, 2014

How and Why Our Family Celebrates Christmas

Our first and favorite Santa.
Gabriel was never afraid of Santa.
A family favorite
The year Gabriel thought being funny was the most important thing.

Gabriel was growing up.
The only evidence we have that Xavier has glasses
The last Santa picture, unless they take pity on me.
How we like to celebrate Christmas
When Gary and I got married, one of the things we had to decide was whether we would celebrate Christmas. Neither of us are or were Christians. I had explored Wicca, but did not wish to follow that path. I had a desire to explore Judaism, but had not done so. As a result, we had neither a religious reason to celebrate Christmas, nor a religious reason not to celebrate Christmas. Since both our families, one Catholic, one Protestant, celebrated Christmas, we decided it made sense to celebrate Christmas. But our Christmas has always been a secular one.

When the boys were little, Christmas was largely about giving and receiving gifts, spending time together, and relaxing. As time has gone by, it has become all about spending time together. We do not celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas. For us, it is a time to celebrate our family and friends. We take the time the government gives us away from jobs and school to spend together.

In recent years, we have talked more and more of changing our celebration to one of the winter solstice. I suspect this will happen next year. But, it is just a day on the calendar. We start our celebration early, and run it as long as our schedule will allow it. So, what do we do?

We game. We game. We game. We bake, and eat, and game. We drink hot chocolate and vanilla, hot apple cider, and eggnog, and we game.

For the last eight years or so, a large portion of our winter season has been devoted to gaming. For several years, most of our evenings were devoted to tae kwon do, so the return to gaming has been that much sweeter.

This year, we are excited for this holiday season. Gary was deployed last year, and it was a pretty depressing Christmas. We are all so happy to have him home this year. Next year, Gabriel will return home from college just in time for Christmas, which, having experienced this phenomenon with Gary, I'm sure will will make the holidays that much more joyful.

PS. In case you're not a long time reader of our blog, I want to point out that we celebrate the winter solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year's Day. We love winter holidays.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice

This sunrise brought to you by my work as a barista.

I am not a morning person. This fact was well established by the time I was in middle school. But, I love sunrises. There is something special about a sunrise, about a new day, the possibilities inherent in the dawn. The same is true for the winter solstice.

Winter solstice signals the returning of the light. It brings with it rebirth for the earth. Slowly, throughout the winter, the earth is renewed to bring forth spring. Winter is the promise of things to come. One of those things is the returning light of longer days. For this reason, I love winter solstice. 

On this winter solstice, I have a message for the parents. Let go of the past. Realize that the mistakes you have made with your children were mistakes. You made the best choices with the information you had. Sometimes, part of the information is in darkness. Forgive yourself for not having all the information. Move on. Embrace the new day. Embrace the returning of the light to the earth. Allow it into your heart, and let it back out in joy and love.

Happy Winter Solstice! Much love, light, and joy to you this winter season.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thinking About School

It's the middle of July, and I still have no idea what I want to do for school this coming year. Granted, we've got Gabriel's year all planned out, but he's only one of three children. This is a thinking out loud sort of post.
Lusa Organics

Xavier's almost done with all of Art of Problem Solving's Into series. He'll only have Geometry left at the end of the summer. He wants a break from AOPS, so we'll probably do some TOPS activities that I've had laying around for a while. I think he and Dominic would enjoy that. I also think some Living Math, and some more Murderous Maths is on the the agenda for the first part of the school year. I may have him work through the Math-U-See Geometry as an introduction to geometry before he does AOPS. He and I are going to have to sit down and figure out what he wants to do for history, but astronomy is on the table for science.

Dominic is my problem child this year. I have no idea what he wants to study, or what I want him to study. I guess we're just going to have to have a sit down to discuss it. I did find out last year that he loves the research model, so we'll definitely employ that. He's expressed a continued interest in geology, so we may continue forward with that this year. I have a feeling his schooling this year will be science heavy, since he's a bit obsessed with science. Personally, I think it's rather wonderful.

The most important thing for me this year is making sure my children are following their passions while they're learning. In the meantime, any suggestions for an 8th grader with a Doctor Who obsession and a love of space might read for literature? I'm thinking a lot of science fiction this year would go great with his astronomy class. Any ideas for a 6th grader who currently just wants to build Legos and do science experiments?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More Camping Photos

As I said, we went camping with my brother, sister-in-law, and their three boys. The boys spent a lot of time on Xavier's lap and back, although I have few pictures of that. We celebrated Dominic's birthday with lots of glow in the dark goodness, and had a general good time.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Well Hello There

Well, it's been a long time, hasn't it? Let's just start over and get to know one another.

Hello, my name is Kristina, and I'm an inconsistent blogger. That's okay. I hope you'll stick around for those times when I have the energy and motivation to show up in this space.

Things that have happened while I've been not blogging.

Went to Colorado for a college visit. Left our chocolate in the hotel. Spent 12 hours in the Denver airport.

Turned 37. Designated the best mom in all time and space.

Did some yard work. Found not 1, not 2, but 3 sink holes in our Kentucky yard, which was exciting for Dominic, since he'd just finished a report on sink holes.

Braved a new bike and loved it. Had a bike wreck and still loved it.

Enjoyed many sunrises thanks to working early mornings. 
Funny story: It's only been over the last couple months that I've actually seen these sunrises. Before that, I got to work before the sun rose, and was too busy to see the sun rise. One day, I was sent on my break about 8:30, and when I came back, I noticed for the first time that it was light. I kid you not, I am not always *aware*. I am totally focused on my job. Anyway, I opened my mouth and sure enough the fact that it was light came out of it, sending all my fellow employees into gales of laughter, since it had, in fact, been light long before I ever went on my break.

Cut my hair, died it red.

Visited yet another cemetery as part of school. (What is our fascination with cemeteries? And, really, I found the other one much more fascinating.)

Tore apart my much beloved piano. It wouldn't hold a tune anymore, and we are downsizing. I'd much rather have something we can play.

Saved up for and bought a Lego Millennium Falcon. Had his first experience with Ebay. 

Gary's parents came to visit. Dominic had his first dance recital! Celebrated at Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen. 

Went camping with my brother. Watched my kids haul their three cousins on their backs. Watched my hugger get lots of cuddle time with his younger cousins. Got flooded. Almost got a tree on my head. Salvaged the camping trip in a cabin. Played Farkle
 for the first time.

Went to St Louis for a college visit.

Had a friend have twins. Got some knitting done.

Lots and lots of house work in anticipation of putting our house up for sale.

And that's what we've been up to. Quite frankly, our life has been non-stop. I look forward to a time when it's not. I'm just not sure when that might be.


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