December in a Nutshell

Oh December 2015, I’ll remember you so fondly and not just because we celebrated our Savior’s birth but because our son grasped reading like we’ve never seen him grasp it before. We are so excited! This opens up a huge world for him (and us as parents) and couldn’t be happier God set his heart on learning so early. With his obsession with books, however, we’re not really surprised. You can read more in my post last month, describing my thoughts on allowing children the space and time to learn how to read, when they are ready.

He really gravitated toward the Elephant and Piggie books which are hilarious and great for adults desiring a respite in the typical early reading books.

Much of December was still focused on reading, playing games and of course, planning for Christmas. Our son made most of his gifts for others, helped wrap them and even helped mom send out Christmas cards (a first for our family!)

One day we spent a couple hours at The Craft Factory in Multnomah Village making gifts for others and mom made a cute little nativity scene. Who knew I could be “craftsy”? Walking into this place made me feel like I was 7 years old again, playing with all the materials, the hot glue gun and uncovering any creativity I could muster!

But he thoroughly enjoyed making all sorts of goodies at home as well including painting ceramic ornaments and using his woodworking kit to glue, nail and paint gifts for family members. I have GOT to remember to get him a new woodworking kit, he used the remainder of his supplies to make gifts for everyone. In fact, each project has been made with love for someone other than himself…

We reveled in reading about Jesus’s birth time and time again, as I set out our original Little People nativity scene and multiple books for the kids to play with. This was our sole focus for the month, because what’s more important? I can’t think of anything…

Each Friday we continued our tradition of taking hikes with our homeschool group. This time we explored Tryon Creek State Park, a place my son loves since we frequent these trails.


He started showing interest in a few things I’ve had laying around for a while, including his First Writing Prompts Journal. As you can see, he enjoyed answering the questions and completing each page (without just a pen because who needs to elaborate with color?)

About midway through the month it dawned on me I should use his excitement for the holidays in his workbooks (because even though we Christian Unschool, this kid LOVES his workbooks). I like using TeachersPayTeachers.com and downloading some of their free packets, sometimes splurging $3.95 give or take for a workbook, like these color by number grids I knew he’d love. And thankfully that money didn’t go to waste because he diligently completed each one!

We studied Egypt, albeit briefly, with his Passports monthly mailer where he learned to love those small excavating projects. We memorized the Five Tenants of Success in order to obtain his green belt in Taekwondo (yippee!). And of course continued to play games, build gingerbread houses, make Christmas cookies and attend holiday parties, one where he made the wooden star we placed on our Christmas tree.

Finally, I’m unable to get through our December post without talking about the gifts our kids received for Christmas. Let’s just say next year we’ll be deliberately asking our family members to give each child only one or two gifts because with two children, the “stuff” is just adding up too fast. In one of my latest posts, Living with Less (with Kids), I describe our struggle with trying to downsize toys and unnecessary consumer-purchased items in our home.

Mom, dad and Santa focused on giving our children gifts we knew they’d enjoy yet weren’t excessive. We’ve found, over the years, toys are fun but really only last a week or two before they’re no longer interested in them.

With that, it was extremely fun to get creative this year with gifting. Our son adores audiobooks so my husband and I invested in a microphone (something he’s needed for work anyway) and recorded our voices reading a few books we knew he’d enjoy. He also received a homemade version of a Cooper and Kid box, complete with fun activities regarding learning how things fly and, yes, a few StarWars gifts to coincide with the excitement our son has noticed around the release of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie (including another audiobook for Star Wars: A New Hope both boys enjoyed).

He also received many new board games to mom’s delight, including some great cooperative games and, mom and dad’s favorite, Battleship! Needless to say, mom was thrilled considering my eyes have started to glaze over with our other frequently-played and worn-in board games.

Our 18 month old daughter mainly received a quality, stuffed Cheetah (she loves cats so this was mom’s compromise) and it mimics the stuffed Lion our son has been asking for and received from his grandparents, as well as an antique wooden rocking horse, which fits our minimalistic lifestyle as well as her rambunctious, playful side. She still climbs on it daily and has left her other “toy” gifts laying idly. Hence our wishes for next year.

In a nutshell, December was glorious. Gifted with the pleasure of spending time with the ones we love, learning what we love and living the life we love living, the month couldn’t have gone better.

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