A Glimpse of Our Christmas Traditions

On Christmas eve, my husband, my children and I all go to my parents house for dinner. We celebrate some of the polish traditions from our ancestors, including setting the table with white linens to symbolize the infant Jesus' swaddling clothing and placing hay/pine needles under the table cloth and throughout the room as a symbol of the manger in which Jesus was born. An extra place is set and left empty in honor of those who could not join us, and as an invitation for Jesus to join us in spirit or in the presence of an unexpected guest. After our meal we all share in "breaking bread", through the use of a special wafer called the "Oplatek". The wafer is usually pink or white and imprinted with scenes of the nativity. After each person has their piece, it is traditional to share it with any animals present, as they were the first ones to witness Jesus' birth.

Following all the solemness, we have a tradition of inviting friends over for dessert, singing of Christmas carols, and usually enjoying a "talent show" by the younger children present. Over the years we have been treated to singing, modern dance, ballet, piano playing, trumpeting, comedy, and even magic! This year, my youngest son chose to display his talent for "belly rolling". You know, the thing that belly dancers are able to do after much training. My son discovered this hidden talent quite by accident one day, and we've been amazed ever since. ;) Our show concludes with a recitation of "The Night Before Christmas" by my mom's husband.

When we finally arrive home Christmas eve, we each exchange one gift with each other. These gifts are all purchased during one shopping trip, during which my husband and I take turns with each of the kids helping them pick out there gifts and trying to hide them from each other. We also share what I think is a pretty common tradition, that of everyone receiving new pajamas to wear Christmas eve. I wash them before wrapping them, so they are all ready for wearing and cuddling. The rest of our gifts are opened Christmas morning, followed by lots of fun family time at home.

Friday Fill-in #52

This week's fill-in is comprised of movie quotes we were asked to complete. My answers are in italics. If you want to know the real quotes and what movies they're from, go here.

1. "I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, hearts, and minds."
2. "Why is the phone always gone?"
3. "Harold, *everyone* has the right to make an ass of themselves, sometimes."

4. "Nine companions, so be it. You shall be loved."

5. "Nonsense, I have not yet begun to blog."

6. "Mama says they was magic shoes. They could clean an entire house in the blink of an eye."

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to getting some of our Christmas decorations put away, tomorrow my plans include playing Rock Band and Singstar and Sunday, I want to make something crafty!

An Early Christmas Present to Myself

On Saturday December 22nd, in the middle of the all the holiday hooplah, I escaped to Exodus Coffee & Culture to see the wonderful, amazing, talented Amy Steinberg. If you haven't heard Amy sing, you are really missing out! Seeing Amy perform live is even more of a gift. Amy is as real as they come. She knows how to connect with her audience and gives all of herself to her performance, not to mention her beautiful, bold, and stellar singing voice. Amy sings about life, and asks and answers her own questions about life. Her song "Exactly", as well as many others have been embraced by the unschooling community for the straight to the heart honesty she shares. My personal favorite, although it's so hard to choose, is "Simplistic Logistics of Existence."

This was my third time seeing Amy live, and I am never disappointed. I attended with another unschooling friend of mine, and I was pleasantly surprised to meet two other unschoolers also in attendance. One woman had driven over two hours to get herself, her hubby, and her daughter to this show! Amy inspires this kind of devotion. Do yourself a favor and make the effort to go see Amy when she comes to your area. She will be doing another cross-country tour this coming year, so there's a good chance you'll be able to enjoy the gift of Amy and her music soon!


Thirteen Holiday Handmade Goodies From Our Home (TT#6)

(A little late due to trying to find a place to put our ever growing assortment of Chrismas decorations. I can't help but make a few more every year!)


Week in Review Meme

Madeline tagged me last Monday for this meme, but I've been a little busier than usual, so here's my review for this past week using the following questions.

1.What did you accomplish?

2. Did anything not go as expected?

3. What was the highlight of your week?

4. Did anything exciting happen you did not expect?

1. Well, this week was a pretty productive one for me (and atypical, for sure)! I finished all our Christmas shopping, finished decorating our home for the holidays, made a purse for my mom, made 6 book totes for my friends, went to see my daughter's performance, wrote and mailed all our Christmas cards, wrapped and mailed all the gifts that have to go elsewhere, and did some Christmas crafts with my kids. This was in addition to all the normal everyday stuff like laundry, food shopping, cooking, etc! ( I did get a little behind on washing dishes though. ;P )

2. I really didn't have any set expectations for this week. It was unexpected, and a pleasant surprise to get so many Christmas preparations completed.

3. The highlight of my week was my daughter's performance at a local theater with her improv acting class.

4. Well, it was pretty exciting to see my daughter on stage!


Why I Love Mondays, and My Dear Husband

So many people dread Mondays, that I may seem a little odd for loving them so much. But when Monday is one of your spouse's only days off each week, it becomes something to really look forward to, for many reasons. Since we unschool, my children and I are able to enjoy the whole day on Monday with my husband. Our Mondays tend to be wonderful family days.
A few weeks ago we went to play laser tag together. It is so much fun, and I deplore shooting type games. There is so much laughter and squeals of excitement that I don't think I stop smiling the whole time we play. Plus, it can be a pretty good workout! Because we are able to go on Monday, during the time when most children are at school, we usually get the benefit of having the whole place to ourselves, wherever we go. An added benefit that we found out about last time we played is that Monday is $1.oo day where we went to play, that includes games of laser tag, miniature golf, and bowling - all only $1.oo per game!!! That makes it much easier on our wallets. ;)
Last week, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and went out on my parents' boat to "the sandbar". There are so many boats around here, that they really could use traffic control on the water during sunny weekends. However, when we went out, the seagulls were our only lunch companions. My husband had saved a bag of bread crusts from the last time he made bread pudding (which is sooooooo good!), and it didn't take long for the seagulls to flock around the boat! Here's a few pictures of our day.

(A view looking down the length of the sandbar, a view of how far you can walk out in the shallow water - See my brave 8 year old waaaaay out there, past my daughter? )

So far today, my youngest two went with my husband to help plate meals for a fundraiser and now my husband is helping my oldest son refinish his skateboard ramp. Tonight he will be making us a special dinner of crabmeat and pasta.

My husband may not get much time off from work, but he sure knows how to make the most of it, and any time we have together! That's why I love Mondays, and one of the many reasons I love my dear husband.


Friday Fill-in # 49

1. I really love giving gifts on Christmas.

2. All colors are my favorite color(s) for the Christmas tree lights.

3. The candles in the window have blue bulbs.

4. It's A Wonderful Life is one of my most favorite Christmas movies.

5. My favorite Christmas lyric(s) is/are

Silent night,

Holy night,

All is calm

All is bright.

6. I'm dreaming of a joy-filled holiday with family and friends.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a quiet night at home with

my boys, tomorrow my plans include completing our Christmas decorating, and Sunday I

want to give my daughter a big hug when she returns from NYC!


I Love Creating Things - Thursday Thirteen #5

Thirteen arts and crafts that I've dabbled in:

1. Crochet

2. Knitting

3. Cross-stitch

4. Embroidery

5. Making wire and bead jewelry

6. Embellishing clothing with fabric paint

7. Encaustic painting (wax painting)

8. Watercolor painting

9. Tie dye and batik

10. Candle making

11. Stamping & Scrapbooking

12. Henna tattoo

13. Leather tooling

Update to last week's thirteen: I completed #2 and #8, and #12-13 are well underway. ;)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


A Floridian Christmas Parade

This past Saturday we went to the 22nd Annual Hobe Sound Christmas parade. Hobe Sound is a quaint little town near us that has a really fun parade. Thought you might like a peek.
It was bright and sunny, and those who were prepared brought their umbrellas for a little shade. Before the parade these kids were tooling around on their sleigh (outfitted with wagon wheels), ringing their jingle bells. Notable people were driven in convertibles during the parade, but a few were pulled along in boats.

There were quite a few customized golf carts, a common sight throughout our state. The Shriner's also had their other entertaining little vehicles. But the most surprising was the port-a-potty on wheels! The parade announcer informed us that this potty has had national coverage because it can turn on a dime. It was quite amusing to see it spin and do wheelies!
There were plenty of floats and "freebies". The people in the parade threw tons of goodies to the crowds, including candy & gum, frisbees, leas, t-shirts, candy canes, and beach balls!
The crowd went crazy for the enormous cage full of beach balls. We were all hyped-up just in time for the arrival of the guest of honor:
Yay! Let the merriment commence!