family life, reading life

Life lately: December update

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”
~ Bob Hope

gingerbread house fire station

Y’all. I live in a town that hosts a gingerbread beach house contest. How cute is that?! The local fire department entered the contest, too, and won by popular vote! And oh, y’all: the smell in that room full of gingerbread houses was swoon-worthy.


The kids all got Christmas gifts they enjoy, from practical to fun. Each year we give them all pajamas and a book, plus something for their hobbies. We don’t stick to a strict number of gifts but we keep it simple. Thankfully, my kids even get excited about new toothbrushes and socks, as well as new toys!

I sent actual snail-mail Christmas cards this year. I love this year’s photo (at right), but we’ll never top our 2011 Christmas card photo.

Merry Christmas

Ken and I aren’t big gift givers/receivers so we sometimes skip gifts to each other entirely, or buy one big useful gift for the two of us. This year, we bought ourselves a rowing machine. I enjoyed using this Water Rower brand at my gym back in Georgia, and it’s the only one I consider pretty enough to reside out in the open, which is a necessity in a small house. (Yes, it’s expensive but a great option for at-home workouts or instead of running when weather is bad.)

We’ve been planning to build bunk beds for the kids, but finding the time was a challenge for Ken due to work and how early it gets dark this time of year. This month he finally got them finished and installed. The kids love their new beds and declared them an early Christmas present; we had sense enough not to argue! This set-up gives them more floor space to play and a bit more feeling of their own private space.

homeschool highlights

Thanks to CTC Math, Jem worked his way through and completed second grade math, so we’ll continue on into 3rd grade next month. As I’ve said, we don’t put a lot of weight on grade levels but we do try to work at a level that’s a challenge without being frustrating. I’m still really liking this program and plan to continue with it for him next year.

He’s also been doing Khan Academy’s Instruments of the Orchestra in the evenings with Ken and getting a big kick out of that.

what we’ve been reading: our faves

favorite books

I’ve read 75 books this year, not counting kids’ read-alouds or textbooks!

My faves this month:
Jewel – Bret Lott
The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Kathryn (age 17):
Artemis – Andy Weir

Jem (age 8):
Let’s not talk about how little we’ve been reading aloud lately, ‘kay? That’s on my list of homeschool tweaks after the holidays. I’m open to recommendations to add to his list!

on the blog {in case you missed ’em}

one more thing

If you’d like to kick off the new year with better meal planning habits, there’s a little 10-day Meal Planning Bootcamp starting tomorrow. It runs through January 8th and includes a daily email with tips plus a practical task to do that day, and covers everything from meal planning to pantry clean outs, to setting yourself up for success with batch cooking and freezer meals.

It’s FREE, and it’s a great way to get a head start on a healthier year.

Happy New Year, friends!

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