December is flying by, and Christmas is almost here! We are taking this week and next off from school work, giving us extra family time to enjoy this wonderful season.
I continued our yearly tradition of advent calendars, though I had to simplify them at this busy stage of life. I bought a ready-made empty calendar online that I stuffed with small candies for Solomon, Isaac, Miriam, and Rebecca.
For John and Anna, who had birthdays this month, I bought the nicer and more expensive Playmobil advent calendars and surprised them with them as early birthday gifts.
For Stephen and Boaz, who don't need candy first thing in the morning to fuel their energetic little selves, I opted to go with a ready-made Play-Doh advent calendar which they take turns opening. All the younger kids have been having fun playing with the molds and cutters they keep getting day after day.
A field trip to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum for a class on "rock identification" - very interesting!
Pictures that Miriam took of Boaz. It was three years ago this week that we lost his identical twin brother midway through the pregnancy. I have learned quite a bit about grief and infant loss during this time and have many thoughts on the subject, though I prefer to keep them private for the most part. Suffice it to say, this little guy holds a special place in my heart. He's my only tangible tether to his brother Jachin, a little piece of heaven on earth. If I ever lost him, I would also be losing his brother all over again. That thought makes my throat tighten up and gives me mild panic. Though it's bittersweet, I am thankful every day that I have such a precious reminder of my little Jachin that was lost, and that I never have to wonder what he would have looked like.
Boaz loves little Chloe very much. Notice how happy he is in the first picture...
... and the crying face after Stephen joined them on the sofa. Stephen didn't get the memo about "three's a crowd"... lol!
Anna turned six years old this month. The matching outfit for her and the doll was from Costco, I can highly recommend them. She has been wearing it more days than not.
The church homeschool field trip to the Phoenix zoo.
Dino attack in progress
After 11 years of keeping chickens, we sold our coop and chickens last week. We had started with four hens, and three kids. Meaning we had a lot more yard than we needed back then. Since then, we have grown to nine kids and more hens than I would admit publicly :) so we really needed the yard space more than the eggs, especially now that high quality organic eggs are a lot easier and more affordable than they were a decade ago.
Solomon and Isaac had been the main chicken caretakers all these years. With Solomon working and finishing school, he has been busy enough already. Isaac was doing most of the chicken chores, but he too is getting older and getting ready to start work as soon as this coming summer. The girls don't want to take care of chickens, so it was only a question of time before the chickens would have to go. The feathers had been blowing into the pool, giving our pool man a perennial headache. So while this was a sad decision, it's what was best for our family at this time.
Stephen was devastated by this. He was crying inconsolably as the chickens were being picked up, saying "Why are you breaking my farm?" again and again. It made me feel awful, which is par for the course for being a mom. The person buying them was very nice, and sent Stephen lots of pictures after the chickens had been transferred so he could see they were happy and well cared for.
Hello Kitty Cafe sent their food truck to Scottsdale. Friends of ours invited the girls and I to meet them there for a little afternoon treat. Predictably, the girls loved it.
There is a unique place in the Phoenix area called Organ Stop Pizza. We had never been until last month, and went back there again this month to see it decorated for Christmas and to hear Christmas music played on the giant Wurlitzer organ.
I love how Anna is helping Boaz eat.
Solomon is getting big so fast. Not only did he add several inches in the last few months, but he's seriously almost to adulthood. Which is crazy because it seems he was a baby just last week, and still making me marriage proposals complete with flowers and ring yesterday. Now he's a sweet young man, respectful, honest, hard working, and a source of pride and joy. He is often getting complimented by older ladies, much to his embarrassment and my amusement.
Another favorite family activity this time of year is the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park with its Christmas lights. We went on a relatively mild evening, resulting in crowds of people and a ridiculously long line for the big train. Not wanting to wait in line for hours, we went on the little train instead (actually a very large model train), which is unique and exciting in its own way.
Chloe was allowed to ride if she could be in her own seat... Daddy was glad to oblige.
That's all for today. I hope you are enjoying this special time with your loved ones!