“Is It Christmas, Mommy?”

PLEASE NOTE: Happy Advent! I’m re-posting this sweet tale from five Christmases ago.



Every day this month, my youngest has asked at least once, sometimes more frequently, “Is it Christmas, Mommy?” I keep saying over and over, “Not yet! It’s Advent.”

For some reason, my answer isn’t getting through to her 3-year-old brain.

This afternoon I wrapped all of my gifts for the girls and my hubby while the girls were playing in their rooms. When my youngest came downstairs, I told her to look under the tree. She noticed the gifts but didn’t seem too excited. Then I explained that all the gifts in the red wrapping paper with gold stars belonged to her. Her eyes bugged out and she put the most shocked expression on her face. “For me! What did you put in them?” As if I would tell her!

I explained that the gifts would be a surprise that she would unwrap on Christmas Day. She started jumping up and down with the child-like Christmas excitement you’d expect from a 3-year-old.

Later the girls wrapped a gift for their daddy. They almost used all the Scotch tape in the process. When he arrived home from work, my oldest met him at the door reporting excitedly that she had wrapped a present for him and it was waiting under the tree. My youngest, not to be out-done in the reporting, said, “Yes, Daddy! We wrapped you a present! It’s pajamas!”

As you can imagine, big sister was pretty upset with little sister for ruining the surprise. Tears were shed. But I’m sure they both will be telling this story over and over again for Christmases to come; someday it will be funny to them.

Our Twinkling Little Piano Star

Above is Laurel, age 5, twinkling at the piano, sometime in December. “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is the first song she has learned to play since her “pre-reading” piano lessons began one wonderful week in late October with Miss Amanda.

Miss Amanda actually only taught her the first half of the song. Laurel learned the second half from Linnea’s piano teacher the day before our homeschool Christmas program, at which she performed the song before a live audience. It followed quite nicely after Linnea’s performance of “We Three Kings.” You know, “Star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright…”

In typical Laurel fashion, she played the entire song with complete confidence and generously added a few extra notes whenever she pleased. It made for quite an entertaining version of the song.

21 Entertaining Things Said (or Done) in 2010

I just reviewed my Facebook status collection for 2010 and compiled this list of entertaining things said (or done) by my children in 2010. Hope it makes you chuckle, too!

1. Laurel, age 4, laments that it is just “too deep to play outside.” Never mind that the windchill is 4 degrees.

2. Laurel got up from her afternoon nap sniffling and said, “Mommy, my nose is all stuck up.”

3. Setting the table at dinner time, Laurel carefully covers each fork with a napkin. Then she announces, “Ssssh! The forks are sleeping.”

4. Laurel at the Arboretum: “Stop, Mommy, I think I have a piece of nature in my shoe.”

5. Here’s a new, summery way to mop the kitchen floor: Shut only the screen door while your 7-year-old waters the flowers on the patio. She’s never been a wild child, but give her a garden hose with a spray nozzle and WATCH OUT!

6. Linnea, age 7, was folding laundry and saw me set up the ironing board. Looking utterly shocked, she said: “Mommy, there are CLOTHES you have to iron?” I guess she thought we only had an ironing board to accommodate her fuse bead craft projects!

7. While we were babysitting 5-month-old John at our house yesterday evening, Laurel asked, “Do we have to give him back?”

8. Shortly after I put gel in my hair this morning, Laurel comes in and exclaims: “Mommy! You smell good. You smell like Benadryl!” Yep, that was so the fragrance I was going for today.

9. Laurel’s table manners must have drowned in the pool this afternoon. At supper after swimming lessons, she kept wiping the jelly on her fingers on her clothes, in her hair, and seemingly everywhere else but her napkin. Ick! “Don’t wipe it on your dress!” Michael yelled. Big sister Linnea chimes in, on Laurel’s behalf, “It’s actually a skirt, Daddy.”

10. I tried to be discreet when I tossed the decapitated potty-training baby doll into the trash can. But as the garbage man drove off this morning, Laurel came running inside, sobbing uncontrollably. “The broken baby doll is going to get all burned up at the dump!” Thank you, Toy Story 3. Sigh.

11. Laurel, while eating goldfish crackers for an afternoon snack, says: “Mommy! I need some water to drink so my fishes can go swimming!” So the chocolate shake and the iced tea I had already given her didn’t do the trick?

12. Michael just came home with half a dozen ears of fresh sweet corn, and now the girls are begging to help him “shuffle” it.

13. After quiet time yesterday afternoon I found Laurel in her bed, obviously just waking up, and I asked how her nap was. She replied: “I didn’t take a nap. I was too busy resting.”

14. Praying at lunchtime, Laurel says: “…And thank You, God, for creating the animals so that we can have animal crackers to eat…”

15. Laurel read her first sentence today: “See me eat.” She was so proud of herself she sprung off the couch and bolted into the next room to tell Linnea the exciting news.

16. How clever is Laurel? At the drug store this morning, she stops in the candy aisle and says very seriously, “Oh! We HAVE to get some raspberry chocolate candy for Sassy.” Sassy is her teddy bear.

17. Our breakfast conversation this morning — Laurel: “I just don’t like cannonballs.” Me: “Huh? What do you mean? Jawbreakers?” Laurel: “No, you know, cannonballs — people who eat other people. Why DO they do that?”

18. This morning as Michael was scrambling eggs and pulling the tortillas out of the refrigerator, Linnea asks, “Daddy, are you fixing a breakfast pinata?”

19. While I was helping Linnea fix her hair this morning, she sniffed and said, “Mommy, you smell good. Like jellybeans!” I guess that’s an improvement over Laurel’s thinking I smelled like Benadryl a few months ago…

20. Thinking about Advent at the dinner table this evening, Linnea says, “So, tomorrow is…” And Laurel quickly chimes in, “the last day of not getting any presents!”

21. In the middle of a Costco shopping trip this afternoon, Linnea wonders, “Mommy, what is ‘scratch?'” After I reply with a bewildered, “Huh?” she clarifies, “You know, scratch. You always say that you make pies and things from scratch. What is it?”

A High-Five Week

Laurel’s week was full of high-flying, High-five! moments.

1. On Tuesday, she had her very first piano lesson. High-five!

Prior to the lesson, which was at 3 p.m. with Miss Amanda, Laurel was very, very excited. I was certain she couldn’t possibly be that excited about anything else ever.

I was wrong.

After her piano lesson, Laurel was even more excited. I literally had to give her a long hug to restrain her from possible accidental self injury. She was that excited.

She loves Miss Amanda. She loves her new book. She loves practicing her song. And she loves music.

2. On Wednesday, after her reading lesson, I told Laurel I thought she was ready for the Bob Books. High-five!

Older sister Linnea fondly remembers these books in great detail, even though it’s been three years since she last read them — and so she had created for Laurel an intense curiosity about the books several weeks ago. Needlesstosay, great anticipation preceded this literary milestone.

3. Laurel immediately fell in love with the Bob Books. High-five!

She read two of them right away and two more later that day. She carried four of them around all day and even read them in the car!

4. Wednesday evening was Parent Night for Awana Cubbies. High-five!

Both Mom and Dad “shadowed” Laurel throughout the evening as she went from crafts to puppets to coloring to snacks to songs and to story time. Not only did she earn Lov E Lamb patch for her vest, but she also was selected as flag bearer during the Pledge of Alligence. I’m pretty sure her cheeks hurt from smiling so much. (Photo courtesy of my hubby’s cell phone.)

5. After Awana, we picked up and installed a headboard for Laurel’s bed. Don’t ask me why her bed didn’t already have a headboard. I really have no idea and only vaguely remember moving her to a big bed. Was she 2 or 3? I don’t recall. But evidently,when you are 5, receiving any furniture — even very dull furniture — in one’s bedroom is exceptionally exciting, especially when it is late at night.

6. Thursday morning was Laurel’s dance class, during which Miss Desiree had all the girls act out a very lively and imaginative fairy dance adventure. High-five!

Only a few days before Laurel had seen the new Tinkerbell movie, and she and Linnea have been fairy-crazy all week. Hooray for dance instructors who are completely in step with what little girls love to daydream about.

7. On Friday morning, Laurel launched construction on the Starlight School spaceship. High-five!

She busily glued buttons on the control panel and helped me tape together cardboard, styrofoam and aluminum foil. Later, Linnea joined the fun. Together they made a space mural as a backdrop for their intergalactic playtime inspired by the book Regards to the Man in the Moon. The mural even has glow-in-the-dark stars. Like any professional astronauts, they packed extra fuel, food, flashlights, a camera, two healthy imaginations and two Tinkerbell dolls.

When you are 5, that’s a High-five! kind of week.

Oh, LORD, the heavens declare Your glory. Thank You for encouraging and inspiring Laurel this week as she studies the stars, learns how to read, hides Your Word in her heart, praises You with dance, and learns to make joyful noises for You on the piano.

Exclusive Interview with 5-year-old Laurel

Laurel turned 5 earlier this month. Here’s a little profile on her, similar to this one we did when she was 4 and this one we did when she was 2.

What verses are you reciting? 1 John 4:10, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, John 3:33 and Luke 1:31-32

What else have you recently learned to recite? the Awana Cubbies motto, “Jesus Loves Me,” and Awana Cubbies song

What are your favorite books? The Way Home Princess Story by Max Lucado and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

What is your favorite Bible story? Adam and Eve

What is your favorite movie? Princess and the Frog

What is your favorite food? macaroni and cheese

What is your favorite part of mealtime? prayers

 What is your favorite animal? pony

What is your favorite thing to say?I love you” and “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”

What are your hobbies? Swinging, playing dress-up, pretending to be a cook with a magic cookbook, playing piano, and playing guitar

What do you do in your spare time? I put my shoes on and go outside.

What songs do you sing? “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and “Happy Birthday” and “Jesus Loves Me”

How high can you count? Up to 100

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? Chuck E. Cheese

Besides being tickled, what makes you laugh? Knock-Knock jokes, Linnea’s funny shows, and when Papa Bill says, “When I was a little girl…”

What are your favorite colors? Purple and green and pink

What is your favorite game? Hungry, Hungry Hippos

What are your favorite subjects in school? puzzles

What is your favorite extra-curricular activity? swimming

What is your favorite new thing in preschool? 100 chain and reading lessons

Who are your best friends? Linnea, Naomi, Ada, Noah, Grace, Lila, Reilly, Anders, Annika, and Tyler

What do you like the most about homeschooling? game day and school field trips

What do you like the least about homeschooling? not getting to wear my backpack

If you could live anywhere besides Minnesota, where would you live? Oklahoma

What characters do you like to dress up as? the golden princess and Cinderella and Fancy Nancy

Expressing Herself

While our oldest daughter has been quiet and reserved since Day 1, our youngest has been, well, much louder and much more expressive. On Day 1 in the nursery at the hospital, one of the nurses told me, “Wow! She’s a pistol!” We spent the next 4+ years fully realizing just what that nurse meant!

If you saw these photos last summer, you know our expressive one makes lots of faces in the backyard. Truth is, she makes lots of faces wherever she roams. Here are some that I caught at the park our first day of school.


Not Back-to-School: Part 3

It’s week 3 of the Not Back-to-School blog hop, and that means the spotlight moves to the students. Please allow me to introduce my little stars!

Star Student: Laurel, age 4+

Laurel is our sensitive yet spunky almost 5-year-old star student. If she couldn’t be a little girl, she’d be a mermaid no doubt. She loves everything about water (as I mentioned in this earlier post) and has made great strides in swimming lessons this summer, gaining a lot of independence and confidence. She also learned to ride a bike with training wheels and a three-wheel scooter this summer, and she can pump her legs on the swings well enough that the Swing Pusher (that’s me) is out of a job. When she isn’t playing dress-up or plinking around on the piano, Laurel is usually saying something funny and quotable. She just can’t wait for school to start and is joyfully looking forward to reading lessons and an ant farm project with live (gasp!) ants. For her birthday in October, she is asking to have a baby-doll themed party because she really wants a baby doll that drinks real water and wets. (More of that water obsession again.)

Star Student: Linnea, age 7

Linnea is our sweet and studious 7-year-old star student. If she couldn’t be a little girl, she’d be a fairy for sure. She loves exploring God’s creation, and she’s an avid collector of rocks, shells (as I mentioned in this post), sticks, acorns, seeds and anything that she can sneak into her pockets. When she isn’t outside on her scooter, playing with the neighbors or practicing piano, Linnea is most often found curled up with her nose in one of the Boxcar Children books. I think she’s read more than a dozen of them this summer, and a few twice! This summer she has mastered swimming in deep water with confidence, which we discovered at our friends’ pool when she repeatedly jumped off the diving board into eight feet of water and swam to the opposite end multiple times without any adult in the pool. In fact, my husband and I weren’t even watching the first three times she did it. (Don’t worry, another adult was watching from the edge of the pool.)

I am one very blessed mama to have such star students to teach. There’s no one else I’d rather spend my day with! 

Thanks for reading about my little stars! Happy blog hopping!

Presentation Day

Last week our homeschool group held its 2nd annual Presentation Day — a wonderful event that allows the students in our group to display some of their hard work and also perform before a live audience. It’s a fantastic way to wrap up the school year, and it’s also good medicine for us moms! When we are all wiped out at the end of the school year, there’s nothing more encouraging and inspiring than seeing the kids put on an incredible program — piano, violin, guitar, skits, poetry, ballet, singing, live science experiments, and even some magic tricks. It’s also really a treat to check out all the amazing projects other homeschoolers have been working on in art, science, history, etc.

Linnea has been studying U.S. history all year — from the Leif Erickson to Thomas Edison, and from Delaware to Hawaii. So she put together a pretty nifty U.S. history display, which included her tri-corn hat, her paper patchwork quilt, her drawing of the Statue of Liberty, her drawing of George Washington, her replica of the Oregon Trail, her replica of Jamestown 1607, and her 93-page U.S. history scrapbook that she labored over diligently all year.   

the Oregon Trail replica

She also had several pieces of artwork on display from her Friday art class with Mrs. Henriksen. The one pictured above is one of my favorites.

During the special program, Linnea played “Pink Polka Dots” on piano, and then she recited the poem “Bed in Summer” by Robert Lewis Stevenson.

Laurel recited “To the First Robin” by Louisa May Alcott. Then, accompanied on guitar by their dad, the girls sang “Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue.”

They did a fantastic job! I’m so proud of them and all their hard work this year. We all have learned so much and made so many great memories together! I’m enjoying summer, but I’m also looking forward to start fresh again in the fall.

Lovely and Pure

“Praise His name with dancing.” -Psalm 149:3

Doesn’t she look as delicate and lovely as a flower?

Here she “sits tall like a dancer” to show off the flowers on the back of her costume.

Linnea’s Ballet 1 class danced to Jack Johnson’s “We Are Going to Be Friends,” from the Curious George movie soundtrack.

Laurel’s Creative Movement class performed skips, twirls and leaps, which were all choreographed by God, as her instructor put it.

She was completely overjoyed with wearing her costume and dancing on the big stage. We weren’t permitted to take pictures during the performance, but here’s a shot from the dress rehearsal.

Aren’t they precious?