Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas 2017

It's been a while since I've written a “Christmas Letter” of any kind. Actually, I can't remember when I did this last, so if this is a bit long-winded, you will understand why.

Youssef and I got to go to a "Brave Writer" conference
for homeschooling parents in September and the kids
stayed the weekend with his Mom!  First weekend we've
been without kids since becoming parents!
Many things this year have stayed the same as they have been for several years. Youssef has been working as a writer at Interstate Batteries headquarters for 6 years, but this year his job changed slightly, and he moved departments. I don't notice much of a difference except maybe that he's even more tired when he gets home. He's gone for at least 12 hours out of the day most of the time and usually misses dinner. Weekends occasionally have some fun activities for us as a family. We like to go to near by parks, and everyone rides their own scooter. He affectionately dubbed us the scooter gang. Youssef is the most happy in his days when he has time to work on his own writing projects or go to the yoga class in the building where he works or when he gets to play board games with us or friends.

Her choice of ornament this year is the purple
mermaid because she has decided that purple
and black are her favorite colors and the
"Secret Mermaid" books have been enjoyed
as well.  The bunny globe was a special gift
from her most favorite cousin!
While last year as a whole seemed to be about health and wellness what with my oldest going through eye therapy and everyone being so sick the beginning of 2016, 2017 has been the year of the pets! We already had one cat and had gotten a teddy bear hamster the autumn before, but the beginning of 2017 brought in the dream of my middle daughter's life with the adoption of a rabbit. She turned 9 in March and getting a baby bunny and taking care of him has taken up a lot of our time (and half our dining room!) A few trips to the vet and other drama has punctuated parts of this year. Her favorite thing to do in school seems to be writing and illustrating her own stories and poems, besides anything BUNNY themed of course. (See previous post for more on her bunny school time.) She talks about wanting to live on a farm and raise rabbits when she grows up.

They have all been wearing their hats a lot (I
made hats for everyone for Christmas!) and
her choice of ornament is because she loves
the color blue and she didn't have a pony
ornament yet and she likes horses and ponies.

My oldest turned 11 at the beginning of 2017, and cats are still her favorite animal. Crafting, art, and Minecraft are her main favorite things to do each day, and HER dream-come-true happened in June when we saved a kitten who had been abandoned by someone. Her cat Fluffy also adopted this kitten and became a little mother to her. The girls decided to call the new kitten Root Beer as it's one of their favorite sodas. Of course, more vet visits followed this new addition to our tiny apartment. She talks about moving to Washington when she is older and possibly working at the Cat Tales zoo and wishes that her Grammy and a few friends here could move there too so we'd all be together in the same place.

When Root Beer was still a kitten with our other cat Fluffy.
Root Beer is also called "Roody" and "Foody" and "Soda"
and "Cutie" and "Sweetie" and possibly other endearing names.
Her favorite times of day are in the morning when she gets her
share of can cat food and at night when she gets more.  She has
a loud purr and fortunately she has a loud meow which is how
we found her to begin with.  We heard her meow and saved her.

Speaking of apartments, it's not super easy to figure out how to fit everyone and all the pets into our 950-sq-ft townhome. Maybe it would be easier to fit here if we didn't homeschool and literally do most everything at home all day, but I didn't want our lack of real house and backyard to stop us from getting to experience having pets. And yes, it's okay with our apartment manager!
Pumpkin the teddy bear hamster had a
lovely life of snuggles and stuffing food
and running in her ball.  Sadly, a week
before Christmas she breathed her last
(She was old for a hamster) and so the
year of the pets had beginnings and
endings as well.  She did choose another
teddy bear hamster (and named her
Carmel) and so we are able to give
another sweet hamster a nice home.

Her ornament of choice was this book, and
though you can't see it in the picture she is
missing one front tooth and the other was
already gone with a grown up tooth coming.

Our youngest daughter turned 6 the end of April, and she is
always wanting to go places and do stuff with us. She jumps rope in the living room and likes to climb door frames. They all started up with gymnastics this past fall, and it became everyone's favorite day of the week. She also loves books with no pictures and has chosen a classic book every time we go on a library trip this year. I hadn't planned to start teaching her to read (for real) till this autumn, but she already started teaching herself and could copy words for real (and sometimes for fun and pretend.) Her first word that she read and then spelled out loud was from one of her books without pictures, and it was appropriately the word-book! She talks about being a world traveler when she grows up and possibly being a doctor of some kind or saving animals.

It had been the longest yet in between visits up to Washington
to visit family.  In 2016 we went in July and 2017 we didn't get
to go till Thanksgiving.  We loved helping Gramma and
Gramma-Anna decorate for Christmas after Thanksgiving
and also go with their cousins to pick out a tree!

On average, we have gotten to visit my family and home about 4% of any given year we've lived in Texas so far. This last July, we had our 13th wedding anniversary and have lived in Dallas in this apartment for the past 7 years. I have been singing in our church choir for a bit over a year now and even convinced Youssef to join this fall too! For the 96% of the year that I am here, I am focused on homeschooling where we read aloud a lot for school time, and I listen to many inspirational podcasts to keep me going. I have to make all our food from scratch because of the food allergies, so a lot of my day goes to dishes and cooking. One thing I've really enjoyed about having more pets is how grateful they are to be fed! Seriously, the rabbit never complains about his food and actually eats his greens in 2 minutes flat. The hamster makes the kale from my little potted garden look like the best and most appreciated food in the entire world. I'm a wannabe gardener and have lots of pots on our little patio area. Mostly I'm growing herbs for the rabbit, but sometimes I can get some flowers to stay alive for a few months here and there. I also have some lily bulbs that have come back a few years in a row.

For our Poet-tree the poem is from the Grinch
cartoon - "Welcome Christmas bring your cheer
Cheer to all Whos, far and near
Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp
Christmas day will always be
Just as long as we have we
Welcome Christmas while we stand
Heart to heart and hand in hand"
This year, our main decorations that have changed with the changing months and our school theme has been the stick above our table and the poet-tree chalkboard I've got going. The girls love to change their little chalkboards when I change the big one. I posted some about that on this blog, but also I post pretty often on our Instagram account, which is @sleimaniacs. Taking pictures of the highlights really helps me keep on keeping on. This past year, I haven't done as many of my own projects as I'd like to, but I had a nice knitting spree this Thanksgiving and that felt good. This next year, I'd love to raise orchids inside and more herbs outside, embroider more on my crazy quilt that I have been enjoying working on for years now, keep all the pets alive and happy, help the girls to get along better, and enjoy our school time more.
From all of us!  I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a good 2018.

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