Struggling at Christmas

Our less than perfect but still totally awesome Christmas creations.

This year I have been really struggling with my depression in these last months leading up to the holidays. Halloween and Thankgiving were things to get through – as much as I love our family and traditions. It hit a breaking point about two weeks ago and I’ve gotten some professional help for myself. I’m doing better – it always scares me to say that because I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I need to remember to enjoy the good days and focus on every one that I have.

This Christmas season isn’t the sparkly, perfectly planned one that I envisioned. That’s OK. I want to share a few thoughts for anyone else struggling – because you aren’t alone.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF – don’t beat yourself up! Sometimes getting your teeth brushed is the biggest challenge you can take on today and that’s ok! Sometimes NOT doing something is the best way to take care of yourself. That’s OK too! Any kindness you can manage to give yourself – is worth it and a spark will grow. You and I are worthy.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT – Not all of our Christmas decorations got up this year. I couldn’t find the joy it usually gives me. My husband got some things out and we have out tree up. It’s OK to have a good enough Christmas – whatever that looks like for you. Do what you can manage and don’t compare your efforts to others.

ASK FOR HELP – you’ll be surprised! Sometimes the people who love and care about us don’t know how much we are truly struggling. Let people show how much they care about you. My husband making a meal in the crockpot last night raised my spirits so much! Let people in and see if it helps.

Christmas is CRAZY. There are all of these expectations and preconceived ideas of what it should be. Have the Christmas that makes sense in your life.

Marjorie

Wrapping up the school year

Well, it’s official! I just sent in the 4th Quarter report to the school district and our formal homeschooling year is over. There’s been some good and some not so great – we suffered a severe case of burnout in the second half of the year. It’s bittersweet because my oldest is headed back to school and it was wonderful to see him grow as a learner and young man. My younger son definitely isn’t sure what he wants to do yet – he likes to keep his options open (which I am cool with).

Now, we go on a more relaxed daily schedule which I devised last year. The kids have a menu of activities to choose from that earn them points towards using electronics. They have to do some “basics” first before they can earn extra points or use any points. These include some basic self care, reading, writing in their journals, and sometimes chores. I am excited about doing some fun projects with them like tie-dye and rock painting.

It’s been nice seeing them back in sports and doing activities. We have a very full summer ahead of us. I’m most excited about our week in the Adirondacks. I want to swim and sit in front of a campfire for hours.

I hope you all get to enjoy your summer!

Marjorie

Bedtime thoughts

I haven’t had much to write in a while. I’ve been struggling since December with recurring migraines. My anti-depressant seemed to crap out on me and I went through the process of trying/fiddling with a new one. We are working on finishing the school year on a positive note and to that end I am encouraging the kids to follow their own interests more. I was super excited last night because my 7 year old put together 3 wood building kits in one sitting. It’s fun to watch your children develop their own interests and preferences. It’s definitely one of the things I find rewarding about parenting.

We have been doing some spring cleaning; our landlord has some minor things she wants to get fixed. So it was kind of mentally enforced but ALSO rewarding. I have been working hard to keep up on our progress and also get to things that normally get neglected. I finally used some store credit that I have been hoarding on Wayfair to buy an EXTRAORDINARY shelf. It’s huge – and now it’s full. We have about 100 books that need homes but now we have two empty shelves to play with.

I have been making decorations for a birthday party. It’s for a close family member and I’m really proud of the work I have done. My anxiety gets me sometimes; have I done enough? Will the person like it? Will the person who asked me to do it, like it? Will someone notice that teeny mistake I made? But overall I enjoy it and I think she’ll like it. I enjoy using all sorts of materials; but I find paper especially rewarding. My AWESOME husband and AMAZING mother went in together on Mother’s Day and I now have a Cricut Maker! So I’ve cut out lots of beautiful shapes with that in paper and vinyl – and also am going to attempt some 3D projects as well. I am super excited to see what else it can do. I discussed it with my husband; it’s like having another person helping me.

I’ve been working for my county health department doing contact tracing and making wellness calls for several months. It’s nice to get out of the house and into an office setting. I really enjoy being helpful and of service during this worldwide crisis. The crisis is slowing down and we currently have less than 20 active cases – so I did not work this week. I have really mixed feelings because I AM so happy that COVID is not as active; people are getting vaccinated and it is much easier to social distance when it is warm out. I’m worried that the need for my services is winding down and I’ll have to say goodbye.

That is going to be hard for me; I’ve never worked somewhere where I’ve felt like I belonged so much. I am happy being of tangible and real help to people without the emotions or drama. This is why I’ve never been like OH YES let me just get that Master’s in Social Work or keep going for a higher degree in Psychology. I am really proud of myself; I’ve been told repeatedly I am doing a good job. I try to put my best foot forward whenever I am there – I know I can be moody. Co-workers have described me in the past as having an on/off switch. I’m either ON – productive, communicative, and pretty much awesome – or OFF – moody, debating life choices, and hating everything.

Some of this has resolved with age and life/job experience. I’m better at looking back at past experiences and deciding what my role was in them. Yay! I’m finally maturing at 34 after being married 13 1/2 yrs with 2 children. There’s an infographic floating around explaining brain maturation in individuals with ADHD – in personal experience, it’s so frickin true! I’m about 27 or 28 in my head. Sometimes I think that I’ve been playing at being an adult for many years – and I’ve only really been one in the last year or so. It depends on your definition of adult – I know some people who definitely HAVE NEVER GROWN UP.

Currently – because I suddenly decided to write – my children are being very quiet so I don’t tell them to go to bed. I thought I’d update the blog with some of my real thoughts and experiences. So that’s where I’m at…

Have a great night,

Marjorie

(written May 26, 2021 P.M.)

Egg-bots!

I’m just writing to share an awesome activity that my 7 yr old came up with! I was sort of incapacitated the other day due to insomnia and receiving my COVID-19 vaccine the day before. I didn’t experience terrible side effects except that my arm was very sore. I was super tired too, but I’m not sure whether that was the not sleeping or the vaccine.

Anyhow, my kids were left to their own devices – I was there but not super functional. The little man starts playing with empty plastic eggs and taping all sorts of materials to them. He got into a drawer of supplies I’ve put together and also the recycling bin. He came up with flying eggs, silly eggs, eggs that could stand and also tried copying some ideas he’d seen on egg drop videos.

This activity was only limited by his imagination and could surely be expanded upon!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Materials used by my kiddo:

  • plastic eggs
  • masking tape
  • feathers
  • plastic shopping bag
  • paper party streamers
  • wooden craft sticks
  • cardboard
  • pom poms
  • paper straws

There are so many other things you could use – plastic silverware, string, beads, beans or some other filler to make noise when shook!

This is a great way to use some of those plastic eggs I KNOW you still have around and could be added or adapted into a lesson.

Thanks for reading!!

-Marjorie

Christmas Activity Planning Freebie!

Don’t fear friends! I’m still working on my Ultimate Christmas Planner – 2021 edition! For now – here’s another freebie: Christmas Activity Planner !

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

I find this portion very exciting because I’m looking forward to visiting some reindeer or maybe listening to some live Christmas music with my family. I feel like we don’t do this part of Christmas often enough – because we are always rushing around shopping and don’t plan for it particularly well.

Building this planner has given me hope that this might be our BEST Christmas ever!

If you have any ideas or ways to improve these worksheets – please email me at marj.sanpietro@gmail.com.

-Marjorie

Free Reading Quizzes ~ MTH #6

My younger son is reading the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. We’ve been doing reading quizzes after every book to check his comprehension and (since he likes to read to himself) hold him accountable for the reading.

Photo by David Riau00f1o Cortu00e9s on Pexels.com

I’ve been lucky and found some great free resources on teacherspayteachers.com but we’re on book # 6 now, Afternoon in the Amazon. I created a quick reading quiz and then (because my printer is eternally out of ink) converted it to a Google form so that he could complete it on the computer. You are more than welcome to use them! I may make more in the future.

They aren’t pretty – no weird scholastic smiley people here – but I think they are appropriate for 1st-3rd grade depending on reading level.

Here’s the printable version!

Here’s the Google form (instantly shows score – out of 10 points – and the correct answer)!

Hope this is helpful to somebody~

Marjorie

Christmas 2021 prep freebie!!

Photo by Oleg Zaicev on Pexels.com

As promised – I wanted to share the first freebie with you! This gift planner/tracker will come in handy for sure! Some people like to shop all at once near the holidays and some people shop all year round. I normally do a mixture of both – but I’m going to get this filled out early in case I find ideas or better yet, DEALS.

A big goal of mine is to also buy for the adults in my family this year. Money around Christmas time is always tight and we try to focus our magic on the kids – including my amazing nieces and nephews.

If I plan for the adults and decide how much I’d like to spend – then I can have it done and feel good about it.

Another thing that could be beneficial about early procurement – early wrapping! I’ve decided to store my wrapping paper closer at hand this year. As I buy a present, I plan on wrapping and tagging it so it’s ready to go. This handy list will help you remember what you bought so that it’s just a surprise for the recipient…LOL.

You can get this freebie here!

The next freebie will be a gift breakdown for individual kids – you can use it for other family members too, if their Christmas will be a little more extensive.

The final draft will be prettier – with more features. It will also include more of my personal insight! Hopefully 100% available in late April!

-Marjorie

Christmas 2021?!

I had a great Christmas this year! But…like always, we left many things till the absolute last minute! I had a terrible migraine Christmas Eve so Dave was left with a lot of last minute magic to make happen. We weren’t even finished with the wrapping…*head desk*

Here comes the awesome plan!

A customized Christmas planner/to-do list ready in time to use for next year! Be on the lookout for a .pdf to purchase in June! Along the way – I’ll be sharing tips and tricks to kick start your holiday and keep in high gear!

This planner will be for a kid-friendly, family oriented Christmas with light entertaining. We aren’t cooking for 50 people. God bless you if you do that.

I’ll be using the planner and creating a Facebook group for everyone to share about their experiences too!

Some of the topics it will cover:

-cleaning and meal planning

-grocery shopping

– cooking and baking

-favorite recipes

-holiday cards

-letters to and from Santa

– gift shopping and wrapping

-family activities, gatherings and crafting

– decorating

-fresh vs. fake tree

– advent calendars/elf on the shelf

If you are anything like me – you have a million plans but you get overwhelmed.

My first step is going to be making priorities. What about Christmas matters most to me? Those are the things I am going to focus on next year.

I hope you had a beautiful holiday! *hugs*

-Marjorie

Oh YAY! It’s another school day…

It’s Tuesday morning and we are sitting at the dining room table where we do 90% of schoolwork. The boys have copy books I make them to practice their handwriting and vocabulary/spelling books. They HAVE them but they are not writing in them. They are discussing/playing with a fidget cube. Daniel actually redirects and starts – Aaron is cheerfully non-compliant. Less cheerful when I get involved.

The cat is scratching up my new chair for the umpteenth time. I have a super-sized Little Mermaid mug filled with hazelnut coffee and pumpkin spice creamer.

The chair destroying perpetrator. He’s lucky he is such a pretty cat.

Today is still better than yesterday. I was struggling with my insomnia and couldn’t get myself moving until 2:00pm. Guess that was a sick day, folks.

After our writing and vocabulary practice – we are going over a growth mindset series from Khan Academy. That’s been a win – the kids have been asking about it – and I’ve heard them reference it in conversations with me and between themselves.

Daniel will probably work on his Native American project first – we’ve beaten this subject like a rug – and I had such high hopes for it. Aaron is going to work on fractions. He soaks up new math work like a sponge. We learn a new concept very fast and then we go and review old ones.

And we’re still working on writing, while discussing how no one slept while last night.

More screwing around…

I overestimate my patience. God bless teachers everywhere.

Aaron is chanting “Albert Einstein” and has taken 25 minutes to write 3 lines of text. The dogs are wrestling like lunatics in the living room but at least they aren’t snacking on cat litter or chewing my boots. Small blessings, y’all.

Aaron’s copy book – I make these semi-weekly with quotations, sayings and jokes. The kids at least sort of enjoy it – if they like what they are copying.

Daniel is re-writing Christmas songs and loudly singing his creations. Aaron just needs to write “Einstein” and WE CAN MOVE ON. So as slowly as possible with letter by letter updates is the way he’s choosing to go.

Then he threatens to erase it – and my first lovely swear comes out.

Is this a scene you are familiar with?

Later, Aaron and I spent an hour on building a Lego ice castle. He just wasn’t in the head space for sit-down and write work. We got through it – a battle at a time – but I always have the nagging feeling that we could have a better day.

Daniel worked resolutely – but he takes his time – he gets very distracted. I was pleasantly surprised and a little gratified when he self re-directed. I didn’t have to say a word! I’m still working to help them be more independent learners. Today, Aaron actually used a word book to look up spelling while writing in his journal. Small wins.

I didn’t know why I started chronicling our morning but I like how it ended up. I guess the point of this is that each day is made of good, great, not so great and just plain bad moments but the bad moments are worth the good ones.

Tuesday started like a hurricane – ended a little stormy – but there were some really great moments that I don’t want to forget.

The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix

Warning! Some spoilers ahead!

I started watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix a few days ago and it immediately grabbed and held on to my attention. It has a compelling story with so much detail that I thought the main character was based on a real person.Spoiler: She is not. Elizabeth Harmon is a fictional character first seen in the novel of the same title by Walter Tevis, originally published in 1983. The actress, Anya Taylor-Joy plays Beth and is amazing. I’ve also been googling other work she has done because of this performance.I think what made me want to learn more was the level of honesty and true portrayal of emotion. Beth has to deal with some very hard situations before it feels like she comes into her own.

The show did a very good job of moving through the years of her life it covered and made absolutely everything seem dynamic and exciting. I felt that it handled a main theme of addiction particularly well. One scene in particular – Beth is drunk, hits her head, and blacks out. The next day she is not recognizably herself – she is confrontational, rude, and barely functioning. Besides probably having a hangover – I’d bet she has an untreated concussion as well. That’s not said – but it seems evident.

I enjoy that the series is complex – both dark and hopeful. I find one of the most complex and beautifully played parts to be that of Beth’s adoptive mother – Marielle Heller does a very good job playing someone so troubled but also caring. There was an amount of depth – where I was always expecting something bad to happen because of her – and then she’d surprise me. I expected her to use Beth more than she did, instead, they developed a complex but loving relationship which Beth vigorously defends later.

The sets and costuming are superb! Beth enjoys looking good and it shows. I would wear what she wears to her chess matches any day! The sets are beautiful- I especially enjoy Moscow lit up at night.

The Queen’s Gambit has gotten a rare 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating – and besides my rave review continues to impress. I hope we get a second season and more of Beth’s story. Don’t worry. I didn’t give everything away. So many powerful and interesting surprises!