I just love Emily’s monthly review of what she’s learned each month on Chatting at the Sky – Here’s mine for December.

This December I learned…

1. That the Christmas season is often stressful for Moms as we take on the role of magic maker. One who buys perfect presents, one who hosts great parties, one who creates meaningful traditions, one who makes everyday a joyful dedication to the celebration of Jesus… often leads to one who doesn’t want to wake up in the morning. Around December 15th I stopped trying to do that and tried to become one who is thankful to God for a season dedicated to celebrating His Son. Some traditions weren’t followed (we did try to do it at least more often than my kids bathed… which isn’t saying much), I gave up any idea of well planned out meals, homeschooling was less than stellar, but we did the important things and we weren’t stressed. My girls were troopers as we forgot to read our daily advent reading from Luke 2,  as we had to cancel some advent activities, and as some days we just wrapped all day. We laughed and enjoyed all of the fun things we did do. It really reminded me that I have to simplify… more isn’t better… more causes you to have no room to reflect, to be spontaneous, to feel at peace… Jesus came in a lesser way, not the way of Kings, not the way He deserved, but maybe it’s because He knew that a lot can get lost in all the pomp and circumstance – like the whole reason.

2. The one thing we did do was have our ornament making tradition with all of our friends.  I learned that hosting doesn’t have to be perfect. Every year we put out lots of supplies and glue and sparkles and friends come over, make a donation to a cause and make ornaments. I’m a horrible cook, or at least I have no confidence in my cooking so I’m always anxious about hosting even though I love spending time with my friends. But crafting,  that I’m confident about… and this little tradition is not stressful. It’s messy, and full of yelling kids, and sitting parents, and people meeting new people over the glue dots… it really makes me so joyful. I’ve learned this December that God has given us a way, a way for us to help, to build relationships, to love one another that is different from anyone elses way and they are all good and this is mine. ornamentmaking3.  I learned of an organization in Ethiopia that brings together Orphans and Widows. I love this beautiful picture of family, a beautiful picture of those broken coming together to become whole. It is really so wonderfully simple and powerful in mission. I just wanted to share because this organization like so many others we know of is carrying the work of healing and joy out into the world, but this one is doing it in a whole new way. Please check out Bring Love in .  I really can’t get over the beauty in this. I love this paragraph explaining what they do:

Far and away the most exciting part of the work that Bring Love In does; is creating new families from widows and orphans in Ethiopia. To see a child, taken from an orphanage, once abandoned, but now in a home, with a mother who loves them, it is beautiful, and good all around for everyone-the widow who does the nurturing-the child who so desperately needs love-and the community that benefits from having strong Christian families who live here and grow up to become the future leaders that help Ethiopia move forward.

They train widows who have a love for children and help them adopt the children and then set up a household where they will become a strong Christian family raising up future leaders in Ethiopia, creating strong families in communities, and healing those who have been broken through loss. If you have any last-minute giving to do and you have a heart for the Widow and the orphan consider giving.

4. My father-in-law bought the girls “Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?” It is the cartoon version of the game that every adult aged 30-40 has played at some point in his/her life. We’ve watched 4 episodes already. It’s the only TV we’ve been watching. It is so awesome and the girls are already learning so much. I’ve learned that watching TV together with your kids can actually be a great bonding experience. We are usually fairly strict about TV, they always have to read first and usually for only the amount that they have read and usually I take that time to rest, read email, or just cook or clean. However this time is so precious, I may have to bend the rules. It’s only $5.99 on Amazon !Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - The Complete Series

5. Did you know that the Mayans developed intricate roadways and that we still aren’t sure how they did it? I learned that little factoid on Carmen Sandiego… but they also said that scientists are working on developing larger more hardy fruit and that one day the fruit will be so big and help feed the world… I guess this was way before we learned of the evils of GMOs.

6. I learned that there is only one sport that I’m better at then my husband and it is ice skating… I need to capitalize on that.

7. I learned that if you continually spout the need for girls to be encouraged into engineering your family will buy your kids engineering toys.  We are going to play with them all and let you know how they are.
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8. The rainbow loom has taught my kids some skills. My 6-year-old received this circle knitting loom for Christmas. She worked on it for almost 6 hours in the car and has about a foot of scarf made, she is doing an amazing job, and I’m beyond impressed. I really didn’t think she’d be able to do it. I love when my kids acquire new skills.knitting loom

9. I have been seeing a lot of talk on pinterest and on different blogs about choosing a word to have as a focus throughout the year – ie.. joy, peace, patience, adventure.  My husband and I talked about it with our girls and said we should try to come up with one together. We have never done this before so we came up with lots. My 8-year-old said, lets each think up three and put them in a jar and pick one out for each month. Brilliant! I love it when they are the ones coming up with all of the ideas.

Happy New Years!