Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rosie's Turn

This house now has three teenagers that drive.

One with his license, one scheduled to get his license this weekend (fingers crossed)....

....and one with a brand new permit.

That would be my Rosie.

She took her permit test this past Saturday, and walked away with permit in hand. She said it was the scariest test she's ever taken.

She's been practicing in parking lots here and there for a while now, and I felt she was ready, so I let her drive home. For those of you city-slickers out there, I should tell you that means a bit more than just driving a couple blocks. None of the exam centers are nearby, with the closest being about 45 minutes away.

So with snow on the ground and salt on the roads from the storm the day before, she got behind the wheel, buckled up, adjusted her mirrors, and away she went.

"Oh God", she muttered as the car rolled over the asphalt. "Jesus take the wheel".

She did great. Her first time driving on the roads she drove all the way home from Lancaster. She dealt with twisty-turny roads, hills, little towns, speed changes, and last but not least, buggies galore. She learned the fine art of Amish buggy passing.

Not one horse spooked. Not one middle finger was raised in salute.

She's driven every day this week, and I have to say, she's a natural. She's already driven at night, on the highway, on back roads, and in busy traffic. I barely have to give her any corrections. Bigger than that, I actually feel comfortable when she's driving. Anyone who's ever done driver training with a teen knows that is huge. Those first 5 - 10 hours can be sheer hell, and I've got the scorch marks to prove it.

So I look forward to teaching this one to drive.

More than that, I look forward to handing over my grocery list in six months when she gets her license!

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Stockings

Since today is December 1st, I am reposting my Advent Stockings post. We have started ours today. Are any of you doing any kind of Advent activity?

A number of years ago I came across an idea somewhere (Family Fun, maybe?) of a fun way to count down the days till Christmas.

We had done the advent chains, where you start with 24 paper chains and you rip one off each day so the kids (the little ones, especially) can see how many days are left till the big day. Some people write a bible verse on each chain, or an idea of an activity to do, some just leave them blank.

We also do advent calendars, as this is something I remember from my childhood. Somehow, my kids seem to get just as much thrill out of something as simple as looking for the daily number and opening the flap as I did when I was little.

But my favorite Christmas countdown, and it seems to be my kids' favorite as well, is our advent stockings.

I'm still planning on throwing a length of Christmas greenery along the hooks to dress it up a bit, but you get the idea.

Pretty simple to do, and the kids get soooo excited to find out what's in each stocking.

I just went out and bought 12 pairs of red and white socks from Wal-Mart, but you could do this for free just by using socks from your unmatched socks basket.

What? Doesn't everybody have a basket full of scores of unmatched socks???

Find some wallspace where you can hang this. I happen to have a long mirror with hooks on it that I use, but you can get some of those 3M hooks that come off the wall when you're done. Those things are all kinds of awesome.

Run a string through the holes of 24 clothespins, and mark the clothespins from 24 down to 1, with 24 to the left and 1 all the way at the end on the right.

Then have some fun figuring out what to fill the stockings with. If you haven't figured it out yet, this works just like an old-fashioned advent calendar: on Dec 1st, your kids get to see what's in the stocking hung by the "24" clothespin. Dec 2nd they open the "23" stocking and so on down the line till they've opened the "1" stocking on Christmas Eve.

The beauty of this is that you can go really cheap or really elaborate, whatever floats your boat (and your budget).

A few ideas along the range of free to pricey:

*print out some Christmas activity pages, such as word-searches, crosswords, coloring pages,
*cut out strips of red and green construction paper and put those in the stocking for the kids to make a Christmas chain,
*cut out a little Christmas tree from green paper and write "Today we find (or decorate) our Christmas tree!",
*put a Christmas cookie cutter in the stocking to let them know today's the day they'll get to help make Christmas cookies,
*put a little baggie of birdseed in the stocking with a note that instructs them how to make peanut-butter-and-birdseed-pinecone-feeders for the birds,
*candy canes,
*Christmas pencils,
*Christmassy hair accessories,
*jingle bells and some ribbon for the kids to make necklaces with,
*surprise them with breakfast out on the way to school one day (perhaps you could write it out on a star cut-out),
*cute Christmas socks.

You're only limited by your imagination.

Each day, another sock comes down, so they'll have the visual before them of how many days remain till Christmas.

If you can't trust the kids to not peek (and really, if you can, I don't like you very much), then just fill one at a time before you go on to bed each night.

The kids have been asking me for weeks when we can start the advent stockings.

Maybe I'll need to make advent stockings leading up to the advent stockings.

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