This Christmas: 1st Year at Home, 1st Non Disaster Story

I guess you know which stocking is mine.

This might have been the easiest Christmas in 14 years of April and Alan family Christmases. We only had to travel two hours, and we woke up on Christmas morning IN OUR OWN HOUSE. Have you ever??? I mean, we had almost never!! Do you do this? Do other people do this every year??  It was so nice!

I mean have you read my other Christmas stories???

Our Nightmare Before Christmas

The Funeral, Christmas Trip

New Years in San Francisco

Well, I’m happy to tell you this is NOT one of those stories. We did go and see our families, but we were able to do all of that and still be at our own house on Christmas morning.

Around 7 or so a.m., we heard Boy #1 begin talking to Boy #2. They simply chatted calmly in bed. Some of the boys woke up the other boys. I don’t remember who got up first, but a miracle happened…..

No one came and jumped on us…..

They gathered themselves in the living room, just the four of them in the living room to patiently wait for their parents to get up.

Whaaa???? We were so pleased with all this that we didn’t make them wait. We went ahead and joined them.

My heart brimmed over with awe at the fact that they were all sitting in the living room, waiting patiently.

I love watching my children open their presents. Christmas is a whole other level of special for children. When is it that we lose that? Let’s get that back.

Caleb, opening a present they WEREN’T expecting: Lego Dimensions

Yes, he’s actually CLAPPING. He’s so excited. There were a few To: Caleb and Daniel presents this year. They may look ages apart, but it’s actually only a 3 year gap. Some kids are tall. Some kids are shorter.


Be sure to see the 50 second JD video on Facebook, and share in the excitement.

We all went to church together. It was nice, though nothing topped the Christmas Eve service.

Christmas Eve service

There was something about the meaning in lighting these candles and taking communion with so many fellow believers that made Christmas more real to me this year. We sang Silent Night, and I wanted this moment to never end.

Too quickly, we were all headed back to our houses when so often I just want to curl up at the altar and soak it all in…

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”       Luke 2:10-12

…But it was back to Christmas as usual, and I can’t help but wonder. Are we entering a new phase of our lives?  There simply isn’t a BABY anymore. JD is 3 1/2 now. No one is a baby. Life is c-a-l-m-i-n-g down. No one wore a diaper, no one carried a sippy cup, and no one got out of their seat. No one even colored on himself.


I think I might cry!

No one was sick this Christmas either. JD caught a cold, accompanied by a very pink eye, but even that ended in two days.

OH, and guess what! Once Christmas day was over, Alan took my minivan to the shop, and I now have a clean minivan, with a heater that heats, and a functioning defroster! Somebody get this man a trophy!!

I feel like we just had the perfect Christmas. I can safely say that because Christmas is fully over. Saying Christmas was perfect can’t possibly jinx it now.

Of course, I did find one baby to hold.

Ah, sparkling pretty lights. I may never take my Christmas tree down. Plus, I’m hoping Alan will do it for me. Hmmm…I wonder if Alan is hoping that I will do it. I seriously don’t even want it taken down. Let’s just leave it up until next Christmas!

Hallelujah! And may we never forget what it’s all about. This is an incredible excerpt from the Passion of the Christ. You do have to click the link to YouTube to watch, but it’s so worth it:


Wishing you all a blessed 2017! May your kids behave. May your rain be snow, and may all your prayers be answered.

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”        Luke 2:13-14

Daniel Sings the Gospel Fuzzies (And it’s ADORABLE.)


YES, I KNOW.  It’s just too much cuteness.

So today Daniel graduated from Pre-school. We are a low-drama family, I think. Okay, well, we are 5/6ths low drama, plus me. I bring the emotions, for sure. They started out the ceremony with this video of painting the nursery and the baby gradually getting bigger and bigger, and yes, I was crying.


Mr. Comedy

Daniel came strutting out like a rooster when they called his name. It was pretty hilarious, but then he got on stage and went silent on us. Our kids definitely get the stage fright. I feel their pain. I used to get it too.


His teachers coached them well on how to pose for photos when they receive their diploma.



We love our Dan man. And yes, of course, JD took his shoes off during the ceremony. He and I have a thing about wearing shoes.


I was thrilled on our trip home, when Caleb got Daniel to sing one of his graduation songs for us and even caught it all on video.

This video is extremely sweet, and listen closely because Caleb has one well-timed funny line at the end. Watch it. You’ll be glad you did.:

For those of you reading via email, here’s the link: April’sblogvideo

And now we are all so FREE! Alan has been completely done with his thesis, even with approvals of the thing, for a week now. Joshua finished his school year today. Caleb finished his school year yesterday. Dan graduated. Now I have only to finish up my grade book and report cards, pick out a new house, and move out of this one. Bring it on, y’all! I still can’t believe it’s all really happening!




Work, work, work, work, work

He takes about 10 steps a day, but he still crawls most of the time. Apparently JD is a gradual, gradual, gradual learner. 🙂

We were hoping to go to Moss Landing today and check out the whales. But not so fast. My friend Sarah found a used fence for sale for me, so instead, Alan is digging fence holes today. We bought a chain link fence. It’s required in our neighborhood to put up a trampoline, and you know my boys have to have their trampoline.

Seriously, if you have little boys and room for a trampoline, there’s nothing I could recommend more highly. We get the kind with the safety net, and they spend hours on it.

I don’t do fence holes, so my goal is to catch up on laundry and maybe unpack a box.

I’ve noticed that I tend to exaggerate towards the negative. The truth is we only have 4 boxes upstairs and one downstairs left to unpack. It’s been that way for a week. We do have about 10 left in the garage, though. Alan needed a bucket today, and we couldn’t find one!

So here’s what’s new with us this past week: the craziness on camera

That was all during “seatwork” time. I met an angel in disguise at the curriculum fair where I bought my A Beka books. She said, “Now your schedule is not going to look like your friends’, and that’s okay. When those babies take their nap, that’s when you are going to teach the math and the grammar. Those are the things where the big ones will really need your undivided attention.”

I have treated that as gospel truth. There was one day where I tried to do Caleb’s phonics and reading while JD was awake: huge mistake. JD wanted to practice walking to me and get lots of cheering, but Caleb really needed me to listen to him read. Lesson learned.

This is what seatwork time looks like when all is going well. 

The modern method for teaching writing, which was used at Caleb’s last school, worked great for Joshua, but failed Caleb completely. They have open-ended questions that kids as young as kindergarten are supposed to answer and just spell their words phonetically.  Since Caleb couldn’t read and didn’t have a good grasp on phonics, he would just panic and not write anything at all. Therefore, Caleb was learning nothing about writing at school for the past two years.

Instead, I am using the Classical method of teaching writing. Caleb writes all day, but not from his head. He copies. He copies, and copies, and copies. I give it to him in attainable chunks. This way he is learning through actual writing. He is seeing how words are spelled correctly. I think this will pay off big time.

Even if I send my kids back to public school in the future years, this could be used to help a struggling writer in the after school hours.

Daniel tossed this puppet in the trash can about 5 minutes after we finished it. Oh well.

I know I’m his mom, but I was seriously impressed with Caleb’s snail drawing. Way to go, Caleb!

So two weeks down!!! I was definitely a nicer, less stressed person this week than I was last week. I don’t think I handle heavy stress very well. 

I have tried everything to get JD to sleep better at night. Nothing has worked. Finally, two nights ago, I gave it over to hard, devoted prayer. There are many ways to pray: half-hearted, absent-minded, and then there’s the hard core prayer: where you are begging God for help. He listens really well to that last kind. For two nights now, JD has gone from sleeping 5 hours straight only, to sleeping 8 or 9 hours straight.  My prayers were answered. I’m going to keep praying.

Do you know what the hardest part about living here is? I know that this amazing ocean full of sea mammals is minutes away from my door, and I’m always too busy with work to get out there. It’s calling my name, and I cannot answer!!  Yesterday I had two errands to run: Staples and grocery store. I snuck off to the beach on my way. I only stood on the sand for 5 minutes and watched the waves crash into the shore, but it still helped!!  I VOW to take all of my family to that beach before Labor Day Weekend is over. 

Yesterday I just reminded myself: No, I do not have free time, and life is a whole lot of work right now. But you know what? I have something way better than free time. I am important. I am needed. I have an abundance of purpose. I remember when we first got married, and I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do or be. I felt like I had no purpose. I can’t even imagine that now. This craziness, these children, this life is the greatest blessing I will ever have. Praise the Lord.



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