Patrick's Birthday

This has been a confusing year for Patrick.  He doesn't "get" the whole Christmas thing yet-between the presents for birthday/Santa bringing them on Christmas Eve and then Jesus's birthday celebration and HIS birthday celebration-we had some frustrating 'trying to explain' moments and I just decided to give up on all the confusion and let him think what he wants and next year he'll understand more.  He spent a few frustrating moments in tears trying to convince me that Santa was coming the night of his birthday.  It was all too much for him, and I totally get that, because frankly, it was all too much for ME too!

Here's his Santa classroom visit...on Patrick's birthday.  He asked for a pair of shorts (basketball shorts is what he means) and a helmet.

On his actual (quiet) birthday:

Jeff and I decided to have a Christmas/birthday family party for him the night before Christmas Eve.  Jeff invited his friend who has a gift for games-he has a whole birthday trivia repertoire where all the guests try to guess Patrick's answers.  Like "What is Patrick's favorite food?"  And let me tell you-only a few answers I knew, because you can just never really guess what Patrick is thinking in that little head of his.  He loved being the center of attention.

Abbey was  HUGE help to me that day, decorating and preparing.

The only thing was-I was plumb worn out by Christmas.  I think we have to space it all better next year.  Christmas birthdays are hard aren't they?  I used to get annoyed when people told me that-I was due on Christmas Eve with Patrick (he came the 20th), but now I am realizing the truth in that statement.  It's hard to give each its due and still have energy left to enjoy it all.  But I wouldn't trade him for the world of course, and I remember the year he was born-in the quiet hospital and then a great excuse to be at home on Christmas Day.  It was calm and peaceful and I had a new little baby and what more could I want?


Merry Christmas!

Let us learn from Jesus in the manger, 
to hold the things of the world in such esteem as they deserve.
St. Francis de Sales 

Wishing you a beautiful and peaceful Christmas with your family!


Happy Birthday Patrick!

How can he be four already?
He is breaking my heart.

I started blogging about 3 months after he was born when he looked like this:
 3 months old

1 year

2 years

3 years 

And now four-opening his presents early this morning.  He gets to celebrate his birthday at pre-school this afternoon, and Santa is coming too.  Tonight we will have pizza and DQ icecream cake.  Andrew had me go to the store last night after dinner to get "his best friend" a special gift he had in mind.  They were both so excited about it.  (It was the Toy Story 2 DVD.)

Happy Birthday Patrick!
We love you!


My Kid's Favorite Books

Favorite Toys here.
Favorite Games here.
Teen Gift Ideas here.

It would be impossible to name every one of them, but if you are in for some Christmas gift ideas, these are a few of our tried and true, much loved books.  Quite a few of them are activity or drawing books...sometimes I think those are best for the stages kids go through when they don't really want to pick up a big old book at the end of a school day.

Andrew (12) really likes this book-it comes with all the equipment needed to make optical illusions. I have found these strung across my kitchen quite a few times.

We have owned many Klutz activity books over the years and they are my favorites!

Image result for crazy action contraptions

Image result for klutz cat's cradle
Cat's Cradle  (I loved that the kids really got into this one year because it brought back childhood, long bus-ride memories!

Image result for klutz paper fashions
Abbey LOVED this-we still have a book she made out of these in her scrapbook box.

My science/nature guy likes a subscription to National Geographic. (I do also!)  The Kids and Little Kids versions are excellent and they get SO excited when they find them in the mail box.

I don't think anyone is into Pokemon anymore, are they?  But my older kids loved them, and we had all the figures and cards so my two younger ones (12 & 7) are into them too.  Patrick found this at a school book fair and thought he had died and gone to heaven. It's big and thick and lists them all.

Another one of Patrick's favorites-he is my crazy sports guy.

Great photos-I bought this as much for my husband as for the kids.

Andrew (12) loves this.

There are quite a few of these "Who Would Win" books, and they are filled with neat facts about the animals. It's fun to hedge a bet till the end!  
I love the author's story here.

Andrew (12) LOVES these books, the whole series, and couldn't wait to buy the next one, then the next one, and then the next one.  I great way to teach history.

We pre-ordered this and when it came I had to settle an argument over who got to read it first.

Again, bought for the boys AND the husband.

Another subscription that the boys love, it always makes them happy to see it after school in the mail pile-it comes with little sports card to collect also.

I find these all over the house-this is a great activity for 10 and over.

ALL the kids loved this seek and find book (as you can tell from the tape.)  Janey has me read it to her every day (she has already memorized where everything is but still loves it.)  

 Someone always gets the new year's edition under the tree.
They are filled with amazing (and gross) things.

My mom got this for Andrew for his birthday and he loves it.  It's a super thick book that has pages with half drawn sketches that you can finish off.
 All my boys love this.  I found it on Andrew's floor one morning with about 10 airplanes laying around everywhere.  Apparently, when I thought he was snug in the bed for the night, he was up working away at aircraft.

 Matt and Andrew both love this book.  
A big book and very good with step by step easy to follow instructions for the 6-12 crowd.

 When you just can't eek a book out at bedtime, these are easy and fun.

 I love, love, love these books-there are three of them.  Manners Can Be Fun, How To Speak Politely and How To Behave and Why.  
These are all really well written.  My boys really like the sports guys. 

 Do you know about BOB books?  They are great for teaching reading, and building confidence.  I learned about them with my first (got them from the library) and then eventually bought them all.   They really helped each of my kids learn to read.  They start out really really slowly, with very simple pictures and lots of repetition and progress up per set.

 Matt had read and reread this series.  Abbey and Isaac have read them all also.

Matthew who is fourteen loved this series this year:
Beyonders The Complete Set: A World Without Heroes; Seeds of Rebellion; Chasing the Prophecy

Abbey LOVED the Beacon Street Girls.  Good wholesome tweenie reading.

The same with this collection-Catwings.

The Daring Book for Girls-filled with fun activities and facts.

Matthew, my science guy, loves this collection.
(Maybe I should read them and relearn what I never learned in any of these classes because I was too busy passing notes.)

I love the National Geographic series for kids.  ALL the books are great but these are our favorite so far.
Here are some more of our favorite National Geographic books:

National Geographic Kids Quiz Whiz: 1,000 Super Fun, Mind-bending, Totally Awesome Trivia Questions

This Star Wars book is SO worn out-it's been taped up quite a few times.  Patrick and Andrew love it.

They also love this one:

This year I started buying one hardcover picture book a month to freshen up my collection.   (My favorite ever is old Harry the Dirty Dog.)  On my blog's sidebar is a link to more of our favorites.

I think Santa might bring a few of these this year for Janey: