The craziest week of the year

The week of Thanksgiving will probably always be the craziest week of the year for us since we also celebrate Gwen and Josiah‘s birthdays around the same time.  And now that I’m trying to throw a little school into the mix it’s crazier than ever.

The weekend before started off with a bang… or, rather, balloons.  On Friday evening Phil and I blew up some balloons and snuck into Gwen’s room to scatter them across her bedroom floor.  Then we taped streamers across her doorway, a genius idea I discovered on Pinterest.

We wondered what her reaction would be, and early the next morning, we heard her open her door – but no other sounds ensued.  When we heard Josiah’s squeals of delight we went down to  investigate.  Gwen had crawled under the streamers and let him out of his room to show him the balloons; they were both happily playing with them, streamers across the doorway still intact.

The Birthday Girl found some gifts at her place at the table – a pair of butterfly wings that I scored on Halloween clearance for $1 and a toy doctor kit that was another steal when Border’s was going out-of-business.

She and Josiah enjoyed giving each other shots, taking each other’s temperature and doling out pretend medicine.  It was great timing because we had to take Josiah for his 2-year appointment the next day.


The balloons were played with throughout the day and they’re still floating around the house. 


The cupcakes Gwen helped me make were a big hit.

On Monday morning Josiah got similar treatment for his birthday.


He helped Daddy put wood in the wood stove and blew out candles in his oatmeal (who says you have to reserve the candles for cake?).


I laid off the schoolwork, especially since Daddy was home, but he has a way of teaching them things without expending much effort.  We just got a used canoe and he re-caned the seats, a project the kiddos were more than willing to help with.


We read some Thankgiving books – including a minibook printable – using 2 Teaching Mommie’s Thanksgiving Timeline printable which I laminated and cut out to use for sequencing cards. 

We also learned a new verse for the week using the Scripture card from Homeschool Creation’s Thanksgiving Printable Pack.

Phil and I have the worst luck running errands.  Many times we’ve tried to go out to eat only to discover the restaurant is inexplicably closed.  Or we’ll be looking for something specific and can’t find it anywhere.  It’s amazing how unproductive we can be sometimes!  We tried going to a local seafood joint for Gwen’s birthday because we have a gift card, only to find it was – indeed – closed.  Well, for Josiahs’ birthday we chose a different place – we checked first just to make sure they were open.  Success! 

Iggy’s was a family-favorite growing up.  We used to get doughboys, old-fashioned sodas and go long-jumping on the beach; then we’d drive around in my dad’s Celica and listen to 80s music.  To this day when I’m driving around during warm, Summer evenings I recall these childhood days.  The simplest of things can create the warmest of memories!  This often occurs to me when doing things with my own children.

We had fun.  I had forgotten about the playground right outside the restaurant, but of course the kiddos spotted it right away.  We filled our tummies, played a bit outside then got doughboys for dessert.

Back home it was down-to-business, and during J’s nap Gwen and I did some more work on her Thanksgiving printables.  There was find-which-one-is-different pages, cut ‘n’ paste and word matching, among others. 


Included was the cutest little math printable for counting dollops of whipped cream on pumpkin pie and I helped the kids glue cotton balls for the  “whipped cream.”  Gwen glued hers in a straight line across while Josiah covered his entire pie.   


Then we did a few more of the acivities from the Thanksgiving pack, including a number puzzle and counting clip cards (a favorite of Gwen’s – I love finding math-related activities she actually enjoys!).


One day a week Gwen goes to a Bible study with her grandma, where there’s a program for the kids.  It’s fun having a day with just me and Josiah, and he usually makes a huge – but no less creative – mess. *sigh*

I took advantage of some “free” time to start setting up for the kiddos’ family party, the day after Thanksgiving.  Yes, I am crazy.  I got some really neat ideas from Pinterest…

Newspaper rosettes (or whatever they’re called) that I made by accordian-folding newspaper and hot glueing circles of construction paper and buttons; and zig-zag streamers (I used construction paper ), which I hung from the opening between the dining room and the living room.  I think they would have had more impact on a blank wall, but I worked with what I had.

Canning jars are so versatile, and when I saw these snazzy use for them as cutlery holders with bandanas I knew I had to try it for their train party.  Yeah, it looks better with actual silverware, but again – working with what I’ve got.

Thanksgiving day had me scrambling to get things done.  We had company, then I was trying to get food ready for Thanksgiving dinner and the party the next day.  I really wanted to do some holidays crafts with the kids, though, so I sat ’em down to do the Thankful Pumpkin craft using paper plates and pipe cleaners along with the printables.  Then the kiddos told Daddy what they were thankful for and he wrote them down.  I did one too – I love getting in on the crafting!

At some point during the day, kiddos left to their own devices, I realized exactly how industrious Josiah really is.  He engineered his own stepstool when Gwen shut him out of her room.  He’s trouble, that one.     

Thanksgiving itself was a wonderful time spent with family at my brother and sister-in-law’s home; they moved into my grandmother’s home after she passed away and it was kind of bittersweet getting together there with the whole family.  None of my pictures came out very well but my sister-in-law had decorated the house beautifully and set up the tables just so; we all pitched in to create a yummy, wonderful spread.  After dinner most of us played a raucous, animated game of Taboo and we finally called it a night since it was way past the kiddos’ bedtime. 

All week I wanted to make Thanksgiving Story Bracelets, and I was hoping we could pass them out to the family, but we didn’t get to it until after the fact.  It was still a fun craft, though, and really helped Gwen remember the history of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving celebration with the Indians/Native Americans. 


After going through the colors once and making the bracelet, she could tell me what the colors meant.  I used satin cording in different colors with pony beads and a few other beads thrown in for variation (some wooden and glass beads).  The knots kept coming loose so I put some clear nail polish on, which seemed to help.  We’re giving some to family members with their Christmas gifts and it’s definitely on the project list for another year. 

What is it They say?  “No rest for the weary.”  The very next day we hosted the whole family – both sides came over to celebrate the kiddos’ birthdays.  I had been accumulating a number of train-inspired party ideas and was able to implement some of them.  It was really fun, albeit somewhat exhausting. 


I was inspired by this train cake, but decided to make the train cars out of cake instead of using toy trains.  I’ve always wanted to make little boxcar cakes and fill them with candy cargo!  Phil fixed up an old metal train set we got from my grandparents’ basement and got it running again – he’s so handy!  In addition to the newspaper rosettes I had made earlier in the week, I printed out mini train road signs and laminated them.

I made my go-to punch recipe (gingerale, green tea, strawberries, etc.) and some soft, cake-y cookies, decorating them to look like railroad signs (except instead of piping RR I piped GG and JJ for the kiddos’ initials). 

Phil was da BOMB and humored my request to make some authentic-looking railroad signs; he didn’t disappoint.  We put some in the yard and others in the house. 


I also had fun posing the kiddos with a picture frame I painted but still haven’t actually used to frame a picture.  They’re so stinkin’ cute!  My little babies are growing up…


This week we’re back to “normal,” whatever that is.  I can’t believe it’s December!  Hopefully soon I’ll be sharing how we started the month with our advent calendars. 

How was your Thanksgiving?  What are you doing to prepare for Christmas?