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These weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to pass too quickly each year. Between the fluster of finishing our school work, giving or making gifts, visiting family, and joining local celebrations with friends, time feels so concentrated. One way I’m trying to slow up our days and enjoy the season a bit more is having a craft and read-a-loud time each afternoon with my children. These are often hours contrasting with the loud, boisterous mess of handmade projects and the quiet doodles with candles and warm drinks and read-a-louds. Honestly, it’s been wonderful. Even the mess.

Last week, for one project, we made salt dough ornaments together. I pulled out all of Christmas cookie cutters (and the boys grabbed the Star Wars pancake molds in honor of the anticipated movie release–ha!).  My sister and her three children joined us, because this project is really fun and easy for all ages. She created a really sweet video from our afternoon together, which you can view by pressing play in the above box. In case you’re interested in making these at home, I’ve included the recipe we used below (and doubled). Enjoy!

SALT DOUGH ORNAMENTS (adapted from Moonschooling Eleanor)

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1/4-1/2 cup water
a few drops of essential oils (optional)

  1. Mix together 1 cup all purpose flour and 1/4 cup salt really well.
  2. Slowly add water until a dough forms–careful not to make it too wet!
  3. Add a few drops of essential oils (peppermint, balsam fir, or orange/clove –if your child isn’t sensitive to the clove)
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it chill in the fridge for about twenty minutes.
  5. Roll out dough on floured surface and cut shapes.
  6. Poke holes using something toothpick-sized.
  7. Bake at 200 degree oven for about 60 minutes. Check them often, so they don’t harden or brown.
  8. String with twine and use for your tree, gifts for friends, or as gift tags for presents.

 

Everything ends at some point. Some endings bring relief, like the end of childbirth or a difficult test or race, while other endings cause a sort of grief, like reaching the bottom of a good cup of coffee or book or, like today, the end of a vacation. July 31. The last day of my summer vacation. I mean, I homeschool, so in some ways dates are artificial. We’ll still swim through September (because it’s Texas and our summer here extends into October) and play at the park and meet up with friends during our school year; however August means Mark’s return to work, removing him from our home again for long hours at a time. I do realize this is the way most American families work (thanks to that glorious Industrial Revolution), so I’m choosing to be grateful for these two months of having him home with us, opposed to pouting which is what I really want to do.

Mark and I spent most of last week rearranging and re-organizing our home to prepare for the looming school year and our new housemate moving in this week, but with the 100 degree temps keeping the kids indoors more, the kids’ bickering seems relentless. We needed some relief. Ironically, we chose to start a fire in our new fire-pit area of the backyard as our relief. (Of course a glass of wine was involved too.) We toasted marshmallows and found relief in the cooler evening breeze — sweet goodbye kisses from our summer break.

Wow. It’s July. I know, technically it’s time for another {this moment} but I’ve noticed myself succumbing to the ease of photo blogging and failing to actually retrieve the thoughts and words filling our life right now. And as you’ve probably noticed, words are long overdue here. I blame the lethargy of summer, that heat-hammock enclosing me, rocking worries and ideas to slumber. I’ve attempted to muster them, blank paper and pen in hand, but like a child in a wakeful dream, my letters seem to slur together, non-sensical. And maybe, that’s exactly what I’ve needed. What we’ve needed. Summer this year has been breath for us. I mean it, a true revitalization. We finished the school year — albeit crawling and tasting dirt — exhausted in every faculty. The point being: we finished. Mark enrolled in an online summer school class so we could be more transient, and I essentially halted all formal school time, minus reading. Although we didn’t finish everything I intended, we’ll pick up again in a few weeks right where we left off. For now, the summer break wins, a prioritized time for us to connect again as a family without the weight of routine mandates. So last month, to jumpstart our break, we packed our bags to head up to see both sets of grandparents (and their pools) and long-time friends of ours (Badrinas and Carruths) for a couple of weeks. We swam, feasted with our families and friends (always raucous and entertaining), celebrated birthdays, read books, watched movies, ate our breakfasts by the pool — it was delightful. Thank you Mom, Dad, Sam, Joanne, Aina, and Caleb, for helping us to enter into a season of rest.

 

{this moment}: A Friday ritual. A single photo (or group of photos) capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. (inspired by soulemama)