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Kristen is a home­maker, home­schooler, and a home­keeper. Her experience includes nineteen years of practice, raising three kids, a husband, and a dog. Writing about her life helps her stay sane. She believes that sharing stories helps others by providing opportunities to share advice (and helpful hints) about homeschooling, and raising kids on the autism spectrum, while supporting marriages and families that are striving to thrive.

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Shannon Enos is a wife, recovering Pinterest addict, and homeschooling mom of two young girls. Her hobbies include analyzing music with her husband, pretending she’s going to finish that crocheting project she started 4 years ago, and making lists of things she has already completed just so she can cross them off. Shannon values truth, education, the arts, open minds, humor, and “Nashville" binges on Hulu. She believes that learning happens everywhere, whether you’re paying attention or not.

 

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I really do enjoy this season. So many people complain about the pressure of the holidays, the parties, the financial frenzy, and running ragged. That part is tiring. After the first few weeks in December, though, I actually feel like we get to slow down a bit and exhale. It has been hectic, but at least it’s not cold. I do not really care for the cold, but lucky for me, we seem to be enjoying a very mild fall. I don't like the early darkness, either, but Christmas lights make it totally bearable. Our part of the neighborhood is really lit up, this year, too. Maybe the warmer days are encouraging others to get outside and put up those holiday lights!. Plus, I've yet to hear “Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer” which is also, really, so very awesome. All is not so calm, but is very bright in Virginia!

 

My kiddos are all older, now. My youngest is twelve (years old), and is quite desperately hanging on to her belief system in Santa and his elves. Well, one elf, in particular. Her name is Emma. She is new to our house this year, specifically for Katie. It's so fun to move her around, and be creative in making her believable… especially for a twelve year old. It's a good thing Katie is older, I guess, because she reminds me all day that the elf is supposed to move more, like every day, as it gets closer to Christmas. And sometimes, the elves do naughty things and, “Oh, I wonder where Emma will be tomorrow?” I get plenty of reminders. It’s a big responsibility keeping us parents up to date and on task.

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So, this morning, Emma vandalized the downstairs bathroom, complete with a lipstick “ho-ho-ho” scribbled across the mirror, and a roll of toilet paper strung all over. Katie was thrilled! She didn't even mind cleaning it up. I was like, “she’s your elf, so you get to clean up after her!” ... Nice.  A little household training thrown in there! It was magical- especially for me. I love it that the kids all want to still enjoy the wonder and magic of the holidays. From lights, to decorating, to elf antics- it's so fun. I've heard of some people doing polar express rides, reading a different holiday book every night, and having holiday movie nights! I’ve even found instructions online for a Lego Jesse Tree devotional. As stressful as the holiday season can be, it is great to be able to just relax a bit and enjoy some of these traditions with the kids. I love seeing all the pictures on-line, on social media, and reading about new ideas to share with my family. I can't do it all, I know (and you can't either- don't make yourself crazy trying to do everything!), but a couple of new things are fun to try. 

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This holiday season, maybe you could think about taking in a light show, go to the ballet, or go to a concert. There are plenty of schools putting on shows and concerts. There are so many ways you could enjoy the holidays.

This year, I'm more convinced that we need to be giving back. There are so many hard things going on in this world. We can’t solve all the problems for sure, but we could be a small part of the solution, perhaps. I think it's good for everyone to think of serving in some capacity. There are so many things you can do! Some of the things my kids have enjoyed are the toy drives. We've packed shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse, which sends shoeboxes to underserved children all over the world. The kids have also always liked picking out a toy for the Toys-for-tots donation boxes. There are also Angel trees around the region, where you pick a specific child to get specific items for. There are food drives, blanket drives, coat drives, and clothing drives going on at various churches, too! It's easy to lose sight of the people in need in this region, living among commuters, and neighborhoods with lots of lights, and stores all decked out with holiday trappings. The need, though, is there. It's here. It's all over. Give, if you can. Serve at church. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, or at a soup kitchen. Give a happy meal to the man on the corner with the help sign. I think, too, that giving is a good part of the spirit of the season! With family members deployed, burdened shelters, and busy first responders, the opportunity to help is never more needed than right here, right now. Plus, it feels good to help.

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 Afterwards, enjoy that give-back glow that you feel. It’s good for your complexion! Then go home, have some hot chocolate, and relax. Snuggle up with the kiddos, read a few books, and have sweet dreams.

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Pouches' Community Corner

Pouches is ready to kayak on the beautiful Rappahannock River. She’s also ready to learn more about how she can protect the river’s health using the Friends of the Rappahannock new River Report Card, sponsored by a surprise grant from the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region (CFRRR).

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