Grandparent Christmas Party 2014

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Early in the fall, Bulldozer asked if we could have a Christmas party this year.   I responded with a maybe and left it at that.  Bulldozer wasn't satisfied with my answer, and asked the same question every day for two weeks.  It was then I realized he was serious.  After much discussion, Jason and I decided to appease Bulldozer and have a Christmas party, inviting all of the kiddos' grandparents.  We knew if we wanted a successful party, the kiddos would need to be involved in planning every detail.  Assignments were given to grandparents as well, when they received their invitations.
Dinomite loves decorations on special occasions, especially when there's a party.  Originally he had wanted a Nutcracker themed party, but finding decorations proved to be very difficult, if not impossible.  So, we decided to decorate using red cardinals.  I was able to find the white Christmas tree for a centerpiece.  Dinomite went shopping with me to pick out other decorations that included a table clothe, place mat, white lights, red cardinals, cranberry decor, etc.
The kiddos each helped decorate pine cones, painting them white and sprinkling them with glitter also.  The finished product, combining all we had collected was beautiful.

Dinomite also helped decide on, and purchase gifts for all of the grandparents coming.  As part of the RSVP to the party, each grandparent was asked to share 3-5 hobbies and/or interests.  Dinomite used these lists as he carefully selected gifts for each person.  Grandparent received two individual gifts each.  So much thought went into them.  Everyone LOVED what they received.  Each couple also received one combined homemade gift.  To go along with our theme, the kiddos and I made beautiful bird seed wreathes.
Princess wanted to make sure everyone looked their best for the party.  She requested that all guests wear their Sunday best, and then picked out dresses for her little sister and herself.  They had to match of course.
Bulldozer was all about "the feast" as he called it.  It had to be perfect and include a huge "roast beast" aka turkey, which for some reason was impossible to find the 2nd week in December.  In the end we served a turkey, bone in ham, stuffed acorn squash rings (vegetarian main dish), mashed potatoes, maple sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, fruit salad, jello, homemade rolls, and chocolate zucchini bread.  To ensure everyone's happiness at a holiday meal, we make sure that each child can (allergy safe) and will (sensory issues) enjoy eating at least two dishes offered.  The kiddos each choose at least one dish to be served.  Jason and I then choose one specific dish we each want.  Once all of the requests have been made, I go through and try to make sure each color of the rainbow is included in the presentation, and that we've included all food groups.  The kiddos helped with this process this year.  Holidays are special in our house, in that we have a rule that everyone can eat as much or as little as they want at meal time of whatever dishes they want to.  Ex:  If Sunshine only eats four rolls for dinner, that's okay.  All of the kiddos look forward to this holiday tradition, which is very different from our daily mealtime rules.

Bulldozer LIVES for treats, especially cookies.   Our party dessert spread had to be quite large to meet his expectations.  The kiddos baked all week long.  There were no less than 10 cookie options.  Dessert was served at the very end of the party.
Sunshine LOVES music and requested that we sing songs at our party.  We are very blessed with a lot of musical talent in our extended family.  Grandpa Ron was asked to bring his guitar and be ready to play accompaniment while everyone sang Christmas carols. The kiddos selected 8 songs they wanted to sing ahead of time.  Everyone had copies of the words just in case.  The carols sounded amazing and was a HUGE hit at our party!
Knowing my special needs kiddos would need structure during the party, I asked them what else they'd like to do.  They all wanted entertainment.  As mentioned above, Grandpa Ron led us in Christmas carols.  Grandma Jackie followed with a spiritual moment about the Savior Jesus Christ and his birth.  Grandpa Rob then shared a story about a special memory he had from his childhood related to Christmas/Winter.  The kiddos had so much fun as he brought props for them to act out the memory (Attending horse races on the frozen river, followed by a winter picnic on the ice.)  Grandma Toni finished with a couple games, one of which included everyone choosing strings attached to gifts from a bag.
After dinner, music, and entertainment, came the opening of gifts.  The kiddos were each given a special chair to sit in and took turns opening gifts, youngest to oldest.  Before the party, we reviewed this practice several times and explained that they could open their gifts, but no toys would be removed from wrapping or torn open until after grown ups opened their gifts, and the kiddos' gifts were taken upstairs in their rooms.  Christmas' past have taught me this lesson.  (Missing pieces and broken toys are not fun.)  The kiddos did fabulous with this during the party. Grandparents helped pick up bags, boxes, and tissue paper.  They also helped kiddos take toys up to their rooms.  Then while Grandparents played with kiddos and their new toys upstairs, Jason and I set up the dessert table.

Everyone enjoyed desserts and socialized quite a while before leaving. We were so blessed to have all four sets of grandparents attend, traveling to New York from as far away as Delaware for the event.

Bulldozer had the time of his life.  Since his food allergies and adhesive allergies were diagnosed, we've never been able to attend big holiday celebrations outside of our home.  This is due to safety issues with wrappings and food.  When Princess came to us with her Christmas PTSD episodes etc., it made the holiday that more impossible to share with others. Our first Grandparent Christmas Party was perfect in that Princess felt safe and Bulldozer was able to experience everything and anything he had been missing in years past, in the safety of his own home.  Already grandparents are asking about next year's Christmas party, requesting specific duties and wanting to reserve the date.  The kiddos are so fortunate to have four sets of grandparents who love them so much!

My Christmas Picks!

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I've hesitated sharing this post, just because everyone has their opinions about how much to spend and how much to give at Christmas.  I didn't want to feel judged for my decisions.  In years past, we've had years where each child in the house only received four to five small gifts. We've had years when all we could afford was $20 per child, and they received small gifts like crayons etc.  One year we were sponsored by two organizations because of our great financial need, and that was our Christmas.  This year is a year of plenty, and for the first time in what feels like forever, I don't have to worry about money when purchasing gifts for my kiddos.  This has been such a HUGE blessing and one that I'll be forever grateful for.  I know my kiddos will be extremely happy and quite surprised Christmas morning.  In years past they have always been thankful for the gifts they've received, even if it was as little as a box of crayons.  This year will be no different.

I am so excited about Christmas and can't wait to see their faces as they see what my husband and I have decided to give them this year.  They already know about a few of their gifts, just because they're so specific with their obsessions and I wanted to make sure I was getting the correct item, but there are definitely a few surprises still.  Even their stockings turned out fabulous!

Stockings are my most dreaded Christmas responsibility. I made the mistake of buying my kiddos these HUGE Stockings from Company Kids when they were each born.  And now...  It takes so many small items to fill them.  If only I had started out with bathroom items and not small toys.  One year I did try baked goods, but they ate nothing else all day, which wasn't a good thing.  Oh well.  They love the getting new small toys and things in their stockings.  Their stockings and one big unwrapped gift hold them over until after breakfast before they open their other gifts.  


1.  LEGO Legends of Chima:  Character Encyclopedia-Dinomite picked this out a while ago.
2.  Bed Sheets-Dinomite is in desperate need of new sheets.  I thought it would be fun to give him a set he would really enjoy.
3.  LEGO The Hobbit Mirkwood Elf Army & Dol Guldur Ambush-I told Dinomite I would spend $50 on LEGO sets for him at Christmas. It was up to him to choose the ones he wanted.
4.  Book of Dragons-This was a special find I just couldn't resist.
5.  Crayola Color Wonder Cars 2 Gift Set-My kiddos go nuts of Color Wonder Kits.  I thought it would be great on a cold and snowy afternoon when we were stuck inside.
6.  DVD: Dinosaurs Decoded-Dinomite LOVES dinosaur documentaries.  This is one of the few he doesn't have.
7.  Squirrel Buster Peanut Plus Wild Bird Feeder-Dinomite is obsessed with birds.  We had a bird feeder this summer, but the squirrels destroyed it.  He was devastated.  I picked out this one because he also wanted to make sure larger birds would come to it.  (I have bird seed hiding in the car to fill it on Christmas morning.)
8.  LEGO City Great Vehicles Logging Truck-Daddy picked out this item for Dinomite.  It's particularly funny to all the boys in the house because Mommy is petrified of logging trucks on the road while driving.
9.  Batman Light Up Costume-Dinomite loves dress up.  I try to add to his collection regularly, especially as he grows so fast and grows out of other costumes.
10.  Sled-This will be a first for Dinomite. He's never gone sledding before.
11.  Emsco Snow Warrior Samurai Shield-What could be cooler than using a shield to block snowballs?
12.  Nintendo 2DS-I am NOT a video game Mom.  Ask anyone and they'll tell you how against them I am.  However, when it comes to autism, it's always important to have incentives and reinforcers to help the kiddos work hard.  This is being given for exactly that reason.  That and I need something to occupy the boys when we take our long trips to specialists etc.  It is the gift I'm most excited to give because Dinomite has no clue it's coming.  He will be absolutely shocked!

Dinomite's Christmas Ornament: Hallmark's Harry Potty & the Sorting Hat-In remembrance of reading book 1 this year for Halloween.

Dinomite's Stocking:
1.  Safari Toob-Deep Sea Creatures-Dinomite noticed this about six months ago and hasn't stopped talking about it.
2.  Playmobil Set of Knights (13 pieces)-To go along with his new favorite collection of toys.
3.  Football Cards-This year he's taken over Daddy's sports card collections and loves them.
4.  3 Matchbox Cars-Dinomite picked them out.
5.  2 LEGO Minifigure Mystery Bags-Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without these.
6.  Disney Cars Boo Boo Buddy Reusable Cold Pack-There have been a lot of collisions lately.  A frozen bag of peas just isn't doing it.
7.  LEGO Batman game for Nintendo 2DS-Dinomite loves playing superhero games on the iPad so I'm guessing this will be a big hit.
8.  LEGO The Lord of the Rings game for Nintendo 2DS-Dinomite has really developed a love for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  He's always looking for new LEGO movies and game to play on the iPad.
9.  Tic Tacs-Dinomite has developed a special love for orange Tic Tacs.
10.  Gum-Dinomite always chews gum during learning time.  We must never run out!


1.  LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia-Bulldozer picked this out.
2.  Deluxe Muscle Chest Superman Costume-Bulldozer loves dress up like his brother, especially when he gets to be a superhero.
3.  LEGO Star Wars Droid Gunship-Bulldozer asked for this specifically.
4.  Melissa & Doug Architectural Unit Block Set-Bulldozer LOVES to build with blocks.  His cities are amazing. I thought these would be the perfect blocks to add to his collection.
5.  LEGO City Police Prisoner Transporter-Daddy picked this out to give Bulldozer.
6.  Crayola Color Wonder Spiderman Gift Set-Perfect for a cold & snowy day.
7.  Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway-Figure 8 Expansion Pack-Bulldozer loves to play with his collection, but is in desperate need of some new connector tracks.
8.  Bed Sheets-Just like Dinomite, Bulldozer really needed some new sheets.  Star Wars is always a win with him.
9.  Operation Game Star Wars Edition-Bulldoze saw this and requested it.  He's not one for board games, so I was super excited to oblige.
10.  Sled-This will be a first for Bulldozer.  I'm hoping he enjoys it.
11.  Emsco Snow Warrior Samurai Shield-If his brother has a shield, then he needs one too!
12.  Nintendo 2DS-I can get Bulldozer to do ANYTHING with the incentive of a video game or computer time.  Now he'll have his own device.  Hooray!  This will be a complete surprise for him, one that I know he'll love!

Bulldozer's Christmas Ornament:  Hallmarks' CP3O Figure

Bulldozer's Stocking:
1.  LEGO Star Wars A New Hope Beginning to Read Book-Bulldozer collects Star Wars books. I'm hoping he'll be able to read this one on his own by the end of the year.
2.  Bowling Dice Game-Bulldozer is obsessed with bowling. I'm hoping he'll enjoy the visual component of the game because of the dice.
3.  LEGO Superheroes Ultimate Spiderman Set (45 pieces)-Bulldozer can't have enough LEGO sets, especially when they come in a small bag that will fit perfectly in his stocking.
4.  Bag of Marbles-Bulldozer collects marbles.  Every time he sees some he doesn't have, he just has to have them.
5.  Hotwheels Batman Monster Truck-Bulldozer collects Hotwheels Monster Trucks.  This is a new one he doesn't have.
6.  2 LEGO Mini figure Mystery Bags-These are tradition!
7.  3 Hotwheels Cars-Bulldozer kept asking for more cars for Christmas, despite the hundreds he already has.  
8.  4 Hotwheels Star Wars Cars-I just happened to see these while shopping and knew they would be a hit.  
9.  Disney Cars Boo Boo Buddy Reusable Cold Pack-Everyone needs their own cold pack for boo boos.
10.  LEGO Star Wars Game for Nintendo 2DS-Bulldozer is obsessed with LEGO Star Wars games on iPad. This is sure to be a hit!
11.  Super Mario Game for Nintendo 2DS-I decided if we're going to introduce Nintendo, we have to introduce Mario too!


1.  Princess Bedtime Stories Special Edition Book-Princess has checked this out at the library countless times, it was time for her to have her own copy.
2.  Melissa & Doug Princess Role Play Set-Princess has always wanted a pink princess dress up outfit.
3.  Bed Sheets-Princess, just like her brothers, needed new sheets.   Now they'll be covered in unicorns!
4.  Melissa & Doug Fold and Go Mini Stable-Princess has asked for a stable for her My Little Pony figures for quite some time. This is the perfect size.
5.  Crayola Frozen Color Wonder Activity Gift Set-Color Wonder are perfect play for Princess' bedroom.  (She tends to color on her walls, etc.)
6.  My Little Pony Exclusive Friendship is Magic Pony Friends Forever Collection, 10 Pack-Princess helped pick this out. It was filled with several ponies she doesn't have yet.
7.  World of Disney Eye Found It Board Game-Princess LOVES board games. This had amazing reviews.  I just couldn't resist.
8.  Disney Pirate Fairy Exclusive 7 Piece PVC Figure Play Set-Princess loves collecting Disney Figures. She plays with them like other girls play with Barbies or dolls.  Lately she's been really into fairies.
9.  Play Doh Disney Prettiest Princess Castle-I've wanted to give Princess this Play-Doh set for a while. I was so excited when I found it on sale!
10.  Sled-Princess is sure to love her first sled.  She craves this type of activity.
11.  Emsco Snow Warrior Samurai Shield-This is protection for when her brothers try to get her.
12.  Melissa & Doug Folding Princess Castle-Princess has asked for a castle for her mini figures for a LONG time.  I can't wait to see her face when she sees it on Christmas morning.

Princess' Christmas Ornament:  Disney Princess Sleeping Beauty Figure

Princess' Stocking:
1.  Disney Frozen's Olaf stuffed toy (the size of a beanie baby)-Princess fell in love with this when she saw it.
2.  Disney Frozen's Sven stuffed animal (the size of a beanie baby)-Princess fell in love with this when she saw it.
3.  Disney Frozen's Anna stuffed doll  (the size of a beanie baby)--After having purchased the other three figures, I was thrilled to find one of Anna too.
4.  Disney Frozen's Elsa stuffed doll (the size of a beanie baby)-Princess fell in love with this when she saw it.
6.  Disney Princess Diary-Princess LOVES to write, so I thought this would be a great intro to journaling.
7.  My Little Pony 3 Pack-Yet more figures she doesn't already have in her collection.
8.  3  Barbie Mini figures-Princess loves Barbie movies, but does not like actual Barbies.  I think they remind her too much of dolls.  Princess also doesn't like toys with hair.  Hence the mini figure ponies.  I never knew they made Barbie mini figures. When I saw them, I knew they would be perfect for her!
9.  2 Playmobil Figures? in Pink-Princess was introduced to Playmobil this month and LOVES it.  She'll love new figures to add to her collection.
10.  Disney's Ariel Boo Boo Buddy-For all of those boo boos!

1.  Hello Kitty My Town Slide and Find Book-Sunshine loves Hello Kitty and loves books.  She'll certainly love this!
2.  Melissa & Doug Super Heroine Role Play Set-Sunshine is constantly going around the house pretending to be a superhero, now she'll have her own dress up costume!
3.  Bed Sheets-Sunshine actually shredded the last set of sheets I purchased for her. I'm hoping this set will hold up, as it's better quality.
4.  Hello Sunshine Game-I fell in LOVE with this game, not only because of my own Sunshine, but because of what great fun we'll have as we develop her speech skills!
5.  Mr. Potato Head Star Wars Darth Vader Tater 3 Character Set-Sunshine LOVES Star Wars just like her brother. I'm hoping she'll enjoy this set, as an addition to her existing Mr. Potato collection.
6.  Disney Store Frozen Elsa & Anna Toddler Plush Dolls-When Sunshine and I had our Christmas Shopping Date, she told me she wanted an Anna doll.  (I had no clue.)  Thankfully, I found these adorable plush dolls!
7.  Melissa & Doug Shape Sequence Sorting Set-This will be a great learning time activity for Sunshine that will help her with colors, shapes, and fine motor skills.
8.  Melissa & Doug Magnetic Hide & Seek Board-This is so cute. I know Sunshine will love it. Anything that involves hiding and looking for things, at the same time opening and closing things, was meant for Sunshine.
9.  Crayola Frozen Color Wonder Activity Gift Set-If Princess has one, Sunshine has to have one too!
10.  Sled-Just like her siblings, Sunshine will receive her first sled.
11.  Melissa & Doug Easel Accessory Set-This goes along with Sunshine's big gift.
12.  Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Easel-Sunshine LOVES art, so after much debate, we decided to get her an easel. This will be a first in our house.  I still have no clue where I'm going to put it, but I know she'll love it.

Sunshine's Christmas Ornament: Disney's Lilo & Stitch Figures

Sunshine's Stocking:
1. Hallmark itty bitty Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz-In honor of our Wizard of Oz unit this year.
2.  Hallmark itty bitty Lion from The Wizard of Oz-Sunshine loves carrying around little stuffed animals everywhere she goes.
3.  Hallmark itty bitty Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz-I couldn't just choose two out of the four.
4.  Hallmark itty bitty Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz-Now she'll have the whole collection!
5.  Crayola Dry Erase Markers-To go with her easel.
6.  Crayola Dry Erase Crayons-To go with her easel.
7.  Sunglasses-Sunshine lost her sunglasses while on vacation last summer. Every time anyone uses their sunglasses, she's constantly asking for her's.
8.  Penguin Stuffed Animal-A new stuffed animal for Sunshine has become tradition at holidays and events.
9.  Bathtub Mermaid Baby Doll-A new toy for the bathtub.
10.  Spot It Alphabet Disney Frozen Game-Though she may not be able to play the game like one's supposed to, hopefully it will encourage her to start identifying and matching numbers.
11.  Safari Ltd. Unicorn Baby Figure-Sunshine carried this around one of the stores we went to while shopping, and couldn't part with it until she knew it was coming home with us.

I don't know if my kiddos will ever get this much for Christmas any other year, but this year we're celebrating our many blessings.  Chances are I wouldn't have purchased so many things for them, but I just couldn't stop buying for Princess. She is so easy.  Finding gifts she will love is one of my favorite things to do at Christmas.

A Merry Christmas to you all!

Merry Christmas From the Eddy Family!

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Since I can't send you all a Christmas card and our family Christmas letter, I thought I'd share it with you here!  A special thanks to Alexa Ferris for taking such fabulous photos of our family this year!

A very Merry Christmas from us to you this year!  Though we started out the year struggling in many ways, Our Father in Heaven has blessed us in more ways than we can count.  We have been filled with peace and come to a better understanding of God’s plan for our family.
In January, Jason lost his job working at a residential addictions recovery house for adults.  In March he was offered a full time job, working at Walmart, in shipping and receiving, with every Sunday off.  With no other prospects at the time, Jason took the job.  To our surprise, he loves it.  We could have never anticipated what a blessing it would be to Jason, and our family, for him to land a job working at Walmart.  When returning home from work, he’s happier than he’s ever been.

In May, Jason was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, an Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD.  The process of receiving these diagnoses included an assessment by his primary care doctor, who then referred him to a specialist.  The specialist interviewed Jason, Renae, and Jason’s mother in order to obtain past and present information about education, work, relationships, social situations, etc.  Jason was then put through adaptive and cognitive testing. 

To some, these diagnoses may come as a surprise, and are perhaps unbelievable.  To others, they make complete sense.  But after struggling for years in the work place, at home, and in other social and sensory overload situations, Jason is very confident in the specialists’ diagnoses.  He is thrilled to finally understand himself better.  All areas of his life have improved, as he’s learning to function at his best.

Renae is busy at home.  Her days are spent taking care of the house and homeschooling the four kiddos.  In March, she started blogging professionally at http://everystarisdifferent.blogspot.com.  Renae provides Montessori-inspired activity ideas, free educational printables, and support for families with children who have developmental and social-emotional disabilities, along with those who have special dietary needs.  Shortly after starting her professional endeavors, she was approached to join in a partnership with Russian blogger, Anastasia at www.montessorinature.com.  This has been an incredible experience for Renae.  She is also in the beginning phases of writing her first book for parents of children with special needs.  It is her hope to finish it by the end of 2015 and then move forward with publishing.
Dinomite turns 8 in January and has decided to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It has been a great blessing to watch Dinomite mature.  He has always had such a strong desire to choose the right.  When he was little and first diagnosed with autism, we didn’t know what to expect, or if he even could be baptized.  He has grown so much in the past few years.

This year Dinomite has mastered reading and LOVES it.  He picks up pretty much anything with words and reads it.  When it comes to learning, Dinomite loves zoology, geography, and history.  Outside of the classroom he continues to love all things LEGO, animals, knights & dragons, superheroes, and sports.
Bulldozer turned 6 in August.  He has made unbelievable progress in the areas of fine motor and sensorial skills this year.  Due to his autism, Bulldozer has always struggled in these areas.  He’s also made advancements with reading and writing. When it comes to learning, Bulldozer loves earth science, astronomy, and meteorology.   This year, Bulldozer has developed a new love for food, now enjoying burritos, Kalua Pork Roast, hamburgers and more.  When it comes to play, he loves all things Star Wars.  Bulldozer also loves video games and anything LEGO.
Princess turned 5 in July.  She continues to astound us every day.  Her developmental pediatrician is amazed at the progress she has made recovering from past trauma she experienced, prior to her coming to our home.  Princess’ Reactive Attachment Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder behaviors are now manageable without medication.  HOORAY!  When it comes to learning, Princess is brilliant.  She can pick up any children’s picture book and read it with ease.  Her math abilities are that of a 2nd or 3rd grader.  Princess loves to write.  When not learning new things, Princess continues to love all things Disney Princess related, especially Elsa from Frozen. She also enjoys playing with her My Little Pony figures, LEGO duplos, and dress up.
Sunshine turned 3 in November.  This year has been quite an adventure with our little girl.  Early in the year Sunshine was officially diagnosed with Mild Cranial Facial Microsomia.  In the Spring, Sunshine had her first developmental pediatrician appointment.  We were definitely not prepared for all we learned that day.  Sunshine is developmentally delayed and meets criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Due to neglect and possible abuse, prior to her joining our family, Sunshine has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).  Sunshine’s last diagnosis of the day was a Sleep Disorder.  Since Sunshine came to us, she has struggled with eczema, unexplained rashes, gagging and vomiting.  In July, Sunshine was diagnosed with 14 food allergies:  beef, peanut, egg, soy, sesame, dairy, corn, oats, banana, citrus, berries, melon, tomato and celery.  They are not life threatening, like Bulldozer’s 30+ food allergies, but definitely affect Sunshine in big ways.  We know we still don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle, when it comes to understanding our little girl, but for now we’re just working with what we do know.

Despite so many struggles, our little girl continues to be a ray of Sunshine in our home.  This fall she joined her older siblings during learning time and LOVES it.  Her favorite subject area is art.  Sunshine loves to play with LEGO duplos.  Her favorite playmate is her big brother Bulldozer.  They definitely have a special bond.  Sunshine is well versed in Star Wars and superheroes and seems to love them as much as her brothers.  She also loves “Anna” from Frozen
We are so thankful that despite their own struggles, our four children are healthy and happy.  When we have prayed for answers about how to better serve the needs of our family, we have received them.  With those answers have come the means to provide, peace, contentment, and a clear understanding of the Lord’s plan for our family.  We never planned to have four special needs children.  We did not know about Jason’s disabilities when we married.  We certainly never planned to have two daughters with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  But the Lord knew all of this. He knew the order in which everything needed to happen, and when we needed to know.  For that we are thankful.  May you be able to count your many blessings this holiday season, as you look forward to a new year filled with hope and love.

Best wishes,
The Eddy Family

Operation Christmas Cookies

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Last week we took a break from our regular learning time activities and schedule.  Operation Christmas Cookies commenced!  The kiddos spent the week researching, planning, preparing, baking, and decorating hundreds of cookies.  It was quite the project!

Cookies are prepared for:
1.  Our Grandparent Christmas Party  
2.  Christmas Cookie Deliveries to Neighbors
3.  Christmas Cookie Deliveries to Community Helpers.

SO MUCH LEARNING takes place as we do this!  If you've ever wondered what one can learn from the process of selecting a recipe, reading through it, finding ingredients, baking, decorating, arranging, and serving, I've made a fabulous list, broken down by subject.  I'm sure I've missed some.

Language
1. Letter Identification & Sounds
2. Reading Skills
3. Reading Comprehension
4. Vocabulary Words
5. Grammar-Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs

Math
1.  Number Identification
2.  Counting
3.  Addition
4.  Subtraction
5.  Multiplication
6.  Sequencing/Ordinal Numbers
7.  Fractions
8.  Measurements
9.  Telling Time
10.  Spacial Reasoning
11.  Greater Than/Less Than

Science
1.  How Temperature Changes Objects
2.  Solids vs. Liquids
3.  Solutions & Mixtures

Health
1.  Nutrition
2.  Heat Safety
3.  Personal Hygiene (Germs)

Culture
1.  Traditions
2.  Christmas
3.  Community Helpers
4.  My City
5.  Grace & Courtesy

Art
1.  Shapes
2.  Colors
3.  Lines
4.  Texture
5.  Form
6.  Value

Practical Life
1.  Washing
2.  Spreading
3.  Cutting
4.  Unwrapping
5.  Spooning Liquids & Solids
6.  Opening  & Closing Containers
7.  Scooping
8.  Transferring Liquids & Solids

Sensorial
1.  Smell
2.  Taste
3.  Sight
4.  Sound
5.  Touch

For those looking for speech and occupational therapy activities, baking is the ultimate task, requiring muscle coordination & strength, fine motor skills, sensory integration etc.  I could go on and on.  Over the course of the week, we reviewed so many lessons and skills.  This doesn't even take into consideration the research and preparing that went into this task.

Each older kiddo was asked to come up with six different kinds of cookies they wanted to include in our Operation Christmas Cookies.  I chose six because I knew how many cookies we would need, but also to encourage them to try new things. Each kiddo spent no less than 30 minutes on Pinterest looking for cookies they may enjoy. (Pinterest is such a good visual tool to help kiddos learn planning skills.)  Bulldozer had the extra task of making sure cookies would be safe for him with his food allergies.  Sunshine chose two kinds of cookies that she could eat from four choices I gave her.  I've included links to as many recipes as I can, below.  I hope you enjoy!  You'll also see some fun pictures of the kiddos working throughout the week.  It didn't occur to me to take pictures the first two days we baked, which is why there are less pictures of each kiddo, after Dinomite.
Dinomite's Cookie List
1.  Chocolate Crinkles
2.  Chocolate Chip Cookies
3.  Sugar Cookies (recipe origin unknown)
4.  Snickerdoodles
5.  Cinnamon Roll Cookies from Sprinkle Some Sugar
6.  Candy Bar Pretzel Bites from The Gunny Sack
Bulldozer's Cookie List
1.  Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe created by a friend. Check post comments for recipe.)
2.  Gingerbread Cookies
3.  Easy No Bake Snowman Cookies from inspired by familia
4.  Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
5.  Chocolate Blossom Cookies from Meal Plan Girls
6.  No Bake Cookie Dough Truffles
Princess' Cookie List
1.  Italian Cookies
2.  Peanut Blossoms
3.  Stained Glass Cookie Ornaments from The Comfort of Cooking
4.  Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
5.  Oreo Pretzel Christmas Cookie Dough Bark
6.  Cherry Chocolate Kisses from The Curvy Carrot
Sunshine's Cookie List
1.  Candy Cane Cookies (recipe origin unknown)
2.  Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies (Use chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Omit 1/4 cup flour and use cocoa instead.)

To accommodate food allergies, coconut spread and/or oil was used instead of margarine or butter.  Water was used in place of milk.  Ener-G Egg Replacer was used in place of eggs.  Nut free, soy free, dairy free chocolate chips were purchased for the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Over the course of the week, we made 75% of our cookies.  We're saving the rest for the week of Christmas, so we'll have plenty to snack on and finish our community helper deliveries.
For those who want further details about our neighborhood deliveries:
When Jason and I were first married, a woman in our church congregation spoke about a family tradition they had.  Each year at Christmas, their family makes and delivers cookies to ALL of their neighbors.  This encourages the kiddos to not only become involved in the kitchen, but to show Christlike love and service to others, even those, they may not otherwise socialize with.  She shared experiences about how this has affected their family's relationship in the neighborhood for good, and how her kiddos have learned to love and serve others.  The very next year, Jason and I started this tradition with Dinomite.  Neighbors who have lived on our street for several years, open their door with big smiles and thank yous.  Those who haven't lived here long, are always so surprised that a neighbor would randomly give them homemade cookies and personally wish them a Merry Christmas.  The process of getting all four kiddos out to deliver cookies is always quite the task. This year it they had a very hard time resisting the urge to look in people's windows and ringing the doorbells several times.  It's all a learning process!

For those who want further details about our community deliveries:
Last year, Princess REALLY struggled with PTSD episodes and anxiety at Christmas.  At times she was afraid to leave the house.  To help her, we decided to make and deliver cookies to as many community members as we could, to reassure her just how many people love her and are working to keep her safe in our city.  (It was a great way to keep her hands busy at home, doing something she enjoys, and a great way to get her out of the house for deliveries.)  The kiddos begged to continue this tradition this year.  Our list of community members includes:

1.  Fire Fighters
2.  Police Officers
3.  Paramedics
4.  Pediatrician's Office
5.  Pharmacy
6.  Allergist's Office
7.  Dentist's Office
8.  Library
9.  Post Office or Mail Carrier
10.  Sanitation Workers
11.  Construction Workers
12.  Sheriff's Department
13.  Car Repair Shop (We've spent a lot of time there this year.)
14.  Local Craft Store (The workers know me by name, share my blog with others, and always tease that I know the store better than they do.)

Christmas is such a magical time of year!  I love how it's a constant reminder of just how much learning can take place outside of our classroom walls.

Art Appreciation Activities and Printables for Kids (KLP Linky)

This post may contain affiliate links.

It's not a secret that art is my least favorite subject to teach.  In elementary school, I was great at it myself, winning awards etc.  But as I became older, I just had no interest in it.  As an adult, I can think of nothing more boring than going to an art museum.  My husband on the other hand loves art.  In college, he worked at an art museum.  He even makes it a point to make sure that we have original works of art in our home.  This is definitely an area where we balance each other out.  However, now that he's back to work full time, I'm finding I need some help to keep the kiddos interested in art.  As always, I look to other fabulous bloggers to help me out. Here's what I found!

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh for #Playful Preschool from The Preschool Toolbox Blog

Art Around the World in 30 Days from The Art Curator for Kids*

*This blog has endless ideas about teaching art to your kiddos!  Please take a look at all of the fabulous ideas and printables.


Kandinsky for Kids Process Art from Left Brain Craft Brain

Art Study:  Frida Kahlo from Pinay Homeschooler

O'Keeffe's Autumn Leaves from Pinay Homeschooler

Artist study:  Henry Matisse from Pinay Homeschooler

Aboriginal Arts from Pinay Homeschooler

Artist & Art Study:  Piet Mondrian from Pinay Homeschooler

Artist Study: Vincent Van Gogh from Pinay Homeschooler

Artist study (Free Picture Cards) from Pinay Homeschooler

Art Education-Elements of Art-Colour Theory from Making Montessori Ours

Free Art Appreciation Printables from Montessori Nature


Artist Nomenclature Cards from The World Around Me: All About Me

American Artists from An All American Summer Unit:  The United States of America

Works of Michelangelo from Superhero Week

Norman Rockwell from The United States of America

Art Museum Sorting from Valentine's Day in Paris

Who's Who in Black History from Black History Month Unit

Artists and Artwork from North America from North America Unit w/ Free Printables

Welcome to the Kids Learning Printables Linky Party!

co-host Montessori Nature

From now on I will be sharing feature posts on facebook and Pinterest only, in hopes that they will receive more traffic.

Here's how this works!

You:
1.  Link up to 3 educational printables for kiddos.  Free, paid, and giveaway printables are welcome.
2.  Add our Kids Learning Printables Linky Party Button to your post or blog.
3.  Support your fellow educators by commenting, pinning, and/or sharing the post published before yours.
4.  If you're not already doing so, follow me on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and/or through my blog.
5.  You give me permission to use and repost images from your blog.

Me:
1.  Visit all posts.
2.  Share and pin as many links as possible throughout the week.
2.  Feature my favorite posts in next week's link up.
3.  Get to know you, your blog, and your printables for future use.

Let's get this party started!

Kids Learning Printables Every Star Is Different

Carol of the Bell Unit w/ Free Printables

 This post may contain affiliate links.

This week our unit study was inspired by the Christmas song, "Carol of the Bells."  So of course, we're learning all about bells.  The kiddos are having an absolute blast.  Here's what we're up to!

Language:
Carol of the Bells Rhyming Words
This activity was tricky to create.  Bulldozer is not reading at the level of Princess and Dinomite, and quite honestly, unless he's reading a BOB book, he's not been able to generalize his knowledge of words.  The object of this activity is to find the rhyming pairs.  Princess and Dinomite are able to complete this activity by just reading the words and matching them up. However, Bulldozer is still in need of a control, even after doing the activity together a few times.  I've provided cards with rhyming phrases to help him know which words go together. If he looks at the control, he can find his matches.  He may not be able to read the words, but he can definitely tell that they're similar.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Carol of the Bells Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

Phonogram Bell Memory
We've been working on phonograms for quite some time, in a variety of ways. I thought it time to see just how much has sunk in.  Each one of the "bells" (Hershey Kisses), have a phonogram written on the bottom of them.  The kiddos play memory until they can find all the matches.  As we're playing we review the sounds made by each phonogram.  When they find match, they must also tell me the sound, in order to keep it.  At the end of the game, each kiddo gets a Hershey Kiss to eat.

Source: Inspiration for this activity came from I Can Teach My Child.

Cursive Sandpaper Letters
We've been working on our cursive letter recognition for a while now.  I thought it time we start the process of learning how to write our letters.  Dinomite has already been working on this, but for Bulldozer and Princess the process is much slower.  I just love sandpaper letters. One wouldn't think they'd make much of a difference, but they really do!

Math:
Skip Counting by 3s
The kiddos have been working on skip counting for a while now too, but it hasn't seemed to sink in.  This week I'm trying a different route.  I am so glad I did.  I don't think the kiddos have ever been more excited about skip counting. They're doing so well with it.

For this activity in particular the kiddos count by 3s using The Hundred Chart.  As they count to each third number, they stamp it using the bell stamp provided.  When they're finished, they notice the pattern and compare it to the control provided (under the blank chart).  I worried this would be too difficult, but even Bulldozer thought it was super easy!

Source: The free printables for this activity can be found at The Pinay Homeschooler.  I just LOVE them!

Multiplication with Bells
To help the kiddos understand why learning how to skip count is so important, we started introducing our multiplication tables this week.  We did some last year, but not to a huge extent.  The kiddos already know how to count by 2s, so I included those, but half of the cards are for the 3s time tables.
So far it's going very well.  Dinomite was able to generalize the skill from the previous activity, and even asked to use his Hundred Chart to help himself count the strands of bells.  Bulldozer did well with it too.  I'm anxious to see how Princess does with it tomorrow.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Carol of the Bells Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

Telling Time
It's only proper to have a time telling activity in a unit about bells.  Princess and Bulldozer have been working on their time telling skills a lot lately in their workbooks. I wanted to see how it transferred over. So far so good!  I love it when the kiddos become excited as they complete an activity, because it's easier than they thought it would be.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Carol of the Bells Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

Science/Culture:
Parts of a Bell
There's so much to learn about bells!  It's amazing.  In this activity the kiddos will learn the different parts of a bell and label them.  There is a copy of this same printable, with all the answers written in underneath if the kiddos need help.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity. For your free copy, click HERE.

Bells Around the World
There are some amazing bells around the world!  In this activity, the kiddos will match up the picture and description cards, and then identify the continent and country where the bell is located, using the map provided.  Dinomite couldn't get enough of this activity. He found every single country and even some cities on our world map.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Carol of the Bells Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

Jingle Bells Bottle
The kiddos can't get enough of this activity!  Bulldozer is especially obsessed with it.  I can understand why too.  There's water, bells, a magnet...  Who could want more!

Source: This activity comes from Lalymom.  Click on the link for more details!

Visual Arts:
Jingle Bell Sticks
This craft has the kiddos super excited, however it's going to take a little time before they feel confident at doing it all by themselves.  The final product is worth it though.

Source:  I found this craft idea at Rockabye Butterfly.

Jingle Bell Painting
The kiddos are super excited about this activity, though no one has done it yet.  In the past we've done it with marbles, but bells add a special jingle.

Source:  More information about this beautiful activity can be find at Happily Ever Mom.

Music:
The kiddos continue practicing the piano, they're also enjoying the bells!

Jingle Bells
This week the kiddos are learning to play Jingle Bells using the bells.  They're even learning how to play it following the color dots with more than one person participating in playing the bells!

Sensorial/Practical Life:
Stringing Bells
The kiddos will practice stringing the strand of bells provided.

Our other practical life/sensorial activities happen to be Sunshine's tot activities this week.
For more details about them, click HERE.

For those interested in the free printables, click on the link below.


Next week we'll be doing our annual Nutcracker Unit. Stay tuned for some new activities and printables!

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