Sweet things

“The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

Clan Dillingham kicks back during the annual hay ride up the mountain to get our Christmas tree. (This year, we named our Fraser fir Navi.)

Our lives have been filled with many sweet things recently. First, we successfully wrapped our fall semesters of CC community and Spanish lessons just before Thanksgiving.

School still marches on around here during the holiday, though, since I’m the queen of playing catch-up. But it’s so nice to have a much less hurried schedule.

The extra time has allowed the twins to do speech therapy twice a week just for December. Their therapists say they’ve both made tremendous progress and are so close to nailing all the sounds with which they formerly struggled, so this is simply to give them an extra boost.

The obligatory dudes-with-Santa Claus photo taken during our annual holiday outing to Sugar Plum Farm.

Doing extra appointments was my idea, since we have decided not to do speech therapy in the new year. It’s insanely expensive, and we have no plans to meet our insurance deductible in 2015. (Of course, we say that every year, and somehow, we always do.)

But more importantly, the therapists and I agree that it’s really not necessary, since Gabe and Zeke are on the right path to better articulation, improved mouth and tongue control, breaking old habits of improper speech, and self-correcting when they say something incorrectly. Way to go, boys!

Sure Gabriel and Zeke face challenges in some areas (as we all do!), but they also excel in other areas, like their natural musical ability. In fact, they’ve really shown an impassioned interest in piano as of late, so much so that Houston has been giving them “lessons.”

A napping Granny makes a comfy pillow on which Houston relaxes during our time in the mountains for Thanksgiving.

Therefore, we thought it was high time they has their “official assessment” with Miss Julie, Houston’s beloved piano teacher. Turns out that Gabe and Zeke passed their tests of fine motor skills, basic knowledge (like knowing right from left), musical understanding (such as repeating rhythms), and overall maturity with flying colors. Yee haw!

So, once we find an open and easy spot on our calendar, and tweak our budget to be able to afford triple the lessons, they’ll be tickling the ivories just like big bro. This will probably happen in late spring-early summer, once CC and Spanish wrap. Until then, they’ll keep on happily improvising with Houston and jamming out their own original ditties.

Much like the twins speech therapy, I won’t be going to physical therapy in 2015, since I’ve also improved dramatically. Thank the Lord … and thanks for paying for all my PT and chiropractor visits, Stephen! I’ve gotten way stronger and more flexible, and am in far less pain than I had been.

The 3 Amigos enjoy our educational jaunt to Linville Caverns, located within Humpback Mountain, just outside of Marion, NC.

Do I still have occasional issues? Sure, but at least now I feel like I now have the body of 43 year old, and not the body of a decrepit, debilitated geezer of 83.

Plus, I know how to manage and diminish my aches and pains now: daily stretching and strength training, frequent low-impact exercise, using a heating pad nightly, and glopping on the icy hot when need be. It’s all finally under control.

We went to Granny’s for Thanksgiving, and got to see a ton of family. From the Norwoods of Michigan, to the Biddix crew, who are spread far and wide across Carolina, it was a holly-jolly good time!

Houston & Zeke play around in Sugar Plum’s toy train — always a favorite during our time @ the choose-and-cut tree farm.

In addition to making our annual trek to Sugar Plum Farms, we also ventured to Linville Caverns. This was the boys’ first taste of learning about stalactites and stalagmites, and they seemed to appreciate exploring this cool geological wonder. (Getting them some fool’s gold from the gift shop didn’t hurt either.)

Another night, we adventured to an overlook near Marion to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Brown Mountain Lights. No such luck witnessing the fabled “ghost lights,” but it sure was fun trying.

What’s interesting is that their most talked-about memory of Thanksgiving was a commercial they saw of young girl twerking in her “skivvies” (as the boys, in all their beautiful innocence, describe undies) while watching a Christmas movie on a supposedly family-friendly channel. Uggh! Oh, how I love my Netflix.

Gabriel rides on Clifford the Big Red Dog during our outing to Safari Nation.

It’s happening: Houston is finally starting to have doubts about this whole Santa thing. During our first viewing of “Elf” for the season, he asked, “So, do parents really leave the gifts?!” My response was vague but effective, I think: “Just believe what you want to believe, sweetie.”

More proof of the kids growing up way too fast: “Mommy, I want to be a policeman,” explained Houston the other day. “Why is that?” I inquired.

“Because I like manhandling people,” replied the very-tall-for-his-age child who has been known to rough-house way too often with his little bros. Such a matter-of-fact worldly comment from such a still-so-young dude.

Zeke decided to cheers Navi with his hot cocoa. If that’s not holly-jolly enough for you, you should hear his impromptu Christmas singing … so cute!

Some other “sweet things” we’ve been up to:

  • Going to Asher’s 8th birthday party, held a week before the J-Crew’s big move south;
  • Spending some last memorable minutes with the J-Crew while helping them pack up their moving truck;
  • Attending a Mercy Hill homeschool playdate, where we feasted on potluck goodies and the boys made Jesse Tree ornaments;
  • Meeting out our old pals, Miss Beth, Mr. Alan, Matthew, and Jonathan, for lunch and then lots of shenanigans at a bounce house;
  • and the boys enjoying lots of map drawing and chapter-book reading … Houston even read “Moby Dick.” Yep, sweet for sure!