Category Archives: Simplifying

Why We Don’t Capitalize the Word santa

Insert the groans. Not another post from some ultra-conservative Mom of many about why she and her family don’t play along with the man in the red suit game and the little doll that sits on a shelf. I seriously don’t even get that. I clearly missed that boat.

First, I’m WAY FAR from ultra-conservative. Seriously way far from that.

Second, I don’t capitalize the word santa even though my iPhone tries SO VERY HARD to make me.

Third, our family made the break with the red suit lie many years ago when we brought our first daughter home from China, and we have never—not one time—regretted it or felt our kids had a less-than Christmas.


I could list many reasons, but honestly the ONLY reason for us to make the break is this: IT IS A LIE. A BIG FAT LIE.

For some background: both my husband and I were raised in Christian homes where santa was experienced. We had the nativities, the lights, the tree, and santa. We have many fond memories. My husband’s favorite Christmas memory is the year he was given shiny black boots. He was 4 or so, and he and a neighbor friend met up outside, and so the story goes the neighbor friend must’ve gotten new boots too. The Prez ended up knee-deep in a snowy, mushy, muddy mess and when he was pulled out the boots didn’t come with him. Needless to say he was in some trouble, but I think once the boots were retrieved all was well.

For me, its hard to pick one stand-out. I think for me it was waking up with all four grandparents there to see me and my older sister getting our presents. I remember one year I had asked for this larger-than-life hot wheels garage, and there it was under the tree along with brand-new matchbox cars! I was elated and can still see that garage with orange plastic pillars and cardboard walls.


I don’t know one day what our children may remember about Christmases in our home. I hope they remember good times spent with extended family celebrating the birth of Jesus and making memories with those we hold most dear.

Now I will attempt to tackle why the big lie is not a part of our Christmas celebrations ever.

1. Gifting gifts to our children from santa requires either telling them the truth when they begin to ask questions or lying to them.

Let’s face it. Some kids just put 2 and 2 together, and they will ask. Our 12YO began asking the questions around age 4. And yes, we lied to him to keep the “magic” alive. I will never get over that fact. We lied to our son to propagate a lie.

I can’t even form anything else to say here that I can put on the blog. It is so huge to me as the parent of kids who have been traumatized in so many ways, but everyone doesn’t have that perspective I realize.

2. Not all good children, including four of ours, are visited by santa on Christmas Eve.

I would daresay there are as many children in the United States who find out the hard way—because santa skipped their house due to economic constraints of the parent(s)—that he isn’t real as those who find out from a friend or a parent or walking in on santa activities late at night on Christmas Eve.

What can I say to this? I hear teachers talking about how awful it is that druggie Mom isn’t getting santa gifts and I hear friends bemoaning the fact little Johnnie’s friend told him the truth because his family couldn’t afford to buy fancy gifts from a fake image. Folks, no matter the reason, why propagate a lie at the expense of a little child who has learned early on that it is all a LIE. It doesn’t matter the WHY—orphan, single mom spending money on drugs, single mom working three jobs just to pay the bills, parents who choose not to do santa—but it does matter that the lie is forced on innocent children.

As for our four from China, they all KNEW—even the “baby” who happens to have also been the youngest at adoption at age 23 months—santa was fake and didn’t actually bring gifts to all of the good children in the world. Two of them spent their first four and five Christmases in a Chinese orphanage. I will tell you that fact folks will RIGHT your perspective on the big fat lie. In China, everyone knows he is fake, even the families who celebrate him tell their children it is just a story and the gifts are from them. I like that much better actually.

3. He is an idol to many, and while we aren’t really even getting it done in our own home regarding the real reason behind Christmas, we’re darn sure not gonna add another distraction to this season.

There isn’t room in our home or hearts for two big guys at Christmas. Why do we as Christians do the gifts? I’m not even sure myself, but if I’m going to do them I definitely want them to be a symbol of the Christ who came as a baby and was welcomed with gifts from afar. We do three gifts as well as a symbol of the gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.

Life has been so hectic with the surgeries and just hard stuff around here that we aren’t reading an advent book, we aren’t doing family devotions and gasp … we haven’t  regularly in a long, long, long while … and who knows when we will again because its not my place to question … but we also aren’t propagating a lie about a man who doesn’t have reindeer who fly and live in the North Pole along with a plump wife and little people with pointy ears.

I will just conclude with this question: what if your insistence that those of us who don’t “do santa” are ruining your child’s Christmas also meant that you were adding to the trauma of a child who learned a long time ago that your santa  didn’t care enough about them to pay them a visit even though they tried to be good in spite of going to bed hungry, afraid, alone, cold and helpless with NO ONE earthly to care for them. Just think on that.


What to Do on A{nother} Rainy Day?

A). I could cry. Literally a river. As I watch our garden inundated yet again with torrential downpours. Just for reference: here’s is our otherwise lovely creek. Except right now it is swollen and way outside its banks. Bummer!

IMG_0191B). Or I could curl up with a good book like these two, which I have never finished but really want to finish.

IMG_2398C). Or I could attempt to clean up this pile that mocks me every single time I enter our library.

IMG_1935D). Or I could get some long overdue things printed like my new Alphabet Page Protector Printable Set and my fantastic new TpT and Blogging Planning Binder and actually display these Number Posters that I created awhile ago and sell in my TpT store.

IMG_0216IMG_0221IMG_2390E). Or I could try to finally finish up a new product I’ve been working on which involves a candy theme and fact fluency. Here’s a little sneak peak!

photo 2F). Or I could do all of the above! I have done some of these things today and yesterday as the rains have continued to fall and fall and fall.

Let’s see. How did I do? Continue reading


10 Things I Want to Do This Summer

Deanna over at Mrs. Jump’s Class posted a fun linky last week. I read her list and thought it was a great idea, so I’m joining in with my own 10 Things I Want to Do This Summer list.


1. Cook a meal EVERY night. I’ve gotten a bit less intentional about this since my bout with poison ivy and 11 days in China. We have a family of 8 though and going out to eat just isn’t an option very often. I LOVE to eat meat and veggies, as does the fam, so I need to COOK!

IMG_9103Here are some fresh apples just cut up ready to sauté in the skillet with a little olive oil and cinnamon. They were so sweet I didn’t even add any sugar!

IMG_9106I’ve tried plans and charts and calendars. Truth be told, if I get to the store and buy the food, I usually get it done. So yeah, getting to the grocery store might help LOL!


IMG_9109Speaking of the apples, they were delicious and none were left of course, much to the Prez’s displeasure since he is always hopeful (if rarely indulged) for a leftover plate for work the next day, which brings me to number dos! Continue reading


Five Free and Frugal Ideas for Your Classroom

Here’s five free and frugal ideas you can use for educational pursuits today!


1. REPURPOSE plastic pieces leftover from broken or partially misplaced games.

Use them for new game markers for:

  • homemade or TpT games (like the ones in my store)
  • sorting
  • matching
  • counting
  • one-to-one correspondence


2. ACCESS to read and/or listen to thousands of FREE books with audio and highlighted text.


  • You can sort by type of book, age, reading level, etc.
  • If you have an account with your local library, be sure to ask if they have a tumblebooks account. We are able to access it completely FREE with our library’s code!
  • This site is formatted to work on tablet devices as well as your laptop!


3. TRY simple scientific experiments with your students!

They can be done with items you DEFINITELY have on hand and will DEFINITELY inspire your students to seek out even more LEARNING opportunities!




  • A review of the Commutative Property with four glasses of water, two with a smaller but equal amount and two with a larger but equal amount.
  • Does it matter if you add the glass with the lesser amount of water to the glass with the larger amount OR if you add the glass with the larger amount to the glass with the lesser amount?
  • No it doesn’t! Whether you add 4 + 6 for instance or 6 + 4, you still get 10!
  • Try it especially if your students are struggling to understand why the two amounts are in fact equal no matter which way you add them up!




  • All you need for this experiment is MAGNETS of various sizes and objects to test whether they are magnetic or not!
  • If you have them, brass brads are the MOST FUN, especially with a large and very attractive magnet!
  • Challenge your students to see how many they can pick up with just one magnet!

4. GO OUTSIDE and explore in nature.


Whether you can find a nearby creek or just a nearby tree or field to explore, get outside and see what you can discover with your students! The world is our classroom!


5. SAVE PAPER and packaging you find in products you buy.

It has so many uses, not to mention it doesn’t end up in the trash or recycling bin quite yet!

  • Paper piecing: you might notice the chicken pictures in the picture below. They were created with scrap papers including another piece of brown paper that was salvaged from packaging!
  • The history projects on the top of the shelves in the picture below were also saved from the round file! They were intended to be the back of some cubeical shelves, but my Dad made me real wood back instead. These very sturdy (but still paper) boards were the perfect size for 2nd grade history projects!

Here is a close-up shot of one of the projects in progress!


  • Instant mural! (this paper below that our children turned into a mural of space “and other things” was wadded up as padding in a package of books I ordered.

These ideas are free and frugal, yet they are sure to enrich the education of those you teach! If you have some more ideas, PLEASE do SHARE in the comments!


Around Stay Awhile Farm

I have so many photos that haven’t made their way onto the blog. These photos are just us living life together learning and growing on our little mini-farm. I still am amazed and so very thankful we get to live here!


The Prez and three of the boys headed out on a dove hunt. Li’l Bro has a BB gun in tow, while Larry and Mo have their 20-gauge shotguns.


The hunt didn’t yield any birds, but it yielded a successful day of practicing safe gun handling and enjoying the nature surrounding us.

The ladies (our hens) like to graze in the yard as does Mr. Squawks, however they need to stay out of our garden.


A recent skeet shoot-out from the top of our property, in which Momma came in second to Mo, who is 11 years old. As for the Prez … ahem … he missed all but one of his skeets. Momma … well I shot all of mine down but one. 😀

DSC_0964 Continue reading


Summer Snapshots Take 2

Well summer is still going strong according to the thermometer and the calendar, but alas, school starts here at CandLHomeLearning on Monday.


Yes, even the teacher is rebelling LOL!

So, I thought it best to go ahead and post a few more photos I have taken in recent days of summer pursuits and happenings.

This first set of photos was taken by me the moment I arrived home with our oldest son, who had been away for 12 days at the National Boy Scout Jamboree. I swear he came back taller and slimmer and more grown-up than ever. He is a fine young man of whom I could not be more proud! His Dad agrees! Is it just me or does my husband look like a real-life farmer here?



And what says summer more than hamburgers, baked beans and slices of juicy watermelon?! Continue reading


Summer Snapshots

I have taken quite a few photos (mostly on the iPhone), but I don’t want to wait on posting or I know they will get buried on page 5 of my flickr photostream!

So, without further ado, some of our summer learning pursuits. Our local co-op has a saying: “The world is our classroom.” I think that just about sums these photos up!

Playing with an old friend!




IMG_6201 Continue reading