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Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Washing the truck in December.
It is 11 degrees outside, but nice and toasty inside.
Not everyone's idea of fun, but to my husband, THIS is paradise.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Photos

Unfortunately, to start at the beginning, I need to fill you in on the depressing part of our Christmas. We spent the 2 weeks before Christmas sick. Really S.I.C.K. Isn't this the most pitiful face you've ever seen? All three kids were in the doctor's office, and were on prescriptions. I actually had to keep a log of who received what and when because in my sleep deprived haze, I was having a hard time keeping track of everything.
The good news is that everyone was feeling much better by Christmas.

Christmas eve was spent in the traditional holiday frenzy. My husband spent a few hours extracting toys from their boxes, twist-ties, and those horrible sharp plastic things, while I bustled about baking, cleaning and trying to remember everything we were on the verge of forgetting.
  • Did you pack the baby's diapers? - Check
  • Don't forget to water the tree! - Check
  • Did Santa eat his cookies? - Check
  • Program the coffee maker! - Check
  • Check to make sure all the stocking stuffers come out equal. - Check
I never realized how many tiny little details my parents had to handle to pull off Christmas every year. No wonder they always seemed just a bit sleepier than normal on Christmas morning (or maybe that was because my sister always woke us all up before dawn).

The kids all woke around 7:00 and we had some time to open our stockings before everyone came by for breakfast.

This is the teepee that Grandpa made for the kids. It started out with a pattern I showed him that was posted on Family Fun , but he made it so much better.

Christmas at our house always lasts at least two days. Because most of our family is in town, we spend the first day with one side, and the next with the other. So Much Fun! Here is Christmas Day part 2:

How's this for an excited face -

And thanks to my brother-in-law there is actually a photo of me. I swear someone is going to go through my photo albums one day, and there will be hardly any proof that I ever existed. I'm always the one behind the camera. :o)

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Glory to God in the highest!

There is nothing like a new baby to help you to realize just how amazing that first Christmas really was.
The reality of giving birth - in a stable!?! The joy of welcoming a tiny perfect being. The fear of having to flee to another country to keep that child safe. The joy of seeing your baby grow into a person with their own calling from God - one that you aren't sure that you are really comfortable with.

Mary's job as Jesus' mother amazes me. How do you raise your baby knowing that he is God? Really - how?

The bible tells the story this way in Luke:

    The time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Simple Huh? She gave birth, and took care of her child - even though the circumstances were, quite literally, stinky.

Our baby is now 8 months old. She smiles, sits up, reaches for us, and loves to play peek-a-boo. She is adorable! But, she is also very dependent on us.

In all reality, the savior went through this same stage. He needed his mother to take care of him. We don't have any details about Jesus as an infant other than his birth, but I am just awed by the reality that he bothered with the whole thing at all. Can you imagine, being all knowing, all powerful God, and deciding to place yourself in a position that requires dependence on your own creation?


Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . .


That song makes me think of my mom every time I hear it. She isn't someone who often sings spontaneously, but each time it snows in Nov/Dec, we are guaranteed to hear her happily sing at least the first line. It makes me smile every time. It is one of the great holiday traditions that she never knew she participated in I'm sure.

Every year our family has been adding new traditions to our December calendar. Here are a few of our highlights so far:

Ringing bells for the Salvation Army - such a simple way to allow kids to volunteer (and they do the job just as well, if not better than the adults)

Baby is still small for bell ringing, so we made her a make-shift crib out of a shopping cart. She got lots of comments that basically all sounded like "Awwwww"
Lots of crafts and parties! My sister's family threw a Birthday Party for Jesus last night, that was adorable. They filled an advent calendar with alternating readings, crafts, gifts, and activities. It was a great party, and the readings kept everyone focused on the birth of Christ. They did a great job!


We volunteered to put up the decorations at church this year. While busy hanging garland I gave the kids the task of setting up the Nativity. My little boy commented that there wasn't a donkey or camel in the set. Fast forward 15 minutes ... he asks for some animal crackers. I give him and his sister a snack. On our way out the door I was walking past the nativity scene and noticed tiny little animal crackers tucked into the stable. His comment - "Thats where they belong! The donkey is for Mary to ride on and they need the camel to carry all their things in case they need to run away from the king." I was trying to decide if I should allow him to leave the crackers when he suddenly scooped them up and put them in his mouth. Apparently the tender moment was over.

Our new event this year was going to chop down our own tree at a friend's house. The kids have always loved getting a tree locally, but this year they were especially excited. A wagon ride and a walk through the snow, what's not to love!

And just in case the song isn't already stuck in your head:

Lyrics | Johnny Mathis - It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas lyrics

Sunday, December 13, 2009


At worship team last week we had a conversation about some of our favorite Christmas hymns. It is a bit sad that we know them so well, that we forget to think about the words. In particular, we discussed the amazing truths told in Handel's Messiah. What a powerful story!!!

So today, another friend forwarded this video to me.

It isn't exactly what we meant by focusing more on the words, but it certainly gave me a giggle.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Donkeys can't climb ladders

I love thinking about all of the traditions that surround Christmas. For me, the most special traditions are the ones that don't make any sense at all to people outside of my family.

The best example is my family's interactions with our nativity figures, which we all call the "manger scene." When we were little girls, my parents would allow us to help with setting up all of the characters. We would happily unwrap each little figure. We liked Mary & Joseph, loved the cute sheep, but were all secretly hoping to be the one to unwrap baby Jesus. There was no special prize for getting to put him on the table, but we hoped for it anyway, and squealed with delight when he was found.

Now that we are grown, my parents invite their grandkids over for a day of decorating, and the kids get to be the ones to set up the nativity . . . and yes, if I am honest with myself I have to admit that I really am secretly hoping that one of my kids gets to put baby Jesus in his place, rather than their cousin. Petty, I know, but true.

As we grew older, I'm not quite sure when, we created a strange relationship with the nativity's donkey. Someone placed him in the loft, which my middle sister (the logical one) objected to. "Donkeys can't climb ladders," she protested. Well, the game was on. Donkey up - donkey down - donkey up - donkey down. Now it has simply become tradition that the donkey goes in the loft. Sure he doesn't really belong there, but that is what makes it special. And you know what? I would put the donkey in the loft of my own nativity scene if he would fit there.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Yummy fun! That's all I gotta' say.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway…
Thanksgiving comes again!
- Anon

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bunny Ears

When shopping for kids' shoes this past summer I had specific requirements: No elastics, no velcro, no zippers. I was looking for good old fashioned LACES. They aren't easy to come by on kids shoes.

My goal was to force myself to take the time to teach the kids how to tie their shoes. It is one of those coordination things that you can only learn by doing it over and over, and velcro wasn't helping the situation.

So my oldest picked out a pair of sparkly pink and white sneakers and we began to work on it. We sang little rhyming songs and practiced faithfully. Slowly she began to catch on. I started to notice her develop a new love of string. She tied knots around chair legs, in her doll ribbons, and sometimes even with her shoelaces. Hooray! The first half of the process was mastered (criss-cross poke through and pull) but the bow had her stumped. Every time she tried to figure out which loop to pull through, her knot would fall apart and so would she. Poor thing.

Just a few days ago, I remembered that a grade school friend used to tie her shoes differently. Instead of the standard bow, she tied "bunny ears" by making two loops and then knotting them together. I showed the bunny ears to my sweet daughter only once, then she beamed with excitement when she tied her shoes all by herself. Now she is happily tying bows for anyone who will watch.

My son? Well, he's not so interested in the process. (Plus, he was given a pair of fun velcro sneakers from a favorite cousin) We'll give him some more time. I'm sure that by the time he gets into Boy Scouts he will be teaching me a thing or two about knots.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bye-Bye Dirt Pile

Going . . .
going . . .

"The dirt pile" was part of our life for a little over 4 years and 9 months. But I'm not counting or anything ;o) I remember snuggling my 2 day old son and trying to nap on the couch while listening to one of our contractors calling for me over the banging and sawing of his framing crew (I had a toddler and a newborn napping at the same time! That contractor was out of luck - I stayed right where I was).

In order to build our addition, a foundation had to be poured. In order to pour the foundation, a hole had to be dug. And when you dig a hole, you get dirt; lots of it. That is how our dirt pile was created. Now, normally the crew would haul away the big pile of dirt, but we decided that we wanted to keep it to use in our landscaping.

We have had a lot of fun with the big pile of dirt in our backyard. We have dug in it, explored around it, climbed it, sledded down it, and wrecked quite a few clothes falling off of it.

My husband lovingly referred to it as his "botanical garden." Well . . . botanical, yes. Garden, not so much.

Finally the dirt pile is gone. It has been moved around to smooth out some bumps, fill in around our grape vines, and build up an area for our new trees. The rocks we found in it were used for my 2 new front stone walls.

We still have a few recliner sized boulders that we aren't sure what to do with. Just give us a little time (say 4 years and 9 months). Our progress may be slow, but the results are worth it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Making a Toy Canoe

On a recent walk on the local trails my daughter who loves all things Native American, found a dead White Birch tree. She was thrilled to be able to bring home a piece of bark.

It sat in my car for a few weeks until she rediscovered it while I was cleaning out the back seat. (note to self: I need to clean out the car more often) She studied it for a while and then asked if she could make a birchbark canoe for her Pocahontas doll. "Sure" I told her, but inside I was thinking that I have no idea how canoes are made.

She continued to study her bark while I finished with the car. While bringing everything indoors she told me that her bark was too stiff to bend properly, so she wanted to soak it in water. Ha! So much for me thinking that I would have to teach her how to make a canoe!

After putting the bark in the tub she went to the fridge and pulled out our maple syrup saying that she needed sap to seal the edges just like native Americans used to do. Wow!!! and No!!!

I told her that she would need to come up with another plan that wouldn't attract ants.

The wood occupied our bathroom tub overnight.

I assumed that she would forget about her project overnight. At 6 years old there are lots of things that are exciting one day, and boring the next. But she woke up and before even eating breakfast she went to check on her wood.

I helped her with designing a pattern, but she did all of the rest of the work.
She traced the pattern onto her wood using a blunt pencil.

Cut it out using kitchen shears ( I was afraid that she would ruin her regular scissors on the tough bark)

Scraped all of the remaining wood out with an old spoon. She asked if we had any clam shells for this step :o) Usually clam shells are thrown out after our meal - now I know to save one next time.

To join the edges she originally wanted to punch holes and lace it together, but by this point she was getting anxious to finish, so she switched to the very unauthentic method of stapling her bark together. It was still fairly stiff, so we used a canning jar to help keep the wood bent as she worked.

It took her a good portion of the day, but she finished it. Now her doll can travel in style.
She still hasn't decided what she will use to waterproof the seams. I can't wait to see what it will be (as long as it doesn't involve items from my refrigerator.)