Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve Time Warp Party

Tonight we're hosting a time warp party for our shepherding group friends. We will celebrate midnight at 9PM.

Food:

ham and bean soup - I add a can of diced tomatoes and hot sauce
homemade bread (brought by a friend)
meatballs
little smokies "pig in a blanket"
vegetable tray with dip and hummus
Dr. Pepper (Brian's favorite), hot cocoa, and coffee, chocolate mint and gingerbread creamers
Candy dipped pretzel sticks, candy canes, and marshmallows
peanut butter cheesecake balls
brownies, both gluten free and regular


Activities:

a snowflake cutting contest
recitations/testimonies
maybe some Christmas charades or BOGGLE
a movie for the kids
countdown to midnight with noisemakers, glow bracelets, and, weather permitting, sparklers



What are your plans?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

There's a Mouse LIVING in my House!

Did you a have a good Christmas? Yes, my was fine to thank you...more on that later - I HAVE A MOUSE IN MY HOUSE!!!! This is getting serious. You see, it's been here for a month. I can't get rid of it. It steals the food from the traps and never gets caught. And it's not even scared of us anymore. Not much, anyway. It's started to run across the house in broad daylight. I've seen it five times today. I can't do the dishes. Or use my microwave. Or sit on the floor. Not when that dirty creature is running around. I'm living in a state of paranoia.


I've set two new traps today. They'd better catch that mouse. I try to be a humane person. I even tried a live trap (they've worked before). But I'm warning that mouse. If those traps don't humanely end his life soon, I'm going to resort to those horrendous glue traps. And I'm going to try not to feel guilty about it.


I was telling a friend about my problem (after I screamed "Get out! I HATE YOU!!" in her ear while I was on the phone with her because that stupid mouse ran past), and she told me that her brother-in-law had used a glue trap and didn't know how to kill the mouse, so he took it out and tried running over it with his car. But, of course, the trap stuck to his tire and every time he drove, it bumped...


Meanwhile, Anna Kate's imploring, "No, Mommy, don't kill it. I want it for a pet."


I want it dead.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The "real" reason that we get the presents on Jesus' birthday

Rose is in LOVE with Kehya Cause (Santa Clause). She is delighted to see him in any form. The Christmas Parade(more like a candy toss really) we saw a couple of weekends ago had a live Santa at the end. She begged, "I go with Santa Claus?" I respond, "He has to go to his house to work on your presents." "Oh. I go to his home? I go see Rudolph? Please, Mommy, please?" In Walmart the day after that, she was pleased to firmly plant herself on Santa's empty lap and lucky for her, no one else was around, because she had no intention of leaving. When it was finally time for him to go, she said "I go in Santa's car?"

And today, Anna Kate finally explained to me why it is that we get presents on Jesus' birthday:

"I'm so excited that Christmas is here and we get presents -
because it's Jesus' birthday, and Jesus is up in heaven, and Santa Claus doesn't
have enough magic to get his reindeer to fly up to heaven."

I'd always wondered about that. ;^)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Craft of the Day


Our Merry Mice ! (Walmart was out of green).

Budget American Girl fun

Okay, I seem to be on a roll here so why stop? This might make a good stocking stuffer, or just a fun project. I've loved American Girl dolls since they started. Last year, we read the Felicity series together after my kids watched the movie and loved it. Then we read the Kirsten series. Last night we finally saw the Samantha movie and loved that too. We initially made paper dolls of Felicity and Elisabeth for Anna Kate to use with out toy horse collection, and we've added to them. Just mount the pictures of the dolls you like on thin cardbaord, such as a cereal box, cut them out , then laminate them. They are played with often at our house!

these are just a few - the others, having been played with recently, are scattered.

Trustee Family

Brian e-mailed me this fantastic article, "Turning the Tables on Family." It resonates with a vision of faith and family for future generations that is sometimes lost in the muddle of daily living. This is purposeful connecting and instructing with an eye toward our children's chidren's children. Sometimes we think too small.

A while back, Brian also shared this from from Al Sanders' Crisis in Morality:

"Max Jukes, the atheist, lived a godless life. He married an ungodly girl, and from the union there were 310 who died as paupers, 150 were criminals, 7 were murderers, 100 were drunkards, and more than half of the women were prostitutes. His 540 descendants cost the State one and a quarter million dollars.

"But, praise the Lord, it works both ways! There is a record of a great American man of God, Jonathan Edwards. He lived at the same time as Max Jukes, but he married a godly girl. An investigation was made of 1,394 known descendants of Jonathan Edwards of which 13 became college presidents, 65 college professors, 3 United States senators, 30 judges, 100 lawyers, 60 physicians, 75 army and navy officers, 100 preachers and missionaries, 60 authors of prominence, one a vice-president of the United States, 80 became public officials in other capacities, 295 college graduates, among whom were governors of states and ministers to foreign countries. His descendants did not cost the state a single penny. 'The memory of the just is blessed' (Prov. 10:7)."

What Jesus Wants for Christmas

Ann says it best here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jesus' Birthday Party


This year we had 11 kids (including mine) at our birthday party for Jesus. We had streamers, the "happy birthday" sign, and balloons. First we played charades by drawing an action form a hat to either act out a portion of the nativity story or a winter/Christmas pastime like ice skating or putting the star on the top of the tree. Then the children dove into a basket of scarves, oversize vest, crowns, and other accessories and acted out a part in a living nativity. After some hot dogs, mandarin oranges, cheese puffs, and not-so-hot cocoa with candy cane stirrers, we lit the candles on our cupcakes, sang "Happy Birthday", and blew out the candles. Then we read The Legend of the Candy Cane and made these simple pipe cleaner candy cane ornaments.

Simple Toddler gift


My mother made this photo album picture book for Anna Kate last year. Anna liked it, but Rose loves it, then and now. There are favorite characters from Disney princesses to Nick Jr. pals, foods, animals, letters - anything likely to peak a toddlers interest is game. She used a stack of old Family Fun magazines.

Mailing Packages

I think that tomorrow is the shipping deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery, so if you're still running slow, get thee to the UPS store.

Can you believe that today, I walked into the UPS Store and right up to the counter to mail my box? No wait. I was sure that I was going to be entertaining three antsy kids in a half hour line, but no. No line. This is a great blessing in my life. One I surely don't deserve, because I deserve to be taught patience at every turn. I HATE WAITING. In line, at stop lights, at stop signs for that matter, for my two year old to get her shoes put on the third time so that we can get out the door. Yeah, no line at the UPS store the week before Christmas is a red letter day for me, folks.

On to packages. I like to decorate my boxes that I'm mailing. I cover them with magazine pictures. All blue flowers for my mother, lacy hearts and roses for Valentine's Day, or, in this case, Christmas wreaths and florals. It just gives an extra special touch. I was in a hurry today, so this example is rather sparse, but you get the idea. Martha Stewart Living or old Victoria magazines (if I can bear to cut one, sometimes I have duplicate copies), a pair of decorative edge scissors and lots of packaging tape are all you need. They look best completely covered in a collage, but this simplified version is still a step above ordinary.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Budget Christmas gifts

So many people sweat out how they are going to pay for gifts for so many members of their family. I'm thankful that my extended family does not go way overboard for gifts. I'm sure there are plenty of you all that spend less, but, in general we spend $25-50 for each kid, $10-25 on each other (Brian and I), $15-20 on each of our parents, about $5-10 for each grandparent, and as close to $5 as possible for my six siblings and their spouses (Brian is an only child). This calls for creativity to find things on sale, used (which no one in my family minds), homemade, or just something new and different. This year at Thanksgiving I got one sister a Christmas nightshirt at Walmart, which she gleefully began wearing right away, and the other a pair of the cutest Christmas slippers. Sisters are easy - I just buy them whatever I wish I were buying for myself - but it's even more fun to get it for them (they're the best!). My brothers will be getting some great books from Amazon's "used and new" sellers. You can often get great books in new or like new condition for a dollar or two plus $4 shipping. This year I got my two grandmothers and Brian's great aunt a Gl*de flameless candle. Something none of them would likely buy for themselves, but a great gift for them. I got several of the Gl*de light show fresheners with coupons and rebates last year. Good gifts for kids, teens, or someone in the hospital. And before I had a chance to post this, I ran across Crystal's post telling you how to get a great deal on the Gl*de Flameless Starter Kits at Target this week.

On another note, you can often be rescued from expensive gift exchanges outside of your family by suggesting a white elephant exchange. Everyone else will be relieved too.

Did you know-

that America has a Stonehedge??? Thanks, Dawn for passing this on! Fascinating stuff.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Witnessing to "churched" people

We(the kids and I, Brian was sick) went to a live nativity (picture post forthcoming) today at a horse stable run by a Christian lady who takes this opportunity at Christmas to host this nativity, free cocoa, and hayrides, as an opportunity to share the gospel. After we saw the pageant and pet the animals we headed outside to the hayride, but it was full, and we ended up waiting beside a man and his little daughter. We started talking about the wind and cold, and progressed from there. By the time that we'd made it to his leaving a former denomination and becoming part of a local community church that he obviously loved, saying that that was when he came to a personal relationship with Christ, I was beginning to think that we were probably on the same page. But in our evangelism class at church this past fall, we were reminded that many churched people are not truly converted. I asked, "so when did you become a believer?", expecting a clear answer of when he had received Christ as his Savior. He answered simply that he'd always believed in God. I was beginning to be a bit concerned, so I asked my husband's favorite question, "Okay, If I were dying and had only five minutes left to live, tell me how I can know that I'm going to heaven.'' The reply? "Just open your heart, that's the best I can tell you." Our time was running out as we headed back to our cars, but I was feeling very concerned now that this man felt that he had a personal relationship with Christ apparently based on his belief in God and some experiences in feeling peace from God in specific life circumstances, but seemed could not share the basic gospel message with a seeking soul. I handed him a million dollar bill and briefly shared how the law was written on it, to teach us of our sinfulness so that we could see our need for a Savior. He told me that it was cool, and thanked me. Pray that God would open his eyes to clearly understand and accept the good news.

Land of the Free

Okay, folks. I've waivered. I've wishy washed. I've dragged my feet. And I'm here today to tell you - GOOGLE RON PAUL - HE'S THE MAN YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOUR WHOLE LIFE!!!!

Dr. Paul and Me


Friday, December 14, 2007

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days

This was posted on my Facebook today by a friend. If you haven't already seen it, enjoy!

Relient K - 12 Days of Christmas

One of my kids' favorites - crank it up and enjoy! :^)

End of flag football

On his way to his second touchdown in the last game of the year:



My Christmas Sneakers

You asked, so here they are:

Date Night and Best Buy Rewards
















Thursdays are our date night. I have an angelic mother in law that not only watches my kids that night, but also keeps them overnight and even does schoolwork with them ( and loves it all).

With Brian feeling better lately, we've been doing more again instead of just renting a DVD and crashing at home. Last night was great! We had a $25 gift card to Chili's from my mother, so after ordering two drinks (splurge), two salads, and splitting an entree consisting of two half racks of baby back ribs (yum) and two sides of mashed potatoes, we came out paying only about $2 for our food and a $6 tip. Then...I had a Best Buy rewards coupon good for $5-5000. We were nearby, so we figured it could be fun finding out what we could get with just $5 (which is, of course, what it turned out to be worth). Now I know. Magnetic photo frames. Or maybe a couple of batteries. But then genius struck and we headed for the candy at the front. And with our reward cash we scored a bag of Ghirardelli assorted chocolate squares and a Cherry Coke. Free chocolate. I love Best Buy!

We ended our date wwith a 20 minute stroll around the mall to see the decorations (Brian's idea). Neither of us could remember the last time we'd been to the mall. I remember being there a year ago... Anyway, it's really beautiful - they've remodeled. And....we got his mom's Christmas present. Splurged a bit from our eensy weensy budget, but she's gonna love it.



And I'm still lovin' the chocolate.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"The Story of Silent Night featuring the Vienna Boys Choir" review

Our family thoroughly enjoyed this film last night. We were blessed to find it at our local library and it is as peaceful and full of the spirit of Christmas as the song itself. We turned of all of the lights except the Christmas tree and lived in the mood of that beautiful Christmas hymn for the space of an hour. It is not flashy or particularly geared for children, but we found it well-suited to watching just before bedtime. Anna Kate and Ethan watched the whole thing, and Rose drifted gently to sleep near the end to the sound of the Vienna Boys Choir. If you'd like a quieter reflection of Christmas, you'll love this.

Christmas Eve letter of Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c.1513)

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not got; but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it to-day. Take Heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see; and to see, we have only to look. Contessina I beseech you to look.

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendour, woven of love, by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the Angel’s hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty: believe me, that angel’s hand is there; the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence. Our joys, too: be not content with them as joys, they too conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and of purpose, so full of beauty—beneath its covering—that you will find that earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage, then to claim it: that is all! But courage you have; and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.

And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you; not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem, and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The "almost" family pictures

We met some friends so that I could take their family Christmas pics, and we were going to have them return the favor, but Brian got too weak, so it's just the four of us. We'll try again later. :^)





I won't win any decorating awards for this...

but the children loved it!


This recipe, spread on a pizza pan, decorated with anything available, in our case some whipped cream, colored sugar and leftover Halloween candy.

A surprise on my dresser

Yielded this:



The artist and his mother:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags - I hate wrapping
2. Real or artificial tree? I prefer real, but I use artificial -cheaper and easier
3. When do you put up the tree---Thanksgiving or day after? Usually the day after Thanksgiving but this year I think Dec. 1
4. When do you take the tree down? Soon after New Year’s.
5. Do you like eggnog? love it!
6. Favorite gift you received as a child? hmm... Barbies, my Cabbage Patch doll?
7. Do you have a nativity scene? one for every room, a cloth one for playing with - and a few extras! :^)
8. Hardest person to buy for? my father-in-law and brother-in-law
9. Easiest person to buy for? my mother and kids
10. Worst Christmas gift ever received? can't think of any
11. Christmas Cards...snail mail or e-mail? both. I love real mail, but enjoy e-mail too
12. Favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas and the Nutcracker ballet
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? the after-Christmas sales
14. Have you ever 'recycled' a Christmas present? I'll never tell
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Christmas cookies and my grandma's ham dinner
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? clear usually
17. Favorite Christmas song? Just one? "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella", "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day", the Nutcracker, and The Messiah are big favorites - but I love almost all of it
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? both. I enjoy travelling to spend a week with family somewhere, but don't like Christmas Day travel
19. Can you name Santa's reindeer? of course
20. Do you have an angel or a star on top of your tree? that is a loaded question at our house - we have both - right now my tree has an angel, but all the little trees have stars
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? both
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? being broke :^)
23. Shopping...mall or online? online and in other stores...I try to stay away from the mall, haven't been there in months
24. Do you decorate outside for Christmas or just inside (or at all)? Both.
25. Favorite Christmas cookie? Ha! Russian teacakes, peppermint puffs, does nutroll count?...I love cookies!
26. Do you own Christmas clothing or jewelry? A few sweaters and a new pair of Christmas earrings each year (usually). This year I got new jingle bell earrings. I also have Christmas pins, and at least one bracelet. Oh, and I have Christmas sneakers too.
27. Do you believe in Santa? If it means that I get presents, I do.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Animation of Prayer

This was made by a friend ( and with many of our friends' voices) and shown at our church. Our study of the book of Luke has led us back to the Lord's Prayer. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

They wanted to play in the sprinkler...


...but settled for a day at the beach. 3 swimsuits, one bathtub, and a few beach towles needed. Sand not required.

Quick Meals



Okay, my quick last-minute recipes off the top of my head:

  1. Grilled chicken salads - grilled chicken strips (Aldi's version is $8 for 2 lbs.), bagged salad, real bacon bits, sunflower seeds, cheddar cheese, croutons, and, if there's time, hard boiled eggs
  2. Use the same strips for Grilled Chicken with Spinach and Yellow Rice
  3. Tuna melts - tuna salad on hamburger bun halves, or in hot dogs buns, topped with cheese food slices, and broiled a couple of minutes, served with applesauce - I do this if we have leftover gluten free breaad or buns.
  4. Broccoli Cheese Rice w/ Chicken - instant rice, melt Velveeta in it, make some frozen broccoli in some chicken buillion broth, stir that in, and add leftover chicken, chicken strips, etc., if desired Great with apple alices.
  5. Spaghetti and frozen meatballs (I use Aldi's turkey meatballs. they appear to be gluten free, haven't officially checked). Salad, garlic bread (butter bread, sprinkle with garlic powder and parmesan cheese, broil lightly), pickles
  6. If you have three minutes earlier in the day, make Teryaki Chicken in the slowcooker. I bottle teryaki sauce, One 2 1/2- 3 Lb bag frozen chicken breasts or tenderloins, one can crushed or chunk pineapple. Dump in. High 4-6 hrs, low 8-10?, oven 350 degrees: about I hour. Great for putting in before church on Sunday morning. Serve over instant rice, with bagged salad.
  7. Pasta Alfredo with Kielbasa. Thaw 1lb of kielbasa while cooking pasta, stir in jar of Alfredo sauce, then diced kielbasa. Serve with salad. (See a theme here. Salads are handy, and can always be picked up by Dad on the way home.)
  8. Chili cheese dip. Velveeta or block of cream cheese, can of chili with beans - melt together in microwave and serve with tortilla chips. Serve with peaches, if that makes you feel better about having a balanced meal. Remember, this is last minute stuff.

Note: for cheap gluten free pasta, I buy thin rice noodles at the Asain store. Try different varieties until you find one you like. They look clear when cooked, but don't taste weird in a dish with sauce. I like the ones made with rice and corn flour.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Caring for ALL the Body

A year or two ago, a friend and I got our heads together and thought that it would be fun to have a Christmas tea and cookie party where each guest brought their favorite cookies and their favorite tea. We made a guest list, but it was December, and no one on the list was going to be able to make it. It's a busy time and plans were already in motion. This year, that friend of mine has cancer. We had a huge surprise birthday party for her. Everyone came. As well they should. And they would come if we had a tea this year too.

But I wonder about something. The Body ought to respond to a member that is wounded. It doesn't always, and that is a terrible thing. If a finger gets cut, someone needs to get stitches and a bandage and take care of it without delay. Some local bodies of believers are terrible at even first aid. I'm grateful to be part of one that takes care of these things. But, individually, as members of this body, are we often only aware of acute needs. I know that I have a natural inclination to gravitate toward people in need, but sometimes neglect them when things regain a more even keel. And I believe that I, and other members like me, may be doing a great disservice to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We care for fingers that cut and bleed, but don't notice them drying and cracking for lack of moisturizer. We don't notice the high cholesterol until the heart attack. We overlook the person, until the cancer.

I Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ...14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. ...18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

We are to use our gifts to encourage the Body:

Ephesians 4: 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Sometimes we're too busy until we're confronted with an emergency. The more excellent way ? Selfless love.

I John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.... 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

So who, in your local body, do you need to make time for this Christmas?

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay, I'm gonna say right at the top - I got this recipe online somewhere and I'd be more than happy to give them credit. But even after googling, I can't find it again. That happens to me a lot. I write them on index cards without noting that information sometimes, Sorry. If you know the source let me know.

That said, these are yummy. Here's the recipe:

3/4 c butter flavored Crisco
1 1/4 c brown sugar
2eggs
1T vanilla
2 1/4 bean or rice flour (I use my rice flour blend)
1 1/4 t xanthan
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 c chocolate chips
1 c chopped walnuts (opt)

1) Cream crisco and sugar. Add eggs & vanilla. Beat until smooth.
2) Add flour, xanthan, soda, salt, and powder; mix well. Stir in chips and nuts.
3) Drop by T on to ungreased sheet.
4) Bake 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

*Bars: Press into 9x13. 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool and cut.

Makes 30 cookies

Sunday, December 02, 2007

What a lovely night

I finally got my life in enough order to get the Christmas trees down. My attic is considerably more organized and my prelit tree is up and glowing, though it's still in need of shaping and decorating. Ethan happily decorated his four foot Christmas branch (originally our first $10 Christmas tree as penniless newlyweds) with his ornaments, and the girls little red Christmas tree and glowing Santa are up in their room. Only the little tree destined for my room remains, at least in the tree category.

We're enjoying Christmas. We had our first pajama Christmas lights ride last night, but it was a little too late for Rose. She conked out before we got to the subdivision I'd targeted. Anna Kate and Ethan, however, were thrilled. The children enjoyed painting stained-glass type ornaments earlier today. And tonight after our second Jesse tree devotions, we enjoyed a peppermint ice cream cone to the light of our tree and the sound of the PBS station playing the three tenors in the background and asking for donations to help support more of that programming. I must say it was interesting hearing them sing "Jingle Bells", not quite what I expected, but I love to hear "Silent Night" in German and it suited them better.

And did you see the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on CBS - Picture of Hollis Woods? Looooved it! I love Hallmark movies - the only thing I have against them is that I get nothing done in the commercial breaks - because I love them too! I didn't see my favorite commercial tonight, though. The one where the dad walks across the snow my lantern-light to read the Hallmark card from his now grown daughter who was missing that walk with him. I always cry my eyes out. And I like crying my eyes out over books and movies and sappy commercials, don't you?

I'm hoping everyone here will be better tomorrow. Anna Kate had a stomach virus on Friday, so we watched movies all day, then Brian felt terrible all weekend.

Bibles Unbound (A Ministry of Voice of the Martyrs)

Here's a great Christmas gift idea! For $30 a month you can mail 5 New Testaments each month to Christians in restricted areas. For more details: http://www.biblesunbound.com/qry/mc_home.taf

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Never underestimate the power of the dollar store

Some Christmas treasures from the Dollar Tree where everything's a dollar :

  1. A set of five tools - a hammer, phillips and regular screwdriver, pliers, wrench, and hammer to replace the plastic tools in Ethan's toolbox, so he can really help Dad - $4
  2. A few "decorate it yourself" travel coffee mugs. One for Pa maybe, and Daddy, and one to surprise Ethan with his own. My kids all love coffee. Even the two year old.
  3. "build a bear" size outfits
  4. 2 plastic mermaids to replace the broken ones in the under the sea castle playset that Rosie loves - $1
  5. 12 inch doll outfits
  6. dress up accessories such as Ninja weapons and a pirate set with earring, hook glove, and patch, for the stocking (they take up lots of space for the money!)
  7. glow bracelets in red and green for Christmas travel or evening parades - glow bracelets can save your life when you're travelling at night, but before bedtime.
  8. Christmas tights
  9. a "learn-to-make balloon shapes"kit with a mini pump, long balloons, and instructions for several things - $1
  10. A set of Santa's-sleigh-size jingle bells for Polar Express ornaments - $1
  11. paint-your-own ornaments craft sets
  12. a miniature silver tree, 20 colored lights (yes, from China, got to go donate!), a mini garland and star, and twelve little colored drum ornaments - $4. The delight my children took in decorating it, plugging it in in the playroom, and giving a stout rendition of "O Christmas Tree" in the tradition of Charlie Brown - priceless. Oh, and the silver branches with the colored lights make it look like a rainbow tree. It really looks lovely - much better than expected.

Update: I know that most of us don't have a ton of extra money left over for donations, but donating $1 to VOM for a Christmas Care Pack to China per string of Christmas lights you buy is really quite painless ( I just did it for the lights I bought yesterday) - and you may be helping the family of a Christian prisoner that made those very lights! Go here and donate now!!

Christmas time is here!

I am in the mood now! It suddenly came to my memory that I always go to Ross after I've shopped everywhere else and wonder why I didn't go there first. Plus, I was looking for Barbies from the older movies and they often have the "not quite as new" varieties. Did I ever hit the jackpot! Let's just say that Santa is going to be very good to two little girls I know, and while Mama splurged just a little (upping the budget to nearly $50 total for one of them (gasp!), it is going to be sooo worth it! I walked in and right there at the front was a Cinderella Mega Bloks castle with Cinderella, Prince Charming, and a dance platform that spins and plays music. Rosie's in love with princesses and "Cinderella, Cinderella" is her new favorite. I got it and an add on set for just $24! On to Anna bug. All she wants are Twelve Dancing Princesses. She's got the books, DVD, and five of the twelve Barbies. They are not to be found, but online and rather expensively. But I just snagged the palace! Woohoo! I can't wait 'til Christmas, I can't wait "til Christmas! Lest you worry, the boy is well taken care of with a special Star Wars transformer, some Magnetix, and a couple of Dollar Tree build a bear - compatible outfits. I even found a pack of eight large jingle bells at the Dollar Tree to make the requested bells from Sants's sleigh. You know, the ones that you can only hear if you believe in Santa.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Beautiful Christmas Wallpaper

at Crosscards.com !

Jesse Tree

I love ideas like this, but I'm not very creative. So the Jesse Tree sparked my interest from the first time I heard it, but the need to make my own ornaments, or buy a very expensive pre-made set, automatically set it on the back burner.

But, it's on fire today, baby! And you can have one too.

Let me backtrack. We got a subscription to God's World News for 2-3 grades, Taking Off. We get a two week set of a pamphlet type newspaper every other week and a teaching guide. And about once a month I get really fantastic full size posters. Last moth it was a detailed drawing of Plymouth Plantation, this month, the symbols for the Jesse Tree!

So I was ready to go. I used magnets to hang it on the downstairs freezer and thought that we could use the poster and read about each symbol. But then, as I was requesting enough Christmas books at the library online to reach the maximum hold limits for each family member's library card, a thought struck me. Why not google and see if some good hearted person hadn't, by now, posted printable Jesse Tree ornaments. And they had, bless their hearts! More than one of them. Here they are:
  1. Cute tree ideas and kiddie style ornaments
  2. Free printable book and ornaments pdf - I have not read this, I'm just finding free ornaments, not endorsing websites, one way or the other.
  3. Simple patterns you can embellish
  4. And my favorites, that can be printed in small or large sizes
  5. This is a great website where you can buy several types of ornaments and they have a great jesse tree advent activity calendar online!
  6. While I'm at it, here are some preschool advent crafts and activities .

Hurry and you can begin your Christmas countdown tomorrow! Oh, and don't forget, Sunday is the first Sunday of advent, so get those wreaths out too. Have I mentioned that I love Christmas?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

PA Trip Pics

pajama snowball fight with Dad and Aunt Rachel




Rachel and Daddy

Me and my beloved

Mama and Rachel

Rachel and Anna Kate

A Gerber baby at the Doll Museum
I had one just like her - named "Rose"


Rosie got her first Eagles outfit


trying to dry out the cornbread for the
stuffing a little faster - hehe


Boyd Bear Factory



farmhouse at Gettysburg battlefield

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm Jealous!

Yes, I'm driving past beautifully decorated homes with trees twinkling in the windows and I'm insanely jealous. But I will completely unpack and put everything away first. I will. I will.

We had a lovely trip to PA. The fall colors were still beautiful there, and we even got a one or two inch snowfall one night that prompted a pajama clad snowball fight. Brian's birthday was today and almost everything is put away - just some laundry and odds and ends to catch up. Now that this birthday ( and all of the special "from scratch" gluten free baking that comes with it) is over, maybe we'll finally get back on track with school. Oh, and did I mention that our heat pump apparently quit the day we came home? I'm going to think about that another day. Right now the space heaters are doing a better job than the heat pump ever did...

Don't know that I'll be back full force, but I hope to get up some pics and maybe a snowball fight video soon. :^)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving...and a blogging break


This autumn has been so exceptionally lovely here. Everywhere we go we enjoy the beautiful trees. It's been dry and sunny - beautiful days, but drought conditions. It rained for hours last night, and we give thanks.


Psalm 67 is coming along beautifully. Ever since I made up songs for the proverb of the day this summer, my children think that I ought to make a song of all their Scripture memory - even the entire book of John! But Psalms were written for singing. And this Psalm came together. In reality, it's probably rather choppy, but in my head...well, in my head it's in four part harmony with orchestra and sounds a bit like Rutter. Either way, it helped the memorizing along for me, at least. You can't walk through Target composing a psalm if you don't know the words...


I've been a bit scarce. It's been a crazy week. Don't expect to hear from me again until after Thanksgiving; I'm taking a little break and promise to make up for my lack of Thanksgiving posts at Christmas. I have zillions of Thanksgiving things to do and share, but ended up with little time for either. And that's okay. I'll get you an updated Thanksgiving booklist some year!


And for those who have prayed for me and my family - thank you! Brian, after seeming to be continually worse for the majority of the year, has been so much better the past couple of weeks. He still wears down easily, but the change from connstant misery is a great gift. We have done little, if anything different, but the knee pain that exacerbated all of his other pain, has drastically diminished to the point that he is not having to use a cane. Praise the Lord! His almost continual headaches have also subsided for the most part. We are very grateful and we give thanks whether it lasts for a week or a lifetime. Thank you for praying for him.


If you weren't around last year, go to my November 2006 archives. I blogged about our favorite Thanksgiving tradition and a wonderful storybook, among other things. I think you'll enjoy it. I pray that all of you dear bloggy friends of mine have a holiday filled with love, family, good food, good football, and much thanksgiving!




Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Remembering by Christmas lights

This past Sunday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Our church supports Voice of the Martyrs and often calls the persecuted church to remembrance. We watched a short film dramatizing the arrest and torture of a young Chinese woman, the editor of an underground Christian newspaper. At the end of the film, it noted that she spent six years in prison - making Christmas lights for America. A man from our church went to the front to pray, and before he prayed he called on the fathers to lead their families in remembering our brothers and sisters in bonds whenever we see Christmas lights and even planning to set aside time throughout the holidays to specifically remember and uplift them in prayer, perhaps by the light of our Christmas tree.

This is what I want to do. Challenge you. Spread the word. The Christians in China are mocked and humiliated by having to make Christmas lights. Why don't we remember them by Christmas lights? What if so many people committed to do this that it would no longer be a mockery to those Chinese believers, but an encouragement and reminder that the lights they made would be a sign for their American brothers and sisters to uplift them in prayer?

So this Christmas, when you turn of the lights to admire your tree, remember the church in China. When you load up the van and head off to see Christmas lights, pray for those who were put in a van and never seen again. When you tromp down a street in the wintry cold admiring the lights in the shop windows and on the lampposts, remember your brothers and sisters in cold prisons. Gather your family and remember by Christmas lights.

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Hebrews 13:3, ESV)

And then, let's take the challenge one step further. If you buy Christmas lights made in China, would you commit to donating $1 for each strand to the persecuted church? Think of it as helping the family of that Christian who may have made those lights. Just go to Voice of the Martyrs and click on donations.

Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy...
-from Hebrews 11


Saturday, November 10, 2007

My gift today


Today Ethan brought me a present. A sand bucket full of brightly colored leaves and a branch that looked like a Christmas tree. Scary how well my six year old knows me.

Fall on the farm


bracelets from cotton that they picked,

carded, and helped spin.




shucking and dekerneling corn





sack races






couldn't resist


popcorn break


washing gourds



Rosie loved using the old farm machinery




reading break - I like how the light is
hitting the Bible



folk music