Tuesday, December 30, 2008
One of the current favorite exhibits is a room that has all kinds of information about the Catawba River which is close to us. The children enjoyed playing with a water table, doing a puppet show and learning about the fish and other animals that live in and near the river. One big plus was that, because we chose not to see the planetarium show, we had the whole room to ourselves for almost 45 minutes! We had a great time.
We finished our trip with lunch at Sonic which is on our way home from the museum. We picnicked in the van. The weather is so nice that the kids got to play outside before and after the museum also.
It was a good day!
Monday, December 29, 2008
And, speaking of good reads, I found this great website. Come join me.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Here is our plan for the week:
Monday- at home day; maybe a little science and Bible
Tuesday- Family day at our local museum- we're going on a field trip
Wednesday- a little school in the morning; in the afternoon we'll head to Jason's brother's where we spend the night for New Years.
Thursday- breakfast together and some play with cousins and then home for the day
Friday- my brother's kids coming for an after Christmas cookie day: with more and more of the nieces and nephews getting older and in college, it is getting harder and harder to do it before Christmas!
Saturday- do some house cleaning and planning for starting back to school
Sunday- the first Sunday services at church; I start teaching the 3s Sunday school class!
Wow! Looking at it, it looks like a busy week. In reality, I hope it isn't extremely busy and that we can get back into the swing of things somewhat.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I am tired and headed to bed- ready to do Christmas again tomorrow. But, I wanted to leave you with this cute article from my recent Living on a Dime newsletter. If you don't subscribe, check it out. It's a great publication.
Christmas Eve Will Find Me...
You know the old song "Christmas Eve will find me... where the love light gleams- I'll be home for Christmas..."? Well, Christmas Eve will find me lounging on the couch by the fire, watching snow flakes falling gently outside my window while sipping my old fashioned cocoa (made with real milk heated on the stove) and munching gingerbread men I baked myself.
As I sit here, my glance turns to the lovely tree piled high with gifts and my joyful heart swells at how blessed I am. What a perfect Christmas setting surrounds me.
Now before you get the idea I'm some sort of paragon of a woman enjoying the perfect Christmas Eve, note that all is not as it seems on the surface. Let me explain. I'm on the couch only because that is where I collapsed in exhaustion. There isn't a bone in my body that isn't aching. When I close my eyes, instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, I am having nightmare flash backs of the past couple of weeks.
Taking a sip of my cocoa, I cringe trying not to notice the burnt taste it acquired when it boiled over, making a sticky, gooey mess on the stove. Alas, it is only one in a long line of the usual Christmas events that I unsuccessfully try to pretend didn't happen.
Then there's the newly fallen snow -- it always looks so pretty on those Christmas cards, but after spending 30 minutes digging the car out so I could hurry into town to buy gifts and arrive back home to a freezing house, I feel like using all my snow scene Christmas cards to light the fireplace.
Last, but especially not least there's the tree! Whoever started the wives tale that decorating a tree is a heart warming and joyous occasion could not possibly have ever decorated one. The madness begins when you decide to cut down your own tree.
After hiking a mile through knee deep snow you find the perfect tree only to realize that you left the axe in the car. By the time you hike back to the car and then to the tree again the kids are tired and begging to go home. You have now sung every Christmas carol ever written and you are all eating snowballs trying to quench your thirst because your thermos of cocoa got dumped on the back seat of the car when the kids were fighting over it.
Freezing and frustrated, you hike back only to discover that your 4 wheel drive is snowed under and the tow truck bill alone could have bought a tree for every room of your home!
Once home, you find that the beautiful majestic piece of greenery which looked so perfect standing in the meadow of snow doesn't look quite the same after you have had to chop it 4 times in order to get it to fit into your house. You wedge it into the tree stand- forget trying to make it straight! You're just excited that it stays in the stand without falling over. It's amazing what you can do with baling wire and duct tape.
You string your own popcorn (another story in itself), singing more carols and hang gingerbread men only to find later that the tree is laying prostrate on the floor, stripped naked, having fallen to the mercy of the dog who grins at you, revealing his mouth full of severed gingerbread men limbs and a string from the popcorn garland.
Now you know why my heart swells with pride looking at my tree-- because in our home it takes more work to put up athan it did to build the Empire State Building!
To say that I can relate to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is an understatement and in some way or another, I think most of us can. In spite of that, each and every year, we once again try to find the perfect gift, the perfect tree and make the perfect dinner thinking this year we just might get it perfect.
It's called hope - hoping that this year we will succeed, faith - faith that we will obtain it if we just keep trying and love - loving every minute of doing it. Like little children who forge on working hard in the bitter cold building a snowman, not noticing or caring that their toes and fingers are growing numb, we too love creating the perfect Christmas (or snowman) for our family to admire.
In the same way that we see only our child's hard work and effort in his imperfect snowman, so our families will see and remember only mom's hard work and sacrifice.
Just relax. So what if the cocoa tastes a little burnt and the tree is a little crooked. This too shall pass --- and then you get to look forward to doing it all over again next year!!! :) :) :)
We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :)
The Living On A Dime newsletter is published by:
Kellam Media and Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 844, Andover, KS 67002
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
When Jason and I first were married, I was carrying on the stressful traditions. I hate decorating and dreaded it every year. I worried about what gifts to get and how many. I stressed over plans for the Christmas season. What did we have to do? What did we want to do? And how about establishing our own traditions? And, let's not even talk about how much money we spent!
But over the years, after having children, my thoughts about Christmas began to shift. I longed for a peaceful Christmas season, a time to just enjoy my family, and Christmas music, and all the good Christmas movies without all the hype. My first big "breakaway" was the year I was pregnant with Charles- nine months pregnant in December. I elected to not have a tree, and it didn't take much to convince Jason. We had a small table top tree that Kathryne (who was 17 months old) could enjoy and put some homemade ornaments on, and that was the extent of the decorating. It was so freeing!
When Jason lost his job right before Christmas when Kathryne was 3 and Charles almost 2, my thoughts about Christmas shifted even more. Even though we had already bought most of the gifts, and knew we have a "Christmas" I realized that Christmas had very little to do with this actual day we give a bunch of gifts and eat lots of food. So many things changed during that year. We had already lost my Grandmother on Christmas day the year before, and we lost a baby in the summer of that year. Then Jason lost his job at the beginning of December. That was definitely a year of discovering what really mattered and what didn't.
And, so fast forward a few years. Over the last few years, I have had fewer and fewer decorations. Last year we didn't put up a tree until Christmas Eve. We have also really been careful about our schedules during this season. We do not commit to enough things to be stressed, and we plan lots of down time with the kids and us together. Basically we've come to cut out those things we do as traditions just because we "have to", and we do the things that we think brings us together as a family and help us to focus on Christ.
Today, as Jason and I were out buying the last of the gifts, we decided to let the kids open presents tomorrow and not put up a tree at all. The present opening we wanted because the kids are getting a Wii (hope no one reads this before tomorrow), and on Christmas Day we go to Jason's family for lunch. So, we wanted the kids to have time to open the Wii and actually play with it before rushing out. The kids were all for opening the presents early. Kathryne and Rachel were a little disappointed with the thought of no tree. So, we told Kathryne she could decorate the small cedar tree in our yard with goodies for the birds tomorrow. She was thrilled. She's been wanting to decorate that tree! Then Jason, the pushover, went out to get "sausage" for breakfast and came back with a tiny tree and a string of lights for Rachel. So, we set it up and the kids made some ornaments for it. It sure was easier than putting up the big tree with the hundreds of ornaments we have. And it takes up much less room! It was worth it all when Rachel said over and over, "I knew I wanted a tree!"
So, here are my thoughts on Christmas:
Christmas is just a day. December 25 is a day just like the 24th. There is nothing magical about the day itself.
Christ was NOT born on December 25th. If that surprises you read about the history of Christmas here.
We can take a good idea- celebrating Christ's birth- and turn it into an idol when we allow ourselves to stress even if we are stressing over "good" things like church services and programs to celebrate Christmas.
Christmas can be a special time when we use it to focus on Christ and on time spent with family and friends.
Priorities are just as important when it comes to Christmas celebrations as they are all year long. If my relationship with God is a priority then I better make sure "good" things like decorating, baking, buying gifts,get togethers don't take priority over the better things like time spent with the Lord. If my family is a priority, then I better make sure those things don't interfere with the peacefulness of my family time.
So, Merry Christmas to my blogging friends. May you have a peaceful stress free holiday focused on Christ and on the things that really matter in life.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
We open gifts from youngest to oldest. I was a little concerned about my kids' response this year. I knew that they were getting big gifts that were for the four of them, not little gifts for each. I always like this better, but I know that they like getting little toys. They were very pleased and excited though. My mom and dad got them a trampoline. They are anxiously awaiting Jason putting it together. They also got each of them a Webkinz. That was a big hit! From my sister's family, they got a DVD/VCR player for the four of them. We really needed this because our VCR died and we still have VHS tapes- lots of kid movies. I'm also excited to have a permanent DVD player for the school room, so I don't have to move one back and forth. The kids were excited about it- especially when my sister let them borrow the Star Wars collection on VHS. They also got great toys from my brother's family. Charles was especially thrilled with a remote controlled car.
Kathryne had done some special gifting of her own this year. She is truly my child whose love language is gifts. She had decided to choose my brother's family as the special recipients. She has picked different family members each year. She made my sister-in-law a pot holder and my brother and two nephews fleece lap blankets. She also did gift bags for all family members decorating them and filling them with candy and goodies she bought herself.
All in all, we had a great day. I always enjoy being together with the family. Jason took 165 pictures. He was in charge of the camera. I have uploaded some to Picasa if you'd like to see them, please visit my Picasa album.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I look forward to my December letter every year because it presents me with the opportunity to introduce my readers to other writers who have had something to say about Christmas and all that it represents. That tradition goes back to 1978 and continues this year with a story called "The Good Things in Life," written by the late Arthur Gordon. It's a touching account of how God's love can melt our pride and lead us closer to Him, especially at Christmastime.
This story is particularly meaningful to me because the main character is a pastor, and, as you know, my family history is replete with pastors! My great-grandfather, grandfather, grandmother and father were pastors. My cousin H.B. London is a pastor who oversees our outreach to ministers here at Focus on the Family®. I would not presume to suggest that pastors in my own family dealt with pride in the same way that the character in the following story does, but certainly, they were all flawed individuals who experienced their own shortcomings and temptations throughout their careers. It is the human condition. The author of this story, Arthur Gordon, seemed to understand that struggle, and that is why I appreciate his simple little tale.
By now many of you have had the chance to read my special note from a few weeks ago detailing the financial challenges both here at Focus on the Family® and all around the world. It's time to lighten it up a bit. My good friend Dr. Joe Wheeler has once again birthed two wonderful Christmas books this year, one of which carries a story I think you'll really enjoy. The beautifully designed collection is titled The Best of Christmas in My Heart, Volume 2. If only for a few minutes, perhaps you can slow down and unplug from the pressing demands of your schedule and take the time to read and consider "The Good Things in Life."
The Good Things In Life
They were coming back this Christmas morning, coming back to where it had all started. Since that time, growing fame had come to him--changed him, warped him. Self had pushed God aside. Mary wondered: Will it work? Will the little church be on my side?
Near the crest of the hill he felt the rear wheels of the car spin for half a second, and he felt a flash of the unreasonable irritability that had been plaguing him lately. He said, a bit grimly, "Good thing it didn't snow more than an inch or two. We'd be in trouble if it had."
His wife was driving. She often did, so that he could make notes for a sermon or catch up on his endless correspondence by dictating into the tape recorder he had built into the car. Now she looked out at the woods and fields gleaming in the morning sunlight. "It's pretty, though. And Christmassy. We haven't had a white Christmas like this in years."
He gave her an amused and affectionate glance. "You always see the best side of things, don't you, my love?"
"Well, after hearing you urge umpteen congregations to do precisely that ..."
Arnold Barclay smiled, and some of the lines of tension and fatigue went out of his face. "Remember the bargain we made twenty years ago? I'd do the preaching and you'd do the practicing."
Her mouth curved faintly. "I remember."
They came to a crossroads, and he found that after all these years he still remembered the sign: LITTLEFIELD, 1 MILE. He said, "How's the time?"
She glanced at the diamond watch on her wrist: his present to her this year. "A little after ten."
He leaned forward and switched on the radio. In a moment his own voice, strong and resonant, filled the car, preaching a Christmas sermon prepared and recorded weeks before. He listened to a sentence or two, then smiled sheepishly and turned it off. "Just wanted to hear how I sounded."
"You sound fine," Mary Barclay said. "You always do."
They passed a farmhouse, the new snow sparkling like diamonds on the roof, the Christmas wreath gay against the front door. "Who lived there?" he asked. "Peterson, wasn't it? No, Johannsen."
"That's right," his wife said. "Eric Johannsen. Remember the night he made you hold the lantern while the calf was born?"
"Do I ever!" He rubbed his forehead wearily. "About this new television proposition, Mary. What do you think? It would be an extra load, I know. But I'd be reaching an enormous audience. The biggest--"
She put her hand on his arm. "Darling, it's Christmas Day. Can't we talk about it later?"
"Why, sure," he said, but something in him was offended all the same. The television proposal was important. Why, in fifteen minutes he would reach ten times as many people as Saint Paul had reached in a lifetime! He said, "How many people did the Littlefield church hold, Mary? About a hundred, wasn't it?"
"Ninety-six," his wife said. "To be exact."
"Ninety-six!" He gave a rueful laugh. "Quite a change of pace."
It was that, all right. It was years since he had preached in anything but metropolitan churches. The Littlefield parish had been the beginning. Now, on Christmas morning, he was going back. Back for an hour or two, to stand in the little pulpit where he had preached his first hesitant, fumbling sermon twenty years ago.
He let his head fall back against the seat and closed his eyes. The decision to go back had not been his, really; it had been Mary's. She handled all his appointments, screening the innumerable invitations to preach or speak. A month ago she had come to him. There was a request, she said, for him to go back to Littlefield and preach a sermon on Christmas morning.
"Littlefield?" he had said, incredulous. "What about that Washington invitation?" He had been asked to preach to a congregation that would, he knew, include senators and cabinet members.
"We haven't answered it yet," she said. "We could drive to Littlefield on Christmas morning, if we got up early enough ..."
He had stared at her. "You mean, you think we ought to go back there?"
She had looked back at him calmly. "That's up to you, Arnold." But he knew what she wanted him to say.
Making such a decision wasn't so hard at the moment, he thought wearily. Not resenting it afterward--that was the difficult part. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. The church would be horribly overcrowded; the congregation would be mostly farmers, but ...
The car stopped; he opened his eyes.
They were at the church, all right. There it sat by the side of the road, just as it always had--if anything, it looked smaller than he remembered it. Around it the fields stretched away, white and unbroken, to the neighboring farmhouses. But there were no cars, there was no crowd, there was no sign of anyone. The church was shuttered and silent.
He looked at Mary, bewildered. She did not seem surprised. She pushed open the car door. "Let's go inside, shall we? I still have a key."
The church was cold. Standing in the icy gloom, he could see his breath steam in the gray light. He said, and his voice sounded strange, "Where is everybody? You said there was a request ..."
"There was a request," Mary said. "From me." She moved forward slowly until she was standing by the pulpit. "Arnold," she said, "the finest sermon I ever heard you preach was right here in this church. It was your first Christmas sermon; we hadn't been married long. You didn't know our first baby was on the way--but I did. Maybe that's why I remember so well what you said.
"You said that God had tried every way possible to get through to people. He tried prophets and miracles and revelations--and nothing worked. So then He said, ‘I'll send them something they can't fail to understand. I'll send them the simplest and yet the most wonderful thing in all My creation. I'll send them a Baby ...' Do you remember that?"
He nodded wordlessly.
"Well," she said, "I heard that they had no minister here now, so I knew they wouldn't be having a service this morning. And I thought ... well, I thought it might be good for ... for both of us if you could preach that sermon again. Right here, where your ministry began. I just thought ..."
Her voice trailed off, but he knew what she meant. He knew what she was trying to tell him, although she was too loyal and too kind to say it in words. That he had gotten away from the sources of his strength. That as success had come to him, as his reputation had grown larger, some things in him had grown smaller. The selflessness. The humility. The most important things of all.
He stood there, silent, seeing himself with a terrifying clarity: the pride, the ambition, the hunger for larger and larger audiences. Not for the glory of God. For the glory of Arnold Barclay.
He clenched his fists, feeling panic grip him, a sense of terror and guilt unlike anything he had ever known. Then faintly, underneath the panic, something else stirred. He glanced around the little church. She was right, Mary was right, and perhaps it wasn't too late. Perhaps here, now, he could rededicate himself ...
Abruptly he stripped off his overcoat, tossed it across the back of a pew. He reached out and took both of Mary's hands. He heard himself laugh, an eager, boyish laugh. "We'll do it! We'll do it just the way we used to! You open the shutters; that was your job, remember? I'll start the furnace. We'll have a Christmas service just for the two of us. I'll preach that sermon, all for you!"
She turned quickly to the nearest window, raised it, began fumbling with the catch that held the shutters. He opened the door that led to the cellar steps. Down in the frigid basement he found the furnace squatting, as black and malevolent as ever. He flung open the iron door. No fire was laid, but along the wall wood was stacked, and kindling, and newspapers.
He began to crumple papers and thrust them into the furnace, heedless of the soot that blackened his fingers. Overhead he heard the sound that made him pause. Mary was trying the wheezy old melodeon. "Ring the bell, too," he shouted up the stairs. "We might as well do the job right!"
He heard her laugh. A moment later, high in the belfry, the bell began to ring. Its tone was as clear and resonant as ever, and the sound brought back a flood of memories: the baptisms, the burials, the Sunday dinners at the old farmhouses, the honesty and brusqueness and simple goodness of the people.
He stood there, listening, until the bell was silent. Then he struck a match and held it to the newspapers. Smoke curled reluctantly. He reached up, adjusted the old damper, tried again. This time a tongue of flame flickered. For perhaps five minutes he watched it, hovering over it, blowing on it. When he was sure that it was kindled, he went back up the cellar steps.
The church was a blaze of sunlight. Where the window glass was clear, millions of dust motes whirled and danced; where there were panes of stained glass, the rays fell on the old floor in pools of ruby and topaz and amethyst. Mary was standing at the church door. "Arnold," she said, "come here."
He went and stood beside her. After the darkness of the cellar, the sun on the snow was so bright that he couldn't see anything.
"Look," she said in a whisper. "They're coming."
Cupping his hands round his eyes, he stared out across the glistening whiteness, and he saw that she was right. They were coming. Across the fields. Down the roads. Some on foot. Some in cars. They were coming, he knew, not to hear him, not to hear any preacher, however great. They were coming because it was Christmas Day, and this was their church and its bell was calling them. They were coming because they wanted someone to give them the ancient message, to tell them the good news.
He stood there with his arm round his wife's shoulders and the soot black on his face and the overflowing happiness in his heart. "Merry Christmas," he said. "Merry Christmas. And thank you. Thank you, darling."
Does this story end a little too conveniently? Probably so. But I do not apologize for sharing this "warm, fuzzy" tale with you. Happy endings of this sort, implausible as they may sound, do occur at times.
There's an old Irish saying, "A goose never voted for an early Christmas." The geese in Ireland might understandably wish to delay the holiday (along with the turkeys here in America), but I think the rest of us are hoping Christmas comes sooner rather than later this year. Let's face it, 2008 has been rough. The presidential campaign was heated and sometimes nasty, with an outcome that, for many, was less than ideal. The national economy teetered on the brink of recession, and the experts predict that the situation may only get worse before it gets better. "Christmas time is here," as the children sing on the Charlie Brown Christmas special, but for many, it is tainted by an air of fear and uncertainty.
What do we do when "the most wonderful time of the year" doesn't feel so wonderful? For those of us who embrace the spiritual and historical significance of Christmas, we turn our eyes toward Jesus Christ, our Savior and King. When the world threatens to overpower us, we look to the Child in the manger. That helpless babe is God incarnate--the same God who set the heavens in motion and who knit each one of us together in our mother's womb. The Child who shivered in His mother's arms on a starry night in Bethlehem would one day tell His disciples, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). May we never become so busy with the holiday hustle and bustle, or so disillusioned with the cares and concerns of the world around us, that we fail to hear Him speaking to us, assuring us of His love, His goodness and His mercy.
No matter what is happening in your life right now, I hope the voice of Christ will ring loud and clear in your celebrations this year. From our "family" to yours, have a very merry Christmas! I'll see you in 2009.
James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
Founder and Chairman
This letter may be reproduced without change and in its entirety for noncommercial purposes without prior permission from Focus on the Family.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Ashlyne and Rachel- the sugar cookie decorators.
Kathryne showing off one of her masterpieces.
Charles getting ready to sample Candy cane brownies
And Ashlyne doing one of the favorite Cookie Day activities: licking the bowl!
Monday, December 15, 2008
I intended to get a picture of each one, but I noticed as I was taking pictures that Rachel had on only panties! So, I decided not to include her. :-)
Friday, December 12, 2008
Oh how often we either say it or hear it … “Too much to do, not enough time!”? I hear it and say it quite often. How do you manage all the tasks you have to complete in just 24hours? There are a lot of different methods on how to get chores and organizing done. Some have a strict schedule others just kinda wing it.
This week I would you to share how chores are done in your home. How you order your day with school and getting housework done. How do you decide which chores should be done by which child, of which age? I’m looking forward to hearing them!
I actually do chores and housecleaning on a schedule. I've always used a schedule, but this summer I read Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores by the Maxwells, and I have used some of those ideas to fine tune our system. We are a little more flexible, but I do work better when we follow a set routine.
Here is our basic plan:
Children do chores each morning after breakfast as they are getting dressed for the day and after lunch each day. Each of the older children have set chores. The little ones just kind of do what I instruct as we go along. I tried using the chore packs from MOTH, but the big kids didn't really need them and the littles didn't really understand. So, I leave it up to the big kids to get theirs done, and the little ones, I follow along with in the morning to help them stay on task and after lunch they help the big kids.
While my children are doing seatwork in the morning, I do the housekeeping chore for the day:
Monday- laundry catch up
Wednesday- mop kitchen
Thursday- dust and vacuum
Friday- sheets washed and catch up day
It doesn't take long because, for the most part, we clean up as we mess up. We clean up the table and kitchen after every meal, Kathryne wipes the bathroom sink in the morning, I usually wipe my sink and the littles sink and toilet while the little girls bathe at night, I vacuum up and down the hall and in the living room several times a week with my little shark, I throw one or two loads of laundry in a day and the kids and I fold and put away. I find it much easier to keep up if I don't get behind!
You can join us for Homeschool Memoirs at the Homeschool Blog Awards blog here.
If you enjoy a good read, please feel free to stop by and visit Good Reads.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Jason and I had a black lab early in our marriage. She was the most wonderful dog. When Kathryne was still a baby, we had to have her put to sleep. She was about 15 years old and had a stroke. So, none of our children have ever really known a dog. Two children- who shall remain nameless here- are VERY afraid of dogs. So, we have wanted to have a dog in order to help the kids get used to them. Unfortunately, starting a dog from a puppy is an expensive venture. And we have to be careful because Jason is allergic to some, but not all, dogs.
The other night an offer came through the homeschool e-mail loop that there was a labradoodle to be given away. He was fourteen months old, already had all his first year stuff done and had had obedience training. It seemed like the perfect opportunity. Jason visited yesterday evening, his allergies did not seem to be affected, and he brought the dog home.
Unfortunately, Jason WAS affected by the dog. After the kids were able to see him and bond with him before bed, we noticed Jason's eyes were swelling and he was having trouble breathing. He had to use his inhaler several times. In the night, I ended up getting up and sitting up with the dog in the living room to keep him out of the bedroom with Jason. When Charles got up this morning, his eyes were also swollen almost shut.
Needless, to say, we now have no dog. Thankfully, we were able to get in touch with another family who had wanted to look at him. The original owners were unable to take him back today, but the other family agreed to at least keep him over the weekend and decide if they wanted him permanently.
The blessing (and evidence to me that God cares about the little things) is that my kids know the little girl the dog went to. And because of that, they felt less bad about letting him go.
And we are still dogless. Looks like we'll remain that way for a while!
Monday, December 8, 2008
Outside my window...dark and cold
I am thinking...how much I enjoy football
From the learning rooms...still working on the Twelve Days of Christmas unit
I am thankful for...Jason and the kids
From the kitchen...a Monday night football cake; chicken soup and rice was supper
I am wearing...flannel lounge pants and a grey sweatshirt
I am reading...Unbridled Dreams
I am hoping...for a Panther's win
I am creating...a peaceful home for the hoildays
I am hearing...football
Around the house...lots of laundry today
One of my favorite things...reading a good book
A few plans for the rest of the week...a field trip trip the fire station; craft day with the homeschoolers; AWANA; a trip to Trader Joes; the kids choir program this weekend
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
To participate in the Daybook, visit Peggy's blog here.
Are they doing a lovely Charlotte Mason nature study, exploring the woods and surrounding areas?
Maybe a science experiment of some sort?
Maybe they are all gathered together- sweet siblings- expounding on some deep thought.
Nope, they are smashing pumpkins. Yep, they discovered that our remaining Halloween pumpkins are now quite rotten and that they make a lovely sqoosh when thrown hard against trees and the ground.
At least I stopped them before they threw them against the deck.
Maybe I could record this as SOME kind of school- a science project?
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I'll be honest. I could do without a tree. When Jason and I first got married, the tree was one of the most stressful parts of the holiday. We used to buy a real tree. It was sooo expensive, and did I mention I hate putting on lights?
For some reason Jason assumed I would be the one to put the lights on the tree each year- a tradition in his family. On our second Christmas together, I had the lights so badly twisted around the tree that we ended up throwing the lights away with the tree!
One year when Kathryne and Charles were very small, we decided to cut down our own tree from a friend's land to save money. Jason cut down a cute cedar tree and brought it home. We set it up intending to decorate it the next morning. When we went into the room the next morning, we were startled by little bugs on the window. Upon closer inspection, we saw they were baby praying mantises. Cute, but how did they get in? We scooped them up in a cup and took them outside. When we came back in, we found more. We took those out and came back to see where they were coming from. It didn't take long to figure it out. The window behind the tree and the floor under it and the tree itself were COVERED in thousands of baby praying mantises. Closer inspection revealed an open cocoon on a tree branch!
Even though we had hoped to spare the mantises, we finally gave up, sprayed the tree with bug spray, left the house for a few hours and then came back to clean up the carcasses.
Is it any surprise Christmas Trees are not high on my happy holiday list?
The last few years, we have used an artificial tree. We keep it put together all the time with the lights on it. In fact, we inherited it from my parents with the lights on it. We store it in our building covered in a sheet. We bring it in the house each year and decorate it with lots of homemade and family collected ornaments- much nicer than fighting lights and praying mantises.
I really liked not putting the tree up until Christmas Eve last year. We didn't have to trip around it for so long, and I think it kept the focus off of the tree and presents last year.
With my history with Christmas trees, I was amused to see this Christmas tree quiz on my friend Ginny's blog. The quiz is from Blogthings.
|You Should Have a Purple Christmas Tree|
There's no way you'd do something bland simply for tradition's sake.
You are an independent person, and you definitely do the holidays your own way.
And you're decadent enough to go way over the top with any unusual holiday ideas you have.
Your purple tree would look great with: Purple lights and ornaments
You should spend Christmas Eve watching: A Christmas Story
What you should bake for Santa: "Kitchen sink" cookies - with a ton of things in them
Ashlyne and Rachel are in preschool choir at church this year. This has actually been the first year everyone is old enough for choir, so I enrolled them all and use Sunday night as my alone night (if Jason has homework) or as a date night with Jason. Tonight the little girls sang in the choir program fro the 3K-5K. They were so cute dressed up ready to go.
They actually both stood up in front of the crowd without any hesitation, and they both sang.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I'm not sure if this is the deal all the time, but right now, they have many free e-books and e workbooks available. They also have lots of online games and practice things.
Friday, December 5, 2008
After the decorating had begun: notice the sticky mouths from the amount of candy being eaten.
And the finished product: Hmmm, doesn't look like the picture on the box.
And we are finished with our gingerbread house for another year. I didn't add the picture of the way the house looks now with most of the candy missing. Jason has been as guilty as the kids.
Some other traditions we are enjoying are a little less messy. We are doing a Jesse Tree for the second time this year. I used this website to get the information, and I printed out the ornaments. We also use an Advent wreath every year and light a candle each Sunday night and the Christ candle on Christmas Eve after the church service. We countdown to Christmas using Usborne's Advent Nativity Book and setting up a Nativity scene. Closer to Christmas, we'll have a cookie day with extended family.
I really enjoy this season because of all those traditions. I have made a conscious effort over the past few years to do away with the "traditions" that were stressful and time consuming and to spend time doing those things that we enjoy and that bring our focus to Christ.
I would love for you to share with me some of your family Christmas traditions. This is an interactive blog post, so please comment. :-)
Thursday, December 4, 2008
This week it’s seriously going to be just fun. This week share your favourite candies. I know from being on the HSBA Post team that Sprittibee and Dawn love gummy-bears, and maybe Bunny too. Have fun with this… and you’re welcome to post a photo of YOU eating your favourite candy. Haha!
God’s Word is also like sweetness to our souls. His sweet love, forgiveness, comfort, peace, and more is what makes our lives seem a little more bearable when things get rough. Whenever you eat your sweet piece of goodness remember that God loves you and will always be there when life seems sour.
Share a scripture for this week as well. One that lifts you up when you’re feeling discouraged.
My favorite candy is anything chocolate- particularly DARK chocolate. I try not to eat too much, so I like to keep a stash of dark chocolate pieces- like Dove- and eat just one small piece a night. That way I feel like I get my treat but I'm not overdoing.
And, a Scripture "pick me up" : Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in Thee. Is. 26:3
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
"So, I can make lots of money." he said. I'm thinking "Oh, no, where did we go wrong?" And he adds, "So I can buy all kinds of stuff for our family, and a big house for us all to live in.
He went on to talk about how we could all come to the "big house" for all the holidays and how he would buy it at the beach, so we could all go to the beach all the time.
I'm not sure he has exactly all the right priorities , but it sure is clear that our family is important to him, and for that I am so thankful.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Outside my window...a dark winter's night
I am thinking...how wound up children get on a dark winter's night :-)
From the learning rooms...a Christmas lapbook - The Twelve Days of Christmas
I am thankful for...our field trip to Operation Christmas Child today- so much fun!
From the kitchen...I didn't cook for supper, just heated up. But, I'd love to make something sweet this week. Any ideas?
I am wearing...jeans and a red and white striped shirt
I am reading...Blessed Heart Blue
I am hoping...for Jason to get home from school early
I am creating...a "want to get it done" list for the rest of the year
I am hearing...children playing
Around the house...laundry (lots)
One of my favorite things...is curling up in front of a fire in the fire place. We couldn't have one this weekend because it was too wet.
A few plans for the rest of the week...keeping a friend;s daughter Wednesday and then AWANA; Church mice; Crafts at the library; Christmasville this weekend
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
Rachel enjoying her turkey on Thanksgiving Day
You can participate in the Daybook at Peggy's blog here.
We gathered to wait for our group. Doesn't Charles look excited?
The children wrote letters to put in the boxes. Because we had already turned ours in this year, they told us to keep our letters for next year's boxes.
Then we went to a room where they told us all the things that could and couldn't go into the boxes, and the children participated in a relay race to take out all non acceptable items from the boxes.
We toured through the warehouse and saw the crates of boxes waiting to be shipped out.
At the end of our trip, we got to experience a church service in Kenya, as they demonstrated to us what it would be like to be a child receving a box for the first time.
It was a great trip. To hear how children are impacted by these boxes we send made a big impression even on me. To see how these people bathe those boxes and the whole process in prayer was very humbling.
I have been motivated to work toward turning in even more boxes next year. We have been doing two for the past few years. it is rather expensive as all those little toys and things add up. But this year, we are going to start in January adding things along, and it is my goal to have four boxes- one for each of my children!
If you want to know more about Samaritan's Purse (the organization who sponsors OCC) or Operation Christmas Child, please click on the links.