Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Year!

I've been a busy little bee. I've not gotten a whole lot done, but I've sure worked hard at it. I did mail out the last of my Christmas cards. Yup. I'm that far behind.

But, my Christmas tree is down. We are taking a trip to the storage building tomorrow to tuck everything away for another year. We cleaned out a few closets and donated 2 or 3 bags of stuff to a local charity. I still have a pile of sewing stuff I'm working on, but that is just the way it is. I'm going to have to just start treating my sewing machine as part of the decor. I've got a picture or two I can hang from it. I wonder if I should try a little decoupage on it?

I've also been doing a bit of homeschooling and "life" reorganizing. A friend and I got together before Christmas. She a homeschool mom of 5. We sat down at her kitchen table and she showed me her methods of record keeping, meal planning...and just basic scheduling. I was so inspired I am attempting similar methods. I've also made a few resolutions. It is that time of year!

So here they are. My New Year's Resolutions. There is not anything life changing. Putting together large puzzles with my son isn't going to revolutionize my existence. But...I have learned through my weight loss transformation that sometimes the best resolutions are those that are doable...and sometimes a major change in your life needs to happen in small bits. Best of all you need to throw in some fun stuff along with all the heavy lifting.




Blessings!

Rebekah

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

So it's late. This Christmas is almost over. I'm up waiting for my laundry to finish drying. We're spending Christmas with The Studly Muffin's Family. And tomorrow we are planning to drive the 4.5 hours back home. Not a bad trip. But have you ever noticed that wherever you are your dirty laundry is bound to follow? What's up with that! One would think that at least I could have a vacation from my laundry. The Studly Muffin is up with me. Though he isn't doing laundry...He's watching a marathon of old Andy Hardy movies.

Christmas this year was really special. It is every year, but I don't even have proof this year. I am still searching high and low for my camera battery charger. I think it must have packed up and moved. I would too if I lived with me. But as it is necessary for me to blather randomly about nothing, I will give you a few favorite memories from our Christmas vacation. Thus far.

1. We started out the trip with a bang by locking our keys in the car during a potty break in some random Missouri town. Thankfully, most folks in random Missouri towns are pretty nice. We were helped out by a helpful gas station employee, a local cop and a very inexpensive locksmith. The whole episode took about 20 minutes. I got to do some browsing in the small, but entertaining gas station gift section. I didn't buy anything, but I sure was tempted. I found a ceramic piece of a hillbilly trying to fish with dynamite. I'm pretty sure they modeled this fella after one of my relatives.

2. My precious father-in-law broke his foot. Yep. He stepped out on the porch, slipped on an icy rug and went flying. I will have to say that I never would wish anything like that on him (or anyone), but he was really a trooper. He worried about all of us having to wait on him. Considering that it is usually me who manages to wind up with some sort of bodily injury, strange disease or calamity I was kind of relieved to wait on somebody else if needed. Of course, we still have about an hour until Christmas is officially over. I wonder if I need to worry about this tic in my left eye.

3. The Studly Muffin comes from a military family (he spent 4 years in the Air Force, himself). They are pretty laid back about it, but I suggest that you don't insult the Air Force in their hearing. We visited the base twice. Which means we had to visit the BX. Now that is my kind of mall. They have just a little bit of something, but not enough to wear me out or give me too many choices. It is a different world, however, for someone who doesn't have a military background. They have a whole store just for military clothing. Not a spot of red or purple in the whole place. And then there is the salon that gives military haircuts for $10. I don't imagine they do pink foils. If you live in an area that has a military base I would encourage you to give those folks who serve an extra smile every once in a while. They are really special people.

4. The food during the holidays. Need I go further? Let's just say I'm not quite ready to admit my eating failures. We'll see how well I did when I get home and step on the scale. I'm about ready to pass around a petition for outlawing pie at family gatherings. Not that I could get anyone to sign it. The traitors.

5. Spending time with family is always special. These are all family members who we don't get to see all the time. We went to church, watched Christmas movies, played games, ate more food than is necessary and did last minute shopping. This last minute Christmas shopping stuff makes me twitchy. I think you all are crazy. Is it bad that I am considering doing all my shopping next year via computer? Don't get me wrong. I love to give gifts. It's just that I value my sanity. And my limbs. There were certain moments I was tempted to stop and yell..."Everybody drop what your holding. Ya'll need a time out!"

6. All families have special traditions. We tend to have a bit of a smorgasbord of traditions. Because we alternate holidays between our families we just kind of do what that particular group is doing. Over the years it's become a melting pot of every one's traditions. troy's side is pretty predictable. My sister-in-laws makes a blueberry sausage cake. We sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. We open up one present at a time. My side of the family are bit more sophisticated. We just start throwing presents out and everybody starts a free for all. None of that waiting around stuff. When it's all over we are left with piles of wrapping paper, bows and happy kids. Of course, there has been a year or two that we've had to search the trash again for a accidentally tossed present or kid.

7. Of course, the most special memories can't really be voiced into one particular event. Instead they can be summed up in feelings. The awe and reverence felt during the Christmas Eve candlelight service. The intense love for your husband while seeing him in a tender moment with his parents. How loved I feel after seeing the generosity of my family towards us. The feeling of contentment watching the Christmas tree lights reflect on a shiny ornament. The satisfaction of a hot cup of peppermint tea.

8. I got some wonderful gifts. Jewelry, gift cards, bath lotion, some fuzzy socks, a few clothes. I got way to much, but I received it all with thankfulness (and glee). Dangly earrings make me happy. The Studly Muffin bought me some cute sweats....with sparkles! Does this man know me or what? Now I can be sparkly and comfy. I am tempted just to wear them the rest of the winter. I am a blessed girl.

Mostly, I am so blessed to know My Savior. We all whine about the commercialization of Christmas. But truthfully, Christmas is what you make of it. So right now (as I get ready to go get my load of laundry out of the dryer) I am savoring the Season. We have the assurance to know that we serve a Big God. An awesome God. I am convicted when I think of how busily I live my life. It's not just at Christmas that He desires my love, but all year long. Day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute.  Think of the wonderful love He has for us. It's not just a "one day a year kind of love." It is forever. And that, my friends, is the best gift of all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Fudge

I promised in my last post that due to my ongoing weight loss efforts there would be no cookie or candy making taking place at my house this year. I know. Sucks the joy right out of everything, doesn't it. But this doesn't mean I can't pass along a family recipe to you.

I am sharing my Christmas Fudge recipe with you. Actually, it's not mine. It's my mom's. And she got it from her mom who got it from her mom...you get the picture. This was one of our Cousin Camp Cooking School recipe from last summer. The pictures are from that particular fudge making session. The players are younger, but the fudge is just as yummy.  And by the way...The recipe is actually called Chocolate Fudge. I have always called it Christmas Fudge because we usually made it at Christmas. And because I am the oldest child I declared it to be so. I'm bossy like that.


Just thought I would share my cute little momma's fashion sense with you. I need to get me some of those little girl's bow shaped barrettes. My niece Maddie and Ama (the grandkids name for Mom) stir up the ingredients. Just simply Cocoa powder, sugar, milk, salt and corn syrup at first.


Everybody gets a stir. We are equal opportunity stirrers.


Butter you up a pan. This is very important. Butter is one of the main food groups. Unless you are trying to lose a lot of weight. Sorry. I'm not trying to impose my own issues on you.


This is my mom's butter dish. Butter tastes better when housed in a ceramic cow. Didn't you know that? Not that I would know. I haven't had butter in at least 5 months.


So somehow I missed downloaded the pictures of the actual cooking of the fudge on the stove. But you need to do that. You cook gently until candy can be formed into a soft ball when put in cool water.


It helps if you give it a good look see.


After it's done, stir in some butter  and let it cool without stirring. Then add in vanilla and stir it up pretty good until it's no longer glossy. Don't you like my really specific directions? The important part is licking the spoon when it's all said and done.


And then the eating of the Christmas Fudge. That's the best part of all.



Here is the recipe as promised.

2/3 cups of milk
3-4 Tablespoons of baking cocoa
2 cups of sugar
dash of salt
1 teaspoon of corn syrup.

Combine all above ingredients and cook gently until it forms into a ball when dropped into a cup of cold water. Remove from heat, add 2 Tablespoons of butter and cook without stirring until lukewarm. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat until no longer glossy and it will begins to hold it's shape. Pour into a buttered pan. Cut into squares. Share with your favorite blogger (sorry...I'm still trying here.)

Merry Christmas and Happy Fudge Making!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Random Thoughts - The "This is me stalling" Edition

Good Friday Morning! I'm sure that all of you are up to your noses and eyeballs in Christmas festivities. I'm up to my nose and eyeballs in apron making. And as you can plainly see I am stalling. I've got so much to do...but I need to go dig in my apron making mountain (fabric and the like) to find a few things and I'm kind of afraid I'll be lost forever. The sad thing is that as long as I've got my Kindle and The Studly Muffin shovels in an occasional California Roll I'd probably be okay. I am due for some quiet time.

I have so much to share. But...given my lack of time and (frankly) scattered brain cells...I thought I would just throw a few things out there. They may or may not be related. Just consider this a gift.

1. Josiah and I went to the Opera yesterday. Whew-y! We're fancy! I have something absolutely horrifying to admit. Brace yourselves. I like Opera.  I know! I've liked it since I was a young thing. Stranger still. I realize it is odd to sing one's conversation. And even odder to listen to it sung in a language you cannot understand. But the Opera yesterday was delightful and it was in English. It was Amahl and the Night Visitors. Perfect for the kiddos. We went with a bunch of friends. Josiah sat a few rows in front of me with four of his buddies. They sat perched on the edge of their seats. After the Opera (I love saying that...makes me feel so cultured), we went to McDonald's and participated in some more culture. Chicken McNuggets and the Playhouse. The other moms and I chatted about life, female conditions and our perfect husbands and the kids whooped it up. I won't tell you how long we were there. It might sully your good opinion of me.

2. I still have a list of Christmas projects I need to finish ASAP. These may or may not be Christmas projects for family members who may or may not be reading this blog. I also do not have a single Christmas present wrapped. I had plans for elaborate package toppers, but it is looking like I'm going to have to bring out the peel and stick kind and let Josiah tape a candy cane on top. I realize that this alone might damage might reputation of the "overkill queen," but I think I can live with that. You know you've arrived when you have gone from a "wrapping paper having to match your Christmas outfit" freak to a "letting your 11-year-old son completely take over the Christmas wrapping" gal. My only concern is I'm afraid there might be a bit more creativity with the whole wrapping thing with Josiah involved. We will most likely wind up with a full scale Christmas version of the Millenium Falcon.

3. When Josiah is a fan he is a fan. He loves music and he has a few Christian artists right now that he's all about. Sidewalk Prophets for one. And then there is Steven Curtis Chapman. SC2 (for short) has a song called "Dive." It's older and the video features "divers" diving into water. Apparently, this is now Josiah's theme song. He plays it over and over and over and over. He has also written a fan letter to SC2.

Dear Steven Curtis Chapman,

My name is Josiah. I am 11-years-old. I live in Missouri. I love your music. I am sorry I haven't written before, but I just found out you live in Tennessee. Maybe I can visit sometime or you could come stay with me in Missouri.

Ah! I hope Steven just doesn't pop in on us. I need at least a few days to stash the fabric mountain. And change the sheets.

4. I am afraid I have managed to crush the Christmas spirit in my house. At least the spirit of the "Christmas Goodies." We are making one batch of cookies for Josiah to give to some of his older cousins and that is it. I know! It's almost like I've gone all Scrooge! But, I can't do it. I am weak. I have lost 63 pounds so far and I can't sabotage myself with sugar cookies and Christmas fudge. There are going to be enough temptations during our Christmas holiday with the extended Family as it is. And I plan on having at least one piece of pie. But I refuse to spend the weeks leading up to the big birthday party for Jesus shoveling snickerdoodles down my face. If my guys want any Christmas candy they are going to have to make themselves. I've come a long way and have a ways more to go.

5. So there!

6. Speaking of weight loss. Have a mentioned what losing 60+ pounds does to ones body? It's all good (trust me), but there is some saggage I didn't anticipate. There are parts of my body that resemble elephant skin. I'm wondering if scotch tape might do the trick. I know. TMI!

7. A few days ago Josiah and I went to our favorite hair lady's house  (she blessed me with a Christmas hair cut). She has an in-home shop and we are always blessed to see her. She gave Josiah a radio. He had been listening to our weather radio. Sad, I know. But when he figured out it played his favorite station he began carrying it around like a boom box and then left it in his room...on 24/7. Of course, weather radios run down their batteries and it was a sad day when it gave out. So now he has one you can plug in. He kept telling me, "Mom! It will never die! I can listen to it all the time!" I felt like I had been depriving him of some great secret of the universe until I realized that this is a child of the "mobile device generation." Poor guy will never have the joy of being his father's personal remote control.

So I've stalled the inevitable long enough. I need to at least start doing something. Knowing me it will be late into the night tonight and I will be bemoaning my few minutes spent playing on the computer. I really need to find a quick source of caffeine and get to it!

Blessings!
Rebekah

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Christmas Miracle

I'm a little late with this post. I meant to write this two days ago.

Josiah and Daddy (he was about 5 months old).

You see...11 years ago on December 10 about mid-morning...Troy and I sat in a court room and received parental custody of a two-week-old baby boy. We had only seen him twice. Both times were at a small foster care agency that was handling our foster care until our paperwork was in order.

The first time we sat and held a sleeping Josiah we cried. I've shared this before, but when he finally woke up and looked at me with large dark eyes I felt like I recognized him. Like I knew him.

The second time we saw him was the same day we met his beautiful young birth mother. She looked like she was 12, though she was 15. She had beautiful long blond hair and big blue eyes. She told me that she felt like she was giving me a gift. And indeed she was. I loved her the moment I saw her and still pray for her every day.

The third time we saw Josiah was after we sat in front of the judge. We had to swear that we were who we claimed to be. Troy almost couldn't squeak out his name because he was so overcome with emotion. Then we drove and met his sweet foster parents at the agency and loaded him in our own car. Because I was so afraid that something was going to go wrong (this wasn't our first adoption attempt) we had only purchased just a few things ahead of time, including the car seat. We immediately drove to Walmart (with my mom in the back seat) and picked up all the necessary items to bring a newborn home. Troy and I couldn't keep our eyes off of him.
Josiah wore this outfit to his final adoption court date (he was 6 months old).

The next few weeks were hectic and strange. Because we were adopting out of state Josiah and I couldn't leave to go home until the state we were adopting from gave us the all clear.  We stayed with my sister. The agency  told me to hold him as much as I could so that we would bond. I didn't have any trouble with that. I think I held him as much as I could until he started walking! He doesn't seem to have suffered for it.

Our arrival home was surreal. Family started pouring in to meet the new member. Troy's Mom and Dad drove from Indiana...their truck loaded down with baby clothes. He was one of their own from the very beginning. The same with my parents. Josiah is as much their grandchild as any that share their DNA.
My beautiful baby.


When I look at Josiah now I don't see myself in him. But his face is as familiar as my own. I know every expression and gesture. This little life...which did not come from me...is as precious to me as any child would have been that would have come from my body.


11-years later I am still in awe of our miracle. I am overwhelmed by how God did it all. I didn't become a parent in the manner which I had expected. I never imagined I would have to deal with infertility and loss. I spent plenty of time in anguish over what I thought my life should look like. Turns out that God's plan was pretty awesome.

Sometimes...when I am feeling a little blue...I just have to look at my beautiful, funny, creative and quirky boy. I am reminded of how God came through for me...of how He blessed me. It doesn't get any better than this!


11-years-old. Such a lovely young man.

Rebekah


Monday, December 10, 2012

Need a giggle?

I just had to share.

I used my mom's camera this past week (still can't locate my battery pack...Stink!).

I found these pictures on her camera. I have to admit I had trouble giving a title to this particular post.


 
 
What.



Giggle if you need to. I did.

Review: SchoolhouseTeachers.com (TOS Crew)





 
So I’ve got some news. I am now reviewing “stuff” for a very reputable homeschooling magazine and website. Somehow they let me in. Those folks must have an overwhelming supply of patience…if not a sense of humor. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has been a part of my life for a few years now. I still have copies of my print magazines lurking around in baskets and on bookshelves.  Of course, the term “lurking” sounds a bit ominous. I guarantee you that I would rather part with my favorite pair of fuzzy socks than discard even one of those magazines. I don’t know about you, but this girl needs a bit of inspiration now and again. Mostly right now! The magazine has gone all digital on us (you can read my review of the November issue here) and is available for free!  But what happens when I need more at my fingertips?

The good news is that The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has brought great teachers and people together in this wonderful smorgasbord of ideas, lesson plans and inspiration at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a resource for any homeschooling family. You can use it as a supplemental resource or as a stand alone curriculum. As part of my new reviewing gig I received a subscription to SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

Here is what they claim.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com
provides the flexibility and options you are looking for!

With over 25 different “school” subjects presented via teaching videos, ongoing lesson plans, worksheets, lapbooks & unit studies, writing prompts and other assignments to choose from, students can additionally interact personally with the teachers by asking them questions and gaining feedback.

 

 Could it be true?

The category headings on the website alone made me sit up and take notice. Teachers, Elementary, Middle School, Highschool, Family, Dailies (something new in each subject matter every day)...Extras, Library...And those all specific headings those have oodles and oodles of additional categories underneath them. Figures in History, Everyday Explorers...Filmaking, Economics...and it goes on and on. There is even a menu with a new recipe every day of the month. I will say there is something there for everyone.  It would take me eons (or at least a week) for me to describe all the wonderful features at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.


Instead of writing a post that would keep you reading on into the new year, I thought I would give you a little peek of how we used SchoolhouseTeachers.com last week. With pictures and everything!

I have talked a lot about my love of Lapbooking. To me it is just a neat way to learn. It keeps my “hands on” guy interested and allows me to scrapbook. My friends, any time I can incorporate scrapbooking into my day to day responsibilities I am elated. I couldn’t have been happier to find out that the Lapbooking section at SchoolhouseTeachers.com is put together by none other than the wonderful creators of In the Hands of A Child. What?! In the Hands of A Child have some of the most beautiful and well put together lapbooks out there.   

This month’s lapbook is created around a short story, “Christmas In The Barn.”
 

Josiah loved the story and activities. I already have my stickers and stamps out to make it pretty.  To make my life complete I found that there are even more lapbooks in the archives.  I can go back and use lapbook kits from previous months. Yay!

 

Another favorite activity of the week was our science experiment. We brought in Christopher (our cousin who homeschools with us) He and Josiah completed the science activity from Hooked on Science. This one was called How Santa Gets Down the Chimney. It was so much fun. In fact, I found the boys trying to recreate the experiment just a few days later. Again…all of these activities are in the archives. And I love that the materials used aren’t things I have to send away to NASA for.  
 
Just a disclaimer: Santa really never made it completely down the chimney.
 He gave it a good try and got stuck. Poor Santa.
 

Keeping with our love of all things “hands-on,” we completed an activity using Ditch-the-Desk. The Ditch-the-Desk feature is a group of exercises that encourage…nay…implore you, yes… require you to get your kids moving. For this activity I created several math puzzles, placed them in envelopes and hid them. When the boys found the envelopes they had to solve the puzzles before receiving an ingredient to a recipe. When they solved all the puzzles (and therefore received all the ingredients) they were able to make Rice Krispy Treats! I chose the recipe. “Tis the season for Rice Krispy Treats! A good time was had by all.
 
 

I just have to give a little shout out to the Library List also found at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I was able to find several treasures for us to explore. We are currently reading through Jathom’s Journey for advent and we are going to see The Messiah Project in concert this week. I was pretty excited about suggested resources on Handel.  Did anyone else sing The Hallelujah Chorus in choir (be it church, high school or college)? I can still remember my part. I sang with it the other day in the bookstore. Josiah was properly mortified.

Anyhoo…back to the task at hand. I am really saving the best for last. With a subscription to SchoolhouseTeachers.com you receive access to the most wonderful planners.

 

Years ago, I actually won one of  these from some kind of online expo I attended. I thought it was the most wonderful, detailed planner. It still is....and even better.

I can’t begin to tell you how pretty terrific the whole site really is. There are videos, free books, downloadable mp3s, daily lessons on every subject, guitar lessons….truly everything for your homeschool needs. I can’t wait to really dig in further. Astronomy, Geography, History, foreign languages…somebody stop me!  My only criticism is that the archived lessons were better labeled. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to browse through each one.

Here are the particulars.


Price: $1 for your first month. $5.95 for every month after that.  And currently there is a pretty nifty promotion going on.  Join SchoolhouseTeachers.com now purchase a 1-year membership for only $49 (regular price - $69.26) You also receive the 2013 Annual Print Book and a tote bag free. Every self-respecting homeschool mom can’t have enough tote bags in my opinion!
You can click here and check it out.

In my opinion this is a very reasonable price. Especially if you are a family who is finding it hard to come up with the extra funds to get what you need to homeschool.
Ages: all ages (including Mom).

 
So have I said enough? Probably. It is pretty exciting to be able to give my two cents. Go forth and check it out for yourself!

You can click on the The Blog Cruise Schoolhouse Review Crew Button Below or right here and read what the other members of the TOS crew have to say.

 
 
 
Blessings!
Rebekah
 
Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations

Friday, December 7, 2012

Oh, Eugene. And Random Thoughts

So it's Friday night. I'm spread out on my couch. We watched White Christmas and had leftovers. I had some sort of Asian meatballs planned, but in keeping with the spirit of giving I decided to bless my family with leftover chili, cheese dip and spaghetti noodles. Come on! We're creative people...figure it out! In anticipation of a busy weekend and week ahead I'm going to do some therapeutic rambling. Or as I like to call them...Random Thoughts or Reflections.

1. Today was the special day of the year. Ladies, you know the one. The annual visit to the Gynecologist. Here is the deal (and if my gentleman readers feel this is "TMI," feel free to cover your eyes for this part of my blog post)...can they not spring for a few "user" upgrades? The paper gown has got to go. A throw rug or two...Maybe some Cable. Perhaps one of those gas fireplace inserts in every room. Some upholstered furniture might distract me from the whole unpleasant mess. I will have to say that it is the only doctor's office that I can expect to see HGTV playing in the waiting room. Would it be too presumptuous for me to bring my own robe and fuzzy throw the next time around?

2. This week we went to a friend's house and made salt dough ornaments. It was so much fun! The mess! The noise! You have to keep in mind that for the first 10 years of my adult life I worked primarily with tiny kids. I'm not phased by mess or noise. Unless it is my mess or my noise...and then I curl up into a ball while the lyrics of "Tainted Love" run over and over and over in my head. Sometimes I think I want to (du-du) Run Away...I want to (du-du) Run Away....You can't tell me that nobody out there has ever felt the same way.

3. Speaking of running away...I have told you before about my passing fancy to join the circus. I figure I've got skills for such an adventure. Anyhoo. I have been referring to myself as "The Happy Apron Maker." The Happy Apron Maker has not been so happy. I've only got 5 (count them)...5 aprons to go on a particularly large order. I cut out a really cute apron tonight...complete with pockets, an old quilt applique..just plain cute!! Pockets. I really hate pockets. And tonight I cut said pocket out of my already cut apron fabric. Which means I totally buggered it up!!! I have this large gaping whole in my apron. I was so proud of myself. I am not even going to look in the direction of my sewing machine until  morning.

4. But then again...this is me we're talking about. I just spent the past 20 minutes pinning 42 million aprons to my new apron sewing board on pinterest. I can't hold a grudge.

5. Josiah had a buddy over this week. They spent the day playing every video game we own. And eating lots of cheese dip. It's good to be a guy. When he complained during our impromptu trip to Hobby Lobby today I reminded him about how good he really has it. "Mom! Why don't we ever go to a guy store?" Please. Spare me.

6. I am almost ready for Christmas. At least I think I am. I am waiting to wrap presents until Josiah and I make our homemade tags. I actually had photo cards made this year for Christmas. I found a really good deal. Sure. I have a whole set of Christmas cards I made for last year and didn't mail out. But those are so last year...I've moved on. I am fickle that way. I still have quite a number of handmade gifts I need to crank out. But I figure it's not Christmas unless I drive myself crazy with last minute projects. Who needs a stress free holiday? I wouldn't know what to do with myself! Read? Sleep? Rest? Pshaw. Who needs it?

7. We are reading through a really delightful book for Advent this year. It's called Jotham's Journey. Josiah loves it!! I can't recommend it enough. Josiah is also reading through the Christmas Story found in Luke. This is a pretty big deal for my dyslexic guy. There are a few words that we've had to ask Daddy for help with. After all, The Studly Muffin did go to Bible College. That's where they teach you how to pronounce strange Bible names. I went to Arkansas State. "Nuff said.

8. Speaking of strange. Wednesday night at church I came out of Bible study to find Josiah wandering the hall occasionally muttering, "Oh, Eugene!" What? A few friends were also out in the hall and one of them (shout out to Shirley!) started laughing. Apparently, one of the little girls had been saying, "OMG" over and over. Her older sister fussed at her...commenting how much hearing people say OMG got her on her nerves. Josiah (always ready and available to get on a nerve or two) perked up. Shirley told me she could tell by the look on his face that he was on. But..instead of OMG (which we would have certainly to to talk about)...it became "Oh, Eugene!" Poor Guy. It's tough to be a rebel.

Blessings, everyone! I'm off to ignore my sewing machine some more. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Musings

 
This time of year can be exhausting. We've made it so.  Lack of money, time...sometimes even Christmas cheer. It can suck the joy right out of the season.

 When I was a much younger woman I had visions of what the Christmas season would be like for my own little family. After all, the memories of my childhood Christmas' were precious and perfect. During the week after Thanksgiving we would all hike out to the woods that surrounded our house and cut down the perfect Cedar tree. I overlooked the little pricks and pokes my little hands received while hanging each ornament on the tree. Most of our ornaments were handmade. Every year we would create a new ornament and even during the years we were living in plenty we made new ornaments for the tree. We would carefully place Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus in their place of honor...surrounded by angel hair and votive candles. Baking and Candy Making. What magic! The hot peanut brittle. The Christmas fudge. Mexican wedding cookies. And don't forget the delicious Christmas cutout cookies. We made dozens and dozens and dozens of cookies and homemade candies. Neighbors, church folks alike would benefit from our baking marathon madness. We would gather around the TV like every other American family to watch Rudolph, Frosty, The Nutcracker Ballet (my fav) and It's A Wonderful Life. We would read the Christmas Story...of the birth of Jesus and sing those beautiful carols for everyone to hear.

I've tried to recreate many of those memories for my son. Though we have an artificial tree. And I might go all Ninja if anybody even attempts to wave a fudge recipe in front of my face this year. I'm losing weight here, folks! It was Josiah's job this year to set out our Nativity. And he and I have plans to wrap presents later on this week...after making handmade tags. We have a collection of Christmas movies...with some new favorites in the mix.

I've tried not to think about our lack this year. New medical bills were added this year. Food prices, gas prices, prices in general..all have gone up. Yet our income stays the same. There never seems to be enough. Yet, I am reminded that those memories I have of my childhood Christmas' don't really include what I received under the tree or in my stocking. I do have a few treasured memories of gifts, of course. My set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books, a pair of purple parachute pants and those red roper boots I got when I thought I was in love with a cowboy. But my most precious memories come from time spent with family. We celebrated. We celebrated our Savior's birth. And we celebrated by giving to others...mostly sacrificially and from the heart.

So this year...in our lack...I am savoring each moment spent together. Each carol sung. Each story read. We are talking about the Baby whose birthday we celebrate and encouraging each other to celebrate Him every day of the year...

In our tiny hall we hung a Thanksgiving Tree this year. Made with butcher paper (I painted gold) it is  filled with leaves that we each wrote our "Blessings" on. Of course, Josiah's vary from "food" to "Luke Skywalker," but I am hopeful that he is learning to count his blessings. We have so many. I left the Thanksgiving Tree up. It reminds me of God's faithful blessings...and his promises. I am hoping when Josiah is grown he won't remember Christmas for what he didn't have or didn't get...I'm hoping he'll remember Christmas for what he gave and the "Gift" that was given all of us so long ago.
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