Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Surprise

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I didn't grow up with a stocking full of fact, I don't remember ever having my stocking as a big part of our Christmas celebration, but I married a man who was used to having his stocking filled. Obviously, he would want to pass that tradition on to our children but with 5 it can be hard to come up with ideas and ways to make it interesting and carry a theme.  I am not necessarily a parent that feels things need to be even, but I also don't want my children to feel that one person is "highly favored" above another. (Daja is actually the one who used this tradition first....)

“Something to eat, something to read, something to play with and something they need.”  -Victorian poem

What to put in a Christmas stocking is a dilemma that many parents face as the holidays draw near. Small, inexpensive gifts make the best stocking stuffers. However, it is often hard to find the right balance of things. (at least for me)

Something to Eat

Traditionally, an orange and walnuts were used to fill Christmas stockings. Now many people opt for fun Christmas candy and treats. Or use your child’s favorite prepackaged snack foods. We change every year, depending on what we know our children like at that time.

Individual serving size boxes of sugary cereals, such as Fruit Loops, also make a convenient stocking stuffer. They seem like an extra special treat when sugary cereals are not eaten throughout the year. Cereal has the added benefit of being a quick breakfast that eager children can eat without help while their parents try to sneak a few more minutes of sleep.  This is always the easiest category to buy my children, as "treats" are a bit more rare.  I could get them a carton of raspberries and they would be thrilled.  My children are so easy to please.

Something to Read

One or two books help fill out a holiday stocking nicely and are appropriate for all ages. Choose books that are small enough to fit in a stocking. Board books are available for baby and toddler stockings. Paperback picture books and chapter books are a good choice for older children.  We have done Bibles when the kids get older. So, the prices for each item are NEVER the same for each child, but the theme is the same. I already have the "something to read" for this year.....phew!

Something to Play With

The options for something to play with are almost endless. The only limiting factor is the size. Toys purchased to fill a holiday stocking need to be small enough to fit inside. Small stuffed animals, travel-sized games and play-doh are some ideas for younger children. Older children may like a game to go with their current gaming system, small Lego kits, or art supplies. For less expensive options, visit a dollar store or discount store.  This is my main reason for loving this poem, as it fits with EVERY stage of my life. 

Something They Need

Again, there are a variety of options here. Anything from lip balm to new gloves or mittens could fill the need, whatever it may be. Even a new toothbrush or better yet an electric toothbrush that has favorite characters. Older children may need new health and beauty products, like deodorant, nail polish or perfume. This year Jael will be getting an alarm clock; she has been using mine.  I got a nice pretty pink one, so it doesn't have to be toiletries.  I haven't figured out the boys' stuff yet? 

While the ideas given were for children’s stockings, the method could easily be used to fill an adult’s Christmas stocking. I have often been at a loss of what to get Josh in his stocking, so I go the same route, and I just use it as an "idea starter!"   


Friday, December 17, 2010

What kind of nest?

My Josh took this off the side of our house; it was fascinating. Before the cold came Josh says that bees were on the nest, but it looks very similar to a paper wasp nest. AND we have had a few wasps in the house?!  I am not sure if I will ever now, but it does not change the fact that God's creatures are so talented! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

School Project

Honest, I could pour so much money into making my school room so fun and colorful, but I am using what I the moment, and I am liking it.  I think, gradually, I can change some things to make it more appealing.  BUT the kids ADORE just the few changes, which only makes it more fun.

About a month ago our landlord was making a trip to the dump with all of the miscellaneous things that he has around the property, and he offered to take our broken dryer, too!  (such a blessing, in itself)  As he was about to leave he came knocking on the door.  He thought maybe he had something I would be interested in, and he didn't want to take it to the dump if I did.....

Oh, yes, I definitely wanted them!!!

4 old school desks...the blue chair was from Jael's room (it's Levi's desk chair)

I had some material from curtains that did NOT fit the LONG windows.

AND, of course, the two panels were not the same width.

Cutting and Sewing

And more cutting......

And pinning (plus a lesson in photography for Jael)

AND my man was so helpful in installing the curtain rods and changing the maps and wipe-off boards, to my liking....he is SHOULD be jealous!  The desks were in bad shape; one didn't even have the seat on it. He cut out a piece for the top of one desk, doing a fantastic job making the desks clean and useable.

NOT half bad for a fast fix...I had to do something, because the windows cause a major distraction for the boys, especially.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Christmas Bell

     There was once a little boy who was blind. One day he was sitting on a big stone at the edge of the road, quietly resting.  He really didn't have anything to do or anywhere to go or anyone to lead him that wintry afternoon.  His little playmates had gone off to explore a cave and didn't want to take him because he might get hurt. His parents wouldn't be coming home from their work for another hour or two, but he didn't mind. 
     Because he couldn't see, the little boy had learned to listen very carefully to everything around him.  His ears could tell him what was happening.  He liked sitting by the road and hearing the footsteps going by.  He liked to listen and wonder who was passing and where they were going. It was a game he played alone. 
     But today the footsteps didn't sound like they did on ordinary days. There were many more than usual and they seemed to be hurrying and all going in one direction. There was excitement in the air as if something strange and mystical had happened. 
    The little boy grew curious.  He tried to hear what the hurrying persons were saying.
    "The shepherds saw a great light and heard hundreds of voices singing praises to God!" 
    "An angel told them to go into Bethlehem and find a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger!" 
    "Half of the shepherds are staying with the sheep and we are going to find the Baby."
     All these things he heard.
    "Oh, I want to go, too!"  Please take me with you," cried the little boy, but no one heard.  "Please, someone, please show me the way! I want to find the Christ child and worship him, too!" he called out, over and over.  But the crowd was so eager to find the Baby in the manger that no one stopped to listen to the boy.  No one noticed the little boy who couldn't see, seated on a stone as the edge of the road. 
    Most of the crowd passed by and everything grew quiet. Then the little boy heard a faint tinkling sound.  It sounded again. He listened with his very keen ears. It sounded like a bell!  Yes, it was a bell, the kind sheep and cows wear around their necks to tell the shepherd where they are. 
    "Maybe the bell is on a cow or a sheep in the the stable where the Baby is," he thought.
     Slipping carefully down from the rock, the little boy walked slowly toward the sound of the bell. Sometimes he had to stop and listen until the bell rang again, and then he would follow it farther. 
    It wasn't long before he found himself in the stable, standing beside the animal with the tinkling bell.  He reached his hands and felt the animal all over. It was a big, kind cow.  When the cow felt the hands of the boy around her neck, she nudged him over to the place where the baby Jesus was sleeping in the manger.  Then the little boy knelt down and reached out to touch the Christ child and bless him with his prayer.  "Thanks for the kind, big cow and her bell, which helped me find the way," he prayed. 
    Bells have always rung out the glad tidings of Christ's birth. By the Middle Ages, around the years 800 to 1200, the pealing of bells was the main event of the Christmas celebration. In Italy, it is traditional to wait for the bells to chime before lighting the candles and beginning the festivities.
    The bells that ring out from every tower and steeple all over the world tell the message of God's love coming down to earth on Christmas Day.

                                                                                                                                ~Author Unknown

*dedicated to a family who cherishes the sound of Christmas bells, as their son first heard the sound of bells only after he received the amazing gift of hearing with cochlear implants

Monday, December 6, 2010

Saint Nicholas Day

A real-life bishop in what is now Turkey, Saint Nicholas earned his sainthood for numerous miracles, but his neighbors knew him best as a kind and generous man with a great fondness for children. Today, in many parts of the world Saint Nicholas delivers gifts on the eve of his Feast Day, December 6, and Christmas is reserved for the religious observance of Christ's birth. 

The New York Historical Society held its first St. Nicholas anniversary dinner on December 6, 1810. John Pintard commissioned artist Alexander Anderson to create the first American image of Nicholas for the occasion. Nicholas was shown in a gift-giving role with children's treats in stockings hanging at a fireplace.

My children may not have many gifts to open this Christmas, and I am actually NOT sad about this in the LEAST bit. We are SO blessed!!!  I have always known that Saint Nicholas was the real inspiration for the modern day  Santa Claus, but I did NOT realize until this year that December 6th was the actual Feast Day. 

Levi's godparents sent him a package to open--for today ONLY.  So, I had to do my research.  I love the idea!! AND I am going to try and come up with some things for next planning a FEAST and having it as a CHRISTMAS party for friends.  I love for things to have deeper meaning. 

Thank you, to the Plowman's, for teaching my family about the significance of December 6th!
Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Angels We Have Heard On High

EARLY Sunday morning performance

Getting ready

8:30 Service

Waiting for the 10:30 service

Radiant Dancer

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I really do fix Shallah's hair in the mornings...even manage to get a bow in, once in a while.  BUT by the end of the day and after a couple of naps......I get this!  AND, I absolutely adore it.  She is SO cute, so it's okay, right?

I just love her....messy hair and dirty face! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just Wrong

It just FEELS wrong that you can take something healthy and make it so unhealthy!
Didn't somone once say that you shoudn't go by feelings? 
Oh, yes...that MUST be used in this instance.

Deep-Fried Cauliflower

Does it help that I made Lemon-Artichoke Chicken?
My plate has never looked so "brown!"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spaghetti and Sausage

It seems so boring.....doesn't it?  JUST SPAGHETTI?  But, wait!  When it includes tastes SO much better.  We got a call yesterday from some dear friends asking if they could come over for dinner. I decided to do the "unthinkable" and serve what I was already planning. With only 2 hours to finish everything......I realized in the middle of mixing brownies that I had NO eggs!!!  Good friends that invite themselves over for dinner are also the type to bring eggs!! 

Hospitality doesn't have to have a lot of planning, and I aboslutely LOVE that about my life.  I LOVE being spontaneous!!!

If they had asked to come for dinner tonight....the meal would have been much better, but I am proud to say that I just had company and didn't stress about it.  Not one person complained about spaghetti for dinner, so it doesn't have to be a "fancy" meal to have company, and it was actually very cheap.  Even cheaper if you forget the eggs....and have to call your guests to bring them!

Try having someone over, even if it seems busy, it shows you care!

I wonder who's coming for dinner tonight?

Chicken and Sausage Etouffee

Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving Thanks - Day Twenty-Nine

“Let them Praise His name with dancing” ~Psalm 149:3

Dance is a beautiful and powerful expression of praise to the Lord. Rez Dance Ministry is designed to train up dancing worshippers of Jesus. Classes are free for those who attend Rez. Jael is taught the technical skills intended to move with excellence and grace. Most importantly, students she is taught to glorify God with her body, to worship Him with her whole heart, and to praise Jesus unashamedly with joy and thanksgiving.

Jael's first performance will be next weekend; she performs three times.  The production has over 300 people involved; it will be an experience she never forgets.  It will touch lives and hearts.

Our God is a dancing God! Zephaniah 3:17 says,
“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with his love, He will dance over you with singing.”

Rez Dance is a part of the Worship Arts Ministry of Resurrection Fellowship Church in Loveland, Colorado.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving Thanks - Day Twenty-Eight

Thanksgiving Leftovers

What are your favorites?
These seem to be the ones we use YEAR after YEAR.....

One of my favorites....soup made with the bones of a turkey.

Pancakes made with leftoever Potatoes

Turkey Sandwiches

Turkey Pot Pie

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Giving Thanks - Day Twenty-Seven

"See you later" is SO much better than "Good-bye....not sure when we will see you next!"

Saying good-bye is never a fun thing.  I am glad that I know I will see some of you in heaven even if I never see you on this earth again.  See you later can be so much bigger in it's meaning, depending on it's reference.  Will I see you later?  Will you be in heaven with me?
Do you know the Savior of the WORLD?
He died for you and me to enjoy eternal life. He died for our sins, no matter how great or small. Please, don't let another moment pass.....I definitely want to "see you later!" 

Giving Thanks - Day Twenty-Six

Late night shopping with my mom.....kid-free! IF only I could get her to enjoy shopping like I do?

Oh, and coffee stops....I have enjoyed those this week, too!  Having my mom here has been a blast. I will miss her....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks - Day Twenty-Five

Celebration...the fun times, games, food, and LAUGHS that the holiday brings.....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks - Day Twenty-Four


My children are always running to my rescue in the kitchen......running to grab an apron, as THAT is definitely the sign of a "helper" in the kitchen.

Okay, some are NOT helping, but their smiles certainly help me keep going. 

Giving Thanks - Twenty-Three

Monday, November 22, 2010

Giving Thanks - Day Twenty-Two

I am so thankful for SLEEP.  SLEEP is an amazing gift.  Most of the time I don't struggle at all to sleep, and I have found that the times I do--it's something SO much deeper. 

"I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches."  Psalm 63:6

"At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee be cause of thy righteous judgments."  Psalm 119:62

"My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises." Psalm 119:148

"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep."  Psalm 127:1-2

"He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you — the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore."   Psalm 121:4-8

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."  Psalm 74:16

"The sleep of a labourer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep."  Proverbs 3:24

So often we hear those prayers of old times that when our eyes are closed in sleep, that we ask God for extra protection. It is the prayer that God may dwell with us and in us even when we are unconscious of his presence, that he may keep our hearts pure and holy in spite of all the cares and temptations of the night, to make our hearts ever alert to his call and, like the boy Samuel, answer him even in the night with: Even in sleep God can perform his wonders upon us or evil bring us to destruction. May my heart be right in day or night, that my sleep may be sweet. 

When our eyes with sleep are girt, Be our hearts to thee alert; Shield us, Lord, with thy right arm, Save us from sin’s dreadful harm. (Martin Luther)

I think back over the time when Josh was gone, and I slept.....oh, I battled during the day, and SOMETIMES I awoke in the night. BUT....the fruitfulness of labor allows for sweet sleep.  Last night I slept AMAZINGLY, I am energized and ready to take on the fight. Satan wants to steal your sleep, because then you will be too tired to fight.

I am so thankful for SWEET SLEEP!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giving Thanks - Day Twenty-One


Josh and I entered into a huge spiritual battle on Saturday night, hand in hand, knees bent......and we will continue to fight as long as it takes.  As soon as we realized what we were getting into, the texts and phone calls started to family and friends----TO PRAY!!!
I cannot imagine doing anything different than fighting a battle worth fighting, but I can also NOT imagine fighting it without HUGE AMOUNTS OF PRAYER!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Giving Thanks - Day Twenty


*I wish I could find pictures of all of my past pets, too! I think my photo albums need to be cleaned up.