Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another Wintery Day

Winter blew in while we slept last night. Snuggled down under my covers, warm and cozy, I never would have expected the blanket of white outside. Well, not if I hadn't heard the weather forecast. My house was quiet, Hannah stayed overnight with Audra, Ben was gone with James, and Nathan was at work. It was almost too good to be true. Actually, it wasn't true at all, at least not for long. Sara and Alysa came just before nine and Josh arrived about a half hour later. It was a busy day after all.

I stayed inside as much as possible, venturing out only to grab some firewood or potty the dogs. I listened not to the persistant call of the grocery store, but around 3:30 pm, after Bethany had come for Josh, I ventured out to meet Priscilla in Palmyra and retrieve my darling daughter. I took so long to get there that my sister thought maybe we were stuck in a ditch or a snowdrift somewhere along the way. Tonight we are staying home, eating more junk food, and watching a movie.

So, all this has nothing at all to do with the beautiful baby pictured here. Who is this little darling? I do not know, except that the picture was in a box along with many other family photos taken from my grandpa's house years ago. I assume this to be a family member, but I'm not even sure how to tell if the child is a boy or a girl, or if that can be ascertained. Does anyone out there know?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Grocery Store

I hear it calling me again. Although my cupboards are full and the church is calling for a partial fast, the grocery store continues to beckon. It's those little things I run out of that trip me up and cause me once again to stumble into the "grocery store trap". Once I am inside with a cart in front of me, I can not seem to keep myself from filling it with various items we probably do not need. I think this is likely a residual effect of having raised seven children. I can not possibly buy just one or two loaves of bread, I must have at least four. The cereal aisle can not be passed by without tossing a box or two into my cart. Milk? Oh please let me take at least three gallons, I wouldn't want to have to come back in a few days! And what ever would we do if we were to run out of canned vegetables or spaghetti sauce? Never mind that there is no more room in the cupboard. Crackers! Can one ever have too many crackers? After all, Josh might come over. No, I must not enter the grocery store under any circumstances tomorrow. Yes, I am out of butter... Maybe James can bring some home... No, I'd better not do that. He has his own grocery store issues. He can not possibly leave the grocery store without a bag of chips or a half gallon of ice cream... Then again I can not possibly leave the grocery store without a cartful of groceries... What ever shall I do?

PS. Advice from Mom, always carry a camera in your purse. You never know when you might need it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Getting What I Want

The season of giving... Yesterday a friend asked if I got what I wanted for Christmas. I was unprepared for the question
and not quite certain how to respond. I hadn't really made a list of wants and wishes, afterall, it is still fairly easy to fulfill those desires myself. My wants this year have been for the safe arrival of my new grandson and travelling mercies for my eldest son. These wishes were both granted along with a few material wants, so, yes, I did get what I wanted. The bigger question is did I GIVE what I wanted?
We have all heard it said "It is more blessed to give than to recieve" and my real wish is that I had been able to give more. The trouble is with keeping too close an account of what I give... I need to cultivate a life of giving, giving that comes so naturally I scarcely know it's happening.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Wishes

We had a lovely Christmas with our family this year. It was a busy, fun-filled day. The house was packed with family members. Jim arrived Christmas eve morning so all of our children were here. Mom and Dad came as well as both of my sisters. There was food and fun, lots of laughter, plenty of presents, and way too many goodies. I was especially blessed to have our two little grandson with us this year.

Now that the celebration had come and gone, the pressure is off and I can relax again. The headache I had on Christmas eve is just a memory. Hopefully someday I will learn not to get so stressed in those few days ahead of time... Well, it could happen... maybe.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Baby Feet

Aren't newborn baby feet sweet? Warm, clean and kissable. I wonder if those little toes will someday be "pinchy toes" like his grandfather's. Will those tiny pinky toes lay on their sides like his grandma's do?
What a wonderful little Christmas package! This year we will celebrate with two little grandsons. Let the party begin!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Bitter Chill

The weather has been just bitter! We are forcast to have a warm up this week and by Christmas the prediction is for rain. You never can tell what it will do out there...

I still don't feel ready for Christmas but today we cleaned the house and tomrrow I will be doing some baking. Maybe tonight I will make some toffee before the weather turns and it rains instead of snows. I think I'm done shopping although I don't have much to wrap. This was the plan and so we are sticking to it. I hope no one is too disappointed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Winter's Day or Two

Winter has decended upon us with a relentless ferocity. Wind, rain, sleet, snow, white outs, and subzero temperatures... This is winter like I remember it as a child; frigid with tons of snow.

Yesterday Hannah and I headed out into the weather to do some shopping. The dog food bag was running on empty and I wanted to pick up some last minute grocery items for Christmas. I think everyone within a twenty mile radius was trying to do the same. It was the shopping center parking lots and intersections that were the craziest! Took us nearly twenty minutes just to get out of one parking lot and into another. I'm sure some people were angry and impatient, but I found it incredibly amusing. We turned up the Christmas tunes on the radio and decided it was best to keep smiling.
Today have a temperature of 21 degrees with a windchill of -1. No playing out in the snow today. We stopped by Dave and Leta's place to drop off a dinner on our way home from church and ended up staying for lunch. Dave had two bags of cooked spaghetti that he wanted to use up, so we kicked off our shoes and took turns holding the baby. He sure is a cutie!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Little Blizzard

The sub-zero Minnesota temperatures from earlier this week have made their way east clashing with our warmer moist weather. The result? A nice little snowstorm. I would like to send a hearty "thank you" to Kristina, Kim, and my own dear son, Jim. It looks like we'll have a white Christmas afterall!
And how about a night time picture? It has been quite the day. I stayed inside other than taking Sofie out this morning. The girls got out of school an hour or so early but Alysa didn't get home until the regular time. Crazy to send kids to school with a storm like this coming... I baked banana bread and gingerbread men, made stew in my crockpot, and kept the fire burning. Church activities were cancelled too, so everyone stayed home tonight, watched Polar Express, and drank hot chocolate... "hot, hot!" I'm hoping I can get out of the driveway tomorrow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

God Bless You, Baby!

video

A Brand New Baby

Welcome to the world, Lucas! He arrived at 4:17 am. (That gives him his own birthday.) He's 20 inches long, weighs 6 pounds 15 ounces, and is beautiful! What a tiny little guy!

Bethany and I took Ben, Hannah, and Josh and went to see him this morning while I had a chance. Children will keep me here the rest of the day. Sara and Alysa will be jealous that we went as this is their new cousin and they are eager to meet him too.

We Have A Baby!

Unfortunately, I have no details just yet... It was too late last night and Dave said he'd call me this morning.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Floor Pacing...

Let the pacing begin. Leta is at the hospital. I hope they keep her and she gets a new baby for her birthday.

Happy Birthday to my favorite daughter in law!

A Little Bit of Chaos

If I had not raised seven children of my own... If I had not always had a house full of children... If my childhood home had been quiet and orderly... Well, this scene just mught put me over the edge. Fortunately, I have learned that toys are not dirt and children don't stay small forever. Most of the toys are now picked up and put into their buckets. The fence is rolled up and in the corner. Tyler and Alysa are watching Rudolf and Josh is terrorizing Ben and Hannah...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmassy Stuff

I hate to admit it, but I do not feel very much in the Christmas spirit. I believe this is likely a common feeling for many adults. Maybe it is because I look back to my own childhood and want the same glee and anticipation we felt as tiny tots. Maybe it's because the pressure is now on my shoulders rather than Mom's and Dad's. It is now my job to make Christmas special and I feel more than slightly inadequate.

A week ago I looked at my posts from last year and found a note that said I needed to change my "be ready" date from Dec. 24th to Dec. 1st. Unfortunately, it was already past the date and I was nowhere near being ready. I'm still not but I'm trying. I decorated my little tree, hung a garland over the windows, and plan to bake up some more gingerbread cookies. I want to make some candy, wrap presents, and cut snowflakes to glue on the windows. We dug up the Christmas CD's and Burl Ives is singing "White Christmas" as I type. I bought some candy canes and there is plenty of hot cocoa in the cupboard. We've been to Tim's for a Christmas tea and attended the cantata at our old church this past Sunday. What am I missing? A trip to the mall? The Muppet Christmas Carol? Someone to get excited with me?

How do you like Rachel's Christmas door hanging? Giant pine cones from a far away Sequoia tree. I think it's one of the prettiest Christmas decorations I've ever seen.

Happy Birthday, Priscilla!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Big Brothers

Once upon a time I was a little girl with two big brothers. In many ways they were ordinary brothers, like the older brothers most little girls have, and in other ways they were different. My oldest brother, Dan, had been adopted. He had dark hair and dark eyes and his becoming part of the family was a lifelong celebration. Tim's entry, 5 1/2 years prior to my arrival, was in some ways natural and in others very traumatic.
Tim was born in place in time where the arrival of babies was often scheduled for the doctor's convenience. Some births were hurried and others stalled. This fight against nature took its toll on both mothers and babies leaving many wounded in its wake. Tim was one of these children.
Damaged at birth by an induced labor, his life has been far from ordinary. Autistic before it became a diagnosis, he struggled to fit in while Mom and Dad struggled to understand and deal with their precious son. Eventually, they came to the realization that they couldn't care for him alone and resigned themselves to putting him in the care of the state.
At one time his residence was an institution, now it is a group home staffed by a familiar group of people who do their best to love and care for its residents. Ironically, the little cobblestone house where he lives sits in the shadow of his former institutional residence.
Today was the annual Christmas party at Tim's house. Although Mom and Dad visit him almost weekly, my sisters and I usually see him only at Christmas time.
How does one break the tension and bring a warm feeling into the air when she sees her brother but once a year? I picked up a bowl of salad in the kitchen and sat down next to Tim. I gave him a playful poke or two with my fork and told him that's what little sisters were for, to pick on older siblings. I decided to take our picture. He was enjoying a slice of pizza but humored me by looking into the camera anyway. During the visit we talked and laughed while he sat quietly listening and occasionally asking for another cup of soda pop. Dad played his banjo and harmonica while Mom and Aunt Margie sang Christmas carols. Several times I saw a smile creep onto Tim's lips and a contented look come over his face. It was a short visit but I think he enjoyed it immensely. I know I did.



Friday, December 12, 2008

The George Eastman House

This morning we took a little field trip to Rochester and visited the George Eastman House. Just before Christmas they set up a gingerbread house display and we thought it might be fun to take a look. My sister, Rachel, came along. The mansion itself is gorgeous. It was the home of George Eastman, the founder of Eastman Kodak and the inventor of rolled film. I think it might be fun to just wander the halls and rooms of this estate, but today I was distracted by the Sweet Little Houses and the crowds of people filing through the manor. I especially liked the library and the grand staircase.
The gingerbread houses were fun. Some were done quite professionally and others were like a house you or I might make. I guess I had been expecting something a little more extraordinary for the price, but it was fun none the less. There were ordinary houses like Hansel and Gretel might have visited deep in the forest...
Churches with steeples...

Candy wonderlands...

and even the Sydney Opera House!

I am seriously considering cooking up a gingerbread house of my own! If you want to see more cool gingerbread houses check Rachel's blog.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reading a Book... or Two

...and every day a post or two...
Every once in a while I decide to pick up on an old pastime. As a little girl I loved to read. I read mostly fiction and could often be found curled up one the end of the couch for hours engrossed in a book. I read Little House books until I knew Laura and Mary like they were my best friends. I read animal stories and cried like a baby when the sad parts came. I had a hard time putting a good book down and sometimes sneaked a flashlight under my covers at night so I could keep reading. (How can a girl sleep when she doesn't know how it ends?) Much of my love of books, of course, comes from parents who read to me when I was small, bought us books every Christmas, and who could also often be found with a book in their hands.
Lately my eyes are tired. I have been reading again. I am slowly making my way through "The Road to Reality" by K.P. Yohannan. This is a book which challenges my beliefs and calls me to a deeper walk with Jesus. It is not a book to read in just a day or two. The other book, "Marley and Me" by John Grogan, I picked up at the library the other day. Not only does it have large print but it is an easy read. It has brought tears to my eyes and made me laugh too. I can only imagine what is in store for the lucky couple who adopted this pup. By the time I am done reading these books I will be seriously considering making an appointment with the optometrist. I really need new glasses!
Oh, and I have enjoyed walking the past two days, half an hour yesterday and 20 minutes so far today. We have a new treadmill and I plan to walk the winter away!

An Unexpected Quiet

I woke up at my normal time this morning. The clock said 8:03. I rolled out of bed, gathered my clothes and headed for the shower. Americans are so spoiled, not only do I have the blessing of getting a shower each day but the water is warm and I have soap too. I heard the phone ring downstairs as I was getting dressed. I wasn't about to dash out half clad to answer it. Good thing because Ben was already up and about. He answered the phone and soon I heard a knock on the bathroom door. By this time I was dressed. It was Troy's father on the other end. "I'm keeping Troy with me today," he said. This bit of information means I don't have to get Troy from preschool and when school lets out at noon I will have just two girls getting off the bus. No little boys makes for a much quieter house.
I headed for my bedroom and looked at the unmade bed. The covers were rather haphazard. I didn't feel like making it this morning. I wonder if anything would ever be accomplished if we all took that attitude and never followed through on the task at hand. I pulled the sheet and blankets up toward the top of the bed, straightened the edges and headed over to the opposite side. Making my bed each morning takes less than five minutes. It is something I commited myself to do several years back and the times I don't are few. Sadly, there are other little jobs and callings that I often put off or ignore all together. Maybe today, with the unexpected quiet, I can catch up with a few of those waiting tasks.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Libraryin'

Hannah and I went out together this morning. She had an appointment with the doctor and I also had to stop by the vet's. We had some time afterward and decided to stop at the library here in town. As I wandered about, I noticed a few small waste baskets strategically positioned to catch drops of melting snow that dripped from the vaulted ceiling. This poor library has leaked since it's construction just a few years back... Anyway, I picked out some crafty type books while Hannah set out to find "Prince Caspian" by CS Lewis. The book was not to be found in Williamson but was available at the Ontario library just one town away. We still had time before Troy got out of preschool, so off we went to Ontario. I was a little confused at first as I couldn't seem to locate the children's section. A kind lady directed us around a corner behind the adult non-fiction section. As we rounded the corner I heard small voices coming from yet another room where another librarian must have been hosting Story Time. I was rather pleased with the selection of books on the shelves in the children's section. They appeared to have a complete set of Beverly Cleary's books, as well as many other old favorites. Williamson has "cleaned out" so many of their old books to make room for the new that I was getting a bit discouraged over there. Now that I know where to find them again, I think we'll visit Ontario more often.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Good Day for an Ice Cube

The weather has been bitterly cold. A relentless wind blew all yesterday and into the wee hours of this morning leaving the temperatures in the low teens. We had a dusting of snow yesterday but I think it must have blown clear to New Jersey by now because there doesn't appear to be much of anything left out there. We've been keeping the fire stoked today! The temperature is up in the mid twenties now but for some reason my feet are still cold. It gives me a much greater appreciation of those who had to live in the day when heat was not so readily available and a thankful heart for warm, fuzzy slippers.

Josh stayed overnight with us last night. He has been having a bit of tummy trouble and after his morning nap he administered "The Babysitter Test" otherwise known as diarrhea. Today I am thankful for the sheet I purchased for my portable crib, a bathtub, a fresh package of baby wipes, and Hannah. (I did the cleaning up, she gave the child a bath.) I have been careful not to feed him anything questionable. He has had clear liquids (juice), banana, Froot Loops (is that cheating?), apple sauce with rice cereal, toast, and Cheerios. I told Bethany maybe she should bring home some Pedialyte. Between Josh's explosion, Troy's Lincoln log houses, and loudly barking dogs, it's been an interesting day...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Gingerbread Cookies

Last week I mixed up some gingerbread cookie dough, popped it into a ziplock bag and put it into the fridge to chill. Somehow I failed to either carve out the time or muster up the energy to actually roll and cut them until Wednesday afternoon. This batch of cookies is actually an army of snowmen and most are armed with candy canes. Hannah and I had fun giving them hats and faces.
Troy had been happy to eat unfrosted cookies Friday morning but when I started putting frosting on, he could hardly keep his eyes off them. I think he loves gingerbread as much as I do, if that is possible. Of course I let him eat a frosted cookie. He even took several home to share with his parents and brother. He was quite happy with that.
When Alysa came off the bus and found me working, she begged to frost some cookies of her own. She did eight very handsome snowmen and took them home when it was time to go. She is much more creative than me when it comes to decorations. We worked hard and now I have a wonderful collection of happy snowmen.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Being Elfish

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Philippians 2:3
The Christmas season has arrived. Now that the snow has melted and the sun is shining, it is kind of hard to imagine the snowy, white holiday is actually upon us. Of course, in some parts of the world Christmas is known for being warm and bright and maybe that is really the better way to think of it. Jesus, after all, came as a Light to a dark world. He came to give and He gave not only material goods and physical healing but also His very life. It is the gift of giving His life that makes all the difference because in this world there will always be hunger and sickness. There will always be hurting people and that is why His gift on the cross is so significant, it gives us hope beyond this world and a light into the next. I am wondering this Christmas what it is that Jesus would have me do, what He would have me give, in order to make a difference for Him. It is fairly easy for me to live a "Christian life" but rather hard to confront others with their need of salvation. I don't want to face a battle or deal with the ridicule that often comes along with sharing the message that none of us are good enough to inherit heaven without the sacrifice of Christ. I want to think that just being me is a good enough testimony but if others aren't told about the One who molds and shapes my life, then I am not really sharing the message they need to hear. So, this Christmas I pray that you will know the joy of God's forgiveness, that you would turn your life over to Him and join us on the journey.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What Did He Look Like?

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ,... Philippians 1:27a

What does a Christian look like? How does he behave? What makes him stand out in a crowd and how is he different than anyone else in the world? It seems that many people are a bit confused as to the answers. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to the barefooted bride and her handsome husband!

It was a beautiful winter wedding with snow covered pine trees, glittering snowfalkes, and soft lights. The bride refused to wear shoes and her mother chose slippers over hideously uncomfortable footwear. We nibbled cookies and sipped punch with all the wedding guests and dined in style with close friends and family. They cut the cake, threw the bouquet and made a toast. There was music and even a little bit of dancing. All too soon the party was over and we went home without our little girl. I can't believe its been three years already!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Happiest of Birthdays!

Happy birthday to the woman who was once this little girl! A lover of photography, nature, good food, the ocean, and of course her wonderful children and grandchildren! She has taught me much, laughed with me, encouraged me, and taken way too many pictures of me. I think she didn't quite know what to think when all of the sudden I was her daughter in law (it was kind of a surprise...) but here it is nearly 30 years later and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Gramanita, I wish the ocean was just a little bit closer so visiting would be easier. Maybe one day we'll actually make it to Nova Scotia. I wish you a big piece of cake and lots of laughter on this your day. I love you!

No Fear

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31
I have been reading Facebook notes the past month or so and find myself drawn into some controversial subjects. There are so many different things to think about it can make my head spin. Sometimes that is a good thing because it makes me stop and consider what I really believe and whether or not I need to make some changes in my life. I know God isn't finished with me yet and I still have so much to learn. He is continually changing my heart and filling me with more of Jesus. There are times when I feel myself resist His touch but I know He only wants what is best for me. I am trying to listen more intently to His voice and find myself less reactive than I once was. Sadly, I still react in ways that do not always honor or glorify Him and must go to Him over again to ask forgiveness and beg His power in my life. I know His hand is on the sparrow, so He is here with me too.

Monday, December 01, 2008

December 1st

November is now past and December is upon us. I am looking forward to some special Christmas programs and outings, some baking and candy making, and, of course, time spent with family. We have decided not to go all out with shopping this year, instead we are choosing to give to a mission of some kind. Why buy things we don't need when so many people are hurting? White elephant gifts will be hiding behind the wrapping paper this holiday season and we will be enjoying our time together without the pressure of choosing the perfect gift for everyone. I think it will be fun.

This afternoon I took Jasmine to the vet. She is not afraid of the vet like some dogs but is quite a pain in the neck when other dogs are nearby. I strategically scheduled her appointment when there would be fewer canines in the office. In spite of that she was plenty hyper and managed to pee on the floor twice. Jazz is healthy, has great looking teeth, and has gained three pounds since her last visit. She needed a rabies shot in order to renew her license, but is now good for another year providing I do not feed her any venison bones. We have been keeping a close eye on her when she goes outside and I removed the "missing dog" notice from the board at the vet's. I plan on keeping her around for a while.