merry christmas and a happy snow day


I love my home,
I love my nest,
In all the world,
My nest is best!

Good news!  Sherlock the cat is back home recovering from his ordeal.  We are all thankful to see him in the old familiar places…..and are fervently praying that he never again forms crystals to block his urinary track.

All the second guessing and questions were gone as soon as I witnessed the love and gentleness in the way the children cared for their pet all weekend long.


He received much petting.




Well, it’s our first snow day of the school year.  There was speculation all weekend as the children wondered if it would happen and checked the weather frequently.  As soon as I woke up this morning, I felt around in the dark for my phone on the table by the bed.  Rich left for work as soon as he possibly could as I was announcing to him, “It’s a snow day!  Stay home please stay home with us!” He was like, “bye.”

No matter, the children are currently still tucked in their warm beds, sound asleep, and I’m in my room typing away………….enjoying what will probably be the quietest hour of the day.


On Saturday, Rich was away for a wrestling scrimmage with his team (he is the HS head coach) and I had a leftover roast chicken in the fridge so I set to work making homemade chicken and dumplings with a big pot of fluffy mashed potatoes.  The only reason I got the camera out is because Seth was amusing me.  He had helped roll out the dumplings and then ended up on the counter for a good half an hour playing in a cup of flour…….

Messy….but harmless fun for a boy in the kitchen.


And a warm comfort food was enjoyed by all for lunch that day.


When Rich got home from wrestling, he took a quick nap on the couch and then took the boys for haircuts…..



The reason why Rich completely spoils and worships me is because I gave him five sons and two daughters who look just like him.  (okay, that is maybe just one of the many reasons).



“Sarah get off my cat! Mom tell Sarah to get off my cat! No don’t take a picture of Sarah with my cat, that’s my cat!”  ~David is very possessive.


Rich and David moved this little couch (dog bed) into the other room to make a spot for the Christmas tree.  It was about 28 degrees on Saturday afternoon so he could only get Caleb and Sarah to go with him to the fire department to choose the tree.  I could tell he was starting to get tired and not in the mood but after a little love-spat we got the decorating done.  It certainly wasn’t the same without Jacob and Ethan helping us and Grace saying things like “I probably won’t be here next year to help decorate the tree”.  sigh.  Not only that but the Heisman’s Trophy was going to be awarded at 8 and it was 7:55 so we were in sort of a time crunch.  (Caleb is a passionate football fan).



Little by little the nest is getting festive.  Yes, those are legos.


The painting from Aunt Colleen, vintage yellow fiestaware, a strand of lights, and my cookbook collection.


While searching for the decorations they found their old board puzzles.


A beautiful moment after the children were in bed…..a purring cat on my lap, candles, Sangria, and the lovely tree.


(Caleb just came in here asking if it was a snow day.  After he heard the news he climbed up, “I want to snuggle with you.  Can I see your phone?  I want to see who won the game last night, I went to bed after the third quarter just in case it wasn’t a snow day.”)

So Sunday morning was blessedly relaxing.  Rich was watching a movie and after a while I noticed him doing sit ups on the floor.  This man works out EVERY DAY so I got a little bossy and said, “If you have energy I have something you could do instead.”

(Seth has appeared)


And then later on, we were getting ready for church and Rich captured this special moment.  “When Moms do their Daughters Hair.”  Sarah needed two tissues to get through it.


And when I showed her the photo of the final result she said proudly, “Is my hair really that long?”  so I knew she wasn’t scarred for life.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Snow Day!  I’ll blog tomorrow about all the things we did with our surprise vacation day from school.  (Meanwhile, Seth is asking if he can open one of his presents)………


having fun


Rich always gets a craving for Pinkberry on Sunday afternoons…..I am SO over it….but he mentions it, and since I can’t always say “no”, this past Sunday I said, “Okay, lets go but we are taking the children to see Santa Clause.”  To this he had less enthusiasm but as he would do just about anything for that tasty frozen yogurt treat, he said, “You know the line is always super long for that.” and I understood it was a “yes” from my husband.

The line was a little long, but not too terribly bad.  Our son David, who is now 14, absolutely refused to see Santa, because “it would ruin his dignity”, and went away to wander the mall while Rich and I took our three youngest through a process of getting a special badge, doing a few fun North Pole activities, and then finally visiting with Santa for the all important portrait.  Seth was the most reluctant and shy, Sarah was the most excited.  Caleb was in the middle (perfect).


There was one part of the event where the children were able to go into a little room of sorts to stand in a beautiful falling artificial snow.  I, of course, right away thought to myself, “Perhaps we should avoid that part or they will get covered in it for their photo with Santa.”  I thought it was very unwise of the elves to put the messy snow BEFORE Santa, why not AFTER?  However, I am super proud to say, I put aside my own controlling tendencies and let them have all the fun they could possibly have.  I pretended I didn’t care.  Although we brushed it off them, you can see the snow in Sarah’s hair like dandruff and some flakes of it on the boys, too.

There was a dear mom behind us with her two PERFECTLY dressed girls in all their Christmas finery (velvet and hair bows, white tights and black patent leather) and they avoided the flakes of snow like it was the very plague.  They stared in wonder at Sarah scooping it up and throwing it sky high, while I heard the mother whispering instructions to her prim and proper daughters to not get any of it on their dresses, and I could tell by their faces that they had no intentions of doing so.  And I knew that could have been my mothering technique, as well.  I understood perfectly how they all felt because I felt that way a little bit myself.

I don’t really have a point to this story except that it was a close call for Sarah, and a learning experience for me (again).  Every day is a lesson on “control” for me….and slowly God is taking it gently from my hands so I can have a little fun, too.


You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.  Ecclesiastes 11:9

grace at the christmas house


I dragged myself out of my cozy bed this morning to go wake up Seth for school, and wake him up I did, out of a sound sleep.  We came upstairs together to find Caleb in the rocking chair, “There is a two hour delay, mom,” he says.  Seriously, I could have stayed asleep.  Ugh.  But once up, I stay up and I made pancakes and bacon and hugged everyone.  I heard a report from Caleb and Grace that “Sherlock was meowing all morning and wouldn’t stop.  Jacob finally put him outside.”  After the children all left for school I found the cat under the porch, in distress.  “What is wrong with this cat?” I wondered, and then thought to myself, “He did bite Caleb not long ago, maybe he has rabies.”  The more I thought about it the more I was convinced that he had rabies and since he bit Caleb, Caleb naturally had rabies as well.  I called the vet and sure enough, his rabies vaccine had needed updating a year ago.  I made an appointment to take the cat to the vet and also put in a call to the pediatrician to let them know Caleb was bitten by a cat that didn’t have his shots up to date and probably had rabies but I didn’t know because I was on my way to the vet with the cat.  I had to leave a message and left to travel to the vets with my sad cat.

I was crying when I explained to the technician that I feared that my cat had rabies and that he had bitten my son.  She quickly left the room to send in the vet, who came in saying, “Sherlock was vaccinated for rabies in the past and there is no way he can get rabies or pass rabies on to your son especially since it has been over two weeks since he bit your child.”  She felt Sherlock all over and announced “Oh this is his problem, your cat cannot pass urine, he is blocked.”  So I cried some more and tried calling my husband to ask him what to do and if we could spend 800 dollars to get Sherlock on the road to recovery.  Rich grew up on a farm and values all living creatures, but only to a certain extent.  ha ha.   Providentially for the children and I, he did not answer his phone, so I called my son Jacob, who after all is a man now.  After talking it through with Jacob we decided to go ahead and get treatment for our cat, as the only other option according to the vet would be to put him to sleep.  All of us love Sherlock very much and since he had a sickness which could be treated, we decided that even though it would cost 800 dollars we felt responsible for his care and knew that in this instance it was the right decision to help our dear pet, after all he probably only bit Caleb because he was grumpy about his condition.

I drove home without Sherlock, who was being busily sedated and catheterized by the vet and her assistants to remove his blockage, which, as explained to me, was a multitude of crystals in his urine that had built up over time.  In fact, the vet was a dear older lady who became a vet later in life after her own cat had the same condition.  She told me that she was so impressed by her cat’s vet that she decided to become one as well.  She was very nice, I liked her a lot.  I’m wondering if now I will become a vet, too.  😉


I came home and ran 2 miles on the treadmill while texting my brother Dave in order to settle myself down again.

I am now sitting cross legged on my bed attempting to blog about Grace at the Christmas house.

Grace is part of the Madrigals singing group at her school and they dress up in victorian clothing and sing Christmas carols a cappella in exquisite harmony at many different venues.  They were scheduled to sing at a lovely decorated museum on Saturday so I went and took Sarah with me.  Rich came a little later, as well.


I loved the wall paper.


There were decorations everywhere, and a little gift shop in which Sarah spent a few dollars on matching Menorah necklaces for herself and her sister so that Grace, “would never forget me.”  She said this with such sad eyes that Grace quickly told her “I could never forget you, Sarah, you’re my sister.” and then I cried a little.  It was one of those moments.


The acoustics in this room were divine.


When they were finished with their performance, I took a few photos of Grace who was dressed so beautifully.

She was the queen.


There was an older gentleman in the room watching us who invited Grace to sit on the couch (museum furniture is not typically to be sat upon) for a photo.


The music director’s daughter MADE this dress for herself when she was the queen in high school.



Grace with her friend, who was coming to get her for a group portrait outside in front of the house.  I gave the camera to Rich and asked him to try to get a picture of them for me while I went to go help Sarah with something.

And this is what I recieved:


~Merry Christmas~

look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
and hear the angels sing!


sweet family christmas


The morning of Christmas Eve, I woke up at 5  and was unable to fall back to sleep.  I slipped out of bed, put on my robe, and tiptoed out of the room to spend some quiet time in the house before the family woke up.  I imagined a nice cup of coffee to be drunk in leisure while gazing at the Christmas tree all aglow.

However, when I opened the door I discovered a sleeping teenage boy on the couch, along with my six year old son Seth who was wide awake and watching Garfield on TV.

And he was full of energy.  Nothing I tried would get him to stop moving from one activity to the next.  I wondered if he had perhaps eaten sugar or candies for breakfast.

Therefore, it was quite surprising that the next day -Christmas Day- Seth was the last child to wake up!


We sat as the dark morning turned into light and waited for the youngest sleepy head brother to appear.  And he finally did at 7:30 am.


He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.  Roy Smith


The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis

I wonder if I’ll ever be as happy as I am right now with my own children to please with gifts, while they are all still mine, at home.   They are a joy to watch as they open their presents.  The smiles, the exclamations, the gratitude, all make the busy days leading up to Christmas worth every moment.


Jacob opened the much wanted PS4.


Jacob and Ethan don’t spend as much time together as they did when they were little boys, so it was a sweet sight to see them side by side, sharing another Christmas day.


Watching Seth’s face as he opened a gift.  And Caleb as he read through the titles of some new books.


Grace sat in a nest in the corner of the couch and opened her new iPod.


This was the first year that we had a child buy presents for his family members out of his own paycheck!  Jacob was very excited to shop, wrap, and give out gifts.


This was his face as he watched his Dad open new sneakers that he bought for him.


He gave David a Ninja star, with very sharp points.


He gave Grace throwing knives and she was thrilled and touched by his thoughtfulness.


He gave Ethan a pair of “sick” sneakers.  (same kind that he and Emily wear).


Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. ~Author unknown





Parker received a new toy and several bones.


“One of the most glorious messes in the world

is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.

Don’t clean it up too quickly.”  Andy Rooney


Once the gifts were opened, the playing began.


Lego sets


big cats


Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.

~Laura Ingalls Wilder


little cats


books/new robe


new clothes




fire in the fire place


headphones and iTunes giftcard

He bought this album.

(by the way I loved the cone shaped tree things that I found from Target for Christmas decorating…they are covered in cherries! (I collect cherry things.) )


The rabbit hopped around in the wrapping paper and nibbled on cardboard and the Christmas tree.


Gentleman Gray got wrestled by Seth.


And he was pinned!!



We put our “old” TV downstairs in the basement and set the kids up with their own entertainment area with the old sectional couch.  The PS3 and PS4 are hooked up.  For many years I resisted video games for the kids but over the last year (our first) the boys have enjoyed themselves so much with the games.  They have friends over often and it will be nice to have the living room cleared up for our own use now.

(In fact, Michael and Jacob are currently at Savers trying to find a coffee table).


Seth got a real bow and arrow set and he couldn’t get over it.  He was in awe.  He came to me and wondered who had picked it out.  “It was I”, I said.  “Thank you, Mom” he replied, and my heart melted because it was probably his most sincere thank you in all his six years of living.

His Dad took him outdoors for his first lesson in bow shooting.


Sarah told me I should not have gotten it for him because it was real and “not a toy”.  (you should only get toys for christmas, she thinks) But Seth wants it anyway.



My handsome firstborn son, Jacob, who is turning 19 in two days.  Emily gave him a new jacket for Christmas and her Dad gave him the hat which is a very lightweight hat so he keeps having people hold it to admire how light it is.


Grace came out of the woods after throwing her new knives and shooting her bow.

We passed by each other as I was on my way to find David.


He was busy practicing with his new tomahawk in a world of browns and greens.


He made the target himself.


Isn’t it beautiful in the woods?  He has already spent hours in this spot.


He’s amazing.

I stood and watched him for a while, and he took my picture.


This was as cozy as I could be for the day.  I was sick with a cold… a long warm skirt was just the thing to wear (sort of blanket-like) and a new sweatshirt from my husband.  Hair pulled back, bangs bobby pinned back out of my face.  No make up.  Cozy, cozy, cozy.  I was even wearing my slippers.  LOL (not pictured)


The last pictures I took on Christmas day were of the chickens enjoying their christmas gift from dear Emily….which was MEALWORMS.  Yum, yum.  They love mealworms.


And, so, Christmas comes to bless us!
Comes to teach us how to find
The joy of giving happiness
And the joy of being kind.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham


on the eve of Christmas day


Ah, sweet Christmas.

I will allow nothing to discourage me about the reality of saving grace in Jesus Christ.  There is no condemnation for those who love Him.   Condemnation happens when we or someone we  hold in high esteem convince us that we are unworthy to be called a child of God because “we don’t dress right”  “we don’t go to church often enough” “we drink a glass of wine now and then” “we listen to the wrong kinds of music”…..things that are NONE OF ANYONE’S BUSINESS…you see, as a lover of Christ I AM FREE.  I am free to be the unique individual He made me to be.  Salvation changes a hard, stone cold heart into a tender heart.  Salvation means that Christ has made my soul properly clean before God, because of Him, I have a secure hope that when the time comes for Heaven, He will stand with me and advocate for my standing as a beloved daughter, a person chosen and precious before God.  I am welcomed into everlasting life.  Therefore I have new life, I have hope as I live my days here as a wife and mother, as a friend and a sister.  By the amazing grace of God.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.  Romans 8

I AM NOT FREE TO be habitually judgmental, jealous, bitter, mean, unkind, fake, cold, abusive, unforgiving, prideful, angry or selfish.  People who call themselves christians and still continue year after year in these behaviors are scary. I will run away from them……..I’ve had experience with “christians” who are like this and I myself was somewhat legalistic years ago for a time because of the leaders in a former church’s example and teachings…..(I have a story—I understand if you have one, too) but God is ever faithful and grew me away from those behaviors which caused so many problems in my life.  I still struggle at times because of that experience.  So flee from any legalist people in your life.  Don’t allow yourself to be tainted by their judgmental ways.  Keep yourself childlike, trusting, open, loving, and gracious.  Reading the Bible (God’s love letter to you) is the medicine our soul needs so that our hearts stay open and loving.  “His law is love, and his gospel is peace.”

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.  Romans 13:12

I will still make mistakes.  AND IT’S OKAY BECAUSE I AM HUMAN, a beautiful humanly human.  We all are.  I love myself the way God made me, and the way he made my friends just the way they are, I don’t focus on their “faults”, I understand them and appreciate them.  My friends love me the way I am.  Are we perfect?  No.  But we are perfect for each other.  (Good Will Hunting)


This is what I’m thinking about this Christmas season. …. Jesus Christ came from Heaven to earth to save sinners.  AND HE DID IT, HE DOES IT.  He ushered in an age of Amazing Grace.  He swept away the doctrines of the Pharisee which held to an impossible standard of perfection and looked down on everyone else, and gathered up for his own the outcasts, the lowly, the lost causes, and turned them into children of God.  He loves us so much.  He always has, he always will.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  James 1:17



We made the Christmas cookies.  Every year there are two kinds that we simply must have:  Russian teacakes and gingerbread men.  My children helped me and they were very cute.  (both the cookies and the kids)


Our neighbors came for a quick visit the morning of Christmas Eve and gave David a present (and the rest of us, too).  One of the things I am most thankful for this last year is getting to know them better.  We can visit and share laughs…and later on today we are going to see the new Star Wars movie together.


In the afternoon my sister and her family came.  We had planned on a brunch but then found out that Jason had to work half day and Rich had to coach a wrestling practice.  But we still had breakfast food….which we ate at lunch time.


We had pancakes, cinnamon rolls, hash brown casserole, cherry topping, whipped cream and maple syrup for the pancakes, mimosas, bacon, and sausage.


wonderfully active, silly boys


Michael came for brunch before he had to leave for work.  This young man is like family to us, he is Jacob’s best friend and we all love him.


Naomi is my little niece and one of Sarah’s favorite friends.  These two girls spent the day together playing.


They played with Naomi’s bitty baby, Grace’s old bitty baby, and Sarah’s bitty baby.  🙂

I thought it was so great that Naomi wore her Christmas dress to my house.  She looked like a princess all day long.


Grace’s boyfriend Caleb was able to spend time with us as well.


In large family gatherings you just never know what will happen.  David decided it was a good time to roller blade throughout the house.


We watched a movie (ELF).


And exchanged gifts… fun.  I love my family…my one and only sister, her husband who is like a brother to me and Rich, their children.  We are so thankful for each other.



Caleb videoed Grace opening one of her presents so his mom could watch it later on.



Determination and belief that there is room for him.





We played Pictionary.  Amanda and I were a team, Jason and Rich were another team.  At first they were winning……(we had to use make-shift game pieces)



But then we pulled ahead and won.


The losers didn’t want to be seen.  🙂


My beautiful niece Abigail with her cousin Ethan.


Then Jacob’s girlfriend Emily showed up bearing gifts.



She had a gift for everyone, even the chickens.


Jacob gave her a Willowtree figurine which she loved so much that she….


gave him a smooch.

aren’t they so cute???????

Jacob works at the shoe department in Dick’s sporting goods so she also got two pairs of sneakers.


And that was that.  Everyone went home, we put the children to bed, and it was just Rich and I doing what we always do on Christmas Eve.  Finish wrapping presents and arrange them all under the tree.  I was getting sick with a terrible head cold that has lasted for days but we got the job done with a feeling of anticipation for the morning to come.




a cat, Ethan wrestling, Grace’s friend, & my books



We can’t keep kids or cats away from our beautiful Christmas tree!  And it makes me smile.

Hello my friends.  Rich and I are together today.  We went downtown for breakfast and then to the mall to finish up our shopping.  We are home now.  He has his feet up on the coffee table and my feet are on his lap along with his laptop.  And, I have my laptop, too.  Parker is next to me licking his leg loudly and Gentleman Gray is curled up on a blanket at the end of the couch.  It’s dark and pouring rain outside.  Poor Caleb will not get snow for Christmas this year, I’m afraid.

Have I mentioned that Rich is the head coach for our school’s wrestling team?  The first tournament was on Saturday and I got right up at the crack of dawn with him and rode with the team on the bus to the location, which was an hour away.  Seth and Sarah came, too.  Grace came along because she’s the team manager.  It’s a family affair.


Here is a picture of Ethan after he won a match.  The assistant coach is talking things over with him, his name is Jim.  Little brother Seth is hanging around wanting to say “good job” to his big brother.  ‘Cause that’s what you do.



Ethan is pretty intense so it’s nice when he cracks a slight smile.




Later on, Ethan got bloody and lost a match.  There’s his Dad in the background, and Coach Jim is about to take his arm and lead him to the trainer to get cleaned up.  Oh and there’s Seth again.


Here is a picture of Ethan right after he won another match.  All in all, he did very well.  He wants to do nothing but win, his heart is in the right place, but this time he lost 2 and won 2.  Ethan is a senior this year and we have high hopes that he will continue to do well in wrestling, and then he will move on to baseball.  Before we know it he will graduate, and I hate to say this but it looks like he’s heading for the service after graduation.  I’m trying not to think about it but stay tuned because by God’s grace that blog post will eventually be written.


THESE TWO ARE SO CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Grace and her suitor.  I took their picture from clear across the gym because I can’t help myself.


I hope your Christmas plans are all coming together.  I have decorated the house.  I have bought and wrapped the gifts.  I have planned a Christmas Eve brunch.  I have made cookies….but they have all been eaten so I plan on making more if I can gather up enough interest…I feel as though I don’t really need to eat anymore cookies.  I’ve been reading books instead of baking.  One of my favorite authors is Janice Holt Giles, who wrote books in the 1960’s.  “Pre internet” fiction is my favorite, it seems less spoiled and more sincere.  I read her book, Hannah Fowler years and years ago–many times, and finally got around to reading several more of her books which I picked up at library booksales.  I finished Tara’s Healing yesterday and then started Savanna.  I would be interested in knowing if there are anymore Giles fans out there!

David’s bus will arrive in half an hour so I have just enough time to read a few more chapters before the late afternoon rush of children/homework/wrestling practice/dinner begins.

You are loved.  ~Shanda

If you’re alone, I’ll be your shadow. If you want to cry, I’ll be your shoulder. If you want a hug, I’ll be your pillow. If you need to be happy, I’ll be your smile. But anytime you need a friend, I’ll just be me. ~Author Unknown

what family means to me


Once again, never to be taken for granted, Rich and I and all seven of the children were together in our warm and cozy living room — to decorate our Christmas tree, purchased in town at the Fire Department for 30 dollars.

It was delightful chaos.  Talking, bossing, laughing, non stop movement to and from the tree to the ornament boxes which were all along the couch.

Seven times we experienced the miracle of birth, births of our own flesh and blood, baby girls and boys from a man and woman whom God joined together as one.  As the children grow and develop into their own individual selves, we are all the more thankful for each and every moment with them.  They teach us so much, they remind us of what we have forgotten–that life is an adventure from sun up to sun down.  Very little worries, seldom any cares, only exciting things to look forward to and absolute trust that Mom and Dad will love and nurture them.


From the oldest to the youngest, we are their Parents until death do us part.  To support, guide, enjoy, and yes…even step away (but never too far away) in order to give space for them to make their own decisions in life.  They will become stronger and independent, knowing that we are there to cheer them on their journey of living.


Firstborn Jacob’s 19th birthday is the last day of the month.


While the youngest, Sarah, is only five and a half.


Each child is a gift, so unique, so amazingly precious to me and to their Dad.


They have brought so much gladness and light into our lives.


As their Mother, their pains are my pains, their joys are my joys.  Their love is my love.  One of the most romantic things I have witnessed occurred last night and oh, last week at this time I would have never dreamed that my darling daughter would very soon have a loving, Christian boy humbly ask and receive the blessing of her very protective Dad to get to know her……….and my heart gives grateful praise even as I sneak upstairs to read their text messages after she goes to school.  *sigh* soooooo sweet


taking off the hats


discussing the hat with Ethan the 17 year old.


still discussing the hat


I gave the hat back.



victorian christmas


As promised, today I would like to show you the photos that I took at the Madrigal performance on Saturday.  The group sang at this old house-turned-museum, which was decorated to the hilt for Christmas.  The community had it open for the public to come in and enjoy, free of charge, with a donation box for those who could give a little.  There was also a small craft table for children to enjoy, a gift shop with reasonably priced Christmas items for sale, and refreshments.



small table tree, covered in decorations


paper dolls under the tree, artificial fruit bowl, ginger bread man, fruit garland.


This was a cobweb Christmas game.  The children would each have their own color yarn to follow and as they went along the string they would come across small gifts to keep.


the main Christmas tree, with examples of gifts all over the floor underneath.

The clothesline was hung in the house at Christmas so that the children could each hang their own pillowcase on it, which would have their name on it and be filled with gifts.


The dining room…I loved the wallpaper in this room.

Garland and bows hung all around the tops of the walls.


I have two fireplace mantles at my house so I love to see examples for how they can be beautified for the holidays.


Now this is something that I could handle….simply placing pinecones along the windows.

The day after we visited the museum Sarah and I went in the woods to find some.


Another lovely mantel.  So beautiful.  Sarah thought the oranges at the tops of the stockings looked funny.




This was a Christmas idea for Grandmother, called a wonder ball.  The family would unwind a ball of yard and then wind it back up again with little gifts inside of it for her to discover as she used it up in her knitting.


This pie plate was full of little gifts which were then covered over in bran.  Each person at the table on Christmas day would use the spoon to lift a surprise gift…


This is a variation of the bran pie.  This one is covered in paper with strings to pull a gift out through a slit in the paper.


“Festival decorations are not designed for close inspection but for general effect, and simple materials may be used with the most satisfactory results.”  Vicks Floral Guild 1879


Sarah and I had time to explore the house and then it was time to listen to the Madrigals sing their lovely old fashioned Christmas hymns and carols.


Grace signing “Silent Night”


The audience had to stand through all the songs and I did feel sorry for the elderly folks.  The man standing by the mantel propped himself up by his fingertips on the mantel…..but he loved hearing the children sing and at each invitation from the director to “please join us in singing this song” his beautiful old baritone voice could be heard singing.



Grace and I have been listening to a beautiful Christmas album by Elizabeth Mitchell while we work on a Nativity puzzle.  This is the song Grace wants to listen to over and over…….(the whole album is on youtube for you to enjoy)


I’m so homesick for Jesus and Heaven.  Isn’t it wonderful that this world is not our home….we’re just a passing through.  In the meantime, we can fix our eyes on Him and know He never leaves us alone.  He loves us so much.  At this time of year it’s comforting to snuggle up close to Him and thank Him for all He has done.

short and simple


There is snow falling in blog-land!

How are you, my friends?  I hope you are well, and if you’re anything like me, not feeling your best and trying to be patient while your medication starts to kick in then I hope and pray for you.  Be kind to yourself.  If you’re staying at home too much, get out of the house and go shopping.  That’s what I did today and it helped tremendously.

Everything is going to be okay.

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, because a smile is the beginning of love.”  Mother Theresa


I bought a decorative plate holder and added a vintage yellow fiesta chop plate to the top of my cookbook shelf, right underneath Aunt Colleen’s painting.  I like this little spot in my house.  I put the stool there yesterday and Sarah promptly sat down to sing to herself and color.  While she’s at school, Gentleman Gray sits there and tells me what to do.


He wanted me to put the camera down and pet him.


But I wanted to show you a picture of my new moccasins.  Grace and I each got a pair this weekend.  They are so comfy and just like wearing slippers.  She said with a little laughter, “I love these shoes, why didn’t we get these sooner?”


Dave just got home from school.

“This would make a good picture, Mom.”


My little Christmas tree.


Aunt Amanda and Sarah made this paper chain.   I helped a little, too.  Every day we tear a chain off until Christmas comes.

in which we decorate a wild evergreen tree



Last week I went for a walk in the sunshine and noticed a small evergreen tree growing just outside the state forest by the side of the road, not far from our house.  I envisioned it decorated for Christmas and what a fun feeling it would be to drive by and see a tree that doesn’t belong to anyone, with holiday ornaments on it.  I followed through with this vision and bought some large unbreakable ornaments today.  When I got home, I gathered up my four happy youngest children plus their two friends and off we went on a exciting short walk to The Tree.  As you can see, we had a nice warm weather day today.  Several children were barefoot and Seth was shirtless, too.


I stood on the road to take this picture.  I hope that once the snow falls the green ornaments will stand out more.  I wonder if anyone will notice this little tree when they drive past?  Even if they don’t, it will be a secret pleasure for the children and me.