>> Monday, December 29, 2008

OK, here are the pictures I promised.

The girls' gifts to each other
The perfect coffee mug from my husband, filled with Friendship Tea, a gift from my cousin. It's my Grandma's recipe, and this is her first Christmas in heaven with Jesus. We miss you, Grandma!Sleeping bags for Violet and Esther
Daddy's train, from his girls
Cinnamon Bear and his cat
Elliot, George, and Sedgewick, from The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything


Creative Christmas

Several months ago when my job ended, my husband and I knew this Christmas would be tight. So we decided that this year instead of buying gifts for our children and each other, we would make gifts. And I must say, I think this was one of the best Christmases we've had! We decided on a limit of $10 per person including all materials, and we ended up making gifts for less than $5 per gift. And it was such a fun Christmas! I had so much fun making gifts this year! It was so much more enjoyable than running around the stores, fighting crowds and stressed shoppers!

I'd like to share pictures with you of the gifts we made for each other, but unfortunately I'm having technical difficulties and can't access the folder on the computer with our pictures. Ah, the joys of technology! I love my little computer, but I will admit there are days when I could find great satisfaction with throwing it out the window. :-) So instead I will try to describe our gifts, and when the photo's folder is responding to me again, I'll post pictures.

At the beginning of the school year we gave each of our girls a Faith and Friends doll. The girls love their dolls, and have named them Esther and Violet. My husband and I wanted to make doll beds, but we decided this would be bigger project than we were prepared to tackle. So instead I found instructions to make sleeping bags. These sleeping bags are for an 18" doll and our girls' dolls are only 14 inches, but this way the dolls can have sleepovers. Also, my oldest daughter eventually wants a Life of Faith doll, which is about the size of the American Girl dolls. If she ever gets one, she can use the sleeping bag for her, as well. (A Life of Faith dolls are similar to American Girl, but they are made by a Christian company, Mission City Press.) The girls were so excited to try out their sleeping bags for their dolls, and their dolls had a sleepover that night! Both girls share a room, so the sleepover took place in their closet. :-)

My husband really enjoys trains, and someday would like to have a train set. The girls know this, and decided they wanted to make Daddy a toy train. I found the pattern online, and we spent a few evenings putting together a small train and track. Here is the front car they put together. Our youngest daughter needed something easy to make for her sister, so she painted some pretty pictures with her water colors, and we glued them onto a tissue box. Then we made a lid for the box, and voila! It became a treasure box for her sister to store her doll clothes in! Our older daughter was a bit more adventurous, so she found a cute little paper mechanical Frog Chorus toy to put together. The girls had so much fun making gifts for each other, and for Daddy and I! And they were so excited Christmas Eve to see everyone open the gifts they had made!

My girls each made me some cards on which they drew pictures of some of their favorite Veggie Tales characters from the latest movie, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. My oldest daughter also made me a little paper bear, named Cinnamon Bear. (Each night before bed we listened to the radio program Cinnamon Bear on the radio. It was so fun to listen to, and I'm sad it's over!) My youngest daughter made me a little paper cat, and said it's Cinnamon Bear's cat. They colored and cut out their own creations. :-)

I won't be posting a picture of the gift I made for my husband, as the person I got it from asked me to not post it on my web site. I will honor his request, but I'll describe it for you. It's a little paper train that goes through a tunnel and around some trees, when you turn a crank on the side. If you Google for paper moving train you will find a picture of it, but unfortunately the pattern is no longer being offered online.

My husband made me a booklet of romantic poems and songs, as well as some romantic pictures. And the very last picture was of an old barn on a snowy winter day. I told him that must be the view out the back door of my dream house! :-) He also bought me a coffee cup, but that was OK because it is the perfect coffee cup, and I've been wanting it for a while, plus he was still able to stay under budget. :-) When the photo file is working again I'll post pictures. I'm not the most computer savvy person, so I don't know how to fix the problem. All I know is some days I can't access the folder, then as if by magic, some days it works just fine. :-)

My husband and I decided we would open gifts on Christmas Eve, so Christmas we would be able to devote the day to Jesus, since it is His birthday. :-) Christmas morning my husband baked a angel food birthday cake (we thought that would be rather appropriate), then after lunch I frosted it with Cool Whip and we covered it with crushed Butterfinger bars and crushed candy cane crumbs. It sure was tasty! Before we ate we all sang Happy Birthday Jesus. We have a nativity set up and each week the Wise Men move somewhere else in our home, on their journey to find the newborn King. They haven't made it yet, but will probably do so sometime soon. What an exciting day that will be, as well!

I hope your Christmas was a peaceful time for you! Even though Christmas was last week, we can still celebrate, so Merry Christmas!


Fun in the Snow

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yesterday the girls and I got out to build a snowman! I can't remember the last time I built a snowman, but it's been over 10 years, and I had a blast! So did the kids! It's only about 2 feet tall, as although it looked like we have a lot of snow, most of it is actually ice. We found some ice covered branches and that looked like antlers and decided to make a reigndeer snowman. We also happened to have some hazlenuts inside, so we used those for eyes, and leaves for arms. Pine needles worked for the mouth, to complete our snow deer. When we came inside, Daddy had mixed up a pot of fresh hot cocoa. What a wonderful afternoon!


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

>> Monday, December 15, 2008

It's amazing to realize Christmas is next week! Yesterday our town received an early Christmas present; it snowed! We have not seen this much snow since a few days after my youngest daughter was born. Yesterday afternoon my husband's parents called to see if they could pick up the girls for a sleepover, and this morning the girls got to go play out in the snow. They built a snowman, but my oldest daughter said it looked more like a snow lump, because the snow wouldn't pack together very well. :-) But they had so much fun! I wish I could have seen them play! Instead, I was home putting the finishing touches on their Christmas gifts. My husband and I have decided that this year we will just make gifts for each other, rather than buy any Christmas presents. The girls each get one gift from the two of us, and although we will have a very simple Christmas, we are very much looking forward to it! Maybe after Christmas I'll post pictures of the gifts I made for my girls, and my husband. I can't do it now, because I don't want them to see what they're getting! :-)

In any case, we are all very excited about the snow. I think it's so pretty, although I will admit I don't like being out in it. When I was a kid I used to build snow forts in the back yard; now I'm content to look out the window and drink my coffee, wearing my nice warm flannel pj's. :-)

If you have snow where you are, enjoy it! Even if it's just to look at its beauty, and think of our Creator who makes each snowflake unique. What an awesome God we have!


Daddys and Daughters

>> Thursday, December 11, 2008

Last week our youngest daughter celebrated her 5th birthday. My baby is growing up! Right now I can hear her sweet little voice as she sounds out some words in one of her books.

Our daughter received some nice gifts from friends and family, but one of her favorites is the gift my husband gave her. He gave her a timer set at 30 minutes, and a letter that stated that every day for the next year he will spend at least 30 minutes with her, doing whatever she wants (it has to be approved by Daddy - for instance, he won't take her to the park in the rain *l*). He listed several ideas, such as a trip to the carousel, playing at the park, cuddling on the couch watching a movie, playing with her toys, or a computer game. It has only been nine days since Daddy gave his girl this special gift, but the transformation I've seen in their relationship has been amazing! Our daughter has always loved her Daddy, but she's always been a Mommy's girl. She wants to sit by Mommy, play with Mommy, she wants Mommy to take her to her class at AWANA... but lately she has grown to adore her Daddy! Something as simple as spending at least 30 minutes a day with her on her level has brought an amazing dynamic to their relationship. And I can't even begin to say how much it warms my heart to see their relationship blossom.

This afternoon during my quiet time I read Genesis 4-7. There were two people that really stood out to me; Enoch and Noah. I have always been intrigued by the story of Enoch. The Bible doesn't tell us much about him, but listen to what it does say:

After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived another 300 years in close fellowship with God, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years in all. He enjoyed a close relationship with God throughout his life. Then suddenly, he disappeared because God took him. ~Genesis 5:22-24
Imagine what it would be to have such a close relationship with God! I have often thought I would love to have that kind of relationship with God! In fact, some time ago I wrote in the margin of my Bible, "If Enoch could live 300 years in close fellowship with God, surely I could strive for 60!"

In the next chapter I read about Noah.
Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless man living on the earth at the time. He consistently followed God's will and enjoyed a close relationship with Him. ~Genesis 6:9
So I got to thinking; what made these two men so special? What was it about them that helped them to have that close relationship with God? Then I thought about my husband and daughter. Lately they are enjoying such a wonderful relationship! My daughter adores her Daddy, and he takes delight in the fact that she wants to spend time with him. Maybe all I need to do to improve my own spiritual walk is to make the effort. If I choose to spend time with my heavenly Daddy every day, growing closer to Him will come naturally. He's given me insight into His heart; all I need to do is read His Word. And He's also given me a way to communicate with Him, through prayer. My heart longs to share a special relationship with my heavenly Father. I'm looking forward to this renewed spiritual journey I'm about to embark upon!


"It's smellin' really good in here!"

>> Monday, December 1, 2008

It just warmed my heart to hear those words from my almost 5 year old daughter this afternoon! I had some canned pumpkin left over from Thanksgiving, so today I decided to make a batch of chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. It's a good thing I only get into a baking mood around Christmas time or we'd all need to buy bigger pants! But there's just something about the lights of the Christmas tree and Christmas music playing over the radio that makes me want to bake. So here's one of our favorite cookie recipes.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Cream together:
1 & 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 egg

2 & 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon

Add alternately to sifted ingredients:
creamed mixture and 1 cup of canned pumpkin

Stir in:
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired (although I like the nuts, my kids don't so I leave these out)

Drop by teaspoons onto cookie sheet and bake at 325 13-17 minutes until firm, but not hard. Enjoy with a glass of cold milk!


"Let's split the Baby Jesus!"

>> Monday, November 24, 2008

My parents sent my husband and I an early Christmas present. The girls have to wait until Christmas for their presents, but we were told we could open ours now. They sent us the coolest set of cookie cutters that make up the manger scene! The set includes Mary and Joseph, Baby Jesus and a manger, a king, camel, shepherd, sheep, donkey, star, heart, and angel. Mom and Dad wanted us to have our present early so we could make use of the cookie cutters during the next few weeks. So today I washed all the cutters, and prepared a batch of our favorite sugar cookie dough. I'll have to share the recipe here sometime, and also post pictures of our nativity cookies. :-)

Well, once the cookies came out of the oven the girls were marveling over the different shapes, and my oldest daughter piped up, "I want the Baby Jesus!" To which my younger daughter said, "But I want the Baby Jesus!" They continued to argue over which one should have the Baby Jesus, and my husband had his own idea. "I don't think we should eat the Baby Jesus. Something just doesn't seem right about that." Finally my youngest piped up, "I know! We can split the Baby Jesus!" That got me to thinking, so I grabbed a knife and cutting board, and brought it to the table. I asked the girls, "Why did Jesus come?" My oldest replied that He came to die for us. Then we talked about Jesus coming to give His life for all of us, and that His whole reason for coming is so we could all share Him. So I cut the Baby Jesus into four pieces, and gave one to each of us. I will admit, there was something strange about cutting the Jesus cookie into four, and then eating it... but it drove a point home to each one of us. My husband said we could almost do this for communion, as it would help to cement in our girls' minds as to why we take communion, and the sacrifice Jesus made.

Eating the rest of the cookies was much easier, but I think from now one when we make the nativity cookies, we will all share the Baby Jesus. Because that's what He came to do; He shared His life for us. I look forward to many more memories we will make as we celebrate this Christmas season, and the birthday of our King!


I'm thankful for...

>> Sunday, November 23, 2008

Seeing as how Thanksgiving is this week, I'd like to talk about some things for which I am thankful.

  1. My husband who loves me and provides for our family
  2. Two beautiful children who have both asked Jesus into their hearts
  3. My parents who raised me in a loving home and taught me about Jesus
  4. My husband's parents who also raised him to know Jesus
  5. My husband's job, which is fairly secure in these difficult times
  6. A roof over our heads, food in the fridge, clean clothes in our dressers
  7. My Jesus, who wants to have an intimate relationship with me, and everyone He loves
I'll write more about which I'm thankful for as I have time throughout this week. Now it's time to start thinking about what I'm going to fix the girls for supper. Have a very thankful week!


Crock Pot Granola

>> Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cooking is not one of my gifts. However, there are a few simple recipes I have come across that I enjoy making, and my family enjoys eating. With two picky children, sometimes finding things they will eat can be difficult. So when I found this recipe for home made granola, I was thrilled when both of my children loved it! And lately granola has become a staple in our home, especially considering we can easily go through a box of cereal per week. With all the preservatives and sugar, not to mention the price, we've decided store bought cereal will be an occasional treat, rather than a daily indulgence. In fact, I've got some cooking right now! So here's the recipe...

  • 6 cups Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

In your crock pot, mix oats and cinnamon. Stir in olive oil, honey, and vanilla. With lid cracked, cook oats on low 3-5 hours, or until granola just begins to turn golden brown. Once the granola is finished I usually pour it out on a baking sheet to cool, then store in an air tight container. I'm not sure how long the granola stays fresh; it doesn't usually last too long in our home. The girls like it with milk for breakfast, or dry as a snack. I think the longest it has ever lasted is 5 or 6 days, but as oats can be bought pretty inexpensively in the bulk department of our grocery store, it's a pretty economical food.

Tips and Hints:
  • Be sure to keep the lid cracked during the entire time you are cooking your granola. I usually stick a silicon spatula in the crock pot, to prop the lid open.
  • Stir the granola every hour or so, to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the crock pot. If your crock pot has hot spots, stir more frequently. Usually some granola will stick to the bottom of the crock pot, but I let it soak for a couple hours with hot soapy water after I empty it, and then it's a snap to clean.
  • If you like dried fruit or nuts in your granola, mix them in for the last 30 minutes. Raisins and dried cranberry's go well.
Well it looks like it's family movie time, so I'd better shut down the computer. I'm looking forward to granola for breakfast tomorrow! :-)


My Greatest Wish...

>> Monday, November 17, 2008

My daughter's birthdays are coming up. We pretty much know what we're doing for our soon to be 8 year old, but I haven't got a clue yet what we will do for our soon to be 4 year old. And her birthday is only about 3 weeks away, so we'd better get on the ball!

The other night I asked the girls if they could have anything they wanted, what would it be? I didn't say anything about birthdays or Christmas, I just asked what they'd want if they could have anything. My oldest daughter thought for a moment, but when she answered I was blown away.

"Well, I could ask for more toys... but when I really think about it, what I really want is to grow closer to God. I mean, toys are nice and everything, but sometimes I feel like I'm just not growing close enough to Him, and that's what I'd really like. I want to learn to pray more, and read my Bible. Yeah, that's what I'd really like."

Sometimes my children astound me. So much wisdom coming from someone so young! Is this why Jesus said we should become like little children? There are times I learn so much from them.

Although I was surprised by my daughter's answer to my question, when I really thought about it, I realized that's the same thing I want. It's what I've been longing for. And I suppose if we all stop to think about it, growing closer to Jesus is something we all long for. I think He put that pull in our hearts. But too often I ignore it.

My quiet time is something that has suffered for a long time. When it comes right down to it, it is never quiet in my home. Sometimes I try going to my room and shutting the door to read my Bible and pray, but I am always so easily distracted, and I'm not able to focus. So most of the time I just let it go. But then, what kind of an example am I setting for my kids? Maybe what I should be doing is reading my Bible and praying when they are around me. I will still be distracted, but apparently no more so than when I am by myself. And I want my girls to see their Mommy spending time in prayer, and time in the Bible. If they don't see it from me, where are they going to see it?

So yeah... I want to grow closer to Jesus, too. And when I grow up, I want to be like my little girl. :-)


must... have... chocolate...

>> Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lately I have been craving Dark Chocolate. Anyone who knows me would think this strange... "Lately?" It used to be I was always craving the mysterious, slightly sweet, mouth watering indulgence. But for a while I was doing really well, and didn't have the need for much chocolate. Well, now that we are down to just a few chocolate chips in the fridge, I am really starting to crave it. Actually, this works out perfectly... I received a late birthday card in the mail yesterday, and enclosed was enough money for some chocolate! I need to write to my Uncle and let him know how much I appreciate his timing! As soon as we have the opportunity to go to the store, I will seek out the chocolate isle. And I don't want just any chocolate. I want Ghirardelli 72% cocoa. Nothing but the best! I've recently discovered not only do they have the 72% cocoa in bars, but they also have it in squares. And better yet, they've started carrying it in chips! That will be just perfect, as I can just have 2 or 3 to satisfy my craving, and I'll be done with them for the day.

My Mom has also told me about a tea I'd like to try, Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane tea. I should have enough left over to also get a box of that, as that has been sounding wonderful lately, as well. It's almost like Christmas!

Hm... I wonder if I could find a Dark Chocolate theme for my blog? I've looked, but haven't found any that reach out and grab me. But I did think this snow one was kind of cool.

Well, I'm off to indulge in a few chocolate chips...



>> Friday, November 14, 2008

We've recently started a token system with our girls. They can earn tokens for things like cleaning their room, doing all their chores for the day, staying in bed at night, and being respectful throughout the day. Usually they can earn a maximum of 15 tokens per day, but most days they get around 10. They can also lose tokens for things like fighting, being disrespectful to Mommy and Daddy, refusing to stay in bed at night, and things like that. So far their favorite thing to cash in on is computer time. My four year old often asks me, "Mommy, do I have enough money to play on the computer?" But today my 7 year old surprised me. One of the things they can use their tokens for is Mommy will do one of their chores for a week. This is a pretty expensive thing, at 50 tokens. Well this morning my daughter counted out 50 tokens and said, "Mommy, I'd like you to fold and put away all my clean laundry for the next week!" I must admit, with all the chores she could have picked, that's a pretty good one. My kids really dislike folding and putting away their clothes. But I've gotta say, they come by it naturally. Laundry is one of my least favorite chores, too. So I told my daughter that will be easy; I just won't wash any of her clothes this week! She looked at me like only a 7-year old can to let me know she didn't think I was being funny. :-) So right now I'm washing a load of laundry, and when it comes out of the dryer I have one hour to make sure it's folded and put away. She's a smart girl. I figured she'd pick something like me making her bed for a week.

Well, I'm off to clean the kitchen. I've been slacking this morning, spending too much time trying to figure out what to write about. I'd better get busy so the kitchen is ready for my Dear Husband when he's ready to fix lunch. He's such a wonderful man!


A New Adventure

>> Thursday, November 13, 2008

Starting a new blog is always difficult... what do I want this blog to be about? I've tried various blogs over the past few months, but nothing has seemed to stick. I mean, if I'm not even interested in my topics, why would anyone else bother to read it? :-) I have lots of ideas, but where should I start? My Mom has often told me I should write about my children. At ages 7 and 4 they definitely provide me with plenty of material!

I'm sure I won't have a chance to blog every day, but I will try to post at least once a week. And I guess I'll just see how this blog develops. It might just end up with a mind of its own. :-)


About Me

>> Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hello, and welcome to my blog! I'm glad you're able to stop by. If you've clicked on this link, I guess you'd like to know a little about me, so here goes. :-) I am a Christian wife and Mommy. I've been married to my wonderful husband  twelve years, now. We have two children, both girls, ages 10 and 7. We home school our children, and that has been a joy for each of us. I am so thankful for the opportunity to stay home and teach our girls. We've had seasons where I have had to work, but we are so thankful right now that I am able to stay home. Even though at times it is a struggle, we have decided it is worth the sacrifices. Life is truly a blessing!

Thanks for stopping by!



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