>> 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!


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