Monday, December 31, 2012

Family Fun in the Snow

 Christmas morning dawned brilliant and clear, the first clear day in weeks. 
 It was spectacular.  
We drove over to Nanny and Papa's house.
.literally over the meadow and through the woods, 
then around the lake and up the hill. 

After a wonderful dinner,
 we spent the afternoon sledding down the big hill, 
which was terrific fun, once us old folks kicked ourselves out of the warm house
 and into the snowy outdoors.  
I am glad we did, it was so much fun!

                                                   Multi-generational sledding right here.  
What a brave Nanny!

The big daddy triple decker.

Cousin Grace and her pet weasel following Gabe and Grace down. 
It is really some sort of dog, but we like to give her a bad time.  


Eyes of wonder on the almost 4 yr old.

A poofy blue cloud named Olivia.  
She loved the snow and stayed out for hours.

Oh Glorious Day!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Advent Days

It's the most wonderful time of year!
There's excitement in the air as Christmas Day draws near.  
All kinds of special events fill the calendar bringing festivity, cheer and good will.  

 Here is a look at some of the fun.

Daddy took Rose on a daddy/daughter date to see a play of Little Women. 
 Gabe and Olivia just had to be in the picture too.

Rose followed that up with a special craft with the children. 
 They had a ball making cards 
and then planning on who shall receive them.

In the spirit of the season,
 as night falls on freshly fallen snow, in what Brian called perfect weather,
 he led a group caroling to local shut ins,
 bringing good cheer (and many a tear) to warm their hearts, 
as well as a basket full of home made goodies to warm their tummies.

                        At the end of the day, twinkling lights and pine garlands decorate the lodge,
               a crackling fire and a mug of mulled cider awaits those who have been out and about. 

  All ready for bed,
 the children gather  round as Brian reads the familiar Christmas story in the Advent book,
 a story they have fairly memorized by now,
 but still has a captivating appeal.

                                             These are days filled with bits of treasures 
                                              that glow in my memory from year to year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Embracing Advent: JOY

During the last few weeks of Advent, 
sickness and sadness,
 along with difficulty have filled not only our home, 
but many we know and love
 and many whom we don't know, but feel for them just the same.
Oh, there has been plenty of love and laughter here,
 as there always is when small children are present,
 but finding joy has been less than easy, 
in fact, it has only come by making a deliberate choice.

 Joy doesn't always come in laughter and mirth. 
 Joy isn't always dependent upon our circumstances. 
 The deep joy that comes from what Christ has done for us constantly fills our hearts, 
and sustains us through trials and difficulty. 
 I have been thinking that it was this kind of joy that upheld Mary 
through what must have been a very difficult time for her socially 
when she was carrying the baby Jesus. 
 Knowing the effusiveness that usually ascends upon women when they are pregnant, 
I can only imagine how alone, hormonal, and weary she must have been....
yet, if she kept her mind set on WHO she was about to give birth to-
 the deep joy of the Lord would have given her great comfort and strength.

  My heart breaks for those who don't know this kind of joy because they don't know
 the One
 whose presence fills one with joy.  
There are many who are hurting and alone, dealing with pain and tragedy,
 and my prayer is that they would come to KNOW 
and find their souls delight in Him,
 even when times are rough.

These are the things we have been discussing in our home these last few weeks as we celebrate the season.
It has been a bitter sweet time:
 knowing so many are hurting and lonely,
missing our own family far and away, 
dealing with sickness and difficulty ourselves...

When I drove the van off the road into the ditch and had to be pulled out, 
I found it difficult to be joyful. 

 A brother challenged me as to whether the joy of the Lord was my strength.
At that moment, I felt pretty weak and sick to my stomach for the near miss of a tree,
 but later, as I am sometimes a rather slow learner,
I came to see the good in it. 
 Instead of it getting me down,
 I could choose to be joyful, 
by an act of my will. 
 By focusing on Christ instead of the situation. 
 By seeing the good the fact that we didn't hit the tree.

We choose joy. 
 We choose what we think about and focus on. 
 Giving thanks, and... well, giving.. 
are ways we can focus our minds into activities to lift the spirits.

Each day at dinner, we each give thanks for something as we begin our dinner.
Even during hard times there are always multiple things we can be thankful for
 if we only take time to think of them.
This has been really helpful to me, and good for the children as well.

This is the season for giving, 
and that may not always be gifts, but the best of gifts, which is, ones self.
Contrary to what comes naturally,
 putting others first and GIVING of ourselves is a most delightful and joy-filling thing to do,
 or, way to live.
Wanting to get this across to our children, and practice it ourselves,
yesterday, we spent the afternoon baking up goodies to send to loved ones
 and goody plates to give to neighbors.
Jim and I tag teamed 5 kinds of cookies, Rose helping too.
It was fun
and the thought of our neighbors sinking their teeth into 
some of the best cookies we make
 filled my heart with delight.
(feeding people is my spiritual gift...
or love language---
perhaps both.)

This holiday season, may we all take to heart 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Be joyful always; 
pray continually; 
 give thanks in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Why?  Because God knows it is good for us, for our hearts.
  A joyful heart is good medicine.
Maybe  that is why we are all well and healthy now...
and carrying on with the fun and adventure of Advent celebrations with new gusto.

So this is my prayer,
That we, 
and all you dear readers,
have eyes to see the bountiful blessings that are all around us this Christmas season,
 that we then, like unwrapping the gift, 
give thanks for each one of them,
 and therefore,
 are filled with JOY and good cheer.
Then, it will truly be a very Merry Christmas indeed!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December Ramblings

Hello to all out there, and thank you for the many kind messages and wishes. 
 We did have the most spectacular, 
devastatingly romantic
 wedding for our daughter Anna and our new 
son in love Scott 
a few weeks ago,
 and ever since, I have been quite silent here,
 but, it may not be what you would think.

I am not suffering from "post traumatic wedding disorder", 
although I might have over done it a little,
 causing my cold to turn bronchial, and I am just not quite over it.  
Also, Rose's camera, where all the lovely pictures you see here come from,
 has a new owner and Rose is still in the market for a new one. 
 It is so hard to journal here without her beautiful pictures.

We are so happy for Scott and Anna,
 and you will read all about it just as soon as the pictures arrive from the photographer.

Life is continuing on in a new way in our post wedding life. 
 I am not at all sure Olivia has gotten over it,
 she seems to have a bit of separation anxiety, and is still quite clingy. 
 The sweet tot just turned two a few days ago.
But, there have been ever so many wonderful things here I have so wished to share,
 alas, no camera to capture the moments....

Littles side by side on the sofa reading and looking at I SPY books, which are Olivia's new favorite.

Children cuddled up in front of the fire with mugs of cocoa or tea.

Days full of Rose baking the most yummiest of goodies

Mornings playing in the snow 

Puttering around the lodge decorating for Advent

and lots and lots of creative fun for the children
while mama is too ill to carry on much in the way of school or housework.

Soon..soon, all will be back to usual. 
 Soon the wedding pictures will be here,
 and soon, Rose will have her new camera and be taking thousands of pictures getting accustomed to it.

Until then...
May you find your soul's delight in the One who formed you and loves you best.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Winter Storm Survival

It is that time of year again.
 The snow is falling as I speak.
With the last few snow storms have come various power outages in our area.
  We are not effected by such a crisis since we are off-grid. 
Checking in with our neighbors, they are all snug and cozy around a warm wood burning stove, 
or are comfortably watching TV because they have a backup generator.

However, outside our little redneck community, some folks might not be faring so well. 
I remember an ice storm many years ago that left most of the Northwest stranded 
without power for more than a week.

People died.

Truth is, a little preparation goes a long ways.

I have been thoroughly indoctrinated by my dear sweet friend, Enola Gay,
and thus, have a handle on some simple preparations that may make life possible and bearable
during a winter storm in which one loses power for great lengths of time.

First, one must have a non-electric heat source.
A few clicks, and I'm on the Lowe's web page,
where a person can get a very affordable (around $50.00) portable propane heater.  
This burner fixes onto a propane tank, of which can be refilled for about $14.
  We have one of these and we like it very much.

Secondly,  a wise woman would put away water. 
 Juice jugs and milk cartons work great. 
 One gallon per person, per day.
  A drop or two of bleach in each gallon will keep the water good for a great length of time.

I asked my friend, Jana, Who lives in Connecticut and has been dealing with storm after storm  this month, what she advises, here is her response:
  • "What we found that we CANNOT live without over the past 3 years is a generator. We have a well, and the pump is electric. We have lost power 4 times, for a week at a time, over the past 3 years. Living without water was the hardest part. Last year, during the freak ice-storm we had in October, my husband had enough and borrowed the money to buy a decent generator. That alone was worth it's weight in gold! These days we take for granted little things like washing your hands and flushing the toilet!
    We also now have a weather radio.....the only contact with the outside world when telephone service and internet is out. Sandy toppled many of our cell towers, so service was splotchy at best. We also stocked up on food items that didn't need refrigeration, just in case the generator was damaged. Even things like rice are terrific to bulk up a meal, and can be cooked so easily over a fire or on the grill!"

Third, put by a selection of food that can be eaten without cooking.
Keep it in a box or Rubbermaid tote and store it in an out of the way place,
so that it does not get used except for in the emergency. 
Canned tuna, canned chicken, pork and beans, and canned fruit, would be my choice staples.

Make sure you own a manual can opener.  

I would add to that, granola bars, (or the like), crackers, trail mix, peanut butter, 
and preferably, chocolate. :-).

  But better yet, a simple camp stove of some sort, readily available for $20 and up,
 would increase the capacity to stick out a long storm well.  
The same propane source can be used for the stove, 
or smaller propane bottles stored would be even better.

Then, you have hot food and drink, which can make all the difference in the world.

If such was the case, canned soups, tea, coffee, instant potatoes and gravy, 
 and all kinds of wonderful things could be put away in the emergency food box. 
Start with a nice variety of foods to last three days, and build up from there.

Lastly, gather a few other items to put in the box;
 a flashlight,
and don't forget the MATCHES!

These are the most basic of survival gear that I believe every household should contain.

A wise woman prepares.

She might also consider not only the ways of her own household,
but be ready to extend much needed hospitality to an unprepared neighbor.
My husband tells of a time growing up that his family and two other families came together
in one house for over a week during a winter storm. 
Because of one wise woman's thoughtful preparations,
the three families had a week long party that endeared them to each other to this day.

"She stretches out her hand to the poor, she reaches out her hand to the needy. 
She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household is clothed in scarlet.  She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her."  
Prov. 31:20,21,27,28

My own recollections from childhood include those happy days
of no school due to bad weather and power outages.
 My mom,
(the beautiful petite white haired lady you often see here)
 would make the most of it.
At the first indication of a bad storm, she would fill the bathtub with water for flushing.
When the power went out, she would light candles and lanterns all about,
 creating a warm glowing room,
 of which I am especially fond of to this day.
We would then declare it a holiday and make forts in the living room and pop corn in the fireplace.
We didn't just survive,
she made it a beautiful experience.

The next time the power goes out,
and you bring out the propane heater and camp stove, 
warm up some soup and boil water for cocoa,
your children will rise up and praise you and your husband will kiss you,
and you will be happy that you made the effort. 

This post dedicated to all those in the East, especially my friend,
Jana Lynn,
 who has undergone massive power outages since Hurricane Sandy.
 Jana is a wise woman, therefore, her family has survived the storms comfortably.
Blessings to you, Jana!

For more preparedness information,
my friend, The Queen of prepping, Enola Gay and all her wisdom,
as well as some really cute kidlets and fantastic recipes,
 can be found here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

First Snow

As the first snowflakes of the season fall,

the tradition begins,
 with the children crafting paper snowflakes....

 ...and as if that wasn't fun enough,
 we then make the sugar cookies.
Every year the same,
 but different.


Messy kitchen,
happy kids.
it has been a great day!

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