Friday, December 24, 2010

Someone's Been Dreaming!

'Cause we are having a White Christmas! As we are bustling around this morning, getting ready for Christmas at Grandma's, God is clothing the world around us with a beautiful cloak of white. What a wonderful gift! I know it hampers some that are traveling (praying for safe travels, Brent and Melissa!) but the kiddos around here, young and old, are very excited - with plans of sledding, skating, fort-building, snowball-throwing, and snow football!

From Our Family to Yours, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior,
We Wish You a Very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Viewing the World Through the Eyes of . . .

my little guys.

Recently I let them take my small camera and play photographer. It was fun to see some of the pictures they brought back. Although, it wasn't until some days later that I saw them. They showed up in my pictures folder, but I had forgotten about their independent photo session. I sat confused for a moment or two, til the light dawned and a faint recollection came over me 'Oh, yeah! that was the day we were butchering 5 deer and I needed something to keep them occupied until I could put them to work!'

I've posted several of their photos, unedited, for your viewing pleasure! No comments, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves

Sunday, November 28, 2010


On the heels of Thanksgiving, as we venture into the time of year we celebrate The Greatest Gift Of All, this thought appeared on my daily devotion calendar:

When you feel grateful for something others have done for you,
why not tell them about it?

Over Thanksgiving weekend we enjoyed a few days of family, food and fun. We took time to give thanks for our many blessings. Our bellies were filled, the dishes were washed, the floors were swept, the kiddos (not to mention the adults) were exhausted. Aaahhhhhh Life is good.

Thank you to all my family - every year you bless me by joining us in our home, helping to make special memories. Thank you for gathering around my table and bringing joy into our lives. I know I don't say it, show it often enough. It means so much to me. Thanks for being here!

And in closing, this little prayer was included in my ready:

Don't let me get so busy that I forget to show gratefulness to others.
Help me to especially appreciate the loved ones You have given to me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sunday Night Supper

Popcorn - our family tradition - a carry over from Dad's growing up years. On Sunday nights, Grandma popped big batches of popcorn, and if anyone was still hungry they could fix a sandwich or dig through the frig for leftovers. Sounded like a great tradition to me, so I carried on when we first married. And 26 years later, still popping that corn on Sunday nights, though sometimes one of my helpers does the popping.

This week, I added something from my growing up years. Braunschweiger, Miracle Whip, thinly sliced onions on Roman Meal Bread. Yum Yum!!!! Took me right back to my childhood. My mom often had the makings for this tasty treat on hand. Sometimes we'd make it on saltine crackers or toast, but Roman Meal wheat bread was my dad's favorite. There was always a jar of MW in the frig. Now we use my own homemade ww bread, and true Miracle Whip is only in my frig when I find a really great deal (which I did recently). I sometimes embarrass my family as I stand in the aisles of the grocery store, salivating as I relive culinary memories. Anyone else have that problem, or am I alone here? I am winning my children over - though a few prefer actual 'mayonnaise' and only Luke and Dad will eat the onions, but the braunschweiger I bought last week is nearly gone.

I wonder what special foods and traditions my children will revisit as they are raising their families. It's gonna be such fun finding out!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Looking Back at Summer

As the cold weather gets ready to settle in, I find myself reliving memories from warmer days. One of our road trips this summer took us south, to Arkansas, to attend the wedding of the oldest son of dear friends of ours.

Their son Brock and our son Brent have been friends since before they were born - it brings us lots of joy to see them each marrying Godly young ladies. Both of the 'boys' have turned out all right, if I do say so myself.

The wedding was lovely. It was fun to see a few familiar faces and getting the opportunity to meet a few new ones. Brent was a groomsman, happy to step in and return the favor (Brock was best man at Brent and Melissa's wedding). Gabriel was the ring bearer.

I don't think a boy has ever taken that honor so seriously, or done such a fine job! Gabe even stood through the whole ceremony, not once thinking about shirking his post.

Weddings always take me back to my own wedding day. And remind me how young we were, and how mature we THOUGHT we were! I love having my brood around me - they like to tell me I'm still young - and I choose to believe them!

(ok, so we look a little tired, maybe a little older? well, it was the end of a very full weekend)

I'm posting just a few candid shots here, 'cause I know most of you checking in like to see the family.

(Luke and Caitlin, the two oldest at home. We sure do have a good lookin' batch of young'ns, don't we?)

(Now, our littles are not so little, but they all agree -- you can never have too many big sisters -- they are very happy Melissa has joined our family)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Favorite Time of Year

The air is crisp and fresh and clean. It's time to wrap up in warm sweaters and cozy afghans. My favorite comfort foods are on the menu. The stars in the night sky are absolutely brilliant. There's a blue, blue sky overhead. We are making plans for our Annual Family Thanksgiving Get-Together. We are gathering supplies for Christmas projects. I LOVE this time of year!

Earlier this week, Caitlin and I spent the entire day together (thanks Dad and Luke for watching over things!). We spent the day shopping, did lunch, etc. We made it to the fabric store, the crafting stores, the mall. What a treat! Besides picking up many things we needed for our holiday crafting, we were able to check off a few more gifts from our list. A very productive day. One of my favorite buys was at Bath & Body Works. Their small Slatkin & Co. candles are on sale for $5. A great deal and a terrific gift idea! They have a vast array of scents. I especially liked the Cranberry scents. I am saving that for the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. But, still, we couldn't wait. We lit the Vanilla Caramel as soon as we unloaded the vehicle.

Blessings to you all this week!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Christmas is Coming . . .

. . . and I'm getting ready!

Ok, I know it's a little ways away. And I have our Annual Thanksgiving Celebration to host first. But I have found a fantastic tool that helps me get organized (yeah, really!) and focus in on a little each week, getting tons of my preliminary stuff done before December even gets here.

My Christmas Binder, the Christmas Countdown inspired by Cynthia Ewer at

For the next 6 weeks, I'll be setting up my checklists, focusing on to-do lists, dividing and conquering to get all the important tasks taken care of. Each week has a different theme focus, which helps me take stock of the state of things around here (or in my brain!), make a plan and set that plan into motion.

It was such a blessing last year, I'm ready to jump in again this year! By the time we arrive in December, we are able to enjoy the festivities and celebrations we so enjoy, remembering the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 22, 2010

School is in Session

I thought I'd share a little peek into our school day - - here you see the younger kids hard at work on their Math assignments. Math is usually the first subject of the day. It's everyone's favorite, and important to get a lesson in each day, so it's a great way to get us going in the mornings.

Even little Bekah has her own schoolwork. I created this little game in a file folder. We call it 'Cupcake Counting'. She has colorful cupcakes lined up inside of a file folder, each numbered from 1 to 10. There is a little pocket that holds colorful sprinkles (I used a balloon-shaped paper punch to create these) and Bekah's assignment is to place the appropriate number of 'sprinkles' on each cupcake. To change things up a bit, sometimes we 'color-code' them to get in a lesson in colors as well as counting.

And, yes, the bunny ears definitely improve brain power!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anway you slice it . . .

. . . it's still lunch!

I am always amazed at how much more delicious my meals are when I slice, dice and serve them up with a new twist. Years ago I discovered that if I baked my meatloaf in muffin tins, making mini-meatloaves, my family gobbled them down. But make a traditional in-the-loaf-pan-meatloaf? I'd be lucky if they each ate one full serving. Same recipe, different shape. Can you really take a lump of ground meat, mix in all the mixin's exactly the way you always have, and then pass it off as something really delicious just by changing the shape? Go figure. Who knew? It really does work!

For lunch for my younger crowd one day recently, the creative juices started flowing. I cut PBJ sandwiches into 4 small triangles rather than 2 boring rectangles, sliced the apples into pac-man shapes showing a flower at the center of each instead of ordinary wedges and crinkle-cut the carrots (much more tasty than traditional carrot sticks). Added a few chips, and the boring 'Usual' for lunch became exciting, adventurous, and extra-ordinary!

Mom's reward was seeing their large-eyed faces grinning ear to ear, shouts of 'cool!' accompanied by comments about her awesome culinary skills and questions like 'who is Pac Man anyway?' soon followed by 4 clean plates. YES!

Who knew peanut butter and jelly for lunch could be so good? Guaranteed to entice even the pickiest of eaters!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Someone Had A Birthday . . .

and that someone turned 8 years old! During my blogging hiatus, Gabriel had another birthday. He is growing into such a fine young man.

We celebrated his day in the usual style -- balloons, streamers, birthday wishes, a visit from Grandma, gifts galore, a phone call from his overseas Sis.

And of course, a cake designed especially for Gabe.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Garden Report

Our poor garden has really struggled this year. This crazy wet Spring and Summer we've had has not provided ideal growing conditions in this Missouri clay. The tomatoes struggled, the green beans were pitiful, the peppers did a little bit better. Even the zinnias took until September to reach the height they were a year ago. Only 2 out of 15 sunflowers made an appearance - beautiful, but not the spectacular show we had hoped for.

But, on the bright side, we had cucumbers coming out our ears! We were really in a pickle . . . well, surrounded by them, anyway! This has been dubbed 'The Year of the Cucumber'. We've had a poor crop the last couple of years, so everyone is celebrating -- they do love my dill pickles. We've also put up plenty of relish and bread&butter pickles as well. For something a little different, we canned a couple gallon-sized jars with nice, big cucs -- like those you might find in the barrel at the old-fashioned General Store. Gabe requested a batch of 'fancy slices' (he likes the 'crinkle' cut pattern on them).

It's the first year I've tried growing herbs (other than dill). The rosemary disintigrated, the parsley turned yellow and withered, the sage disappeared. The lemon balm got a slow start, but then really took off. 3 out of 4 hissop plants survived. The echinacea (purple coneflower) hardly grew, only producing 1 flower. But the basil was lush and gorgeous. I LOVE LOVE LOVE basil -- having it fresh is wonderful. I dried some in the dehydrator for use throughout the year. I use it almost daily, so I am very happy having my own.

Speaking of the dehydrator, I also dried the last of our pepper crop -- a few jalapenos, couple of red and green peppers and plenty of habaneros, along with a couple of onions. Once dehydrated, I crumbled them up together in a glass jar, and voila! My own spicy seasoning mixture!

We were able to put up about 30 quarts of salsa. That is about a third of what we use each year, but we will enjoy it while it lasts. We were also blessed to find a source of peaches, so we were able to get 30 quarts of peach halves put up, along with a couple batches of peach preserves. And I don't even think I've mentioned the 20 quarts of applesauce we put into the freezer!

The season is changing, and so we are looking forward to the winter holidays and special events, making plans for next years' garden and projects. Thankful for what God has provided this year, hopeful for what is to come next year.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Our 4th of July Holiday Weekend

The tradition continues: the weeks leading up to July 4th were full of bustling and planning and cooking and shopping, and list making and list checking, etc. I think Independence Day is the children's favorite holiday - our freedom, liberty, the constitution, the founding fathers, our God the Creator -- all these things should be celebrated and remembered so we do not take them for granted.

This year, Brent and Melissa made the trip down to join in the festivities. It was great having them here. The kids all had a lot of fun playing games and getting everything 'just so' . . .

and the big boys enjoyed testing things out, just to be sure, you know.

After services on Sunday, Dad took everyone to Mom's favorite restaurant for dinner - what a treat! I love having all my family gathering around. The food was delicious, service was great and company was terrific - time just always goes too quickly.

On the Menu: Grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and brats, potato salad, chips and guacamole and salsa, baked beans, fresh veggies, fresh fruit and melon, our red/white/blue USA jello mold, festive cupcakes and dragon. Yes! I said "Dragon!" He was the 'Keeper of the Fireworks' but we ate him anyway! He was very sweet indeed.

After the meal, things really got exciting!

The Arsenal

The Gathering: our big house and big yard are a great blessing at times like this.

and the noise! Noah still would rather have silent fireworks.

Just as dusk approached, the big boys fired off rockets that drop parachutes, and the children and Dad ran and ran to see who could catch them. We tried to have plenty available - but it seemed this year the wind took many of the parachutes over the electric fence into the pasture. Still, a good time was had by all!

And then we broke out the sparklers - the little guys are not so little, and not so afraid, so it was very fun, and exciting. I especially enjoyed helping baby Ezra,now 15 months old - he had to be in there with the rest of them. He was NOT going to be left out!

Once again, the show was awesome - plenty of ooohhhhs and aaaahhhhhhhs and wows. We have cleaned up and recuperated and looking forward to next year - though I can honestly say I am a bit relieved it will be a whole year before we do it again - whew! Maybe you'd like to join us?

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