What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The First Days of Christmas (1-3)

One the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me........
a partridge in a pear tree!

meaning: Jesus Christ in the manger.

We opened our presents one a time in the morning~ each of us had three (like the three gifts given to Jesus----except (rats!) no gold.) Oh yeah, and poor Judah only got one.

That night we finished the Christmas story, we've been reading the anticipation of it throughout December.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me........
two turtle doves!

meaning: the old and new testaments.

The "fun" activity for today was opening MORE presents, this time at Grandma and Grandpa's house, among them~ a harmonica and two bike horns. My, the music we've been hearing ever since......


On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me...........
three french hens

meaning: The Holy Trinity and Faith, Hope and Love

Today we celebrated the day by doing something we never do~ watching a movie on a day other than Friday. The Nativity Story to be exact. We really enjoy this movie---and between you and I, I am such a bawlbaby at the part when Jesus is born and Joseph is overcome with joy and it overflows into laughter and tears.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas

Everyone is likely taking decorations down and calling Christmas quits right about now, but not us.

No sirree.

We Newmans like to extend things a bit.

Last year, we learned about the real meaning of the 12 days of Christmas and thought it a wonderful way to really focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Unfamiliar?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were
not permitted to practice their faith openly. During that era, this carol was written as a catechism song for young children. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five
books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy
Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love,
Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

"My True Love" of course, is the Giver of all Gifts: God and the receiver, or "me" is every Christian.

Well, we aren't Roman Catholic but these catechisms are important not just to Roman Catholics but for all Christians to learn. On our 3rd day of Christmas we will also be including teaching on the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Why? Why not? No better day to teach the trinity.

There is some disagreement about the validity of the story, mainly because it can't be proven either way. But I think, regardless of the past---what an excellent way to teach these truths and focus our attentions on the real meaning of the season!

Last year we tried opening gifts on each day but since we only give three gifts each, that didn't really work well. This year, I decided, we would celebrate the 12 days of Christmas by doing a special activity each day along with focusing on the truths of that day.

So, instead of boxing up our ornaments and pulling down our lights, we are just now getting ourselves all wrapped up into the Christmas spirit!

I'll be sharing our 12 Days of Christmas as time allows...

Christmas Eve

I really love entertaining. I don't have a magazine home, or magazine furniture and can't afford magazine presentations for feasts but I really enjoy the process, the challenge of using limited resources and the fun of having guests. After two years of offering to host Christmas Eve, my mom finally gave in (thanks entirely, I believe, to her bum leg) and let me have it at our house this year. And I am SO glad we did. It was a lot of work but so worth it. Especially since I got red roses and white tulips out of the deal.

Dangle fresh flowers in front of me and I am liable to do pretty much anything.

And it all went by without a hitch! Because so many people (and children) were coming, I knew I had to make it as organized as possible beforehand.

I took ALL the toys upstairs to the childrens' room so we grownups could mingle without being drowned out with the sound of playing or stubbing toes on an entire box of blocks scattered.

I set up two tables and arranged all the highchairs and boosterseats. I made placecards for all the seating which added not only charm, but was a HUGE help in getting everyone seated quickly and without question. Awesome. Never going without placecards again~ placecards and I, we are BFF.

The only thing I ran out of time to do was fold napkins. I really like folding napkins and wanted to dress up the disposable Chinet we used. (Hey, I don't have a dishwasher, okay?!?) I realized that a little after I started eating. oops.

I bought a bouquet of red roses and a bunch of white tulips and knew it would never be enough flowers, but that is what I was able to do. So I bought a bag of cranberries and poured them into the vases. The cranberries held the flowers right where I put them, so I was able to stretch two bunches of flowers into four different vases and do so beautifully.

I made as much food as I could ahead of time. On the menu:

For starters:
  • Bruschetta
  • Apricot-topped Brie
  • Candy Platters
Others brought seafood stuffed shells, Buffalo Chicken Dip, cake and truffles among other things.

For Dinner:
  • Apple Rosemary Pork Tenderloin
  • Caramelized Onion Tart
  • Butternut Squash with candied pecans
  • Christmas Salad
  • Applesauce
(Recipes are forthcoming, as soon as I make them again during the day to get photos worth sharing...) oh man, was it good stuff.

Looks like two Browns will have to be moved to the childrens' table next year.... :-)

It was a full house and a fun night!

My oldest brother stayed after everyone left and we put the children to bed and then relaxed and visited~ that was SO nice. And my younger (but still older than me) brother baked us a cherry pie as our Christmas gift! Two of the highlights of my night.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Well, I managed to get a Christmas photo made on too-cold day in December (last week), write out the Christmas letter and finally mail them off. The week before Christmas. Better late than never, right?! (or so I console myself....)

I am hosting about 25 people for a Christmas Eve shindig and there is much to do before then. After that, it will be a whirlwind weekend of visiting and festivities so really, everything must be DONE by tomorrow at 4:00~ including those last few gifts I have been procrastinating on finishing.

Not much time for blogging I am afraid, so I thought I would hop on here one last time to post our Christmas letter for the year and the few frozen photos of the family and to make sure to wish you all, kind souls, a very Merry Christmas!


~~ Dear Ones ~~

As I was putting the Christmas cards together, it occurred to me that nearly every Christmas card photo we send contains a new Newman. And so it is with this one, and in just a glimpse you can see what a wonderful year 2010 was for us.

Little Judah Benjamin was born on big sister Corynns birthday, and is, in truth, anything BUT “little”; he weighed in at 10 pounds, 11oz. at birth and has feasted on heavy cream ever since. We were at the hospital only a terrifyingly mere 7 minutes before he arrived but he has, ever since, been easy going and patient (a wonderful thing for a fourth child to be!) I am daily in awe over him and incredulous at his near perfection.

Corynn is seven and in her second year of homeschooling. She can read an entire afternoon away or spend hours creating anything from elaborate sketches and paintings to paper binoculars and gifts for her siblings. Her heart is sweet, her mind is sharp, and her spirit is always, always giving. She is such a help to me, and such a joy.

Andrew is four and insisted upon starting his first homeschooling year this year. He has shocked me time and again with skills I didn’t realize a four year old boy could master. He doesn’t cry when he is stung by bees, can work all day with Matt in blistering heat without complaining, and uses saws and hammers with the best of them but he still finds time to curl up with me and read a book or give me a hug and call me sweet. He is the perfect blend of all-boy and sweetheart. He saved up his money and bought a pig this year and yes- he is *still* always in cowboy boots. :-)

Adele' turned two over Thanksgiving and makes life interesting for all of us. She cracks us up and lives to do so. We always enjoy hearing her own invented vocabulary for things; “doo” is horse, “blah blah” (with some major tongue rolling) is Judah and shriek is for just about everything else. :-) The girl does not stop moving. She is feisty and sweet, infuriating and adorable all rolled into one beautiful bundle and my parents assure me that I was just that way when I was her age, so I deserve everything I get.

Matt continues to work at Dairy One installing networks and cameras for farms, and though he had no previous experience when he started his job two years ago-has really proven himself to be the exceptional man I have always known him to be. Unfortunately, this means that he is well-utilized within the company (read: sent out of town) for about half of each month. This is quite challenging for our family, but we try to focus on the blessings of a job at a time when there are few and find grace as we learn to grow through these trials. He doesn’t work directly with animals as he has always done, so he makes up for it on Old McNewmans farm. I counted them up and we are feeding 59 living creatures here (that is, until the cat gives birth to her kittens)~among them, cows, pigs, rabbits, chickens, dog, cat and children ;-). He is devoted to his family, ever patient with me, and a hard worker. I still don’t know how I found such a catch.

As for me , I am turning into a regular country girl now that Matt is gone so often. I can split kindling, gather eggs and call pigs with the best of them, even if I do say so myself. I am crazy busy every day but my constant struggle is not just to get through the days, but to do so with grace and beauty. I don’t just want to get food on the table, but I want it to be delicious and nutritious. I don’t want our home to just be a house, I want it to be a welcoming and cozy haven. Being called a wife and mother isn’t really enough, I want to be known by my husband and children for always being available to them, my words to always be loving and my demeanor always to be calm. I don’t want to just live life, I want to notice every speck of beauty in the life I live. So- I am often behind the camera, flowers are often on the table (even if they are from Aldi), and because I fail utterly at reaching my own expectations, I often go to bed on my knees thanking God for His forgiveness and mercy and the grace of a new day to try again. I count myself truly blessed to be able to call this life my own.

Babies who nuzzle in necks, toddlers who draw you into the wonder of new experiences and achievements, children who discover and learn, create and teach, and mature right before your eyes….there are times in these everyday moments that I cannot help but pause to realize the great calling that mothers have. We are world-changers.

Did Mary, as she peered into the face of God-made-man, realize her part in changing the world?

Our Savior, who gave up His power to become weak, gave up the heavens for a trough; born a babe to be tended, grew to give the greatest gift of all. Himself. For us.

Have a wonderful Christmas, we have a wonderful Christ .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The kitchen is a hopping place these days. I purposely waited until the last possible moment to make these treats so that they would actually make it to their recipients.

Neighbor tins, delivered.

Work platter, made.

Mailman tin, ready.

Garbage men tin, ready.

Librarian tin, ready for tonight.

With even a few left for the Christmas Eve party on Friday.

I really wanna make another batch of sugar cookies but it is a tossup between making those and making felt food for Adele' and since, well, that is pretty much all I had planned for Miss Adyay besides a book, I guess felt food must take precedence. I really wanted to get a few batches of crochet coasters done and oh yes, there is still the hats I need to finish.

Any messes being made in your neck of the woods?

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Day Out

Grandma and Grandpa took the older three to a cool museum, leaving just the little guy and I to run errands all. day. long.

There is the post office, and the library, and three different craft stores, and the grocery store, and the book store and Target. There is the bank, the church and a few more stores in between. Then it is meet Matt, have supper and do more shopping.

Last minute gifts, baking week, readying the house for hosting Christmas Eve this year, candy tins for neighbors and candy platters for work yet to make, dinner and appetizers to plan for Christmas Eve, chairs to find (?!?!?) and Christmas cards (still) to send. I am swamped-but surprisingly good natured at the thought of it. I don't feel harried in the slightest.

I live for this sort of thing.

(I'll have to remind myself of that tonight....

PS. Completely unrelated::: Isn't it fun when clothes are resurrected? The above outfit once belonged to a certain Panda I know and now belongs to Little. Yay for boys.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I am not a fan of indoor animals.

But she doesn't seem to care, does she???

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Little Glimpses

It seems like I have been posting lots of little glimpses lately...many pictures, few words. (few words?!?!? how unlike me!) I can't decide if it is just because I am so busy or because each glimpse holds so much of the beauty in my life.

In the words of Julie Powell : "I have thoughts!"

But for now, glimpses seem sufficient.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Sparkling

We ate in the living room and our dinner consisted of peanut M&Ms, jalapeno poppers, crackers with cheese and summer sausage, mozzarella sticks and eggnog with whipped cream. Sheer junk. And yes, I *did* feel guilty about it all night. But one night of sheer junk food is HUGE for a kid (and for me too) so hey. I got over the guilt. Actually, let's see. There was the dairy in the cheese, the eggs in the eggnog, the meat, the veggie (the jalapeno, duh!) and dessert-so was it THAT bad?!? ;-)

I did the lights. Matt was the overseer and oversaw from a big comfy chair. (Read: He didn't do a lick) There was another overseer too.

Last year almost all of our lights died and in a desperate attempt to compensate, I added some outdoor snowflake lights to the tree. I loved it so much, though, I had to tuck them in the tree this year too and likely will forevermore.

After the lights were strung, the children totally stole my job and hijacked all the ornaments. That's alright. I got to take a pictures. (And I can always rearrange after bedtime. *Insert evil cackle*

Miss Addie Mae was the angel topper this year. The priviledge always goes to the youngest. The youngest, that is, who can actually HOLD the angel. (Sorry Judah.)

She was pretty proud of herself. Especially when the applause erupted.

The finished product:

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Blue Christmas

Blue Spruce, that is.

We got our tree. But as with everything these days, it has to be in small increments to get done. Including blogging. So---another day you will see the "sparkling" we gave it.

It might just be the prettiest tree we've ever had but I am pretty sure I say that EVERY year.

I love Christmastime.