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

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas! (Our 2017 Christmas Card to You)

I wish I could send each and every one of you a real card... but this will have to do.   Thank you for visiting me here and occasionally leaving an encouraging word.  I appreciate it so much.  Merry Christmas!

Dear Ones~                                                                                                                                                       
A hearty Merry Christmas to you all!  May God bless you and your families during this Christmas season and may His presence be gloriously evident to you all in the coming year.  May we all have eyes to see His goodness in our lives.

2017 was mostly held together by strings of ordinary days, pleasant in their normalcy and comfortable in their commonness, but there were some bright and shining baubles sprinkled throughout, marking this particular year with particular moments to look back on.

A first ever family vacation with the Newman side of the family for three nights(!) (Practically miraculous.)  Corynn getting an opportunity to work on the World’s Largest Mosaic (Ithaca, NY).  Andrew getting rabbits, in hopes of starting a business.  (Just check his charts.  $$$ He’ll make THOUSANDS! $$$)  A pirate parade float.    Judah finding and adopting a baby possum for a day.  A new (to Matt) tractor.  Painting hundreds of porch spindles.    Matt re-siding the Granary from lumber from our own woods.  First rides in hot-air balloons (even for a most terrified Mama) thanks to some very generous friends who have one.  Ruby had puppies- twice!  And most recently (as in last week), the first broken bones: not happening to one of the rowdy boys as one would expect but to dainty Adele’.  Though we’ve discovered through this experience that, as Matt would say, “she’s got some grit”. 

The much more plentiful ‘ordinary days’ were full of the same old exhaustion that comes with rearing a houseful of children, even the exceptionally great ones that God has given us.   There was the same raucous dinner tables, the same pizza and movie nights every Friday, the same floor covered with toys and papers and school books every day and the same “Quick!  We need to clean this up before Papa gets home!” rush around 6:15pm.   There were the same garden chores and garden feasting in summer and the same from scratch-cooking and canning that happens every year.  There was the reading of good books, aloud to all and curled up by oneself.  There was Mama sitting on the couch trying to listen to individual, choppy letter sounds become fluid words, without eyes glazing over, growing impatient  or (most likely of all) falling asleep.    There were the same moments of putting in the renegade mini-horse and caring for the cows and chickens.  There was blueberry picking and flower bouquets, handmade gifts and homemade donuts.  There was cider pressing (over 50 gallons in total this year but not all for us) and toilet bowl fishing (more times than I care to remember) by a certain precocious 1 ½ year old.   There was the same hardworking husband leaving for work in the dark and coming home in the dark.  And the same lack of spare time for said man.  There are the ever present concerns for family, for friends, for finances and our nation that constantly keep us on our knees and sometimes, awake at night.

Our culture of brokenness, the slaughter of innocents, the corruption of a society that flips truth on its head: the darkness of today can overwhelm.   But God came down to meet us in our darkness.  He is no stranger to wicked rulers, cultures in turmoil, to the government sanctioned slaughter of innocent children…they were part of the nativity story just as much as the angels singing from the heavens and the donkey carrying a Kingdom on his back.

Christ, the Bright and Morning Star, came to our world and into our darkness to crack it open and give us Light.  Not like a light switch, but like the Sun of Righteousness.  Suns rise in the east, slowly… so slowly you may not even notice as it happens.  All of a sudden a crack of light becomes a sphere, stars disappear, dew melts and the earth is awash in light. 

It still feels dark sometimes.  So we wait.  And pray.  But while we wait- we can sing.  And celebrate.  While the world may not be bathed in the gold of noonday Sun just yet, every moment the darkness grows more and more faint.  May we celebrate our conquering King- and may we turn our faces toward the Light.

O come, thou Dayspring from on high, and cheer us by thy drawing night;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.  

Friday, December 22, 2017

So Much Bustle

Corynn made herself an Ugly Sweater from a Salvation Army sweater for a Teenage Girl Party.  She was crazy excited...clearly.

The first photo in this post gives the impression that in this house all is calm, all is peaceful and serene and all we have time for is reading books by the flicker of treelight.

And let me tell you something, that is a MAJOR false impression. 

This house is a full blown bustling Elfin workshop.  I've been staying up until wee early hours each morning this past week (mostly around 1am I go to bed but one night found me slipping into bed at 2:30am) trying to do top secret projects.   This is partly due to top secret projects and mostly to do with the fact that Matt has been in New Mexico all week for work- and I just can't sleep without him spooning with me.  (It's a fact.)

I've gotten a few things done but I've also done a fair share of movie watching and ice cream eating- so anything I haven't finished is my own stinkin' fault.

Thankfully, Christmas isn't over in this house until all 12 Days of Christmas are over so I have a teensy bit of time left.  On the other hand- those days should already be pretty filled with extended family gift-making, since both extended family get-togethers are next weekend. 

So- yeah- Bustling.

( I'd show you some glimpses of the making but the fact is, I now have children who read my blog.  How inconvenient. )

One of these days I'm not going to procrastinate until the very end.  (Says Myself every single year.)

If anyone else is busy bustling these last few days- may your bustle be rounded out with merriment. 

And may you finish every project in the nick of time.  ;-)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Not Always As It Seems

You'd think Ineke is playing (a very convincing) Mary for a local nativity showing...

...when, in fact, she is just wearing Papa's underwear on her head (and mine for further adornment). 


When you live in a house with a resident arteest, you may find that your chicken potpie crust asks you not to eat her.


Occasionally, I find I get this strange feeling I am being watched...

by Corynn...the girl who takes Etch-A-Sketching to a whole new level.

Come to think of it,

I noticed the angel looking all innocent and serene the other day...

isn't she beautiful?

Then I noticed a huge snowball in her hands and her calculating gaze.

And all of a sudden she seemed a bit more menacing. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Trouble With Trolls


Jan Brett's trolls and Ineke, everymorning~ the resemblance is uncanny.

I've always suspected she had some troll in her.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Three Birthdays in One

She may have broken her arm on her 9th birthday but up until that point, it was a pretty great day.

She woke up to a birthday greeting from her favorite animal ever.

She asked (begged) that we invite company for her birthday celebration.  Apparently, because Adele's birthday is so close to Thanksgiving, everyone just gives her gifts at Thanksgiving and no one comes OVER.  And coming OVER is pretty special, so I am told.

Apparently she is the ooonnnllllyyyyy one who hasn't David and CC (neighbor cousins) over to share cake and that is just plain tragic.  So we made it happen this year.

Her birthday meal request was elegant... Iceberg wedges with drizzled dressing.  Lasagna.  Garlic knots.

Boy, howdy.  I've got an elegant one.

And she didn't want cake.  She wanted a donut tree.  (She's pulled that before.  Oh look at that teeny little girl!  )

And I didn't complain.  
(Especially since I had a Dunkin Donuts giftcard hanging out from last Christmas! This one took 100 donut holes.  wow.)

Her favorite part was the little friend tucked inside the donut gate.  

We had a camera malfunction for a blowing candles picture- so you just get a delighted girl instead.

Her favorite gift, and the one I was most excited to give her, was a resurrected chicken purse.

You may remember she was given one once before.  And a few weeks later, she left it at church and it was lost for good.  She's lamented that fact ever since.  

Chicken purse version 2.0 has a few upgrades...a nicer strap for one


it's LINED.  

Whooooo boy.

And since we are talking birthdays... guess who never got their time in the birthday-blogpost-spotlight?  

Yep, these two:

Corynn turned 14 and Judah 7 making this a once-in-a-lifetime event when Judah would be exactly half of Corynn's age.  

Corynn didn't ask for cake this year either.  She asked for macarons.  

(By, these girls just elevate the place.)

I had never made macarons before.  And they are notoriously finnicky.  So what does one do, knowing these two facts?

Why, she offers to make THREE different batches, of course!

Pink Lemonade~


and Pistachio~

And I really botched most of them.  Many were cracked on top.  A few got too brown.  The smores' filling was so slippery the tops slid right off some!

BUT- I have a generously sweet girl who was thrilled with them just the same.

(I will say though, despite their looks, they were pretty darn good.  Or so I am told.  I was so mad at them I refused to eat a single one.)

And Judah requested a backhoe cake.

I wonder when he will outgrow equipment cakes?  That will be a sad day indeed.  Although- it is getting harder and harder to come up with fresh and different ideas for equipment cakes...

He said it was exactly what he wanted.

It was several months ago so I don't remember the presents- except that book gifts put a quick halt on gift-giving for a bit.

I always forget that until it is too late.

It is amazing to me that God has given me these children to rear and love and it is becoming more and more obvious that this is a temporary gift.  As they grow into these capable, big, wonderful people, I see the day coming closer and closer in which they leave me.

I can't cling, white-knuckled, to these~ my sweet fledglings.  (Even though I fight that urge daily.)  But I can remind myself every day to etch them into my soul.  And I can thank God for these, my greatest gifts.  

They were inside of me once.  In a different way, they are still.  And always will be.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Decking the Halls

I hung our Christmas lights the day after Thanksgiving.  Not necessarily because of any Christmas urges- but because it was such a mild and sunny day.  Determining not to freeze my digits off, I grabbed the bull by the horns.  And let me just say...hanging Christmas lights on a 45 degree day is just downright pleasant.

The children helped me haul all the Christmas boxes/bins from the Granary and then everyone SCATTERED except this little elf:

"Mamaaaaa....I'm not an elf!"  
Well, and there was this girl.

She wasn't a helping elf but more of an overseer.  A nibbling overseer.

As you will see later...you gets it from no where strange.

On the first day of Advent we have our Trim the Tree Party.

It is one of the only 'Just Our Family' parties every year which in some ways make it even more special.

But the most special part of the trim the tree party is the food!  We splurge on 'treat' foods we don't get throughout the year.  The one rule is- it has to be eaten by finger or toothpick.

Cashews.  Little Smokies.  Fancy peppers and grapes.  Gouda cheese.  Eggnog. And...wait for it... spray from a can whipped cream!  Woot Woot!   I also made meatballs, which we do get throughout the year but not enough to lose the special factor.

It was even more delicious this year thanks to the kind generosity of friends who give delicious pity gifts to girls with broken arms.  We got decadent fudge, amazing chocolate chip cookies, Chex mix, and spinach artichoke dip with a bag of pitas.  OH MY!

(I wonder who could break their arm NEXT December?)

We always have an eggnog toast to get things started...

And then the fun begins...

Oh look...a few more 'overseers'.  (I told you- no where strange.)

Don't let him fool you- he put the first ornament on and the last ornament on and called it a day.

We all have our favorite ornaments...

Ineke got her footprint made into an ornament to hang this year.  We have one for each of the children hanging.

Adele's favorite:

Ineke loves to play with the jingle bells on pipe cleaners.

I remember when two little hands laboriously cut bits of pipe cleaner to make that ornament.

But, Miriam, you'll have to tell your dad one of our favorites has to be this one:

One of the best parts of getting the Christmas stuff out is...

getting reacquainted with old friends.

Oh look!  Someone left some bread and grapes out for the birds.  Yes, they did look rather emaciated.

Now the house is shiny and sparkled up.  Just the way I like it.

And just in time for St. Nicholas...