Monday, December 23, 2013

Deck the Halls

We made these great ornaments tonight! I love my girls' creativity and I enjoy opportunities to be creative myself. 

 The most challenging part of this was obtaining the supplies. I learned that there must be a lot of people making ornaments, because only Hobby Lobby had any left. (And the ones I ordered from Amazon were late. They came today and were also not what I expected. They come in two parts with a seam in the middle. Those will be returned!) And the floor wax that all the tutorials recommended was not to be found. I risked a different one from the dollar store, and it worked!

Then we got creative with the rest of our sugar cookie dough. We had a Harry Potter snowman, a gingerbread man who was morphed into Legolas, a wreath that I decorated like a cat face, and several abstract cookies. 

Now it's time for some wrapping!

Important Obilgations

I didn't post last night because I was doing something very important: watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with my girls. And drinking butterbeer (not pictured). 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Sweets

Tonight the girls and I made Pioneer Woman's Christmas cookies from her new cookbook.  We really like how the food colored egg yolks made them have a stained glass effect.  We had fun being creative, and we had fun eating them, too!

Songs of Hope

Today was a day of wrapping up. Not presents, at least not yet. But wrapping up of school semesters and piano lessons for the year. Finishing tests and doing final assignments.

And we capped it off with Rebecca's piano recital. She told us she expected not to do well. She knew she could have practiced more. But when her turn finally came, she played beautifully. Her songs were lovely, and any mistakes went virtually unnoticed. 

Sometimes I feel like Rebecca when it comes to life, to walking with God. I come to my relationship with Him feeling unprepared. I know I could have spent more time with Him. Reading His Word. Communing with Him in prayer. Dwelling on Who He is. And if I let my feelings of unpreparedness prevent me from moving forward, no one will be able to hear the song He is giving me. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Because Smiling's My Favorite

We watched one of our favorite Christmas movies tonight. I love the silly sweetness of this movie!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Seeing by the Light of Christ

After supper this evening, our family went on our annual "Christmas Light Seeing" excursion. Every year the girls dress in pajamas and we drive around our area looking at the beautiful lights while listening to Christmas music. At some point during our evening we will stop and pick up ice cream. 

My favorite moment of this evening was looking at some of the lights our city put up downtown. We were so confused by the lighted giant bottle of milk and a goose laying golden eggs. And then there was the Eiffel Tower. We thought these things had nothing to do with Christmas!  Until we saw the final piece of this display - a partridge in a pear tree! Now it made sense. Eight maids a-milking. Seven geese a-laying. Three French hens. We had to drive by again now that we knew what we were looking at. 

That partridge in the pear tree helped me make sense of what had seemed to be silly. Jesus is like that, too. All the seemingly random and unrelated things in my life make sense in light of Jesus. I may not be able to see it now. I may not see it this side of Heaven. But one day, I can review all of my life in light of Jesus and see how He fits everything together. Even a giant lighted bottle of milk!

The Nutcracker

Today my three ballerinas and I went to see The Royal Ballet performance of The Nutcracker at our local movie theater. Although the performance was beautiful, I know I will enjoy their performance next week even more!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Although Patches still has a LONG way to go to truly accept Nora, this gave me hope! They did this on their own, and we didn't hear any growling or hissing.  Until later. When the girls began trying to push them closer together, Patches made some awful sounds. And Patches also makes terrible noises when Nora comes on too strong. But they seem to be adjusting at least a little.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

All Dolled Up


Today became an informal American Girl day in our house. This afternoon the girls all brought out their dolls to dress them for Christmas. Even though Hannah and Rebecca are too old to play with the dolls, they still enjoy dressing them and styling their hair. I'm so glad for that!

Then this evening we watched Felicity: An American Girl.  And afterward we dressed more dolls. The girls even let me get in on the fun! 

When the Trapping of Christmas Loom Large

Today as we were driving home from a youth luncheon we saw this Christmas display:

If you don't look too closely, it looks no different from many other yard decorations we see at Christmas. A couple of white wooden reindeer and some inflatables. Nothing out of the ordinary. The uncropped photo says otherwise:

The reindeer dwarf the car! They're huge! While this is certainly not the glitziest Christmas display I've ever seen, it is one of the most impressive.
And as much fun and pure happiness as these decorations brought me, they also made me think.  Sometimes I want to make the trappings of celebrating Christmas so big they dwarf the real parts of my life.  Celebrating Christ is another matter entirely. I can't celebrate Him enough, and He should completely overshadow everything else.) But the decorations, the traditions, the gifts, the parties should not become so large that they are all anyone sees about my celebration of Christmas.

Christmas should be a time of peace and joy, not stress and work. So I want to spend the rest of this season of celebrating Christ's birth celebrating Him. And I want to enjoy the trappings without allowing them to take over my life!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Happy Hobbit Day

If I were organized and on top of things I would have thought to take a photo or two of the fun and interesting parts of our day today. But, since I'm not, I'll have to paint a picture with words.

One of the fun things about homeschooling is flexibility. Today we finished our work early and went to see the 12:45 showing of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  The girls and I all loved it! Usually I am a book purist (bordering on a book snob) when it comes to the movie adaptation of a beloved book.  I want the film makers to stick as closely to the book as possible. The Hobbit added quite a bit of material, but it worked. I feel like this is the story Tolkien would have told had he had the whole Lord of the Rings saga already formed in his mind when he wrote The Hobbit

I really like how the beginnings of some of the plot lines in The Lord of the Rings saga are fleshed out in this movie.  And, of course, the elves are truly spectacular. I want to be that cool! And I want their amazing hair!

We did a little shopping after the movie so the girls could be a little more specific with their Christmas list items. After a short break at home, I brought the younger three girls to a birthday party, and Hannah and I had a girls night of supper at Panera and some more shopping. 

And now I feel like this:

Tired but content.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Favorite Veggies

This Christmas season seems to be flying by! We have so much going on that sometimes we feel like we haven't made time to stop and enjoy this season of Advent. So yesterday I decided to try to do at least one special Christmas activity each day until Christmas. 

So today I bought this: 

We already had some of the Veggie Tales Christmas DVDs, but we did not have the two newest ones. And even though my girls are now teens and tweens, they all enjoyed watching Merry Larry and the Christmas Lights together. Some of us may have even performed an impromptu dance routine to the Owl City song that ran during the closing credits. 

Christmas fun mission accomplished for today!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Our Jesse Tree

This year I am reading Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift as an Advent devotional and sharing the verses and themes with my girls. Although it's a few days late, I put together our Jesse Tree today using sticks and pine cones I found in my yard. 

I love how she reminds us of the thread of Jesus that runs through every part of Scripture. Just how He should be the thread that runs through every part of my life. Not just on Sundays or during my devotional time, but all the time. He is with me when I am teaching my girls or buying presents or cleaning the kitchen. Even when I am unaware of His presence, He is there.  I want to learn to sense His presence more often in my life!

Messy Christmas

In the spirit of keeping it real, this is what my living room looks like this evening. When I look at others' blog or Facebook or Instagram posts, I sometimes think they have it all together: an orderly home, fun and creative traditions, super-well-behaved children, fabulous meals, and more.

I never want anyone to be intimidated by me or think I have it all together. This photo is proof of that. We still need to put away the boxes i;n which we store our Christmas decor. My girls have laundry I have not reminded them to fold. (I was hoping that they would remember to do it since the basket is in plain sight, but that hope was in vain.) 

I'm not proud of my messy living room, but it is a real part of my life today. And I think that we as Christians, particularly Christian women, benefit greatly when we don't hide the real behind a perfect facade.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Away in a Manger

When Paul and I met, his mother owned a Christmas tree store filled with trees and ornaments and a room filled with a beautiful Nativity scene. After we married, she gave us some pieces for our own Nativity scene. Each year we would collect more pieces until we had this set. 

This Nativity is one of my favorite Christmas decorations. We set it up on a shelf over our TV, so it is front and center in our living room, just where Jesus ought to be. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

O, Christmas Tree

We finally finished putting all of our ornaments on our tree! We put the non-breakable ones on last Sunday, but, since we had a brand new kitten who might want to mess with the tree, I decided to wait awhile before we put on any ornaments that might break. Since she has only batted at a couple of ornaments all week, I decided it was safe to put on the rest of our ornaments.

And, as I was getting a glass ornament ready to put on our tree, I dropped it, and it broke. I can salvage part of it, so it's not a total loss, but I am a little disappointed. 

I love that each of our ornaments tells a story. My grandmother began giving my sister and me ornaments each year when we were little girls. She continued doing that her whole life, even making some herself, and also gave ornaments to my girls. We have ornaments from my mom and ornaments from Paul's mother's Christmas tree store.After my Granny went to be with Jesus, I received some of the ornaments from her tree. (Sadly, many of the ornaments with the most memories attached had been stolen a few years before her passing.) We also have sweet ornaments made by my girls when they were little. 

My tree will never be featured in a decorating magazine, but it is one that is filled with reminders of people we love. No tree could be more beautiful to me.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Peaceful Saturday

Today has been a much-needed day of rest for me. After bringing my older girls to church for a retreat and spending my Kohl's Cash with my younger girls, I was able to stay home in pajama pants all day, covered with a plush blanket. 

We cheered the Baylor Bears to a victory over UT and the Big 12 Championship! Sic 'em Bears! My celebration was somewhat tempered by the sleeping kitten on my lap.  And then we had a victory dinner of steak cooked by my husband.

I savored being able to read a book without having to go anywhere or do anything. I've had so many things to do lately that I haven't been able to read as much, and I've missed it. My soul needs some quiet and restful days to recharge for the fuller and louder days. (And I know they are coming!)

The picture doesn't show it clearly, but our stocking holders spell out "PEACE." Isaiah said Jesus would be the Prince of Peace. This year I want my Christmas season to be full of His peace. Today was a good start. 

 Eating cookies by the fire.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Hobbit

Since the second Hobbit movie comes out in one week, we watched the first Hobbit movie tonight. We gathered around the television eating our supper of warm potato soup, chicken, and homemade biscuits. And the movie was long enough for the girls to enjoy some warm cookies at the end of the movie.  I'm about to enjoy my warm cookies right now. 

I love how my girls are drawn to the great stories of love and sacrifice, courage and hope and redemption. I think we are drawn to these stories written by humans because they reflect THE story written by God. Of His love for us. Of Jesus' sacrifice. Of the courage of Jesus going to the Cross. Of the hope and redemption we have because of Him.  


Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Joy of a Kitten

When we adopted Patches she was already a few months old and was already somewhat dignified. So I haven't shared my home with a little kitten since high school. I forgot how silly and lively and distracting kittens can be. 

Today Nora ran around the house and played with pieces of cereal, climbed onto the open dishwasher, climbed inside an open cabinet, and chased her tail for five minutes. She tried to put her head in a bag of crackers and also tried to eat some cheese I was snacking on. (I gave her a taste after I was through, and she loved it.)

She also decided to come help me type on my laptop. 


 In this season where we celebrate joy and peace, I love how kittens embody both. When she plays, Nora is the picture of joyful abandon. And when she sleeps, she is so peaceful and sweet. I want my life to exhibit such joy! And I want to rest peacefully when I rest.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Light of Christmas

We were all tired and hungry as we drove home from the girls' long ballet practice. It was 7:00 and we still had to pick up supper. And we had to drop off some library books that were due before we could get our supper. 

And then I noticed this:

So we did what any tired and hungry mom of tired and hungry girls would do: I turned down the side street this house is located on so we could see it better! And then I stopped in front of it and took pictures. Which totally don't do it justice. 

Even though we are more the understated white light kind of decorators, viewing houses like this makes me happy. I love the extravagance and the total unashamedness of displays like this one. These people love Christmas and are not afraid to let everyone know.

It reminds me of God's extravagant love that we celebrate at Christmas. He loves us like this. With a big, lit-up, no room for doubt kind of love. He displayed His love for us for all to see in the manger and on the Cross. 

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~ John 8:12 (ESV)

The people walking in darkness see a bright light; light shines on those who live in a land of deep darkness.  ~ Isaiah 9:2 (NET)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

'Tis the Season for Christmas China

One of things I enjoy during the Christmas season is using my Christmas china that my Granny gave me when Paul and I were first married.  Even though I have to wash it by hand, I use it as much as I can. It helps puts me in the Christmas spirit and reminds me of my Granny, who loved Christmas so much. 

The large plates and bowls just have the poinsettia design, but the dessert plates each have an illustration of one of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The cookies are obscuring the four colly birds on this plate. (Which I always thought was four calling birds. What is a colly bird, anyway?) 

Tonight I used it to eat Pioneer Woman's Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies. And because we like chocolate, we added chocolate chips.  Yum!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Resting in the Anticipation

This year I want to relax into this season of Advent, this season of remembrance of Jesus' first coming and anticipation for His second coming. 

Year after year I find myself stressed instead of resting in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I become distracted by the parties, the gifts, the travel, the decorating, the wrapping.  I turn these blessings into burdens that I bear in my own strength. I worry that our traditions aren't as good as others' traditions. That somehow our traditions are hurried or lacking.

This year I want to choose to be joyful. To be merry. To have peace. 

I want the miracle of Christ to overwhelm my heart. 

I know the events will still come. Ballet practice alone will keep us busy this month. But I want to walk through the parties, the ballet practice, the decorating, the travel, the wrapping with an awareness of Jesus. Not just baby Jesus in the manger, but my risen Lord who lives in me and empowers me to live out life. Christ came not just so we could have beautifully wrapped gifts or fun parties or lovely decorations; He came to save us and change us and take over our wayward hearts.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

We're Test Driving a Kitten!

The danger of having friends who find a litter of kittens in their boat is that you may be tempted to bring one home! 

One of our girlies has been wanting a pet of her very own for a while now. We'd been considering a bunny or a guinea pig, but she loves cats, and these are free! Our friends were kind enough to let us have this sweetie on a trial basis. If Patches can learn to live with another cat, my girl has an early Christmas gift. 

So far the new kitty has explored and purred and made herself at home. And Patches has only hissed twice. So things look promising. I'm praying that Patches accepts the new kitten and that they become friends. Because I think we're already in love with new kitty.