Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas!  This sweet time is shared all over the world, i emailed a friend from Ethiopia, and his country celebrates Christmas 10 days after we do.  Even if people don't know or believe in Jesus, just hearing the songs is all that's needed for the seed to be planted.

Even though the commercialsm part of Christmas gets long and old for me, we have plenty of good memories to tuck away.  For some reason the boys were more excited then ever this year.  They don't believe in Santa, but i think they want to.....they put cookies and notes out for him.  Clay's preschool sent home round peppermint candy, that you are supposed to "plant" outside and on christmas morning, they will sprout into candy canes (a.k.a. someone sneaks out and replaces the seeds with candy canes).  Clay planted them last week and the older boys and i planted the candy canes on Christmas eve, for Clay to discover Christmas morning.  Their fun and innocence won't be around forever, so i want to enjoy these opportunities.

I only had my camera for a couple of our gatherings but that's better than nothing!

The boys loved the Christmas Eve service, the pastor reads the scripture as the characters act out what he reads.  It's all spontaneous, no rehersal or planning ahead.  When you walk in to the church you can pick who you want to be and dress the part.  It's mostly funny but also great for the kids to participate and maybe learn something new.  Several times throughout the reading we'd stop the acting and sing a song pertaining to the place we were at in the text.  We brought our Shofar from home and Brad chose to be Gabriel, blowing the horn several times throughout his parts for entertainment purposes!
Gabriel approaching Mary
Gabriel startled Joseph!  
Calming down poor Joseph

Clay in the barn
Kings come in all sizes :)

Christmas Morning...

This drum set is a hand-me-down that we used for their big gift.  They are having a lot of noisy fun with it

Boxing gloves

Homemade punching bag.  It's strung from the upstairs railing.  A sleeping bag with (2)-15lb weights!

Clay enjoys his weedwacker.  He also has a chain saw with very realistic sounds!  (there was a leaf blower and push mower in the set too, that we'll give him for his birthday)

Some intense BINGO playing happening at the Smoker gathering.  A benefit to having your dinner at an old people's home :)  

Grandma with her 24 great-grand kids.  It's very rare for them all to be together.  We missed Grandpa.
We have this week off of school, a couple get together's, and next week back to a school routine and a new year!  looking forward to 2015.  It's been a blessed year for sure.  New Years eve we will open our "2014 praises and blessings" jar and read all that God has done for us over the past year.  May we never become too busy to stop and reflect on God's goodness to us.  Have a blessed new year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

eventful weekend

This momma will never forget this past weekend.  The boys did their lip sing quartet performance Friday night, and since it was held at a resort and we happened to have a gift certificate for the place, we stayed Friday afternoon-Saturday noon at the resort.  It worked out so nice to get ready in the motel and come downstairs for the event.  We could even see the banquet area from our room, so we watched as they set up the tables and as people arrived.  I think it helped the boys feel more comfortable being there.
There were 400 guests.  Talk about nerve wracking (for me!)

They made me so proud.  They worked on the song since October, and they made a big effort when their time came.  Clay looked a little lost, but that's because he always goofed off when we practiced at home, i don't think he even knew what he was supposed to do when it came down to it!  But i was so pleased with it and they had fun which was an answer to prayer.  They each got $20 too, which was unnecessary!  but they told us up front they would be getting paid.  Ben said "i'd do that for free".  He's too much.

Eating dessert after their performance

This pic was more for Rod and I's entertainment, a pic of the boys with the MC for the evening, Dick Hoxworth.

Something i wasn't even aware of, was the incredible indoor pool playground they had!  The water temp was perfect and they had the place to themselves parts of the time.

The whole experience was such a blessing and very unique! a wonderful memory for everyone.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


I know, the T-giving post is getting old, time to update!

The month started out with my grandfather doing very poorly.  He continued to go downhill and died on Saturday, the 6th.  All of his children (4) were in the room when he died.  Today was his funeral.  He was such a caring man.  Never met anyone kinder then my Grandpa.  But he was 93 and more then ready to be with Jesus.  I now have 2 grandmothers left here, without their husbands.   My aunt took this picture of Grandma holding Grandpa's hand during his last moments.  They were married for 72 years.

This is a picture of me and my brother with Grandpa at his grocery store in Spring Garden, right before he sold the business.  i was somewhere around 9 or 10 i think.  (I know you like my penguin shirt.)

I've been to 4 viewings and/or funerals since July!  2 were expected deaths, old age and ready to go.  2 were not.  They all represented loss and sadness for their loved ones.  It's hard enough to accept it as Christians, knowing they are in a better place.  I can't imagine having to cope WITHOUT that hope and knowledge of Jesus.  I feel for people who grieve death of loved ones without that hope.  It makes me want to be more bold in sharing my faith.

And life keeps going on.  The boys are gearing up for their quartet performance on Friday.  I am just ready to have it over!  I think they are prepared as they are going to be.  I cannot control how they will respond with being up on stage with 400 sets of eyes watching them, but i pray they can somehow have a peace and confidence in what they are there to do, and can do it as well as they do it here!

Today the boys and i took groceries to the nearby food bank to donate.  This is our 6th year of doing this and it's my favorite Christmas tradition with the boys.  We give them to the same lady in charge every year and she's so sweet and makes them feel like a million bucks for this act of service.  She always sends us a follow up letter and it makes them feel so good.  And the candy cane they get in return is a highlight for them too :)  It's also a chance to patronize our local country market where we get the groceries.  They each grab a basket and fill it up with canned goods, cereals, and other staples.

The boys have been working on a Frosty puzzle this month and finished it today!  It was 550 pieces and thankfully, they were all there.  The puzzle was given to us used, so i wasn't sure if all the pieces would be there.  Rod helped with the border, other then that, it was their project.

We'd like to try making these snowflakes...just need to get some popcicle sticks.  They can paint them once finished, i thought they looked cute and i *think* they can pull it off.  

Mommy had some fun with Christmas lights this year.  By 'fun' i mean my fingers froze multiple times and i had to go inside to thaw them out.  I do like the finished product though. 

I tell people with me homeschooing part-time AND sending them to school part-time i have the busyness of both worlds.  Obviously homeschooling is busy but so is carpooling, field trips, meetings, etc that an at-campus school brings.  This time of year is proving to be full.  But it's also a priveledge to have my guys home more, and to also enjoy the Christmas functions that their school offers.  Friday, we get to see the Nutcracker at the Fulton Opera house for a field trip.  I am looking forward to that.

We will certainly miss this family!  They've been staying with us for the past 5ish weeks and are heading back to Guatemela where they serve as directors at an orphanage with over 50 kids.  They are making a big difference in each of their lives.  Really love what they are doing down there. 

A blessed Christmas season to you!!  

Monday, December 1, 2014

turkey day

The Thanksgiving 5K run was still a go, in spite of the snow the day before!  i was glad they didn't cancel, since Adam had trained for it.  I was so proud of him, i know the last half was hard, but he kept going.  If you ask him if he'd do it again he will say no, but i'm hoping he'll want to do it again sometime!  Our time was somewhere around 30:25.  So good for his age....says his mom :)

After the run, we went to mom's for Thanksgiving dinner and Adam's belated bday party.  It was also my brother's birthay that day.
A friend of ours made his skateboard cake.

We had a nice time together and didn't get home until around 10:00.  we were exhausted!  We did NOT do any shopping on black friday and didn't have much else planned for Thanksgiving break.  It's nice to have some down time before a busy Christmas season.   The boys had off school today yet, before they get back into the swing of things.

P.S.  Happy Anniversary to Rod and i!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

birthday weekend

hi everyone!  i had my first cold of the season this week, which left me kinda out of it for a few days but i am so glad noone else has gotten it!  it was a strange mix of a very sore throat, cough, and headache.  i was praying Adam wouldn't get it on his birthday!  He had a great weekend, a cousin sleepover, eating out, and a surprise banner.  Even though we can't figure him out sometimes, there is so much we appreciate about this guy and it's really not the same without him around!  He's very inventive and comes up with all the good (and not so good) ideas.  It's been special training w/ him for his 5K.  Tonight we ran to grandma's house to get his birthday present.  (some incentive there)  He only walked twice, there are some big hills over that 2+ mile stretch.  Proud of him!

Earlier in the week i made these cupcakes for his class at school, and for the cousins on saturday.

Saturday night at a special buffet!  Clay likes kiwi, don't mind him.
Banner signed by many of his favorites..

Happy 9th to Adam!  So thankful for you!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Yesterday mid-morning we were doing school, Adam and a church friend were out in the kitchen doing math.  The twins and I in the toy room doing another subject.  Clay was....somewhere, who knows.  Then, we hear Adam "An Eagle!"  and then Brad "I see it!!"  Us adults were still like "are you sure?"  We went outside and Yes an Eagle, flying above and heading to our orchard.  We watched for awhile and marveled at how that never happened before!

After lunch we saw him again, in the field behind our house, just sitting there.  i zoomed in and grabbed a picture.  The boys used our binoculars.  

I told the boys if he's still up there after we get our schoolwork done, we'll go on a walk and try to sneak up on him, and get more pictures.

3 excited boys can't sneak up on anything, i found out.  But we did get closer and got some pictures and found out there were 2 eagles!!  They flew above us for awhile and seemed to just want to be where they were, not flying far away.

Then we walked over to where the eagle had been sitting earlier and found a dead deer.  Apparently that brought him in.  This was such a treat from the Lord, to allow us to see these amazing birds, right from our own home on a day when the boys were here.  So thankful we could experience it together and they could witness first hand God's work of art.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Home today!?

Today was the first day I've been home ALL DAY in, like, Forever! (saturday) It was nice to have nowhere to go!

Early this morning our missionary friends came back to the states for a month long furlough.  They are staying down in our apartment.  It's a family of 5 so we had to get creative!  i was a little concerned about the setup being 'cheesy' but they seem very appreciative of the space, so praise God for that!

Adam and I are training for his first 5K in a couple weeks!  The race is on Thanksgiving morning.  I am enjoying the time running with him.  We add a little more distance each time we run.  We are up to 2.5 miles and the boy doesn't get out of breath.  I'm a little bit speechless about that.

The boys are also practicing for a "gig" they have coming up.  They are participating in an annual Christmas musical with the New Holland Band, held at Willow Valley.  They've been asked to do the "surprise music" where they will be a barber shop quartet, lip singing "santa clause is coming to town".  I''m a little speechless about this too.  It's a fast moving song with a lot of motions and words.  400 people attend this event so there's some motivation to make sure Clay knows a little about what he should be doing.  He's going to be the Bass singer, of course.

Another new thing the boys are doing is Tae Kwon Do, they started a couple weeks ago and have class 2 times a week.  They really like it.  Their coach Mr Luie is really good.  Rod and i get a little desperate in the colder months to find them places to put their energy into!  We agreed on trying this and it's been fun for them.

A highlight for us this week was taking our homeschool day on Wednesday and heading down to mom's to rake leaves.  It was a warm day (for November).  half of the boys got big truck and tractor rides too.  We worked on their school work the night before, on the way to moms, and the next day.  I like having the flexibility in my days.

And it looks like the rest of this year will be like this....lots going on, but all things we look forward to and enjoy.  We have 2 events here in November, smaller then the norm, and one inside.  And Adam has a birthday in 2 weeks!  Then December is filling up with a school program, field trip, family gatherings, the quartet singing, our Anniversary, etc.

I will leave you with a recipe for my favorite way to use pumpkin......cookies!  try these...and don't skimp on the caramel icing.

Pumpkin cookies:
Beat:  1 cup butter & 1 cup sugar
Add:  1 egg, 1 cup pumpkin, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 cups flour
          1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp           salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon

Bake 350 for 15 minutes

Caramel Frosting: (enough for a double batch)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 cups 10x sugar

melt butter and br. sugar on low heat stirring constantly, boil 2 minutes
add milk and heat just to boiling again
remove from heat and stir in 10x.  ice cookies.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pretty walk

Tuesday after school i took the boys down the road to Lake Grubb.  It was so beautiful, at it's peak right now with the changing leaves.  The leaves were steadily falling down from the tall trees, and if the boys were quiet enough you could hear that it sounded like rain.   I feel like i'm noticing the beauty of fall so much more this year.  I bet it's because i spend much more time driving the boys around!  The beauty is everywhere.

My favorite leaf