Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A New Advent

Every year I jump on the most recent Advent band wagon.  Sometimes it's good.  Sometimes our best intentions fizzle.  But, I think we've covered them all!  This year, knowing the kids aren't here every night, I wasn't sure what to do.  All afternoon Sunday (1st official day of Advent) I was silently wondering...

I went to my bookshelf, as a book-lover/hoarder is known to do on occasion, and chewed my lower lip for about ten seconds.  I touched the Christmas books, running my fingers across the shelf full and found myself pulling out this book:

Though I've never read this, I've had it for years and have heard wonderful things about it.  It seems to me, there is no better time to read a classic family story than now!  

Advent, as a preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ, is worth celebrating, no matter the method.  We'll also follow along with some Advent scripture readings, lighting our Advent candle ring, singing and praying together. 

What are your plans for celebrating Advent?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

About That Jonah Fella

As I told you recently, the kids and I are going through "Wrong Way, Jonah!" for our Bible time together.  Oh Jonah!  I've read your story many times over the years, but I think I finally get it.  Oh you selfish, gotta have your own way, bitter, angry, head full of knowledge, heart filled with blech, ________(insert name)! 

The reason we don't know what happened to Jonah, is because we don't yet know the full end of our own stories.  Isn't that just like our mighty God to show us our hearts, our human ways, and His much better way and nudge us toward He Who Is Greater?!

(Bicker with your kids much lately?  She asks herself with much sarcasm!)

In His story of Jonah, we see God:  "...for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster." Jonah 4:2b (ESV)  Yet Jonah chooses to suffer.  He KNOWS God.  He KNOWS what is right.  He KNOWS the very nature of his suffering.  And yet.  Yet he chooses to sin, and to suffer for it.  The exact opposite of Job, I might add.  Two pictures God shows us of responding to circumstances. 

Has God shown you what's really in your heart lately?  Is He nudging you to choose better?  Choose wiser?  If He is, it's because He is "a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster." because He loves you.  He loves me.  He keeps showing me His way is better.

Jonah had the answer all along:

"When my life was fainting away, 
I remembered the LORD, 
and my prayer came to you into your holy temple.  

Those who pay regard to vain idols 
forsake their hope of steadfast love.  
But I with the voice of thanksgiving 
will sacrifice to you; 
what I have vowed I will pay. 

Salvation belongs to the LORD!"  Jonah 2:7-9

It can't just be about getting out of the belly of a whale, but about choosing this day whom you will serve.  Lord!  Help me to choose You every moment!

Monday, November 28, 2011


I'm so thankful to report that our family Thanksgiving, with house full of loved ones and thankful hearts abounding, was all I could hope for!

Apart from the wonderful family time, and blessed hearts and lives, this large gathering and all it's logistics has taught me much.  For instance, basic and easy recipes are often the best.  Every recipe I took from a certain magazine I love, was less than great.  Learned my lesson.

The big cooking success was two-fold:  First, turkey in a bag!!!  Let me say it again:  "Turkey in a bag!"  So yummy.  And secondly, having a dear friend by my side to help me keep from losing my mind while minding the last concoctions and timing, to get it all on the table before everyone went to Taco Bell.  Thank you, Colette!

So I've never seen mashed potatoes disappear that fast in my life!  And I've never seen this large family eat dessert 5 minutes after dinner, but they did.  And it wasn't because of lack of dinner, either! 

The truth of the matter is that the long, long (yet wonderful!) Thanksgiving Days of my childhood are no more.  Everyone is older, and everyone had to drive a lot to get here, and to go home.  People are tired and lingering is more difficult.  But, every minute was precious!  We fit it in.  We hugged, laughed, shared...all that good stuff. 

I wonder if each person there was thinking of Thanksgivings past, like I was.  Missing my mom.  Seeing my Aunt in one of her shirts.  Smelling my mother's perfume.  Seeing my brother, whom I couldn't help but hug more than anyone.  Seeing my children soak in the family goodness.  Realizing how everyone is growing older.

So thankful!  Thankful for every detail.  Thankful!  Thankful! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Preparing for Thanksgiving Guests

You may remember that I am having my family for Thanksgiving this year.  I haven't done this in a long time and there is a lot to do!  I've learned a lot about myself through the process of preparing for the day.  While my homeschool mom eyes have been ever-watchful over my sweet daughter and her newly revealed to me learning style, as I've mentioned before, I'm realizing that I share the visual learner brain.  Translation:  lists!  And lots of them.  Piles, pictures from magazines, recipe cards, craft supplies, serving dishes; all where I can but my googly little eyes on them!

This has its good points.  And its bad.  I've realized multiple fancy, shmancy planning printouts are not my friend.  One good ole' blank sheet of paper with columns by category makes me sigh with contentment.  All (on one page) or nothing, people! 

So here's my list(s):

Paint living room and kitchen.
Hang new light fixtures.
Re-install curtain rod and curtains.
 And yes.  I know it was crazy to start a home-improvement project right before a holiday, but I couldn't help myself!  
Clean carpet high-traffic area.
Cleaning the dining chairs (Hello!  Milk spills!)
Thanksgiving/Fall decorations.
Confirm guest list & send directions to our new home.
Finalize menu.
Grocery list.
Grocery shop.

Locate and pull serving dishes.
Get kids' haircuts.

Table service for 21.
Food prep schedule.
Make note of when to pull 24lb turkey from freezer.
Choose outfits for the day.
Empty and charge camera.
Make Thanksgiving napkin rings.
Make centerpieces.
Last minute home cleaning. (Saving till the last minute! ;))

There's probably more.  

Here's my menu, which I'm very excited about and will make you wish you were coming here for Thanksgving too!  (And you'd be welcome!)

24lbs of golden Turkey goodness, cooked to perfection (a girl can dream!) and carved by (hopefully!) my unflappable Uncle Dan. (with dressing by Aunt Janie.)
Sweet Potato Spoon Bread
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Glorious Rolls (Think buttery melt in your mouth, can't eat just two!)
Cranberry Relish
Baked Corn Pudding
Beet, Carrot, and Apple Salad
Lemon Herb Green Beans
Herb Gravy
Pumpkin Pie
Pear Pie
Molasses Bourbon Pecan Pie (unless I can't find bourbon from a friend in which case the optional bourbon will be bourbon.)

Whatdaya think?  Hungry yet?

The things that throw me (list, list list!) are things like remembering to set butter out to soften; getting the turkey outta the freezer on time;  remembering you need serving spoons for all those dishes.  Since I'm not a practiced large crowd, meal provider, filling the salt and pepper shakers is off my typical radar! 

I'm so excited!  Even though we're having our big meal the day after Thanksgiving (That would be Black Friday to some of you!), I will be sharing heaps and oodles of thankfulness with, and for my family!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Night Randomness

Seventy degrees in November rocks!  My doors were open today and it was so nice.  Don't you think it's much more relaxing when the house is open?

I finally got my crochet on for the winter!  I chose the yarn colors for dd8's new afghan and chose this wonderful pattern.  Crocheting makes me smile.  I love crocheting.  Just sayin'.

My furnace went out this week.  Got it fixed pretty quick.  Was mighty thankful it didn't happen when it was really cold out.

My little boy now has bigger feet than mine, as well as being taller than me.  He's twelve!  That whirling sound is life flying by!  And daughter?  Quickly gaining.  I'm good with it.  Healthy, strapping, children.  Thank you Lord.

Church community groups are awesome.  At least mine is.  Love these people!

What a pain in the rear not having a man in the house to move heavy furniture up the stairs.  Did I mention I love my community group?

I'm tired of hearing about pumpkin recipes.  But I'm still craving pumpkin seeds that I haven't gotten around to harvesting from my front porch.  Maybe this week.

We all need haircuts.  Badly.  Haircuts!  Haircuts!  Haircuts!  They pound on the table in joyful anticipation.  NOT!  Now the dentist they would be happy about!  What's with that?!!

My room is a pit.  Why is it always the room that gets the last and least attention?  Every other room is more important.  Yeesh.

Still loving my new yellow living room/kitchen.  Yellow sings sunshine 24/7.  So glad I got it done before Thanksgiving. 

Speaking of Thanksgiving.  Got me a 22lb turkey for nearly half-price.  Got me a bag to cook it in.  Even bought a pan and a baster.  Made room in the freezer.  Barely.  Thinking non-dry turkey thoughts.

Borrowed a library book on my kindle through Amazon!  It was totally cool.  Worked like a charm.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Expiration Dates

I just saw a new warning message on my printer.  I've had this printer for years and have never seen this, but it said, "Ink cartridge about to pass expiration date.  Please replace soon."  Seriously!  They've got to be joking!  An almost full cartridge that they want me to throw out because it "might" be too old?!  Do they know what I paid for that sucker?  Of course they do!  They want me to buy more!  I'm sorry, but that gets my ire up.

There are some expiration dates that can't really be ignored.  Food.  Food past the expiration date does creep me out.  And I'd have to add anything I'd give to my kids.  But ink in the printer?!  Really?!

Do you jump through hoops because of expiration dates?  Tell the truth!

Monday, November 7, 2011

New Skillet Love

After several years, my very used up, cheap skillet's last leg gave out.  Spending a lot of money on a skillet is not my preference, nor is having another piece of junk skillet!  So it was time to shop.

I went to my end-all/beat-all store--Target-- and started the search.  I quickly sized up an idea of the price range, size, and features.  Because I'm lazy and not a "cook", I knew I wanted non-stick, dishwasher safe.  I also knew the whole peeling, non-stick surface had left a bad taste (pun intended) in my mouth!  Honestly, I'm not even sure if they make that kind any more.  I don't have cable, so I don't see commercials and I also neglected to do an internet search.  So, not a lot of preconceptions.  I just wanted to make a good purchase and go home!

They don't make it easy on us though, do they?  Shapes, sizes, features, even price range are rather extreme.  Some of us just don't need all that!  T-Fal was one of the predominant brands at Target.  I'd heard the name.  I hadn't heard anything bad, that I could remember.  They had a good size, at an okay price--I wouldn't call it cheap, but I guess considering they last a few years, that's acceptable.

So I bought it.  Funny...I kept thinking about my mom and her one cast iron skillet she had and cooked out of her whole life.  I wish I had that skillet!  I know I bought one when I first left home, but it was NOT the same and didn't last long.  Sigh.

So in the end, I love my T-Fal skillet.  I haven't washed it in the dishwasher yet, but it's doing the cooking job pretty well.  Now, if only I could perform food miracles in it! 

Do you have a favorite skillet?

Disclaimer:  Though I'd love T-Fal to pay me for my opinion, there's no sign of that on the horizon.  This is just my experience. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Parole Denied

Anyone who has ever been a victim of a violent crime will tell you that regardless of how much time passes, there is an anxiety and difficulty in processing new information about "it".  First, you are registered with the state and assigned a number.  You are told by form letter of your rights.  You are told that your input matters.  You wait.  A lot.  

As a Christ follower, you think about forgiveness.  You think about fearing the Lord, more than man.  You think about redemption.  You hope that the person on the other side of the bars is repentant.  Then you find out they aren't.  Decades later, multiple parole hearings. 

Even though you wish things were different, you find yourself relieved to get another form letter:  Parole denied.  And yet...

What does life in prison compare to life separated from God?  I'm grateful today that I know a loving God who longs to be in relationship with me.  Me, who deserves death, but for His sacrifice.  My sentence has been commuted. 

Romans 6:23  "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Trimming Home: Painting Furniture Black

My new paint looks fabulous, but the black furniture that I had concerns about, now looks even better!  Who-da thought painting the walls would make everything all sparkly feeling?!  I was so inspired that I grabbed a roller and brush; my handy-dandy-always-keep-it-on-hand high glass black paint and rescued a few stragglers that had yet to be transformed.  There was that horribly marred up end table from my grandfather, and a bookcase from Sam's Club.  Finally transformed.

There are a lot of reasons painting furniture black is a great idea.  The fact you can touch it up with a sharpie being foremost.  It's just super relaxing, in a home with children, to know you can roll on a fresh surface coat every now and then with little effort.  Just like the little black dress, black furniture fits every occasion, style, and budget.  And it always looks good.  Well...there is the dust issue, but we'll just be thankful for swiffer dusters (they're machine washable, you know!) and little girls who like to use them.

I forgot to take the before picture of the table, but take my word for it; it was a mess!

What do you think?  Sweet black high gloss paint!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Two Learning Styles and Bible

We use a few different resources for our Bible study (which you can read about on my Homeschool page), switching back and forth depending on the topic.  Right now we are going through "Wrong Way, Jonah!" Discover 4 Yourself Kids book from Kay Arthur.  I love her books because the Biblical foundations are sound.  Period.

What I haven't enjoyed so much is some of her particular nitty-gritty such as marking words a certain way, or using a lot of fill in the blank.  With my oldest, my son, we struck right at the meat of the matter, passing over the fluff, but now little daughter is on board, with her very individual learning style, and I'm realizing some of that fluffy goodness is just the thing for her!

Now here is where I really saw my own personal growth:  I let boy skip the markings, while girly got busy.  He read the passage to her (because he learns well from reading) and she totally mastered the word breakdown.  I sat back and realized this was one of those ah-ha moments, and tried not to grin like a silly Mama who just snuck a cookie.

Then, as if that wasn't fabo enough, I realized that I, too, write like a fiend in my Bible.  All my sermons notes are crammed in the margins and I MARK STUFF UP!  I don't color code or have a marking key, but I do have a special "won't bleed through the pages or fade" pen!  Maybe I'm more like my daughter, than my son.  Or she's more like me.  You know what I mean!  Ah-ha!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Getting Home Ready for the Holidays

I'm in!  I'm excited to follow Aby's 28 day challenge to get my home (and hopefully myself!) pulled together for the holidays.  With my large family coming for Thanksgiving, every bit will help. 

So what about you?  Are you in?


We're just not into Halloween.  Many reasons.  Allergies, beliefs, stuff...  But, we love an excuse to have a special night!  So this year for our Un-Halloween we got us a "can't be beat" frozen pizza, "plop it on the pan" cookie dough, caramel dip and apples, and our favorite Halloweenish movie:  "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken", with Don Knotts.  It doesn't get much better than that, unless you consider that we also...

...turned off the lights, whispered when the doorbell rang (only once!), ate  by the light of the TV and then had a serious (is there any other kind?) Super Mario Kart race.  My two loves and me.  Perfect night!