Monday, December 29, 2008

Some thoughts on mothering...

Time goes so quickly~ TOO quickly often, when it comes to raising your children! Most days, I don't think about how much they have grown, how much they've changed. I think it is something I should consider much more often! :) But there ARE those times when my son will come and (willingly!) give me a hug, and it strikes me that he is getting SO tall! Or my middle child will be telling me something that happened at school, and all of a sudden, it is like I am seeing her with new eyes~ and it's as if she looks older than even the night before! Oh, and our "baby" of the family~ how IS it that she is already in first grade? This intense consciousness of their growing up also hits me when I look back at old pictures or the old videos we took of them when they were younger~ and when I see them, it literally hurts my heart. I have decided that raising these children is indeed a bittersweet gift~ it is wonderful to watch them grow, yet it is bittersweet because I do know that someday, they will be all grown up. And that this~ the family we make right now~ will change. Ouch!

Our middle child, "Rose", turned ten years old this past Sunday, and we had so much fun celebrating her! I am so thankful for her. Most see her as very sweet and shy, which she is. Yet we as her family have the privilege of knowing how funny she is, how compassionate, and how kind she is to her sister and brother. She is the "Type B" personality "stuck" with four stressed out "Type As"~ and she is so patient with us! We are so blessed by her.

As her tenth birthday approached, I just wondered where all the time went. The sad thing is, if I'm completely honest with you, some of it was squandered on too much house cleaning and doing, doing, doing, versus being. Does anyone know how to stop being Type A? Any ideas would be incredibly valuable! (Wink, wink!) I have to constantly remind myself to stop and play, stop and give myself to them. I have the serving/working part down, like most all mothers. I get up and take care of them. But I want them to know who I am, and I want to always know who they are. I want to laugh with them more and worry less. To teach them things I know how to do (kids love this!). These are the things I thought of when I became a mother, not the "here's your snack, please brush your teeth, let me wash your face" things I do every day. Even though those are a huge part of parenting, I don't want to forget to enjoy being their mother too! But as I have said, I am a little bit of a workaholic, and very, VERY Type A. I think I need to be rewired or something. And then I do realize that these children are actually helping me to be a more Christ-like person. (Although it is a slow process!) Before having children, I thought my husband and I could "bless" our children with a loving home, and yet it hits me that I have been so blessed by them!

Well, if you're still here listening, I am truly amazed. These are just some ramblings of all that is going on in my heart right now...of who I hold in my heart right now.

Tomorrow I will probably promptly forget all of this. I will probably feel cranky at least once. I will probably sweep the kitchen floor too many times. I will still be me. But I guess they will still turn out all right, despite me! And I will have had the privilege of being their mom, as imperfect as I am. :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

The last candle of Advent

On Christmas Day, we lit the fifth (and last) candle in the Advent wreath. This is the "Christ candle", and as we light this candle, we remember the baby Jesus born in a humble stable. This was the prophecy of a Savior fulfilled; Christ is born!

The Christ candle verse:

So they (the shepherds) hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
~ Luke 2:16-20

What Child Is This

What Child is this, who,
laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet
with anthems sweet,
while shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard
and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring
Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear:
for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him;
The King of Kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard
and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Our family has so much enjoyed the Advent wreath this year, and I am so glad we did it! I hope you are all doing well, and have a wonderful weekend! :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas Day! We had such a blast today, first just the five of us at home and then in the afternoon and evening at my mother and father-in-law's house. It was such a fun, relaxing day! :)
I still really want to show you some pictures of the Christmas decorating I did, the decorating that, would you believe, I just wrapped up the day before Christmas Eve? Do you mind seeing these last minute pictures?
Well, here goes... a mini tour of my house~

First stop is the living room~

I finally finished this garland and was satisfied with it. It wasn't looking right at all, because the red berries and ribbon were clashing with these white poinsettia, so I pulled everything red out and wove some green ribbon through it and added white or clear decorations to it instead. The little banner spells "NOEL", and it's easy to read in person, but so difficult in this picture! Sorry about that! If you want to see any pictures up close, just click on the picture and it will enlarge it! :) Here are a couple of the things I hung on my garland...

This is in the dining room, where I set up our biggest little tree, decorated at 1:15 in the morning the other day, so it is a humble tree! (Please try to ignore the lack of baseboard moulding in this room~ it's still on our to-do list!)

Next, the hall bath~ I just tied pieces of fabric onto this little tree, fabric that matched the curtains in this room...

A Christmas card from my parents that I slipped into an empty frame...

And a cute little snowman bubble night light...

In our master bedroom~

The kitchen~

(The above is an idea I got from Bless Our Nest.)

And since the main tree in our living room, the tree we go to the tree farm for, is a little funny looking this year, I thought I would show a couple of special ornaments on it instead...

Both of these ornaments are from my parents, and the last one was one of my favorites from those I received from them as a child. I thought this ballerina was so beautiful; I just loved her, and I still do! :)

Well, thanks so much for looking at all of these last minute Christmas pictures! I hope your Christmas was very special! Tomorrow I will post on the last Christmas candle of Advent that we lit today! I should do it now, but I am so tired! So, have a great night, and again, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The fourth Advent candle

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! We had about a half a foot of snow fall last night, and guess what? It's been snowing most of the day, and they say we could get up to eight inches more before morning! (I am just as excited as the kids, maybe even more!) I just love snow!
We are all praying/hoping for a "White Christmas", just like the ones we've rarely known! ;)

Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent, and the fifth and last candle will be lit on Christmas Day. This Sunday we light the Angels' candle, and we remember the night the heavenly choir sang to some unsuspecting shepherds. I think I've become so used to hearing about these angels, that I'm not a bit frightened when I hear this story. But the shepherds were, and I would have been too in their place. How often do we catch a glimpse of such things that usually remain unseen? Maybe once, or never at you ever wonder what the angels thought, watching this plan of God's unfold? It must have seemed so amazing to them, maybe even as amazing to them as to those shepherds on the hill who heard their song...

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
~Luke 2: 13-15

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth,
goodwill to men,
From heaven's all gracious King":
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lonely plains
They bend on hovering wing:
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow day

Well, it was another snow day here. School was canceled, and they called it off for tomorrow, too. My husband has been working from home all week~ he says he's going stir crazy and is going to try to go in for a half day tomorrow. For some reason, I don't have cabin fever...yet! :) But tomorrow my sweetie and I get to go to dinner and a play, a tradition we enjoy every Christmas. The kids stay with their Nana and Papa and make Christmas gifts for us, so it really is a win-win situation, you see! (haha!)

And a major shift in conversation here, no, monologue... A few weeks ago I was really excited about the Starbucks' peppermint mocha twist, which is SO good by the way. Well, I must admit to having a real weakness for peppermint anything really. So when I found out on another blog that Bath and Body Works had peppermint lotion, I just had to have a look-see.

I not only found the lotion, but also found peppermint body cream, which was the one I bought. They also had body scrub and body wash, which were really tempting, but I didn't succumb! (Although a couple of friends on my list will be receiving these...) I love the way the peppermint cream smells! Yum! :)

Also, more peppermint...I found this great recipe last Christmas for peppermint bark, and not only is it very easy to make, it is delicious! (This picture doesn't do it justice, because I used the wrong plate to put them on...)

I have already made it twice in a week and a half, because it goes so fast! :) I thought I would share this recipe, because it really is a keeper!

Peppermint Bark

2 pounds best-quality white chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
12 large candy canes
1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil

1. Line an 11-by-17 inch baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
2. Put chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir constantly until chocolate has melted.
3. With a chef's knife or kitchen mallet, cut or pound candy into 1/4 inch pieces.
4. Stir candy and peppermint oil into the melted chocolate. Remove from heat, and pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet; spread evenly with an offset spatula. Refrigerate until firm, 25-30 minutes. Bread into pieces before packaging (or serving). Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.

Just a few comments on this recipe~

I went ahead and just bought Ghirardelli chocolate morsels because it was much less expensive at the market and it saved time. I am just mentioning this because I was horrified at the thought of spending fifteen dollars on sale to cut up chocolate and the peppermint bark was great just using the chips.

I also used peppermint extract because I didn't have peppermint oil. I am going to look for it the next time I shop though. But again, I just put two teaspoons of the extract and it was just fine. :)

Well, we all survived another week and tomorrow is Friday! Did anyone else get snow where you live? Around where my parents live, about a half hour away, they got 23 inches last night! I remember the last time we got that much was back when I was in highschool. We woke up on Christmas Day with two feet on the ground. How is that for idyllic? :) I hope you all have a great Friday!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crazy weather and...flour?

I hope everyone is having a great week so far! :) We have been kind of home bound due to this icy/ freezing weather here in the Seattle area, but I am not complaining! The kids have had the two hours late/ snow routes and my husband has been able to work on his laptop from home, which is so nice! :) And I have been trying to pull this house together and "Christmas-ify" the house! It is (slowly) coming together, and I am going to have Christmas decor pictures in the next day or two. (Which is good, because if I wait too much longer, Christmas will have come and gone!) But here is a sign that it IS Christmas time...

This is the gift of flour I receive every year from my brother-in-law and his wife.
They know I love baking and so now I get this right before Christmas! I think it at first started as a little joke regarding my obsession with baking, but now it has become a Christmas tradition. :) Now this is kind of embarrassing, but this is the sized bag of flour I buy at Costco all year round. And it doesn't last very long either...just a bit of random information for you! :)

Now here's a question for you remember how a week or so ago I promised a sneak peek of my living room? Well, I must admit that I have been too chicken to show these pictures most days, and on the days I was feeling brave, it seemed to always be Advent Sunday! (When I do a post on that week's candle.) I know, I know, I am so lame, but it's the truth! Part of the reason is because I was still working on things and so the pictures I'd taken were truly only a small glimpse at what I was doing. But though it is a humble offering, I am going to show you bits and pieces of the room...

I have changed/added to this since, but you can see the color I painted the living room ( a minty green) and the fabric on the little wardrobe is my main fabric in this room, tying red and a bit of pink to this room. I don't know if the pink flowers will stay or not, I want more red than pink in this room. But a bit of pink isn't bad...

I had fun sewing these pillows, and now I actually have finished two of the large ones, and a small one for in between ( although I still need to do the hand sewing on the bottom of the that one now that I have slipped the pillow inside of the case. I made the large pillow covers "sandwich bag" style in the back so they could be easily removed for washing, which is a very good thing in this house!

Here are some of the fabrics I have been playing with, although I have since eliminated the top one because I don't care for the brown tone in it...

And here is one of the two little lamps that will go on either side of the mantel. I made the little lampshades with some of that same fabric I used on the pillows, but don't worry, the room will have a lot of other fabrics too! :) Now I will be showing you more as time goes on, but this is a start! :)

I hope you all have a good night! On nights like this, I fall asleep thanking God for a warm, dry house! :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent- The third candle

This is the third Sunday of Advent, and so we light the Shepherd's Candle. I love that the shepherds get their own candle! Our previous pastor called these these particular shepherds "the nightshift shepherds", those who were the lowest of the low shepherds assigned the worst work shift. I just love that God chose to send an angel choir to them, and give them the opportunity to see the baby Jesus! :) It reminds me that God gives every one of us, no matter who we are, this same opportunity to know Him!

Verse for the Shepherd's Candle:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. And angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." ~Luke 2:8-14

The First Noel

The first Noel the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds
in fields as they lay;
In fields where they
lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night
that was so deep.

Noel, Noel,
Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east
beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued
both day and night.

Noel, Noel,
Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No fishing

You are not going to believe this! Or maybe you are, but even I, who had a terribly bad feeling about this from the get go, could not have imagined such a scenario as this! Let me explain...about two months ago our son came home from school in dire need of a fish or two. Their class had been studying goldfish, and now that that was over, the teachers were trying to find homes for the many fish they'd been keeping in the classroom. I wasn't sure about fish and cats under the same roof, but "Junior" really wanted them. At first, Max was visibly jealous of these fish and then just very curious. We were keeping them on the garden window in the kitchen, for lack of another inspired area for them...but I got talked into putting them on Junior's dresser...wasn't too keen on the idea because we just replaced the flooring in his room and it isn't too water-tolerant...Fast forward to last night...we were literally just about to sit down to dinner when our son yelled from his bedroom that our cat had tipped the fishbowl over! Yes, you did read correctly~ Max finally went and did it, but we still aren't sure quite how. But when our son walked into his room, there was Max and unfortunately, there were the, uh, expired goldfish on his floor! Oh, horror of horrors! Imagine one gallon of water on his floor, too, while you're at it! His very nice big rug (that can't be washed) soaked, water everywhere...even under most of his furniture. Our son and youngest daughter sobbing (both really unhappy with Max, who had wisely scurried out of the room) and our middle daughter in the hallway, just staring in shock.

We were trying to show our sympathy while furiously wiping up the water from his floor. Now this probably sounds insensitive, but this is laminate flooring and if it gets wet, it swells up and is pretty much kapoot! Our son loves animals, and he really loved those fish. He was so sad! :( That was really hard on him seeing his fish on the floor, and I must admit, it was not a pretty sight! Now we just have to figure out how to have fish with a very determined cat! What to do?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Making an advent wreath

Hi all! I hope you had a good weekend, and that your weekend is off to a good start! :) I had so much fun this past Sunday putting my little Advent wreath together, and thought I'd show you how I did it, in case anyone wants to make one. It's not too late to do it; there are still three more candles to light! In any case, here is how I went about it...

I started with a Advent candle holder my son had made at Sunday school. He was going to stain it, but didn't get to it. (Maybe next year!) I saw metal Advent candle holders at Walmart last week. I think they had some fake greenery attached to it. If so, that is even better, because you can just add to it from there! For me, I didn't glue any of this together, because I wanted to be able to pack it all away separately. We have limited storage space, so it will help with that. I will tell how you can put it together in a more permanent way as well. :)

I used a 9' garland I found at Michaels, and used about two thirds of it by the time I was done. Figure out how much it will take to make a circle of garland around the candle holder, then use wire cutters to cut it. Then circle the cut piece of garland around the wreath holder, and twist the ends together. Even if you want it stuck together, at this point, I would keep this as a separate piece, but you could use glue to attach it. There are so many different kinds of glue for different surfaces at most any craft store, so the right kind shouldn't be difficult to find.

Then figure out how much of the garland you'll need to form another circle that will go right over where the candles will go. You will need to remove the candles to do this. After this is in place, you can either use wire or glue to attach it permanently, or not! :) Next, form a small circle for the very inside of your "wreath", making sure your center candle (usually a pillar) will fit inside. If you are using a metal candle holder, usually these have the wreath part in the very center, so you may or may not need this. But maybe you will want to add a little more! :)

The most fun part is adding whatever other greenery or berries or embellishments your heart desires! I added some lighter green eucalyptus (sp?) first, just poking it here and there and trying to make it look "balanced". (It looks more balanced in person!)

Then I added my center pillar candle, one I had on hand, and loved the way the color of it ended up working out with the rest of my wreath, but it's a little on the short side, so we'll tuck a little block of wood underneath it before next week!

I tucked in some berries, a little here, a little there. I used the berry branches I found at Michaels, and just snipped them into smaller bits of berries. If you like, you can glue your little additions with a hot glue gun, or else use little pieces of wire...

When you are done adding everything you want and you're happy with how it're finished with your very own Advent wreath! Well, almost...

Lighting it is the
very best part, of course! :) Enjoy!