Of Christmas and Random Musings

  • Every year around the first of November I will start feeling the urge to listen to a Christmas carol or two. I generally resist because it is too early and will wait until close to Thanksgiving. After the first song, it is full steam ahead with Christmas music.
    And then, around the week leading up to Christmas, I have had enough. My Christmas music cup doeth overflow and I am done. That very week, of all weeks, I should be listening to it and I just can’t, not one more carol. I really need to change this pattern. Next season I resolve to hold off until 2 or 3 weeks before the 25th and then merrily carol my way all the way through.

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  • Call me the Grinch, but is Christmas decorating worth it? 1 month or less, and we’re packing everything away that we just hauled out. Along with that thought, I want to pitch almost all of my ancient Christmas decor. (but I can’t let my kids see me do it)

 

  • The best honey mustard dipping sauce: equal parts of mustard, honey, and mayonnaise.
  • My gang thinks the best addition to a soft pretzel is a block of cream cheese to swipe it through.
  • One of their favorite snacks is a chopped apple and a sliced banana mixed with granola and drizzled with honey.

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My Mom made a comforter for all the grandkids for Christmas. That was the extent of Christmas gifts this year with our family. It was quite stress-free. You wouldn’t believe how much fun they had and how long they played with them. Then on the plus side, they took them home and can use them every night. Wonder how many years we could do this until the kids or Grandma refuse. 🙂

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Tyson made Dad a tractor for Christmas.

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From scratch, by hand, welding pieces of metal together until a tractor appeared.

  • Do you all have a 2nd story in your house? If you do, tell me about the stairs. How do you keep them cleaned off? Three of our kids sleep upstairs and I am telling you, half of their belongings are forever hanging out on the steps. Well, maybe not quite half, but at least 1/3. Books, socks, a sweater, a pair of sandals, and the list could go on and on. They race right past it every time they go up. How do I get them to carry at least one item up each time and therefore we would no longer have the issue?
  • I am a list maker. I love a good list of things to do, even if some of it’s irrelevant. Sometimes I will write stuff down that I’ve already completed just so I can cross it off. That makes me feel like I got a lot done. My girls would insert an eye roll here.

 

  • Too many days at home without productive anything at all to do makes Jack a very bored boy. (and the rest of us about to pull hair) What are things for boys to do in the winter? He does go outside some but there is a limit to that. There is basketball in the garage at other times and then he roams around teasing girls.

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  • How would you build/arrange/create space with wooden lockers in a mud-room? I am scoring Pinterest for ideas but thought maybe one of you would have a tip that must be used.

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  • I introduced my crew to omelets a little while ago. In my mind they were always a mess to make, so many ingredients and all that. I have figured out that if I get everything else ready ahead of time, it’s really not that much work. I fry the sausage, bacon, chop the ham and veggies, and anything else before. If they are for breakfast I’ll do it the day before. If we have them in the evening, I’ll do the prep in the afternoon. Then it’s easy-peasy and once the egg is done, just load it up.
    My crew will then ruin it by putting ketchup all over it before consuming. I add a bit of salsa to mine for an added flavor, much better than ketchup in my mind.

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  • I’m thankful for the wind in the windchimes a few times lately. Ours don’t chime often so when they do, even just a little, I stop and take notice. They always remind me of Tristan. We all got windchimes from different people after he died so now when I hear the chimes, I think of him.  It is amazing how often they will chime just a little at a significant time. It feels like God acknowledging what we’re feeling.

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Christmas Now

It is Christmas time, all merry and bright,
carols and bells are ringing,
glad hearts are singing with cheer.
Thoughts turn toward home
and good memories are stirred,
chasing warm circles around the heart.
It is family time, reunited once more,
laughter, conversation and happiness galore.
There are lights twinkling merrily,
woodland greenery strung ‘round the house,
and good food always abounding.
It is Christmas time.

But amid the merry,
deep down in some hearts,
Christmas time does not bring
all the joy and gladness it once did.
An irreplaceable one, gone forever,
a hole in the heart, an ache in the soul,
always abiding and touching
each part of this favorite season.

A sadness fills the air
when a song is heard loud and clear.
The silver bells don’t ring so cheerily
as they once did in the past.
The joy around seems dampened
by the loss felt deep inside.
It is a silent night in the depths of the soul,
there is an ache no one on earth can fill.

The usual jolly has lost its appeal,
the laughter is quiet when thoughts
turn to family gatherings and
we think of the one who is missing.
The emptiness hangs heavy,
tears swell to near overflowing,
and our hearts ache for what we had.
Every moment that was
is now a memory worth reliving.

Our minds turn toward heaven
and know imagination cannot begin to tell,
all the beauty and glory that is Christmas there.
The story retold here on earth,
is alive in heaven today.
Hallelujahs ascend, praises without end,
a glorious resounding of song.
The Christmas story unfolded from beginning to end,
the reason for the songs we sing.
We know without a doubt
that the Christmas we love here,
holds no candle to the one that is there.

While our hearts long for your presence,
to be there with you now,
we will smile for the children
and tell the stories for their memories,
for we want you alive in their hearts
as much as you live on in ours.
We know you would tell us to go on and enjoy,
to smile through the tears and
remember the reason for living.
But in our heart of hearts,
we hang on just a little bit longer,
because Christmas just isn’t Christmas
without you.

Christmas Star

Holiday Snacks

The Holidays call for snacks of all kinds because every time you turn around, there is another gathering to attend. What kind of food gets your attention? Salty? Sweet? Candy? Cookies?

Candy doesn’t get eaten very well around here. I made some last year and it sat here for so long I finally put it in the freezer. Around April I found it and just quietly pitched it. Now cookies or something like that, they are usually gone in no time.

choc covered pretzels

An easy one that my kids all love are chocolate covered pretzels.

My Mom always bought the big twisted pretzels and carefully dipped every single one, nice and neatly. My patience level for that doesn’t even register so I started dumping a bag or two of these in a big bowl, melting chocolate and stirring it together. I poured them out on wax paper and when they were almost dry I broke them apart. They don’t look perfect, but the kids are happy with them!


Gingerbread Men

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I have made these gingerbread men almost every year since Shelly posted this recipe. I’m telling you they are the easiest and the best there is. Once you make these you will never want to do all the rolling and patting and hard work of other, less than stellar, gingerbread men.

Easy Gingerbread Cookies
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
 1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 1/2 cups flour
 
Melt butter and let it cool for 5 minutes.
Mix in all the other ingredients.
Spread on a 10×15 cookie sheet.
Bake at 350* for about 12 minutes.
Cool 5 minutes. Cut into shapes!
Once they are cooled, I drizzle them with a thick glaze/frosting piped out of a bag. If you want to frost and decorate them like little men, go for it.
– – –
 Edit to add: the glaze recipe was just a shot in the dark. Maybe 1 cup of powdered sugar and a few drops of milk to get it to the right consistency. I put it in a small sandwich bag and cut the tip off one corner to pipe it out of.
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Be sure and keep all the edge pieces and drizzle them with icing too. Trust me when I say they disappear just as fast as the little men.
I call these the “mom pieces” because the kids go for the real ones and I can sit here and pop little bites into my mouth and never have a clue how much I actually consumed!

Protein Balls 
This is not necessarily a holiday snack, but a good and easy one, and maybe just a tiny bit healthy.
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Protein Balls
2 C Honey
2 C Peanut butter
1/2 tsp salt
6 C oatmeal
1 C chopped nuts
2 C mini chocolate chips
Mix well and scoop into balls.
Store in the refrigerator.
These can also be frozen and then just pull a few out whenever you need them.
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My kids like these in their lunches as well. I am not a health-nut mom, but if there is something (sorta) healthy they like, better then total junk.
So tell me, what are your favorite Holiday snacks?

How Was Your Thanksgiving?

And were you thankful?
Of course, you were! We are all thankful the month of November and for sure on Thanksgiving day. What about now? Holiday stress, so much to do, what to buy for gifts, and on and on. How quickly do I lose the thankful spirit?

I lost it as soon as we arrive home and I cleaned out a dishwasher with dishes that did not get a proper cleaning. I was quite irate and ready to throw the whole machine out the back door. At 9pm we tore it apart and gave the innards of it a good cleaning. It is now in working order and just that quick, my thankful spirit was back. Why can I not remember, “In everything give thanks” even when the dishwasher fails?  Why do I forget so quickly?


We had a good Thanksgiving weekend. It was busy. Every day was packed with lots of people, good times and good eating.

The Hostetlers are fairly religious about their family get-together at Thanksgiving. You are allowed to skip occasionally, but they’ll want to know where you were and why you were missing. We shall refer to it as ‘loved and missed’ versus nosiness. We are spread far and wide across the states but when Thanksgiving weekend rolls around, most of them gravitate toward the gathering.

There is always, always good food with the Hostetlers. After the good food is consumed they will bring out the snacks. Usually there is an entire table full of snack and the kids think it’s a full feed weekend of junk food. No wonder they don’t want turkey and potatoes.

 I wanted to take a picture of the two girls in the middle because they are twins. The other two thought they needed to be in the photo also …
“because our birthdays are really close.”


We were also with my family and some extended family over the weekend.

Tys arrived on Saturday loaded to ride with one for every size.

When an entire family makes the effort to come and spend a few days with you remembering Tristan, you know they care and you feel loved. This is what my Uncle Dave’s family did for us. We loved every minute of it and are so thankful for them.

If ice cream is your happy place and there is a machine in the garage, you are all smiles.

We made a lot of good memories again. Back in the day when we were all kids, Dave’s would come out to visit and we would have a grand time riding the trails on 3-wheelers and driving jeeps to the cabin. After a while, the boys would give the motors a rest and play football on the front lawn until the grass had given up the ghost. When the game was finished, they piled into the house for more food and good laughs.

Not much has changed. This time they merely upgraded to bigger and better things for the trails and roared through the fields on bikes. Football was given over to the younger generation and a plate of ice cream and cake with coffee sounded like a good idea to add the conversation.

Not too many foods in life are better than this combo.

Grandma had a little tea party with these two little girls.

This Grandma is a special one. She caters to all the grandkids and they know it. She’ll buy their favorite foods, candy or little toys. She stocks up on junk food just for them. If one of them needs something, she is the first one to jump up to help them. She pays attention to each one in special little ways. All the grandkids (and the big kids for that matter) like to go to Grandma’s house because they know she’ll have something for them. We all love Grandma and are happy to be celebrating her birthday next week.


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Back to the issue of ingraining thankfulness into a daily part of our lives.
How do you instill that into your children?
How do you incorporate it into your life?
Talk to me.

 

Musings of Life

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Sunshine, pretty trees and blue skies in Ohio? Is that a thing? I’m taking bids to come rake my leaves, mow the lawn once more and throw out the dead plant or two jack frost has finished off.


The dentist.
I went again last week. I have to go again next week. My dislike of this appointment is on the rise. It used to be tolerable, something I had to do occasionally and survived, but it is becoming a serious issue for me. I’m telling you it’s right up there with the likes of stepping on a snake or something equivalent.

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When I came home from the said appointment at 8pm, she was doing this. I was not a very nice mom at that point so things got a little heated. We worked it out and the donuts were good.  (And no, I don’t know what recipe she used.)


This thing about food and the eating thereof.

  • Why do I not dislike eating as much as some of my children?
  • How does a child become full to the very tip-top after only 2 bites when only minutes before they had been a very S T A R V I N G hungry monster?
  • Why does it take 473,827,382,356,783 dishes to cook a 2 item meal?
  • Who else hates the piles of dishes staring at you while eating a meal?
  • Why does weariness overcome you as soon as you finish eating and all you want to do is nap?
  • Do all children have the ability to sense what is coming and magically disappear as soon as it’s time to clear the table, do the dishes, or empty the dishwasher?
  • Why do recipes online look so delicious and turn out like something the cat won’t sniff much less grace a table?
  • Why do I wait until 1 hour before set eating time to become frantic about what we will be eating?

End of food rant. Amen.


After reading a book about going to the moon the topic of discussion was just that, going to the moon. I pulled some videos up on You-tube so they could better visualize this and all eyes were open and ears were tuned.
Later that night I heard the son declare, “I am going to the moon someday!” The little one who follows him says, “Oh, but Dakota, you can’t. You would miss us so much because it takes 4 days to get there and 4 days to get back!”

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Speaking of reading, my girls would spend all their days wrapped up in books. Dakota, not so much (yet), it just doesn’t hold the appeal it did for the girls. He is doing better the last few weeks, if only in an effort to win a free pizza.

What series of books are on your A-list
for kids in the tweens, 10-12 age.
Any suggestions?


My husband and my eldest can go round and round.
The other night they had an “egg” battle.
“That was an “eggcelent” meal!”
“Yes, eggstraordinary.”
“Read all about it in Eggekial.”
“Eggxtra, Eggxtra, read all about it.”
“Can’t wait to get our Eggcursion back.”
“Wouldn’t you rather drive an Eggspedition?”
Try it sometime, it is Eggspiring. (or don’t)


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We have one birthday in October and one in November, Christmas in Dec and another birthday in February. For a person that does not do well with buying and giving gifts, this is a problem.

Give me all your ideas for gifts.
please.
lest I succumb to the stress.


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Would someone please explain to me how I am old enough to be at this stage in life? Am I not just 25, okay maybe pushing 30, but still. THIS!

One of my children has a pet peeve … when you go somewhere and the parents meet old friends, someone invariably will look at them and say, “My word, your children are getting so big!”

“Like really? What are we suppose to be doing? Getting smaller?
Don’t you think we already noticed this?
Getting big? What is that? Large?
Thank you for reminding us that we have grown in the last year!” 

So, I promised to try to rephrase that one a little if I am ever tempted to say it.
“Whoa! I expected your children to still be the same size they were the last time we met and how is it that they have not stopped stretching upward in length by now?”


Confessions of a mom:

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I wait until she comes home from school to make the pie crust.

If I throw away an old toy or treasure, I stick it far and deep into the trash can to insure that it is well hidden.

I get claustrophobia when they all want to sit so close to me.

I may or may not hide certain foods for myself.

I can’t tell them all. They will read this and know.

Confess a few of yours to me!
I won’t tell your kids.


When you find yourself fighting a battle remember this:

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 12:9

His grace is sufficant for today, for this moment, for right now. He is glorified in our weakness. Lean on Him. Depend on Him. Tust Him.

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Stay warm in this crispy weather and have a good weekend!

Washington D.C

Our children attend our private church school and every two years the graduating classes take a trip to Washington D.C. Since it is a small school there are approximately three to five students in each class so it works well to take two classes at a time.  This time there were 7 graduates and 2 couples trying to keep up with them.

We left early on a Tuesday morning and came back early on Friday morning. Between those two times, there was a lot of walking, learning about history, walking, much sightseeing, interesting happenings, very little sleeping, more walking, some good eating and lots of fun!

We took the Metro from place to place and the first day we spent quite a bit of time studying these maps to figure out which train to catch. It wasn’t long before they had it down pat and knew exactly where they were going. I just followed and hoped they were right. They always were.

I am not a history buff, far removed from it, and there was a lot of history to absorb on this trip. All I had to do was ask the guy beside me and he usually knew every detail I wanted and more.

I’ll try to keep the places straight but facts about each place are pretty sketchy coming from me so I’ll refrain from giving those.


Arlington Cemetery


The Tomb of the Uknown Soldier


Changing of the guard


Our grand crew! They were a fun and entertaining gang to tour with.


In search of food


Hill Country BBQ … good food.
You ordered the meat by the pound or piece if you couldn’t eat a quarter pound.


A song kept running through my mind while we were there.
All those people going somewhere, why have I never cared
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give your love for humanity.
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see.


The Washington Monument


World War II Memorial


Lincoln Memorial

When the first day was all said and done, we logged approximately 12 miles of walking in heat that was unbelieveable for the end of September! I think we averaged 10- 12 miles each day we were there. So, I believe it was completely understandable that this person who does not know the meaning of the word exercise would collapse on the floor right inside the door after the 2nd day.


We used Air B&B for lodging.
It was only a few minutes walk to the Metro.

First thing on Wednesday morning we had an appointment with the White House. Well, really to tour the White House, but the first way sounds better.


A dining room in the White House by the looks of it,
but I don’t remember anything about it.


Our White House photo with Josh wearing a glowing halo.

Our next stop was at the Capital. Our tour guide was somehow connected to Ohio and did an excellent job.


This room was beautiful!


The dome ceiling!

We also toured the Public Vault that afternoon. Every kind of document you could wish to see. So. so. so. much reading there.


Our evening meal was at the Matchbox.


We were on the 3rd floor back in a corner. Adorable little joint.


The guys chose to go back to the house after eating and Eric escorted the ladies to see the Capital after dark. It was beautiful and worth the extra walking.


Thursday morning we toured Ford’s Theater.


The box were Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated.


After a trip through a gift shop it was no longer a question whether we were tourists or not. Another give away was the close proximity they kept with the flying Metro.


We spent over 2 hours at the Holocaust Museum. It was sobering and unbelievable. We came away with a new perspective.


One last Metro ride


And back we were in Bonnie the old motorhome our lovely motorcoach for our ride home. We fought rushhour traffic and arrived nowhere fast so a better option was waiting somewhere in the city for everyone else to get home.


The Jefferson Memorial

If you have older children, take them to D.C. It is a great learning experience!

I loved the hustle and bustle of the city, seeing all the people, the architecture, the beauty of the place, and the history, but I tell you, I was very glad to come back to my little house in the woods that I call home.

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Of Much To-do About Cleaning

And lo, there came a day in the year of here and now that the mother of the mother of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan sent a message unto this household saying,
“Prepare, for we are about to begin on a journey to see thee and thy kinfolk and our children’s children. Do not kill the fatted calf or dust the webs and sweep dungeons for though the voyage be long, our stay will be but for a short while. Our caravan of camels, servants, and kinsmen will be arriving on this given day and will rest and enjoy a short stay within your house.”

But when the message was delivered, the mother of the children of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan heeded only to the first sentence of the missive, the part about the coming of the tribe of Owen, son of Enos where upon she commenced into a frenzied state of affair.

With much weeping and wailing, she did cry unto herself and her children,
“Why ever was I so slothful in the affairs of cleaning corners? Make haste at once children and bring me the brooms and rags of all shapes and sizes, and many of them, for we will need them all. Run son, with all thy might, to the barns and sweep the floors, daughters, scurry and grab the mop and attack the corners at once!” And so it was that the war on dirt and dust bunnies did commence with furry and vengeance because the kinsmen were coming.

Small eight-legged creatures building webs trembled in terror and the dust bunnies did make much ado and billow about. Her children while working, did moan and wailed and cried, “Mother, please do not torture us so with all this cleaning and bustling about. Do you not suppose our relatives have dirt and webs of their own and are accustomed to such things?” But the Mother harkened not unto their cries and relentlessly tore into her household with haste, for her kinsmen were coming.

And so it was from dawn until dusk they did labor, busily scurrying about, preparing for the guests to arrive. Much to the joy of the mother of the tribe, her daughters were home for an extra day from their place of learning, and so the much more did she torture them with work to do.

And picking up her cellar device she did place a call unto her husband and said unto him, “My kinsmen are coming, buy and kill the fatted calf with which we might feed them well for they are special and worthy of honor.

So he harkened unto her voice at once and bought and prepared the meat with spices and seasonings of his kind. And while it was yet dark, before the dawn broke the sky, he arose and did place the meat upon the grill in preparation for the feast.

When finally the day arrived for which they had all been preparing, the mother of the tribe scurried about with more preparations. But the son and daughters of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan, happily escaped hither to their place of learning with much joy and happiness at the thought of escaping their frenzied mother.

Hours past with much haste and when all was prepared and the time of their arrival was at hand, the mother did flop her body onto a chair and sigh, imagining that all had been accomplished and all was well. But as she surveyed her work, she saw that much to-do had been in vain, for it seemed as soon as one room had been mopped and fluffed, the eight-legged creatures and bunnies of dust did promptly make their way in and set up residence, happy to reside in a room that smelled fresh and new, just for them.

And upon seeing the weary faces of her children and examining and finding grouchiness in herself, she purposed in her heart that the next time kinfolk were coming, they would surely do just fine in a house where dust bunnies and eight-legged creatures do reside. After all, it seemed the bustling about with much to-do had accomplished next to nothing because the creatures had not moved out at all, but were merely rearranged.

And so it was with much joy and rejoicing they welcome the caravan of family upon their late arrival and a wonderful weekend was had by all, bunnies, webs and all.

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