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.


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

Christmas ’16

Christmas this year bounces around in my brain as having hit every emotion in the playbook. There are sometimes in life that words cannot accurately describe and this is one of them.  So, it shall stay like that for you and continue bouncing around in my brain until I get it figured out.


The grandkid status at Mom’s hangs heavy in the 3-7 year range and they are often B-O-R-E-D! We talked Madison into playing a game with a few of them.


Mr. Jaxon was happy to eat instead of play!


He is at a fun age right now and Dakota got a kick out of playing with him.


These two goobers, they found my grandma’s old glasses and tried them on.



Waiting. Maybe patiently, maybe not.


A new Jeep shirt! We’re all about Jeeps around here.


We had Katelyn’s name and about the time we started searching for the perfect gift, Sarita told me she had Reagan’s name and she had just bought her a vest. So with Reagan’s help, we “came across” this vest that was almost too wonderful to behold.  We bought it for Katelyn and when it came in the mail, she was just beside herself in love. We were all grinning when we watched her open her own gift to find a matching vest.


Sometimes people open their mouths and say a lot of things and then get mysterious packages with no name attached. 🙂


Tristan’s favorite song was “The Old Rugged Cross” and this song came true for him when he exchanged the cross for a crown.


There were two oddly wrapped boxes with Sarita’s and my names on them. One was heavy and one was light. We had our guessing game going and found out that almost everyone (but us) knew what was in these boxes. In a weak moment, due to some well-asked questions, Nick opened his mouth to tell me but Max shut him off just in time. 🙂

Tys went above and beyond and made both of us something special. A camera for me and a little tricycle for Sarita! He is a welder by trade and it carries over into his hobbies. He turns out some pretty cool things from his imagination.


The wheels roll, pedals turn and it’s just as cute as can be.


The lens turns for a little manual focus and the front has a jeep grill and a cross in memory of Tris.


The chain around the edge comes from a dirt bike and he listed all the other parts and where they came from, but I can’t remember. The flash on top pops up also.


I don’t know what it’s called, but the round thing inside on the right rolls with a little push. I guess it’s a modern/antique and you use that to wind up your film roll.

Stop in sometime and I’ll let you touch it. 🙂


I had Tyson’s name and wanted to buy him something in memory of Tris. Anyone who knew Tris knew that Jeeps were his hobby. He often roared around in an old red Willy Jeep, usually loaded with kids. I looked for a little jeep like this everywhere on the www. Everything was either over my price range or not very nice. I was almost ready to give up when this one popped up on eBay at just the right time and price. It felt like God had gifted me with this and in the end, it meant more to me than if I had found it as soon as I started looking.


Later we all took a splat to the face with a little pie face game.
Well, maybe not quite all of us. 🙂


We inhaled much good food, had lots of good conversations and all the while dealt with kiddos that kept passing the stomach flu around.
We talked about Tris, retold his favorite stories and missed him so very much!


My thoughts for 2017 …
“With God’s daily supply of grace, I am able.”


Of Christmas Without You

Dear Tris,

I just want to see you come strolling through the door,
with Grant in your arms and you singing
“Silver Bells, silver bells, it‘s Christmas time in the city!”
I want to sit down and drink a cup of coffee with you.
I want to listen to you talk, to hear you laugh.
I would love to hear your latest joke
or bit of news you learned today.
I would just like to hear your voice again.

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I would want to sit in Mom’s living room
with you and the rest of the gang.
Have loud discussions, listen to everyone’s opinion
being voiced at the same time and laugh!
I wish you could carry the little kids around
and keep the peace with the big ones.
I want to sit across the table from you again,
to watch you laugh and have a good time.

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I would want to tell you about Christmas this year.
There was talking, there was laughter sometimes,
there was good food, and wild kid times,
but still nothing was the same this year.
80 days before, our lives were turned upside down
and we will never have a Christmas like the old ones again.
This Christmas there were tears,
the pain of missing you was just so great
that it overshadowed the joy.

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I would love to tell you about the lockets
I gave Katelyn and Aleigha.
I whispered “These are from your Daddy!”
and you should have seen them smile.
A picture of you on one side,
and one of them on the other.
They are so proud of them
and keep them tucked inside their dress,
close to their heart.
I see them reach and pull the locket out,
they open it and finger the picture.
They miss you so!

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I want to tell you about the grills the guys bought,
how they research everything
and figure out just what temperature
and how long everything needs to be on.
They don’t wing it like you would,
they like to know what’s happening.
You would have gotten a huge kick out
of the fact that the chickens weren’t done
for Sunday lunch because the electricity blinked
and turned their grill off.

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I would like to tell you about Tyson’s 30th birthday party,
the one you were already planning before you died.
He thought he could sneak out of having a party,
but of course you wouldn’t let him get away with that.
We surprised him very well!
You would have loved it!
There were so many people there,
so many people you would have liked to talk to,
so many people who came because they love him!
He was your favorite person next to your little family
and I know you would have loved to see him celebrated.

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After his party, we took a picture, just us lonely 3 siblings.
We smiled, but we missed you!
You always had your ways and we couldn’t believe our eyes
when later we saw you had sneaked into the picture with us.
It made us smile again.

I would want to tell you that the new road is done!
I would want to tell you how we drove it,
how we cried, how we missed you.
We talked about you while we drove,
there were so many things you
would have wanted to see along the way.

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I would want to tell you about
all the little things that happened this weekend,
things you would have loved to see.
The knives Tim gave the guys in memory of you,
the dirt bike in Mom’s kitchen,
and how Eric and Tim built a table for Sarita.
I would tell you about the little bikes Tys is making,
you would be so proud of him.
It was a warm Christmas,
you would have been happy about that.
I really want to tell you about all the things
people are doing for your little family,
how well they are being taken care of and loved.

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I want to tell you so many things
that I didn’t tell you before,
so many things I should have said.

I want to tell you what a wonderful dad you were
and how much your little family loved you.
I would want to tell you what a hero you were to them,
the one they trusted, looked up to
and couldn’t wait to see at the end of the day.
You worked so hard for them, took such good care of them
and were the anchor of all their lives.

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I would want to tell you how much we miss you,
how badly we hurt because you’re gone.
I don’t think you knew how much
you meant to us, how much we loved you.
We struggle without you,
but your Jesus walks with us.

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Some days we aren’t sure if there is much left of us because
the Tris shaped hole in our hearts keeps growing larger all the time.
We’ll keep fighting because when the sun sets each day,
it means we’re one day closer to seeing you again.
Love you lots and hope your Christmas was better then ours.

A New Year Christmas

And one more Christmas post!
We spent some time in IN over Christmas
then came back for some more Christmas at home.
How many times can you write Christmas in the first 3 lines?
Quite often it would seem.

This particular Christmas party has another name around here.
Jammie Christmas.

A few years ago my MIL came up with the bright idea
to buy each of her grandchildren a pair of pajamas for Christmas.
Every kid on the block has too many toys,
needs nothing new at all,
but can always use a new pair of snugglies.
All the moms were happy and the kids were happy too.
This started back when there were only a few grandchildren in the family.
Today, she still buys jammies for all of them,
only now she has 14 to buy for.

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We started Jammie Christmas on New Years Eve here
and moved over to Grandma’s on New Years Day to continue the party.

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It was a full house here Wed night.
Bethany was home and Ervin’s came for the evening.
We had a great time, everyone stayed till after midnight and then tired kids and their parents fell into bed. I wish I could say the kids all slept late the next morning so the parents could too, but with Little One living here, that is an impossible idea.

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Bethany played Bingo with these 3 at Grandma’s.
I guess you could say it was a form of Bingo
with 3 that don’t read big numbers. 🙂

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Sometimes the littles just need Mommy instead of more action.

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We had a fabulous meal.
Shrimp, crab legs, pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, sour kraut,
and all kinds of other things to go with it.
As you can see, we pull out the big guns when we crack crab legs!

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A few weeks ago I bought matching shirts for these 2.
Completely unplanned, they wore the shirts and matching skirts. 🙂
For almost 2 year olds, they play together very well.

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Mr Liam!

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The kids were just itching to get to these pajamas and we made them wait all afternoon! As soon as Grandma had her stack ready, they were closing in on her, waiting for their pair.

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Quite happy.

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Tradition requires that everyone change into pajamas immediately!
It was an accomplished feat to get a photo when they were all looking.

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This is a game playing family.
I am the outcast that doesn’t care for board games.
I get itchy and antsy when I have to sit still for too long.

We gave ourselves a break from each other on Friday
and then got together again on Sat night for pizza!
Bethany was still here so we make the most of those times.
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Liam created entertainment for these guys!

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She was happy with her perch!

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And the last activity of the evening… measuring all the kids.
Stand with your your heels to the board,
your back straight, and give every inch you have!
They make the most of it.

Dan started measuring his children on this board about once a year when they were quite young. I think I saw Carrie’s first mark at 6 months old. He would mark their height, write their age and sometimes their weight. The board has filled up with marks, names and numbers on the other side so there is hardly room to write. He flipped it around now and started marking the grandchildren on the back side. It’s a highlight for them when he gets it out.

It’s fun to compared the kids, and who was what height at what age. Madison was snickering a little that she, at 11 years old, is the same height that Loren was at 15. I told her she probably won’t think it’s so funny when she’s done growing at 6ft 2in or something like that.

If your children are all young this would be a fun thing to start with them.
They will always remind you to measure  and have fun comparing things as they get older.

This was the last of our Holiday parties, sadly,
but who needs an excuse to get together with family.
Anytime will do.

Painting Bird Houses

Now for the next edition of Christmas vacation.

As part of the grand-children’s Christmas gifts,
Grandpa built bird houses for them
and Grandma organized an afternoon of painting.
We all went out to Grandpa’s garage and what fun they had!

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First order of business was to put a coat of gray paint on.
This didn’t go too badly. We were prepared for the worst and were pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it went. 🙂
It was a grand thing I tell you, splashing around in that paint.

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Some had little brushes and some had big ones.
It was a good thing these guys had smaller ones,
they dipped often and went pretty heavy with the paint.

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Of course there were others that tried to go heavy with the paint
on things that shouldn’t be painted.
I was kind and didn’t return the favor.
(Mainly because I didn’t want my entire face painted)

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Aleigha wasn’t making very much progress and Mr Fast Lance was done already so he volunteered to help her.

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This one is related to her Uncle in more ways then one.

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Grandma and Grandpa did a bunch of supervising.

After they all had a coat of gray paint,
we let them dry for an hour and then came back to add some color.

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Some painted pretty birds and flowers.

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And others just tried to cover up every hole on their box.

We’re just hoping birds aren’t scared of color.

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This was the most precious thing.
She was painting away and she says,
“See that yellow.That’s Jesus on the cross!”

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After they were all done and were ready to take a picture,
we discovered Madison had already left to take a shower.
So here are the happy painters, minus Madison.

Now don’t you all wish you had grandparents
who built you bird houses to paint? 🙂

Thank you Grandpa and Grandma for your hard work and patience with this gang. These kids will remember this for a long time. We love you.

Christmas Vacation

Defined as:
Not long enough.
Well spent.
Busy. Fun
Lots of good times.
Coffee. Good food.

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We spent a few days at Grandma’s house.
There is just nothing like being there!
Food all the time. Relaxing. Drinking coffee.
Someone is always stopping in.
The cousins come to play every day.
And we are just all royally spoiled.

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Mr Nick and his Mama.
You could say he is giving her a run for her Mama money right now.
Hopefully there are better days to come for both of them.

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Grandma loves to buy and give gifts, so these kiddos were quite blessed this year. We decided they have to take turns opening gifts and make this last longer than 2.5 seconds it did last year. We started with the youngest and worked our way up. It was quite a long wait till we got through 12 of them.

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Sometimes there were so many kids around you couldn’t even see the little person opening the gift. 🙂

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Kennedy just stopped as soon as the first one was opened and started enjoying it. The guys next in line let her know she has to keep moving.

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It was general chaos all around for awhile but we enjoyed every minute of it.

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The girls had these dolls so Grandma spent lots and lots of time sewing some clothes for them. They were quite happy!

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If someone gets a basketball hoop for Christmas,
we use it right in the middle of the living room!
The love only goes one way with the 2 in the bottom picture.

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The overall boys, Max, Nick and Tys.
When the Dad has something, the boys want to be just like him.

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Max had been longing for a pair of overalls, just like his Dad’s, for a long time.
I had Nick’s name for Christmas and got him this little pair.
Max looked at them for awhile and says, “How big are they?” 🙂
Unknown to him, his mom had some wrapped up for him to open on Christmas morning and he was a happy little guy when he came to show us!

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Little boys love Grandma’s house. There is a never ending supply of hot chocolate, although you could call his chocolate milk it’s so cold. There are cookies of all kinds, candy and all kinds of good things to eat.

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There was also lots of this happening.
Guess we’ll just chalk it up to vacation mode
(although it happens a lot at Grandma’s)

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On Saturday morning Grandma made sugar donuts.
I think my kids will switch to calling them “Grandma donuts.”
Take canned biscuits, cut a hole, deep fry, and roll in cinnamon sugar.
Grandma makes them for her grandkids all the time.
My guys say, “Mom, this wouldn’t be too hard to make at home would it?”
I just smile and shrug and think
it’s a good thing to be left for Grandma’s house.

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There was lots of sweet baby squeezing.

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Mr Grant loveloveloves little Libby!

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These 2 are so funny.
She says, “Byyyyyce! No!” Byyyyyce, come!”
Since we’re home she picks up her toy phone and talks to “Byce!”

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Lots of quality time spent with each other
and sipping some bubbly too.

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Kennedy thought this was the grandest thing but as you can see,
Libby was less then thrilled with her ride.
And the toy corner, I wonder how many times it was cleaned up!

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Sunday evening the kids acted out the Christmas story for us.
An angel appears to Mary to tell her she is going to have a baby!

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Mary goes to see Joseph.
She said, “Joseph, I am going to have a baby!”
He said, “Yeah, right!”
Mary wheeled around and replied,
“Well, you just wait and see!”

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Joseph leads his donkey into Bethlehem with Mary on board.

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Joseph inquires with the Inn Keepers, searching for a room.
He finally found a stable, parks his donkey and settles Mary in.

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Angels sing of this baby’s birth and shepherds come to visit and hold the Him!

blog 1-3-14 (35)The little cast of our sweet play!
We are privileged to be able to teach our children this story
and in return have them teach us.

The next morning we headed home to have Christmas
with the other side of the family… now sadly that is almost over too
and we’ll be back to school before we know it.


There was one activity on Saturday afternoon that didn’t make this post but that’s because it deserves a post of it own. Look for it next week.