Monday, December 30, 2013

nut house

Just had to laugh when I opened up this gift from my in-laws this weekend....

It's a garden flag. The significance behind it is that my college mascot is a squirrel. Since then, I have been partial to the little guys. Various stuffed animals and knick knacks adorned my dorm room. I don't have many squirrel items still remaining about my house today, however I am still a squirrel at heart.

I'm not sure what my mother in law is trying to say with this flag... except she has a pretty accurate view of my household, I guess. Sometimes we get a little nutty around here! ;)

Friday, December 27, 2013

messy treats

I just realized that I never blogged about our last Advent family night. I alluded to the fact that it was "yummy" but never showed you what we did...

Well, Pinterest inspired this messy treat: Christmas trees, made using upside down ice cream cones! I actually had a tub of white icing already in the pantry, along with ice cream toppings and oreos. Put them all together, mix in a little imagination and we created a forest of snowy trees :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013


My primary love language is gifts. If you aren't familiar with the Five Love Languages, go ahead and click through here to learn more about this book/concept. There is even a free questionnaire to discover your (or your child's) love language. Typically the language that is your primary language of love, is also the language that comes easiest/most enjoyable when "speaking love" as well. Meaning that if you receive love through encouraging words (words of affirmation) than you are probably a pretty encouraging person as well.

Regarding "gifts" and what it looks like as my speaking-love language... I enjoy shopping with another person in mind. What's really fun is listening and trying to come up with a "perfect" gift to give another. I take pleasure in creating just a little "something" for another to make them smile or know they are being thought of. There have been times in my life that I have done better at "loving" in this way than others, simply I guess, honestly because of just pure laziness. While it's something that I enjoy, as with so many other things, it usually requires time and money, and I let those excuses get in the way. As a child, I remember spending hours wrapping my Christmas gifts, adding ribbons that spelled out a person's initials or curling up curling ribbon so that it laid just so. I think those are all manifestations of that gifts language. Lol, either that or I was just trying to get out of doing chores or something ;)

Anyways, my grandmother, age 91, made a comment earlier this year about how a friend of hers at their assisted living center has a napkin holder... as in kind of like those clips that a dentist uses to hold that little cloth up to protect your shirt... she was asking if I wondered if a local department store might carry something like that. (I know, precious right?!) She had seen one in a catalog but was too expensive to justify ordering. "Lightbulb!" I just knew THAT was what we would make her for Christmas! At the time we were talking about it, it was all I could do to keep myself from excitedly sharing the idea with my Grams. :)

Fast forward to December and L and I went shopping for supplies. Thanks to a fellow jewelry/bead shopper at Joann's, who gave us some great advice, we left the store set with the necessary supplies to do the job! L takes joy in gift-giving as well, especially when those gifts are created by hand. She has always had a generous spirit. I remember the one day she was given $1 from a church member. Nearly five minutes later, she had turned around and passed that dollar along to a friend "just because." She is always pretty open about sharing toys with her brother and/or teaching a younger child how to create something. 

Here is a photo of my L, who completed this project from start to finish! She even YouTube'd how to use crimp beads to finish off the ends nicely. I think my daughter knows how to speak the language of "gift" love as well. This is just one of the many Christmas projects she has put her art skills to use to create.

And here's the actual napkin holder completed. My grandmother loved it!

I hope that each of you had a wonderful Christmas with your families as well.
Enjoy the rest of the week!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!
May you draw closer to God and to one another as you celebrate the best gift ever given.

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

"And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
1 John 5:11

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Christmas of 2010 (my Z was just over a year old).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Flour on the floor. Hershey kiss wrappers across the kitchen table. The hum of the mixer. The smell of fresh cookies being taken out of the oven. Lips smacking as little tongues lick the leftover batter from the beater.

Mmm... is your mouth watering yet?
Today (and last Saturday) is Christmas cookie baking day!

In my newlywed days, I received a cookie book titled, "1001 Cookie Recipes." (Thanks, mom & dad!). Each year I try to make a new cookie from that book. I've been slack a few years now, so this year I blew off the dust and flipped through the pages again. So, in my cookie collection, I have three new ones from that book as well as two oldies but goodies that always get made (i.e. the peanut butter blossom cookies!). 

I would say the toughest thing about all this cookie baking is having the self control (and family control?) to keep them stored away until Christmas day (crazy, I know)! This year we will be sharing Christmas day with family, so there's extra incentive to keep them tucked away so that we will have yummy treats to share with family throughout the week.

What is your family's favorite Christmas cookie recipe? If you have a blog post or recipe link, please share it in the comments.

Monday, December 23, 2013

warm necks for the Gospel

Over. Around. Up/Down. On. Off. Such are the ways of looming knitting. My L and I have been using our looms for the past three months for the Knit Together in Love Project.
Ashley, the head of this project, was recently interviewed for her local Virginia newspaper here. So neat to see how God has used the internet to spread the news of the project and therefore exploded her collection efforts this year (the 10th year she has been doing this). 
We are officially done and these babies will be in the mail, on the way, later today! 

We are so jazzed, as I originally had signed us up to complete six scarves, thinking surely we could each do one a month for the three months we had to complete them. However, L and I completed 14 scarves for the project! The month of October we had 4 scarves done, but as we got familiar with the loom, we were able to crank out the last 10 in November and early December. 

The time was special, as L and I spent time together picking out yarn, learning the loom, and knitting but also because were able to focus our efforts with a service mindset, thinking about both the missionaries giving these out and the people that would receive them.

We'll take some time off, but I see no reason that we won't continue to knit and tuck them away for next year's collection or maybe even to donate to our local homeless shelter or community outreach ministries.

Father God, I lift up the missionaries that will receive these scarves to distribute. I pray for their continued dedication to spreading the Gospel in their countries. I pray Your hand of protection upon their lives and their families and Your energizing passion within them to see Your truth spread to peoples that don't know You. I pray for the recipients of these scarves, whether they are young orphan children, homeless adults, or just a neighbor without Hope. God, I pray that the Gospel will reach their ears and hearts as these scarves wrap around their necks and warm their bodies. Amen.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ready, set, aim!

I knew L was awake, and although her door was shut, I could see the creativity smoke coming from under the door. Little did I know just what she was working on though...

Using sticks, cardboard, drinking straws, a rubber band, and a bunch of duct tape she has now supplied Z with his very own set of bow and arrows, complete with a quiver to hold them. He has been target practicing all morning and is quite proficient in his aim.

Today is the last day of school for the 2013 year!
We've gotten through week 20 in our American History Sonlight studies. L is finishing up a(nother) book on George Washington today, along with her regular math, science, spelling, etc studies.
Preschool will be covering David as a shepherd boy. Hm. Guess this little target practice will fit right in, although maybe I should see if L could make a slingshot... 

Monday, December 16, 2013

prior planning...

...prevents poor performance.

We should have lived out that little mantra prior to this morning!

My husband took the day off today to use a free pass to Old Salem, a (local) Moravian settlement dating back to 1766. While my daughter has been able to tour the buildings and exhibits a number of times during their homeschool days, our entire family has not been able to actually wander through them together. We thought it would be neat to see it at Christmastime as well.

We clicked through to their website, about 9ish this morning, to see what time they opened. Hmm... scrolling down... and... they are closed on Mondays!

What we were able to do this weekend, though, was to visit another local Moravian settlement (actually the first one in North Carolina, circa 1753) called Historic Bethabara Park. My husband and I had a date night and went to listen to the Piedmont Chamber Singers perform their Candlelight Concert in the old Gemeinhaus (church building). It was SO neat to think that people have been using that building for 225 years, to sing glory to God! [May I also note that we take our comfy church pews and chairs for granted these days. Even after a 40 minute concert, my back was a bit tight from sitting on the backless wood bench.] The harmony of this singing group was beautiful. I enjoyed the simple Christmas celebration.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Anthem

There are so many new Christmas songs out these days, and for the most part, I really enjoy the traditional ones the best, however this one caught my attention when it came up on my iTunes mix today. I'm not sure when I got it; it might have been an Amazon freebie from a past year (they have free Christmas downloads each week in December).

It's a foot-stomping, hand-clapping kind of song for some down-home Christ-is-born celebratin'!
Here it is:


Landon Smith & The Real Matt Jones

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Is the jubilant refrain
God is sending us a Savior
Peace on earth, good will to men.

Hear what glorious song of angels
Is now ringing through the air
Never valley, never mountain
Heard an anthem half so fair.

Messengers of God's free mercy
Are now seen by human eye
Shepherds hear the wondrous message
"Glory be to God on high."

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Is the jubilant refrain
God is sending us a Savior
Peace on earth, good will to men.

Let us also sing the praises
Of our God so full of love
Who on Christmas sent a Savior
Sent a Savior from above.

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Is the jubilant refrain
God is sending us a Savior
Peace on earth, good will to men.

Friday, December 13, 2013

family night

Despite the prolonged silence on this blog, I will just jump right back in with this post. I got a little carried away with my unplanned blogging break. We had a school break the week of Thanksgiving, but have been back at schooling for the past two weeks despite my silence here. :)
However... just two more days next week and we will be finished for the year! In the blink of an eye, this first semester of our second year homeschooling is over. What is that saying? "The days are long, but the years are short." How true it is!

Tonight our family will be having another "Advent Family Night." These couple of weeks before Christmas, we've decided to have an intentional family night within each week, celebrating with a Christmas movie or book and then a craft or game together... just a preplanned little something out of the ordinary, to be done together.  I feel like we do so many things during our school time, but rarely does my husband get to get in on a little creative, messy fun ;)

Last week for the crafty part of our first family Advent night, we each colored parts of a nativity scene and then each cut out our own pieces. L and I assembled it all together on a large piece of cardboard.

It has since found a home on my mantle this Christmas. Quite a switch from our white porcelain nativity set, but I love it! The thing that makes it so special is that it has touches of all of our family in it. My husband, my children and myself... it's the most unique nativity display I have had up. I mean check out the red and blue cow!
Tonight we'll do something a little yummier... details to come! ;)

If you have blogged about a Christmas tradition or special family night, be sure to post your link in the comments. I would be interested in reading what your family does on the weeks leading up to Christmas.