Tuesday, December 30, 2008

forget jennifer- just Ask Alice!

you're in for a real treat today. i'm posting an excerpt of some of the Q & A's from our local advice column, Just Ask Alice. she's a hoot- as I'm sure you'll agree!

DEAR ALICE: our son wants to buy a used car that was formerly owned by another teenager. my husband says it's a bad idea because teenagers usually are real hard on their cars. what do you think, Alice? it looks real nice. should we let him buy the car?

DEAR MOTO: find out if the kid who used to own the car had a steady girlfriend. if he did, the car probably spent more time parked than it did on the road. ALICE

DEAR ALICE: my husband recently visited your area to enjoy some deer hunting, and he came back to our home in suburban Philadelphia with the most unusual deer I've ever seen. it's huge, Alice, and it's also the only black and white deer I've ever seen. since you've lived in the endless mountains all your life, i expect you can tell me the name of this variety of deer. I'd also appreciate your sharing any recipes you might have on hand for cooking this kind of game.

DEAR CITY: the critter your husband brought home is called a Holstein deer. they're really quite common here in the endless mountains. as far as recipes go, my suggestion would be for you to contact the people who really know about cooking game- the Game Commission. give them a call, and ask how to cook the Holstein deer your husband shot. odds are they'll make you a top priority. ALICE

DEAR ALICE: i found out quite by accident this week that my husband bought me a new chain saw for Christmas. last year he surprised me with a new air compressor. Alice, he obviously buys gifts for me that he wants. any suggestions?

DEAR LEFT: my motto is to return kindness with kindness. so surprise your husband with a nice new nightgown, a fur coat, or maybe a new sofa for him to sleep on. ALICE

oh brother! there's more, but i don't think i can take it anymore! if you have a question of your own that you would like answered with Alice's particular blend of wisdom and sarcasm, she can be reached at rocket@epix.net I'm sure she'll set you straight.

Monday, December 29, 2008

here we go!

last week we took delivery of our new kitchen cabinets. all 30 of them. as we've said before, and it bears repeating, it's a good thing that we have such a large house, otherwise i don't know where we would go with all this stuff! remember our new front door? well, you can't see it anymore, because that's where we put the kitchen cabinets. there was no other place to go with them. today Dave has started making a huge mess ripping out the old kitchen wall in preparation for installing the cabinets. apparently, this is going to be one of Those Jobs. you know, the kind where in order to do job G, first you need to do jobs A, B, C, D, E and F. and i know from experience that each one of those jobs will make a huge mess. but it's all in the name of progress. and modern conveniences.

Dave has wisely refrained from giving me an estimate of how long this job will take, in spite of several attempts on my part to pin him down get a ball park guess of how long it will take. smart man, my husband! I'm just trying to wrap my brain around how long i have to cook for my family with my refrigerator nearly in the hallway, and my sink in the laundry room.

so if you don't hear from me for a little while, don't assume it's because I'm busy making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for my family. it's most likely because I've run off into the hills, screaming and pulling out my hair from all the stress. and mess.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

it was a lovely day, full of happy memories!

Christmas Eve

for as long as I can remember, it's been a family tradition to have a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Eve. (the special angel centerpiece was made by M at camp when she was 8 years old.) last night we had an orange supreme cake, with pineapples and cream cheese icing. Yummy! we lit the candle, and sang happy birthday to Jesus. A liked it so much that we re-lit the candle and sang it again. and again.

both little girls helped to blow out the candle.
A is filled with anticipation and joy! she wants to hold baby Jesus again!

last night was a flurry of activity after the little girls went to bed. we don't put any presents under the tree until after the children go to bed, so we had lots to do! all the stockings were hung with care, and stuffed with glee! some of them can get quite large and stretched out when they are full of stuff. there have been years when there is so much that it won't all fit in the stockings, and we have to pile things on the steps!
Christmas Morning
here's another tradition- the picture on the steps. S is visiting us from South Carolina. she and M are friends from WAY BACK! S is also a freshman at BJU, majoring in English. after we fed the little girls some breakfast, we gathered in the living room for another tradition- the reading of the Christmas story. we read from both Luke and Matthew. we've always done this, too, and it's just to help us all remember why and what we are celebrating- the birth of our Savior.

I'll just give you a few highlights of the morning. the big girls really liked their ornaments- and they can use them to decorate their rooms for "winter".
the little girls got a Fisher Price farm set- with all the animals, and the tractor. they will appreciate this more in the days to come. today was a little bit overwhelming for both of them. both A and B still have some presents to open, but we'll work on that a bit at a time in the next few days.
N was so excited to give us his gift! he's saved all his tip money from Dunkin' Donuts, and with it he donated an appropriate gift in our name to World Vision. tonight as we go to bed, we can think of the families somewhere in the world that have a donkey, a warm blanket, chickens, ducks, an alpaca, food or basketballs because of N's thoughtfulness and generosity! N and G liked their gifts from Dave and i- the new Narnia movie for N, and a sweater for G.

the girls liked the tractor, which was N's gift to them.

Dave and i got each other a t-shirt. our local paper has an advice column- very practical and satirical. we crack up every time we read it! Dave also got an ask Alice mug from G. now we're official residents of rural Bradford county, PA!

it was a very pleasant and relaxing day- except for one little blip that I'll tell you about another time. we enjoyed each other, our gifts and our many blessings. merry Christmas to you and your family!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree...

this year we procrastinated about getting our tree. we were waffling between buying an artificial tree, and a real one. we were waiting for the Christmas trees at Lowe's to go ridiculously cheap on clearance, but they sold out first... so, we just "settled" for a real tree. and settled it was indeed, since it was only a week before Christmas, and all the "good ones" were gone. also, it was apparent that our tree was from a tree farm that did not believe in lovingly tending and trimming their trees in the spring. this farm seemed to subscribe to the philosophy "just stick them in the ground and see if they grow." so our tree is a bit lopsided, uneven, and flat as well as bare in some spots. but we figured- stick enough ornaments, lights, garlands and candy canes on it, turn out the lights, and no one will ever know.

that's our story, and we're sticking to it.

part of our tree trimming tradition is having cookies and cider or sparkling grape juice. the little girls really seem to be enjoying this idea!

N is the official bulb hanger.

G likes the Swedish straw ornaments that were a gift from my brother and his wife.

M shows B the ornaments.

Daddy and A hang an ornament together.

B was pulling ornaments off the tree almost as fast as we could hang them!

M and A arrange the nativity under the tree.

G's job is to put the angel on the top. he's done this every year since he was 2 years old.

here is our tree all decorated (and the living room is actually neat, too!) the picture turned out a little dark, but maybe I'll take another picture and post it later. hopefully the next picture will be better!

i hope that you have a wonderful Christmas, surrounded by the ones that you love and cherish. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

baking christmas cookies with the girls

sometimes i surprise myself by getting all domestic-y and Betty crocker-y. Friday was one of those days, and i had 2 willing helpers- M and A. it's almost Christmas, and we hadn't made any cookies yet! so we made chocolate candy cane cookies together. they sound really fancy, but they are really easy to make. (and better yet- they taste really yummy!)
A was really into it- she dind't want any help- not with the dipping, and not even with the candy cane coating! these truly are an easy cookie, because she did just fine. we plan on making some more of these- both for gifts, and for ourselves.

if you'd like to make these cookies yourself, you can find the recipe here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

through the eyes of a child...

this Christmas is especially full of wonder and anticipation because we have all been blessed with the privilege of seeing the birth of The Baby through the eyes of a child.

i am a collector of nativity scenes, and have many that have special meaning to me. but, i also have several sets that are just for the children to play with- so they can act out the story in their playtime, making Jesus' birthday all the more understandable. early this month i retrieved from the attic one of our most durable nativity sets, and sat down with A to tell her the story- starting with the angel Gabriel's startling news to Mary, ending with the arrival of the Wise Men, and the 3 presents they brought to the Baby. A listened to the story with rapt attention, and wanted to hold the baby Jesus, and even wrapped Him in a tissue so He would be "toasty warm." while i don't expect A to comprehend, or even remember the whole story, i wanted to help her begin to understand why we celebrate Christmas. i want it to be real to her.

the little girls and i were asked to participate in our church's Christmas play. the girls and i went up on stage to see the baby Jesus, and Mary and Joseph, and were to say a little poem and finger play to the new baby.

at our first rehearsal, A was enthralled and captivated. the look on her face is one that i will never forget. she was filled with wonder and awe- to her this was the baby Jesus, and she was allowed to hold Him! she held the baby doll, and i could hear her murmuring to him. she caressed his head, and kissed his face, gently making sure he was covered with a blanket. to A, this was Real. this was the Story and the Baby that i had told her about. her reverence and wonderment is a poignant reminder to me to remember why we celebrate this day. it's not about the presents, the cookies, the decorations, or our tree. and of course, i already knew that. but it can be so easy to become caught up in the busyness and hustle and focused on our to-do-list. we forget that Christmas is just half the story. Jesus came to die for our sins, to go from being Immanuel in the manger, to being our Savior on Easter morning. when i see the pure, unadulterated joy and amazement on A's face, i remember what Jesus said: "let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

both little girls continue to play with our nativities, and i pray that as all the children grow, they will not only love the Baby in the manger, but know and serve the Savior on the cross.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

giving them a firm foundation

    this morning Dave and i stood in front of our church family, and pledged to raise baby B to love, honor and serve Jesus Christ- with her whole heart, soul and mind. Dave was asked to say a few words about B, and what he said was very touching and quite moving. i was weepy, needing to wipe my tears on the hem of B's dress.

    our house was built in the early 1800's, and is still standing firm today. that's because in the basement is a stone wall, the foundation upon which our home was built. the stonework is amazing to look at- solid and linear, supporting the main house for over 200 years now.

    however, the "new" addition was built some 80 years later, and the foundation was very poorly constructed. this foundation consisted of beams merely laid on the ground, supported only by rocks. in the course of the last 100+ years, the beams have been rotting away, and the kitchen and mudroom were slowly falling off the main house and rotting into the ground. it literally took all summer for Dave and the boys to jack up the whole addition, replace all the joists, and lay a new foundation.

    Dave used the contrast between these two foundations to illustrate the job that we are trying to do as parents: raise our children with a firm foundation. above all, we want all our sons and daughters to grow to love God, and serve Him with their whole heart and life. everything else does not matter. we work hard for 18 years or so to give them a solid foundation, and then our job is over. it's up to them to build their house.

    as i stood next to Dave holding my baby B, i was all teary and emotional. i realized, once again, how thankful i am for my husband. he is such a wonderful father to all the children. when he's asked how many children he has, the definitive answer is "6!" there are no qualifications, explanations or descriptions. that is a rare blessing, one for which i am truly thankful.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

no snow outside...

the other day i was walking through the Ben Franklin store, (think small town wal-mart) and i noticed that they had their boxes of frosted glass balls on sale for $1.99. i still needed a gift for Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless Since They Read My Blog, and that's when i had A Brilliant And Spontaneous Christmas Idea. i could make them into really cute snowmen ornaments, and they were not expensive at all. you still have time to make a set for yourself, or a friend- they are really easy!
in addition to the box of bulbs, i got some orange glitter paint and some black latex. the cat is not included with the bulbs, but if you leave me a comment, and your address, i will mail her to you in time for Christmas. really.

next i put on the noses- i was going for a carrot-ey sort of look.

then the eyes. i just dipped the end of a colored pencil in the paint, and dabbed it on. i was going for the charcoal-ey sort of look here.

next, the mouth.

and then the little guys are all done- happily smiling up at The One Who Shall Remain Nameless on Christmas morning!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

be still, my beating heart!

DIAMONDS- A Girl's Best Friend.

that is, unless the girl is me. and unless she spends most all of her time painting. and wearing the same old paint-splattered LLBean sweatshirt.

a few weeks ago, Dave brought me home a gift. it made my little heart go pitter-pat. what could it be, you ask? it was in a box. a medium sized white box. this box had 12 tubes inside. 12 tubes of one of mankind's finest inventions, (excluding the printing press, penicillin and debit cards, of course!). still don't know what it is?

it was an ENTIRE case of white, paintable latex caulk! and unless you've never been cursed with trying to paint over silicone caulk, you might not understand the momentous occasion this truly was. latex caulk is wonderful! it covers a multitude of sins and teensy mistakes- and once you paint over it, no one will ever know what went on underneath. i've been busy in the mud room this afternoon, and i sure am loving my latex caulk. and dave.

here is my other best friend- a small trim brush. i bought that for myself. it's perfect for those small jobs where i'm touching up, and the handle is all comfy and rubbery. i like to paint, and these 2 favorite things make my job much easier.

just in case you wanted to know!

PS- i updated the mud room post below with new pictures.

Monday, December 15, 2008

still going, and getting there!

i wanted to show you that we really are working and making progress in the mud room. in the last several days we've had an ice storm, pig fence problems, pig problems, a Christmas party and our church Christmas play. so i didn't really have much time to keep up on my blogging! Dave has the next 3 days off, and we plan on working out here in the mud room, and essentially finishing it before we start on the kitchen. you can keep up-to-date with what we're doing in the to-do list over in the right hand column. I've been keeping that pretty current.

except for some trim, the butler's pantry is pretty much done. (I'm still working on that last door. it needs fixed before i can paint it) for now, unfortunately, this is pretty much the way this will look. as in, all piled with junk and crap our precious and essential belongings. we are in the middle of a major renovation (if you haven't noticed) so i can only expect so much.

here is the "new" wall. we moved the kitchen wall out 24" to accomodate for a few extra cabinets. dave is working on this wall now. the door on the left goes out to the back porch, and immediately to the right of this picture is the adjoining kitchen door.

i wasted no time painting and caulking, following Dave right around as he went. we made alot of progress in this room today! all the walls are painted, the trim is painted and waiting for Dave, and hopefully tomorrow i can "finish up"!

the wall is mostly done now, with a few ceiling issues to finish, (think old, crooked house) as well as the beadboard up top. I've also painted both doors- the kitchen door and the door to the porch. this wall will get 4 hooks for our frequently worn coats, as well as Dave's little hunting cabinet will be hung up.

i worked most of yesterday, and late last night getting the painting, caulking and trim done. there is still some more to be done, but for now, that's the extent of the pictures to show.

this is where the butler's pantry used to be. Dave wanted this wall to run the baseboard heater. now the heater is under the coat rack, and keeps our coats and boots toasty warm! this room is right off the kitchen, so is perfect for the family to come in and dump all their junk and crap essential belongings. i figure this room will help keep the house much neater.

i can always hope, right?


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