Monday, December 14, 2015

Around Here Lately, December 2015

Merry Christmas, dear friends!

Last month my husband and the two boys attended our local chuck wagon cook-off. They had a wonderful time!

Originally I had planned to go too. But for the second time in three months, as we loaded the van, my husband said, "Um, does this one feel hot to you?" Cue another three weeks of an illness that just left the home. For some odd reason, this time around I was the only one not felled by the bug.

I came down with the bug day after I wrote this post. Boo. But yay for vitamin C therapy! Which reminds me that I have a post written on vitamin C therapy that I never got around to publishing. I'll have to dig it out! Soon. Really.

A few pictures:

The next week our little lady celebrated her first birthday - sick! We had a quiet celebration. I decided to make homemade cinnamon rolls for a birthday breakfast, which were delicious (a bit too delicious, never mind how I know). When birthday cake time rolled around, we all agreed that we didn't need to cut into yet another sweet item, so we put the cake in the freezer for another day and had cinnamon roll birthday cake instead.

Our annual Lepkuchen Day was this past Saturday! We always enjoy this so much. This year I left some of the dough in the freezer rather than baking it all (it keeps forever!). That way I didn't have to find something to do with all the cookies, and I saved an hour of baking.

And look what some sweet friends ordered for me! A special made-to-order Lepkuchen Day apron! Is this wonderful, or what??

I won't use it as often as my other aprons, because I am very hard on aprons. (I wear them around the clock and wash them almost every day.) I want this one to last! It will remain a precious memento of very special friends and a very special holiday.


Also last month I finally got around to making our "Diet of Worms" cake for Reformation Day (weeks after the event). This was my idea of a sick joke (Luther on trial, etc.), but I think it's going to become an annual tradition - it was a huge hit. Next year I hope to find an all-natural version, or even develop my own.

Either way, it was delicious!


Thanksgiving rolled around before I knew it!

We did a small Thankfulness Tree activity. The last time we did this, I made a huge paper tree on our wall (which fell down approximately three thousand times a day), had us put on new leaves daily, and was ready to scream by the time it was all over.

This year, I made a tiny 8x11 tree and did the activity over four days only (as opposed to the whole month of November). So much easier! And a lot more enjoyable.

A few pictures from Thanksgiving weekend:

And our eldest's prize find of Thanksgiving weekend - a tarantula!

He was thrilled.

Speaking of our eldest, the 9yo is growing like a rabid moose. He's also eating like a wolfhound, and the changes I'm seeing are monthly if not weekly. Wow. I find myself in newly unfamiliar territory with a child who now wears my socks, borrows my shoes, and is far too heavy for me to even think about picking up any more. I'm thankful that I've insisted on rules of no wrestling with mama, because at this point, I think I'd lose any sort of physical tussle.

Mentally, though, the 9yo is still very much a child. I wonder when that will start to change too.


In our history studies, we recently arrived at the American Revolution. Our history book only devotes one week to the revolution, which simply isn't good enough. Thankfully it was perfect timing for us to spend our six-week Christmas break immersing ourselves in the topic, which we are thoroughly enjoying. There is so much good material on this subject!

(This puts us behind in our history schedule, meaning that we will be working on the end of SOTW Year 3 at the beginning of next year, instead of starting Year 4 at the beginning of the year. But it's worth it.)

Here is an impromptu (totally uncoached) Boston Tea Party reenactment by the 9yo and the 3yo. They kept it up for a good half an hour, until the box was reduced to bits. Shouts of "Liberty!" and "No taxation without representation!" provided endless amusement for my husband and myself.

In our Cantering the Country studies, we finally finished up the state of California. So much fun! What a fun state to study. I learned more from our two months of study than I did living in the state for twenty-plus years!

Speaking of California, we are keeping the residents of San Bernardino in our prayers, as I'm sure you all are. Both my husband and I have long-term ties to that city, as well as family still living there.


Now that Thanksgiving is past, it's time for Christmas! We have our Advent wreath up, our decorations up, and will start our Advent calendar on Tuesday.

For anyone who doesn't care for scraping oodles of candle wax off of the table every night (such as Yours Truly), jar candles are the way to go for the Advent wreath.

I celebrated the beginning of the season by taking down last year's Christmas cards! Here is what our wall has looked like all year (until this past weekend):

A few years back, we started the tradition of leaving Christmas cards up for an entire year. This has been a lovely idea! We are able to enjoy cards and pictures all year, instead of just for the month of December, and it also aids us in family conversations when we mention friends or family - if the children have a hard time remembering who is who, we can oftentimes just point to a picture on the wall! We treasure these cards.

Today I received our first Christmas card, so it's time to start fresh. I also need to get moving on my own Christmas cards!


And finally, we celebrated National Clean Out Your Freezer Day by.... cleaning out the freezer.

I hope you're all suitably impressed.

I took a picture quickly, before the frost could start to form again. (Seriously. I don't know why I even bother with this, it is so short-lived.)


Dear readers, I hope that you are having a wonderful Christmas season! I will be around, but not often. The Christmas season is a busy one, and so is this season of life in general. There is simply so much to do. And it never ends. Just as soon as I think I might have caught up with the dishes, laundry, etc., I take a quick breath and find that it's all back again.

This is a packed season of life, and I can feel how the Lord is using it to refine my husband and me and work us further and further away from selfishness into a self-sacrificial and others-centered life.

It's hard. But it's good.

(But it's so hard.)

(But it really is good.)

And I'll have time to blog regularly in another twenty or thirty years.

This year I have purposed to maintain a peaceful Christmas season. I've definitely learned this the hard way. Christmas is "a good servant, but a bad master." It can turn from a delightful season full of wonder and worship, into a hellish nightmare of stress and lost tempers - seemingly at the drop of a hat. It really only takes a couple of overcommitted days to work that ugly transformation.

Thus, I'm being very careful with our Christmas season. I'm considering every commitment carefully, and trimming all extras. In addition, I've already finished Christmas shopping and am hoping to get Christmas cards out this week. I am trying to be mindful of my goal of maintaining peace every moment of the day.

(Does this happen? No. But it's my goal.)

My mantra is: Keep the house clean, the laundry done, and lots of good food prepared. Whatever Christmas stuff we have time to do joyfully and sanely can happen after that. All else gets the axe.

When Christmas rolls around, it pays to be brutal. (Seriously.)

In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

* If anyone wonders why the dates are all over the place in the above piece, it's because I took about two months to write this post! 


  1. We got brutal about Christmas activities, too. We actually took out a calendar, gathered every one over the age of 10 and said, "What can we live without? What do we need to keep?" We managed to make a livable list that is keeping our newest, most fragile ones from collapsing in sobbing heaps.

    Funny, how keeping things simple is always the best answer!!!!

    1. Brilliant! I love it. That is definitely the way to go. We've had to cut lots of things off of our plan too. It's just so easy to get into that mode where all the littles are in melt-down mode, everyone's eating junk food, and the house is a disaster zone. After that, lost tempers and bad moods reign, and it's just insane. To the cutting block! :)

      Happy first birthday to your newest!!!
      Diana :)

  2. I had to come back because this:

    "My mantra is: Keep the house clean, the laundry done, and lots of good food prepared. Whatever Christmas stuff we have time to do joyfully and sanely can happen after that. All else gets the axe."

    has been on my mind ever since. I don't quite have that luxury because therapist appointments and social worker visits and a variety of issues way beyond my control trump any mantra I may have, but still thank you. I think I needed that.


I love to hear from you! All kind and thoughtful comments will be published; all inconsiderate or hurtful comments will be deleted quietly without comment. Thanks for visiting!