I Miss My Grandpa

My Grandpa was a farmer.  He had a wonderful large dairy farm out in the bluegrass. Many of my favorite childhood memories involve the sweet songs of field birds and running barefoot in the heat. My mom and dad used to pack us up and head to the farm for the weekend, every one of us so excited to get away to a such a great place. But there was plenty of work there, too, especially for the women. Really, the men were at work all the time, too, but it seemed like they were only playing, since they enjoyed their "work" so much. My Grandpa was the director of it all, and everyone knew their places.  He was a short man, with very small feet, but he never seemed shorter than my Grandma! He was humorous, yet stern; demanding, but kind. He was a self-made man - he did not have a good education, but he was a dedicated reader and widely aware of the world, even though he hardly ever left his farm!

We didn't really have a relationship in which he talked to me personally - he didn't ask me questions about myself or about my family. My mom, I think, gave news of my family to my Grandma, who then passed it on to him. By this, I feel that he knew of me. After my Grandma died and he was alone, I began to write weekly letters to him.  He never answered my letters, not even once, but somehow, I felt much closer to him.  I guess giving confidence to him, in this way, was placing a new kind of trust in him that hadn't been there before.  But after the letters, he started to talk more to me - when we would go visit him, he had more to say to me. I loved this! Also, because of the letters, he remembered my name, and the names of my family even as, toward the end of his life, he began to forget some others. This is precious to me - that he remembered my name! Seems like such a small thing, doesn't it? Names hold more power than we give them credit for in our culture - ask any teacher!

I always think more of my Grandpa on New Year's Eve - it's the night that he and my Grandma got married in 1938! It's also the night she died, on the night of their 59th wedding anniversary. Every year after that, some of the family would visit with him on New Year's Eve, so he wouldn't be alone. So I always think of that on New Year's Eve. I remember him, and am thankful for the time I had with him in his last years. I miss him more every year! Not in a mourning/grieving way, anymore. I think it's that, each year, I realize, or understand the loss in a deeper way than I could have before. How wonderful that we are not ignorant about those who fall asleep, or grieve like the rest of men who have no hope!
We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
I use these words to encourage myself, and maybe you, on New Year's Eve, regarding the passing of those we have loved. If our trust is in Him, we will meet them again! Thank God for his Blessed Provision!


Christmas Risk Game

In our family we view Santa as a fun game to play, not a reality.  This made us unusual in both families - not new - and it was strongly suggested (yearly) that we not let our kids "ruin" Santa for their cousins by spilling the It's Just A Game beans.  I don't think they ever did spill the beans to their cousins...I hope they didn't.  We all enjoyed Santa when we were kids, but Spectacular Spouse and I decided that in this day and age we wanted as much truth as possible between us and our kids. It was interesting to see how they handled it, sometimes being puffed-up in their secret knowledge and sometimes playing right along as if Santa was everything they saw on TV, heard on the radio, or read in storybooks.  We let them go, only correcting them if they asked us directly, or if the situation just demanded it. We really do try to emphasize the Biblical accounts of the first Advent of Christ and what it means in our lives.  I hope this is what sticks with them!

Along these lines, here's a game we played in Junior Bible Quiz class on our Christmas party Sunday - Christmas Risk.  The questions are based on the JBQ material about Christmas that the kids have memorized, straight-from-the-Scripture facts, as well as the things I've tried to teach my own kids about Christmas year by year. Kids team up or go alone, they have 500 points to "risk", and they have three lifelines (similar to Millionaire).  They decide how many points they want to risk (note to self: try to avoid saying "bet" in a Sunday School setting...), pick a question and try to answer. For example: "I want that question for 200 points." I printed the questions and taped them to the white board in class.  You could draw them from a hat, hide them around a room, or post them on a Christmas tree, whatever.  Most points wins - what else? 
Questions/Answers for CHRISTMAS RISK GAME

-Who was someone who prophesied regarding Jesus’ birth? Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Hosea
-What king tried to kill Jesus? Herod
-Where were the magi from? the East
-Who declared a census? Caesar Augustus
-Why was Jesus born in a stable? There was no room for Him in the inn.

-What were the shepherds doing when the angels came to them? keeping watch over their flocks at night
-What were the angel's first words to the shepherds? "Fear Not!"
-What is another name for the town of Bethlehem? the City of David
-Who told Mary she would be the mother of the messiah? the angel, Gabriel
-Why did Joseph name Mary’s son Jesus?  because He would save His people from their sins and/or the angel told him to
-The angel told Mary, “Nothing will be impossible with _______.”  God
-Mary answered the angel, “Behold the ________of the Lord.”  handmaiden
-Just before Jesus was born, his famous cousin was born – what was his name?  John (the Baptist)
-After the angels made their announcements to the shepherds, how did they respond?  They went in haste to Bethlehem
-What city did Joseph live in? Nazareth

-What was Joseph doing when the angel visited him for the first time?  sleeping
-What does Emmanuel mean?  God with us
-When the wise men came seeking Jesus, what question did they ask?  "Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews?"
-Where did the star finally come to rest?  over the stable

-What gifts did the wise men give to Jesus?  gold, frankincense, and myrrh
-Name three people who were visited by angels during the story of Jesus’ birth. Mary, Joseph, the Magi
-To avoid being killed by Herod, where did the angel tell Mary and Joseph to take baby Jesus?  Egypt
-What special people met Jesus in the temple when Mary and Joseph took him to be presented to the priests? Anna the Prophetess,  and Simeon the Righteous and Devout
-Why do we have a tree at Christmas?  The tree foretells the cross - both made of wood (Galatians 3:13)

-Why do we use an evergreen tree? It represents eternal life.
-Why do we give gifts?  We follow the example of the magi.
-Why do we sometimes use an angel on top of the tree? To remember the angels who came to share the Good News with Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.
-Why do we sometimes use a star on top of the tree?  To remember the star that led the magi.
-Why do we see special lights at Christmas time?  Jesus is the Light of the world. (John 8:12, Matthew 4:16)



OH!!!  I didn't know how to see the comments!!!  Just thought I was out there posting for myself when My Dear Husband told me that he had left a comment for me on the Eyebrows.  That got me started trying to find it - AND I DID!  How much fun to read all your thoughts!  Thanks!  Not sure how to respond to them really...more learning required, I guess.  Be patient - I'll get it eventually!

1985 APRON - Confession:  I did sadly wonder why no one wanted it when I do think it's so adorable, myself.  Of course, I'm biased.  Krissy left the best story on her 1985. Here it is:
In 1985 I was 4 years old and big things were happening.(haha)Mom had Donnie, whom I carefully named Toto and then dressed like a girl. We moved into a new house where one of the most impressive things was the steps: we could slide down the banister over and over like our own playground indoors and more importantly at night you could sit at the top and watch the reflection of the TV off the window on the landing!! great stuff. 

Thanks, Krissy!  Love the nickname for Donnie - I'll have to try to remember to use that on him, just once, though.  I'll mail the apron to you this week!  Should I try another give away?



Marian Ginger Cookies

 When I was a kid, we were Methodist - I met the Lord in the Methodist church.  He was joyfully represented to our small group of pre-teens by Miss Marian, the pastor's wife (really a Mrs., of course). She was so good to all of us - she listened to us, responded as if we made perfect sense, laughed at our jokes and took us seriously. Now having taught in the public schools and mothering pre-teens of my own, I see how much of a ministry this really was! The pre-teen years are at the peak of goofy, nonsensical, awkward weirdness.  How did she do it?? It was the pure grace of God's love flowing from a person who was serving Him with her whole heart! I'm thanking Him for putting Miss Marian in my life, and I pray that He will send like servants into the lives of my sons. 

And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [there is much ripe grain], but the farmhands are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Luke 10:2
The recipe is not really a Christmas cookie - I got it from Miss Marian during a summer gathering. It was her signature cookie. They are holiday-pretty with a crackly sugar outside, and soft spicy inside. They are a tradition for our Christmas, or any other really special occasion. 

Marian Ginger Cookies
2 c. flour
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. cloves
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. oil
1/4 c. molasses
Mix sugar, egg, oil and molasses by hand until well blended.  Mix together dry ingredients, then combine with the wet mixture to make a stiff dough. Form into walnut sized balls then roll in sugar before placing on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Cookies are done when they are cracked nicely and barely browned on top.  The more "done" the cookie gets, the harder it will be.  These are best slightly undercooked for moist and soft cookies.


Don't Crack Up

(The cornier the joke the funnier, for me...)  I hope this isn't your kid's crack! If it might be, tell your husband not to be so inconsiderate! It was a frigid night out at the local zoo, wiping runny noses, gripping little hands, and jockey-ing for position at each attraction, since we were dumb enough to go to the zoo on the weekend before Christmas. Our family had been TRYING to see the light display on Swan Lake when some gentleman with his chilly child on his shoulders rudely stepped in front of us - specifically, me.  This was my new view.  So I took a picture of it, what else?!?  Got to capture those memories, right?  My boys were horrified at what I had done, and one of them actually walked away.  They're older now, and when this photo swims by as the photos shuffle on the screensaver, they laugh, point at it and think I'm a hero.  Not sure if that's good or bad...

"It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness,And the light dwells with Him." Daniel 2:22


Snowflake Art

Paper snowflakes are a wonderful art project! This photo is from an artsy-mom's blog:  blogdelanine.blogspot.com/ 2007_12_01_archive.html  I wish I was artsy, but I'm not.  Oh, well!  So many people to learn from! Here at our Home Education Academy, we always make snowflakes, however lame, during the week before Christmas.  The week before Christmas is simply TOO exciting to have to be doing "real" schoolbook learning.  We focus on wanna-be-artsy craft projects, like the snowflakes, hot chocolate, and good Christmas books.  I am so un-artsy that I prefer to download snowflake patterns that I can just print, fold and cut. (cheater pattern) Amazing! Artsy Fartsy, no thought required!  My Youngest Son scorns this and creates his own wonderful snowflakes, originals all the way.  We'll hang them around the kitchen from clear thread and leave them up until Easter, probably!  I managed to keep one hanging in the kitchen for two years straight once.  All the way through two summers!  It took a remodel project to get it down.  Dear Husband was happy to see it come down - he doesn't like winter or reminders of winter!  

Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
Psalm 148:8


The Hidden Angel

1 Corinthians 13:12 "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known."

Each of our sons has an angel ornament for the Christmas tree. The year of their birth is written in permanent marker on the feet, bum or wing of their angel and each is playing a different musical instrument. Every year when it's tree trimming time, they look for their personal angel to put on the tree. Even if it's the ONLY ornament they decide to participate with, they search out these.  

We were all expecting a new baby to come to our family way back in 1998, with a predicted birth date of December 26!  What an exciting due date!  I was thrilled when given this date by the OB! But in the summer, this little one flew away to heaven early, and we didn't meet him that Christmas ten years ago now.  I can't believe such a terribly painful thing, one of the great trials of my life and faith, can fit into one sentence.  It takes up hardly any room at all on the screen!  Amazing.

When Christmas finally came in 1998, we needed some way to include the wee person who now made heaven such a longed-for place.  So I bought this tiny angel to represent him. Every year, one of us, usually me, finds her and wedges her inside the tree branches.  Whoever cares for the special angel ornament says something like, "Here's the Hidden Angel!  We'll see him someday!" The announcement somehow keeps Our Hidden Child's place. She's hidden from us, by the branches of the tree, by the bounds of this world, but we really will meet her someday. I like to pretend that the little angel can watch us from the cozy, safe inside of the tree. Maybe our son or daughter looks down on us occasionally, too - safe and sound in the Savior's arms!  

It's Like Eyebrows

Galatians 6:9  "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary."  

This morning I went into the bathroom to take a shower.  It is a luxury for me, really.  No one bothers me in there;  it doesn't matter if the phone rings, since I can't hear it and the boys won't pick it up unless I tell them to.  ALL that hot water - sorry, I'm not interested in conserving water.  Until I was married, I lived with a cistern situation.  I ALWAYS had to hurry in the shower, often being timed.  Yes.  So, anyway, the shower is one of my luxuries. Yipee!  So now you can see how much I am looking forward to the shower??  How eager I am to get into the steam???      

The first thing my eyes landed on was the toilet - it's a small bathroom. Initially, because the lid and seat were both up.  This is not acceptable, and I've struggled with training the young men to be equitable - we ALL put the lids down around here.  hahaha  I mean, that's what I go around saying..."We ALL put the lids down!"... I say, marching about.  I tout other things, too, like, "We treat each other kindly!", and, "Do the right thing, even if no one else does!", and of course, "Hit the water!"  Another of my favorites is, "Clean up whatever mess you make!"  Yeah, remember that teacher, and the mom, too, on Charlie Brown?  "Waa waa-waa waa waa!"  

Now back to the toilet and  the scripture above, Gal. 6:9.  Isn't that shocking? But no, scripture is for the down and dirty parts of life, too.  You already knew that, I know.  I'm SICK of wiping up the toilet.  First of all, I DIDN'T MAKE THAT MESS! (Can you tell that I've yelled that from the bathroom many, many times??)  Usually I get someone with mess-making gear, bring them into the bathroom and ask them to wipe up the toilet.    But this time, I wiped it up myself.  I became weary in doing well.  Is there any possibility of reaping now if I mark this off my "Doing-Well" list?  I'm giving up on the toilet issue.  I think maybe it's like eyebrows.  If you're trying to keep relationship with a difficult person, do you point out their bushily atrocious eyebrows? Would you say, "Yes, I want to hear about your day, but first I must say, Please Pluck!"  No.  You just smile, nod and avoid studying the brows.  I'm dealing with difficult people here.  Teenagers, no matter how adorable when toddlers, can't help themselves - They Are Difficult.  At least some (most...all?) of the time.  

I'm going to stop mentioning eyebrows  and yellow splashes, and try to smile and nod more. Maybe the first ten years of touting will bear fruit on the other end of adolescence even if I give up some battles now, in order to keep relationship to win the bigger ones. 

Bread and fishes, Lord.  Please multiply these bread and fishes!


Finding the Perfect Tree

This is where we always get our Christmas tree!  What fun hunting for the perfect tree....well sometimes not so much fun.  We all have our opinion of what is the "perfect" tree - it really comes down to skinny tree vs. fat tree, doesn't it!?  Of course, I'm in the skinny tree camp.  I'm the only one in that camp.  
I don't approve of the tree that they chose, but was forced to get in the photo, so I got in BEHIND the too-fat tree.  Typical of me, I couldn't keep my opinion to myself (thumbs down).  This is upsetting My Youngest, who is firmly in the fat tree camp, and later he will become angry about my 'freedom of expression' about the too-fat, t00-tall tree.  Oops.
It was agreed (among the men) to cut the top out of this enormously tall tree.  I think it's wasteful, but the farm owner advised this practice himself.

See movie below to find out how unruly and wrestle-y the trip actually was.  I don't know why it seems like such a wonderful insult to take someone else's shoe and throw it...

Thankfully, we were pretty much the only ones on the tree farm that day.  It was fun to be with the boys!  Boys are so roly-poly, rollicking and wild - it's fun just to watch them with their dad!  I'm grateful for my guys!



What were you doing in 1985?  I was enjoying my first year of college, feeling like a humble freshman again, after having been a mighty high school senior - hahaha.  MDHusband and I were still enjoying each other's company as 'particular friends'. We went everywhere and did everything together - so much freedom back then!  In 1985, I thought I was going to be a social worker (more hahaha).  I was in the middle of a practicum in the bottoms of Covington at a neighborhood help center.  This experience proved to me that I was NOT a social worker in the making!  The suffering of the people, yes, just in downtown Covington - it was too heavy for me.  The callousness of the employees was the harsh necessity that convinced me to change my major.  In 1985, I was 19 and completely unaware of all that life would bring.  Wow.  Now I'm 42, and someday, as an old woman, I wonder if I'll look back and say the same thing. (rickety-wobbly voice) "I was only 42 and completely unaware of all life would bring!"  I probably won't remember 1985 at all by then, but I certainly will remember 2008.

This is my vintage 1985 apron, made with a wall calendar/dishtowel and grosgrain ribbon. My mom and I make them for sale.  We call them Black Button Aprons and hide a black button on each apron. You can see the black button in this photo pretty clearly. If 1985 is special to you, you can have it!  Just let me know why 1985 was special for you in the comments.