Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I recently read in the newspaper a little blurb about Christmas that floored me. Apparently, "cancelling" Christmas was a phenomenon at some Protestant churches in the US. Due to fears of low turnout, they declined to hold services on Sunday, the 25th. I certainly get it. I'm ashamed to admit that I had a groan moment when I realized that Christmas Day fell on a Sunday this year. Its not so much not wanting to be at church on the day, it's just adding the pressure of getting eight people dressed nicely and out of the house in a timely manner on Christmas morning that is intimidating. But as soon as that internal shudder went through my body, it was immediately followed by guilt. There's no way around it - being upset about church interfering with secular Christmas activities is an unacceptable state of the heart for anyone who calls themselves a Christian. And, as is usually the case, God had our backs - Christmas can get a little hairy between the stress and mess. The timeout from those fun but unimportant activities was exactly what we needed to refresh and calm ourselves and have our hearts in the right place to celebrate the true meaning of the day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Almost Done

This is my second-to-last Christmas post, I promise! After we finished everyone's individual gifts, we had one last family gift. First, though, you need the backstory. We were one of the last families on earth, I think, to get a Wii. We were still rocking both the original NES, and the Nintendo 64 (we bought that one as a new, young college couple with no cable and little to do in our free time - sheesh, doesn't that sound like a little slice of heaven in retrospect LOL). Well, finally, we caved and bought a Wii for Christmas (I'm wanting to say it was 2 years ago). The kids loved it, as you'd expect. After a mere 18 months or so of use, Colin broke it. It was broke, broke, broke too. The second half of summer break got really rough, really quick, let me tell you. Hero was the worst off, as she had JUST gotten a brand new Wii game as one of her birthday presents, and it had been sitting, still wrapped, up next to all of our Wii games. When your kid breaks something as expensive as a game console, you get disgruntled (or at least, I do). So, we've been Wii-less for six months. The kids assumed it would be forever. But, at the last minute, James (my super deal-scoper) found a great deal on one. So, there was a new Wii under the tree for Christmas and the kids were ecstatic. I, on the other hand, am still having some mixed emotions about it. But, I do enjoy me some Just Dance, I will admit. Oh, and I beat Hero on one of the songs on JD3. So there ;-P

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I hope it's not cheating that I'm writing this ahead of time, but my reasons are twofold. First of all, Sunday can be a little crazy in our house. James and I have nursery duty this week, which makes for an even busier morning because we have to be there earlier than normal. Once we actually get to church, it's a little oasis of peacefulness (well, maybe not so much in the nursery - we've got a good crop of babies, including two sets of twins), but the getting-there process can be a little hairy. Then afterwards, we often stop to pick up tacos (10 for $3.90 - can't beat that, combined with leftovers from the week). Then we have to play catch-up with errand-running, list-completing, and house-cleaning. It's all topped off by James usually having to work on Sunday nights and me having to take the kids for piano lessons (where dinner is usually provided - thank the Lord for that - I will have to make it a point to let my mother-in-law know how much I appreciate her Sunday night meals this week). But, more importantly, I wanted to create this post earlier because I was reading Mark Dever's What Is a Healthy Church? during the week and I was completely inspired and challenged by this little passage:

...Jesus said that "all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments": love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself (see Matt. 22:34-40). The two commandments go together. The first produces the second, and the second proves the first.

The first commandment, I think, is the far easier of the two. Loving God is (usually) easy, like loving your children at their very best, most peaceful, heartfelt moments. After all, He is all to us - the source of all life and it's multitudinous blessings. But I find the second commandment much, much harder to practice. I've heard it many times before, as any good church and parochial school kid has, but the author's statement that loving your neighbor is a testimony to your love for God for all the world to see is powerful, powerful stuff. Loving your fellow man, especially those whose connection to you is as tenuous as that of a neighbor, is so hard. This is, of course, because of man's sinful nature (and the fact that we know that it mirrors our own, far too often). Now, as I'm sitting here typing this out, Tim Tebow just popped into my head, of all subjects. How silly is that? I don't know a terrible amount about Tim Tebow, but I am a football fan and a Christian, so I've heard his name frequently in the last month or so. I can't help but think that this might be a case where loving your neighbor as yourself might prove your love and dedication to Christ much more powerfully than a public prayer spectacle. I'm going to jot the passage down and sticky it to my desk this week, and try to "prove" my love for God not by what I say, but by who I am.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Christmas - Hero

Hero had a big Christmas this year. She knew that she needed a new pair of skates and that they would be very expensive, so, after a pre-December discussion, she fully expected to get skates alone for Christmas. Well, she did get her skates, but Santa was the hero of the day with a present that made her tear up (I'm pretty sure that's a first for Hero). She finally got a pet of her own - a cute little guinea pig. She named him Cinnamon Bun and the whole family gets to enjoy him (while she gets to clean up after him). I have a feeling Christmas 2011 might rank up there as one of the best in the annals of Hero's childhood.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Can Time Move Faster?

Well, not really, but oh how I can't wait to receive the new book I just bought. I'm hoping it will be a wonderful addition to our Christian library.

Christmas - Allegra

Allegra is always super easy when it comes to Christmas shopping, especially for Santa. Her big request was the Clara nightgown from The Wooden Soldier catalog (she's been wanting that for a few years now), which we were so excited to get for her. You've never seen a child so excited about pajamas. From Santa, she wanted either an iPod or a surprise. Santa surprised her with the pink iPod shuffle she wanted. I think she's had some trouble keeping it out of Hero's hands, but she was a very happy camper on Christmas Day. She inherited my iTunes playlist, which I, in turn, mostly inherited from my mom. So, out of all of the songs, her current favorite is Devil Went Down to Georgia - who would've thought?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Christmas - Ian

Ian's "that one" in the family. He is weird about presents. He knows what he wants and he likes what he gets, but he's not very good at expressing appreciation. He gets that from me, as my parents like to remind me. When he opens a present he likes, he smirks and gets funny lip twitches. Not exactly the most charming, but it is him. We learned how much he truly liked his gift of a scooter from Santa in the week after Christmas - when he spent most of his break on the driveway, riding it over his little homemade ramps. The thought of being able to ride a scooter in December would have been foreign to me (maybe that's why I never remember getting bikes for Christmas) but it was very mild here, with no precipitation, so he was good to go with a jacket.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Christmas - Colin

It took nearly the whole month for Colin to settle on the gift he wanted from Santa - a Darth Vader lightsaber. Apparently he'd gotten in trouble a few too many times for sneaking his brother's Anakin Skywalker lightsaber, so he decided he needed one of his own. He didn't want the green Luke Skywalker one either - only the red Darth Vader would do. Santa was too tired to package creatively, so the moment Colin saw his gift in the morning he knew exactly what it was. We debated whether Colin was "allowed" to ask Santa for this, given his propensity for naughtiness and his close proximity to his younger siblings, but, so far, the light saber has only been put in timeout twice since Christmas. I can't claim success with the stocking treats, though - the morning after Christmas the other kids found nothing but sticks left of their Spongebob Krabby Patty skewers, except for Colin's, which was far too coincidental, and I did eventually wring a confession (and apology) out of him.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Christmas - Cecily & Elinor

For some reason we have a TON of Christmas Day present-opening pictures of the kids this year, so I decided to break it down into one post per kid so that I could bore everyone to tears with a photo blitz LOL. I had to combine Cecily and Elinor because Elle wasn't all that interested in Christmas presents, so she usually was nowhere to be found during picture-taking. But that works fine anyways because she and her big sister got a combined Santa gift this year - a big kitchen! They really love it, and I think it's the cutest thing. They've played with it so much already and I don't think the interest is going to wane any time soon. They love to make you and bring you "dinner", no matter how gross-sounding the combo (they are obsessed with the admittedly fun soft lettuce leaves and believe they go well with anything from yogurt to ketchup).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Christmas Eve - Part 2

So after (what the kids would deem) the fun stuff, it's time for a tradition that is primarily near and dear to my heart - watching a classic holiday movie. The kids actually complain less than you might think LOL. We all camp out on the sofa and floor and watch, depending on the year, White Christmas or Holiday Inn. This year was a White Christmas year (to Hero's mild disappointment, since she loves Holiday Inn). Besides the sweetness of the movies, it's a good way to settle the kids down in preparation for their Christmas Eve campout in our bedroom. The girls make it through the film, but inevitably the boys crash, including the grown up one. At least for the little boys the movie is followed by bedtime. For the big one, it's time to hit some caffeine and get to work, if you know what I mean ;-P (no, we are not one of those families that has absolutely everything ready to go a month before Christmas). James is going to groan when he sees the pictures of him in his Christmas union suit, but he's a good sport and wears it every year for the kids (and me, because I think it is hilarious).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spirit of Sunday

I've been thinking that I love the newsy, scrapbook style of my blog, for the most part. It was originally started as an electronic record of all of our goings-on, after all. But I sometimes feel the urge to speak my mind on more philosophical matters, and I think there can be a place here for that too. I like the idea of a recurring Spirt of Sunday (SoS, which seems apropros, does it not?) post, where I delve into what's been kicking around in my brain for the week, spiritually-speaking. It sounds kind of daunting, all of the sudden, when I write it out like that. But my goal is not to discourse on theological matters at all (oh how I would fail on that account!), but more to share some small thing that has either given me cause to think or encouraged me.

James and I are currently working our way through the book of Job. Boy it's a tough book. We like to read stuff through on our own first, without any guides or anything like that, just so we don't go in with any preconceived notions. But, this will be a book that can definitely use a re-read, when we're done, with the help of a study guide. Last night we digested chapters 11 and 12. At first glance they seemed rather depressing, but, especially in chapter 12, we found a great deal of comfort. The theme seems to be that here, on this earth, evil people often prosper, while the good suffer. One would need to be blind to not see that truth, as its reflected in every aspect of our culture. It's also a common argument brought up by non-Christians when attacking the Christian faith, and probably one of the harder ones, for me anyways, to answer. It was a comfort for me, to have it reaffirmed that I can let go of that sense of "unfairness" and injustice and place it in the hands of God's superior wisdom and understanding.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Christmas Eve - Part 1

Christmas Eve is the big show for me, as far as secular Christmas activities. I love it - it holds all the anticipation and none of the let down of the 25th. The day is generally low-key, with baking, cooking, and just hanging it (the kids call it the LONGEST DAY EVER lol). Then at night we have sort of a routine down. After everyone is in their Christmas jammies, it's time for each child to open one present of their choice. Inevitably someone picks out a clothing box, which is quite funny (does that make me an evil mom?) - this year it was Colin, but he was actually not too put out, and wore his Star Wars shirt to bed over his pajamas. If hyperactivity could only be bottled and turned into fuel, my house would run for an entire month on the adrenaline that is going as the prepare to open that one Christmas Eve gift... Elle was so not interested in opening a present, and there was a full-on meltdown that occurred until Cecily could "help" her open her Little People airplane and she realized that opening presents wasn't a bad gig after all.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Feeding" the Reindeer

Ian brought home reindeer food (oats and glitter) for Santa's team from school, so the first order of business for our night-time Christmas Eve festivities was to sprinkle it on the front lawn. The boys especially had so much fun with it, although the girls joined in as well. The pictures also happen to showcase our lovely brown Christmas. Maybe that should be made into a song? Something in between White Christmas and Mele Kalikimaka. Okay, yes, I'm still a little bitter about Idaho Christmases.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Photo Inspiration

Not in the sense that my photos are beautiful or remarkable or anything like that, but I love to have pictures with my blog posts, and when I get behind, I usually just go through my pictures to help me catch up. I almost skipped this set, because I didn't want to show any favoritism, but I just couldn't because Elle is so darn adorable. She started walking for Christmas! What a huge milestone, and much more exciting than presents. She didn't quite know what the buzz was all about on Christmas Eve, when the photos were snapped, but she knew that every child in the house was excited, so she was too! And darn, but do I have the hardest time keeping socks on my kids, even in the dead of winter. Our floors are so cold too. I have a full closet of slipper socks, fuzzy socks, slippers, and UGG boots, so I don't get it and it seriously stresses me out. Elle's so big, but she still looks so babyish with her short, fine hair and big, rosy cheeks (and her lack of walking, up until a few weeks ago). People mistake her for younger than she is all the time. I wish I had that problem (((sigh))).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Too Much, Too Late

I know the saying is supposed to be too little, too late, but the problem of having zero snow so far this winter morphed into snowdemonium (that's supposed to be a play on the words snow and pandemonium, although it doesn't quite work when I see it typed out LOL). It's just dumping here! The roads are so slick! The ironic thing is that the valley is getting all the snow, because the clouds are so low, and the mountains are getting nothing. The kids (and James) are going through ski withdrawal, and this storm was supposed to be promising for Bogus, but so far at least, not so much. It's pretty, I have to say, although I would have appreciated it much more a month ago, grr. I hate having brown Christmases. About another inch has fallen since I took the photos this morning, and it's still coming down. They are predicting rain later in the day, as it warms up. It would be just oh-so-Idaho to go from this back to nothing on the ground in 24 hours.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christmas Cookies

I made about a dozen different kinds of cookies this year, most of which I can no longer remember. But the most important, as far as the kids are concerned, are the Christmas sugar cookies. They are a staple, and the recipe is my Dad's. I underbaked them a touch this year (I didn't get around to them until the 23rd, so I was in a major rush) but they stayed soft for several days so it worked out well. Allegra, Ian, and Colin decorated, and Hero did too, helping Cecily at the same time. Frosting and decorating Christmas cookies is always an event that I have to remove myself from. Between the ahem, let's call them, "artistic" results (a pile of as much sprinkles as possible smack in the middle, although we have learned over the years and implemented a house ban on cinnamon imperials) and the nonpareils shooting off the table and winding up all over the dining room floor, it's just too much. So I set them up and don't return until after everything's done. Hero and Allegra ran clean up with the younger kids (which definitely involved baths) and I ran clean up in the dining room which involved some heavy-duty floor scrubbing.

Friday, January 13, 2012

One Last Program Picture

The final kids' program we had to attend was their Sunday School program. We were so excited for it because Cecily had been practicing Jesus Loves Me and Away in a Manger intently for the entire month. She got up there, looking oh-so-cute, and...nada. She did nothing. Zip, zilch, zero. Ah, well, next year, I guess. Then Elle will be up with her too, since she moves up from nursery to children's church at her second birthday. Colin sang too, but he's always pretty lowkey up there. Ian had a speaking part and did very well, and Allegra played a piano hymn solo, which she nailed. It was a bittersweet day, as that was the day Mom had to leave to head back home. It wasn't lost on me that she timed it so she missed the kids' Christmas break. That totally wasn't planned, right? :-P

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Recital Time

There was no Christmas piano recital this year, but we kept plenty busy with my violin studio recital. I started Allegra and Ian, somewhat half-heartedly, in lessons this past summer. I decided to actually make the recital committment in early November. It was touch and go for a while there, but we made it and they did fine. Ian played a Twinkle variation and Allegra played a different Twinkle varation and The Chipmunk (Christmas) Song. I love that Allegra wanted to wear her colonial costume for the recital. She's super attached to that dress, as well as her Laura Ingalls dress (well, actually she considers it her Mary Ingalls dress, because she has blonde hair) and her American Girl Kirsten dress. She wears them occasionally to church as well, and I suppose they are as appropriate (or more so) than any department store dress (they were all handsewn and aren't cheap costumey dresses). She's a girl after my own heart. My other students all did well too - it was my longest recital by far and it actually felt like a full studio. I put some of the refreshment onus on my students' families by asking everyone to bring a batch or two of cookies, and that netted me some great leftovers as a bonus. It was my first recital at James' mom's new music academy and my students all raved about the new, spacious facilities. Of course, my own camera died the moment I turned it on, so I had to filch some pictures from my mom, who was still in town for her Christmas visit.