Saturday, December 31, 2011

The last day

This day may have been the last day of this year 2011 -and we made a holiday of it for sure-
but in all the days of my life, it was counted merely as one more day undeserved by me,
gifted freely and with no obligation by a God who favors me . every . breath . I take!
I celebrate this day on its own merit.  Without pomp.  Without circumstance.  Without any special note except...

Except that I lived it!

Thank you Lord.
And Lord, let each new day your favor me with be embraced as possibly the last.  And be glorified!

Welcome to the coming days of 2012!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fit for a King

It's been a quiet Christmas season.  It slipped upon us before I was ready, and when I acknowledged it's
presence I felt compelled to "do" everything on my imaginary list.
Last year we did it all.  We were home the whole month of December and I didn't let a day get by us without
some project or other.  This year?

This year I am learning to let go of my plans.  To celebrate Jesus in enjoying my children.  Being willing to let
my "fun-project-that-you're-going-to-love" go, if they'd rather play monopoly in front of the warm wood
stove and in view of the tree lights.  I've had to ask myself  "Who is all this doing for?" and  
"Why does it matter if we do it, or that we do it this week? Even this month?"   
I want to make memories with the children, and I want to take advantage of this annual opportunity to
remember the birth of my Savior.  I want to savor every savory scent, the soft lights on short dark days,
to make things for people and try every recipe, and craft that inspires me.......

I can't do it all.  There aren't enough days, and the ones I have aren't long enough.  I guess that's actually
something to be thankful for - a season in which I crave long days - many people are plodding through days
that seem endless as they bear some burden or another.  I'm thankful that my days are short because we're
having fun.  We are.  We're having fun, and when I feel guilty about all the things'n'stuff that we aren't doing
I remind myself of that.
We're having fun resting, playing, creating, baking, listening, sniffing, tasting, and just being together.
Nothing spectacular this year. No monumental traditions built with care and planning.
But we are having fun.
And we remember Jesus! 

The stars pictured above were a new thing for us.  They were delightfully easy, inexpensive, and I think
they're rather lovely on the windows!  Olivia has been the one to sit down and get creative with me,
and that girl can follow-through like nobodies five-year-old-business!  She watches, picks it right up,
and plows forward, working out the kinks on her own.  She really impresses me.

Today the other three bigg'uns made one star apiece.  That was enough.  For today anyway.
I have to say that I  am hooked.  It's like instant quilting gratification!  You can buy colored wrapping
tissue at your local dollar store (we had two packages equaling roughly 10 colors to choose from).
We've only used one sheet of each color and have made 10 stars I think?  There must be millions of
stars-worth of paper in those 2 dollars we spent!  Here is the tutorial we used  for our Tissue Paper Stars.
I highly recommend using a knife to cut the tissue as suggested in the tutorial - it made easy work of
chopping our paper down to size.  Each sheet of tissue is square, so it can be folded in half, cut, and folded 
again, and cut again and so forth until you reach the square or rectangle size you want.  I keep imagining
new color combinations and sizes and patterns I want to
Do please tell me if you try these stars yourself, and if (like Olivia and I) you thought them fit for a Kings
Birthday celebration!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Mom, Yer my Buddy!"

4 little words exuberantly uttered in the dark, after handing him "Drankie", tucking a fuzzy fleece all 'round him,
and placing his cup nearby.  The sturdy ticking lump in my chest is forever affected and reduced to a
puddle of goo.  I could die happy and content. right. now.
Those delicious little words make up for every struggle that ever came before tonight,
and will probably cover a multitude of sins for many days (and possibly years) to come :-)

It was a long day.  A good and productive day.  A fun day.
I loaded 7 Bugletts into our snow-worthy 4x4 and hit the town!  We left at 10:30 this morning, and pulled
into the driveway tonight after 8pm.  Whew!
What transpired between those times were as follows:
Christmas shopping,
12 cheeseburgers
Birthday shopping for Clay
A Salted Caramel Mocha for me
6 Peppermint Hot Chocolates for 6 Bugs
Grocery shopping,
A lot of getting into and out of the truck (which may have accounted for several hours of  our time)
Nursing the baby.  3 times.

We encountered numerous raised eyebrows over the course of the day, and none of them pertaining to
the box of glass ornaments we bumped off a shelf, or the 2 hot chocolates we lost on the grocery
store floor before leaving the produce section.

Note to self: experiment was a success.
I now know why 
it was against my better judgement 
to let the kids sip hot chocolate 
while I shopped.

Lesson learned.

One grandfatherly fellow and his elderly mother leaning upon arm, got a real kick out of watching us
through the store ad I'm sure we were good entertainment for them.  Their pleasure about made my day!
Upon meeting up with his wife, I overheard the tickled two as they pointed us out to her:
"She has seven children!"  They exclaimed in admiring awe.

 The mans wife promptly turned and took a headcount, and
smiling with genuine warmth and sincerity she said to my crew
 "I wish I had seven children just. like. you."

 Loaded to the gills, 6 bananas later and another Mocha for ol' mom, a take-and-bake pizza for dinner
stacked precariously on top of the dollar store bags (which were strategically plopped on top
of the groceries), with Christmas carols turned full volume... we turned toward home.
 It was a long day (9+ hours).
A good and productive day (see: full truck, content children, sane mother)
A fun day too.  I really thought it couldn't get better!
But good-night hugs from long-legged big bugs, and 4 little words from my Bryce-boy....
no.  I'm pretty certain it doesn't get any better :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Does he really need a head?

And if so, how are we going to get it up there?

Let's start over.

At noon it felt like a day lost.
Nothing terrible had transpired... yet nothing... had transpired.
And then when I was ready to regroup and change gears, aiming for more fun...and to BE more fun...

"Mom! (someone-who-shall-remain-nameless) just now punched me in the arm with a bell pepper!"

Okay.  Everyone needs a nap today, and I need some quiet for a while.
And they did.  And I did.  I glittered the stars all by myself, and enjoyed every single moment of quiet!
I wrote a "to-do for fun" list for myself in ten colors.
I scissored and snipped, penciled and inked, punched and strung a banner.

It was therapy.

Just before dinner 3 cousins were delivered to my door while their parents took a Christmas-shopping date.
We had a date of our own, those three cousins, me, and my 7 hoodlums! 
Nachos for dinner; books read; and then we dove into our Craft Friday project on Thursday night.
Two little ones strung beads...

7 big kids created faux stained glass, by decoupaging candle holders with tissue paper.

In case you are wondering why all the headlamps(?)
It's only this bright in my photo because of my lightning-bolt camera flash.
We have 4 propane lamps that light this room which provide luminescence necessary
for getting around furniture and quickly finding the chocolate stash,
however it's not really enough light for working on projects.

There are electric lights in the pantry/washroom (as you see in the background) which we can use
when the generator is running or the batteries charged, but electric lighting in the rest of the house
is a work in progress.
For the present we continue to enjoy ambiance :-)

Our crafting went surprisingly well...

despite this one little mishap.   Which I handled with grace and calm and which really
wasn't as bad as I thought on first glance.  It is a bowl of glue, after all, and that is my wall.

I will add here,

that I think it's a sign of maturity
when the first order of dealing
(or maybe "coping")
with an event like this
I grab my camera.

Good to know I'm growing up.

It was a Christmasy evening, full of sweet little people and the memories they made.
I even got a second chance at trying to be fun!  I'm going to need a lot more practice
though... so I hope tomorrow's got more camera-grabbing moments in store :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Highlights of our most recent travels

We escaped not days before the first Idaho winter storms dropped 2 feet of snow; one week before
Thanksgiving. Onward to California.  To see and spend time with beloved family. 
And to prolong Fall colors and warm Autumn sunlight.  California did not disappoint!

All the family came through as well :-)

We are native "Northern" Californians, so none of this beaches and movie stars business if you please.
We come from Almond country. Rice Country. Olive country.  Where we grew up is home of
Lundberg Rice, Knudsen's Juice, Sierra Nevada Brewery, Chico Bag, Klean Kanteen
The farthest south we ever venture is to visit Granny and Great Grandpa in the green coastal
verdure of Watsonville.  Strawberry country.  Apple country.  Lettuce, Garlic, and Olallieberries.
And lemons... don't forget Granny's lemons.

They make the BEST Lemonade!

"Put your Footer down!"  Bryce would tell Great Grandpa over and over again.
That meant Grandpa was to close up his reclining chair... or open it.  Whichever suited
the tiny Boss's whim. Bryce sure appreciated Great Grandpa's cooperation.
I think they were mutually satisfied with the arrangement :-)

Great Grandpa has a pool table in his basement. It's always been a novelty, but these
days dad has some new up-and-coming competition !

Some serious (though smiling) gamers in this family. 

Carolina is hearing about Granny's brothers and sisters.
Granny was one of seven also.

Clay in the Persimmon tree.  Always in a tree, that boy.

We did set foot on beach once... at Capitola, and lunch with Aunt June and Uncle Robert
(We sure love you guys!  Thanks for coming over to see us!)

Our dad has to work sometimes - even when we're at the beach.

It's rough.

And during Thanksgiving weekend we got to know our latest Uncle a bit better.
Uncle Shane is now a bona fide favorite!

And another favorite, Uncle Daniel!

And Uncle Char threatening to blog me.
But he doesn't blog so... I blog YOU Charlie. Take THAT -haHA!

My "baby" sister, seventh in order Mattie Grace...
and my baby, seventh in order also... Aloria Mercy
And it tickles me to no end that our Grace and Mercy resemble each other - quite a lot!

My sisters and a few of the nieces.  Wow.  It's getting harder to deny that we're grown women.

Mother O' mine.

At Grama and Grampa's house running the same land I ran at their age;
though I don't confess to whether or not I also, terrorized the poor chickens :-)

What a privilege to spend yet a little more time with my grandmothers!
AJ's grandma Marie, and my grandmothers Bethlene and Arlene - my namesakes.

There's more where this came from.  Lil' ham-it-ups!

I caught this sight one morning at Gramsie's.  My girls.

Another big going's-on... Aloria got a trim.
Momma is sad sad sad to say good-bye to chestnut colored hair...

..alas....hello little blondie!

I find it awfully hard to narrow down our adventures to these "few" pictures, but it's already taken me hours
(late at night) to upload this many.  Just a taste of last months adventures! 
Oh how we soaked in every single bit of time with family, and I was delighted to see so much of my sisters.
It's pretty amazing that AJ can take his work with him anywhere - that's what makes it possible
for us to extend our travels indefinitely.  It's a little hard to explain why he isn't along for every family drop-in
or visit, but our travels are just that... travels.  Dad still has to work during the week!  Someone has to
"pay the big bucks" as we like to say. :-)

I guess the rest of the pictures will have to be printed on actual photo paper and put into an album.
Another late night job that will require hours, but at least I can put that one off for a while.

Tonight I take my weary bones to bed and dream of all these wonderful faces - people I love dearly!