Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Christmas 2010

We had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas this year. It was filled with meaning, love, gratitude and generosity. I saw some good things in my children this Christmas, and I'm thanking God for it! It was the tightest Christmas we've ever experienced, but despite that, God did the "loaves and fishes" miracle on our Christmas and I think the kids received some of the nicest gifts ever! God is so good!!! The picture above is of us singing "Happy Birthday to Jesus" with cupcakes and lighted candles. Before opening stockings and gifts we finished our Jesse Tree and Waiting Tree devotions to help drive home what we were celebrating. We were blessed to have Michael's folks stay with us over the weekend.

This picture was taken Christmas Eve. It is becoming tradition to let the kids open their gifts from Michael's brother and SIL. As you can see, they got totally spoiled!

After breakfast and devotions, we open stockings and gifts. We take turns opening gifts so we can enjoy watching other's faces when they open theirs. This has always been hard for Josiah, but this year, he did very well. A huge improvement! Hailey got a bible with a handle on it in her stocking. Josiah got a "Jonathon Park - X-Scope" from Vision Forum. They were both thrilled!

I got Michael some parts for a carburetor that he is going to put together for his T-Bucket Roadster project.  

Josiah was so excited to get Hailey a pink fishing pole with his own money. He also got me an beautiful necklace and earring set with his own money. I was so pleased to see him giving on his own. Hailey wore her Christmas dress she got from her Nana all day with her "almost bun".

Some friends of ours, Billy and Kay, dropped off some gifts for the kids to open on Christmas. Hailey got this awesome crayon tower. It is so much easier for her to put her crayons away now and keep them all together. Whoever thought of this was a genius! Michael's folks got Hailey a rodeo princess set. She wore it almost the whole day. Talk about adorable!

We got Josiah a pair of nice leather chaps off Ebay (used) that he loved. Michael got him a "hickory" logger shirt and we we also got him a hunting set that included the coonskin hat, tent and a pop gun with binoculars. Billy and Kay got Josiah the Nerf Blaster which was he loved of course.

My in-laws got Josiah these "Daddy's Helper" suspenders and he looked like a "logger-cowboy-mountain man" the whole day. He's wearing his dad's boots with spurs in this pic , LOL.

We invited some friends over and had a wonderful lamb dinner with all the fixin's plus some Asian food. I'm hoping to post my favorite lamb roast recipe soon. We were stuffed to say the least, plus we had pumpkin pie later that night with hot butters and hot buttered rums for some of the adults, while we broke out the fiddle and I gave our friend a little lesson as he is thinking of getting a violin. 

Truly the perfect Christmas! I hope each of yours was just as blessed. May you all have a wonderful New Year!

In Christ,

Friday, December 24, 2010

2010 Living Nativity

Our community puts on an amazing "Living Nativity". This is their fourth year and from what I understand there are at least 10 different churches who collaborate to put this on. We rushed home from Stacie's house to be able to go to this Saturday. Kids and adults from the community enjoy hearing about the night of the birth of Jesus. They do a great job of making you feel like you are in the town of Bethlehem.  

Josiah and Hailey spotted baby Jesus right away. 

They got to sample unleavened bread and pieces of fish at the fish market outside.

Inside, we stopped off at the money changer's shop. She showed us real coins, including a widow's mite, that would have been used during the time of Christ. Very interesting stuff!

The wool spinner's shop. The kids got to card wool and watch it being spun into string.

Next, we went to the shop where they dyed wool and showed us pictures of the things they would have used to dye the wool with. Purple was an expensive color because there was a tiny part of shells that had purple ink in it. They would scrap it out to use for dye. Can you imagine how much time that would have taken for just enough purple for one cloke? No wonder it was considered a royal color!

One of the ladies at our church was a basket weaver. The kids want to learn weaving now.

This is a traditional Jewish home. They explained a lot of symbolism in Jewish culture.

The Potter's house gave away pieces of clay to the kids to play with.
After many other shops, we made our way around to the temple where the high priest explained about the traditional sacrifice system. It is such a great way for the kids to visually put the story of the birth of Jesus in their minds and hearts. I think it helps them understand the necessity of His coming to this earth so that we could all be saved by His mercy and grace.  I love going to this. It such a great place to reflect the Truth of the Christmas Story in a fresh way.

If you don't know Him as your personal Savior, I encourage you not to wait a minute longer. Get down on your knees this Christmas and ask the humble servant King to come into your heart and forgive your sins. As Rebecca St. James once said, "Get down on your knees before the Master, it's the only way you'll ever get on your feet!". Eternal life with Him is truly the best gift we can receive in this brief lifetime we have on this earth.

Merry Christmas! May His Truth and Love invade your hearts and homes today.

God Bless,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stacie's Easy Healthy Raw Homemade Eggnog Recipe

I thought I'd post this wonderful eggnog recipe my sister (afighterswife) gave me. My kids love this and it is a super easy treat to whip up at a moment's notice all year long!

Stacie's Easy Healthy Raw Homemade Eggnog Recipe:

2 eggs
2 Tbl raw honey
2 cups whole raw milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Dump everything in a blender or food processor and blend until nice and frothy. Serves 2. 


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Helping Out

This Christmas season has been a little different this year. I've been wanting to change our Christmas focus to one of giving and serving and God has provided many opportunities so far. The kids (and Michael and I) have definitely been stretched in this area and it has been good for us. We had to give up some fun traditional holiday activities to help my sister out after her bunion removal surgery, but God has already blessed us in return. My kids are seeing that service sometimes means sacrifice. That is a jewel of wisdom indeed. If you are interested in the particulars of her surgery you can click on this link

My kids plus her kids equaled 8 kids all under the age of 12. It was cold outside, so they rarely went out. They were getting pretty restless by the end of the week, but they did well overall. That isn't to say we didn't have our moments. Praise God, Stacie's 20 month old, Lily, really took to me and called me "Mama" all week. I think it must have had something to do with us being identical twins. 

While I homeschooled the older kids, My friend, Dorene, saved me with a "Camp Aunt Jackie" bag full of crafts for the younger children. It really gave them something to look forward to each day. She was sweet to make sure they were easy because she knows I'm not a crafty sort of person. Thanks again, Dorene! The crafts were a big hit.

A balloon is always fun! It's the little things, isn't it?

Hailey and Jessica loved making their hair crazy and then posing for the camera with their goofiest faces. They played dress up almost non-stop. Just like their mamas at that age!

I snapped this picture of Josh roller-blading on the deck with Hailey as his figure skating partner. It was so cute! Unfortunately he accidentally dropped her right after I snapped the picture. Oops! Not the first boo boo to happen that week. Hailey got her finger stuck in a stencil and Uncle Steve had to use a saws-all blade to cut it off. He's a paramedic and it was weird that he was actually home during an emergency. Stacie says that never happens!

Stacie's husband got the kids out one day to get their Christmas tree. Interesting decorating a tree with 8 kids. My sister was laying on the couch with her foot up while she handed out ornaments one at a time (very top picture). They actually did very well. She keeps it simple (unlike my trees) which really helps. 

Being consistent with 8 kids was exhausting to say the least, but I saw some good fruit from it by about halfway through the week. Thanks to all the generous people in her support system, I didn't have to cook more than two breakfasts. I seriously don't know how she does everything I did AND cooks too. I came away with a whole new respect for her. One of her sweet friend came over and served lunch for everyone while I got to take a nap, check my email/FB/blog and call a dear friend of mine. Stacie and I managed to get through several long mini-series in the the evenings. Something we love to do together.

I'm so grateful that God allowed me to be with my sister and her family to get them through the worst part of her recovery. We had some difficult days, but God never gave any of us more than we could handle. It was tough on the kids. Nothing was the same and my rules were sometimes different which made for some conflict. By the end of the week, the kids blessed me with a sweet thank you note (complete with a chocolate - they know their way to Aunt Jackie's heart ;) that they wrote all on their own. Yep, I cried! It certainly blessed me.

So, I'm now back at home now and hope to catch up on my blogging soon. Hope you are all enjoying this wonderful week before Christmas and are having time to reflect on the true "Gift of Christmas", God's precious son sent here on earth to save us all. 

Merry Christmas!

In Christ's Love,

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Tree Folly

Doesn't my son look so innocent playing with his train set around the Christmas tree? Looks like a Norman Rockwell photo, doesn't it? All I can say is I'm so grateful I snapped this photo because of the next scene.

I made the mistake of asking Josiah to water the tree. I was in the kitchen and smelled the wonderful smell of fresh cut greens. Hum, thats weird. I went to inspect. I see Josiah in front of the Christmas tree, cutting away branches with serious intensity. Momzilla came out! Not a good scene. After I finally gave him a chance to speak, he said he was watering the tree and the branches were poking his face. Without asking, he decided to get the sharp rose clippers and take care of the problem himself. Apparently he didn't notice the ornaments, lights and garland falling off every time he cut a branch! 

Here is the end result. And no, we can't simply turn the tree around because there is a natural hole in the back, too. We're calling it our "Hole in the Wall Tree". Oh my, I was so mad, I couldn't discipline him. Apparently I have an unhealthy attachment to my Christmas trees. Luckily Michael was on his way home and he took care of the discipling. The thing I was the most angry about is that he has a bad habit (as most boys that age) of "doing before asking". He knows better than to cut on anything without asking first. That is what he got in trouble for, not his problem solving skills. Sigh. In the end, we all agreed that even though it was annoying, it wasn't life and death. Hopefully a lesson was learned for all of us. And hey, we've got a great conversational piece in our home right now! Nope, I'm never lettin' him live this one down, LOL. NEVER! His wife WILL know about this someday!

From Michael's Aunt Cookie: One year my mom decided to flock the tree but bought by mistake pink spray so we had a pink tree! Funny how I remember the mishaps with such fondness - the perfect tree not so much. Aunt Cookie

Well said, Aunt Cookie! 


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pendleton Christmas

The first weekend in Dec, we're beginning a new tradition of staying with my mom and step-dad in Pendleton and taking in all the "Cowboy and Indian" style Christmas festivities. On Friday we met my mom at the cafe (had salmon corn chowder) in the local Native American museum called "Tamastlikt". The picture above is of Josiah and Hailey trying to "blend in", LOL. They had a temporary display on the 100 years of the Pendleton Round Up that was fantastic as well as the Indian part of the museum. The kids got to talk to Tessie Williams, a well-known elder, who told them about root digging and showed them what a traditional meal would be. They didn't think it looked all that appetizing ;) 

We were also fortunate to catch the "Birds of Prey" exhibit. Josiah and Hailey were fascinated with the golden eagle, "Ella". She had quite a wing span.

After that, we headed to the children's museum. Pendleton has a fantastic children's museum. The was the Lewis and Clark longboat exhibit. Hailey just want to cook. She's her mother's daughter after all ;)

The next day, we headed to the Festival of Trees where they had all kinds of free activities for family day. It was the Oregon's Civil War game, so Josiah was proudly displaying his favorite team on his cheek. Hailey has a pink ornament on hers, but she also claims to be a Beaver fan. With all that orange hair, it makes since right?

I just had to take a picture of this John Deer tree for my nephew, Andrew. I've never seen so many John Deer toys in my life!

We also got to take in scenes from the "Nutcracker" from Pendleton's local ballet group. They were so cute. The costumes were amazing! Kids loved watching.

We dropped of Josiah at my grandma's studio apartment to watch the Civil War game with her and my step dad, Larry. Mom and Hailey and I did what most girls love to do and went shopping. Mom got Hailey and I each a hat like the one she is wearing.

Oh, before we dropped off Josiah, we headed over to see Grandpa and his wife, Regina, as they ate breakfast. They drove a lot way to be in the Christmas Carriage Parade. The Teamster's breakfast was in the Let 'r Buck Room, a famous bar. Of course they weren't serving alcohol at breakfast, but I sure gave my grandpa a bad time about finding him in a bar (a place of business he is not fond of). I even got a picture for proof, LOL!

Here is Grandpa and Regina driving their horses in the parade. Lookin' good, Grandpa! It was cold that day, too. He is the oldest teamster they have in there parade. So proud of him!


Monday, December 13, 2010

A Patriotic Christmas

As many of you know, I love doing themed trees! The kids begged to do the "patriotic tree" this year. Since we have so many friends and family who are deployed this year, I thought it would be a great reminder for us to pray for them when we look at our Christmas tree. 

Notice there are two little trees in the background? I bought each of the kids their own tree (let them pick out the colors - yep they chose pink and blue) so they could each decorate their own and leave the family tree alone ;o). So far it has worked great! It was strange decorating the whole tree this year. We've always had our tree stuffed in the corner and with the new layout of our house, we were able to have it in front of a window and even get a train around it. So nice!

I tried experimenting with my little snapshot camera to get some of the lights. It looked a little better, but certainly not the look I was going for. Sigh. This is part of my Christmas village. The kids love to arrange and rearrange the figures.

Here is a picture of our dining room table all decked out. I'm not a table cloth person, but I love this one and use it during the Christmas season. That ugly bookshelf is about to go away. My grandma is giving me her nice hutch, I'll use it as a fancy bookshelf, since Michael will eventually construct a built-in china hutch for me.

I've always wanted a mantle and this is why! I now have a place for our nice nativity scene (our kid friendly one stays on the coffee table) and an old family bible. Also, I wasn't sure where to put the jewelry tree and I discovered that it looked great on top of the old accordion case stabilized with a heavy antique book of bible stories opened to a picture of Jesus's birth.

The new covered entryway also ended up being a fun space to decorate. Don't mind the rock salt in the corner!

Here is a close up pic of our very busy patriotic tree. I love busy trees! The round red and white ornament was one I made in Kindergarten.

Here are my two all time favorite Christmas decorations. They look pretty empty here because we had just started when I took these pictures, but to the left is my new Jesse Tree and to the right is the Waiting Tree. Both are the same idea and have many of the same bible stories associated with them, all leading up to the Christ's birth. It is nice to have two trees because now the each child gets to put an ornament on every day. 

This is a close up of some of the ornaments on my Jesse Tree. My friend, Laurie, hand-painted each rock ornament. On the back is the bible story reference. They are beautiful and very artistic. Each ornament hangs on a button. She quilted the tree, too. I feel very blessed to have purchased the first one she ever made. 

I love it when people post their decorations on their blogs. It is so much fun to see what people come up with, especially how they convey the true meaning of the season to their children. 

God Bless,

Friday, December 10, 2010

Family 2010 Christmas Letter

Family 2010 Christmas Letter

Friends and Family,
We hope this year was a great year for you all. Our year was crazy and stressful, but sometimes that has to happen in order for God to bless us. The first part of the year was consumed with remodeling our home (enclosed our porch and gained 75 sq ft of living space). As soon as the weather turned nice, we also decided to take the plunge and try our hand at organic, heirloom gardening. We learned much from both tasks and despite mistakes made along the way, both the remodel and the garden were very successful. 

Michael has been working for the Forest Service out of Baker City for a little over a year now and seems to be thriving at his job as the transportation clerk for the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. I’m so grateful he is willing to commute so we don’t have to move from La Grande. We’re getting very involved in the local homeschool group. The kids are developing some fabulous friendships. Michael is still in the National Guard and is currently drilling with the 3670th CRC out of Clackamas. He is still trying to get his commission back. When he has extra time (not often) he still enjoys restoring his 1923 T-Bucket Roadster. He did a fabulous job remodeling our home and bans me from looking at any home improvement magazines for at least a year ;o)

I’m busy homeschooling Josiah and Hailey (when she’s interested). I’ve had a great time planning a lot of field trips for our local homeschool group. I’m currently working 6 hours a week doing soil database work. Glad I’ve been able to keep my foot in the door of my career. I’m enjoying my second year of being a table leader for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).  I’m also still involved with our local Healthy Families Network group. The garden kept me very busy this summer. I’m still cooking from scratch like crazy and now I’m making all my own cleaning products. I’ve kept up with my blog where I share family pictures and do various posts on healthy living. I’ve also started Facebook this year, which as been fun reconnecting with so many friends and family.

Josiah is 7 years old and is finishing up 1st grade. Josiah is doing great academically, although we’ve had our challenges with disciplining this year. God continues to get us through each period of testing. So grateful I’m able to homeschool and teach him at the level he is at. He is starting to read on his own a little. I absolutely love homeschooling and grateful that I get to be the one to see the “light bulb” go on. He is busy with Lego Club, AWANAS, and “Rock the Spoon” a kid’s gourmet cooking class. He’s making a lot of friends in the homeschool community as well as at church (Calvary Chapel).

Hailey is 3 years old and in the “princess” stage. She loves anything to do with princesses, music and dancing. She loves role playing with her brother, cooking and arts and crafts. She also has joined Cubbies this year and loves it! I’m hoping she’ll be a joy to homeschool. Some days, she insists I homeschool her, too. She really likes to learn.

Well that is about it for us. May you all have a Merry Christmas, enjoying the celebration of the Messiah’s birth and a prosperous New Year (despite the current economic state) and enjoy God’s blessings for this Coming New Year. Don’t forget to pray for all our troops and their families who are experiencing separation due to deployments around the world.

God Bless,
Michael, Jackie, Josiah and Hailey

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Homemade "Play Dough" Recipe

This is another fabulous recipe I found in our "Mother's Legacy" cookbook that our MOPS group is selling as a fundraiser. It would make a great Christmas gift! I usually avoid play dough, but this stuff I have no problem using. I like the consistency better than the store bought stuff. It holds together well and doesn't seem to dry out as quickly. 

It also is easier for the kids to roll out. Give my kids some of this dough to play with and some cookie cutters and they are entertaining themselves for a long time!

Homemade Play Dough Recipe:
1/2 cup cheap white flour
1/4 cup cheap salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp cheap vegetable oil
food coloring

In a medium sized saucepan, stir together first three ingredients. Then add water, oil and food coloring, stirring as you go until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring until ball forms. Won't take long. Cool. Let the kids knead it until smooth and then store into an airtight container or plastic bag. It was last a very long time if you keep the air out when storing. 

So whip up a batch and be your kids' hero! This would make great stocking stuffers or be fun to put in Easter baskets, too.

God Bless,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 - Part 2 - Camp Morrow

My Aunt Lil took these pics. She's a wonderful photographer. I just loved them. Thanksgiving Day was spent at Camp Morrow where my brother and SIL live and work. It is a beautiful setting as you can see.

We were toasty inside the cafeteria. This is my twin sister, Stacie, Grandpa and his wife Regina and Michael and I. Regina had brought her laptop and showed us pictures of  their recent trip to Wisconsin. Grandpa told us stories of life growing up there. I find family history fascinating! 

Jacob and Hailey (both 3 years old) had some cousin fun playing ping pong.

This is a picture of the beautiful chapel at Camp Morrow.

We played phoosball (sp?). Always loved that game!

I can't remember the name of this game but it was fun and addicting. You basically try to knock the other guy's ball in. Simple, but fun. Great for little kids and big kids (my dad). They played this for hours!

While we were playing games we were being serenaded by the kids on the piano. Love this picture of Lily peeking over Hailey's head. It doesn't get any cuter than that!

Doesn't this just say it all? Perfect end to a wonderful day. My brother's son, Noah, just asleep on Nana and then slept on a pew for hours despite all the noise and and family fun we had. So sweet and cute!



Related Posts with Thumbnails