Still Counting: Gifts # 21 - 32


Category: ,

I am still counting the gifts I see around me, but I missed posting last week. Hopefully, it was because I was fully engaged in enjoying His gifts.

We had a lovely Christmas, surrounded by family and friends, celebrating the One Gift that makes all the others possible. Here are some of those:

21. Energy to make just one more trip to the grocery store for more eggs, or mushrooms, or sugar, or batteries...

22. Grandma Marie's and my "secret recipe" soup for Christmas Eve eve

23. My mom arriving on Christmas Eve with tables, chairs, extra decorations, meatballs, cheese, and deviled eggs, and cookies

24. Children singing in the choir, the littles trying so hard (mostly)to be still in all the excitement.
25. The look on our children's faces as they sit in the candlelight, captivated, as the pastor tells The Story.

26. Friends, family, and laughter in every corner of this home.

27. The blessing of celebrating my birthday, too, while we all gather to celebrate His.

28. Butter Cake on Christmas morning.

29. Working with my in-laws, husband, and father (and occsionally the boys) to complete a 1000-oiece dinosaur puzzle that I puchased for the 5 year-old (!)

30. A white Chirstmas IN GEORGIA y'all!

31. When all is quiet and dark in the house, except for the crackling of the fire and the glow of the Christmas tree, and I can sit in wonder and awe that He came here.

32. Christmas day with all the busyness over and nothing left but stillness and joy (and cookies, lots of cookies).

To share your Christmas gifts, or peek at what others have received, visit A Holy Experience.



Category: , ,

I am not crafty, but I love the idea of homemade gifts at Christmas, so I turn (naturally) to cooking instead. Cookies are generally my favorite type of baked good, and Chirstmas cookies are my favorite of all.

I remember as a little girl, spending Christmas at my grandma's house in northwestern Ohio; she and everyone who came would stack tins of their homebaked specialties on the washer and dryer on the "back porch". The chill of the unheated room kept the cookies fresh, but it certainly didn't keep me out of the tins. I loved the variety and the either delicate beauty or homey slopiness of each one.

Now we have our own tins, and they are filled with the cookie selections of the year. Well, what's left of them (and it's plenty!). This year, as in past, I spent several weeks fitting in as much baking as I could. By December 18th, they were finished, and we plated them and wrapped them for our annual "cookie hand-out".

I tend to get bored with making the same cookies every year, so I choose about 7 or 8 from our traditional options. These years rotation included:

It takes quite a bit of time to bake in abundance, but I just can't think of a better way to say "I love you" or "Thank you for your friendship" (or in the case of the local volunteer firefighters -"thanks for keeping my house from burning down and blowing out all of the smoke when I left the chicken on the stove and left the house last January") than a tray of cookies. Perhaps granola could say it instead?

Counting to 1000: Gifts #11 - 20



My brain doesn't work well past 9:00 PM, especially when it's cold, and we're into the final half-hour of Monday now. But I can't go to bed unless I've made time be grateful for these:

11. a mother-in-law who always finds time and energy to wash the dishes and snuggle the grandchildren, but has never found a moment to criticize in 10 years

12. that the unemployment that brings uncertainty and stress also brings my husband/their father home for a December with his family

13. 40th birthday gifts in the month I turn 41

14. mittens in the mail on the coldest day of the year

15. dry firewood

16. a broken fever

17. a young son who listens for hours to his papa, even when Papa can't remember the words...or sometimes, his grandson's name

18. the woman who went home to the Lord yesterday, who loved the boys like grandchildren, buying extra cereal she would have a toy from the box for each

19. Barney Butter

20. snow flurries in December...in Georgia

Please join me in making time for gratitude at A Holy Experience.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Advent Events


Category: , , , , , , , , , , ,

As images of quiet waiting drift through my head, frequently accompanied by flashes of silent snow falling, I realize (once again) that my image will not match my reality. The snow part should be my first clue - we're in Georgia. The boys apparently do not entertain thoughts of stillness, and neither do the coordinators of their various activities. So we will wait with somewhat noisy excitement instead.

Part of that excitement is fed by the presence of my husband's parents, who arrive every year on during the first week of December to spend Christmas with us. They live in upstate New York, so we only see them a couple of times a year - I don't blame the children for being excited about that. We just love having them here.

I finally broke down and bought a new advent wreath this year. In years past, I've thrown together a homemade version using a window wreath, a plate, and some candles. I am not crafty and the wreath was evidence. Mercifully, it caught on fire during last year's Christmas Eve party. I'll be using long-burning candles with the new one. The children love to eat by it's light each night while we read an advent book that I've seen on homeschool recommendation lists for years: Jotham's Journey.

The book offers a reading for each night of Advent, and then a Scripture reading and summary that tie the chapter into some greater spiritual truth. It's quite an exciting story and might even be too intense for some little ones, but the boys are loving it and begging for one more chapter each night. (But then we'd be off schedule, we explain...)

In between the visiting, Advent observing, decorating, baking, birthday partying, choir practicing, etc., we have had to make time for school. This may be a greater struggle for me than for the boys, but we're managing.

The past week's unit in Biblioplan covered Persia and the Ottoman Turks. Because we're studying the "early modern" period this year, which covers early American history, Biblioplan includes the study of important individuals in American history in the units focusing on the history of other countries. This week we talked about Daniel Boone, and Bearclaw is enjoying Daniel Boone, Boy Hunter.

He also completed the novel A Lion To Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla for his literature class. As a follow-up assignment, the student's were to make a time capsule representing one of the main characters in the book. Bearclaw chose Jemmy and turned in his project on Wednesday.

Speaking of reading, Shortbread read his first early-reader book!! He was so happy with himself, and I'm really looking forward to all of the wonderful books he's going to be able to enjoy reading soon.

In his kindergarten class, they focus mainly on language skills, and he's doing very well. If anything he's a little bored (or maybe I am), because some of the activities we're asked to do at home seem unessesary. Still, because he's picking up reading without any tears or arguments, I'm keeping an open mind about the effectiveness of some of the lessons.

Bearclaw's language skills are improving, and he's mastered quite a number of grammar concepts. His spelling grade is excellent, but I'm working to get him to be more careful when doing his work, so that the progress he's made in spelling will be reflected in his writing. As for vocabulary - he's doing well, but the jury is still out on Wordly Wise for me.

With all of the focus we're putting on humanities, in order to complete the assignments from our hybrid school, I've neglected math somewhat. Bearclaw is actually moving along in his Sinapore workbook (he's working on fractions), but he's forgotten some of his mutiplication tables, so I need to do a better job with daily drills. I'm hardly working on math at all with Shortbread. It's not him; it's me - I think I'm tired of the curriculum and how it's structured. It may be time to move from Shiller to Singapore for him.

Our two-family science co-op hasn't met lately, becasue of all of the holiday activities, but we plan to finish up the physics book from Real Science 4 Kids soon, and then after Christmas it's chemsitry! (All four boys in the group have images of explosions, I just know it...)

As I've been typing this over several days, we've gotten quite few snow flurries. Maybe my images of Advent were'nt so far-fetched after all...

Counting to 1000: Gifts #5 - 10 (All About Our Now 9 Year-Old)



Yesterday was his ninth birthday, so I'm dedicating this edition of "One Thousand Gifts" to the gift that Bearclaw is.

5. that he gets lost...in deep thoughts, in books, on his way upstairs to do something

6. his denim blue eyes

7. the way he gets so tickled at his little brother and turns and tells me how much he loves him

8. his willingness to give grace to the mama who tried for too long to have everything perfect and still goes down that road sometimes

Happy Birthday sweet Bearclaw! It is a joy to be your mother and watch you grow (if only you would do it more slowly!).