Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Day

Today is the last day of 2011.  In the blink of an eye, we've grown a whole year older.  We've experienced ups and downs.  We've had joys and sorrows.  We have laughed and cried.  All across the world, people will gather to say goodbye to one year and usher in another.

Today, on this last day of 2011, I am counting my blessings.  I am cherishing the memories of the past and looking forward to the opportunities to come.  May God bless you and your family in 2012.

Happy New Year! 

~ Image from

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Preparation Week - Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is here.  I have to say that my favorite day of the year is not Christmas, but Christmas Eve.  I think that it is the anticipation, the waiting and the journey that causes me to love this day so much.  While the day of Christmas is filled with presents and the momentary pleasures, Christmas Eve is filled with contemplation.  Thinking, waiting . . . . hoping.

On this Christmas Eve, I want to share something important to me about our Christmas tree.  Our Christmas tree is decorated with many of the same things that grace the trees in many homes.  Glittering lights, shiny balls, and cute decorations hang from the limbs of our tree.  A few things with extra special meaning also adorn those branches.  We have two gold cross decorations on our tree.  The gold ribbon that encircles our tree is inlaid with gold crosses.  One branch bends under the weight of a long, heavy nail.

These ornaments are not just for decoration.  They are to remind us that the birth of the Christ Child was just the beginning.  They are to remind us that Jesus came with the purpose of dying.  They remind us of the great hope we have, because of his sacrifice.  When Jesus came to earth, his heavenly throne and crown were exchanged for the future of the the cross and crown of thorns.  The constant praise that he must have experienced in Heaven was turned in for the scorn and mocking of human kind.  On Christmas Eve, I don't want to forget that Jesus Christ came to die for me.

I don't want to forget this most precious gift even more this year, because His sacrifice made it possible for my grandfather to join Him in Heaven earlier this week.  On Tuesday, my grandpa went on to be with the Lord.  I am able to rejoice in the blessing of knowing that Heaven awaited him, because of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am also able to rejoice, knowing that because I have chosen to trust in the Lord, Heaven awaits me someday.

Solemn thoughts, for such an exciting holiday.  In reality, they are the most important thoughts one can contemplate.  I am so thankful for a legacy of faith.  I am praying that I can leave a legacy of faith to those who will come after me.  May the Lord bless you and keep you this Christmas Eve.

~ In loving memory of my Grandpa Ralph

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Preparation Week - Cookie Time

Cookies, cookies, cookies . . . . oh, how I love cookies.  My favorite cookie recipe brings the Christmas spirit by chauffeuring in memories of my childhood.  There is no, peppermint, no fancy fudge, no fruitcake that brings Christmas to me the way this little cookie does.  Memories of my mother making holidays special surround the aura of this special treat.  Could I eat it any time of the year?  Sure I could eat it any time, and there is not a day that wouldn't be heightened by it, but there is no way I would want my Christmas to be without it.  What makes up this cookie?  PEANUT BUTTER and CHOCOLATE!  Here it is:

Peanut Butter Blossoms (a.k.a. Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies)
(adapted from Better Home and Gardens - New Cook Book)
1/2 cup margarine or butter - (softened helps the dough mix well)
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth is our choice)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8. tsp. baking soda
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Milk chocolate kisses (or for a really special treat - mini  Reese's Peanut Butter Cups)

Cream together margarine and peanut butter.  Add 1/2 cup granulated and brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix until combined.  Add in egg, milk and vanilla and mix well.  Mix in as much flour on low speed.  Refrigerate until cool.  Roll into 1-inch balls then roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar (add more sugar if needed).  (At this point, the cookies freeze well.  You can prepare ahead, and have cookies at a moment's notice.)  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie tray.  Bake in 350 degree oven 10 - 12 minutes until edges are slightly firm.  After removing from oven immediately press a chocolate kiss or mini peanut butter cup into the center.  Transfer to parchment/wax paper (or if you're like my mom was 20 years ago - old newspaper) and cool.  If you don't have the patience to wait for them to cool, you're in for a special treat.  While still warm, they are ooey and gooey and melt in your mouth.  Oh, what a cookie!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Preparation Week - Music To My Ears

What sets the mood for Christmas?  For me, it is the music.  I love Christmas music, and we listen to it throughout the months of November and December.  Not only do I listen to Christmas music, but I also sing and  even play a few Christmas tunes on the piano.  I have passed my love of Christmas music on to my children.  Both of the older boys have been practicing Christmas songs for the last few weeks. 

With all that music being played on the piano, some preparation was needed.  My sweet hubby  had the piano tuned for my birthday (back in late October).  Boy, does that man know the way to my heart, or what?!?!  I have been so happy to hear the sweet tinkling (and occasional pounding) of the piano keys, especially since they are now in tune!

Have you ever looked inside a  piano?  My boys had a lovely lesson on the inner workings of the piano.  It makes it so much more fun to know how the instrument you practice daily works.  I hope you have the opportunity to be blessed with sweet music this Christmas Season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Preparation Week - Gingerbread with Grammy

How did this little cottage come to be?

Lots of concentration.


Lots of yummy supplies.


Taking turns.

More teamwork. 

 It was worth the time and effort!

(This little cottage has two front doors . . . I had to show you both!)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Preparation Week - The Nativity

I must admit, I have an obsession with nativity scenes.  I love to decorate with nativity scenes, and I have many displayed throughout the house during the month of December.  I even have one that I leave up year-round in my office.  I do think that my obsession comes with a very reasonble explanation.

Simply put, they remind me of the "Reason for the Season".  I love to have reminders throughout the house of Christs' birth.  When I see them, I have a physical reminder of why we are celebrating.  It helps me focus, slow down and enjoy the little moments. 

As Christmas Day comes closer and closer and the prepartaions gain momentum, I pray for the peace of the Lord to fill your home and ours!

Favorite Festive Photos for Friday

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas". . . . and pink and blue and green and . . . .  Yes, Christmas is just over a week away and I'm dreaming in techno-color.  Take a look for yourself!

As much as I would like to say that I manufactured these pictures from my dreams, I have to admit that they come from a Christmas store.  But, I'm still dreaming anyway! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Going With The Flow

Did you ever come upon a moment when you had the choice of going with the flow or forcing things to stick to your agenda?  I struggle when I'm faced with those moments.  What is more important, being flexible or following through with the itinerary.  I do think that there are times when the agenda MUST be accomplished.  Other times, flexibility can bring about special moments that couldn't otherwise be duplicated.  Today was one of those days where I was faced with a choice . . . .

The kids and I were in the car, with a list of errands that needed attention.  I had prioritized and written the list in the order that I thought would best be accomplished.  Instead of listening to Christmas music, as has been the custom since Thanksgiving, we spent the first part of the car ride chatting amicably.  After a while, I realized that I had missed my turn.  I told the boys that I had come the wrong way.  The boys asked, "Does this mean we have to turn around?" 

I answered, "No, it'll just take a little longer this way."  I continued on, explaining that old habits had taken over, and I had come the way I used to go to school. 

They boys asked a few questions and then said, "Would you show us your old school?"  I was very quiet for a moment.  I didn't want to take the twenty minutes out of our errand time, because we were on a set time limit and I knew we wouldn't be able to get it all done if we deviated from the plan.

After the moment was up, I decided to opt for flexibility.  We went the extra mile (or two) and drove to see the off campus branch of the university that I attended the last two years of high school.  (I am so thankful for the post secondary program that allowed me to earn college credits while I was in high school.)  The boys enjoyed the sights.  I was amazed at all the changes that had taken place in the years since I had been there.

We continued on, and I mentally shifted the list so that our shopping would be sure to get done.  We stopped at Sam's Club first, instead of last.  I then deviated from the list again, and went through the store backwards.  I know to some of you, this may seem silly, for how can you go through a store backwards????  I am a person who like predictability, so I always go through the store in the same way, but today was about flexibility. 

Not two minutes in the store, we bumped into Grandpa (my dad).  If I would have not been going the "wrong" way, we might have missed each other completely.  I think that especially because this was not planned, we were even more delighted to see him.  We quickly made our purchases, and then sat down to a impromptu lunch with Grandpa.  We had so much fun.  The kids were happy all the way home, because their needs and desires were listened to .  We had the extra and unexpected treat of special time with family.

The thing is, if I had stuck to my "schedule", I would have missed out on the joys that God had in store for us.  Everything on the list would have been accomplished, but we would not have had the special time that was intended.  I know that God has the greater plan, and even when mine is visibly written in my hand, it is in my best interest to allow him to take charge of my agenda!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Favorite Festive Photos for Friday - Tree Lighting Edition

One of our favorite family traditions rolls around shortly after Thanksgiving.  We pull out the tree the first weekend in December and fill it with decorations.  After Mom (me) puts up the ribbon garland, the kids get to help put on the decorations.  

Big Brother hangs one of the wise men.

Little Man inspects one of the "ball-balls".

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mom . . . . what is that?

Do you ever hear your children ask this question, "Mom, what is that?", and wonder what they could be referring to.   My sweet five year old asked that question when we were downtown. 

I said, "Honey, what are you talking about?"

He said, "That machine, what is it?"  I looked and looked for "that" machine.  I finally spotted it.

Wow, maybe I should have titled this, "How to know when you should take your kids out more!"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Favorite Festive Photos for Friday

This summer, my mom and I shared the joy of visiting a shop (OK . . . a mega-shop) filled with all things Christmas.  While it has been a while since we took that little trip, I haven't forgotten the lovely time we had.  I have to say that watching my mom stroll through the shop was like watching a kid in a candy store.  See the smile on her face?  She had a wonderful time - and I had a wonderful time watching her.  


What  a delight.

 Christmas decorations make me happy.

Clearly, they also make my mom happy.

Enjoy the holiday season, and delight in the little things!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm Thankful for . . . .

Yes, it is the week after Thanksgiving, but I'm still thankful.  Today, I'm remembering that I'm thankful for our police department(s).  Every day, they put their lives on the line to protect me.  I am grateful and humbled by their sacrifice. 

Two weeks ago (I'm a little behind on my blogging), my dad (aka, Grandpa) took us to the Police Museum.  We had a personal tour from a local retired officer.  It was such a blessing to see my children so fascinated.  We had a great time.  Most importantly, we had great conversations with the kids about the people who serve and protect us every day.  I want to say "Thank You" to every man and woman who has chosen to live in service to others!

Look at those!

Not quite as comfy as I thought they'd be!

So many have served.

Great respect is due to those that choose to wear the uniform. 

This is how they used to communicate.

Monday, November 21, 2011

For My Grandpa's Birthday

Dear Grandpa,

Memories of you span my lifetime. They begin in early childhood with your many visits to our home. I have memories of my visit to South Carolina when I flew down, ALL BY MYSELF, to visit you for A WHOLE WEEK! I remember visiting you in Conneaut as a teenager on the shores of Lake Erie. You came to my graduation to see me walk down the aisle and receive my diploma. I remember brining my fiancée to come meet you. I remember you at my wedding, as I took the most important steps of my life. Then, I have brought each of my children to share my grandpa . . . their great-grandpa with them. What most strikes me about each and every memory I hold of you is the ever large and wonderful hugs that you have given upon each and every visit. You have squeezed me and loved me and told me I was special. You embraced and loved my husband. You have squeezed each of my children and loved them too. Thank you Grandpa, for all the hugs!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Fall Photo For Friday

Happy Friday!  Today, I am so glad that Friday is here that I am sharing my very favorite Fall Photo with you.  Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Words To Live By Wednesday

Here is a thought for you:

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." ~ Galatians 5:1

This thought follows a little farther down in the chapter:

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF."  ~ Galatians 5:14-15

OK, maybe I said these thoughts were for you, but they are really for me! 

As a side note, thank you for your encouragement and prayers this last week when my little guy and I were sick.  We are both recovered from a case of bronchitis.  We are looking forward to getting back to "normal".  Thanks again for the prayers and encouragement!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Surprise Post

My youngest is sick.  I am now sick.  I didn't post yesterday and I wasn't posting today .  .  . until I read this:

Hannah, over at Crazy Creative Magazine is my dear friend and today she made my day with her post.  Now, you can go visit and find out why.  Have a great day, and enjoy the blessings that friends can bring! 

Thanks, Hannah, for the blessing of your friendship.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Apple Orchard Field Trip - Apples

So, I was telling you yesterday, Dad/Grandpa took us to a local orchard.  When we went inside the building, our eyes feasted on an abundance of apples.  No food makes me quite as happy as apples in the fall  (. . . .well, one can't compare it to chocolate - that's just not fair).

As you can see, my love for apples runs deep!

How do I love thee, apples?  Let me count the ways.

I love thee when thou art red,

I love thee when thou art green.

I love thee when thou art shiny.

I especially love thee when thou art Fuji!!!!!!

Do your eyes deceive you?  No, this is a pear.  I love thee, too!  (Even though your name isn't apple, you are just as sweet!)

Corn, why are you here?  Oh, you're pretty.  That's right.  You're only here for your looks, and the fact that this is my last orchard post, and you were just to pretty to leave out!  Oh my, now you've all seen how silly I can be.  It's the apples . . . . they just have that effect on me!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Apple Orchard Field Trip - Pumpkins

My dad (aka, "Grandpa"), took us to a local apple orchard.  The first
thing we saw when we pulled in was a vast array of pumpkins.

There were orange big ones,

little white ones,

little striped ones,

and funny shaped ones!

And oh, did I mention . . . the ugliest pumpkins ever!

Now, a pumpkin that ugly - you've just gotta pick that one up for yourself!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Words to Live by Wednesday

Here is the last sixth and last verse to memorize from Romans Road:

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." ~ Romans 10:10

I have my work cut out for me this week, because I did not finish memorizing last week's verses.

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." ~ Romans 10:9-10

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall Adventures

When the leaves are crunchy and the air is crisp, there is
nothing better than some outdoor exploration.

Little man loves to "borrow" the mower from next door.

The outdoors provide so many adventures for a one-year-old!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Adventures In Leaf Raking

Give a boy a rake and some leaves . . . .

And he'll build you a leaf pile!

There is nothing like good old teamwork.

Work together!