Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31

Michael and I slept in and awoke to a most wonderful surprise. The children had risen earlier and cleaned up the downstairs and done the dishes. Quite a welcome miracle! Especially since we were expecting guests at 10 a.m. If only this was a sign of what the year ahead might be! Michael and I joined our guests for coffee and tea in the living room and enjoyed chatting for several hours. Rachel left to spend the day with a friend and the boys headed outside. Laura lay down for a quick nap and just when I picked my novel up she awoke. That meant it was time to start potty training her. I am happy to report that our first afternoon of our second attempt went 100% better than our first attempt this past summer. We shall see how day 2 goes...... We enjoyed a cheese and cracker dinner in the living room and played a card game and then had the children play charades. Pleadings to stay up and watch the ball drop resulted in the idea to watch a video of the ball dropping in 2012! Everyone was happy with that idea and afterward we tucked the children in and said goodbye until next year. And now to bed early!

New Years are for Grace

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy New Year (a few hours early) to you all!!!!
May your new year be filled with grace upon grace.

December 30

There were lots of delicious leftovers from the shower for breakfast and then we all headed off to church. My mom, whose church service is earlier than ours, always comes to cook our meal for us while we are still at church. Thus we all sat down to a lovely, hot lunch upon our return from church. My sister even sent an extra apple crisp and ice-cream she had, which gave us something beside Christmas cookies to have for dessert! We spent the afternoon visiting before saying goodbye Michael's sister and her family and heading off to evening service. There were nachos for dinner when we returned home and then we all headed to bed to get some rest after a busy month!

December 29

Saturday morning we awoke to more snow -- this time a snow that sat in beautiful piles on every tree branch and bush. My sister-in-law and I headed out to a baby shower, spending the morning enjoying good food and good fellowship and delight over a baby boy arriving to join three sisters. Once home it was time to find snow things for the visiting cousins and let all 7 of the kids go out to enjoy the snow. This gave the parents a nice chance to sit and relax. Tacos were made for dinner and eventually children were settled to bed. As always happens, just as the clock was hitting bedtime we stumbled upon some subjects that had us laughing so hard we couldn't talk. In case you are wondering, the subjects included feline socialization, working at Goodwill, and gun control, all related too! This continued for some time until we finally realized we better get some sleep.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 28

I slept in and when I came downstairs my friend called to say that her baby might be on the way. I grabbed some teabags and my knitting and headed over to spend the morning with her children. Once the grandparents arrived I headed home, stopping to get a flu shot and diapers on the way. After lunch I finished cleaning the house, scrubbing bathrooms, doing dishes, sweeping. There was a few minutes for enjoying the picked up living room and the novel that has turned into the perfect Christmas story and then the cousins arrived from Cleveland! YAY! We haven't seen them in 1 1/2 years. We spent the afternoon talking and had pizza for dinner (interrupted by the news of a baby GIRL born to my friend -- too exciting!!!) before the men headed out to see the Hobbit. I warned Michael he would probably run into someone he knows at the theater (he rarely goes, but when he does, he usually sees someone....). Michael laughed that off but then texted to say he actually did! He ran into Laura's neurosurgeon and an OR nurse and managed to get the final MRI reading verbally from her! Good news: Laura's cyst has not grown in the last 6 months and may even have diminished. This is an answer to prayer! Michael's sister, Nicole, and I sat the children in front of their own movie and that gave us a chance to talk ourselves for several hours before tucking the children away for the night.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 27

What a treat to get our heat fixed this morning!!! And a nice, simple (read: not breaking the bank) fix too!! Michael decided he now lived in a palace, since that is what having heat made him feel like. I braved the slushy roads to get the food shopping done and then came home to have a lovely tea time with a friend from afar. That did my heart good. Then the gang and I headed down the street to enjoy the afternoon with some of the neighbors. We have the most wonderful representation of nationalities on our street so we discussed holiday traditions in South Africa, Portugal, and India, and we could have gone on to others..... Upon returning home I found the perfect chance to sit and enjoy a book in the living room and chat with my sister by phone. Leftovers were pulled from the refrigerator for dinner and with the delay of our out of town guests by one night it was decided that the five haircuts that need to be done should happen tonight! I have currently completed 2 of the 5. And now off to finish......

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26

Well, our "blizzard" turned into a mere 5 inches, but it was still fun to sit at home and relax and drink more tea and try to stay warm. My mom stuck around until late afternoon when she felt the roads would be driveable. I slowly moved around picking things up and tidying the house. We had tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch and then a neighbor popped in to spend the afternoon chatting and drinking tea. An hour later her husband joined us and an hour after that another neighbor. They kindly sent us firewood and blankets after they left and then I heated up leftovers for dinner and we all got busy picking up, changing beds, vacuuming and warming ourselves with all the work. I have just 2 more rooms to vacuum. The children are quietly listening to the latest Arthur Ransome, and I think I will pick up my knitting when I can. Can't wait for my warm, electric blanket!

December 25

Heard children running down the stairs at 7:15 so Michael had to go shoo them off to a far corner of the house until we were ready to get up around 8:15 at which point we watched the kids open their stockings. Breakfast prep was started and when I came down from getting dressed I was completely surprised to find Michael had made a fire in our fireplace (the first time ever!!!). After reading from Luke 2 we grabbed our breakfast foods and Michael started handing out presents. Grandma arrived just in time to participate. By 10:30 the children were hard at work in the front room on their new Lego sets and the adults were enjoying pots of tea, easy chairs, coziness, and peace. Thus the better part of the day passed along with texting now and then to wish friends and family a Merry Christmas. As the day wore on it became more and more obvious that our heat was no longer working. Craig and Emily arrived later afternoon to enjoy the festivities for a few hours and the fun finger food was pulled out for dinner. An early movie (Hugo) was enjoyed by all and then all the wool blankets and the one space heater were collected to keep children and adults warm through the night. The high winds began almost at once and by the time we had awoken in the morning the blizzard was in full swing with several inches of snow already on the ground and the house was holding steady at 56 degrees F.

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24, 2012

Too lazy to get up early and even too lazy to dive right into my work once I was up. Eventually I managed to plate cookies for our neighbors and even had to pull more out of the freezer and quickly decorate them. Then there was a list of food preparations for tomorrow, all the while the door busy with knocks, presents left, cookies given, children running to and fro with other children. A nice stop for coffee with one neighbor before heading out to visit an elderly member of the congregation with James and Laura. Then it was time to brave the cold and traipse around our street with our cookies. Fortunately, there were delicious leftovers for dinner and even cookies and mince pies with brandy butter for dessert. The children were tucked away in front of a movie and I headed to my closet to begin the wrapping. It is almost done, just 2 stockings worth of presents left to go. Then we will fill the stockings, contemplate picking up a bit, and, if we have the chance, relax a bit ourselves before heading to bed. Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

Christmas is for Grace

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us 
and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
I John 4:10

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

December 23

Up to get parts of our lunch ready and then we all headed to church, dressed in festive tartans and plenty of red. Home to our family Christmas feast with lots of good food, laughter, and happy times. The afternoon went so fast and as the day drew in we headed back to church for worship and communion, the appetizer to the heavenly feast we will one day partake of. It was the best of days.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22, 2012

I am pleased to report that the secret Christmas knitting was finished in the wee hours of this morning. And then I did get some sleep before crawling out of bed on this freezing cold morning to meet my mom and sister and friends downtown at the winter farmer's market. We had a lovely morning of chatting and shopping and a great lunch at Punch Burger. Then it was time to head home and begin on the preparations for our family Christmas dinner tomorrow. Once at home I found an injured David. While sledding he had landed in some branches and had part of a small twig sticking out of the palm of his hand. No amount of badgering (for 2 hours) got us any closer to getting it out so Michael kindly sacrificed several hours of his day to take him to Urgent Care where they numbed him and then dug down to get the 1/2-inch twig/thorn out. UGH! Meanwhile the cooking and cleaning up got done and the table is now all set and ready for tomorrow. And tonight I can actually read instead of knit!

Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012

The boys were up and out of the house by 7:30 this morning to play in the snow! Laura couldn't wait to join them! I started in on a morning of cleaning and baking. My kitchen floor is the size of a football field, so it takes a long time to mop. Mom's famous Christmas cardamom bread made it into the oven, along with a gluten-free option for Andrew and myself. We all paused for an hour of rest after lunch and then a friend came over to help me rally the children into making chocolate mice and nut clusters. I cleaned up while said friend read winter stories to the children and then the children disappeared and we had an hour and a half to ourselves to drink tea and work on Christmas stitching. Then it was time to say goodbye and whip the house (or rather the children so they could whip the house) into shape before more friends arrived for Friday night pizza. The house was abuzz with 11 children and 4 adults. And I just felt very, very thankful for good friends. We have had some sad drama in our extended family this Christmas which has made time with my mom and sisters and my friends all the more special and meaningful. What a difference it makes! And I found myself humming an old Ugandan chorus: "God is good. He has done me well. Oh my soul, rise and praise the Lord."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20

Oh the bliss of sleeping in! Especially when your sister texts and asks if you could possibly come 30 minutes late to her house?! Absolutely! It was my first time to visit Emily's house today! I loved it! We all loved it! We made gingerbread houses and ate Emily's yummy lunch, and toured the house, and looked in the basement, and pulled open drawers and (I never looked in the fridge!). The kids did with candy what they usually do with legos. Then we drove home into a rainstorm and the kids went to a neighbor's for an art lesson and I drove out for an afternoon of food shopping. The most restful part of the afternoon was stopping to see a friend who is in rehab. I did not want to pull myself off her bed and go out into the now plunging temperatures and gusting winds to finish the last three stores. But I did it and got home to put everything away and make dinner (since I had failed to pull one of my meals from the freezer to put in the crockpot). And now that the kids are in bed it is time to head off to knitting. This may be my last evening to do Christmas knitting so I better get busy! At least I have a large mug of tea, a mince pie, some gluten free gingerbread cookies (the best!) to comfort me against the every blowing winds outside the house.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19

Up and into the baking straight away! Beginning with gluten free: sugar cookie dough, gingerbread dough, and pastry. Then onto regular sugar cookie dough. Breakfast of cooked oatmeal and then time to start baking, gluten free first, then regular cookies as well as 4 dozen mince pies (couldn't do without them). Reinforcements arrived at 1 p.m. in the form of a friend to decorate and a friend to chat while I baked. Thus passed the entire afternoon. Dinner from the crockpot with an added neighbor child to eat with us, dishes. A quick chat with a neighbor and upstairs by 8 to start our brand new Arthur Ransome book (Pigeon Post) and get to the knitting!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18

Michael kindly got up at an unearthly hour to take Laura down for her sedated MRI and doctor's appointment. I spent the morning doing necessary, secret, sewing and we watched a flock of starlings hang out in our front yard, as well as listened to Christmas music. Laura's appointment yielded nothing more conclusive yet, so we will keep waiting. I headed out to my eye surgery follow up and joined a room full of other people with black eyes, waiting their turn with the doctor. One hour later I got my 2 and 1/2 minutes and the all-good sign. One hour of listening to the television in the background constantly rehashing the events from Friday and trying to interview whoever they could. I felt sick thinking about the media standing like gawkers on the sidelines, never giving that town a moment's peace. Home to one of my crockpot dinners I made with friends on Saturday and then we braved the darkness to drive to a local free Christmas Brass concert put on by 5 members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. We all enjoyed it very much! Rachel said it was her favorite concert ever. Drove around to see a few lights before heading home to do the dishes in 10 minutes, get the kids to bed and now, now that it is 10 p.m., it is time for some secret Santa knitting!

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17

Slept in for some much-needed rest. Headed out with Andrew for our traditional Mommy-Andrew Christmas shopping (we have done this every year for probably 4 years and he is the only child with whom I regularly do this). Hoping to accomplish our lists in 3 hours but it took over 5. Hopped from store to store with a stop for lunch at Wendy's (more gluten-free options). Home by 4 and time to start in on the day's baking which included our family's traditional shortbread, which has been made by our family every Christmas for four generations at least. The minimum of housework done and then knitting.

Mondays are for Grace

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

-- Sibelius

December 16

Awoke to Scottish summer weather -- rain-drenched sunshine and temps in the high 50's (F). Dressed in the coolest, festive clothing we could find. Morning church service and lunch at friends. Watching Laura enjoy ice-cream, hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies. Rest, tea, an inspiring book. Evening service and communion, chatting with friends. Pancakes for dinner. Reading and just a little knitting.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15

Up early to join a group of friends making freezer meals for the holidays -- 11 families, 10 meals each, LARGE quantities. Off to take the children to their recital rehearsal and then home to get them cleaned up and dressed up before heading back for the real thing. Very festive to sit and listen to all the Christmas music the 25 or so children played. Duets by Rachel and Andrew, Andrew and James, James and Rachel, and a solo by Rachel. Home to clean up the kitchen, write a few cards, wrap a few presents, eat leftovers for dinner, bake a few cookies, and bathe a few children. Listening to the children describe the fun they had at an Ugly Christmas Sweater party at a friend's church. Thinking about relaxing and glad tomorrow is Sunday.

Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14

With the tragic events in Connecticut today it was easy to choose this picture to capture our day: overwhelming thankfulness of what we have (each other) and sorrow for those who will now face the holidays without their precious children and loved ones. It puts problems into perspective, doesn't it!

We spent the day working on crafts, drinking tea, making magazine trees, eating homemade turkey soup, tasting Christina's fruitcake, sewing hats, a new ornament, spending hours in the kitchen baking, cooking down the last of the fall pumpkins and making pumpkin pie for dinner but forgetting to put in any kind of sweetener! Dishes, bed-time routine, texts with friends around the world, will I get to the Christmas knitting?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13

I did sleep in again today! And we completed our 90th day of the 180 required days of school. I think we shall take a break until January! Baked potatoes and cottage cheese for lunch and then we finally had our regular quiet time of 1-2 p.m. After that desk work called, including renewing my expired driver's license. There was plenty of laundry to fold, and then letters to get in the mail. By that time I needed to get dressed for my exciting evening out! Michael, as a surprise for my birthday, managed to get ahold of two free tickets to a preview screening of the first hour of Downton Abbey Season 3 at the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre -- period dress was encouraged! Michael wins BIG points for this one! I don't think he could have come up with a more creative or special idea for my birthday -- even more special because he does not care for Downton Abbey himself. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12

I slept in today, which was nearly the only thing I did to aid recovery. Worked on school while baking gluten-free cookies since the cookies I baked last night turned out to be a flop. The children made toast and cheese for lunch while I scurried to collect the library books and then we rushed out the door to the last day of Writing Class and the "Author's Tea" at which we enjoyed goodies and listened to the children each read some of their writing. Stopped by the library for the weekly "switch out" and then headed home. Housework and then Art Class here at the house with a table full of children and my mom teaching. Leftovers cooked up to resemble stew and then a few minutes of computer work before reading a Christmas story to the children, doing the dishes and dishing out bedtime snack of healthy pumpkin pie. And then, do I have energy for knitting and reading?????

Words and Wool

Each evening I find myself wishing for a long moment to knit and then another hour for reading. Wishful thinking it seems just now but there is so much knitting to be done before Christmas. 

I did finish these Boot Candy Boot Toppers earlier this month. I was happy with how they turned out and even happier with how speedily they knit up -- 1 1/2 hours each! 

Here is a photo to show you the little boy I found knitting on Sunday! He picked them up in the evening and I snapped his photo! We did have a little talk later in the week about perhaps leaving our knitting for home use. :)

As for books, I finished A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Liz Curtis Higgs. Michael was not happy with me for reading it because he predicted that he would be listening to me rant about my unhappiness with historical fiction that is not very historical. He was right. Oh well. The idea of reading a Christmas novel set in Victorian Scotland was nice and I should have left it at that.

Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of The Iliad by Rosemary Sutcliff was finished this past week and the children and I really enjoyed it! The illustrations were beautiful and imaginative.

In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid by Penelope Lively was also begun and I'm sure we will enjoy it just as much.

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher is still my novel of choice for relaxing in the evenings. It may turn out to be my favorite Christmas read, at least that is what I am hoping. I will be sure to let you know.

And now I must tidy things up and get ready for some evening reading to the children.

You can find more knitting and reading recommendations at Ginny's Yarn Along.

Note: This page contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 11

My youngest sister's 26th birthday. Eye Surgery day. I once promised to tell about my eye situation and never did. After Laura's birth I was diagnosed with Grave's disease (an autoimmune disorder affecting the thyroid). A year later, against many odds, I was diagnosed with Grave's Eye Disease (an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the cells in the tissue surrounding the eyes). The effect of this disease was a bulging of the eyes, most noticeably on my left side. To prevent further damage, I had the eyelid lowered last December. However, against many more odds, I fell into the 2-5% that does not turn out perfectly the first time. So, we waited until our deductible was met this year and went back this morning to have the eyelid raised slightly. The above picture is somewhat exaggerated since I also just happened to develop a sinus infection the night before surgery. We are all hoping that after the 3 months or so of recovery my eyelid will more closely match the right side! And hopefully I will remain in the large percentage of people who have no further trouble from Grave's Eye Disease.

After being starved all day it was a treat to return home to food, lots of tea, and sitting around recovering. Christina brought a delicious meal, and I now have an excuse to go to bed early and read or knit or watch something -- if I can keep my eyes open. :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10

Up early to get organized and to write a letter, school, began the Aeneid with the children (a children's version), found more eggs and toast for lunch, started out on a long shopping journey: dollar store, goodwill, joann fabrics, half price books, thrifty threads, trader joe's, costco, and aldi; stopped for necessary refreshment, had a bird drop on my head (great!), made it home in time to cook some dinner, read to kids, and then go shopping online.

Mondays are for Grace

"Christmas makes everything twice as sad."
-- Doug Coupland

Therefore, let us open our hearts for grace to flow twice as deep.

December 9

Church, glancing down the pew to see the 6-year-old BOY knitting (WHAT???!!!!), roast turkey for lunch, Dundee cake and tea for the afternoon, visiting with my mom, the sleepy darkness of the day, reading good books, return to church, eggs and toast for dinner, tiredness.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Remains of the Week

A few things I couldn't resist posting:

Candy cane cookies. The first batch made this week:

Cutting snowflakes:

Sewing presents:

An art workshop:


Laura's request for breakfast every morning: rice kispies 

Another look at my birthday tea:

At the Butler Rejoice Concert:


Tree time:

Michael even dusted off his guitar to entertain us:

This child is eating fruit cake (Dundee cake). Definitely my daughter!

A new thing this year -- a tree for the dining room. Overheard from Laura, "I remember this one James."

Another glimpse at birthday tea and the final course:

And now to bed......