Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our Tree

Peace...a word found on thousands of holiday cards this season, yet so far out of reach for many. As I look at our tree this year I reflect on the past year and thank Jesus that He redeems our lost and weary hearts as we yield ALL to him.

A year ago I lived in a house twice as big on two and a half acres with a couple hundred trees and two creeks, my dream home. Our nine foot tree sat prominently in front of the fireplace. Problem was it wasn't a dream and there was no peace.

So this past year has been a year of change. We have sold, given away, and thrown away many of our things; we sold the "dream" house; we gave up titles and busyness at church; we gave up some friends and what's left…simplicity. Sometimes I think we get caught up in the things and stuff of life, and then we miss it.

A couple of years ago I sat with a friend in a Panera Bread Co having breakfast. Our table sat between two groups of women. On our right were some grandma types who were sharing pictures of their kids and grandkids, telling stories of days gone by. On our left were some soccer mom types with their PDAs syncing their schedules and trying to get through their week. It was surreal watching these contrasting life stages side by side. I'll bet you if the grandma types could tell the soccer mom types just one thing it would be to slow down and hold your family close before they slip away to old memory filled photos.

One of the best memories of my youth was fishing with my Dad. We would fish nearly every week through the summer and after we loaded up to go home we would stand and make cold cut sandwiches on the hood of his truck, watching the brilliant red and orange glow of the sunset as it disappeared below the horizon. I'm sure there were a thousand things he could have been doing other than fishing, but I'm glad he didn't. I will never forget those summer nights.

So back to peace, we found it. It was lost, but we found it. This year our tree is smaller, so is our house, yard and just about everything else, but we are happy and I wouldn't trade trees for anything.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Cookies, Cookies, and more Cookies

Holiday baking is something I love and look forward to every Christmas. This year, since I had help from my two chefs in training, it only took me nine hours to make seven double batches of cookies and candy. You know how that works, "Can we help Mom?"........ the time it takes to do something all of the sudden doubles. This year the baking was about the experience not the productiveness.

We have such wonderful neighbors who have all been so good to us. It was a delight taking our home baked goodies to every one of their doors. We delivered plates to ten houses.

Candy Cane Thumbprints

Pecan Shortbread Logs

Pumpkin Pie Drops

Chocolate Surprise Bites

Candy Cane Bark

Chocolate & Peanut butter Fudge

How Lovely are Thy Branches...

As much as I love the idea of heading out to the Christmas tree farm to pick out that perfect tree and watch as my husband and son cut it down themselves, Home Depot is closer, easier, and more convenient.

Jacob picked the tree this year and did a great job. Just look how straight the trunk is and how uniform the branches are. I delegate Jake to pick out our tree every year.

Believe it or not, this is our 15th year to string popcorn for our tree.

Our first Christmas together, back in 1994, Ed and I sat on our living room floor stringing popcorn together. It has become a favorite holiday tradition for our family.

You've gotta love those old Hallmark ornaments you received as a gift for your first Christmas. This one was from my Grandma Battin.

An ornament from my childhood.

The homemade ones are the best. Sophie made this dolly ornament out of bread dough, painted it and sprinkled with glitter.

Just look at that reindeer. It hung on our tree when Jacob was 5 and will hang on our tree when he is 55.

It can't get sweeter than this.

Another "First Christmas" ornament, from Grandma Hoefer.

In memory of our trip to Disney World, this was Sophie's 2004 ornament.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

School time

This is a picture of my daughter working diligently on her writing assignment, can't you see? At the right of the picture, she's holding a green pencil. I know, Ronny is a bit distracting, isn't he. Well he distracted me too.

This bag was on the table and he crawled right in......well, with a little help from me he did. See, it's not just our kids who get distracted from school.

He is always where the action is and this was the most action in our home at the time because Vivian went to work with Daddy for the morning.

The lighting was perfect so why not take a few pics of my kitty.

Then this is when it happened, she came home.

"Oh no! She's back." At least I think that's what he was thinking.

She loves her kitty and let's him know it.

This cat doesn't hurt from not enough love.

He hurts from too much love, poor kitty.

Nap time is officially over.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A boy, a guitar

So there is a story behind the story here, it’s the story of the guitar that needed a home. Gretchen’s father, Jack, is a fantastic musician who has been searching for a protégée for over 16 years now. In fact, the first time I met Jack he had a guitar around his neck as he welcomed me in their home. As I became a regular at the house, Jack often greeted me with, “Hey come here and check this out” as he played some new riff he was working on. Jack bought this guitar hoping John (Uncle John) would take interest. When John wasn’t interested, he fixed his sights on me and try as I might, it just didn’t take. I even took it to Texas and kept it prominently displayed on a stand in our living room for a year. After conceding that it just wasn’t to be, the guitar made it’s was back to Illinois where Joy (Aunt Joy) gave it a shot. In fact, when she moved to Texas, so did the guitar, where it sat in the corner of her room. Yes, back to Illinois the guitar went where it was placed… under a bed until Gretchen decided to sign me up for guitar lessons Christmas last year. Yep, you guessed it; back to Texas the guitar traveled. So after another failed musical endeavor by me, crushed visions of a protégée by Jack, wanting expectations of a music filled home by Gretchen, and many thousands of miles traveled, the guitar has found its home in the hands of our son. AHHH, finally a match made in heaven.

After the lengthy introduction to the guitar, now about Jake. Jake has been interested in music for the past couple of years and we finally decided it was time. So we enrolled him with Ryan, who I met during my latest failed attempt (see above.) Ryan is a great teacher who is passionate about music and really connects with his students. After a few short months, Jake is reading music, playing notes, and strumming a few chords. During his recent recital, which we refer to as his official debut, he played his selection solo. Jake enjoys his new skill and has even treated us to an in home concert or two. What a pleasure it is to watch Jacob accompanying Sophie on the piano.

Watch out music world, Jacob is on the seen.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The girls.........Then & Now

Vivian was dressed in this gown a few nights ago when the pictures of Sophie, from 5 years ago, scrolled across my screen saver. The kids each have their own little tree for their rooms, so I couldn't resist trying to copy Sophie's pics. Obviously my Vivian is a little more dramatic when it comes to picture taking.

For those of you who haven't seen my girls in awhile, Sophie is on the left and Vivian on the right.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Best Friends

This is me and my best friend Jody. My hubby took this picture of us and did a surprisingly good job. Our beauty does help make a great picture though, right? So let me tell you about Jody. We've been friends for 18 years now. We go all the way back to our cave days, seriously, we became lifelong friends in a cave. We went on a mission trip together when we were 15. On the trip we all had a buddy and she was mine.

She's more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed for in a friend. She has been so faithful, even in my ugliest moments. And believe me, I can get ugly! We have laughed together, cried together, played together, prayed together, we have fought, forgiven each other, griped about our husbands to each other, then rebuked each other, then encouraged each other, been pregnant together with the two most amazing little girls, been birth coaches for each other, moreover we have shared our lives together.

Jody is beautiful, funny, outgoing, confident, passionate, strong, dependable, LOUD, loyal & caring. She loves God. She loves her family. She is a fantastic mother. She loves RED. She makes the best chicken 'n' noodles and coleslaw. She loves to have fun.

OK, really this post is not about Jody. It is about our beautiful girls, Sophia Grace and Claire Ellen. So here they are.

Two peas in a pod. Sophie is 2 months and 6 days older than her best friend Claire and she's probably one of the only girls who can say she was present at the birth of her best friend.

This picture reminds me of two little grown-ups. They look way too mature here.

No that is not a stuffed animal. It's our puppy Beasley.

This was our last family outing together before Claire and her family moved back to Smallville, Illinois.

The Robinsons moved to Dallas two years after we did. Nine years later they decided it was time to go home.

We drove home for a visit 3 months after they moved. Home for them is home for us. We all grew up in don't blink or you'll miss it, Central Illinois.

Good old fashioned pin curls......these girls were stylin.

Lake Storey Park where we spent many summers swimming is now iced over for a fun day in the snow.

Claire and her Daddy came in April for Sophie's birthday.
Club Libby Lu had these girls all decked out.

Back again for a fall visit, my Mom taught the girls how to embroider.

Here are their beautiful hand embroidered pillows.
Thanks Mom!

Till next time.......