Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Silver Lining

One week ago on Christmas Eve, the snow was falling, the weather predictions were worse and we wondered what would happen. Now looking back, I can see that this was one of the most enjoyable Christmas celebrations in many years.

My in-laws were going to host Christmas dinner on Christmas day and at least three of the four children, plus their families, who live near enough were to converge on the farm for the feast that afternoon. But due to the weather predictions, Grandma decided to post-pone the feast till Sunday.

So Christmas Eve day found my husband busy at work preparing for the two evening services, my children trying to contain their excitement and not get into trouble, and me preparing meals, enjoying the snowfall, and anticipating a wonderful evening.

We began the day with a special breakfast of Overnight French Toast and sausage links before we went to Matins, the short, spoken service offered each Tuesday through Saturday at the church. Afterwards the children and I came home and shoveled some of the 8-10 inches of snow which had fallen. It was warm, sunny, and bright, which helped make shoveling to seem more of a pleasure than a burden.

Our dinner was a family favorite, Chicken with a Biscuit. It is a creamy chicken mixture (cubed chicken, peas, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, seasonings) boiled together and put into a baking dish with biscuits on top and then baked. I even made enough extra biscuits for the kids to have some on the side with jelly.

The afternoon found my husband still at work, the kids playing in the snow, and doing some extra cleaning for misbehavior, Hannah and Ellie practicing piano, flute, and violin in anticipation of playing in the services that evening. Finally the time came for showers, supper of Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup with crackers and cheese, and dressing in our Christmas outfits for the 7 pm service of Lessons and Carols.
After the service, which was attended by fewer people than previous years due to the snow (we kept getting more all day), we came home to find that Santa had indeed made it through with his trusty sleigh and left two presents for the children. David set up the video camera while I got my camera ready and also put the goodies on the table for nibbling, and the children sat (?) patiently (?) awaiting the time to open presents.

After opening we enjoyed each other's company and our new things for awhile before David and the two oldest went back to church to prepare for the midnight mass. At home, I picked up all the wrapping paper, put away the food and set the table for Christmas morning's breakfast while the three youngest continued playing with their new Christmas toys. As the 11:00pm start time drew near, the youngest three and I went over to attend worship (I really love living next door to the church). Afterwards, while I helped with altar guild duties, the youngest children came home for bed. It is always hard to sleep, I think, on Christmas Eve. The adrenaline from the evening, the basking in the birth of the Christ Child, the pondering of this baby whose body and blood were given and shed for me make for a night that does not want to end.

But alas it did and after only a few short hours we arose, ate a delicious breakfast of cinnamon rolls (of course they were homemade) before once again attending the 9:00 am worship hearing the wonderful news that Christ is Born!

We came home and while dinner was cooking (pork chops in the slow cooker, baked potatoes, corn, and homemade buns), David put together the Egyptian Pyramid that Nathan, Abby, and Sam received from Santa. It was finished and they could play for a bit before we ate our wonderful meal. Afterwards, while the children cleaned the kitchen, David and I took a nice, long, nap. Upon waking two hours later, we played the game Colosseum which Hannah and Ellie received from Santa (Santa must have known what we are studying in history this year). That is a very fun game! Suppertime was near and we had our standard Sunday evening meal of popcorn, apples, sausage, cheese, and crackers while watching the second disk of The Two Towers.

Speed forward to Sunday where once again we worshipped the New Born King and afterwards went to the farm to spend two nights with Grandpa and Grandma. David was able to put together their new shelves they purchased for each other for a Christmas gift and also set up the new flat-screen tv David, his sister and brothers (plus their families) gave to them.

Even though this Christmas didn't turn out as we had originally planned, and the kids were disappointed that none of the cousins ended up making it to Grandpa and Grandma's, we had a very nice time. The relaxing Christmas day at home, the added joy of spending a few days relaxing at Grandpa and Grandma's (which was a last minute plan due to the weather) really made this Christmas one to remember.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Decorations Around the House

Like other families, we've been given various Christmas decorations over the years. Here are some of ours decorating the top of the piano. (There is always open music on the piano and piles on either side and stacked on the floor.)

Normally my dining room window seat has the beautifully sewn cushion (by my good friend Amy) and pillows for a cozy place to sit.
But last winter we discovered that the bench isn't insulated therefore the cushion provided it and it actually froze to the bench. I spent a long time with a hair dryer freeing the cushion from the bench, drying with towels and air drying the cushion.

This year we took the cushion off when it turned cold providing me a place to set up my Christmas village. I don't have many pieces but I do like the ones I have.

On the other end of the bench I set up the nutcrackers. I've always loved nutcrackers. I think they are so fun to look at. The kids sure enjoy playing with them and it is fun watching them and listening in on their make-believe.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Away in a Manger

One of my favorite Christmas decorations is our manger scene.
The wooden stable was a wedding gift from Pastor Stache and his wife. Pr. Stache was the faithful shepherd of our Lord who baptized, catechized, confirmed, and married me. One of his hobbies was woodworking and he enjoyed building these mangers. He had given them as gifts to many people including my parents. It was a great joy to receive one as a wedding gift. They also gave us the figurines.

The linen I bought in Innsbruck, Austria two years ago. I loved so many of the beautiful German linens, but with five children I knew my house is currently not a linen house. But a Christmas linen I thought would work.
The other side says Innsbruck, Austria.

I love the trees, the feel, the lettering, I simply love my linen!
It looks so nice as the table cover for under the manger. This is one of my favorite Christmas decorations!
(Oh and the beautiful Christmas coasters came from Katie and Josh's wedding two (?) three (?) years ago. They were on the tables for all the guests to take home! I love them Katie! They are out all year round!)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Today's Funny

Yesterday I made my weekly trip to Aldi. Hannah asked me to pick up a few things for her for a Christmas gift which I did. Last night while helping David put receipts into our money program, I asked Hannah to remind me which of the things she would reimburse. As we marked off items, I asked what about this one: "Milk Choc Collect"

David laughed and said, "Dear Heavenly Father, we ask you for milk chocolate...."

Do you think that is a seasonal collect or a daily one?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Calendar

When my husband was growing up his family had an advent calendar which his mom had made with a group of ladies in the community. It looked similar to this:

One year we asked about that calendar. His mom gave us the old one along with the saved directions on how to make one. One of the first summers we were in our home in Illinois, I set to work making four new ones so each of David's married siblings and their families would have one as well. It was easy, yet time consuming, but well worth it. Ever since, as each Advent begins, it is the first thing we hang and the children take turns each day taking an item out of the pocket to hang on the tree.
I want to make a couple more as gifts, but typically forget until I pull it out of the box at the beginning of Advent. I really need to remember though as David's youngest brother, whom I didn't make one for before has now been married for eight years and has three young daughters who would enjoy this.

Maybe this year will be that year, I know of some ladies in the church who (I think) would enjoy having one. It sure would help with motivation and all the cutting if we were to do it all together, making several at one time.

Christmas Preparations

David put up our tree (a pre-lit) last Friday and the kids helped him to bring up all of the Christmas decoration boxes. They've been sitting in my living room ever since. Sunday afternoon as I listened to the Viking's game I put out the lighted village, nutcrackers, manger, and various other nick-knacks. It was fun, I haven't put out all of these things for a few years. I was able to remember the people who gave me these wonderful things and my youngest children oohed and aahed over them. They also have been enjoying the Christmas books and movies that have been stashed away for a year.

Monday we drove to Rochester to take the kids to a favorite toy store for them to choose a present for their sibling (they draw names). The employees in the store enjoyed watching as either David or I would take one child around and then to the counter for purchase while the other stayed at the front with the other children and played one of the games available for customers. This store even wrapped the gifts for free which was really nice for sneaking eyes.

Afterwards we went to the mall to once again to try and find some decent church clothes for our teenage daughter. This year has been a bigger challenge than most. Sweater dresses are everywhere and she doesn't like them (neither do I really) or "party dresses," for dances, or short sleeves (it is winter - in MN we are at negative degrees!). We did find a decent skirt and sweater at JC Penny, but it will have to be altered (she is so tall and skinny!), and then finally came home and ordered from Lands' End. Her younger sister already had picked a skirt (clear blue and big sis picked burgundy/gray plaid) and ivory turtleneck sweater and we were hoping not to have to have her older sister have the same thing (even in a different color), but there weren't any other options. These skirts aren't even "dress" skirts but their "uniform" skirts. They sure look very nice though. What I can't understand is why isn't a standard velour skirt and/or dress made each year? That seems to be a staple winter Christmas dress to me.

Last night while David was at a meeting I had the children help decorate the tree. They each have their own ornaments and so starting with the youngest they take turns hanging them on the tree. They also added their wrapped gifts to their sibling under the tree and wrapped Dad's gift. Now we enjoy sitting and looking at the lovely tree and there is always a game of "I spy" being played with the ornaments on the tree.

I still have some more baking I would like to finish. But the last few days have been nice for me. Until I put out all the Christmas decorations, I had forgotten how much the younger kids need that excitement. To them it signifies Christmas is getting really close, just like it did when their older siblings were their age. It was a good reminder for me to not be so scroogeish and decorate and let the younger ones also have the excitement and fun. In the next few days I'm going to pull out some of the craft boxes and help them make some things I always had the older ones do. But first we have to put away all those boxes that have cluttered the living room since last weekend awaiting to be opened and taken out to make the house a bit more merry.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I'll write a new post. The last three weeks have been full of visits from friends, no washing machine for two weeks, hosting Thanksgiving Dinner, baking Christmas cookies, visiting my good friend and her family in South Dakota for our kids to decorate those cookies, trying to do some sort of bookwork for school, and on, and on. I'll catch up eventually.