Christmas 2018

(Note: as I was writing this- my youngest daughter had a very bad episode- and I was derailed for a short time. Back now to finish!)

 

I am home from Church with sick little girls. My oldest daughter at the helm with me. The illness is dramatic with choking coughs, inhalers, little girls who whisper with constraint because they fear the cough, a Saturday morning pediatrician sick visit, now antibiotics, ear infections, a vaporizer (first time EVER using one in my entire motherhood– just continually shows me how  there is always more to learn, know, implement, and use–I am frequently surprised in this motherhood journey and realize all I would think I *knew* if I didn’t have the long journey of parenting all the ages for decades), and a grace- given neighbor who literally came (unknowingly to her) my rescue, sat with me, applied her stethoscope, provided (legitimate) medical advice, and was an all around comfort.

(Thank you, friend. Thank You, Lord.) 

In a few moments, Abi and I will spring to action and (hopefully) whisk the house into better shape. She is knitting industriously, and I– I am writing here and pondering. We are all listening to Piano Guys: A Family Christmas which is one of my Christmas favorites.

Blessed Christmas 2018. Sharing some memories and grace gifts. I managed (somehow) to pull our Christmas together amongst the most different advent season we have ever had. It is somewhat of a blur- we had the great delight of hosting overnight guests two weekends in a row, college son coming home, his work commitments, my high school students online classes stretching even through the 21st of December, concerts, and performances. I am resting in this Christmas week as I try to prepare my mind, heart, and home for the next semester of school. Lord, please help me. I am still writing at 66books and here is a link to my most recent post there which refers to this timely, precious week between the change of the years.

Some of our traditions fell to the wayside- but some remained unscathed:

Sunday evening advent; Adornaments; The Advent Book; It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol; Christmas Eve Shepherd’s Meal; Christmas Eve Wrapping Extravaganza; Christmas Cookies

-not enough Christmas story reading- but we are working on that now-

Something I deeply treasured this Advent Season was “tuning” in to Sarah Clarkson’s Advent Poetry readings. She would go live on Instagram (which I would watch when I could) and share the loveliest poetry. I learned many new favorites- the whole experience blessed me tremendously. You can find them here. They are a wonder.

 

Here is a link to Jonah playing my favorite Christmas song (by ear). — his Christmas gift to me. Best gift.

Memories:

Contempic performances (Nutcracker Tea, Town Mall, and Nursing Home) and the treasured friends (and family)who shared them with us

Nathanael’s Cello performance at the Town Mall with CCS string group

Opus Winter Recital

Annual Christmas party and having special guests this year

Cookie Day and Mango Chili

My first time ever eating pomegranate ( I am in love) and the best fruit salad ever

Starbucks after Abi’s Christmas dances with Courtney and her girls

CPYB Nutcracker Performance with Jenny and Emma at the Hershey Theater

Christmas songs, Trumpet playing, Schwenk visit, heart to heart talks

realizing that Bjs wasn’t actually BJs (and time with the Erks)

lunch with Jen and all her wisdom

Being Colin’s Christmas exchange family for this year and the thoughtful, amazing gifts we all received

Amazon Prime’s Little Women and The Christmas Candle on Netflix

Christmas poems for sisters (from Micah)

Jonah’s viola music

Nathanael’s companionship at the shops on Christmas Eve

Taking the little girls to their first ever theater movie with their cousins: Mary Poppins

their happiness and joy in Christmas and (some) dreams coming true…

Happy Christmas!  I am still celebrating… not quite ready to give it all up.

Tomorrow- New Year’s!!

~Rebecca~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cookie Day 2018 and Filled Snickerdoodles

 

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Sugar cookies

We recently had our very first “Cookie Day” with my brother’s family. It was utterly delightful, and I am so glad I said, “yes!” when the idea came to us both in “relatively” early November. I struggled a bit with some aspects of the implementation and am thankful everyone worked together to make this day a sweet success. At the end, the little ones each got to fill a plate with six cookies- knowing that all the rest were going to head to Ama’s for Christmas Day and the days to come.

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I fell completely in love with cookie stamps! I found an Irish claddagh. It is a beautiful, stoneware cookie stamp that is even dishwasher safe. Cookie-making with these stamps was so, so fun!

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I was so happy to stumble upon a big sale at Michaels. It can be tricky finding safe sprinkles. The choices are limited. 

We set up three stations for the little ones:

decorating sugar cookies

cut-outs

cookie stamps

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Ever grateful for my husband who handles the cut-out station to perfection (orderly, organized, calm, fair, and so on!)

Ryan had the fantastic (cozy) suggestion to have crockpots of chili.

He brought a venison mango/sweet potato chili with a spicy kick. We made our turkey salsa/black bean chili.

While three adults manned the stations, my older kids were able to complete almost all of the rest of our Christmas cookie baking. Nathanael and Asher made their traditional peppermint cookie bark, and Abi made filled snickerdooodles.

We have gotten a lot of requests for our filled Snickerdoodle cookie recipe. These cookies are becoming holiday favorites for our teachers and other people we share them with at Christmas-time. They are definitely a festive treat!

I am sharing the recipe below! Merry Christmas, friends!

Filled Snickerdoodles
Cookie:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup dairy free margarine or coconut oil
2 eggs
2 3/4 unbleached white flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
3 TB cinnamon
3 TB sugar      {for rolling dough balls in}
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix first six ingredients into a dough that forms small balls in your hands
Mix cinnamon/sugar mixture
Roll dough into balls and then in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Place on trays and back for 8-10 minutes.
Notes:
we prefer our cookies slightly soft so we choose the shorter cook time
we have found that baking these cookies on stoneware creates the absolute best cookie
coconut oil has a softer, richer texture than dairy free margarine
Filling:
Best Vanilla Frosting
1 stick dairy free margarine or 1/2 cup coconut oil (softened/melted)
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups confectioners sugar
Water or Vanilla flavored dairy free milk such as almond or rice milk
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and whip together
Notes:
we use our basic vanilla/white icing filling or sugar cookie icing
the icing made with coconut oil seems the most delicious- but it is the trickiest to make. If not careful, you can end up with a lumpy mess that is hard to salvage.
Let cookies cool completely. Fill with a light layer of frosting. Place in freezer or refrigerator until ready to give away or serve!
Note to my children: remember to make the cookies on the small, thin side. 🙂

Thanksgiving 2018

My photos aren’t that crisp or clear this year- and it feels a bit symbolic to me. In some ways, this seems (maybe more than I realize) to capture what is unique for Thanksgiving 2018.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 NIV

 

Thanksgiving 2018
Appetizers
Halo oranges and pretzels
Wheat Thins and Special Sauce
Rippled Chips
Deviled Eggs
Main Meal
Roasted Turkey
Home-made Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Bake
Cranberry Relish (with way more cranberries and way less sugar this year)
Broccoli Salad
Coleslaw
Cucumber and Red Onion Salad (alas our Spring Mix housed Romaine 😦 )
Crusty (home-made) Rolls with Earth Balance
Desserts
(I think we overdid on our desserts this year! But, we eat much for breakfast the next day (and for days after) with scrambled eggs, and dessert recipes are one of the children’s favorite ways to participate in the feast. Everyone has their favorite(s).) 
Apple Pie (Joshua)
Jewish Apple Cake (Nate)
Pumpkin Pie (Jonah)
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (Jonah)
Chocolate Cream Pie (twins)
Pumpkin Roll (Asher/Abi)
Pumpkin Bar (Asher/Abi)
Tofutti “cheese” cake with chocolate swirl and fresh squeezed lemon (Norah)

The Things They Say Part 2

I am gathered together with my teens in the music room.

We are an indomitable late-night crew.

Tall Son is home from college

– and we are drawn like moths to flame–

to each other.

The talk turns to sports and the local christian school sports team some of the boys have played/play for:

And basketball- because one son plays soccer. And we circle round whether he should have played basketball, too– we chit– and we chat–

and then suddenly- Tall Son rallies! He tells brother he would have been sitting on the (basketball team) bench.

Said son deflects all perfectly- perfect delivery, absolutely no angst:

“I am a bench warrior; let me tell you! If I get the exercise I need in practice, mission accomplished. Then I can cheer on the team from the bench, which is what I do best!”

He rubs his knuckles on his chest and then blows on them.

He is the soccer man- and if he can maintain condition for soccer- everything else is icing on the cake.

“I am a bench warrior”- The Things They Say.

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That same night- two sons duel in falsetto.

I share the story of a small son (who is now basically a man on that very couch) many years ago- singing Christmas Carols perfectly in a sweet, high-pitched voice: “Falalalala-lala-lalala!”

Back and forth they sing an ad-lib, high-pitched duel.

I laugh so hard, I cry.

I share the story of my sister- with whom I would often laugh until I cried when I was young– late at night. We called it the “Daze Stage.”

It felt so happily familiar.

To laugh myself silly with my loves.

The Things They Say (or Sing)

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I am immersed in a writing intensive with my freshman daughter.

We are working hard through much difficulty.

She crafts a compare/contrast essay on  Acro-Dance and Gymnastics.

The course utilizes a computerized scoring system and writing improvement tool called PEG.

We groan as we work with PEG; we determine to “trick” PEG; we won’t stop until PEG’s points go higher. I am relentless. She is determined. She is a force to contend with in her fixed focus toward completion. On, on.

PEG doesn’t like “acro,” we have to name it acrobatics. So, we do- with mutterings and groans.

PEG doesn’t like “back walkovers;” I trick it by insisting she call it “the back walkover.” So, she does (and the points improve.)

Later, I am working at the table… and she is standing behind a chair across from me. She wants to share her essay with some different people– and we are talking about it. I hear her muttering and pondering:

” ‘ The back walkover’ — that sounds so WEIRD.”

And suddenly, it hits me:

“The back walkover”– just how presumptuous and awkward it sounds-

as if it is some great, specifically precise feat separate from the other skills in her sentence in some inexplicable way.

The actual sentence: Side aerials, the back walkover, and press handstands are all amazing to watch and hard to achieve.

and she just can’t stand how “the back walkover” sounds and reads in the sentence- and how it isn’t true to what it really “is.”

Her face- scrunched up in disapproval; the battle with PEG; the victory with points; the sweat equity in the piece itself;

I laugh SO  HARD. I laugh today. I laugh forever. I laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

“The back walkover”  The Things They Say (and we do).

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A (smaller) Tall Son begins his first basketball season:

He loads the bus for his first away game:

A shout rises up: “BORGER!!!!” from all the high school players.

He loads and sits deep in the middle of the bus behind the high school Coach (Micah’s coach) and Coach says:

“Welcome to the Belly of the Beast.”

At dinner, he finds himself the center of some probing questions. A high school team member knows three of his brothers who have participated in various activities at said school.

“Whose your favorite brother?” the team-mate queries — hoping to disarm son and gather some ammunition. Not to be so easily outdone-

Son counters: “Do you even know how many brothers I have?”

The older student stutters, mutters, and answers incorrectly.

And that was the end of that. The question never came up again.

-I think he’s going to be just fine.-

The next day,

He finds himself on court, playing low post position. The opposing team member whispers (right next to him): “Jonah?”

Recognition dawns.

He finds himself face to face with a fellow Scout from our Troop. This confirmed a suspicion he had from the start- that the Casey on the team- was the Casey from Troop 9.

Worlds expand.

The Things They Say and Do.

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The Things They Say Part 1

I have captured some… and some I have missed.

But, for posterity-!

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A small girl stands stalwart.

Feet planted.

One legging leg up, and one legging leg down.

I remark about said pant leg.

She cries out,

“No one likes my fashion! No one likes my style!

It’s true!”

I am astounded. Of course I love her style! Of course I love her fashion!

Wee girly, with a fashion sense already?!?

The things they say

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It’s Saturday for several weeks-

and a bold, young man- aged 10; the youngest our family has known to take on such a responsibility-

is at the giant pancake griddle.

He is providing Saturday morning pancakes for our clan with great glee. Jam, Maple Syrup, many times Chocolate Chips, sometimes Pumpkin. The stacks are devoured.

I come home from the Saturday dance class journey-

and peruse the kitchen and the pancake stacks:

he declares to me: “I’m the OPM!!”

“What’s the OPM?” I ask.

“Official Pancake Maker!” he declares. “Daddy crowned me.”

OPM. The Things They Say.

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I am getting three little girls ready for bed.

I stand in some relief- and also amazed-

simply because they are doing so much themselves. Toothpaste on the toothbrushes. The whole routine.

Small, confident, pink – clad girls.

They start squeezing toothpaste under my careful surveillance.

One wee girl is at the sink running water over her brush.

Another sister is scrubbing her teeth vigorously.

A third is squeezing toothpaste onto her toothbrush. She is just about to put the brush in her mouth- when, suddenly- she stops:

“I almost forgot to water my toothbrush!”

She jumps on the stool and runs her brush under water and then commences brushing.

The Things They Say

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I am sitting across the table from an inquisitive, bright young man.

He begins declaring all these personal goals, interests, and hopes to me.

I am listening, astonished.

When suddenly, he declares, “I’m going to do it! I’m going to get an Eagle Palm.”

When I question whether he knew that in order to earn an Eagle Palm, he first had to achieve Eagle Scout Rank, he nods briskly.

THEN:

He proceeded to recite the fact to me that an Eagle Palm is awarded for earning five additional merit badges AFTER ranking Eagle Scout (which it is).

I am shocked. He clearly knew and understood.

BUT THEN:

“I have achievements I need to achieve.”— he said.

The Things They Say.

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Cranberry Chutney & Home-made Honey Mustard Dressing

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I looked back and found their hands intertwined. 

Preparing food for this Lord’s Day feast- and in some way- feeling like every Sunday should be a mini-Thanksgiving with gratitude to God round a bountiful, delicious table:

Cranberry Chutney

(delicious, warm, seasonal side for pork or chicken; can be served over pancakes or dairy items like Brie or ice cream – if you eat those items)

4 Cups cranberries

3 chopped, green apples

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

1 cup water

2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot; cook on high until apples are soft. Reduce heat to low and cook until thickened. Keep warm in crock.

Enjoy!

Home-Made Honey Mustard Dressing for Sunday’s Green Salad

[this has a kick (or a bit of a bite- as they say) to it which Todd and I love]

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

shake of good sea salt

dash of ground black pepper

heaping 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix well and serve over greens

Sweet and Spicy!

 

Blessings on this Lord’s Day!

 

 

 

 

As way leads on to way (Robert Frost)

Blog of my heart (and dear, welcomed reader), I am here. Committed more than ever to write. O, the quiet moments with hot drink beside and writing my way to peace.

I have a jumble of posts in mind and in drafts… and so much longing to … is it eke out? or unleash? or scribe? or scratch down? I don’t know. So much longing to gather myself to post.

So I begin with some poetry and the way connections can ignite learning. And the gentle way Morning Meeting leads us:

We recently had the wonderful experience of learning new vocabulary words in a vivid and personal way: alms and almoner. (and I thought I knew what these words meant… but it took an inquisitive question from a child to fully unveil meanings)  It all started like this:

We read this poem for October by Longfellow:

Autumn

Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o’er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven’s o’erhanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer’s prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!

(And O! we were heralded by the rain! Incessant rain. Unending rain. So much rain, the color came late and felt so sparse.

And the greatest riches found in these delicious words- both the poem above and the poem below. Richness, Color, Life. Gentle, un-pressured reading of the beautiful words is life-giving.)

Then a little while later, through a happy circumstance, I happened upon this:

ALMS IN AUTUMN

Spindle-wood, spindle-wood, will you lend me, pray,
A little flaming lantern to guide me on my way?
The fairies all have vanished from the meadow and the glen,
And I would fain go seeking till I find them once again.
Lend me now a lantern that I may bear a light
To find the hidden pathway in the darkness of the night.

Ash-tree, ash-tree, throw me, if you please,
Throw me down a slender branch of russet-gold keys.
I fear the gates of Fairyland may all be shut so fast
That nothing but your magic keys will ever take me past.
I’ll tie them to my girdle, and as I go along
My heart will find a comfort in the tinkle of their song.

Holly-bush, holly-bush, help me in my task,
A pocketful of berries is all the alms I ask :
A pocketful of berries to thread in golden strands
(I would not go a-visiting with nothing in my hands).
So fine will be the rosy chains, so gay, so glossy bright,
They’ll set the realms of Fairyland all dancing with delight.

ROSE FYLEMAN

 

My young son asked: what is an alm? And so we did a little research and discovered: alms are charity, money, or food given to the needy; gifts given to relieve the poor

and this led to the exploration of almoner: the official chaplain or church officer who distributes the gifts to the poor; also a prince can have an almoner.

And both these poems suddenly came vividly alive to us. And with that wild leap of connection that poetry offers: we are realizing- the wind is our almoner; the alms of autumn are for us:

The wind- scattering the golden leaves to us- the needy ones.

The Alms of Autumn: pocketful of russet berries (and so much more)

(O, how the beauty of Autumn is an alm for the needy heart- and o!the wind as almoner.)

And so– way leads on to way. The poetry way. The most gentle, rich, and textured way to learn poetry is simply to read it every day. I find nuanced meanings become clearer and clearer- writing themselves on mind and heart- until they become a treasure trove of mind and heart… (how we all spout out: O wind a- blowing all day long! O wind who sings so loud a song! on a blustery windy day- just because we spent slow time in those rhythmic words)

Blessings on your school year,

Rebecca