Christmas 2013

We spent our first Christmas, in many years, in Pennsylvania- with our family. It was delightful. The day after Christmas, I sat on a smooth brown chair next to a tall glowing tree. Framed by almost floor to ceiling windows, large, white snowflakes floated to the ground. It was a perfect moment. Later, I sat on the floor with my little baby scooting around… my sister in front of me, my youngest brother across the way. My mind composing a memory. How dear, dear their ‘blood of my blood’ faces, their hearts, their minds. Their conversation! And he, kindred spirit, spoke the words my heart was writing, “It is good to be together. It is good for us all to be here…” and then, “Thank God you live in Maryland!” Smile.  My mom manned the Christmas food festivities- which were delicious. We brought desserts. We breakfasted at home on Christmas Day… with our traditional cinnamon rolls and Egg Bake Casserole, coffee, tea, orange juice. But then, it was “to Grandmother’s House we go!” with great delight and excitement and all dressed in our Christmas Best (with a back-up dress for a little blond princess who sometimes gets very car sick! Fortunately, we made it without needing to utilize that back-up.)We came bearing desserts for the festivities- which I will now duly record for future reference:

Cookie Platter filled with Peppermint Bark, Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and a few scant gingerbread men; Frosted Gingerbread Bars; Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Pie; and the Chocolate Chip Pie. I think that is all. The top favorites appear to have been the Peppermint Bark, Pumpkin Roll, Chocolate Chip Pie, and Gingerbread. 🙂

I collected many shining gifts of grace these last few days. I am not going to list them all… but these small five- I share.

-Asher enjoying Christmas Dinner (and here, I say, thank you Mom. Thank you for all you did and all you cooked and thank you for cooking for our family and for him)

– my little girls playing with my brother’s little girl,

-a tiny baby niece bouncing in the exersaucer

-long talks

-a game night with loved ones…and here I reflect on game nights- which I generally avoid and do not choose… however, it truly is (or can be) a bonding, memory building experience and I truly do get to see and appreciate personalities. So, I am really glad we spent the time and I have a lot of inner laughter over some of the antics and wins.

We are home now, extending our Christmas through New Year’s Eve with plans to make the house sparkle, catch-up on school correcting, play hard with new gifts, and for me, ponder, reflect, and prepare for the new year and the next semester.

Happy Christmas to all!

P.S. This blog, these words, are often where I redeem the days and the memories. Finding, receiving, and working healing in hardness. Finding gold in ashes. I see it glinting there, warm, full of light. In the dusk, in the darkness. It is not the whole picture. It is not all the picture. It is the good.




Dairy-Free Pumpkin Roll (recipe)


Dairy-Free Pumpkin Roll

This is truly an amazing recipe. Recording it here, for the future!


3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp lemon juice

3/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp salt


1 8 ounce container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

4 TB Earth Balance Vegan Spread, softened

1 Cup Confectioners Sugar

1/2 tsp Vanilla

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Mix Batter Ingredients thoroughly. Place a full sheet of aluminum foil on a large (10 by 15) baking sheet. Spread batter carefully on foil. Bake for 15 min. Remove from oven to cool in pan for 15 minutes. Prepare filling. Lay a large tea towel down on table and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Flip cake gently onto towel, foil side up. Carefully peel foil away. Sprinkle powder sugar. Roll cake in towel and cool ten minutes. Unroll and fill. Reroll. Wrap in Saranwrap and Foil and refrigerate or freeze.


Advent Morning Meeting

This has been the hardest advent season I can remember… and that is saying a lot. It has been hard in a whole new way. I have been monumentally distracted by life and living.

Sitting here, reflecting, and gathering my words for this post… I glanced out the window to the most brilliant sunset I have seen here. It is streaking the sky with colors I cannot even define. Right out my window. I never knew I could see the sunset from this aspect of the house. So, I pause and let the light and the beauty wash over me. Amazing how light, the sky, yea- creation is so… alive. The color moves and deepens, dances. Bigger than me, bigger than a palette, bigger than my words. Deepening purple beauty and pink fire. December.

This year, I  began my 9th year of homeschooling- though really, I have homeschooled from birth as they say… and this year I have purposefully sought out other veteran moms… especially moms of many, seeking to gain endurance for the continuing path ahead. As usual, most of my support comes electronically. I have yet to be in a season where I have women in real life offering light for the path ahead.

There has been some priceless, precious wisdom that I have clutched to my heart… note- the whole expanse of sky is streaking light now…stretching out arms and face and glory. Glory in the hard everyday. Yes. One of those blogs that has helped me much this year is found at Ordo- Amoris– especially her whole series on Morning Time. She did a series called 31 days to Morning Time. So helpful. And also- Amongst Lovely Things– her advent ponderings, her post on Teaching From A State Of Rest... I first encountered that concept in the original post on the Well-Trained Mind by Andrew Kern himself. And I was captured. And I printed his words and they reside in the front of my homeschool binder… and then Amongst Lovely Things highlighted it with a vimeo in such a lovely way…(note: it looks like the vimeo is no longer there…) Yes.

Anyway, for the first time in years, I feel like we got to enjoy more Christmas in the daily everyday. While not perfect. It was good. Right now, the house smells of Pumpkin Pie and I just slid two trays of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies into the oven. My little twos’ are playing, voices happy. A stinkbug crawls nearby (keeping it real, people). There is a happy harmony. The sky colors have climaxed and are now fading into purpling darkness. Slowly.

Here is my little Advent Morning Meeting List- we did these things first and then continued on with our normal school items…as best we could.

Scripture Recitation: Luke 2

Poetry: In The Bleak Mid-Winter Hymns:

Christmas Carols

Art: Continue Giotto

Composer: Handel (focus on Messiah)

Read Aloud: Christmas Favorites (each day a different child picked two favorites)

School List

One final note… for a long time I have wanted to emphasize certain poems, mottos, words, and Scriptures in our family. I have printed them and framed them on wall… I have read them casually aloud… Unexpectedly, this semester, I found…that the best way to make these things part of our hearts- is to include them in our morning meeting time. Daily. Then, they are written on our minds and our hearts and become part of the fabric of our life the way I always, always wanted. And now the sky is black, and the twos’ are quarreling and four different children need my attention. The computer froze multiple times. Yes. But I have finished my post- which is what my heart and mind both wanted and needed.

More again, soon.


A Poem For Advent

In the bleak midwinter

By Christina Rossetti 1830–1894

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

In the bleak midwinter, long ago.


Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.

In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.


Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,

Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;

Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,

The ox and ass and camel which adore.


Angels and archangels may have gathered there,

Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;

But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,

Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.


What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;

Yet what  can I give Him: give my heart.

The Things They Say

I stand at the kitchen sink…waiting for a warming drink to finish in the microwave…

Tall sons are at work in the kitchen.

I glance over.

There is tallest one… slick pulling his t-shirt up over his nose… foot on the trash can pedal.

He states, mumbled in the midst of his shirt, ”This is the one job I think I’d like to build a robot to do.” He is talking to no one in particular.

Companionably chatting with me and another brother.

And there is a grimace and a shudder.

I laugh. Laugh.

I rush away to capture this moment and as I do…

He sings (cheerfully!), in his newly formed, deepened voice-

“O, I hate the trash! O, I hate the trash!”

As he hauls it away down to the garage.


Utter seriousness.

Build a robot. To change and haul trash.

Love it.


The Things They Say


Sometimes those  words  —

Just       fly


her mouth

and       She

Just      wants

to         Grab



with Both hands


Shove them

Back in,

into her own


Both hands pressing, hiding –


Cheeks    Bulge.


Never been said.

Full mouth


Eyes innocent


Slipsy, slippery