Thanksgiving 2019 (and Endless Gifts)

Thanksgiving 2019

The college boys came home Tuesday night (Tuesday was for driving); Wednesday was for cooking and catching up; Thursday for feasting; Friday (tomorrow) Asher turns 17 and tree decorating; Saturday for Eagle Project work day and community service; Sunday- the boys return to loads of work and finals and the end of the semester- and the rest of us enter on into all that December holds.

I can’t squeeze my boys strong enough. They are both shouldering so much.

I have tapped out this post in the midst of this and that… trying to form a coherent thought- what feels to me- a bit unsuccessfully. I want to wake up to the grace in all the moments. I want to cup the love and life that is mine to treasure and hold. So, here you have my puttered starting and my jolting celebration- as I step forward- as I try:

Thanksgiving comes, and with it- for me, a renewed commitment to count endless gifts.

A collage of Thanksgiving photos and a few Thanksgiving prep photos:

Notes from home: we have a new oven. This caused a bit of a bobble with some of our cooking- ( a couple burnt desserts, for example) but! the sweet potato bake was absolutely the best, most mouthwatering version of itself we have ever encountered. The marshmallows were perfectly toasted, hot, and crispy! It was truly so delicious and such a surprise. We enjoyed our Thanksliving box, Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and (for the kids) some football outside.

I want walks to always be a part of our Thanksgiving festivities- and today, the wind almost kept me in- as we are under a wind warning- and it was fierce. But, I did manage to step out for just a bit with Nathanael, and O! I am so very glad that we did. We were treated to soul-filling sky glory via the pink and gold sunset complete with a glowing crescent moon and her shining starry sidekick.

I felt a little non-committed with a couple of recipes this year- and it made me laugh to see the children rally. I wasn’t sure about the deviled eggs or the apple pie. Certain family members were highly appalled- and made sure to make those items first Wednesday morning to my surprised delight. Everybody works together, and it did get a little loud and hectic in the kitchen- but it all sorted itself out alright.

We started out preparation day with George Winston’s December playing on the speaker and the tunes changed throughout the day depending on who was at the helm (per se!)

We almost always enjoy Thanksgiving hymns on Thanksgiving from a FamilyLife CD we have and the Eden String quartet (which I love SO much).

Thanksgiving Menu 2019

Appetizers:

Deviled Eggs (Abi and Jonah)

Ham and Pickles rollups (Abi)

Triscuits and Baby Carrots with Special Sauce to Dip (Rebecca; sauce by Todd)

Main Course:

Tossed Salad with Iceberg, Baby Spinach, and Red Onion (Rebecca)

Roasted Turkey (Todd)

Home-made Mashed Potatoes with a delightful onion twist to them(by Todd)

Green Beans (delicious with nutritional yeast and earth balance) (Rebecca)

Home-made Rolls (Micah- dough; A, M, N- roll making)

Broccoli Salad (Micah)

Cranberry Relish (Nathanael)

Sweet Potato Bake with toasted marshmallows (Rebecca)

Warmed Apple Cider (Todd)

Desserts:

Apple Pie  (Joshua and Melodee)

Banana Bread with white icing (Rebecca, Melodee, Norah)

Pumpkin Roll (Abi)

Pumpkin Bar with Vanilla icing (Asher and Abi)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (Jonah and Aymee)

Pumpkin Pies (Asher and Joshua)

Jewish Apple Cake (Nathanael)

*I preside over all cooking and assist in all recipes if and when needed

Endless Gifts

1.safe travels and boys home from college; and I think maybe most of all, their happiness

2.to be welcomed home to steaming chili, and chips, and fresh beds, and time together

3.the big cello nestled once more next to baby cello

4.braided and bun hair fun with girlies

5.time with coffee and thoughts and ponderings in a corner I crafted (just) for me

6.turmeric! this supplement is a wonder!

7.going round the table everyone sharing a favorite (or so) song

8. the way she laughed in such a little girl giggle way at the table singing her song

9. the big boys’ surprise at the little girls singing all the words to the songs they love

10. a sunset walk with Nathanael us both bundled and that glory moon and pink streaked sky

11. photos from my family in Pennsylvania on this Thanksgiving day

12. Asher willingly playing the piano for us Thanksgiving night

13. Micah playing a bit, too the first day(s) home- a bit of summer mummer prep; a bit just for joy, too.

14. The Swan on Cello by Nathanael (Wednesday)

15. Merry (the bunny) romping on and exploring with joy

16. Everything good and delicious loaded on our plates

 

 

 

 

Lenten Hope, Lenten Joy

i

40-day journey to the cross.

I posture my heart.

I posture my soul.

Face down- yet

lifted

(high)

ii

I clasp hands earnestly

and beseech

for joy and hope

at the table gathered

with children.

In the morning.

I pray.

iii

Later.

It is afternoon.

And, I am jolting

forward. stop. forward. stop.

hurtling jaggedly home

two cello players car (in)side with me.

and suddenly...

I am deliciously

captivated by the

word

incandescent-

incandescent... distilled to me from a moment

in a beautiful song. 

(I would never have found but for the son by my side)

iv

We are almost home- and oldest cellist and I study quickly

to gain the full understanding

of this lovely, lovely word:

it speaks to me.

  1. adjective incandescent: 

(of light) produced by incandescence.

glowing or white with heat.

intensely bright; brilliant.

brilliant; masterly; extraordinarily lucid:an incandescent masterpiece; incandescent wit.

aglow with ardor, purpose, etc.:the incandescent vitality of youth.

God, I love this song.

“Magic Mirror”

 

O, profound song. Speaking to me.

 

Inside, I weep.

And-

I joy.

v

Later, (on the road again) I ponder how that word

incandescent

thrilled me to the toes

and how

for a brief

whiff

of time, I felt so joyfully alive.

And, I’m grateful.

I think on… what makes me feel alive.

vi

I find myself stepping

into Target.

Target, of all places,

and… once again-

the joy is

rising.

a glimmer, found for me

among little girl dresses

with unicorns

and spring themed

garments hanging like

hope

in pinks, greens, purples, sky blue

and of course,

(silver and gold)

sparkle

for some reason

I am happy.

 I am happy among the spring themed atmosphere of Target.

I tell my son, and we laugh.

Target can do that to a lot of people, we ruminate.

As we walk out, the smell of coffee fills the air, and I fill my lungs.

With that good smell.

vii

In the car,

I realize

that I prayed,

in the morning

I prayed

for the reality

of joy

and the reality

of hope

and that we would ponder the way to the cross

and 

the joy of resurrection.

 

The truth is-

it has been a rare day that

I have felt the free joy

I found today.

I don’t take it for granted.

I am grateful.

O sun, O spring, O-

thankful for hope

and

feeling

for

goodness, joy, and life.

And knowing it is true.

viii

I am looking for Spring.

I am looking…

I am looking for my Savior,

lifted high.

I am looking

in the faces of the

ones around me-

and I am remembering,

to

pray.

Face down

yet lifted

(high).

 

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

 

IMG_20181222_143040478

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.

IMG_20181222_115152630

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!

IMG_20181222_115134983

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

IMG_20181222_115130234

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)

Easter 2018

Blessed Easter!!

Easter 2018 comprised of Easter “Love” Baskets stuffed with safe chocolates, sweets, and Empty Tombs.  My little one helped stuff some eggs with jelly beans and fruit gems. She helped me stuff them Saturday evening while listening to the Resurrection Eggs Devotional readings. What a darling, eager helper she is!

Special for this year- small chocolate eggs wrapped in foil from AmandasOwn– that were actually decorative when unwrapped- so pretty; a chocolate cross lollipop and our traditional lamb lollipop; Chocolates from No Whey

Tulips on the Table

Safe Treats from Aunt Nikki with Love

A Bowl full of Starburst jellybeans

Home-made Peanut Butter Cups

Rice Krispy Treats

Easter Dinner:

Ham

Mashed Potatoes

Special Green Beans

Tossed Salad

Applesauce in glass dishes

I took two separate lovely walks with dear ones. We spent a wonderful time around the four accounts of Jesus Resurrection this morning as a family. We enjoyed the bright glow of light for the last day or Lenten Lights after dinner- He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

And- the soundtrack of the classic Ben-Hur has played against the background of our afternoon and evening.

I do not have any good pictures to share from this day. I count myself blessed that I was able to be among my family and managed to fill  baskets full with love, joy, and chocolate. 🙂

I spent the whole week prior in quarantine in my room- and mostly in bed- with, I believe, Influenza B.

It was mild, as far as the flu goes, and true to B in adults. But, still days of fever and fatigue. It started on Sunday- with a terrible headache and fatigue- that I thought was merely exhaustion. I was wrong.

I am still weak- although stronger than yesterday. I was able to enjoy our Resurrection Egg tradition yesterday- and managed a very small walk outside with Joshua. I also took a nap. This illness exhausted me.

During my time “away”— alone in my room, (after the first two or three days down)  I was able to listen to podcasts and think. This was very good for my soul. I am percolating all the things I listened to and pondering.

So many things.

Today, there was birdsong, and golden light, and a pink, streaked sunset. There was my arm in his, and the fresh, chill air of early Spring.

There was a companionable walk with a teen son and our shared love of bird and skyscape.

There were brightly colored eggs and jelly beans. Yellow and White tulips. The Spring Green Tablecloth.

There was a “hatchamable” party- earlier in the day.  It took awhile to “hatch” those toys from Ama and Grandad- and it took a lot of love, too.

It was simple, and it was good. And, I still feel like I am recovering… and not quite all the way back. All in all, I am grateful- and ready for bed again!

A Poem for Easter:

Easter Wings by George Herbert

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
            Decaying more and more,
                  Till he became
                        Most poore:
                        With thee
                  O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
My tender age in sorrow did beginne
      And still with sicknesses and shame.
            Thou didst so punish sinne,
                  That I became
                        Most thinne.
                        With thee
                  Let me combine,
            And feel thy victorie:
         For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

Happy Easter, friends!!!

~Rebecca

 

Happy New Year!!

Tonight, we feast, relax, hang-out, party, enjoy, love, laugh, and play. We celebrate!

Happy New Year!!!

 

Menu

Venison meatballs in a sweet soy sauce over white rice

Shrimp and (hot) cocktail sauce

Wings

Super-pretzels

Re-fried Bean Dip and Chips

Daiya Quesadillas

Sausages

Chicken tenders, Nuggets

Steak Fries and Tater Tots

Broccoli Salad

Veggies and Special Sauce

Sodas

For once, there are plenty! of left-overs to enjoy tomorrow. 🙂

Trusting the Lord in and for 2018. May you be blessed!

~Rebecca~

P.S.

It’s about time for Catan!! Anyone else? 🙂

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