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.


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!!








She’s Five

My darling turned five today (3.8) and this post is for her, not for me, although I so desperately want to write the post that is for me- the one that reflects on the reality of leaving the preschool years behind (for now… what hopeful words those are….for now) and the heart full and mind overwhelming stage I find myself in. How is it that you can look back on your own self with such nostalgia? But I do.

But for her… this day…


was full of three, small chirping girlies….

-and there was one who struggled a bit to find happiness in her sister’s special day. After a personal struggle, she managed to turn it around- I am grateful to say- and it is noteworthy- because said girl recognized it, reflected on it, and remarked on her turn-around later (during the cookie party).  She chose what was good. I am so glad.


It was full of a slow, unfolding delight.


Special Breakfast: Cinnamon Roll Biscuits, Scrambled Eggs, Berries


Birthday song and Pictures


Her choice of hymn: Go Tell It On The Mountain

A stab at a birthday poem: we settled for Now We Are Six.

It wasn’t quite …but we made do.

A blessing.


A birthday gift (or two)


Long hours at play


The start of a new chapter book at rest time- and what SOLID delight to begin Misty of Chincoteague!


A whirlwind spin outside in the cold (for them, not me)


Everyone- all of us (minus Todd) home all. day.  All day.  I don’t think I fully realized this until now, and I certainly didn’t make the most of this. But, now, in this moment- I realize.


A drive out to Boy Scouts and four I love playing “I Spy” all the way home…


Her dinner: Hot dogs and rolls, chips, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, special sauce, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Lemonade.


A bubble bath (with jets that somehow ramped the experience up to the best day of the whole year! and rocketed me into best Mommy position!)


Tiny painted toes


A Cookie Celebration Party and Lemonade in blue polka dot tea cups


The Promise of a Family Party on Sunday with Gifts, and Cake, and Pizza, and Popcorn.




She’s Five.




Solo Recital Violin and Viola

It is such a joy to celebrate with the ones we love. It is so precious to champion diligence and excellence and to feel the love and support of precious ones around us.

On Saturday, we celebrated Abi and Jonah as they attained a musical goal. img_20170128_125433584 Performing a solo recital is a long journey in process. Each one takes almost a year to plan- at least six months…before recital day is finally here.


On January 28th, Abi and Jonah each stood before a crowded family room filled with family and dear friends and presented work that had been almost a year in the making.


Currently, Abi is working and almost finished with Suzuki Book 3 in Violin. Jonah is working and mid-way through Suzuki Book 2 in Viola. In the midst of continuing on with their studies and progressing through their new levels, they also perfected all the songs they learned in their previous level.


Abi presented Suzuki Book 2 and Jonah presented Suzuki Book 1 for Solo Recital. They each also chose to memorize their entire books just as their brother had last Spring- and so they presented each piece from their heart.


In preparation for a Solo Recital, the teacher works carefully with the student, crafting each piece to performance level. Usually, for a semester recital, the student only perfects one of the pieces. For Solo Recital, each piece is taken to the highest level.

For this recital, we broke for a brief and festive intermission and then enjoyed dinner afterwards. We also planned a very special surprise for the end. Nathanael joined them and they played two songs as a trio: All Creatures of Our God and King and The Kesh (dedicated to my Dad)


There were so many things that made it special. One most important one was that dear people still came even though we were dealing with significant illness ( I actually think RSV per one of the pediatricians) in the young children.  We managed to present this recital in spite of a very challenging week that included possible pneumonia diagnoses for two of the little girls, inhalers, antibiotics, and many middle of the night steam showers.

It felt a little like a repeat of last year- when Abi prepared and prepared and prepared for a Fine Arts Competition- only to be seriously ill on the one day she was to compete. She competed anyway while under strict germ protocol- but did not (of course!) do as well as she could have. However, she did perform so beautifully at this solo recital and we made it through!

Of great accomplishment for me- was the crafting of the programs! It took me far longer than I expected. We had such a wonderful example in Nathanael’s Cello teacher from last year. She really was amazing in so many ways and she set a wonderful precedent and example.


Thank you so much to all who came and gave your attention to their music. Thank you for being a part of something so special to our family. Thank you for bringing honor to a day that took so much effort. My heart is so filled with gratitude for the dear people who come alongside and love our family and who traveled so far for us. Thank you. Thank you!

Here is a sample to remember our day:



Thanksgiving Bake/Cook Day!

It’s Thanksgiving Bake and Cook Day at our house today!

We cook with an extravagance of eggs in great joy. What once was lost, has been restored, and it never gets old. We celebrate our Thanksgiving with deep and abiding glee! I believe this is our seventh Thanksgiving with eggs. This is the tipping year. The year that tips us over onto the other side. Where, we will now begin to have eggs freely longer than we were without. Significance!

The Spirit has been bringing a beloved family hymn right to the forefront in these present days. And we are “raising Ebeneezers”, truly we rejoice in the work of the Lord! There are many versions of this treasured hymn. This is merely one of them and not quite the whole way we sing it- but Chris Rice! Love.

Chris Rice singing Come Thou Fount (watch out for ads!)

I shared the following thoughts and verses with a small group of sweet girls during a November knitting time. I want to memorialize them here, too. We have been reflecting on these verses and quotes for a few weeks. It is good to let them sink, deep in.

Psalm 50:23 ESV

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!

Psalm 69:30 ESV

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.


You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and the pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in ink. G.K. Chesterton

The unthankful heart…discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! Henry Ward Beecher

This day has not been without its jarring disillusionment and stresses. Tensions are high with the stress of this school year and a littlest one who lives outside the box. I love that but I also cannot deny it has its challenges- especially this year, this Thanksgiving cook day. And I just feel honest in scribing it here. I keep the good. I find mending, forgiveness, grace, and healing in the hard and I just can’t quite shake the tinge of sadness I feel. Help me embrace the day and every season Lord. You are in this place and journeying with You is never stagnant- and You care for me, too.

Blessed Thanksgiving friends! Truly we rejoice in all the Lord has done and we huddle under the wings of His great mercy.

Joying with you,


Kindergarten and Preschool

I have shared about our Morning Table time and our twice weekly Meeting time.
Now, I will share some kindergarten and preschool resources we are using this year:

The day has two components- a morning academic time, and then a read aloud time.
For learning to read:
100 Easy Lessons, then(when finished) Explode the Code

For learning to write:
Memoria Press Alphabet Books, then(when finished) Copybook 1
Pencil grippers to help with the finger hold.

For Mathematics:
Rod and Staff Level 1

Resources at hand:
Finishing Memoria Press Junior K program:
this includes appropriate memorization, recitation, poetry, and literature (right now Officer Buckle and Gloria. Grin!)
Utilizing Sonlight 4/5 read alouds, Bible, Science. So many tender memories of using this with Jonah and Joshua. Grateful I get to travel this way again.
My beloved home library- including the Billy and Blaze series and the Katie and the… series by James Mayhew along with many other favorites.
Rod and Staff workbooks. (Such a blessing- teaching colors, fine motor skills, and so much more)

They also join in to Preschool on the days we work in that area.


Heart of Dakota’s Little Hands to Heaven alongside finishing Memoria Press Preschool.
The little series of 4 workbooks designed for 3 and 4 year olds. About Three, etc.

I have to say, I love Memoria Press. It is so soothing and beautiful. The routine every day brings peace and beauty. I love it and I love my little girl, bowing her head, reciting her memorized prayers and little poems with me.

My little girls can recite Baa Baa Black Sheep, Wee Willy Winkie, Jack and Jill, and the Itsy Bitsy Spider. Love.

All is grace,