Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Friends!

May the Lord bless you and your loved ones as you 
take time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, 
Son of God, Saviour of the world!

Merry Christmas!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Just one small thing ...

The children are busy wishing this week away when all I want to do is slow it down.
Last week was lost to the flu and I am still finding myself quite exhausted. Two weeks of heavy colds preceded my flu adventure, so I was already feeling behind.  When the Pastor asked yesterday if I was ready for Christmas, my heart sunk.  How do you explain limited energy to someone with boundless energy?  How do I share the confines of chronic illness with someone who is rarely ill?  I smiled and gave my best answer - we keep things very simple at Christmas.  By choice and by necessity, we enjoy a very quiet celebration of the Savior's birth.

As I lay in bed this morning thinking over the week ahead, I was really tempted to panic when I thought of all that needs to be done.  Catching up from last week's illness and facing down the ironing pile I neglected, doing the regular weekly chores plus some extra cleaning, having friends over for an afternoon, Christmas baking, grocery shopping plus buying a few more stocking items and wrapping all of the gifts.  Whew!  I could almost feel stress creeping into my body.  I started to pray that the Lord would enable me to take the enormity of 'getting ready for Christmas' and break it down into Company Girl inspired 'Small Things' that I can do easily each day without loosing the joy and wonder of the season! 

Dreamer under the tree - what a smile!

Storyteller under the tree - such a happy guy!

These are my two cookie munchers!  They've made a list of the 'must have'
Christmas treats and these cookies topped this list!

Have you tried my grandma's Whipped Shortbread recipe?  They simply melt in your mouth!
You can find it HERE.

We started with the backlog of laundry and I did some ironing.  Then I rested. 
I  made some lists of 'must do' and 'would like to do if I have extra time/energy' and then began to tackle it in 20 minute intervals with rests in between.
From the 'Must Do' list:
I started shopping online for silk long underwear to keep me warmer since I have come to the conclusion that I am getting cold far too easily and getting cold almost always means getting sick for me.  I am learning that there are new limits I must stay in to keep healthy this winter that I didn't have to deal with last winter.

We made a few gifts and delivered one to Dreamer's piano teacher.
Soother Sac's are so quick and easy and always appreciated - you can find my directions HERE.  Our Wal*Mart has wheat berries in 20# bags for $12. Enough for 15 Soother Sacs!

We started some baking.
I ironed enough shirts for the Historian  for a week.

I made my annual cheese ball recipe.
Certain people can hardly wait for that cheese ball!!!

We admired the gorgeous poinsettia that graces our table thanks to Dad and Mum!

I called Mum to check up on her - she and Dad both have terrible colds and they are supposed to be hosting Christmas for my sister and her family.  I'm thinking there should be a 'plan B' in the works.   Poor Mum is exhausted - this has gone on for two weeks. 

The children played games and did quite a few chores to help me out.  

They played with our silly dog and romped in the snow for a while.
They worked together to pick up the calling cards in the yard without being asked.
There was lots of laughter and fun.  
Lots of little naps for me.

I know at this point that half the things I'd love to do will not get done.  I have the choice to be upset about it and get down, or to find joy in the little things.  I have the choice to see my limitations as something to resent or something to embrace. I choose to look for God's rich blessings  everywhere, because really we are so very very blessed.

Storyteller is sure this is going to be the very best Christmas we have ever had, 
and I think he is absolutely right. 

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Men in flannel

Hot tea on a cold night, a warm flannel shirt and our family Advent devotional - so many good things!

This week I figured out that I really always have enjoyed my favorite men dressed in cozy flannel.  They are just extra hug-able when clothed in nice soft flannel shirts.  Sadly, my Historian has never been a flannel man - in fact, he has worn short sleeved cotton shirts year round for most of the 19 years we have been married.  We've lived in northern Pennsylvania, Michigan, central Ontario, and now we are in Ohio - but he's never felt the cold - totally unfair! Last winter when temperatures dropped well below zero for several days in a row, he dug to the back of his closet and found his lone long sleeved flannel shirt (a gift from my Mum) and he actually wore it.  I was so pleased - and he got lots of extra hugs!

When I was thrifting this fall I kept finding really nice flannel shirts for $2 or less  - brand new Chaps. Polo and Izod flannel shirts. So soft and well made, I just couldn't pass them up - I took a chance and bought 3 more soft flannel shirts for my Historian and hoped for nice cold days this winter.  See, I am a devious schemer good planner! Well, our cold days are upon us and the flannels are getting daily use.  I guess my Historian is beginning to feel the cold more - after all he is getting more historical each year.  He's liking his flannels - he said it's like getting a nice warm hug every time he puts one on.  I notice he's getting extra hugs from Dreamer and Storyteller too. 

When I was a girl, I loved getting cuddly flannel hugs from my Poppa and Daddy and they always smelled like all of outdoors. Wood smoke, pine sap, cold Northern Ontario air - freshness at it's best! I have wonderful childhood memories of going with my dad, my Poppa and sometimes my Uncle and spending a Saturday morning cutting wood at the woodlot.  In my memory Dad and Poppa almost always wore warm flannel shirts for wood cutting - though until they got into the rhythm of felling trees, stripping branches, and cutting logs to length, they usually had jackets too!  My sister and I helped to haul and stack the wood - though I don't remember really being much help!  Our toes would get sooooooo cold and we'd drink hot chocolate out of Nanny's big green thermos to warm up and munch on homemade cookies. Do you know that cookies stick to snow covered mittens? Mum would safety pin two or three layers of hand knit mittens on our hands to the inside cuffs of our coats - it was before the days of Thinsulate or Hot Paws mittens. We couldn't take them off, so cookie munching was quite a trick! We would head home at lunch to steaming bowls of chili with toast which warmed us up from the inside.  Our cheeks would be rosy red for hours - so many good memories.  

Some baking we did last Christmas ready wrap in pretty cellophane to give away.

Yesterday we finally made  a list of the cookies we need to bake for Christmas.  I don't think I'll have time or energy to make huge batches this year, but I had each family member choose two favorites for a total of eight 'must have' Christmas cookies - I'm planning one small batch of each. I loved that the children talked about the special memories that they have of baking and eating cookies and making up gift trays of goodies to give away.  At times I think we are not really giving our children the exciting and special kinds of memories that I would like to fill their childhood with, but then I remember that quiet evenings reading together, school at the kitchen table,  baking days, giving to others, laughing and playing, or just spending time together - they may not seem very exciting to some, but when our children are grown, their happy childhood stories will certainly include these simple daily joys.   Most importantly, they know we have put God first in our lives and in our home, and in everything we do we seek to follow Him.  They also know they are very much loved by their very own Historian in a flannel shirt and the Mama who loves to hug him!

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Burnt plastic and a smoking oven?

 The four horses of the Apocalypse raced through our tiny laundry room today and left behind a horrible smell - burnt plastic.  My 6 year old Kenmore Elite HE3 washer is officially dead.  The noise she made was deafening when she took her last spin through the rinse cycle.  A repair man has been called.  Plans are being made for a funeral and many trips to the laundromat.  In lieu of flowers we are collecting quarters. 

We are NOT calling Sears Blue Team because we had such a bad experience with one of their  repairmen and it was never addressed, despite repeated calls and a cordial letter of complaint. It's not under warranty because the extended plan cost more then the washer, so if it can't be fixed reasonably, we'll be washer shopping.  I consulted Consumer Reports before this purchase and felt confident that is was a good choice, but now I am seeing so many others complain about the same issues I have had with it.  If you love your trouble free front load washer and don't have to spend a fortune on Affresh to reduce the mold smell every month, please let me know!  Thank you!

My washer chose the wrong day to give up the ghost and spew forth sharp shards of plastic all over my very wet laundry - I was only on the third load of darks after a week of laundry neglect.  We are all running low on underwear and Storyteller is completely out.  Don't worry - I remember how to hand wash! I even have some decent rubber gloves which is a really good thing since my hands are a mess.

 I noticed they were a mess when I was making some sweet little felted wool pins inspired by Betz White - aren't they fun?  I love the way the teal one worked out with the slight variation where my cutting slide into a lighter stripe! These are so quick and easy to make - I can't wait to look through my wool scraps and make some more.

I've been a bit distracted though - all week long I've felt 'draggy' and tired - more so than usual and if you know anything about liver disease, you know that's significant. Hence, the laundry neglect - among other things.  Dreamer had a cold last Saturday and Sunday but was better Monday.  Storyteller had a slight cold Tuesday, was better Wednesday and ''caught it again" Thursday afternoon.  The Historian has been tired too and thought that he might be fighting something, but he was at work each day. I've been taking as many immune supporting herbs and vitamins as is recommended by the liver specialist and washing my hands until they are raw, but by mid-afternoon yesterday, I officially had a miserable cold.

This morning I did what any rational woman who couldn't sleep all night because I was too busy aching all over the blowing my nose would do - I made cinnamon rolls.  I've made Pioneer Woman's recipe twice now and this time they turned out very well.  Except for the fact that some of the butter escaped and made a terrible smokey smudge in my kitchen.  Now the oven needs a cleaning again, but it was worth it!  Yum! I ate two, which isn't really a good idea, but after the four horses of the Apocalypse raced through our tiny laundry room, I needed something to calm my nerves.  The Historian ran to the grocery story for more Kleenex  after I polished off my third box - do you see what he brought me?  Toy Story Kleenex.  Little smile. He bought me Popsicles too.  Bigger smile. I am so spoiled!

It's easier to find joy in the middle of burnt plastic, a dead washer, mountains of dirty laundry, a greasy smelly oven, a nose that is running like a tap,  hands so raw they are bleeding and not one thing checked off my Saturday to-do list when I look into the eyes of my gentle, godly husband and know he is praying us through another temporary trial.

Biggest smile of all.
God is good.
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