28 December 2007

Christmas Week in the Olive Grove

Happy 4th day of Christmas! 

I just love keeping Christmas as a season rather than a single day.  The local radio station may have stopped playing Christmas music, but all of my favourite cd's are getting a good work-out.  There may be no more "holiday specials" on television, but there are still quite a few in my Netflix queue.  There are more special books to read in the basket in the family room; the halls are decked with red and green and angels and gingerbread houses and folk, and the Magi are journeying toward the Creche.  Formal academic studies remain on hold while we relax, rejoice, and reflect.

Some highlights of this past week ~

  • reading through my signed copy of Susan Branch's Christmas Joy which arrived on Saturday

  • celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary on Sunday

  • baking oatmeal/cranberry cookies and pumpkin/spice cake (both vegan and whole-grain)

  • hanging lights and garland

  • putting out all of the angels and the nativity scene

  • reading the Christmas story from the Bible

  • making our traditional breakfast casseroles (and eating them)

  • seeing the gifts that the kids chose for each other and UncleB and their daddy and me ~ I am really proud of the amount of thought that they each put into it this year ~ they really considered the recipient and the results were delightful

  • taking the kids to the toy store and the book store to use their gift cards

  • watching Holiday Inn and White Christmas

  • listening to Christmas in the Northwest (even if it does make us homesick)

  • talking about the (possibly) hidden meanings behind the true love gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas

  • sleeping in

  • spending time with daddy and UncleB when they both had some time off from work

  • special Christmas devotional readings

  • no snow here in central Texas, but overnight temperatures have dipped below freezing several times this week

By the way, nobody that we invited was able to make it to our open house on Christmas Day, but we had a wonderful time anyway ~ just the 10 of us!

22 December 2007

Coffee, Shakespeare, Downtown Lights, Bubbly, and Music

That is how we marked Tibby's graduation.  Her Daddy and I took her downtown to her favourite coffee shop and presented her with her gift of The Complete Works of Shakespeare.  Afterward, we took a stroll up to the Capital, enjoying the Christmas lights along the way.  Then it was back home for a toast to the graduate (sparkling grape juice for the kids).  We said our goodnights, got back into the car, and headed to the late showing of August Rush where the three of us had the theatre completely to ourselves.  Tibby really enjoyed the movie, and said that it had been a great night.  I went to bed happy, knowing that she was happy.

21 December 2007

Humming Pomp and Circumstance...


Yes, I am now the very proud mother of a high school graduate.

20 December 2007

Thankful Thursday

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the precious gift of Your Son. 

Thank You, Jesus, for leaving Your glorious home in heaven and humbling Yourself to come down into this world. be born in a stable, walk among sinful men, be rejected, ridiculed, spat upon, beaten, and crucified for me. 

Thank You for conquering death by rising on the third day, so that I have the assurance of an eternal life with You.

Thank You for my adundant life.

19 December 2007

Keeping Advent

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

~Charles Wesley


17 December 2007

Her last week of high school!

Tibby began her last official week of high school today, and I am so very proud of her.  Yesterday at church they recognized her during the worship service and presented her with a new Bible.  Her Daddy prayed for her, and then the elders prayed for her; it was really nice.  When people ask her what she plans to do next she smiles and says, "READ!"   Well, why not; she's been doing that since she was barely three, and it has served her well.  She wants to get her driver's license and a car ~ which she has worked and saved diligently for.  Then she plans to start at the community college in the fall and eventually transfer to a university and major in literature or history with hopes to spend some time studying abroad.


It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

~e.e. cummings

What we are is God's gift to us.  What we become is our gift to God.

~Eleanor Powell

The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.

~Maya Angelou

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.


For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

~Philippians 1:6

13 December 2007

Holiday Homeschool Open House 2007


I will be keeping this post at the top of the page and updating it as I have time, so please visit often.

Please visit Tiany HERE (oops ~ try HERE instead) and join the festivities.

  • How do you keep Christ in Christmas?

We use the Advent season as a time of Bible study, devotion, and preparation ~ we talk about Jesus making His home in our hearts.

We look for opportunities to share with others about the Greatest Gift ever given ~ the True Reason for the season.

We keep santa out ~ although we do learn about Saint Nicholas ~ a real man who loved and served Jesus.

more to come...

  • Share some fun things you do with your family, traditions, is there  a new tradition you want to start?

We end our academic year at Thanksgiving.

I try to never shop the day after Thanksgiving.

On Saint Nicholas Eve we each decorate a new felt stocking and hang them along the stairs. (We don't have a fireplace.)  We usually open them on the morning of the 6th, but this year I had one child who really really wants to open them on Christmas morning, so that is what we are doing.

If we have a tree, we usually get it and/or decorate it on our wedding anniversary, which is  23rd of December.  This year we are planning on going to a nearby tree farm to get a "Charlie Brown tree" on the 22nd.

Although I am not Catholic, I have always wanted to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve.  Maybe this year...

We read the Christmas story out loud from the Bible either last thing Christmas Eve or first thing Christmas Morning or both.

We have a big Christmas Day brunch and open house.

I usually go out shopping early the day after Christmas.

We celebrate the twelve days of Christmas in some way; although, it has varied greatly from year to year.

I give my gifts to my children on Epiphany (or Three Kings Day).  I have done this for probably 15 years now, but have been trying to attach more meaning to it.  Well, thanks to a few of the other ladies who are participating in the Holiday Open House, I have found a wonderful resource here.  Thank you! (When I remember which blogs they were, I will mention them specifically.)

We begin a new academic year on or around 7 January.

more to come...

  • Share fun activities, projects, crafts, unit studies or websites you might incorporate into your homeschool/home.

Read Alouds ~ here is a list of books/stories/poems we are reading over the season:

  1. Amazing Peace ~ a Christmas poem by Maya Angelou

  2. The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas

  3. The Birth of Christ by Alfred Tennyson

  4. The Three Kings by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  5. So, Now is Come our Joyfulst Feast by George Wither

  6. Christmas in the Olden Time by Walter Scott

  7. Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle's from The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

  8. The Christmas Carol by William Wordsworth

  9. The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen

  10. An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola

  11. The Miracle of the First Poinsettia by Joanne Oppenheim

  12. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

  13. Cranberry Christmas by Wende and Harry Devlin

  14. Rocking Horse Christmas by Mary Pope Osborne

  15. Country Angel Christmas by Tomie dePaola

  16. The Real Santa Clause by Marianna Mayer

  17. While Shepherds Watched by Jenni Fleetwood

  18. A Moon in my Teacup by Anita Riggio

  19. The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

  20. The Animals' Gift by Szaboles deVajay

  21. King of Kings by Susan Hill

  22. The Night of Las Posadas by Tomid dePaola

  23. Lullaby for a Newborn King by Jozef Wilkon and Hermann Moers

  24. They Followed a Bright Star based on a poem by Joan Alavedra 

  25. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojcieshowski

  26. A Cowboy Christmas by Audrey Wood

  • Gifts~ Share gifts that you will be making, gifts from your kitchen, frugal ideas etc…

This year we have felt convicted to really get to know our neighbours, so we are going to be making goodie baskets for the 9 or 10 houses on our half-block.  We hope to deliver these next week.  There will be a loaf of pumpkin bread and a loaf of ginger bread and some cranberry oatmeal cookies.  We also will make a card and an ornament of some sort, and include an invitation to our Christmas day open house.  All of the details aren't yet sorted out, but we are really looking forward to doing this.

  • Food~ Please share a tried and true family recipe for the Holidays! Side dish, cookies, cake, appetizer, drink etc.

still to come...



11 December 2007

Our wonderful weekend

I wanted to tell you about this past Saturday and Sunday.  It seemed like a perfect December pre-Christmas weekend. 

On Saturday morning we went to our local Christmas Stroll, which was what I would call a street fair.  The weather was warm but not-too-hot, and we enjoyed walking and looking and tasting and picked up a few stocking stuffers and gifts.

When I got home that afternoon my new coffee maker had arrived; I am so pleased to have this in time for our Christmas Day open house.

Saturday evening all three of my teens had babysitting jobs, so the four youngers watched The Bells of St. Mary's with me.  Then it was a quick ooh-ahh-look-at-the-lights drive with Daddy, baths, and on to bed.

On Sunday we went to church, and the worship was wonderful.  We had two dear families who left our local body to plant an urban church back visiting with us, and it felt so good to have them there again.  Then it was on to the children's Bible class and Christmas program practice.  We had some good prayer time with the kids this week.  After church the kids all stayed and we fed them a gourmet hot dog lunch then turned them loose on the playground to burn of some steam while inside the sanctuary the puppet stage and choir risers were set up for our dress/set rehearsal.  The rehearsal went great!  There is so much more to that statement then meets the eye; you see, our church has been in a season of testing -pruning -loss -grief -transition -whatever, and these 30-odd kids have been through the wringer.  There was such a spirit of cooperation during this rehearsal (something that I had prayed for specifically and out loud during our class time) even with the 4 & 5 year-old angels and shepheards who had neither seen nor heard any of the program prior to this.  I left the church at 3:40 Sunday afternoon feeling like I was truly filled with Christmas joy!

--And a cold front was rolling in; the high that day had been 81.

Our church does not have Sunday evening services, so on many Sunday nights my husband and most of the kids go downtown for services here.  I usually stay home with one or two of the kids who prefer to stay home as well.  But this week we all went, because we were going to Bethlehem afterwards.  Now, some you may have heard of or heard this guy, who is the lead worshipper at this church.  And his rendition of Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone is one of my favourites.  Well, we sang this on Sunday night and unemotional me was definitely moved.  Then there was a great sermon by Pastor Matt.

After the service we scurried to the van ~ boy, was  it getting cold ~ remember the day's high was 81 ~ and we set out for Bethlehem.  After a little over an hour's drive we arrived.  Thankfully, it was not crowded, most likely due to the weather, which didn't bother us non-native-Texans.  We saw Roman soldiers, a tax collector, a Jewish Priest, a candle-maker, a basket-weaver, a black-smith, an inn-keeper, chickens, sheep, and camels; we had some wonderful bread and went back for seconds, then thirds.  Finally, we saw the star and followed it until we found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

As we were walking back to our van we noticed a sign at the local bank with a temperature reading ~ 37 degrees ~ it was beginning to feel a little more like Christmas.  It had been 7+ hours since any of us had eaten, so we made a quick stop at the first place we saw for some cheapie burgers and little apple pies, and then a long, quiet, foggy drive home to bed.  We actually didn't even do our Advent wreath until last night, because all of the kids, even the older ones, were so exhausted Sunday night.

It was just such a wonderful, memorable weekend that I wanted to blog about it.


I won a door prize!

Wow!  I actually clicked on my own name to make sure it did, in fact, go to my blog!

Thank you Tiany, and thank you Susan Branch!  I will be receiving this lovey book!

Okay, I think that is enough exclamation points for one post, but, Yay!


01 December 2007


let all mortal flesh keep silence...

and with fear and trembling stand...

ponder nothing earthly minded...

 Not all of these are strictly Advent Hymns (those are hard to find!)), but I am trying to find songs that are at least quiet and contemplative to help set the tone for this season.

(I made the banner here.)