Beautiful Life

Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year in Review

Well, Christmas is behind us and 2010 is in front. I think a little recap is in order before we move onward and upward! I do like to live in the present and look forward to the future, but it's also good to look back at what we've accomplished, the fun we've had, the memories we've made! We had a very good, if not a little boring (compared to 2008) year. These are the highlights!

Drum roll please!

In January ....

We saw just how hard Claire was willing to work to one day walk. She spent countless hours "practicing" on her own. As you know, her determination paid off big time!

In February.....

We celebrated our first ever Chinese New Year by going to two parties. One was for the local Chinese Association and the other was with our local chapter of Families with Children from China. Both were interesting and fun! But, Claire has yet to make the big connection. She doesn't get excited to see Chinese people or understand the fundamental reason to expose her to her native culture. This will , I assume, come with time. In the mean time, we with continue to cultivate this because....well, because we told China that we would. And, because it is important for her to always feel that she belongs to the Chinese people. Yes, she is American now. But, as she gets older, she will want and need to feel that she has a connection with people that look like her and have a similar background. That is why we participate in activities with other families that have adopted from China and also why we will continue to go out of our way to give her opportunities and access to Chinese people in our area.

In March......

We embarked on the largest home improvement project of our lives, I think! We gutted our kitchen/dinning room. It is one room that spans the width of our house at the back. When I say gutted, I mean gutted. Everything went. The floor, the cabinets, the sliding glass doors....everything, even the kitchen sink! It was hard, dirty work. And, it's not done yet. But, hey, it hasn't been a year yet either!

We even put in a window to bring in some natural light. Up until that point, being in our kitchen was like hanging out in a dark cave! Not exactly the ambiance you want for a dinner party.....or ever, unless you're into spelunking!

We painted this room for the first time since we moved in 12 years ago! Scaffolding had to be rented, which is why it was never done before....and, may never be done again!

We laid a new floor as well. Good-bye 3 layers of nasty linoleum....Hello ceramic tiles!

New counters, new sink,

new cabinets and...

New Door!

In April....

The boys went from this.....

To this at the hands of a hairdresser! It was a big change for us.

And Noah broke his arm.....clearly, he was devastated!

In May....

We celebrated one year of having Claire! I got out the clothes she was wearing the day we got her so we could see how she'd grown. Those were her teeny little pants!

In June....

We visited our very good friends, The Caudills in Tennessee and The Gulke's in Illinois and went to Chicago! Isabel got to go to the American Girls Store and fun was had by all!

In July...

Lots of time was spent with cousins. At different times we had Jordan, Lindsay, Megan, Brooke, Brianna and Christian at our house!

Isabel celebrated her 8th year with a cupcake party....

And Darling Daughter from Not A Significant Source joined us for a week of fun! She also helped out with a little room makeover for the girls!

In August...

Claire showed us just how far she had come!

In September....

We went on the most relaxing vacation ever! We enjoyed a condo on the beach in Florida when almost no one else was there and went to Kennedy Space Center. Days of doing nothing but swim in the ocean, swim in the pool and watch Little House on the Prairie videos! It was great!

In October...

We went on another great family camping trip!

And our baby turned 20! 20 people! That's like a full grown adult!

In November...

The boys become, as much as I hate to say it....teenagers and went off for a guys only weekend. The first of many, I'm sure.

And, I began a sewing project......

That resulted in this cuteness here!

And, Claire turned 4 years old!

In December...

You got to see just how goofy my kids are....

And, we all had...

A very.....

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year to you and yours! I hope it is blessed with peace and joy and family and friends! We know that 2010 will be a new adventure for us...because this is our life. One. Adventure. After. Another! Whether it be home improvement or maybe something bigger.....who knows, but you are welcome to join us!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Are we the only ones?

Whose home looks like this after a major holiday?
Like a train derailed.

Into a super mall.
Like Mall of America.

And, now there are train parts and store innards all manglated (yes that is a word of my own making!) together.

Are we?

Are we?
Please say we aren't!

Even if you don't mean it!
Some people go to After Christmas sales.
I go into hiding from my after Christmas mess!
But, today there is no getting out of it. I have to clean this place up.
'Cause we are going to the mountains next week....if I can get back in shape.
So, after hours of work....I have a very sparkly clean.....bathroom.
I even used the bleach.
I will not tell you when the last time I did that was.
'Cause I don't even remember at this point!
I also have a decently clean kitchen.
Except that I haven't made dinner yet.
So, there goes that!
Yeah, I'll be posting all our Christmas pictures,
just as soon as they send FEMA and the National Guard in here
to help with the disaster relief effort!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Above all powers, above all kings.
Above all nature and all created things.
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man.
You were here before the world began.

Above all kingdoms, above all throwns.
Above all wonders the world has ever known.
Above all wealth and treasures of the Earth.
There's no way to measure what you're worth!

Wishing you and yours the joy and peace that comes with knowing your Savior.

Merry CHRISTmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Other Christmas Baby

That would be my mother, born on Christmas Eve.
I don't have a baby picture of her, but I've always loved this one.
The twins have her eyes, don't you think?
Hardly aged at all, this is the birthday girl today (or actually, back in September).

And since we can't be there for the birthday song.....

Happy Birthday!

We love you!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!

Why, oh why are you in my living room?

Something that troubles me today is the recount of how "all things Christian" are often attributed to pagan beginnings. Take the Christmas tree for example.

The legend of the first Christmas tree goes something like this:

The "Apostle to the Germans", Winfrid, also called Saint Boniface, was sent as a missionary to Germany. Around 723 he was said to have happened upon a pagan ceremony where a young boy was to be sacrificed at the foot of "a holy oak tree" . In his anger, Boniface took an axe to their oak. With pagans looking on, he called on their god, Thor, to strike him down if he cut their so called holy tree. Of course, the impotent god did not strike Boniface dead and it is said that he won some hearts for The Kingdom based on this display. He is also said to have used the wood from the oak to build a chapel at the site. So, where does the Christmas tree come in? Well, legend has it that a little fir tree grew in the roots of the felled oak and was claimed by Boniface as a symbol for Christ. He cut in down and told the others to do the same and to place it in their homes.

"This humble tree's wood is used to build your homes: let Christ be at the centre of your households. Its leaves remain evergreen in the darkest days: let Christ be your constant light. Its boughs reach out to embrace and its top points to heaven: let Christ be your comfort and guide.”

Did Boniface call on a symbol familiar to the pagans to reach them on their level? Perhaps.

And, yes I know that tree worship was very common and very important among the ancients and that the evergreen tree represented eternal life, rebirth and replenishment during the long winter months.

I don't live under a rock.

But let us not forget who created those trees long worshiped by the pagans! God was here before the world began. Above all the wisdom and ways of man, He was here before the world was even created. And, He made the trees! Evergreen trees and all other trees were perfectly created on the third day, by our loving God and placed on the Earth to serve many purposes for us. For us! He created them for us. Beautiful to behold, they provide shade and shelter, food and clean air. For His purposes, regardless of what man would later do!

So take or leave the legend of Boniface and the Christmas tree. That is up to you. I'm sure you can go looking for all sorts of stories about ideas of where Christmas trees came from and how trees were once a part of pagan traditions. But, don't tell me about it. The evergreen tree was here before the pagans, and it has long served to point us to the Mighty Creator. My Christmas tree serves as a symbol of Christ for me and my family.

A Post Within A Post

I decided that now would be a good time to show you what pre-Christmas activities look like at our house! We have been very busy, but I have caught some of it on film.

First, we had some towns people training. That is when your slightly dramatic kids, decided to be in the Christmas Nativity at church on Christmas Eve, but don't want to be angels! Get a gander at those outfits and I'm sure you can see the draw.
Then we had a little pre-Christmas trip to see my parents and best friend. You know, because I was just sitting around with nothing to do and thought, hey ROAD TRIP!
But, it was fun!
This is Claire and Casey, but I can't remember if it is before or after they fell INTO the Christmas tree! Oh, yes they did!
Claire immediately starts hollering "sorry Meme, sorry!"

Then they had a wrestling match!
'Cause that is what friends do around the Christmas tree!

Next it was off to The Festival of Lights. No, not a Hanukkah celebration. One of those light shows where you drive around and look at a gazillion lights and think, "boy I'm glad I'm not paying that electric bill!" Claire oooooohed and ahhhhhhed.

A posed for pictures here!

We roasted marshmallow

And, ate them!

And rode the carousel!

Then we had some company in the form of cousins from out-of-town.

Presents were exchanged!

And fun was had by all!

Today we will have a family lunch, go to church to watch our towns people, finish watching It's A Wonderful Life and watch The Nativity....while we eat the all-natural kettle corn our wonderful neighbors-who-know-me-so-well sent over for us!

Then we will tuck our sweet babies into their beds and enjoy the peace and quiet...for a few hours!

Merry Christmas!

*check back later for a special Christmas Eve post*

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Crafty Thing

I started this post about three weeks ago, and then some how lost it in the shuffle. Not sure how that happened. But, it's good that I've found it right now when I don't really have the brain cells to come up with something original .....or even complete at this point.

Isabel is in a club with our homeschool group that centers around @merican @irl dolls and the history periods. She loves going to her club meetings and everything that it involves. What girl wouldn't I ask you?

Well, for the Christmas party all the girls were asked to make a gift for each of the other girls in the club. Plus the two amazing leaders. That would be about 24 gifts y'all! The ideas given were to make an ornament or a baked treat for each girl. Seems pretty simple. Except that Isabel's mom really wanted her to do something original. Yet, she is not exactly creative. Hmmmm. Poses a bit of an issue. Ya think?

I racked my brain and I searched the internet. And, for some odd reason, soap came to mind. Soap? I've never had any experience with soap. Well, except for using it, of course! I do know how to do that!

After a little research, it seemed that soap might actually be doable. Now, I'm not talking about the kind of soap where you need 123 different ingrediants to make it smelly and softy and scubby and all that. I'm just talking about something simple. HEAT AND POUR GLYCERIN!

I asked Isabel what she thought and she loved the idea. Duh! It involved craft fun, with her mom, and making a mess. That has Isabel written all over it!

We loaded up the car and headed to the nearest craft store. Which is not actually near at all! You'd think we could get a nice craft store where we live. But alas, it eludes us.

Anyway, it turned out to be a fun and easy that they have heat and pour glycerin soap! So, even though it's probably too late for you to consider this little craft for your homemade Christmas gifts this year, I thought I would share anyway! Maybe you'll remember this post next year. Maybe not!

Our Supplies
And, since the craft store is not near us, I was not planning to make another run for it, so I bought anything and everything that we might possibly need for this experiment.

I got us these nifty imprints that made the soaps look special. I also bought a bottle of fragrance and some soap color.

Okay, so it really is simple. You cut off a few cubes of glycerin, drop them in a glass measuring cup and melt them in the microwave for like 40 seconds.

Add some color and fragrance drops if you like!

Then you pour it in the molds with the imprints (face up) in the bottom.

Here the soaps are setting up. Takes about 20 minutes and then you pop them out!

VoilĂ !

All together now!
Ooooooo! Ahhhhhhh!

Can you believe that something this pretty was as easy as melt, mix, pour and pop? Can you?
'Cause it totally was!

Aren't these sooooo cute? Isabel did a really wonderful job. But, there was a little trick to these. You had to make solid colored soaps, cut them into pieces, freeze them and then toss them into clear glycerin soaps in the molds.

She did, in fact make over 24 original soaps to give to her friends. And, it was in fact easy enough for her to do it alone. Except it was fun! And so her mom had to help!
'Cause I'm sweet like that!
Oh, and by-the-way,
God parents should forget they saw this post,
because you are totally going to see these again!