Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gift of Life

On this day (Sunday, December 30th) 5 years ago we sat in a Children's waiting room while our 13 month old baby boy got a new liver.  (Click here for a play-by-play look back at that day.)

Because of our own experiences, I am always touched by similar stories.  The most recent was one I saw on the news just before Christmas, the story of a little girl living at 'our' Children's for over 4 months waiting on a heart transplant.

My emotional connection to that particular story probably had a lot to do with it being Christmas, since Alan's own life-saving transplant came less than a week after Christmas Day.

Her story stayed with me enough that she came to mind during a middle of the night feeding.  As I nursed Daniel, I began to pray for the little girl.  I prayed she would receive her new heart soon.  As it often happens in these situations, I realized all over again what that would mean.

For her to get a new heart means someone will have to die.  Someone that is living right now, laughing, and loving.  I have come to believe that to pray for these situations is not to pray for someone to die, because that is,sadly, going to happen anyway.  We are praying for that poor family to say 'yes' to donation.

That still doesn't make the thought any easier that someone has to die for another to live.

Then I think about myself, and my own once-terminal condition.  All of us, at some point, are dying.  Except unlike the girl in the news story, who has done nothing wrong to cause her body to fail,
our spiritual death is the result of our own wrongs.  Our hearts are broken, diseased, and filled with selfishness and sin, and the only way for them to find new life is death.

The death that paid for my own condition began as a tiny new life in a manger many years ago.
The Lord of all Creation was born as a baby that grew into a boy, and a man.  He lived and laughed and loved, too.  And then he died.  For me.  For my diseased heart.  And for you and yours.  But praise God, Jesus conquered death and lived again. He lives today, waiting for each of us to come to him.

In this season of gifts and giving, let's not forget the One gift, the only gift, that really matters.  Our Children's hospital's motto is "The One for children".  Just so, Jesus is The One for you.  I know from experience that when the gift of physical life is offered we humbly and gratefully fall to our knees and accept it.  It is our only hope.  The gift of life that Jesus offers is our only spiritual hope.  Without it, without Him, without humble acceptance of our broken, sinful condition and his perfect gift, there is no life and healing.

We are spending this day thankful for Alan's life and the willingness of his donor family to say 'yes'.  
We praise God for the help and healing he has given us these past 6 years.  We pray for our precious donor family, and we pray for you, to know the Gift of Life that God has given, his own Son, for each of us.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Modern wonders

Alan loves the Little House story books, and recently we started the Little House in the Big Woods chapter book for a read aloud.  The week before Christmas we read the chapter about Laura's Christmas and checked out the corresponding storybook from the library.

One of the activities the Ingalls girls did was make molasses sugar candy.  

When it snowed here on Christmas Day one of the first things the boys wanted to do was make molasses sugar candy.  

The last day before the snow began to really melt we brought in a couple of panfuls, boiled some brown sugar and molasses and began drizzling.
 As a hands-on project, I guess this was a success.  The boys had fun doing something they had read about.

As far as something edible, it was a waste of brown sugar and molasses!  So far I'm 0 for 2 on Little House projects come-to-life.  (I'll save myself the embarrassment of telling you what happened when we tried to make butter a couple of weeks ago!)
While I usually prefer wholesome, vintage, all-natural, simpler-the-better type stuff, I have to admit this next project was a big success with all of us.

The boys received a rice crispie treat kit for Christmas.

 Daddy mixed the gooey stuff and filled the molds, and then boys (and I!) each decorated one car.

The best news: the molds are reusable, so we can make a rice crispy treat train next Christmas, too!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Did you really even have to ask?

Daddy and the big boys have had a couple of big days out this week, going and doing.  One thing they planned was a night of fireworks.

This afternoon the guys all headed out for some other fun with plans for fireworks after dark.  Tyler was pretty upset at being left behind, and the guys tried to help by telling him they were going on out to get a show ready and he could come watch it later.

Tyler accepted that bargain and settled in a little reluctantly at home with Mama and the babies.

A few hours later we bundled up and ventured out in the cold night and leftover snow to see the show, picking up Mimi along the way.

Mom and I enjoyed our visit on the drive out, but really couldn't believe we were out of our warm cozy homes and into dark and cold.

I finally asked "For whose benefit are we doing this, anyway?"

The answer to that, of course, was "Tyler's".  

As we turned into the driveway for the show, I teasingly called to the back of the van, "Tyler, you better enjoy this!  Are you ready for the show?"


From the darkness all we could hear was....


"Tyler?  Are you awake?"

"No," came the tiny reply from the back.

Parked by now, we turned on the light and turned to see our little buddy:
I asked again, "Tyler? Are you awake?"

Without moving a muscle, or opening his eyes, my little boy, 95% O.U.T. responds:

"I said, 'no'."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snow Day!

Tyler and I enjoyed a walk together today in our rare Christmas snow.
 We had so much fun, just the two of us!
 Walking together, I learned snow is good for one thing to Tyler...
 We would walk a few steps...
 ...reach way in..
 ....and eat!
 We repeated this process over and over again.  He'd say, "I want to go somewhere else."
 Or, "I want some different snow." 
 And we'd tromp a few more feet to sample a new patch of white stuff.
 Fun -even if a bit chilly- times with my sweet Tyler!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:13-14

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Being still

Today was one of those Sundays that we thought we were doing great on time and then realized as we headed out the door to church - we were late.

As I ushered everyone out the door to the van, I went back in for one more thing and realized not one child out there buckling up had their hair combed.  Apparently being rushed and late wasn't bothering me too badly, because as I reached into the bathroom cabinet I heard this little ditty in my head:
"Oh the hair outside is frightful,
but the clothes are so delightful.
And since we won't be at home,

Grab a comb, grab a comb, grab a comb!"

Why yes, I was quite amused with myself.

Turns out we were just a few minutes late - no big deal.

During Sunday School I sat in a quiet room nursing Daniel and thinking.  (Ok, I'm not gonna lie - I also put a second coat of polish on my nails.)  First I thought about how fast the first 10 weeks of Daniel's life have flown by.  Then I thought about the week of Christmas festivities ahead and wished they would pass slowly.

It seems like when you are busy with a list of things to do time rushes past, but when you are waiting on something things go slowly.

So I wondered, even with all of the Christmas preparations left to do, how could I reverse that and savor these days instead of rushing through them?

And then it hit me:

"Be still, and know that I am God" -Psalm 46:10


"Wait on the LORD" - Psalm 27:14

With those verses in mind, my goal over the next few days is to be able to stop in the midst of the busyness and enjoy God's presence and his presents.  The gifts of his son, his word, my kids, family, and even this season itself, to celebrate.  I want to savor and enjoy this week, not just look back on it later and wonder where it went as I stayed busy preparing for it!

Merry Christmas to you!  Slow down and enjoy it! :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Cookies

Ok, so I'm not sure I have one favorite.  But these are up there.  Way, way, up there!

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortening
1 c. sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 orange
2 Tb orange juice
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 c oats
1 c dried cranberries

In a large bowl mix shortening, butter, and sugars.  Add in eggs, vanilla, zest and orange juice.  Mix together flour, baking soda, salt and spices and add to other ingredients; mix well.  Stir in oatmeal and cranberries.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 until lightly browned, 10-12 minutes.

This recipe makes around 5 dozen small-medium sized cookies.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Best Seat in the House

What do you mean "Daniel's bouncy seat"...?
 This time last year it was my bouncy seat, thankyouverymuch!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas, Days 3 & 4

Day 3 - Christ is born!
Scripture reading:
Luke 2:6-7And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

We added baby Jesus in the manger to our nativity and sang "Away in a Manger", complete with motions as performed in our Christmas program at church.

Day 4 - The Shepherds
Scripture reading:

Luke 2:8-20And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Added the angel, shepherd, and a sheep to the nativity scene.  We probably sang some angel songs.  To tell you the truth.... it was last week and I've forgotten.

All that remains are the wise men.  Yes, it's been days since we added to, but hey, it was months and months before the wise men showed up, right?  So I figure on their time table we're doing just fine. ;)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cranberry Christmas Coffee Cake

We had this for breakfast one day this week when Dale requested coffee cake and I was in the mood for Christmas food.

The nutmeg gives it a hint of eggnog flavor, and the cranberries add definite holiday flair!  It was easy enough for a week day but special enough for even Christmas Day.

1 egg
1/4 c sour cream
1/2 c milk
1/4 c vegetable oil
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 c fresh cranberries

additional cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs butter

Beat egg in a large mixing bowl.  Add sour cream, milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla; mix well.  Add dry ingredients.  Stir until almost combined; add cranberries and stir until just combined.  

Pour into greased 8x8 baking dish.  Batter will be thick; smooth into pan with back of a spoon.  Sprinkle with a fine dusting of cinnamon and the brown sugar.  Top with thin pats of butter.  

Bake at 375 for 40 minutes and beginning to turn golden.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

2 months old!

He's a big big boy!

We obviously have the nursing thing down.  

Next up: sleeping!  He's not doing too shabby for 2 months old: falls asleep by himself most of the time, and usually only wakes up once in the night and once in the pre-dawn hours.  Call me overly optimistic but I'm hoping we'll drop one of those feedings by the time another month rolls around.  Hey - it could happen!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas, Day 2

Today we added Joseph and a donkey to our nativity.  

Scripture readings: 
Matthew 1:16-25
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.
Luke 2:1-5And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Christmas hymns:
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Each of the big boys did a Christmas crossword.

Tomorrow we add baby Jesus in the manger!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Day 1

I decided today it was high time we started doing some Christmas-y stuff during our school day.

Hopefully we'll kick it up a notch or two next week, but for today we started simply:

First we read Luke 1:26-37

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Then we set out just Mary from our most kid-friendly nativity set, and followed up with this song:

As a mama, this has to be one of my favorites.

Tomorrow, we add Joseph!  Anybody know any Christmas carols about Joseph?  No?  A craft maybe?
This could prove challenging.  I'll keep you posted. ;)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dashing through the... spring-like day...

....just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?  

I'm not complaining, though. Love, loving the weather.

The cold is coming soon enough (like... Monday) and I'll probably love that too.  I don't like change, unless it's the weather.  Go figure.  

Whatever the weather, we got out for a little Christmas fun this evening.

The boys have been anxiously awaiting picking out their ornaments for 2012, and we finally got to the "gettin' place" today to do just that.

Dale: Flashy red racecar, Tyler: sparkly candy,
Alan & Brooklyn: matching gingerbread men/candycanes, 
Daniel: teddy bear in a stocking
For an extra treat, and because we happened to be out at supper time, and because they were buy one get one for 55cents, we enjoyed these for supper:
Photo credit: Kristin, via Instagram
To finish off the evening we went to two big lights displays.  The first is one of those that is set to a musical program you tune in on your car radio.
The boys love the "singing" snowman on the left. The whole thing is definitely worth the drive.
I videoed a small sample.. you just have to imagine "Jingle Bells" to go with it, 'kay?
The second display is a drive-through event we have done for years and years now. Always fun, and because of the location one we can often visit more than once a season.

(And all this fun took place on my Daddy's birthday! Happy Birthday, Gramps!)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up - Weeks 13 & 14

We moseyed along for 4 weeks after baby Daniel was born, took 1 week for Thanksgiving, then started back to (almost) full-schedule school the Monday after Thanksgiving.

We have backed off on some of the extras for now as it is a busy time with a newborn, and also to slow down and ensure we are mastering the basics.

In the last two weeks...

Dale: Completed 2 spelling lists.  This week he seemed to have a good grasp on his list, so I gave him a pop-test on Wednesday.  The two he missed were the only ones I asked him to use in his practice activities on Wednesday and Thursday, and we retested on those today.

Read the biography of Harriet Tubman (and discussed it at our local Library Book Club).

Finished reading Romans and began I Corinthians.

Used the Bible and portions of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas for copywork.

Began a unit on fractions.

Joined Alan and me in for a few lessons in our study through Acts.

Made cookies completely by himself!  They were delicious; he washed the dishes, and then blogged about making cookies.  Success!

Continued moving forward in his phonics book (Explode the Code 2), working with beginning blends.

Practiced numbers to 40 in math.  We both saw he needs more practice writing numbers, so I printed Twelve Days of Christmas-themed number-writing worksheets.

Reviewed all of the lower-case cursive letters we've covered so far.

Continued through Acts, using coloring sheets from

Decided he really really wants to "do school" with the big boys, so we busted out the hardly-used 10 cent preschool workbook Mimi scored at a garage sale this summer.  He was so happy!

Brought out a few of our printed activities, like this shapes mitten match.

A lot of school this week was done the afternoons during naptime, so that time didn't have to be filled for Tyler. :)

Napped during afternoon school, but also got to try a couple of new activites, like playing with some oat flour (oats ground in the food processor) I had leftover a while back from a recipe.

It's been a good 2 weeks, and good for all of us to get back to a routine.  It was also wonderful to have incredibly mild weather so the boys got to spend a lot of time outside.  Now to get through 2 more weeks before Christmas break! :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Who knew?

A Christmas countdown can double as a fantastic vertical puzzle!

(P.S. Tyler bounced back great from his mystery illness Tuesday, and as of this writing over 2 days later, no one else has gotten it. Yay!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

File this one under "Socialization"

Leaving the library after our weekly story-time visit last week, a sign he has passed a dozen times before caught Dale's eye:

Brown Bag Book Club
First Wednesday Each Month

Dale said, "I like to read.  Can I go to that?"

After a little discussion with our fantastic Library Director (Mimi), it was decided yes, Dale could attend the adult-intended event.

This morning he grabbed the lunch box I packed for him and his recently finished Harriet Tubman biography and Mimi picked him up to ride to work with her.

To avoid precociousness, he had been strictly instructed on how to wait quietly for his turn, and to act like a child (albeit one with very good manners) instead of trying to be an adult.

An hour and a half later the rest of us went to pick him up and I waited anxiously for the reports.

From Mimi: Dale did great!

From Dale: He loved it!

He sat quietly eating his lunch and taking in every word as the others discussed the books they had read.  When his turn came he spoke up and gave a little summary and some interesting facts from his own book.  He came home reporting the things he had learned from his listening and visiting, glowing with pleasure.

I'm so proud of my boy for being able to mingle with book-loving, life-long-learning adults without being either bored or annoying.  

So thankful for these circumstances to give him the wonderful opportunity to do something new, and something so enriching.

Thankful to Mimi for taking him under her work-wing for an hour.  Thankful to the kind ladies and gentleman of the book club meeting for their kind welcome and respect for a 9 year old, blonde-headed, book-loving boy.

He's already looking forward to January. :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sick Day

One little buffalo started the day by losing his breakfast.  One hour before we all headed out the door for story time at the library.  Needless to say, plans changed.  

My sickie on Saturday, before he was a sickie.
 The big boys spent a lot of the morning out in the fresh air.  Brooklyn spent a lot of time sequestered in the pack 'n play (a first for her, and for her own good)

...and Tyler spent about half the day right here on this couch.

A couple of hours of tv, a a couple of hours napping, and he woke up almost as good as new.  

Dale has been trying for days now to grasp the meaning of the phrase "take for granted".  I think tomorrow I will tell him I go to bed at night and take it for granted that all will be well the next day, but this night, I didn't!  This night I'm going to bed hoping and praying that all (of us) will be well tomorrow!

Monday, December 3, 2012


I decided to go visual with my boys this morning.  

Lining up 13 of our wooden beads, I said, "If you get up at 7am, and go to bed at 8pm, that's 13 hours in a day.  I am asking you for 1 hour of cleaning/chore time, and your school work should take no more than 2 hours."

I pulled aside 3 beads, showing them they were left with 10 hours of play time.  My hope was to alleviate some of the whining I've been hearing about how "we had to work alll daaay".  Boo hoo. 

I also hoped to help them move along on their work instead of dragging around too long.

I think they got the message, but then I went all softie on them.

Our neighbor was having some work done today.  With workmen! And big heavy equipment! And digging!

So our boys spent the entire morning outside with their own construction toys and a front seat view (from our own yard) of all the work.

By the time they came in for lunch Dale and Alan were both talking about jobs in construction when they grow up.

We did get some work done in the afternoon, and then Gramps came over to help with a little fencing project, a little enhancement for the dog we should have named "Houdini".  

So far so good, but time will tell.

I hope my boys learned today that there are plenty of hours in each day, and it's up to us how we fill them.  Looking back, it is a nice reminder for myself as well!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More decking of the halls...

Took down a few 'rest of the year' things and replaced them with Christmas items today.  
Some decorative, some FUNctional.  Some of the decorating is easy: place items in the same place as last year, and the year before, and the year before that...
May be boring but it sure is quick(er) and easy!

Daddy Buffalo decided to do something different in addition to the standard outside lights we've done for several years now.  You'd have thought we were setting up a winter wonderland the way the boys were jumping up and down with excitement.
Truly warmed my heart to see them so thrilled with simple lights on a tree.

And speaking of trees...
We got this one up.  With a 1 year old in the house I decided to leave off some of the more breakable ornaments.  Still lost one though.  Thanks to a little Buffalo my Ornament o' the Year for 1991 is now busted.  I think a little superglue will fix him right up (the ornament, not the kid), but sure hated having one go down.  And yes, I was briefly quite angry, but squelched it in record time.  Just didn't seem right to get mad at the kiddos over a silly tree celebrating the birth of the Savior.  Still.... I think I'll be even more selective of the ornaments I allow out for another couple of years!

Do you decorate?  Does everything go back to the same place each year, or do you like to mix it up?