Voices From Thanksgiving

“There is nothing more depressing than mopping the floor in the morning and it needing it again after lunch.”

“Write down that I’m thankful for Daddy’s iPod, and for the green iPod…Just say ‘iPods’.”

“I can’t wear this! We are supposed to ‘dress up’ and this is not a costume!”

“Don’t get into my Bible; go play with your toys!”

“Toot Sweets, Toot Sweets…”

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving. There are lots of fond memories I have of Thanksgivings past, and none of them have anything to do with what we ate. It was the people with whom we shared these times that mattered. Make sure you cherish the day with those you love- it may be the last this side of Heaven.
A strange T-day memory and tradition I am trying to continue- watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I remember watching this after our all-church Thanksgiving dinner, held at our house. I didn’t even have to get on a waiting list for it at our library, so I’m guessing that this tradition will be uniquely mine.
The above photos were taken on a Thanksgiving we shared with friends of our family. Anybody in my family know what year? I’m thinking ’96. Anyway, the real reason I’m posting these pictures is to ask you: should I cut my hair like this again? (Where am I? No, I’m not the one in the Native American headdress, or the perm on steroids. I’ve got the napkin tucked in my collar.) It is my favorite hairstyle, but short cuts are hard for me to maintain at this season of life. I’ve been pleased with my Rapunzel locks for way longer than I thought I would, and am just now having thoughts about cutting it. So I know this isn’t just a passing whim. We get to play Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in our church’s Christmas production, so I’ll likely keep the long hair at least until that is over. Let me know what you think.

MLP First Installment

Dear Mother,

My thoughts start at the beginning- before the beginning, even. From the moment I learned I was to become a mother, my life has not been the same. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, so early I hadn’t even had a chance to really feel what pregnancy was like. Conventional wisdom told me the best comfort for this kind of loss was to try again, and my daughter was born eleven months later. But I am getting ahead of myself- my labor and delivery of her is what I want first to discuss.

Let’s not talk about what I did, but what I should have done. I should have listened more to those godly, Christian mothers around me who had successfully made it through labor, and taken every wise word to heart. I should have memorized Bible verses that I could easily call to mind when the pain came. I should have trusted my instincts enough to know that my body would do what it needed to do without anybody trying to speed up the process. Most of all, I should already have been aware of my human tendency towards fear, and prepared in prayer accordingly.

The reason I know now what I should have done then is that I now have seven children, all born naturally. Of course, my hindsight ought to be perfect, the only thing I can say about myself that is.

[This is posted as part of an ongoing series of my responses to The Mother Letter Project. When I am through “talking nonsense, and noisy nonsense at that”, I’ll cull the best bits and send them in a letter to the mum.]

Cinnamon Bear

I forget how I came across it, but we’ve gone wild about Cinnamon Bear around here. The Cinnamon Bear in the Adventure of the Silver Star was a radio program first broadcast between November 26 and December 25, 1937. Six nights a week, there would be a short installment. The story begins with two children looking for a silver star among the boxes of Christmas decorations in their attic. They discover a bear figurine that talks, and he joins them in the search. I’ve only heard the first one, the kids the first three, but now we wait until November 26th, when we plan to listen to one a night just like folks did in 1937. Luke’s got his iPod rigged up to play through our dvd player’s speakers, and we have been enjoying all the music he has stored there. He downloaded the entire series of Cinnamon Bear, and that is how we will listen. I am looking forward to nights under the Christmas tree, simple evenings where we gather and do something old-fashioned like hear a radio program.

Kids’ Gift Ideas

I’m drawing up a list to give Grandmas an idea of what the kids might like for Christmas, and thought I’d share:
The Mini Masters Board Book Series by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober- this is a beautiful collection of the works of some of the greatest artists, a perfect size for those little chubby hands. Titles include
A Magical Day with Matisse
A Picnic with Monet
Dancing with Degas
Dreaming with Rousseau
In the Garden with Van Gogh
On an Island with Gauguin
Painting with Picasso
Quiet Time with Cassatt
Sharing with Renoir
Sunday with Seurat
Let me know if I missed any- I hope to collect them all.
Shout To The Lord Kids album- this has many worship classics (including the title track) that my kids already know, and a couple new ones that are becoming fast favorites.
The Game of LIFE- the kids played this next door and came home excited about it
Kid-sized broom and dustpan, garden tools and gloves
Watches- analog for Big A
Colored pencils- Prism makes some good quality, long ones
That’s what I have so far. I’ll add when I think of more.

Harvest Joys

I’m still pleased with my yogurt, and my bread, and now I’ve got one more thing to make with all my frozen pumpkin puree- pumpkin pie ice cream! I saw the recipe a while back, but forgot about it since coconut milk is not something I normally have in my pantry. Lo and behold, there it was on the shelf at Aldi for .99. Had to try it! My puree is not from pie pumpkins, I think- too yellow and runny. The ice cream might be better with pie pumpkin or canned pumpkin, but I am still really happy with my results. Coconut milk gives it such a rich texture. YUM!

In other harvest news, we have tons of sweet potatoes! I blanched and froze many of them in quart bags. This is the right portion for a sweet potato casserole I make. The rest of the still whole, unpeeled potatoes are down in the basement, and I hope they last a while. They are supposed to.

How wonderful to be having foods from my own garden, or grown locally, for my Thanksgiving table. I’ve got corn in the freezer along with the sweet potatoes, and will do something with the pumpkin, too. I’d have other squash if somebody hadn’t sprayed my baby plants. But I am okay with that now.

There is always next year.

Next year gives me flutters in my tummy- I cannot wait to plant a garden on our land! Luke is not even a third as gung ho about it as I am, so I can see I will need to do a fair bit of nagging motivational speaking to get him on board for the scope (and maybe, ahem, location) I’m dreaming of. It isn’t like he doesn’t have anything else on his mind right now. 🙂

Weekend Thoughts

I spent all evening one night this week getting caught up in Todd and Angie Smith’s story of losing their baby, Audrey, last April. A friend of mine has had a similar experience, and I have seen the power and grace of God especially evident to these people through hard times.
There is an irony here, something that smacks me in the face each time I think of it. This was a wanted child. Their loss generated sympathy and comfort from many around the world. If baby Audrey’s mother had not wanted her, however, Audrey could and would be promptly dismissed from this life, with many others around the world in hearty agreement to this mom’s choice. This same baby can be treated two extremely different ways, depending upon how she is viewed and valued. Sick! Sometimes the heaviness, the blood of millions crying out from the ground, is more than I can bear. I wonder how God can stand it.
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” ~Jesus in John 8:44

Winning Christmas Music Picks

I wish any other time of year it was customary to pop a cd into the machine, and not only be entertained, but MOVED, you know? I suppose this kind of thing should be reserved for certain celebrations; the experience is temporary, therefore precious. Here’s a list of my favorite Christmas albums, with plenty of time for you to borrow, buy, or give:

Michael W. Smith’s Christmas albums, especially last year’s (see review below)

Angel Tree Christmas– children singing. Need I say more?

Daily Bread Majestic Christmas-I could listen to the song “Love Came Down At Christmas” 24/7. I think I did, last year.

Harry Connick Jr.’s When My Heart Finds Christmas
Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas
Music from The Nutcracker
These are the first to come to mind. The season is still young; I may come back and add. Talk to me: what are your favorite holiday sounds?

“It’s A Wonderful Christmas”

(This was originally posted last December.)

Delightful. Lovely. Heart-warming. Majestic.
These words come to mind as I think about Michael W. Smith’s latest Christmas album, It’s a Wonderful Christmas. Having enjoyed his other Christmas album, I looked forward to hearing this work. It did not disappoint. The recording opens with a sweet anthem sung with a little help from a children’s choir. I love to hear children sing- it gets me right there, you know? The title track is a piece that sounds like it is right out of a movie soundtrack. Luke and I thought maybe it was, since we knew he had auditioned work in the past for the movie Titanic. The next song has you feeling you’re on the top of the mountain with Frodo in Lord of the Rings- yep, another soundtrack song. That’s okay- he does start singing, eventually, in that one. “Song For A King” follows, a beautiful melody on the piano and violin that gave me goosebumps. There is also a song on the cd that Mandisa (from last year’s American Idol) sings with Michael- it brings a smile to my face, even though I wasn’t a big fan of her on the show. I don’t know how many of Michael’s past recordings have included bagpipe overtures (at least two), but this cd joins the collection, with “A Highland Carol”. The shortest track on the disc is also the most precious- I’d love to hear the story behind “Audrey’s gift”. Smith’s embracing benediction in “All Year Long” brings the album to a close perfectly.
I highly recommend this album to anyone who loves Christmas music. Its sparkling sound is sure to brighten your holiday.

Week’s Summary

So much going on, so little time to type. I’ll try to hit the highlights…
I saw on A Year of Crockpotting where she tried making yogurt. This was really interesting to me because I have already been thinking of ways to boost baby C’s immunity, and yogurt is one. I tried it over the weekend, then again last night. Fantastic! The first time it was pretty thin, but last night’s batch was thicker, like the plain yogurt I buy at Aldi. At $1.25 (for the half-gallon of milk), minimal spent on fruit and the starter yogurt, you can’t beat homemade. So far I have only made smoothies, since it was so thin. This batch is going in muffins and waffles, and I may try stirring in fruit for breakfast since it is thicker.
Jeana at Days To Come mentioned a book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and I tried that, too. Basically you make up a large batch of dough and it keeps in the refrigerator for a few days. When you want to make something with it, you cut off what you need, and shape and bake. I just made a loaf in a loaf pan, and it has the most gorgeous crusty top. As soon as I come up with something to act as a peel, I may try free form loaves. Mmmm. What a great concept. Maybe that is what Panera does- Luke has a beef with how they act like everything they sell is made fresh, but it is obvious it could not. But if they use refrigerated dough, much of it would be possible.
Wednesday marked the three year anniversary of Grandpa Don’s death. I had many things going round in my head that I thought I might put down here, but I ended up not. What is more beautiful to reflect upon is how life has gone on since he went to Heaven- six more grandchildren and wonderful growing up of the other nine. That’s what he rejoiced in while here, and would still be.
A Burton funny- At breakfast after Election Day, the kids were asking me who I voted for, listing the people they were familiar with (having seen them on signs while riding in the van to church).
“Who did you vote for [for President]?”
“John McCain.”
“And did you vote for Sarah Palin?”
“Yes, they went together on the ballot.”
“And did you vote for Jimmie Johnson?”
Someone else answered, yes, and I didn’t say anything. I knew she meant Jim Jordan, whose sign was in our yard all October. We do watch a fair bit of Nascar around here, though, and I figured it would only be a minute before it clicked with Little S.
“Hey, nobody voted for Jimmie Johnson!”
Maybe not, but he is up for a big prize, too. Our vote would go to Carl Edwards, who we think looks a little like S. Go Office Depot Aflac Claritin Dish Network Citi Ford Fusion #99!!!