Friday, December 29, 2006
A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life by J.I. Packer
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
books that are new to me this year:
Legacy of Faith: From Women of the Bible to Women of Today by Lydia Brownback
Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love to Thee by Sharon James
Love That Lasts by Gary & Betsy Ricucci
a novel recently recommended to me by my friend, Lori:
Israel, My Beloved by Kaye Arthur
a book on the Middle East recommended to me by Jonathan:
From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman
mysteries I've read before by Dorothy Sayers and some I haven't by Agatha Christie
a gardening book
portions of the Bible in French
and something for fun.
Of course, there will be many homeschool read-alouds with the boys, mostly American literature this year. And we always have our morning read-alouds with Coty. The next book on the agenda for our mornings is No Shortcuts to the Top:Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks by Ed Viesturs.
What are your favorites? What are you planning to read this year? I'm open to suggestions!
Thursday, December 28, 2006
That afternoon, my parents and sister and her family joined us for a wonderful Christmas dinner, followed by exchanging gifts. We enjoyed our time with all of them and are thankful we were able to be together. Joseph really loved his light-up Falcons mug!
Christmas morning the kids woke us at 7:00. This wake-up time, too, is a tradition in our family! Erin and Luke lobbied for later wake up time, but were overruled by the traditionalists among us. We enjoyed opening our stockings and then gathered in the living room by the tree to open our gifts. It was a sweet time of seeing how our children share their love for one another by giving gifts. It was so fun to see their obvious pleasure in giving and receiving. There were a few funny gifts, as well as very specially chosen ones. I especially love my new
The day was relaxed as we enjoyed each others gifts and just spent time together. Later in the afternoon Tom came over and shared a ravioli dinner with us (not so traditional, but really good, especially the butternut squash filled ravioli…ymmm). We ended the day with dessert at the Balbuena’s.
On Tuesday evening, Coty’s parents arrived. They got here just in time to help us celebrate Thomas’s 18th birthday, which was Wednesday. It’s hard to believe that Thomas is really 18! This milestone seems to be coming faster with each child. We started out his special day with our usual yummy homemade cinnamon rolls. (Sorry for the picture, Thomas. It's the only one I took!)
Thomas's choice for dinner was a restaurant that most people who know us would never guess…
Today, we said good-bye to Erin and Luke. Their visit was way too short – but I am so thankful they were able to be here. It just makes me miss them even more, having enjoyed such a sweet time with them.
That's been our week so far. The celebrating continues tomorrow as Coty and I mark our 27th anniversary. How God has poured out His grace in my life through Coty these past 27 years! Together, we have experienced God's goodness in so many ways. He has used our marriage to mold us and refine us, taken us places and given us experiences we never would have predicted, and lavished on us the gift of six incredible children. We’re looking forward to spending some time tomorrow reviewing the past year and looking forward to the one ahead, as well as delighting in the gift of marriage. A good way to end this special week.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Here are a couple of recipes:
1 1/8 cups vanilla wafers, crushed
3/4 cup flaked coconut
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 (6 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for rolling
Mix together the vanilla wafers, coconut, 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, and frozen orange juice. Mold into 1 inch balls and roll in confectioners' sugar. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
One box devils food cake mix
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Mix the oil, water, eggs, and spices into the cake mix. Shape into one inch balls. Roll in sugar. Bake for 8-9 minutes in a 350 degree oven on a greased cookie sheet. Cool on racks.
Enjoy. I'm sure we will!
Friday, December 22, 2006
It is a "noisy", however, that I wouldn't trade for all the quiet, peaceful moments in the world. It is a blessing beyond measure to have everyone home. I am a very fortunate mother to have six children and one son-in-law who love to be together, who enjoy telling each other stories about what's going on, who laugh at each others jokes and can tease each other in that easy sibling way that says, "Underneath this teasing is a whole lot of love." I also love it that they tease me. I am frequently the target of good natured barbs and I have learned not to take myself too seriously when all my children are around.
When Erin and the others get home, we will bake cookies and cook dinner. After dinner, we will sit for a long time around the table - talking, joking, lauging. I will relish every precious minute.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Saturday night, I wept for all the sadness and sweetness juxtaposed in a 20 minute ride to
We passed a house along Back Creek with lots of lights…tacky, gaudy, overdone, I would have thought, though I’ve seen so many like that the last couple of nights, I barely noticed. Germaine admired and announced, “Oh, look at those lights, that’s so beautiful! When I get my house, my daddy better watch out, I’m gonna go to the Dollar store so I can decorate it all up.” I will probably never pass that house now without thinking about Germaine.
She and her sisters live with their father, who loves them dearly, in an apartment in
Whenever I drive them anywhere, their banter in the backseat makes me chuckle inwardly. They are so free and so funny.
“Rita, where’s your purse, you better have it, you got the key; Did you leave that phone charger in Mr. Ed’s car, you better not, no it’s in Rita’s purse, Rita, you find your purse?”
I injected a few comments here and there but mostly I listened. Then I asked the girls to sing. Sing in Lingala. The language of your homeland. The language of your heart. They balked a bit at first and then Germaine started in. Anita joined at just the right spots with beautiful harmonies. It was the sweetest, most beautiful singing I’ve heard in a very long time. When they finished, I asked what the words meant. Germaine told me it was something like, “Jesus gives you everything you need. What are you going to do for Jesus?”
As we pulled into the apartment complex, a man came out of a neighboring door, beer in hand and raced across the parking lot. We looked up toward their window and they oohed and aahed over the beauty of the lights of their little tree, which the Conrads had brought over on Friday afternoon. They were so happy with their tree and all the lights and ornaments. We said our goodnights and they headed upstairs to a dark, empty apartment.
I cried as I drove home. I was crying for the sweetness of their music and the beauty of their hearts. I was crying for the sad things in their past and for the hardships of the present. So many things juxtaposed in that short car ride.
Since Saturday evening, I have thought a lot about the girls and about their song. Yes, Jesus, what am I going to do for you…what am I going to do for these girls? Please, I pray, give me the privilege and along with it the willingness, the consistency, the courage, the patience, the creativity, the discernment, and the energy to love them as you do. Allow me and help me to come alongside the others that have been tirelessly, selflessly, sacrificially caring for these girls for the past few months. And bring some more people to love them and be your hands, feet, arms, mouth, and heart to them.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Jonathan arrived home last night from his semester in Egypt. His plane from
Joel celebrated his 12th birthday on Tuesday, 12/12...pretty cool, huh! He stared with homemade cinnamon rolls in the morning and finished with dinner out at Macaroni Grill. We shared the evening celebration with Mama and Daddy. Daddy’s is 80 today, so it was Happy Birthday to the oldest and youngest among us on Tuesday night!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Notice the bare feet...I think this boy belongs back in the 19th century on a farm or somewhere in Africa. He is not a shoe loving person. I guess the hat and hoodie make up for the loss in body heat through the feet! Tasha Tudor would understand.
Monday, December 04, 2006
And here is a picture of a very confused Gerbera daisy. He burst into bloom today. Hasn't anyone told him it's December. Actually, I think he knows. That's why he chose his reddest blossom. I think actually, that what's going on here is a lovely little microclimate that makes his little nook in the terrace very warm. The sun beats down right on that spot. The little mailbox shields him from the wind but he does receive the benefit of the warm zephyrs from the dryer vent. And the warmth from the sun is absorbed right into the terrace "stones". So, yes, he is perhaps confused about the month, but it's no wonder with such a lovely spot to soak up what warmth there is. He is actually a refugee rescued from a plant killing friend. When I found him, he was gasping for water, withered and dry, pot bound in a sad plastic pot. But he has taken an intense liking to his terrace nook, as you can see. And he does make me happy. Blooms in December. I love it. Can you tell, I still have the residual idea that the world is supposed to be covered in snow and the ground frozen solid...leftover from years of living in New England. Ah, lovely southern winter!
I love to hang clothes outside on the line…even in the winter. There is something very gratifying about stepping out on the deck on a chilly day with damp clothes over my arm. I love the winter sun, whose beams shine weakly, but still warmly, across the deck. I see the smiling pansy faces in the pots on the table and railing, the rosemary topiaries, and the ornamental kales in their pots, absorbing the rays and teasing the winter with their brightness. I hear chickadees cheeping in the crape myrtle and then see them fly bravely to the feeder or suet basket on the deck, never minding that I am so close.
I love my pulley driven clothesline, anchored to the deck on one end and a big, old oak on the other end. I hang the heavy jeans, billowy sheets, and bulky sweatshirts and look down at the glossy leaved foxgloves below, who like their pot bound neighbors on the deck above seem to say, “Winter, what winter? There is sun and warmth enough for us!”
I love my wooden clothes rack, too. I move it around on the deck to catch the shifting rays as the sun makes its daily transit. Morning it’s near the window, afternoon, in the middle of the deck near the step. The rack is beginning to show it’s age, painted bars beginning to peel ever so slightly. It is still perfect for t-shirts. Never mind that the boys think they feel a bit stiff after hanging in the cold for the day. They smell better than any artificial fragrance can make them smell…and three minutes in the dryer will soften them up just fine.
I love to gather up the dry clothes at the end of the day, usually in the dark, to breathe in the sharp coldness of the air, to see a star or two, or the slip of the moon, maybe even to hear an owl, while I reel in the line with my catch of dry, winter fresh smelling clothes.
The folding…that’s another story. Thankfully, I have plenty of folders still at home. You know, maybe laundry isn’t so bad after all, at least as long as I can hang clothes outside. Thank goodness I live in a neighborhood that hasn't gotten around to banning clotheslines! Now, that would be sad.
Friday, December 01, 2006
So, if you'd like to join us in our yearly Russian tea tradition, here's the recipe. But be forewarned...this is not a health food drink. It's purely for the taste and the delight of breathing in the fragrance of orange, cloves, and cinnamon that we drink it. It has a flavor and aroma that for us say, "Christmas is coming!"
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups Tang
6 oz. powdered lemonade mix
1/2 cup instant tea (plain, not the sugar and lemon kind)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cloves
It takes a couple of heaping spoonfuls for a mug. Stir well and enjoy, but don't drink it to the last drop or you'll get the undissolved cinnamon and cloves at the bottom!