Monday, December 27, 2010

CHristmas Eve Celebration and Traditions

My DH brought me these beautiful flowers on Christmas Eve. He did his last minute shopping at Trader Joe's the grocery store. With our children, you can never go too far wrong with buying them food.
I made a cold cherry soup and served it with whipped cream and a touch of cinnamon.

We got our traditional crab cheesecake from a local restaurant. She makes it Gluten Free for us, so that everyone can enjoy it.

We set the table with our china and fancy glasses. We don't sit down to eat until the kitchen is cleaned up.

This is our Christmas tree just before the family festivities begin.

Michelle was more interested in her book than the gifts in the beginning. She just had a little bit to go before she was finished.
I love my children!!
The simple things please them. They don't prepare long lists of things they 'have to have'.They are content with socks, underwear, and whatever books or little things that they receive.
They are appreciative and enjoy spending time together as a family.
Thomas was very excited to get an eight GB thumb drive.

The Boss enjoyed surveying the progeny.

And T-Bob was thrilled to get his very own cleaning kit, for cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms. The dear child actually requested this present. At least it wasn't more Legos.

Mr. Boots was happy for some new t-shirts and other unmentionables.

His favorite gift was his OWN tube of toothpaste. He doesn't like sharing it with the younger children. Something about cross-contamination. I sort of understand.

Joan got a requested book. The trouble with giving books is....

that people start reading them right away. LOL

Elizabeth was very happy with the special necklace that her Daddy gave her. They make her look so grown up.
We did have a wonderful Christmas. It is such a blessed time to stop and reflect on our salvation, the best gift of all, and which came through Jesus. He truly is the reason for the season!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fetching the Christmas Tree

The Mangos have along tradition of fetching our Christmas tree from Red's Tree Farm about a half hour from our home. This year was getting near dusk when we got to the farm.

This year Mr. Boots had constructed a new very cool sled. He was tired of the ones he bought breaking. This sled was made from a 55 gallon plastic drum. It works great and is nearly indestructible. Even Dallas the dog can't chew this one up. The price is nearly free, too. He has also refined the harness for Dallas and Dallas has grown and filled out. He can easily pull the sled now.

This is our traditional 'pose the children in front of the selected tree' picture. It is a beautiful blue spruce. It cost $25 for any blue spruce on the lot. Big or small.

Elizabeth is no longer a little girl. She has transitioned into the big girl state ever since she lost that first tooth!

T-Bob is the 'king of layers'. At any moment he has 5-9 layers on. He will often have 2 hoodies a couple long sleeve shirts and a couple short sleeve shirts all at once. It makes him look chubby, but he still needs slim jeans. He likes it that he can just walk outside and not need a coat on. I don't know how he stands it in the warmer areas of the house. He also likes the fact that when one shirt gets dirty, he can just remove it and be clean again. Not so nice for the laundry lady, but I guess there is a certain 'boy' logic to it.
On Facebook I posted a video of Dallas pulling the tree out of the woods. He did all the work. In fact the children were asked several times if he wouldn't help someone else get their tree out too. Mr. Boots is sure that he could make quite a bit of money offering that service there, come another year.
This is one tradition that the children really seem to enjoy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Assortment of Books

I recently came across a box of books I had bought at a book sale. Somehow it had not gotten put away and so I thought I'd share a couple treasures from it.

When I was a child, a few years ago, my grandparents got Ideal magazine. It was made with heavy paper and no ads. It was composed of beautiful photos and paintings, short stories and poems. I could sit and look at them for a long time. Then they disappeared. I didn't see them for a long time. Now I pick them up whenever I come across them. Each issue is themed to a holiday or season. This one is a Christmas one. It was fun for me to see Elizabeth sitting and enjoying it also.
As the Christmas season is upon us, I wanted to share about another book I found. It is called 'The Great Story' published by Harcourt, Brace and Company. It is the story of the life of Jesus. It is the words from the KJV Bible. Each page has a little bit to read and then they have a famous painting. It tells the story of Christ's life simply and gives an excellent exposure to great works of art. If you find a copy, pick it up. You will be glad you did.

'The Matchlock Gun' is a classic story. It is short enough to read in one sitting, yet it is an exciting, and true tale. It is the story of a boy who's father goes off to fight the Indians, but while he is gone the Indians attack their home and the boy must fire the gun to save his family. He behaves manfully and fully obeys his other's instructions and thus is able to save her life. It may be a little intense for a 4 or 5 year old, so pre-read. The artwork is great and draws you in. Walter Edmonds has written some other good stories for younger readers. The ones for young adults should be pre-read by parents. I do not have them on my shelf.

This is one of those books I picked up just because, and I am really glad I did. It is all about how animals communicate. It has a wide variety of critters that it talks about also, the usual insects (ants,bees, etc) but also penguins, deer, chimps, wolves and even alligators! I would put the reading level at about 3rd grade, but it is jam packed full of information and has lots of illustrations. It is one I am planning to read to all the children for nature.

Every family has to come to their own philosophical position on fairy stories. We like them and feel they have value. Andrew Lang has a number of Fairy Books that have the classic fairy tales in them. Ambleside uses a number of them in their curriculum. He has a very rich vocabulary and tells the old tales well. I pick up his books whenever I find them. There is also a whole series of 'Umbrella' books. They have all different kinds of classic stories in them. I remember reading them as a child. We had a number of them on our bookshelves when I was growing up.

This is the Walter Piper version of 'Famous Fairy Tales'. If the name is familiar to you, it is because he wrote 'The Little Engine that Could' . This book is lavishly illustrated in the typical Piper fashion. Elizabeth really enjoys having this book read to her.

This book is called 'American Songbag' by the noted American writer and historian Carl Sandburg. The copyright is 1927. He goes through a number of classic American Folk Songs. He gives all the verses he can find and gives a brief history of each song and author. You really should make folk songs a part of your family culture. They are a lot of fun and teach a lot about American thought, politics and history. It is also a lot of fun to learn to sing as a family. We spend time on hymns, folk songs, and classical music. We are trying to develop a rich musical palate for the children. The world will expose them to the junk food soon enough.

This was a real find at the last sale I was at. I got a whole boxful of Happy Hollisters for 25 cents each. All with an intact dust jacket. They would resale on eBay or Amazon for at least $5 each. I will hold on to them for my children and grandchildren though. This is another one of those classic series from the 30's and 40's. I remember reading them when I was growing up. They are sweet. I also like the fact that the family has more than two children. This series fits in well for that second or third grader who is on a reading tear and isn't ready for the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. There is a little mystery in them, but nothing scary. This another one of those old series that you should pick up when you see them. Under the cover the books are a brick red hardback. You can kin of see it at the top of the book where the cover has slid down.

The Book House is another old series of story books. Some have fairy tales and some have history stories. They were produced originally in Great Britain in the early 1920s. It was edited by Olive Beaupre Miller. There is also a series of 12 volumes of 'My Bookhouse'. 3 volumes of 'My Travelship' and 6 volumes of 'My Book of History'. I like the fact that the covers feel good in your hands. They are beautiful and are embossed deeply. I guess I am a tactile person.
I am trying to stay away from book sales for now. I am totally out of bookshelf space. A friend gave me a number of boxes of books and I still have to process and digest them. There is no such thing as to many books, just insufficient space. "Read on Macbeth!"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mother and Daughter-in laws Pt 2

In September of 2010 I wrote a blog post directed at being a good daughter-in-law. Tonight, I am writing a letter to myself on how to be the best mother-in-law I can be when the time comes. It seems that lately, I have been talking to a lot of women who are struggling with their relations with their daughter-in-laws. I see others who are doing a great job. I talk to young women who are hurting because of their mother-in-laws. I want to do an excellent job when the time comes, so here are thoughts and notes to myself. (Incidentally, I have a great mother-in-law and I have learned a lot from her.)

I think the first step in being a good mother-in-law is get to know your daughter-in-law. Spend time with her. If she is open to it, have a Bible study with her. Get to know her family. Pay attention and figure out her love language. If you aren't familiar with them, read the book 'The Five Love Languages' by Gary Chapman. It helps to explain where many communication breakdowns come from. A person thinks they are communicating love to someone else, but the person doesn't hear it or feel it because it wasn't in their language. Make the effort to learn about her hobbies, interests, and job. Encourage her in those pursuits.
Give her time to get to know you and trust you. Be careful what you say to her. Avoid even the suggestion of a criticism, unless you have developed a deep and open relationship. Even then be very cautious. Don't talk about how wonderful and talented your daughters are. It will make her feel criticized and inadequate. Let her hear you praise and appreciate her to other people and say it directly to her. Let her know you are one of her biggest fans. Keep the lines of communication open. Pick the way she feels most comfortable, whether phone, written notes, electronic, or in person.
When the couple is starting off, give them time and space to develop their own family culture. Give them freedom to make their own decisions without your input. Don't make your d-i-l feel as if she must compete with you for your son's affection and appreciation. Don't interfere or be a busybody. They will make decisions that you disagree with. That's OK. Just because someone chooses differently doesn't mean they are wrong. There is more than one right way to do something. Support them in whatever they decide. Feel free to pray for them all you want! That will avail more than all the interference or comments you make will do.

When your daughter-in-law does something that hurts your feelings, forgive her. Allow her to grow and mature without criticism. None of us wants to be remembered as we were. We all did things we would rather not have remembered when we were young and first married. Be positive. Express your appreciation and notice of the growth and maturation in her life. Tell her whenever you see her doing the things you appreciate (Loving your son and grandchildren, helping others, etc). Help her feel welcomed into your life. If she offers to help with something, accept it warmly. Don't be demanding. Invite her along when you do something with your other daughters. Find something special that the two of you can enjoy doing together.
Support their marriage. Offer to watch the children periodically so they (your son and his wife) can go out on a date night together. If finances are tight for them, and you can manage, help them to have some time away as a family on vacation. Be supportive of whatever educational or other decisions they make as a family. Resist the temptation to give your input unless asked. Be careful what you say to or ask the grandchildren. It will probably be repeated at home. Don't probe or criticize. Treat your d-i-l as you would have like to be treated by your own mother-in-law. Never stop praying for their family.
I would love your input on what I have missed. What was the best thing your mother-in-law did for you?

Friday, December 10, 2010

AWANA Bible Character Dress Up Night

Our AWANA club had a 'Bible Character Dress Up' night last week. Three of the children did dress up.
JoAn was Rhoda, the girl that wouldn't open the door for Peter, when he showed up at their prayer meeting. Elizabeth was Martha, the sister of Mary.

T-Bob was Jonathon's armor bearer.
A good time was had by all the children.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Elizabeth turns Six!

Happy Birthday to you!
Elizabeth's day started with a special birthday breakfast prepared by Michelle. She even got homemade hot chocolate in the special birthday mug.
Michelle thinks that cream is a cooking staple.
She was also served homemade pancakes with fresh strawberry sauce, more whipped cream and orange juice. Yummy!

This is our now six year old. She isn't smiling wide enough to see the missing tooth on the bottom. I think she was still half asleep for this picture.

I neglected to take any pictures of her lunch. She requested scallops in a cream sauce. She has very refined tastes. Obviously she hangs around Michelle too much. I did make them for her and Michelle. ( And not for the other children who are not real sea food fans.)

Grandma R came to dinner. Grandpa was out hunting so he couldn't come. Her supper menu was steak, stuffed baby potatoes (with sour cream and cheese), brussel sprouts, and carrots with garlic dill butter. Yes, she came up with that menu by herself. My children LOVE brussel sprouts. They consider them a real treat.

This is the cake that Michelle and Elizabeth made for the occasion. Pretty amazing. For all my health conscious friends who are having heart attacks out there.... It was made from a SINGLE gluten free vanilla cake mix. That is not frosting on it, but whipped cream of course. The red stuff is some more of the berry sauce that was made for breakfast, just thickened a bit more with cornstarch. There are fresh strawberries in there also.This is almost healthy for you! LOL

Of course the youngest sister of three older brothers has to put up with some tricks. These were the relighting candles. She tried valiantly to keep them out, but it didn't work. She was a very good sport about it and thought it funny.

Here is a picture of the inside of that scrumptious cake. Sorry you missed it!
Michelle is going to be doing a GF cake for a friend's wedding this month. She won't use whipped cream for the frosting there. It is too hard to decorate with.
Happy Birthday Elizabeth, We love you!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DH Loves Me

DH loves me, this I know
For this project shows me so.
Bigger jobs to him belong,
I am weak but he is strong ( smart, handsome, hardworking, etc)
This is a project that has needed done for awhile.
We had an ugly door here that was solid, but didn't have any windows. This is the door that goes from the garage into the house. I was always afraid that someone would swing the door open and knock a little one down the steps. It never happened, but it was more than a remote possibility. He did this job on the Friday after Thanksgiving. He also put up the trim right away. It is a beautiful door.

The door was FREE. It came off a job that he was doing. Crazy the stuff that people want to get rid of. It was in a local board of education building (your tax dollars at work) that he helped remodel. He did have to re size the door. It has beveled glass for each of the panes. It even came with the curtain attached. I am so Thankful for this provision of God and my husband. Thank-you darling!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thanksgiving at the Mangos

We had a lovely Thanksgiving! We had 20 family and friends over to dinner. Michelle made cake pops that she decorated as turkeys. Very cute, but not very healthy!

Everybody pitched in to help. Dad carved the turkey. This is his traditional job.

Captain Paul was visiting. So nice to see him. He helped carry things to the table.

Kathy and JoAn got food on the table.

Becki, the soon to be bride, filled the glasses and helped set the table.

Don put out the snacks he brought, for munching after dinner.

Dad finished carving the turkey - it is a big job! You have to separate the white and dark meat and put the stuffing in the bowls too!

Dallas stayed outside in the cold. He just watched the proceedings through the back door.

The guys found some chess boards. Older brother beat younger brother, and son beat father in these matches.

Sadie just woke up from her nap and was a little groggy.

This was the cousins' table with the two youngish uncles chaperoning.

Levi liked the boys' toys he found to play with.

It was quiet after dinner and the adults vegged.

Grandpa found an old Sears Catalog and read that. He did join us for a game of Quiddler later.

Captain Paul relaxed by playing some original compositions on the piano.

Becki enjoyed talking about her wedding plans.

Michelle likes doing Sadie's hair. There is getting more to work with.

Ian saw the day through his rose colored glasses. He wore them all day!

Paul was introduced to Polly Pockets. Something a father, with only boys, hadn't run into yet. He happily played with Elizabeth using his finger as the doll.

It was a great day! It is always good to stop and reflect for all the things we are thankful for! It is nice to be able to share a day with family and friends!