Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Joys...

 Dear friends,

We hope that you had a safe, happy Christmas, and that you are getting back to "normal" now. The weeks leading up to Christmas are so busy, it seems to take a few days after the day to let the magic sink in!

We performed at nursing homes as a family and also as  part of a homeschool co-op  (see me peeking above the piano?).

The children put on their ninth annual homegrown "Nutcracker Ballet." This time they thought they would do something different and use the big band version for their music. They performed for Grandma and Grandpa Graham, and a wonderful time was had by all.

Tasha, Frankie, and Evangeline took advantage of the snow fall and made a few snowmen,
which are miraculously hanging in there, although they look a little smaller each day:


On Christmas Eve after acting out the Nativity story, we bundled up and headed outside for our Tasha Tudor-style trip to see our own enchanted creche in the woods. It is amazing how much we truly feel like we are going to see the baby Jesus when we carry lights and sing Christmas hymns along the way!

Christmas morning brought a few presents, both homemade and store bought; little Rebecca of course thought that every present was "MINE!"

Mr. Graham and the two oldest girls sang "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" for church's Christmas program, and Mr. Graham read "A Christmas Carol" to us over a few nights. The simple things truly are the best and most memorable, don't you agree?

 We thank you for all of the joy that our friends give to us, through your blogs and letters. May the Lord continue to keep you and yours the remainder of the holiday season.  As Tiny Tim would say, "God bless us, everyone one!"




Saturday, December 22, 2012

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Dear Friends,

We had a nice snow storm here a couple of days ago, and now it feels more like Christmas! Audrey snapped some photos of the beautiful scenery for us to enjoy~

We took a couple of hours last Friday to sing at a favorite nursing home; it's wonderful to have children old enough to play instruments and sing, instead of just looking cute. ☺

(Of course the little cute ones stole the show, anyway!)

We met one man that was one hundred years old; I was amazed to think that he was born just after the Titanic sank! It really puts time in perspective when you listen to someone elderly tell the story of their life. I always wish that I could spend more time with the folks in nursing homes, since they love company so much. Hopefully knowing that we cared enough to sing for them will be a happy memory for them until the next time we come to visit.

Today the children are preparing for their home-grown "Nutcracker" production, which they put on every year for the family. We're excited to watch it tonight, and hopefully we'll get some good videos this time to share.

Meanwhile, we'd better get those last-minute presents wrapped; Rebecca has promised not to peek!

We wish you a safe and happy weekend, and a merry Christmas to all of our frieinds.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"You Like to Wear Old-Fashioned Dresses, Don't You?"

 Dear Friends,

Last Sunday I was wearing this green ensemble in church, when I noticed a little girl staring at me. After a while she timidly said, "You like to wear old-fashioned dresses, don't you?" I replied, "I sure do! I love old-fashioned things." She smiled, and then said, "You sure like old-fashioned things!" "Yep, I sure do." :) I love candid conversations with children, who are always curious about the lady who marches to the beat of her own drummer. Maybe I'll inspire one or two to dress old-fashioned, too!
We still haven't had any snow here in Missouri, but the thermometer has dropped low enough to feel like winter. Last night when I was walking the dog I marveled at the multi-faceted jewels laid down by Jack Frost and his fairies. The glow of street lights gives frost a beautiful apricot glow, like snow clouds at night.

When the temperatures are a little warmer, we spend as much time as possible out watching the hundreds of birds congregating in the field and woods behind our house. When we are feeling hurried during the day we will either see a cardinal at the feeder or hear a white-crowned sparrow singing its sweet song, and we are instantly brought into a state of peace. Thank goodness the birds don't leave us when the flowers and insects do!

A mockingbird in a nearby cemetery~

 Grandma Cherie bought us a trampoline for an early Christmas present, and everyone has developed a sudden taste for spending half the day outside in the cold. Trampolines are a great way to exercise the lymph glands, that can't empty out properly without the help of large muscles. Plus it's a lot of fun!

The amount of popcorn consumed in our home seems to increase in proportion to the decrease of daylight hours; does this happen in your house, too?

The shapes of our pancakes have been more creative lately, too~ Winter is a perfect time to play with your food, since the more limited diet can become a little too routine.

 The children and Mr. Graham attented the tree lighting ceremony in Raytown lately, and enjoyed making crafts and going for a hayride around the block~

 Someone looks a little sleepy

We found a large pile of discarded juniper branches and gleefully brought home as many as we could, for use in decorations and to add to our winter stove-top potpourri. We like the use the berries in cooking, as well. They add a distinct, spicey flavor that goes well with vegetables and sauces.

We hope that you are keeping warm (or cool, depending on where you are), and that you are enjoying this special time of year with family and friends. Stay safe and have a wonderful week.



Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy St. Nicholas Day

Dear Friends,

Happy St. Nicholas Day! We had a nice little celebration at home, which is such a nice prelude to Christmas. It also makes it easier for little children who have a hard time waiting until the 25th to open a present or two. These photos are dark, but they show a carrot that St. Nick's horse didn't eat, along with goodies from AnnaMarie and Evangeline's boots. We had cookies and tea to celebrate, and read a few Christmas stories that focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Simple holidays are the best, in our opinion!

AnnaMarie has opened her own Etsy shop, where she is selling handmade cards. She would love it if you stopped by and took a look! It's so fun to see children grow up and use the talents with which they have been blessed. I am in awe at some of the things they do, and am excited to see all that they will accomplish in their lives.

AnnaMarie also loves to make fantastic hairstyles on her younger sisters, who get a different style every day. Not everyone has their own hair designer! :)

The tree is up and decorated, and we love gathering around each night with the house lights off, enjoying the soft glow that speaks the peace of the season. May all of our hearts make room for the Savior and His message of hope. No matter who sits in political office, Christ will always be King!



Friday, November 23, 2012

We Are Thankful

 Dear Friends,

We hope that those of you in the States had a lovely Thanksgiving Day yesterday~ we had fun putting on a skit about the history of Thanksgiving for Grandma and Grandpa Graham. As you can see from the photo, we were quite a varied crew!

As the Christmas season approaches, it is tempting to be caught up in the fray of sales on things that we don't really need, and in desiring to please everyone and create happiness for them. May we remember, dear friends, that the greatest gift we can gift our loved ones is a peaceful, stress-free us! A beautifully-wrapped present under the tree will hardly make up for the bundle of frayed nerves that we tend to dish out to everyone the weeks preceding. :)

Let's reclaim this time as a time for nurturing our own souls, for savoring the resting time of the earth, and for strengthening home and family through small, loving gestures.

Watching the birds in their migration (and playing with the sparrows that steal that chicken feed) is a restful occupation that feeds our need for nature.

The moon reminds us that all things happen in cycles, and that we need not worry about missing out on the important things in life~ they will come back to us!

Sitting and chatting with a friend is a great way to unwind during this busy time~

The changing leaves also teach us that it is wise to let go of burdens and just rest in the Lord.

I think I may sharpen up these pencils and sketch a few leaves before they're gone!
Thank you to everyone who comes to visit, and especially for your sweet comments; we love all of you, and are grateful to have met you through the magic of the internet.

Love and blessings,

Remember~ "It is never too late to have a happy childhood." Tim Robbins

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November Blessings

Dear Friends,

Our little garden is getting ready for winter's rest, although the peas believe they'll have lots of time to start setting fruit!

We noticed that one of the apples we picked looked a little familiar. . .  

Ah yes, it looks like a dove!

We love the "imperfections" of nature that are so whimsical~ They show us that God has a sense of humor!

Speaking of whimsical, we found these radishes dancing away in the soil of our garden~ Perhaps an underground Pied Piper passed through?

The geraniums in our window are cheering us on cloudy, blustery days,
and the yard is full of the twitterings of birds in the morning, making this time of year a favorite, indeed.

Our cat Senora would love to be out watching the birds, too, but we know better!

We hope that you take time each day to slow down and observe the natural world around you; there are wonders on every hand, great and small!
May the Lord bless us as we approach the quiet time of the year, when the earth takes a well-earned rest.