Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Eve

Our family enjoyed a great day with lots more family on Christmas Eve – had to share our day….

We started the day by leaving about 6:45 from our house heading to Dallas.  Stopped at Central Market to pick up a few things, then off to Brother Bill’s

our family brother bills (2)

whole family at brother bills

ag servingbrother bills 4 kids

j serving

pj serving

crowds at bro billse serving


Then we all met up at Chuy’s for a Birthday Celebration for Robert!

me and robert

family at chuy's

grammie and paphungry kids


Next, we got about an hour break at the Cole Home, before heading out to church at Watermark Community Church – an amazing service.


kids waiting for church

j and caleb

silly boysme and j at church

Loved watching the candlelight grow in the sanctuary… it was beautiful!

a few lights

more lights

even morefull of lights


Then, while the gang came back to the Cole’s home, I headed to the airport to pick up my mom and her husband Louie.  We enjoyed some time at the Cole’s home – where they got to meet most of the family, and have a glass of wine!

nana and louie at cole's

Such a perfect day – we had tons of family time and it was just a great day all around. 

It’s almost time

As we prepared to celebrate Christmas this week, my mind started thinking about the weeks after that.  Trying to figure out what next year will hold, not the predicting kind, but what is God working on with me for next year?

Last year I chose a word to really think about : trust.  I wanted to trust God more fully, I aimed to trust the things happening in my like and really, to trust HIM.

Sunday, in church I heard my word for 2013, but first, a few thoughts…

This Christmas we have not done all I hoped we would.  We did not even do our Jesse tree tradition each day.  We did not get our 12 days of giving off the way I planned.  We did not watch many of our annual Christmas movies.  We did not complete several crafts I prepped.  And I like to check things off my lists.  I like to feel a sense of accomplishment.  And, honestly I don’t have too much of that these days.

Instead we are enjoying extra time with family – we have never had 2 weeks of company at Christmas before!!  Not sure where else we have spent our time, but it has been just fine.  Another reminder that it is not all about checking off tasks – it’s really more about just being where you are.

So as I remembered a book I wanted to read with the kids this last 12 days, I figured why not start it Jan 1st?  So what if it is a 12 days of Christmas devotion?  Can Christ not be a celebration year round?

So that is what brought me to my word for 2013. 


I want to think of MORE this next year – not more stuff, not more time, not more of anything else except more of Jesus.  I want to spend more time with him, think about him more, dwell with him more.  I want more of his peace, more of his comfort, more of HIM.

As I embrace 2013 – I hope that there is less of me, less of all I want, less of all the busyness, less of the world.  I want to slow our family life down a bit more, think about what really matters, manage our time and our resources a bit better.  I want to spend more time playing, enjoying all God has given us. 

So, as we get ready to welcome in the new year, here’s to grabbing more of Jesus and less of ourselves!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

busy days.

I feel like these days are flying by!!  But they’ve been good days!

A few home-improvement projects with Daddy, a party here, and lots of fun there… it’s been a good time!

First, PJ helped Daddy lay tile in our bathroom – I love it!!

Second, ED helped Daddy pull up the molding in the hallway, clean it up and put new molding down.

checking out the wall

This morning, we celebrated our First day of Christmas Giving!  It was so fun when the kids opened their bags to see what was inside.  Of course, they were hoping for toys, but were quickly excited to see the fun craft we were going to make.

We made Hot Chocolate Spoons to give to all our friends at our Christmas Party.  The kids got sprinkles, chocolate chips, plastic spoons, and mini m&m’s.  Then we filled our spoons with melted chocolate and decorated!  So fun!!

Today we made time to have a Christmas Celebration with friends!  What a great time to fellowship, play some ping pong, and enjoy some yummy treats!  It was so much fun!!

We ended our party with a trip to the Nursing Home to sing a bit – we had a blast singing and enjoying the residents!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Book Review : No Safe Harbor

{Comment to win a copy of this book, let me know why you want to read it, what sounds good to you?  I will draw a winner on Sunday night and contact you on Monday!! }


I recently was blessed to read Elizabeth Ludwig’s book NO Safe Harbor.  This book is the first is a new series titled Edge of Freedom. 

While I simply enjoy reading, I really enjoy when there is an added plus that a story can offer, I loved that this story took place in the 1890’s.  The picture that Ms. Ludwig painted of New York during this period was very interesting and made me feel like I could imagine it in my mind just as she described it.

This story is about a woman who has come across the sea from England/ Ireland.  She must make her way in this country as she tries to find her twin brother whom she believed dead for years.  She knows she has to keep his existence a secret, or she could be in danger, but that is really all she knows.

Meanwhile, the people behind her brother going in to hiding find her and are hoping to catch him through her.  There is a great story going on in the background while England and Ireland are waging a bit of a war themselves and seeing just how that affected the immigrants on this side of the ocean. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

{Audio} Book Review : Oliver Twist

If you have followed our family for very long, you know we tend to go far when we travel.  We like to drive to Maine as often as we can manage, we have driven to Oregon and Florida too.  When I say “we” that usually means the children and I.  Robert did join us in 2009 while we were unemployed, but normally he flies in to where we are and flies home – this allows us the most time on vacation.

So how do we manage to drive 2000 miles on way on these trips?  Well, we do have a DVD player in the car, but honestly we only watch 1-2 movies in a 12 hour travelling day, and 1 if 8 hours or less.  We play games (license plate, sign ABC, etc).  Our favorite thing to do is listen to books on audio though!!

Our all-time favorite is The Chronicles of Narnia by Focus on the Family!  We love these stories so much I think each of my kids could tell you play by play, the scenes for each!!  We have listened so many times, and we still love to listen! 

These precious audio dramas are produced by Focus on the Family.  We also own Bonheoffer, Corrie Ten Boon, and A Christmas Carole by Dickens.  We love the different voices they cast for each character, love the dramatic effects and simply love to listen again and again!!

So when they announced the future release of Oliver Twist I knew that I wanted to get this CD Audio Drama too. 

Our copy arrived right before Thanksgiving and instead of ripping it opening and listening right away, I handed it off to my husband so he could listen first, it did note a rating of 12+ on the package.  I wanted him to “screen” it before I listened with the kids, in case it was not appropriate. 

Well, the entire time he was listening to this story, he would come home using his British Voice, often in character – Mr. Bumble or Oliver, depending on the day.  He loved it.  I would catch him sitting in his truck once he got home just to finish a section or disk.  I knew this story was a keeper for our family!

He feels that for our children it will be okay for them to listen, but he recommended at least 8 year of age.  {This is our personal opinion, we do not recommend you allow children under 12 to listen to this drama unless you preview it first for your own family.}  He honestly feels that it would be good for our children to really experience how other children were being treated during the early 1800’s. 

Specifically, Robert felt that the casting of the characters was perfect, he thought the voices really fit the characters in this production.  He felt that Focus on the Family did a great job bringing this story to life, and that they were able to really enhance the story with the dramatic interpretation they provided.

As a family we have listened to the first disk, while trekking up to Dallas, and I will tell you my kids are hooked!!  It is obviously a very sad story, especially in the beginning when Oliver Twist is so mistreated.  But this story could be fact, it is based on what was really happening during this time in history, and it should make us all appreciate what we have that much more. 

I highly recommend this Focus on the Family production of Oliver Twist.  I also recommend any of their other products, our family has loved them for years and looks forward to more productions in the future!!

If you would like to hear other audio samples, check out CBD.

NOTE  : I was offered a copy of Oliver Twist by Tyndale House Publishers, in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

A new member of the fam….

Well here is Steve. {Note : I had no part in naming this guy- I liked Charlie…..}

So here is the little guy in the trailer not too happy.

arrival of steve

Here he is in the yard, checking things out.

loose calf

And then we got him penned up in a smaller spot


penned up steve


Still not a happy boy, but about to get much less happy ….

So we tried to get him to take a bottle – our theory to get him used to us and willing to come when we want him.  He was not too thrilled, so I called in help!!

Here is our friend Justin who showed a steer last year with our Live Stock Show.  At this point we think Steve is a steer…..

not happy Steve


We got him tied up to try and “break” him a bit and get him behaving better….

He REALLY did not like this.  However, while tied up (for 30 min) we got to brush him clean, and scratch him.  And my friend found out he is not a steer – he is a bull calf!  Uh oh. 

working to break Steve

Then the boys worked with him a bit, Justin showed my boys how to lead him a bit, really tug  him around.  It was good.  Justin got to instruct, and my boys learned a bit!

learning from Justinwokring out new calf

So then my friend called her “helper” and set up for us to go to the school this week, with Steve – to get him turned into a Steer and to get rid of those horns – by the Ag teacher!!!  He is going to use it as a class for his students, and we get to watch and learn too!!  Besides, we do not want to have to deal with a steer who is a bit ornery and has horns!!

Another day here on the farm, learning lots and lots!! I do love this life!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Summary {For the Book Lovers on your list}

I have been so blessed to read many, many books this fall and wanted to give you a quick summary of some great gift ideas!!

If you have a reader on your list, you really need to check out one of these books for them!!


  Fire of the Raging Dragon  {Military Drama, Navy, a war-type of story}

  Resurrect  {Navy pilot dies, but gets a new life in a new body, but now has to save the world…}

 Placebo  (one of my FAVORITE authors, a group go undercover to exploit a medical research facility, but there is more than expected going on}

  Soul’s Gate  {takes you to another level spiritually, great story, will make you really look at intervening prayer in a new light}



  Debt Proof Your Christmas {Mary Hunt, self-explanatory, great stories of what families do, great homemade gift ideas}

  American Patriots  {Rick Santorum, amazing historical book}

   Hot Buttons (Dating, Drugs, Sexuality, and Internet) {Great book for parents of up and coming teens, loved these}

   Farmer’s Daughter {A darling cookbook from a woman who great up Mennonite}

   Cleaning House  {Kay Wyma – will change your life and your home with your children – LOVE THIS BOOK!!}



  Christmas Pony {great for a younger reader, or a fun Christmas read}

  When a Heart Stops  {Good light fiction, romance but some action and suspense too}

  Life with Lily  {A children’s book, Lily is an Amish girl growing up on the farm.

  You Don’t Know Me  {A woman was living a new life under the witness protection program, but now “he” found her, does she run, or tell her family the truth}

There are many more you can check out if you want to see a LIST HERE too – but these are the books I have loved reading this past couple months!  I hope you find something that interests you, or that special someone you might be shopping for!!

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review : Fire of the Raging Dragon

Okay, First I must admit I am an Army Girl.  Short of allowing my boys to go to Annapolis, I am not interested in the Navy.  Well, before this book anyway!

I loved this story.  I loved the characters, all of them.  I loved their integrity, their love for the Navy and their Country.  I admit, it took a few chapters to get me hooked.  But, after that I was totally enthralled in this story. 

Don Brown has written many novels involving the Navy, but this is my first time to read him.  I will be sure to look up his other books to get my hands of those too.  I am a new fan of Mr. Don Brown.  He knows just how to weave a story together that you do not want to put down.  He creates characters that you love, and others who you will hate. 

This particular story is about the President’s daughter, a graduate of Annapolis Naval Academy who is serving on board a ship in the China Sea.  At the same time China decides that is wants to regain control of Taiwan (with a new leader in China).  So there is a war brewing and the President’s daughter is right in the middle of it.

I really cannot say enough about the characters and the story that Don Brown so expertly wove together.  He brings in a great deal of expertise, but not so much that you are overwhelmed.  Simply put, I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait to read more by him!!

To read more about the book and to see a quick trailer check out Don Brown’s Page HERE.

Note :I was offered this copy of Fire of the Raging Dragon by Zondervan Publishers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Traditions {2012}

Each year we tweak a bit here and there.  I feel like a tradition junkie at times, I want to make sure we have the best memories from these years as my four kiddos go out and start their own families.  I want them to want to come back and re-live some of the things we do, and I hope they take some ideas into their own homes.

our tree

This year we are doing our normal thing, we decorated the tree right after Thanksgiving – I cannot seem to help it, I cannot wait!!  I love our treasure boxes that the kids store their own ornaments in.  They each have a box, with all their homemade ones and the gifts they get each year.  They get those out first and they get to don all their gifts onto our tree. 

treasure boxes

We love these boxes because they “own” them.  They love to see all the fun things they made when they were “little” – and they talk about where each one came from and when they got it as they pull them out.  I love that!

We LOVE LOVE LOVE our Jesse Tree devotion from Ann Voskamp – if you have not checked it out YOU MUST!!  We love this.  I love this.  My kids could probably teach it to others.  This is something I hope we never give up.  The past three years I have been making a few of the ornaments each year, not sure how many I have left, but this has been a labor of love.  Now to start making 4 sets of ornaments to send off with my kids – that is the next project!

This year we are going to count down the last twelve days of Christmas a bit different.  I read how someone was going to have little gifts for the kids to open each day.  With 4 kids – 12 days – that is TOO many gifts – honestly, too much junk!!

So, I am tweaking it.  I will have 4 things each morning to open (I am thinking cloth gift sack to reuse every day) – inside will be an item to use to make something.  For instance : Cardstock, stamps, ink & markers = Cards.  White Chocolate chips, cherries, recipe card & gift sacks = Hootycreeks (our favorite Christmas cookies).  And after we get to assemble the gift, we are going to go deliver to someone. 

homemade ornament

Did I mention that I am giving the kids things we already have (for the most part) except for a few perishable ingredients.  So this really will not add much to our Christmas Budget – just for things I would already make and give away – instead the kids will be really doing most of the work!! 

I am so excited about this new project!!  They will love the craft/baking part – and they will also love the giving away part.  I do plan to make enough to keep a bit for us too, but the focus will be on the giving.  I cannot wait to start this, but still lots of planning!!

And I will confess, we may take 2 of our 12 days for stay in a watch a movie day – but if we can have 10 days of giving I will be thrilled!  I think this {possibly new tradition} idea may be just the thing to help us remember that it is not about the gifts we get, but the gifts we give!!

Here is my list so far for

12 Days of Christmas Giving:

1.  Cookies

2.  Homemade cards

3.  Hot cocoa gift basket

4.  Chocolate nut clusters

5. Carmel Popcorn

6.  Gift tags

7. Felt Ornaments

8. Felt Nativity

9. Games & Cards (maybe take to play at Nursing Home?)

10.Homemade bread

11.  Movie Day

12. Nativity Craft with terracotta pots

One more thing to add, this year I am going to wrap our Christmas books – so that I can be sure we read them all and build the anticipation each night as we unwrap one.  I plan to use left over past paper – maybe even newspaper – just the idea to get it wrapped.  I think the kids will like this.  We will start that as soon as I count our books and count back from the 25th – should be fun!!

Here’s to hoping it goes well, the kids enjoy it and that they “get” it!!

katie under the tree

Hope you are enjoying many happy traditions in your home!!

Book Review : Debt Proof Your Christmas

I love this time of year.  I love the decorations, I love making and buying gifts, I love all the traditions leading up to Christmas Day.  However, I do not love getting up on December 26th and knowing that I will be paying for my December for weeks, months, or years later.  Thankfully, we have not done that in many, many years.

I love Mary Hunt.  I love all of her books! 

Most recently I reviewed Raising Financially Confident Kids and loved that book!  This time around I get to tell you all the reasons I loved Debt Proof Your Christmas!

I love how straight to the point Mary Hunt is.  She is very transparent and will tell you all the crazy mistakes she made in her younger years.  She is not afraid to reveal how in debt she went one Christmas in an attempt to get the “perfect” gifts from a very high end department store since they were the only ones who would extend her credit!

My favorite part of this book was not all the great info, the suggestions to plan ahead and plan well, not to pay cash, but the best part was the little vignettes at the end of each chapter.  These little stories are direct from fans of Mary’s, and they share what they do.  I loved the traditions that many shared that do not cost anything but were so special!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review : Resurrect



Resurrect is an action, thriller with a bit of science fiction.  I did enjoy this book and would highly recommend it, I would say though, I think this book is geared more to a male reader, and an adult at that.  I was sad to say there was a bit adult content that precluded my oldest from reading it, nothing inappropriate for an adult, just not for an eleven year old.

I loved the military aspect of this story, as the main character was a former Navy fighter pilot and one who is involved in many Black Ops.

This story is about Josh, former Navy pilot who is in a “fatal” accident, but somehow is rebuilt into a new body, but same mind.  He then is tasked to save the world from a comet set to hit the Earth in 2 years.   While this is a fiction story, there is a tremendous amount of information about comets and meteors, and black operations – not all related.  I learned tons of information about these topics and was thoroughly fascinated.

I really enjoyed the characters in this story, except for Josh’s temporary roommate (the reason my son cannot read the book, he is a player) and really was not sure why this very brief story line was included.  Oh well, it did not stop me from enjoying the book at all, just kept me from passing it down.  I really enjoyed the development of Elizabeth, Josh’s friend and love interest.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Lists {to do/not do}

SO, do you encourage your kiddos to list out all the things they are longing for on Christmas day?  I ask because this time of year it about drive me crazy when you are in line at __________ (fill in the blank) with your kids and the sweet elderly man/woman near you asks the kids if they made out their list yet?  Have they been good?  Are they expecting great things from Santa?


I love that they engage my kids.  I love that they are friendly.  But please, we battle selfishness daily in my home.  I deal with it, and I see it in my kids every time I turn around.  They will spend 2 hours at the food pantry giving food to people who have no money to buy food, and come home and complain about what I serve them.

My boys worship catalogs.  Thankfully, not bad ones, but really?  You have more things to play with than you have time to play with them and you think you need more.  You, my sweet children, have bought the lie that more stuff, different stuff will make you happy.

So, we, here in my home, we abstain from lists.  I do not even ask them what they want.  Because , honestly I know my kids.  I know what they need, what they will delight in long past Christmas morning.  I know the gifts that have mattered through the years.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review : The Christmas Pony

Well, it’s time.  Christmas is nearly here! 

This is my first Christmas book this year.  The Christmas Pony was written by Melody Carlson, I reviewed her book The Christmas Shoppe last year!  That was a sweet book for the holidays and this one is too!

The Christmas Pony

Honestly, I read this book in about 3 hours, it is a delightfully sweet story!  The story takes place in 1937 when Lucy, an eight year old girl, wishes for a pony for Christmas.  Not just any pony, no she wants Smoky.  A pony she has grown to love through her gifts as she walks by his home during her week.

Lucy is a sweet little girl, who you will instantly love.  Her father has passed away and she lives with her mother and Grandmother. 

This story is one that will kick off your holiday spirit in full fashion!  It is a story of making due with what you, but more, being content with what you have.  Seeing how Lucy makes the best of everything she faces is very encouraging.

This is a perfect story to share with the family as a read aloud too.  I plan to have my boys read it as we get closer to Christmas, while I know the main character is a girl, I think they will both enjoy the story and the message!

I think this would make a great gift to pass along to a friend as the Christmas season approaches.

NOTE : I was offered a copy of The Christmas Pony, at no cost, in exchange for an honest review by Revell Publishers.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...