I’m Back!….What happened?

 

 

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Sometimes we get a little antsy waiting at the airport for Daddy…

 

Hey Everyone! You probably thought I got lost or something, haha! Not to worry, after a 7 month hiatus, I’m back!

So what happened? Mostly, life happened.

My computer finally gave up on me in May, after 7 years of faithful service. I decided to wait ‘til October, when we visited the U.S. to get a new one. (Anyone else have bad luck with electronics in Latin America?)

By then I was so out of the blogging habit that it’s taken be awhile to get the nerve to jump back into things. I thought I’d give you a quick update of what’s been going on for the last 7 months.

Right before my computer went kaput (is that actually a word?….yes, I’m the geek that has to look it up now….it is! Yay!) I had just started the Food Cleanse portion of my 2014 Life Cleanse. It went really well, I felt it was very effective, much more so then my last try, and I felt like it did restart my health and get me back on the right track to eating right for my body. The total cleanse lasted over a month with first taking out all processed foods, then going vegetarian, then vegan, then just fruits and veggies, then juice and then back again.

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Yep, that would be two lines alright!

I was just finishing up my Cleanse when I found out I was pregnant again! This was a bit of a surprise since I had just miscarried right before I started my Cleanse. I was so grateful I had, had the chance to clean out my body before starting to grow one inside of it;)

For the next couple months my main focus was keeping my cookies down and trying to find a rhythm of life I could realistically handle with a pregnancy.

Balance is always something I struggle with, especially when pregnant, but the last couple pregnancies have taught me that I cannot be Super Woman because my actions and health don’t just affect me. Thus, I’ve tried to be gentler with my body while pregnant and found that it helps in a multitude of ways which I’m sure I will detail in another post;)

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“She feels it’s important to be prepared….”

We were able to go on a much needed family trip to the beach in May, in which I was once again reminded of how traveling and morning sickness don’t mix well. Thankfully Marvel and the kids were just happy to be at the beach and didn’t complain that Mommy was laying around and not on top of meals nor anything else for that matter:/

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Happy with her castle cake!

We finished up our homeschool year in June and celebrated Elf’s 4th birthday! Man time flies! She is growing up so fast, maturing even faster…4 going on 40! She keeps us on our feet and laughing all the way!

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Wow! Ten years already!

In July we celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary with a dinner out all by ourselves! Gasp! We had entire conversations without interruption and got to talk about each other instead of family and business matters. It was wonderful to reminisce and remember why we fell in love in the first place. Marvel has helped me grow in so many ways and is so patient with me. I will be forever grateful for him in my life.cropped-fonsecas_018.jpg

What would I do without him?

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Too cool to smile I guess;)

We also got to celebrate Engineer’s 9th birthday in July! He is growing up WAY too fast and it’s amazing how much he has changed in the last year or so. He has reached a new stage in his life and it’s been interesting to watch and then adjust as all our girls are really still in the “little kid” phase. It’s been really interesting to partake of Engineer’s wisdom as he has become much more expressive about his thoughts. Loving it and at the same time a bit of the Momma in me doesn’t want my little boy to grow up!

August was my birthday and though Marvel was travelling like crazy he made sure to set aside time to surprise me with Japanese food (my craving of choice this pregnancy;) and the kids and he just about wet themselves from the excitement of trying to keep the secret from me. The girls also threw me a “tea party” in which we had imaginary strawberry soup with carrots, strawberry cake and strawberry tea.

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Oh yeah, Engineer “rescued” a homeless kitten….pets….my favorite:/

I also spent the months of July and August planning our next school year and finishing up our immigration processes to get us all our Mexican residency. Immigration is always a headache for me, honestly, but it’s so nice to get it done and know that with residency we won’t have to renew everything EVERY year anymore. I also finished up getting Button’s Mexican and U.S. passports because Marvel was a sweetheart and got us a surprise trip to the U.S. to see my family in October!

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Engineer participated in a folkdance performance for the Mexican Indepence Day

September was the start of a new school year. I decided to wait to pick up my curriculum in the U.S. when we would go to visit (AKA: saving a BUNDLE on shipping costs!!) we spent September with mostly review and setting up and getting used to some new additions (Piano, Portuguese, and Button being more involved as an almost 2 year old). It was a very useful month because I was able to better pin-point exactly where each kid was and adjust many teaching methods and scheduling before we even got our new curriculum.

Also in September I went to the OB/GYN for the first time! Yes, yes, I know, I know, believe me I’ve had the lecture about pre-natal care…let’s just suffice it to say that I’m not a big fan of doctors in general, haven’t ever really found one I’ve liked here, would prefer a midwife but after finding out about the minimal qualifications needed for them and doctors in Mexico decided not to risk it while we’re here, and in all humility I have done this pregnancy thing a few times now and basically know what is normal for me and what is not. So, all that said we were able to go to a basic check-up as a family and everyone got to see the baby on the sonogram, which is always fun. We also found out at this appointment that we are expecting another baby GIRL! January 19th is the due date…though at this point this Momma would go for earlier J

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Cousins! Actually only a few of them….

In October we continued our concentration on school and then the kids and I got to go visit my side of the family in Washington State! It had been 3 years since we’d visited and we’d only seen my parents in the meantime when they came for Button’s birth and another visit here.

It was WONDERFUL to see my brothers and sisters, many of whom had begun their families since we last saw them, and meet all the new additions to the family. It was so great to reconnect with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles and even my close friends from my childhood.

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Birthday Girl!

Fiesta got to celebrate her 6th birthday while we were in Washington, which was a special treat and she was delighted with all of the attention! As usual, she was sure to tell us exactly how she wanted her cake, chocolate and vanilla with PINK frosting! As her nickname implies, if it had been up to her she would have invited every person she had met in Washington to her party, but we tried to keep it to close family;)

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Two Cakes???!!!!

It was really a wonderful visit and so fun for my kids to feel more connected to family that we talk about all the time. I was once again reminded of what an exceptionally loving and supportive family I have. They work so hard to stay connected and help whenever they can even with geography in the wayJ

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Can we forget Halloween?

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Why is she touching MY cake?

November we got back into the rhythm of school and also got to celebrate Button’s 2nd birthday! She was a little shy with the attention but made sure everyone understood that is was HER birthday and HER cake and HER presentsJ We had a smiley face theme because Button’s favorite song is “If you’re happy and you know it.” And she is truly one happy little girl!

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Guess we were too hungry to take the picture when the food was pretty!

We also celebrated Thanksgiving with our usual turkey dinner and this year the kids each picked a dessert that they wanted to make. We ended up having a leak come through our entry way, coming from the upstairs bathroom, a few days beforehand. So even though I wasn’t up to inviting some of our friends to share in the festivities as we usually do, we did have the plumber join us for our dinner;)

As soon as Thanksgiving was over we started on our Christmas preparations, more with our homemade gifts than anything. We knew Christmas was going to be a little different this year. Marvel had been hearing mixed reviews on his Mother’s health over the past few months and we all wanted him to go and see her himself to see what was going on. Though business wise travelling during December would be the best, he really didn’t want to leave in case the baby came early. He had decided to go in March.

Then he realized that his passport had run out of Visa pages. He travels a lot for business and Visas are often needed. Normally this isn’t a big deal but because his country has different regulations on passports the only way to get more pages was to return personally to his own country and get a whole new passport. So we felt that with that and his mother’s health deteriorating, it was best he leave before Christmas and be back by the end of December.

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Oh the ever frustrating star!

That meant we would postpone our own little family Christmas a few days. The kids were very understanding and everything was arranged. This also meant we had to adjust our Christmas preparations so that we wouldn’t just be sitting around waiting for Daddy to get home. So we moved everything over about a week and saved our Christmas baking for the real Christmas day so that we would be so busy making and delivering goodies we wouldn’t have time feel like we were missing out.

We’ll have a day of cleaning up for Daddy’s arrival and our Christmas celebration and a final day of cooking and baking and wrapping and preparing for our celebration of Jesus’ birth on Monday.

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Can you tell we like glitter?

We’ve simplified our schooling during the last part of this month and had many more activities and reading together than usual. We had a study of snow (which is interesting to do in a place where it never snowsJ We’ve made ornaments and gingerbread houses and the kids made all their gifts by hand this year. The kids also made their own Christmas stories, which was fun to see their creativity. Between that and being involved in Christmas get-togethers with friends and a Christmas program at church we’ve really had lots of fun memories made.

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Some candy even ended up on the houses!

So that about catches us up. In the next few weeks we’ll be having our Christmas with our family, celebrating the New Year, making our family and personal goals for the upcoming year, starting back to “normal” school, and finishing up our preparations for our new arrival next month!

Stay tuned!…

Is It Any Wonder?

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Why decorate ornaments when I can decorate me?

Do you ever have visions of how you think a certain aspect of your life will turn out and then get to that point and think….what happened?

It can be a two-sided coin really…or…are there any three-sided coins;)? Sometimes I look around and think, “I could not have planned it better, this is “perfect”.”

Then there are other times that I think, “Oh dear, this definitely isn’t what I wanted, can and should I change it?”

And every once in a while I have times when I think, “This really is best, but it’s not what I planned or even could have imagined.”

The last thought is what I’ve had with Christmas over the last few years. My husband and I decided a few years back that the going here and there, and doing this and that, which had been our custom at Christmas, was really taking away from the peace we felt we should be feeling at this time of the year. We vowed to focus more on our own nuclear family and keeping things low-key and Christ-centered.

We noticed an immediate change in the spiritual environment in our family. Things were indeed happier and more peaceful. Actually it felt just how we thought it should….but….why did I always have a bit of a melancholy feeling during some days of the Christmas season?

I finally decided that it was a my psyche “mourning” the visions I had created and the traditions I had left aside in order to find the best way for us.

So strange huh? Even though you know something is “best” or “right” for your family and yourself, sometimes you still yearn for “what might have been”, even though you know the fantasy you created in your imagination is next to impossible? And probably not even healthy.

Well, this year I found that my melancholy temptation, that I usually can just push aside, was being more persistent. I blamed it on pregnancy, lack of sleep, a travelling hubby, some stress over finances and changes that need to be made in our homeschooling, trying logically to explain it away and move on so I could enjoy the season and more than that make it a happy season for my family.

I would wake up and get myself motivated for a few hours but it seemed that I was running out of the ability to fake it. The last few days it was taking nearly every ounce of energy I had to get out of bed and keep the act going.

Finally this morning I really didn’t think I could do it. During my morning prayers I pleaded with the Lord, “Please, please, please, I have to do this. I know my life is not bad and I know there are people out there that are much, much worse off to worry about, but I have to have your help. I need to make this day special for my kids. If I can’t be happy I need you to help me fake it so they can be happy. This day is not about me, please, please help me.”

The Lord never lets me down. It was a bit of a bumpy take-off to the day but I finally just said, “I can’t, you have to support me through this.” And a little miracle happened. I let go. He took over. And it was a good day. I became happy. At first it was an act, and then it was real.

After I put the kids to bed I was pondering on what happened….what was the turning point? What happened?

I finally concluded that the Lord opened my eyes so that I could really see, more than anything see my kids. Children are so wonderfully happy with simplicity and reciprocate such an overflow of love with the smallest acts of love shown to them.

On our way home from watching a movie and delivering some Christmas treats my 9 yr old son said, “ Mom, doesn’t it seem like it feels happier on Christmas?” When I asked him why he felt that way he said simply, “It’s probably because it’s Jesus’ birthday.” It was then that is hit me. Is it any wonder?

Is it any wonder that Christ was sent as a baby to the earth? Is it any wonder that we call babies “bundles of joy”? Is it any wonder that no one can resist the laughter of a small child? Is it any wonder that though the textual references in the bible are few in regards to Jesus’ childhood we do know,

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. [Luke 2:40]

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” [Luke 2:51–52]

Today is was confirmed to me once again that our children are not only our responsibility, but also our teachers. They are wise beyond their years, they understand what is truly important and know truth when they hear and see it. Is it then, any wonder that the greatest gift to mankind came in the form of a child?

John 3: 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

For this wonderful gift I will be eternally grateful. Even more amazing that we can not only be eternally saved but like I was reminded of today, we can be saved…day by day.

Merry Christmas!

Teaching Children through Symbols: Easter Week, Plan B

IMG_1726                                                                                         As usual, Elf is eating more than she’s making, but good times non-the-less!

So do you ever have those days, weeks, months, when nothing goes according to plan? That was my week this week.

Mostly we just had some low-key days with Mom and kiddos needing to take care of their health. That meant kids were much more in charge of their homeschooling this week and we did not get out and about much at all.

It was still a good week, just definitely not what I envisioned. But I’m learning more and more that what I envision may not be what is best in the long run. 🙂

Over the past several years, we have really been striving to teach our children the symbolism associated with Christianity. Especially those in connection with holidays (you can read more about our Christmas traditions here)

We feel this aspect of teaching is important because it gives LIFE to tradition and causes the children to focus more on the activities. Don’t you find yourself more focused on an activity if you know WHY your doing/learning about it?

But perhaps even more so, we feel teaching our children symbolism helps them understand Christ’s teachings better. He taught through parables and symbols, in fact nearly all of his direct teachings in the Bible are taught in this way. Also, many books, especially Isaiah, cannot be fully understood unless one looks beyond the obvious and uses tradition and symbolism to interpret the full meanings.

Of course, we will always have the Holy Ghost to guide our insights in the Scriptures, but we feel that the Holy Ghost works better when he has more to work with (ie: a knowledge of symbolism and Christian traditions).

Like with Christmas, my mother gave us a book
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that helps act as a guidebook through the many symbols and traditions associated with Easter. We really love it because it includes all the main scriptural references to the major events in the last week of Jesus’ life, as well as the major traditions and symbolism associated with his time, culture, the Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. It has been a wonderful resource for our family!

We started the week with our Family Night on Monday. We talked about Palm Sunday and the significance of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, the symbolism of the white donkey and the palms (Great article on sybolism of Palms here.)

We also told the story of Jesus last week on earth with symbols, hidden inside plastic eggs (You can find a link for telling a similar story here) We made it into a scavenger hunt this year and the kids had fun looking for all the “ingredients” for our Jesus’ story “egg hunt”.

IMG_1771                                                                       Just the unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and “wine” (aka:Acai juice) this year:)

We had our Passover meal on Tuesday. We did it “Mexican Style” this year, including the traditional foods with some homemade refried beans, guacamole, and veggies.

Usually we have a full Seder Plate, this also opens the door to discussions on Jewish culture which helps children understand the dynamics of Jesus’ day and the cultural and political events that helped lead to His Crucifixion.

But this year we stuck to the essentials that are mentioned in Exodus, during the first passover. Well, we just talked about the lamb, and we don’t drink wine so we used Acai Juice;) The kids were really interested this year in learning the symbolism of the Passover and I had to giggle when Fiesta asked, “But Mom, what does the guacamole signifize (aka: symbolize)?)

IMG_1730                                                                              Fiesta liked cutting up all the marshmallows for our Resurrection Rolls

On Good Friday we made our Empty Tomb Rolls (aka: Resurrection Rolls), discussing about how this day was in remembrance of the day that Jesus actually died and was put in the tomb.

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IMG_1742IMG_1743      Today I think we FINALLY (hopefully) wiped up the last of the flour that got scattered throughout the house;)

We covered them with foil and put them in the refridgerator so that we can bake them on Sunday morning and open them to find that the “tomb” is empty!

IMG_1748                                                                                 Button was trying to talk me into letting her go in the pool, “Poo, Poo Mommy!”

Today we did some of our normal Saturday cleaning in preparation for the Sabbath, but to make it a little different we also “purged” a bit of our excess. Each of the kiddos chose some toys (one for each year of life they have had) to give away to someone that could use it more than they.

I thought this was a good way for the kids to realize that Easter time is a time to reflect and renew, getting rid of things that are not in alignment with living a Christian life. Not that toys are bad, just a symbolic way they can look at their little lives and decide “I don’t really need this.” I’m hoping that we can discuss this some more tomorrow as we watch our traditional Easter movie.

We were going to go to a special park that is a ways from our home that has some trees that remind me of Olive trees, to talk about the Atonement in the Garden of Gethsamane. We did this a few years ago in Peru when we lived near a park with Olive trees and my son still remembers it. Unfortunately, Button had a fever and was NOT a happy camper, so we will have to save that outing either for tomorrow afternoon or sometime next week.

IMG_1752IMG_1758                                                                                  It turned out that some time in the pool with big brother was just what she needed to feel better!

We finished off the day with some swimming as a family and Engineer made us a good hot-dog roasting fire and helped the girls roast (burn?) theirs, which also helped him sign off some of his Scouting assignments.IMG_1761                                                          You can’t eat hot-dogs at the dining table! Improvised picnic….

 

IMG_1772                                                                                        I’ll explain in a separate post how we’re doing the Boy Scouts of America program in Mexico🙂

He also helped Mom this week when she was mostly on the couch to take care of lots of domestic duties and even made a couple meals, which also helped him complete some Boy Scout activities…can we say win-win?

All in all it was a rewarding week and we’re looking forward to celebrating the Resurrection tomorrow as we attend our church meetings, sing in the choir, deliver Resurrection Rolls to friends and watch videos about the life of Christ together as family.

We will also enjoy a “Jerusalem meal”, that will include foods that were typically eaten in Jesus’ time, this will also be a scavenger hunt as I list off the foods and the kiddos can go find them in the fridge and cupboard to put on the table.

We hope that the peace, hope, and joy that comes from the celebration of Easter may rest in your homes as your celebrate with those you love 🙂

Spring-y

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SPRING BREAK! This was such an adorable shot, had to snatch a memory!

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As you can see it only takes a moment for the perfect pose to break up 🙂

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Family Sand Castle! Hahaha! It’s hard to make the hang-loose sign AND smile at the camera!

So I’ve mentioned in past posts that we try to keep the mainstream North American “Easter” traditions (ie:candies, eggs, bunnies, chicks, non-religious “Easter” movies) separate from our actual Easter celebration. We still dye eggs, have egg hunts, some treats and use some of the cute movies and baby animals but we do that either on the first day of Spring or the weekend directly following it. We also use the beginning of Spring as a way to explain the symbolism of the Resurrection. That way there is plenty of time for the kids to enjoy but be ready for our more spiritual approach to the Easter Celebration.

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The sun was literally just coming up, which I’m assuming is why Fiesta looks so dreamy eyed;)

This year we had the opportunity to actually go on a family trip to the beach for our Spring Break and Spring Celebration. We mostly just enjoyed being together and having fun and enjoying the beauty of God’s creations. But we also had an egg hunt at the beach!

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A-HA! I SEE ONE!!!!! 

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Look what I found! 

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OOOOHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I found one tooooooo!!!!!! 

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First matching beach hats (Gotta love Mexico! About 75 cents each! 🙂

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Creative chaos….can you spot the Minion eggs?

When we got home we invited over some friends to decorate real eggs and had an egg hunt all together afterwards. The kids really had so much fun and as usual it was fun learning more about our Mexican friends Easter traditions and sharing ours with them. 

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I think the Moms had as much fun as the kids:) (so much fun I can’t take an in-focus picture, right;) 

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We kind of like glitter:)

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What? It’ll break if I play with it like a ball? 

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The hunt is on….as you can tell the boys are pretty serious about it;)

 

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Last egg found! Bittersweet victory….

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They didn’t even wait to get back home to start eating them!

Our kiddos had plenty of fun and were all ready when Palm Sunday approached to learn more about the events leading up to Easter. Stay tuned for my next post on our Easter week Celebration!:)

Little Leprechauns

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Well, a day late anyway…We had a lot of fun celebrating. We spent the last week of our exercise time learning a simple jig, which you can see a very liberal version of in the video 🙂 And during handicraft time Engineer designed and crafted his hat and the girls worked on their shamrock headbands. Yesterday we made mint shamrock cookies (oops, ate them before the camera came out 🙂 and talked about the trinity using the shamrock as a model. A simple, but very enjoyable holiday! What did you do for St. Patty’s?

Romantic Rendezvous

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Since Marvel and I won’t be able to celebrate on the actual Valentine’s Day, I wanted to “surprise” him with something special before he left. The limits were diet (we have a lot of food sensitivities at our house), time, budget, and no babysitter.

Well, I don’t think anything turns out the way I have it pictured in my mind but considering having to do our school responsibilities, restock our nearly empty fridge, teething baby that’s transition from 2 naps to one, and getting (threatening?) the kids to bed early (can someone tell me why kids NEVER go to bed early when you want them to?)….it turned out presentable and my hubby was happy so all’s well that ends well.

So here’s how it went.

First I made a simple invitation to leave on his computer screen while he was showering in the morning (sorry, didn’t get a picture of that one before it got destroyed).

Then we finished up with school and thankfully he took two of the girls to run errands with him, so I just took my son and baby to the grocery store.

Came home and Engineer helped me put groceries away and make the lemonade (which I added the raspberries to later) while I got the bread sticks going. Another set back was the bread didn’t rise???!! (Still no idea what I did differently) Which is why they became bread sticks and I have that corny bread heart 🙂

I cut up the filling for the Beef Milanesa Roll (I made this up  that day, you can get the recipe here), being sure I cut up enough to make something similar for the kids on the actual Valentine’s Day. When I  got to the mushroom cutting I just chopped them all and made a mushroom soup that could cook while I finished preparing the beef.

I rolled up the Milanesas and made the sauce, poured it on and popped in  the oven. Then I got the first pan of breadsticks ready, cleaned up a bit and then stuck them in  the oven.

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Next I made the layered Maple Spice Cake (get it the recipe here) that is one of the few desserts my Marvel will eat,  and put in in the oven as well ( just cut it into a heart BTW). By now the soup was cooked and I turned off the heat for it.

I got the potatoes peeled and cooking in the pressure cooker. Then I made the breadstick heart and put them in the oven as I took the first pan of breadsticks out.

Got the kids bathed and in bed, cleaned up my mess, mashed the potatoes and made the salads and finished the lemonade….then off to make myself look like I hadn’t been cooking for the last couple hours;)

While I got ready I “set-up” the room with candles and our wedding playlist of music and made everything pretty.

After I was presentable I made up the plates and set the table and called Marvel to the table.

He’s always so cute and makes a big deal when he knows I put a lot of effort into something for him. He’s such a keeper:)

So….it was really a nice evening.  We ate dinner with a real conversation, no interruptions! Watched a movie…well, I watched a movie. As usual, he fell asleep and I got one of the action movies he likes so I couldn’t turn it off ‘til I found out what happened….and then couldn’t sleep cause I thought I was being chased all night:/ …And…. Well…there may or may not have been more to the evening but I’m not tellin’… 😉

A Different Kind of Christmas

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Each year since having our own children my  husband and I have searched and planned for ways to make Christmas meaningful. I’ve learned over the past few years that many activities and going and doing EVERYTHING does not equate to a Merry Christmas. Actually we’ve found that simple is best. My plans for Christmas this year simplified even more after reading this quote (by Jeffrey R. Holland) in one of our family devotionals.

There are so many lessons to be learned from the sacred account of Christ’s birth that we always hesitate to emphasize one without considering all the others…

One impression which has persisted with me is that this is a story of intense poverty. I wonder if Luke did not have some special meaning when he wrote not “there was no room in the inn” but specifically that “there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7; emphasis added). 

We cannot be certain what the historian intended, but we do know these two were desperately poor…

Perhaps this provides an important distinction we should remember in our own holiday season. Maybe the purchasing and the making and the wrapping and the decorating should be separated, if only slightly, from the more quiet, personal moments when we consider the meaning of the Baby (and his birth) who prompts the giving of such gifts.

The gold, frankincense, and myrrh were humbly given and appreciatively received. And so our gifts should be, every year and always. As my wife and children can testify, no one gets more giddy about the giving and receiving of presents than I do. But for that very reason, I, like you, need to remember the very plain scene, even the poverty, of a night devoid of tinsel or wrapping or goods of this world. Only when we see that single, sacred, unadorned object of our devotion—the Babe of Bethlehem—will we know why the giving of gifts is so appropriate.

What Joseph must have felt as he moved through the streets of a city not his own, with not a friend or kinsman in sight, nor anyone willing to extend a helping hand. In these very last and most painful hours of her “confinement,” Mary had ridden or walked approximately 160 kilometers from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea. Surely Joseph must have wept at her silent courage. Now, alone and unnoticed, they had to descend from human company to a stable, a grotto full of animals, there to bring forth the Son of God.

I wonder what emotions Joseph might have had as he cleared away the dung and debris. I wonder if he felt the sting of tears as he hurriedly tried to find the cleanest straw and hold the animals back. I wonder if he wondered: “Could there be a more unhealthy, a more disease-ridden, a more despicable circumstance in which a child could be born? Is this a place fit for a king? Should the mother of the Son of God be asked to enter the “valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4) in such a foul and unfamiliar place as this? Is it wrong to wish her some comfort? Is it right He should be born here?”

Perhaps these parents knew even then that in the beginning of his mortal life, as well as in the end, this baby son born to them would have to descend beneath every human pain and disappointment. He would do so to help those who also felt they had been born without advantage.

At this focal point of all human history, a point illuminated by a new star in the heavens revealed for just such a purpose, probably no other mortal watched—none but a poor young carpenter, a beautiful virgin mother, and silent stabled animals who had not the power to utter the sacredness they had seen.

Shepherds would soon arrive and, later, wise men would follow from the East. But first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby—that’s how Christmas began.

Today we had very few gifts, those which we did have were mostly homemade, we had good food and spent the majority of our day in service. Everyone was happy, it was one of the most memorable Christmases I’ve had thus far. I’m recording this now so that each year I can look back and think about how the first Christmas really was, and that truly HE is the REASON for the season.