Archive for December, 2012


After all of the busy activities of the Christmas season and after all of the gifts are opened and when it is time to put away the decorations for another year, do you feel a little bit of a let-down like I do?  It’s always been that way for me. I just love Christmas so much–everything about it–and it is with a sigh that it all comes to an end and everything goes back to normal.

That’s why I love our Christmas tree skirt.  I found this several years ago when all of the kids were little.  It’s message is so true when all of the gifts are taken from beneath the tree:  “When you get right down to it….the only thing that really matters is Jesus.” All of the sparkle of Christmas is quick to fade and pass, but Jesus remains.  All year long.  Every day.  It is His gift of salvation that is life-changing and eternal.  If you haven’t experienced that gift, please do so today.

Another thing I think about at the end of the Christmas season is that while it is a time of remembering Christ’s first coming, it is also a time to anticipate his glorious and soon-approaching second coming.  That’s why I love the song Bethlehem Morning.  I tried something new this year:  I recorded this song on the piano, and I have included that recording with the lyrics on this entry’s slideshow.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t control the speed of this particular Smilebox template, so when you play it, please click on the show’s pause button and advance the lyrics manually.  That way, you can take time to read and contemplate the words as it follows the music:

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Brock is so funny!  He is also very hard to buy gifts for!  He very rarely mentions what he wants and has to be forced to make out a wish-list!  This year was no exception.  Several weeks before Christmas, I began asking him what he would like, and he would not give me a straight answer.  Finally I told him that if he didn’t tell me what he wanted soon, I’d just get him whatever struck my fancy–better yet, I could ask Kara and Cosette what to get him!  That spurred him on to action!  He told me that he really wanted a watch, so I asked him what kind of watch, and he told me that he wanted one that looked as old as possible. Hmmmm……..

So, I started looking on the internet for an “old-looking” watch, and then a great idea hit me!  I decided to search to see if anyone made a sundial watch–that would certainly look as old as possible, right?!  I found just what I was looking for, but Dan wasn’t convinced.  He said that sometimes gifts that are meant to be humorous don’t come across right.  Brock and I have a teasing relationship, though, and I knew it would be the hit of the holiday!  So, I ordered it and Kara paid me some of her money so she could use it as her gift to Brock.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed!  Brock LOVES that crazy sundial watch!  He says he is going to wear it everywhere, and so far he has!  Yes, Brock, it is really awesome–and there are no moving parts to break or batteries to replace!


Sundial Collage

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Kara?? Gavroche???

Ok, Les Mis fans, what do you think??  Do you think Kara would make a good Gavroche?  It would be a dream come true!

Gavroche Collage

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Christmas 2012



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I love the fact that we are string-instrument family!  Really, I wouldn’t trade it for anything! There have been a few frustrations that have come from our musical hobby, and this Christmas I finally put one of these frustrations out of our house!

All of our violins have similar, blah, black cases.  Normally I wouldn’t care about this, but it does make keeping track of whose instrument belongs to whom a puzzle.  The violins themselves look quite different, but sometimes it is nearly impossible for the kids to find their own instrument without opening up the generic black case to see which violin is inside.  It is for this very reason that I bought myself a blue case a few years ago when my boring black case wore out.  Cases only come in so many colors, though, and it is really wasteful to buy a rainbow of cases when our black ones are still fine.

So, I decided I was going to end this problem once and for all!  My first thought was to get unique key chains to identify the cases.  I’m glad I didn’t get too carried away with this idea, though, because after giving it some thought, I realized that attaching the silly key chains may prove to be a problem.  Plus, it was going to cost me some money to get what I wanted.

The solution came to me when I was making this year’s Christmas stocking buttons.  It was kind of one of those moments when I couldn’t believe that it had taken me so long to figure this out!  My button maker makes the small buttons for the stockings, but it can also make larger buttons!  So, I went onto the internet to find images that I could use for each case, printed them out, and assembled the buttons.  Then I put the buttons in the kids’ Christmas stockings, and when they opened them, I explained what they were for.  Immediately they ran downstairs to put them on their cases, and they love them!  What an easy fix to a long-term source of frustration!

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Dreidel 2012

This year we held the Prairie Family Dreidel Tournament on Christmas Eve.  It is incredible how this simple game has become part of our annual Christmas tradition, but it sure is fun! (I posted more about this game and it’s rules in this entry from 2011.)

Brock is so hilarious when we play Dreidel!  He really gets into it, and is a good sport about it too.  This year he was the first player to be out, and his comment was, “Hey, wait a minute!  I’m already out!  All I got was Shins and Nuns!”  He said it didn’t really matter to him, though, because he could just turn his cupcake liner “kitty” inside out while he watched everyone else play and turn it into a “puppy!”  Silly guy!  Then he came up with different hand/table claps for each letter on the dreidel that he’d pound out when it landed on each turn.  He really added to the silly fun of the game this year!

We started out with too many jelly beans for each person this year.  We started with ten thinking that we wanted to play awhile.  Unfortunately, the “awhile” turned into “way too long,” and we ran out of time to completely finish the game with one player getting everything.  Instead, we called it a draw and let the final two players both be the 2012 champions, so the current reigning Prairie Family Dreidel champions are Cosette and Kara.  They will hold their titles until next December when the tournament will again be held on the kitchen table……

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Christmas Baking

This year the kids helped me make Christmas goodies a couple of times.  The first time was for our Christmas orchestra concert, and then we made some more on Christmas Eve to give as gifts.  It’s so much fun doing this type of thing now that the kids are getting old enough to jump right in and help.

We found a couple of really good recipes this year.  They are definitely not original, so I will link them on this blog–mostly just so I will be able to find them again!  🙂  Here are the original links:  White and Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Marshmallow Bits and Toffee and White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread .

Here are a couple of tips we discovered on these recipes:  Letting the butter set out for a little while before making the shortbread cookies really makes the dough easier to work with.  Also, this recipe seems like it won’t work because the dough can be so crumbly.  But, being persistent with the kneading will eventually bring the dough to the right consistency.  For the chunky cookies, I found that I need to really watch the baking time.  It is very easy to over-cook this recipe for some reason.

I think the shortbread cookies are really pretty, and almost look like they are wearing little Santa hats!  What do you think?


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Drawing Names 2012

This year we continued the Prairie Family tradition of having the kids draw names for their Christmas gift exchange.  We changed one thing this year, though:  they used their own money to buy the gifts since they now get money for chores/grades.  In the past, they have picked out the gifts for “their person,” but we have paid for it.  I thought it would be more meaningful for them to use the money that they earned to buy someone else a gift, and it worked out very well.  In fact, I couldn’t believe how generous they were in picking out what to buy!

This has gotten to be a big, major focus of our Christmas season.  It all starts in October, believe it or not, when they all start reminding me that it is time to draw names for Christmas gifts.  Then the real fun begins! They spend hours–and I do mean HOURS–searching for just the right thing for “their person.”  Of course, who has whom is supposed to be a secret, but that turns into its own big game.  It almost gets annoying hearing them discuss who their guesses are!  Anyway, they all agree that getting their person just the right thing is almost more fun than getting something for themselves, so I guess that is a good lesson learned.

This year, John got Cosette some piano music along with a CD of the Mary Poppins musical soundtrack.  Brock got Kara a Gavroche hat and a slap-watch set.  Cosette got Luke a Mario chess set.  Luke got John the new Perplexus Twist.  And, last but not least, Kara got Brock a sundial watch.  (Yes, you read that right:  a sundial watch.  There is a humorous story behind that, but that deserves its own entry later!)

It’s a blessing that my kids love and enjoy each other.  I think this particular gift exchange outshines every other during our Christmas season.

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