1 reason I paint. I paint because...

I can't crochet or knit. I CAN crochet but only in a straight line. When I attempt to turn... it's all over. Never made anything but a chain. I like to think of it as a bookmarker, or a fancy string fore-to tie things, needing ya know, that need, tied. And knitting? knit2pearl1, you have to actually concentrate and that is never gonna happen. And so, I paint because I can't crochet.

All I want for Christmas is You

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
and May the Peace and Love of the Son of God
Bring You Comfort and Joy

Van Plan 2014


Many Years Ago... on a blog far, far away. Well this blog. I did a post called the Van Plan. As usually happens to me, someone came along with a similar idea and did it better. This is amazing!!

If you have a family that spends time in the car running to sports, dance, school events, meetings, church, more sports, practices and orthodontist appointments you definitely. Without exception. You need a Van Plan and this little gem will make it all happen.

Now what goes in the Van Plan? 

Substantial Snacks (enough to actually hold them over to a meal)
Water Bottles
First Aid Kit
Extra Clothes

Since Corey won't be home for his birthday or Christmas this year, we celebrated early. 
My sweet first born baby will be 23 on December 22nd. It's not possible. 

Lindsey made a 6 layer chocolate chip cookie cake with a cream cheese fillings and chocolate filigree.

Yes, it was every bit as good as it looks! Moist and delicious as always!

This elf has been busy!

There's no such thing as Santa Claus!

It happens every year in christian circles, Sunday school, homeschool groups, and play groups, the big question. Do you do Santa?

Facebook is the latest greatest venue for the accusation, er uh, I mean discussion. I see it and I scroll. I don't really have a dog in the fight right now, and how other people celebrate or worship doesn't really concern me either way.

What I know is that faithful, loving, well-meaning parents want to do the "right thing" on every issue and when you have little ones this is important. What I know is that either way, any parent who is thinking about the impact of this on their children is the same kind of parent who bathes, feeds, loves, snuggles, reads and protects their kidlets. And so a child blessed with a parent who is thoughtfully discerning their parenting decisions down to the celebration of Christmas, is going to be just fine, whichever choice they make.

Some arguments I have heard:

Santa judges based on Naughty and Nice and that is against the Gospel

Saint Nicholas was a person. He was not Christ. Unconditional love and forgiveness comes from Christ. As adults we are called to be like our Father but this idea of naughty and nice is not based on the salvation, it's based on reaping what you sow. It's a lesson of consequences and reality. When your child is throwing a hissy fit in the store do you buy the toy? Nope. Is that against the Gospel? No. Since we are adults here it takes only a google search to find the story of Saint Nicholas punching Arius in the face at a Council for heresy, and in defense of God and truth. It's my favorite Naughty/Nice story.

If you lie about Santa, why should they believe you about God?

This makes sense. So we made a point of establishing truths from the beginning. Saint Nicholas was a real person. Christmas is from Christ's Mass. Gift giving in His honor, and as as the wise men did at His birth is joyful. Saint Nicholas liked to give gifts. The Holy Spirit is real and active in our lives. Faith without works is dead. Do unto others as you would have it done unto you. Wonderful people like the Saints leave behind beautiful legacies of faith and traditions. Traditions teach us good things, and build good habits in us. As the apostles went about preaching and evangelizing the Word of God, they encountered pagans and people with traditions and celebrations that worshipped idols in place of God.  They recognized that even in their error they were seeking their Creator, a power greater than themselves. The apostles used some of their practices and symbols to teach them about God and the fullness of truth they were missing. The trees are the creation, God is the Creator. They are evergreen, like His love for us. Christ died on a tree. Place a star at the top and the Nativity below it and remember Christ's birth. You see where I'm going here? 

When the question comes, but is Santa Claus real? 
I would respond with, which part? 
Does he bring the toys?
I would say, yes and no. The legacy and tradition of giving and generosity by lots of secret Santas happens EVERY year. Especially for the poor, in this way we are all Santa. Is there just one person, who is hundreds of years old, not that I know of, but I don't know everything. (which frankly is the most honest answer any parent can ever give to a child)

I know this. I believe in miracles. Some people misunderstand they call it magic, but I believe in miracles. I believe in a God that answers prayers. I believe in Angels and Saints. I know there was a St. Nicholas and I know lots of people are Secret St. Nicholas' right now. Sometimes moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grandma's and grandpa's and even people we don't know. 

You better believe there are Saints. And Saint Nicholas' or Santa Claus (which is just another language) are everywhere.

Everyone of my children and guests are tucked in to bed tonight, warm, safe. Our weekend was filled with homecoming hugs and tears, and admissions of "missed you, sis, and missed you bro".

Game tournaments were immediately set into motion - Life, Quartile, Taboo, Clue, Pirate's Dice, Cards, and wrestling. Oh you know that game, wrestling with your brother until something gets broken, someone gets hurt, or moms call "ENOUGH!"

Catching up on finals, school, breaks, and plans. 

I cam home on afternoon to a loud house of mostly now young adults, saying, "Thank God you're home! What's for dinner we're starving! We ate two bags of Doritos already. 

Technically 3 adult (children) in the house
1 of which is in Culinary School
and everyone was at risk of starvation until mom arrived?

Ok I'll take it! :) I love it in fact!

Meaty Cheesy Pasta, a delightful, fresh, crisp Caesar Salad and freshly baked bread.  

hungry kids = mom heaven

I fed them very well.

More games, movies and laughter. warme

Menu List Week 6

French Toast
Eggs and Croissants
Grilled Cheese
Chicken and Rice
Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Catfish & Fries
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Ham & Scalloped Potatoes
Soul Food
Fruit & Cheese
Pasta & Bread
Fresh Bread
Fruit & Junk
Cinnamon Rolls
Fruit Salad
Ice Cream
Fudge Pops

Pantry/Shopping Checklist

Pancake Mix
Sliced Cheese
Chicken Breasts/Tenderloins
Beef x 4
Pie Crusts
Cream of Chicken Soup
Catfish fillets
French Fries
Rotini Pasta
Junk Food
Cinnamon Rolls
Brownie Mix
Fruit cocktail
Muffin mix
Ice cream
Fudge pops
Cake Mix
Pie Filling
Approximate Cost for this list: $95
My kids and I have mad love for the dedicated bell ringers who work to gather donations for the Salvation Army each year. When we are spending a day running errands we find ourselves greeted by a dozen stations around town. Especially when they were little but even now, they want to donate every time. So at the beginning of the season Steve and I would decide how much our donation would be for the year. Then I would stop by the bank and get the amount in rolls of quarters and dimes. Keeping them in the glove box each time we stop the kids can take a couple coins (for entry and exit) and make a small portion of our donation.

There are so many opportunities to give all year round but each and every time I see the bell ringers I remember the Christmastimes of my childhood when we received our gifts and food baskets from the volunteers of the Salvation Army, local churches and well meaning good people. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you give to the charities you love and support. Having been on the receiving end of it, I promise you, it matters.

Blessings & Grace,

Come. Let us prepare.

In the days and weeks ahead I'll be sharing our home in preparation for the coming of our Lord. The decorations are almost complete. The plans are in place but not down to the last detail. Planning and lists are my favorite but I refuse to become a slave to them.

Creating an Advent that truly feels like preparing for the coming of our Lord and a celebration fit for the birth of the Son of God begins in your heart. When I was growing up we didn't practice Christianity, but we celebrated Christmas and believed in God. So as an adult creating this experience and understanding for my children was a bit starting from scratch. Thankfully, many others have paved the way.

First we mark the Sunday of Advent, Holy Days and Feasts Days and clear schedules to attend as a family when at all possible.

The daily readings have been selected to till the soil of your heart for the seeds of love Jesus will plant within you. Sharing them each morning with my husband and in the evening with the kids brings us back into focus. Almost everyday we have a Christmas movie. The kids spent the weekend pulling them all from the dvd collection. Keep in mind family favorites like Wizard of Oz, Toy Story 1, 2 & 3, LOTR, Harry Potter and several others make the cut too. Two personal favorites are Elf and Christmas Story. We reserve those - Elf for Thanksgiving Night, and Christmas Story for Christmas Eve (day). Christmas Eve, we watch a Charlie brown Christmas after we open one gift. The gift is new pajamas - it didn't take long for the kids to figure this out. So everyone has new pj's without holes and not high-waters for Christmas morning. (sshh - this year everyone is getting a onesie! EVERYONE.)

We usually go to Midnight Mass unless the weather or illness prevents it. There are so many traditions knitted into the next 25 days I can hardly contain my own excitement. St. Nicholas Day,