Friday, November 28, 2008

Advent - Preparing for the Coming of Jesus

Today the girls and I put together our family advent wreath from the boughs we cut during our snow shoeing adventure yesterday. Here you can see Sarah help Rebekah place the Christ candle in the center of the wreath.

Below is the finished wreath. I think they did a beautiful job. It truly is lovely. I am looking forward to the start of advent on Sunday.

This year we plan to use the advent wreath as a way to enjoy the season as we prepare not only for the birth of the baby Jesus but also in preparation for Jesus' return. It is so important for us to instill the true meaning of the Christmas season in our children's hearts. Especially when the world is doing its best to fill their heads and hearts with fleeting, worldly desires.

Each day we will light the appropriate candle, read a passage of scripture, share a simple devotion, sing a Christmas hymn and close with prayer. Every day a different child gets to participate as the advent helper. They choose the hymn, light and extinguish the candle, and read the scripture. Being involved get the girls excited about advent and helps them focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

For another look at how one family uses an advent wreath as well as some tips to get you started if you are new to this check our Molly's blog at
She has some wonderful ideas on making the Christmas season focus on Christ along with ways to include all your family.

Why not start a new Christmas tradition this year. You'll be making sweet memories for you and your children.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday here. With a family that loves to cook, loves to eat, and has so much to be thankful for what else would you expect. Here Rebekah shows off her place card that Sarah made. Sarah did a beautiful job on the place cards and napkin rings. They were a surprise she had been working on in secret for the past couple of days.
Of course everyone had to have a hand in the feast preparations. Here Rebekah helps her dad with the onions. Yum! They are a favorite with everyone, yet one of those dishes we seem to have only on Holidays. Go figure!

I'm not sure what these two are planning, but it looks like something serious. I some how missed pictures of Hannah making the green bean casserole. She did it all by herself and it was delicious! Below dad carves the 23 pound turkey. It was one of the best turkeys we have had! Perfectly cooked and oh so juicy.

The table is set, the food is hot, and all that is missing is mom. Oh she is behind the camera as always. She really did help cook as well, but you'd never know it if you were looking for photo evidence. The picture doesn't do justice the amount of delicious food we had. Not to make anyone envious but here's the menu: Roast Turkey, Sausage Stuffing, Red Skin Mashed Potatoes, Giblet Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Butternut Squash, Turnips, White Onions, Sweet Potatoes with Maple Sugar, Orange Spice Cranberry Sauce, and Apricot Cream Pie. I don't think I need to eat again until Christmas.

A Trek in the Woods

After the turkey was in the oven and all the fixins were prepped, we headed out on our snow shoes. The experimental forest behind out house is full of trails to explore and a great place to snow shoe.
On top of all that we are thankful for this year, the day was a true blessing. The sky was blue, the air was crisp and clear, and best of all we were together enjoying each other's company surrounded by God's awesome creation.

Hannah climbed up on this rock to see if she could spot any wildlife. Unfortunately she didn't have any luck. We did however see quite a few tracks - rabbit, fox and coyote. We also had a squirrel chattering at us as we must have been too close to his nest.

We took the opportunity to cut the boughs for our advent wreath. Check back later to see the finished product and find out about our advent celebrations.
Soon it was time to head back to the house to warm by the fire and put the finishing touches on our Thanksgiving feast. Hopefully we will have many more opportunities to get out on the snow shoes this winter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let It Snow!

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We woke to find the first snow of the season! 6 inches of the white fluffy stuff. The girls couldn't wait to get out and play. By the time I let them out after lunch there must have been 9 inches. Rebekah thought the snow was great and could actually maneuver around this year. The two older girls of course had to have a snow ball fight and tried to recruit Rebekah to be on their side. Rebekah wasn't having any of that and ended up the monkey in the middle.

The snow was wet and heavy. I love the way it clung to the trees. Unfortunately it turned to rain and now we have a yucky slushy mess! Oh well. I am sure the next snow is not very far away.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Clipping Coupons

Mom has been giving lessons on grocery shopping in home economics class. As you can see Rebekah has been listening. She paid especially close attention during the discussion on coupons. So now every Sunday evening Rebekah helps mom clip the coupons from the Sunday paper. Mom loves the help but now it takes here twice as long to clean up. Oh well practice makes perfect and before we know it Rebekah will be able to clip all the Sunday coupons by herself.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Little Explorers Thanksgiving

It is hard to believe that this is the Little Explorers 5th Thanksgiving celebration. As you can see some of our explorers aren't so little anymore. Where does the time go?
We had a wonderful turn out of families to celebrate our Thanksgiving. We were even blessed by a phone call from the Everett's who we wish were still with us, but have moved across the country. We miss you guys!

Above the girls are peeling potatoes to boil and mash. Yummy!

Below the guys are peeling apples for the apple crisp!

Having so many helping hands the peeling did go a lot faster. Caleb wasn't sure when he first arrived. He couldn't believe that the kids were going to make all this food. But boy did he have a great time once he got going.

Bekah gets a hand from her big sister. She loves to mix the juice. Just make sure someone is holding the lid on and that the spout is closed. She has been known to put her all into it and have juice go flying everywhere.

Hannah is making corn bread. It ended up a one gal job as Emmy decided to just supervise. Hannah was proud of how here corn bread turned out, and so was I. Liz you will have to share the recipe.

As you can see we had quite a spread. The food was yummy! And the company was great. Boy do we all have a lot to be thankful for.

The kids made turkey candle holders as the craft this year. They came out really cute. And while the mom's cleaned up the kids had fun playing all kinds of silly games.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wreath Making

We headed off into the woods to cut boughs to make our Christmas Wreaths. Rebekah and Emmie had a wonderful time exploring together. Emmie had to take off her mittens so Rebekah could hold her hand. Aren't they cute.

Hannah jumped right in and got to work cutting boughs. Everyone helped out cutting and loading the wagon and sled. It didn't take long for us to have enough, which was a good thing because it was cold today.

Back at the church everyone got right to work on their wreath or swag. Above Sarah trims boughs for her wreath. Below Hannah puts the finishing touches on her swag. They all did a beautiful job. I will have to get pictures of the finished wreaths to post later.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Little Cooks

Anyone who knows us or has spent time visiting this blog know that our family loves to cook and bake. Both mom and dad love to have the girls help them in the kitchen. Both girls are good cooks and Sarah enjoys making an entire meal for the family pretty regularly. Well, mom and dad must have worn off on Hannah, because she has taken it upon herself to teach Rebekah her way around the kitchen. Here they are making tomato soup for lunch.

The other morning they made pancakes together. Oh how I wish I had gotten a picture of that! I love to see the relationships between my children grow and develop. These days so many sibling don't get along. And that is a shame. My girls are not only sisters but also best friends. Thank you Lord and thank you homeschooling for enabling our family to spend so much time together allowing these relationships to flourish.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sewing for School

This year as part of our Tapestry of Grace curriculum, the girls are learning about many of the ancient civilizations. As we complete our study we finish it off with a celebration and feast with two other families using Tapestry as well. One of the girls favorite parts is making their costumes. Sarah has been putting her sewing machine to good use.

Here she is getting some hand sewing practice adding decorative ric rac to the neck of her dress.

The hand sewing was a little more difficult for Hannah. Maybe it was because mom has a hard time teaching her lefty daughter. Hannah stuck it out and her finger a few times, but she finished. I am so proud of her for completing her dress.

The sashes and head coverings were next. Here Hannah turns the tube she will use as her sash.

Here they are at our feast and celebration. Check back later for more pictures of our feast. I think they their costumes turned out great. Thank you Tapestry of Grace for making our studies come alive this year.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Constructing a model of the Tabernacle was the girls' big project for the end of TOG Year 1 Unit 1. We used the top of a case of printer paper for the foundation of our model. The girls painted old fashion clothespins gold and put them around the sides of the box top. Above, Sarah attaches cloth to the clothespins.
The furnishing were made from various wood pieces we found around the house or purchased at A.C. Moore. They were then painted gold or bronze as instructed in the Bible. Above is the Ark of the Covenant with the lid removed. You can see the tablets with the 10 commandments, Arron's staff, and a jar of manna.

Here Hannah works on painting the Alter for the Burnt Offering that would be placed in the courtyard. Below are the furnishing for inside the tent.

Here is their finished Tabernacle! I think they did an awesome job!
Thanks to Kristen who was kind enough to share the directions for this project. You can find them at

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Soft Bread Sticks

I made these tonight for the first time. They went perfectly with our two meat lasagna. The bread sticks were quite good, but really are best served fresh out of the oven.
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 or more cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • Coarse Salt
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Parmesan Cheese

In the bowl of your mixer combine water, softened butter, sugar, and yeast. Let this proof for about five minutes. Add whole wheat flour and mix. Add while flour 1 cup at a time until the dough is no longer sticky but is still soft.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until it has doubled, about 45 minutes. Punch down and knead briefly.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll out each piece into a long rope about 8-10 inches l in length.

Lay the rope shaped pieces on a cookie sheet that had been sprayed with non stick spray or brushed with olive oil. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

A few minutes before the second rise is finished turn your oven on to 400 degrees. When the dough is ready to be baked brush with melted butter and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt, granulated garlic and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite pasta or soup meal.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hiding God's Word in Your Heart

Scripture memory has never been one of our family's strong points. In the past we had tried lots of things - Cd's with verses set to music, verses for copy work, curriculum assignments you were to read three times a day, devotional verse of the day. The children were hearing God's word but I never thought it was sticking with them.

Then I read a mom's corner by Terri Maxwell were she described what her family did. It was so simple. Put the verse where it can be seen during meals. Have everyone work in the verse at each meal, just start by reading it.

My husband blessed me this fall with the beautiful white board above. He made it out of shower board and some scrap wood he had lying around. He really is quite handy, but that is another post. So now I had the perfect spot to put our memory verse.

It has worked like a charm. Every meal the girls are hoping they will get to recite the verse first. A little healthy sibling competition at work here. Just through reading the verse breakfast, lunch and dinner, everyone in the family is memorizing Scripture. It is such a wonderful blessings.

It really warmed my heart when Hannah brought me a verse she came across during her quiet time and said mom I really think this is one that the family should learn together. And of course Rebekah is not to be out done. She will sit up at the table and point at the white board and in her 22 month old jibrish recite this weeks verse. Oh the joy of training your children in the way of the Lord.

To record our progress we started a notebook. In the front we record the verses we have memorized and in the back we list verses we would like to memorize in the future including Hannah's. Periodically we review the past verses. And on occation I have even heard one of us using some of these verses as a gentle reminder.