The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation
2Samuel 22:47

30 November 2010

These are a few of my favorite things. . .

Quiet, cozy, simple evenings spent snuggling on the couch in the glow of the tree.

Sparkly Christmas cards waiting for ink and envelope. . .

Unplugging for a time to enjoy more favorite things with my family this season-
Evenings of advent reading,
Baking cookies,
Making handmade gifts,
Sipping cocoa and tea.
Merry Christmas!

28 November 2010


Great Illness.
Great Guys
Great Job
and Great Wall
{the story of my life, since Wednesday evening}

I was completely swept off my feet by a very sudden illness early Wednesday night. I slept through Thanksgiving {can you believe it?} and missed it. Completely. My great family didn't miss a beat and picked up where I had left off. . .cooking a great turkey and all the fixins I didn't quite get to on Wednesday afternoon.

They even made potatoes and gravy. Gravy without lumps! They set the table. With placemats. They are my heroes.

Even with having to celebrate a guys only Thanksgiving, the older boys and their Dad had enough energy to get up before the sun on Friday morning to do some super shopping at their favorite farm-and-garden store and hardware store. And then they went grocery shopping and came home to make breakfast for everyone.
Do you know how much I love this crew?

They really are my heroes.

One more great before I wrap up in the greatness of a Sunday afternoon, the first Sunday of advent. . .
The Great Wall with a K'nex flair.

So happy with their attention to detail, being wider at the base than the top. Since we couldn't figure out how to make a mountainous terrain the boys were at a loss of how to make some of the steps on the wall high {thanks for the input, Lesley!}. . .but had a great time planning and executing this project.

The length of our wall? Two-and-a-half Rylands long.

24 November 2010

Thankful tree & traditions

The leaves have been pouring into our mailbox. Thanks to all who returned leaves for our family thankful tree - a tradition we began many, many years ago and are so excited to build each year.

This project helps us to focus on true Thanksgiving - the Thanksgiving where we not just give thanks for what we have but we give thanks to the One who has given.

It also helps us to stay involved in the lives of friends and family separated by mountains and miles. We put these precious blessings into our scrapbook and look back over the years at His faithfulness.

Traditions flow through the life blood of our family. We really believe that traditions give our children roots from which to draw from - it helps to establish an identity within family and will be their stories to blend and carry on someday when they are united into their very own family units. God's word is steeped with tradition - it is such a blessing to be able to follow the Bible's guidelines.

This is our traditional cranberry dish we serve each Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our family adores this recipe - it really wouldn't be our holidays without them on our table.
Triple Cranberry Sauce
1 cup frozen cranberry juice concentrate, 1/3 cup sugar, 12-oz pkg. fresh cranberries rinsed and drained, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 3 T. orange marmalade, 2 T. fresh orange juice, 2 t. minced orange peel, 1/4 tsp. allspice, ground.
Combine cranberry juice concentrate, sugar and cranberries in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring often until berries begin to soften and fresh berries begin to pop, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange marmalade, orange juice, orange peel and allspice. Cool completely. Cover and chill until cold, about 2 hours. Keep refrigerated.
And while I am busy in the kitchen. . .

The boys have been assigned the task of building The Great Wall of China using K'nex.
I'm so glad I asked them to build it upstairs so I can listen to all their planning. This has been quite the engineering feat. It is The Great Wall, after all.

Emperor Qin would be proud {I think}. Graph paper, pencils, measuring tape and more have been involved in trying to get The Wall to be to scale, as much as one can using K'nex.

This has been a beneficial exercise in teamwork, too. It is harder to work with others when creativity rules. It's much easier to work with others when the job requirements and instructions are given to you. No matter what The Wall turns out to be, I am thankful for the opportunity to work on communication skills and trying to mesh different ideas into one.

Ryland volunteered to be in charge of the Mongol army. Shocking, I know.

Think of all the baking I could get done if this Great Wall took a few centuries for final completion. . .

19 November 2010

One-on-one time. . love it!

Dad got to take the older two brothers to work with him this afternoon and Langston happened to be napping when he got called in to work, so. . .

I seized this opportunity to do some baking with our animated four-year old, Ry-man. Conversation was great {and humorous} and we made a cranberry pie and a batch of crockpot applesauce together.

{Yes, he's in snow bibs and a tank top. He's four and at this age I've learned that it's easiest to only insist on Sunday clothing on Sunday. Anything and everything goes for the stay-at-home-days in between!}

I love these quiet times, when hearts are unguarded and open. It is so important to check-in with my sons every now and then {I wish it were more often!} and find out how things are going in their lives. I learn so much in this kind of productive quietness.

Today I learned that Ryland wants to grow up to be a policeman-cowboy-missionary-pastor-security guard-applesauce making bakery owner when he grows up.

I also learned he's pretty good with a knife these days and was substantial help with chopping apples. He's also grown a foot since the last time I was able to stop and really look at him. I hate how fast that happens!

After he finished his first bowl of apples I asked if he'd like to wash up and play. And I learned that he is also growing into a fine young man, as he replied "I'd really like to play, Mom, but I think I should keep chopping apples with you until the job is done."
I needed that encouragement today, that we are on the right track in raising our sons to be men of God seeking after His character. Diligence. Love it.
I also learned that Ryland's sense of humor is just as sharp as ever, and a great Mom ranks as high as a fresh apple to eat. I love this kid!
"It's pretty great having a Mom who knows what to do in the kitchen!"
"And having a Mom is the best thing ever."
"And eating apples is pretty great, too."

16 November 2010

For Charity's Sake

This weekend past I was invited to spend the day celebrating a Sweet Sixteen for a very sweet young lady indeed - along with several of her friends and siblings.

Her family honored her with this incredible mural using the letters of her name and a theme for each letter made of the things that define her: Charity. Favorite books, favorite photographs, favorite foods. It was such a precious tribute that I hope to steal, I mean borrow, this wonderful idea for the next birthday in our home. {Sorry Braden, I didn't have enough time to pull it off on your birthday!}

This adorable sister-princess was ready to celebrate her sister's big day. . .

The guests arrive and mingle. . .

You might wonder how I, being in the thirty-something crowd, managed to pull off an invitation to a Sweet Sixteen party. I came disguised as the 'Craft Lady'.

The young ladies, along with Charity's Mom, and I spent a good chunk of the afternoon playing with papers, inks, scissors, adhesives and buttons.

Each young lady went home with a beautiful bookmark, small notebook and several Christmas themed cards. It was a lovely afternoon and I feel truly blessed to have been a part of it.

Happy 16th, Charity!
Love, Mrs. F

13 November 2010

We interrupt this. . .

Father/Son camping weekend to bring you a brief message from Winter:

"I'm here."

10 November 2010

friendly art afternoon

Recently, we enjoyed an afternoon spent with our long-time friends, Chloe and Ellie. I am terrible when it comes to unscheduled 'free-time' so we always plan some sort of activity. {You may remember September when we did science experiments. . .}

I stumbled upon a great art website a few weeks ago and found this art lesson. Perfect for this time of year! And a perfect way to spend an afternoon with our friends.

My group of kids always impress me with how creative and attentive they are during art lessons. It is so much fun to take the same basic guidelines for a project and see the different results.

{I couldn't help but tweak the original lesson a wee bit by sprinkling salt over the still-wet paintings. It gives such a unique, weathered look to the paint after it dries.}

Stunning, is it not?

We generally do at least one art project per week. I was scared of art a few years ago because I tend to be a very black-and-white type person. Since there are no 'formulas' to follow and no right or wrong ways to create art, it was hard for me to get excited about art.
But I knew this was an important venue in education so I closed my eyes, recited over and over and over that it's okay to be messy, and we went for it. I'm so glad to have overcome the fear of art and now I can't seem to get enough.
But I still don't know what I'm doing. That's okay, though. I'm not trying to raise modern day Michaelangelos. . .I just am trying to expose my children to as many facets of education as possible and trusting that God will speak to their hearts as we walk this road and show them where His gift in talent and ability for them lies, and they will take off naturally, when the time is right.

Until then, we are having the greatest time exploring God's world together and enjoying the friendships He has put in place for our family.
So thankful for all the friends He has given us.