Monday, December 31, 2007

Keep your lamps burning

When Josh and I were dating, we used to take a drive each Christmas (I think there were 3 before we were married) and choose the best, most unique or most creative outdoor light displays and take a picture of it. One of my favorites was a perfectly outlined dump truck, quite an unusual sight in the darkness, but somehow it just captured my imagination and I found myself looking forward to it each year. That family doesn't light up their truck anymore, but we still enjoy driving around the neighborhoods this time of year. We haven't taken the time to photograph our favorite pick in quite awhile but for the past few years, I've been wanting to get a picture of this nearby home. The other night we were passing it and realized we had the camera with us. This is a charming home in the daylight and they have made it a stunning masterpiece in the twinkle of Christmas lights!
The tradition of outdoor lights (and this house in particular) remind me of this passage in Luke regarding watchfulness:
"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning." Luke 12:35

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Pop quiz

We took our nephew to meet his mom on the 2nd, one day delayed because of the winter storm. It was a wonderful visit and both Noah and Bronwen have since said that they miss Mason. During one of the quiet moments, I caught the boys sitting together on the chair reading their pop up books (Christmas gifts from last year and this.) Mason was excited to find at the end that two light sabers actually glowed. "Now I know what the battery was for!" He exclaimed.
These wonderful books kept them occupied for a long time. They are so interesting, I am fascinated with all the many hidden surprises on each page.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's a party!

Mason is visiting for the week and what fun it is to have all of the cousins together again! Here are a few pictures from Grandpa's birthday party last night.

Happy Birthday Dad

Back row: Grandpa Ron and Grandma Becky Middle row: Bronwen, Annabelle and Petra Front row: Noah, Chloe, Madelyn and Mason

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. ~Chili Davis

Dad, you have lot's of grandkids to help keep you young!

Friday, December 28, 2007


We are all getting some much needed rest from all the festivities. Hope you are too!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Prince of Peace

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Monday, December 24, 2007



I love to decorate for Christmas. But for me, it cannot start until the day after Thanksgiving. Nothing Christmas comes out before Thanksgiving. I had to make an exception this year so Noah could learn his Christmas music for the program at church.

Decorating for Christmas 2006

Decorating begins with going out to chop our tree. Then we come home and begin to get it ready to decorate. A fresh cut is made and then it is unbound and left to drink a bucket of water. The last few years, Noah has enjoyed the job of cutting the cords and letting the tree spring back to it's beautiful shape. Then it was decorated in stages over several days. In another time that would have driven me crazy, but this year it was quite relaxing. The night we do decorate the tree, we enjoy popcorn and hot cocoa.

December 2006
December 2007

Christmas 2004

Each year a new, special ornament is unwrapped for each child. Most of the time the ornament is something that they were really interested in that year. Noah has had an airplane, a train and a few cars. Last year Bronwen was in love with dogs so hers was a little glass dog in a stocking. This year the theme was snowmen. Noah has a soldier, Bronwen a Santa and Annabelle a baby snowman.

New Christmas ornament 2007

Christmas 2005

At some point we enjoy creating in the kitchen. This year even Daddy joined us making chocolate covered ritz cracker and peanut butter cookies. (Does anyone know a better name for these?)

Sending Christmas cards to family and friends has become a very dear tradition to me. My list is between 80 - 100 families, precious friends and relatives scattered from California to Massachusetts. Sadly, for some of them this is the only time during the year that they hear from me. But 2007 was the year for self improvement and I've done a better job of staying connected. I think. Maybe you should ask some of my friends and family.

Dad and Grandma - Christmas 2005

Christmas with my Dad's family used to be on Christmas Eve, but since all the grand kids are married and having their own families, we've moved it up a week. About five years ago, my grandparents moved out of their home and into an apartment so we've been gathering at their hall. But this year was a little bittersweet because they are getting ready to move in with my parents (that's the sweet part) but it was the last year they hosted the Mester family at their own place (that's the sad part.) Grandpa is 91 and Grandma is 86 and they are looking forward to the extra help from Mom and Dad. So when they come back from Christmas with my Aunt and Uncle in the South, they will be coming to their new home.

Most of the Mesters - Christmas 2007

Martin family Christmas Eve - 2005

Christmas Eve is now spent playing games and enjoying family at Josh's parents' home. A special Bingo game has been the family's traditional fun since Josh was in middle school I think. But I've heard a rumor that they will be departing from that one this year and beginning a new one. How mysterious! Grandma and Grandpa Martin always spoil us!

The kids always get to open one thing from under our tree . . . one that has been chosen (and pre-washed by Mommy) a new pair of pajamas for extra cozy sleep on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve 2006

When I was a girl, Christmas morning we opened our presents in the morning and then went to my Mom's Mom for the Palicki family Christmas. Seventeen years ago, Grandma went home and several of the kids being grown and starting their own families, the Palicki Christmas was moved to anytime we could squeeze it in before, or just after Christmas. We usually meet at some one's home and have a white elephant gift exchange. This year it was going to be hosted by my cousin and then she found out that she is expecting a baby, so everyone graciously agreed to meet at restaurant so she would not have the stress of such a large gathering. I just got back a couple of hours ago, but forgot my camera, so I'll have to borrow some pictures from my sister. These family members are so close it is always a special time spent with them.

Christmas 2004 at Grandma and Papa's

In years past we've had a big Christmas day brunch at my parent's home, then relaxing in each other's company we would talk, play games and bestow our gifts upon each other. This year we reversed the order of events and made additions, hoping to create new traditions. After a perfectly wonderful afternoon and delicious dinner, we gathered for the entertainment. Everyone (almost) brought something they had prepared. One of my neices quoted her favorite poem and both neices played a carol on the piano. My dad, sister and her husband each had something charming to read to us ( "A Cajun Night Before Christmas," "Rindercella" and "I yust go nuts and Christmas" respectively.) Noah and Bronwen recited the Pledge of Allegiance (because I forgot to have them prepare something more appropriate.) Bronwen also sang Happy Birthday Jesus. It was so wonderful, the presents were almost an afterthought.

Ghosts of Christmases past

After we take the tree down each year, we cut the bottom of the trunk off and display it the next year with other tree trunks of Christmases past. They each have the date burned into the bottom. It's kind of nice to see them all bunched together, our miniature memory forest.

These are some of our Christmas traditions. Leave me a comment with your family's favorite tradition!

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

MERRY Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

This week

This was a big week for Annabelle.
Sunday she did a lot of her play standing up at the table or couch

Tuesday I went into her room after her morning nap and found her sitting in the middle of the crib with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. She was so proud of herself for figuring out how to sit up!

Last night she waved goodnight to Daddy, not once . . . but twice! You can imagine how happy that made him.

Bronwen made up a song about Santa Claus. It went something like this, "Amma cloudy, Amma cloudy, Amma cloudy . . ." Mom found her off by herself with this little toy, singing to it. Mom asked her, who is that? and she replied with a serious nod, "Comma Slauce!" She quickly wrote down what Bronwen had said so we could remember those words. Earlier in the day, all the kids were together playing - two of mine, the little girl I babysit and my two nieces - and of course the topic of Santa came up since Christmas is so near. One of the girls told Madie that there is no such think as Santa Claus.
GASP! There it was, the crash of Christmas philosophies. Our family doesn't do Santa and Madie's does. Fortunately Madie just told her she didn't know what she was talking about and I think it ended there, but she went home and told her Mom what was said. Her family wants to continue "believing" in the magic of Santa since she's only four, so I sat down with Noah and Bronwen later and talked about how some families include Santa in their Christmas celebration and some don't and reminded them that there really was a man named Saint Nicholas who was a rich young man who believed in God and his love and was very generous to children in his town. (For one of the best stories of this Discovery, check out my best friend's blog. Her boys recently came to her with thoughts on Santa.) Anyway, I think it all turned out ok and the crisis of beliefs was satisfactorily averted.

Noah got his hair cut with clippers for the first time. The girls have always scissor cut his thick locks, but this time I gave the "ok" for clippers. I think it is too short, but it should be perfect in a couple of weeks. He loves it and that is important since he was telling me he wasn't ready for a hair cut yet.
Bronwen loves it and keeps asking him where's his hair cut? She wants hers cut too, but there's no way I'm ready for that! Her hair is the longest in the house now.

And we made some Christmas cookies, Noah and Bronwen added the sprinkles.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas songs

The children sang some special Christmas songs in both services on Sunday morning. There's just something about the voices of children raised in song that helps to set the mood for Christmas celebrations.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday morning: finding solitude

"Now therefore listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways." Proverbs 8:32

There is no blessing I would withhold from those who walk in obedience to Me - who follow when I call, who respond when I speak to them. Near to My heart and precious in My sight are those who have eyes to discern My prupose and ears that listen to My direction.

Do not be intent on great accomplishments. By what standards do you judge the importance of a matter? It was a relatively small thing that Hannah prayed for a son, but what great things I accomplished through Samuel! It may have seemed incidental that Simeon and Anna perceived the Christ child and prophesied over Him; but for Me it was an event worthy to be recorded in Holy Scripture and preserved forever (see Luke 2:25 -38).

No, you cannot ascertain the ways of God amid the pathways of men. You may feel the wind as I pass and yet see only the swirling dust. The earthly obscures the heavenly. Human voices drown out the voice of God. Only in solitude can you begin to sift away the chaff and come at last to the golden grains of truth.

The world will confuse you. Silence will speak more to you in a day than the world of voices can teach you in a lifetime. Find silence. Find solitude - and having discovered her riches, bind her to your heart. ~Come Away My Beloved

So today and this week I am seeking solitude so that I may listen and watch for God amidst the wind and my swirling dust.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Deck the halls

Here is our lovely Christmas tree for 2007

It is finally decorated and so happy in its little corner - well, large corner - its a big tree. They always look so much smaller out there in that large field, and then so large when they are brough inside. I suppose that is because they are really not meant to be enclosed in so small a space. However, I think it is very happy to live with us for awhile and brighten the house and make the children smile so.