Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Praise be to God for His Indescribable Gift!!

May you all have a blessed and joyous Christmas and know that you are loved so much, that God sent His son to this earth, for YOU.
Thank you all for your love and support during 2010. I will be back after the New Year. I plan to take some time to enjoy my kids and the simple things in life. God bless!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remember the Shepherds

Ever feel insignificant? Unimportant? Imperfect? Forgettable?
Yeah. Me too.
I've shared my thoughts with you and with my friend Diane about feeling insignificant or lacking a clear calling. Basically, forgettable.

This past Sunday I was reminded of how much God uses the forgettable. The non-important, non-flashy members of society. The no names.The insignificant.

God chose to send the angels to the shepherds to tell about the great and awesome Savior's birth. He didn't need to go to the king or the leaders. He didn't go to Ceasar Augustus or Quirinius, even though everyone knew them and they would be able to spread the word. God chose the lowly nightwatchmen of sheep. The poor and humble shepherds. They were the ones whom the angel spoke to. They were the first to hear the news. They were the ones most used by God.

And Mary and Joseph were nothing to write home about either. They didn't live in a palace. Joseph was a carpenter. He didn't have riches to boast about. And Jesus grew up doing the work that God planned for him, living a humble life, never needing riches or servants or the fine things that the leaders and important people of the day thought made you who you were.

And then there's Bethlehem. A small village essentially. There was no room for them, but as you consider the size of Bethlehem, that's probably because it was a "one horse town" that didn't have places a visitors bureau, because unless you were from there, you really had no reason to go there. An insignificant village. It wouldn't be on the maps if it weren't for the fact that Jesus Christ, Savior of the world was born there.

So as you ponder your life and feel forgettable and brush off the thought of God using you for His kingdom's work, remember the shepherds. Remember the stable. Remember Mary and Joseph. And remember that YOU are loved by God and YOU are worth the saving.

Luke 2:8-15 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's the thought that counts...

Going on the assumption that it really is the thought that counts, well... you all have had some great reading and entertainment here this week!
However if you can't read my thoughts and have no clue how touching the greatest Christmas Story really is, or how cute it was when my daughter sang "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (her version) on my first ever video post,(I know you all just said a prayer of thanks that you didn't have to torture yourselves with that)  then I guess I'll give you this:

I'm a little bit off schedule this week due to this happening not once.But TWICE yesterday. I have several dozen cut out cookies to get baked and when my oven keeps starting on fire due to the fact that I never bothered to clean up the caramel that spilled from the monkey bread that I made 2 weeks ago just the day before it puts me behind schedule.
So, as soon as I get this all cleaned up, I'll be back.
Or at least I'll be thinking about you.
Doesn't that make you feel better?

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Day in the Life

So in our first year with an advent calendar, I have been trying to come up with creative ways to fill those little doors with something other than daily candy.
On Wednesday, Jackson found Buddy the Elf (our elf on the shelf) and when he read the little note inside he cheered.... and I groaned. "A day with mom's good camera to take pictures of anything you want" Could this have fallen into worse hands?! I feared a great deal when he added to the bottom "and mom won't delete any."
Well, I said a quick prayer of gratitude that Jackson had a full day of school, hockey and cadets, so his spare time with my camera would be limited.
I tried to make a storyboard so as to not have a long string of pics, but I couldn't. Then I tried to make a slide show and I couldn't get the text to work. So, in just a plain old post of pictures, this is what my dear son encountered on that day.


Grumpy Sister

Mom driving us around... as usual... though I'm not sure she usually smiles while she's driving us.. hmmm...

Yup, still grumpy.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!!

Mom is stomping the snow off her boots I guess.

Hey Dad! How's work going?!

Surprise, Grandma!

Snitching some goodies left at Dad's office...

Where I want to be.... skating, not the popcorn tin.

A dumpster. Of course.

Mom's dirty car stereo. She should clean it.

A house.

Baseball diamond covered in snow.

House going up in our neighborhood.

Neighbor's house.... trying to get a pic of Snoopy, maybe more dash than dog.

My Texas longhorn ornament that mom and dad got for me in San Antonio.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Saucijsjes- No. I did not just sneeze

I think you already know that I hail from a Dutch community. If you didn't, now you do. And  two of the staples in our diet are meat and carbs. Fatty meats and lard ridden carbs to be exact. However, I promise this won't involve any lard.

This Christmas I decided to make my own Saucijesjes, or Pig-in-the-Blankets. I usually buy the frozen ones and bake them up. They are always great too, and I have no problem doing that, but I wanted to try this. So here we are on my maiden pig making journey. I have done each portion of these at one time or another with our school group for our annual Tulip Festival, but never the whole process by myself.
So here we go!

The dough:
3 cups of flour or more (you'll need a little more)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
With a pastry blender or a fork, blend in 1 cup Crisco (or lard if that's what you're in to)
Once that is blended nicely- to resemble corn meal or just fine crumbles,
add 2 eggs, beaten
and 1 cup milk.
Mix this all together and chill until ready to use.

Now for the star. The sausage/beef mixture.
This is where I lack, my grandma gave me the front of her recipe card and not the back. That's where the meat recipe is. However, I just go into our local Dutch meat market and purchase that, so I didn't need it. I promise to get that and add it in here, but for now, here is a link to the place where I get the meat! Perhaps if you call it in, they'll send it to you.

Here is how I make my "pigs."
I had about 6lbs of meat because I doubled the recipe, this one should use about 3lbs.
Press meat mix into a pan (9x13) Using a knife, slice into 1"x3" pieces. I like to chill that meat at this point so that it really holds the shape.

 Let the fun begin!!!
Take a baseball sized section of dough to begin and roll roughly into a rectangle shape.
Set the pig on one end, cut long strips for the width of that. Then roll until the meat is covered and cut dough there.

Smooth out the edges and just try to make it all closed in and look pretty. As pretty as a pig-in-the-blanket can look.

Freeze them now. I don't know why, but they are just better if you freeze them. And despite it being 10* outside, your garage will not be enough to freeze them. I'm just saying.
Place on a baking sheet either covered with paper bags- to absorb the grease, or a baking stone.
Brush the tops with egg whites.
Bake at 350* for appx 1 hour.

The finished product! mmmmm!

(this makes just over 2 dozen saucijsjes, depending on how big you make them)

I hope you enjoy our little Dutch tradition! These go great with soup or even for breakfast!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Plans were made weeks ago. I knew just how the next few weeks should go.
This weekend? Hockey, program practice, Maicy sing in the morning with girls, Christmas program Sunday night.
Those plans came crashing down. Hmm... skip hockey. Maybe program practice.    

 More phone calls. Whole day cancelled. Well adjust. Its winter in Iowa, that's what we do.
As long as my Christmas week plans don't get affected... its my unspoken request.
Sometimes God needs to just stop us.
Stop the plans from controlling our time. Stop the planning from taking away from Him.
Now I'm stuck.  My plans did change. I admit, I was not happy for awhile. I'm still a little disappointed.

 But God showed us who's in control this week.
Cars get stuck.
Football fields deemed unplayable. Games rescheduled and moved.
Christmas programs rescheduled.
Christmas plans rearranged.
God is in control. And in an instant, He can change our plans.
Then again, my plans had more to do with me and less with Him.
Thanks for changing my plans, God. I'll be there.  Whereever you want me. Whatever day you want me there. That's where I'll be. Just promise You'll be there too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oh be careful little eyes what you see...

It starts out innocently enough. I walk to the mailbox to get the mail. As I flip through all of the bright and colorful pages it happens,

"hmm... yeah, my pots and pans do look a little dingy"
" that new kitchen-aid mixer my husband surprised me with is an older model now... they have that glass bowl now... I like this color more.. of course, that may mean repainting my kitchen and then I'll need new curtains...."
"those lamps are all wrong for my living room"
" I should have a sweater like that for the holidays...I have those other 5, but they aren't quite like this style...
"think of all the kids' programs and games and recitals I could record with that video camera- that doesn't use a small VHS tape"
 "ohh... that dress is cute, Maicy should have that!"
 "Hmm... I wonder if Jackson would like that"

Suddenly, everything that I was more than happy with, becomes old worthless junk. No longer good enough. Every year I go through this. I page through catalog after catalog, pining after things that will not in anyway make my life better. Because the ultimate gift is not a thing. It's a Savior. None of this stuff even comes close to filling that spot in my life. It only distracts me from the focus of the Christmas season.

I walk to the mailbox. I keep the cards from friends and family, set the bills in the organizer, and toss without even opening, the endless supply of catalogs and sale fliers. If I didn't know I needed it before I saw it, I certainly don't need it now. (and in case my son or husband is reading this, no, I did NOT throw away the Cabela's fliers- yes, I realize those are "different")

What about you? What great ideas do you have to help stop the commercialism from distracting you from the true meaning of this holiday?

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15


Monday, December 6, 2010

Sinterklaas, Suzie Snowflake, SundaySchool, Sleep

Those pretty much some up my weekend. Well, except hockey- but that didn't work into and S.
I have lived in our little Dutch town for over 13 years and have donned my wooden shoes and scrubbed streets every May for the annual Tulip Festival for the last 6 years. Yet I have never taken my kids (or myself to the SinterKlaas parade downtown on the first Saturday of the month. It may have something to do with the 10 degree days that we usually have, but one can never be sure about the reasons.

So this year,since we already had a jam-packed Saturday, I promised my daughter we would squeeze that in too. After all, if you can only be home for 45 minutes, what's the point in being home at all right? That's what I figured. So after hockey, after delivering packages around town, after stopping at our school's cookie walk to purchase too many goodies and after a quick dance recital where we listened to "Susie Snowflake" 3 times, not once, not twice, but 3 times, we bundled up and awaited for the Dutch hero to arrive on his white horse. You can read all about the history of Sinterklaas here. Then we strolled down to City Hall where the kids listened to the history and then played games. For approximately 10 minutes because after all, we had to head to Sunday School Christmas program practice.

 My point in this post isn't to let you all know how busy I am, because I know that everyone is busy. That's called life. My point is, after all of the hustle and bustle. The sweat of hockey, the fun at dance, the excitement of seeing Sinterklaas... my favorite moment of the weekend was this:

 She was bound and determined to fall asleep in the chair with her daddy. And she did. And they stayed there...
until we woke at 4am with one heckuva kink in his neck. :) So he moved to the couch.

And I had the whoooolllleee king sized bed to myself.

aaahhhh..... sweet sleep....

(speaking of sleep, does anyone know how Nebraska faired?! I fell asleep as it was tied at 20. Yeah. I was shot too. I'm kind of afraid to look at the scores, so I haven't checked!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

And stuff...

The blankets are tucked up around her. Her mismatched jammies cozied under the striped comforter. Her hair still damp from the shower sprawls over her pillow. Surrounded by her stuffed animal friends and clutching her special blankie and puppy. Hands come out from hiding to fold on her chest. Long eyelashes close over those brown eyes and all I see are the sprinkling of freckles on her button nose.

"Dear God. Thanks that I can have a good day and that Jackson can have a good day at school and that I could play with my friends and have piano and do good at dance and so could my friends ...and stuff. Thank you that Daddy can be safe at work so that he can work to make money so we have food to eat and clothes... and stuff.. and for the people of Haiti that we can give money to them then too. And while he travels for business or fun... and stuff. Thank you that Mommy can take care of us and do a good job and that she is safe when she travels and goes places. And that other people can be safe when they travel like for business trips and fun trips ...and stuff.  And for the people of Haiti that they can be safe and we can give them homes and food and clothes and stuff to live... and stuff. Be with J and O that they won't be missing their mom and dad too much and keep them safe... and stuff. Thanks that we can go to your House to worship you, thanks for schools where we can learn about you ... and stuff. And for saving us from when we do bad... and stuff. "

She packs a lot into '...and stuff.'
There is a lot of weight in those words. She knows His hands are in the "stuff." Named or unnamed. He's got it. She gave it to Him and just like that will drift into her peaceful sleep. Knowing He's got all the stuff in His hands.

She teaches me a lot in those moments... And stuff.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Recap and Revived!

It feels like it has been forever since I have been here! It feels like weeks since I've wanted to be here. I know, it sounds terrible, but sometimes you just need a break. It was a great blogging break. Steve was home for almost 2 weeks, just a few one nighters away scattered in there. We loved having him around although on our way to church my first born did look at him and say  "When exactly are you heading back to Nebraska?!" Made me laugh out loud, not my hubby so much. ;) Although I think he was ready to head back for the week also. You would think that with all that time together I would have managed to get our family picture done for Christmas cards, but no. Still not. I don't know why we just can't get it together this year! Oh well, we have time... right?! Maybe we will just photoshop him into a picture.

What did happen this week? Well, we had a much missed family game night- we are used to a few a week and now its been many weeks or months. I still hold the trophy, so I consider it a success.

During the game I decided to try out some new rollers on Miss Maicy. This is what happened...

 It is impossible to take a picture of curlers and not make a silly face. It just is. (She also said that I canNOT use this for Christmas cards. She ruins all my best plans. )

This was the result- umm... we weren't going for a Shirley Temple look.... not that they knew who that was anyways...
Again, silly face is required.
( pics take on my cell phone simply for convenience purposes, just in case you are worried that my camera is broken again.)

Another exciting part of the week was dog sitting. The kids (and I) have very much enjoyed opening our home up to a super well behaved Shi-Tzu named Tucker for a few days. At least, I think they're coming back for him... We'd be quite content to keep him though.
So yes, we are not only a foster home to children, but also to dogs. We seem to have better luck with the dogs.

We had a great time with FAMILY this past week. A long day of Thanksgiving eating and laughing and game playing. Plenty of shopping and more eating. We don't do Black Friday, but we do do the local small town businesses. Some great deals are to be found!

One of the most enjoyable moments was getting to read my Grandma's diary from 1981. We had some of her things to look through the other night and, while Grandma still resides on this earth, her mind isn't always residing as we'd like. So this was a special treat to read her days activities in her hand writing. It was made even more special when she announced in her book, not once, but twice, that her dear Alicia had diarrhea. Remember, 1981 folks, I was just a babe. And I got dumped on Grandma lots. Evidently she got dumped on also. Sorry, I had to do it.

So, this was a random recap of my week off, kudos to you if you made it through!
Now I feel so energized and ready to get back to this world. I need to make the time, yet limit my computer time. I'm working on that balance.
What did you do with your Thanksgiving holiday?
Are you moving on to the advent season?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

From Whom All Blessings Flow

I love this week. Yes, it gets busy, and yes, we often rush through it. But truly, Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite times of the year. I have always loved this holiday. I think that it is because it doesn't have the pressure of Christmas, yet has the God centered-ness that it deserves. 
I am so thankful this year. God has blessed me and my family beyond measure. We have had quality time with each other, opened doors to friends and family, entered homes of friends and family, and just truly, been blessed.

Ups and downs are a part of our lives, yet God is steadfast, strong, and unchanging. And that is why I praise Him. That is what makes me want to jump up and shout "Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!!"

I want to wish you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving. May your time be blessed, may Uncle Harry minimize the embarrassing moments, and may God get all of the glory.
I'm taking the week off of blogging to focus on my family and home and my God. Blessings, dear friends.

Psalm 100- the Message (because I love that first verse)

A Thanksgiving Psalm

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.
Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn't make him. We're his people, his well-tended sheep. Enter with the password: "Thank you!"
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.  For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.