Monday, December 22, 2014

December 21

Well, the stomach bug has hit! There is about an hour of disappointment -- cancelled church, cancelled lunch guests, cancelled visits with friends. Then there is the relief of being quiet at home.

I spent a peaceful morning home with two kids, attending "online church" and taking time to finish up all the delicious food I had planned for lunch. Then another child "dropped" as he came in the door from church and with older kids gone that left just Michael and me to enjoy our gorgeous dinner with Laura chatting by our side, taking bites of her bread and butter. Actually, that was an unexpected treat to enjoy a lovely meal together with time to talk some and not rush away from the table. There was even a pot of delicious Darjeeling to enjoy together afterward while sitting in front of the tree in the living room reading our Sunday books.

The rest of the afternoon was spent reading and knitting. Rachel invited me to her room to listen to Adventures in Odyssey and knit. I made lots of progress on Laura's Christmas present. :) Michael headed back to church with just two well children and the rest of us had time to read some Christmas books together, listen to an online service (knit), and coach Laura on how to decorate her doll house (real tree, tiny paper chain, etc.).

Funny how this was just the kind of day I dream of having. Funny how it can't happen unless the stomach flu hits.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 20

Less than a week now until Christmas! I think I'm ready for the marathon to be over! I am working hard to be content with the amount of work, etc. and I am thankful for much grace. But, I'm glad it won't last forever!

I was up early this morning tackling as much baking as I could: tea rings, thumbprint cookies, shortbread, soup. Incidentally, someone asked for a link to the thumbprint cookies. Here it is. I used jam instead of chocolate and put the jam in the cookies before baking.

There were military-like helicopters flying low and slow over our house this morning. It made me think of so many places where that sound would send panic through a mother's body. I am so thankful I can look out the window and wonder what is up rather than screaming to hide my children somewhere. I take the peace we have here for granted.

My dad and his wife came for lunch today before the children's piano recital. The kids enjoyed the visit and loved the gifts he brought. They accompanied us to the annual Christmas recital. My favorite part is the end where all the students surround their teacher on stage and play together.

After the recital it was time to play chauffeur to the high school youth group and then work on getting my ducks in a row for tomorrow's lunch. Oh, I do want to tell you about my current favorite winter salad: salad greens, sliced Fuyu persimmons (washed but not peeled -- the peel is edible), dried cranberries and toasted pecans. Dressing: juice of 1 orange, canola oil in twice the amount of orange juice, 1-2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. It is so good!!!

And now it is time to stop work and rest! Tomorrow is another Lord's Day! Good thing! It's the only way I can survive this craziness.

December 19

Rachel's final day of school! This involved no less than five round trips to the school! yikes! I think they forget that freshmen can't drive themselves.

In between all the driving we enjoyed a day with our friends from Michigan! Good thing that included sitting down and drinking tea, a lot. We went over to Eagle Creek for a winter hike and lunch. It was so nice to get out in the fresh air and the park was nearly deserted.

In the evening we took a carload down to hear Rachel's concert at school. (She is the 4th head from the left edge of the orchestra above :). The school was hopping with activities, including a live nativity and we took a few minutes to exclaim over the miniature donkeys, goats, and sheep. Rachel stayed for the "after party" while the rest of us hurried home to rest after a long day. And then there was one more trip back to school....

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December 18

Today was my first visit to the now open Wildwood Market!!!!! My brother-in-law, Craig, has dreamed for a long time of owning his own neighborhood market, selling seasonal produce from local farms and producers, quality meats, and lots of cheeses! Well, together, he and Emily have made it happen! I'll do a separate post with pictures of the whole shop but here's one photo to show you the back wall of the store (and my signs :). I picked out some roots vegetables to roast, some specialty sausage for Christmas day and couldn't resist some Vitamin C lollipops for the kids.

Eventually I had to leave the store. I think most of my family wishes we could just hang out at the store all the time. But, I had to drop Andrew back home and we had to make a family visit to the vacuum store. Our vacuum died last weekend and you can only go so long in our family without a vacuum. I think a new one will be making its appearance on Friday. After that it was my one chance to SHOP for Christmas. Yes, it turned out to be 12 hours from my first outing in the morning until I got home with everything in the evening. But I think all but the rest of the food is purchased!

I spent considerable time at Goodwill, especially since instead of charging me for my purchase they actually put money back onto my gift card. Sigh. Checking my texts with my mom, it appears that it took nearly an hour for them to work out what to do. They had never seen anything like that happen before. I considered just leaving several times but the problem was I could leave all the merchandise but they wanted that $14 back in their register and not on my card. Hmmmm...... And they didn't seem to realize I might have a life too. But, I was very thankful that I was under no pressure to be home by a certain time and wasn't late for anything -- rare occurrence. In the end, I finally told the assistant manager how to solve the problem (he was fully competent just a little confused) by how and what to ring up. And I made it out of there!

At another store I had hoped to purchase three items but none of them were on sale and I only had one coupon. So I picked up one item and got in line. Wouldn't you know, a lady turns around and asks me if I want another coupon! That was a blessing because it saved me at least an hour or more of running out another day to get that second item. I hope I expressed my gratefulness enough to her! I think I was so excited I might have run away a bit too fast!

It's nice to have that done....tomorrow will be the baking.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 17

Well the frazzle of the season has reached near dew-point. But, I managed to get 4 packages out the door to the post office this morning and that relieves some of the deadlines. And I've made some baking lists and day-to-day to-do lists. Tomorrow is my last day to try to buy presents for the kids. I hope I find what I need!

Andrew finished his first semester today! He's worked hard to adjust to online school and to complete his courses. All three boys finished their fall semester of Writing Class today. That meant Author's Teas for both classes -- refreshments, hot drinks, and the students reading aloud one of their writing assignments.

After the Authors' Teas we headed to Auntie C's so the little kids could decorate a gingerbread house and the rest of us could just enjoy a visit since somehow we don't really get to see each other that often. Mom was there too!

Then it was time to come home and face the music for the rest of the day's work. Turkey soup needed to be finished up for dinner and there was baking that had to be done for delivery on Thursday. I'm not sending cards this year, but that doesn't mean I'm not sending cards. :) There are still some people that don't have computers or that only hear from me at Christmas, etc. So there are a few cards to send. Maybe more than a few.

Well, I think I better get some rest and be well-prepared for a day of shopping tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 16

David came food shopping with me early this morning since he needs to find a present for Andrew. But, alas, all his looking yielded nothing he could decide upon so we came home empty-handed. The boys are working feverishly to finish up their writing class assignments for tomorrow. Andrew finishes his entire semester tomorrow and Rachel begins her three days of finals tomorrow.

There was baking to be done and the living room tidied for tea with a friend. I am so grateful to have a mentor to meet with monthly and this month she came to me since my schedule didn't allow for anything else. Michael kindly built us a fire and we enjoyed tea in the cozy living room, discussing the book we read for December. We took a break from the more serious books we read to enjoy Letters of a Woman Homesteader. I highly recommend this book. The author is a woman of great strength, ingenuity, determination, contentment, and beautiful words. Her book, set in the early 1900's, is as gripping as a novel.

We did have the boys' piano lessons to go to after tea and Laura and I went on our shopping errands, which included Laura finding a present for David. Mostly successful, we headed back to pick up the boys and then collect Rachel. That took some time as we hit traffic from an accident and had to take an alternate route. But we made it home in time to eat some sandwiches before heading out to our now traditional evening at the St. Francis Brass Quintet Concert.

The concert is given free of charge each Christmas and we have enjoyed it for several years in a row. The musicians come from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and are very talented. It is a great concert for children and they also serve lovely refreshments afterward. It's a nice moment of peace in the hectic schedule and the traditional music brings back all kinds of Christmas memories: Vermont, upstate New York, central Pennsylvania, Uganda, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Scotland, and of course Indianapolis. Oh the richness of childhood memories! And that is what I'm putting forth the energy for right now for my children -- so they too will have that treasure to look back upon someday. As my sister says, "Mothers are the keepers of Christmas."

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15

A new week begun! This was my Monday to work for three hours at Rachel's school during the lunch hour. So I got the boys started on school and headed off to help in the kitchen. After getting my day's exercise cleaning tables and chairs and vacuuming with the heavy duty (heavy weighing) vacuum, I dashed out the door to keep my tea appointment with my neighbor.

Tea was a nice 50 minutes of calm for the day. We never choose regular, caffeinated tea, but for some reason that's what I opted for. Usually I come home from Rachel's school and lie down or rest for nearly an hour because of the physical toll it takes on me. Since I wasn't doing that today my reasoning was blurred and I chose the caffeine. That makes me talk, a lot!

I zipped out of my neighbor's and back down to school to pick up Rachel and take her to her music lessons where I had an hour to catch up on writing cards, calling/texting people and other various online tasks. On our way home, just as we came to the farm with the lighted star, Rachel spotted a huge, faint rainbow gracing the sky! What a rare treat for December!!

Fortunately there were leftovers for dinner because there were so many other things to do besides cook -- ironing, planning, sewing, etc.

One special treat I am enjoying is being part of a calligraphy exchange! I sent out 7 handmade, calligraphied cards and now I am receiving 7 in return! Three have arrived so far. They are just beautiful! At some point I'll have to post a picture of all of them. It is such a delight to be the recipient of all this art!