Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Train up a child...

When Kyle and Ella are all grown up, it will be obvious they spent some time with our mother who loves to clean.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A friend of ours asked me (Julie) to make a cake for her mom's birthday party this past week. Aren't the colors so cheerful? Thanks for letting me be a part of your celebration!

Christmas #3

Saturday night was our Christmas at home with just the five of us. I (Julie) really enjoy this celebration because we all know what each other likes so well, and it's so much fun to see reactions when they open something they really want. Again, we didn't get very many pictures...sorry. Amy was looking on the Wissman Family's blog and saw that they had put together a cd with the people who started the Bright Lights program, and she said, "Ooh, Christmas idea!" I got on the computer the next morning and ordered it, because it is not often Amy comes up with a specific idea. I'm so glad she likes it!
Katie got three little boxes of cereal from Charlie (our dog, for those who don't know). She thought that was pretty funny.
Mom (and Dad, but he didn't know about it) got me this neat set of salt and pepper shakers to add to my collection. I think they are so unique - perfect!

Monday, December 21, 2009

I DO Know!

Over the last couple years, ever since I (Julie) decided not to go to college, I couldn't count the number of times I've had people ask me, "So you are still deciding what you want to do?" I cringe to remember the times I've said yes, just because I didn't have the courage to say that I really felt God was leading me. Most of the time, though, I do say something to the effect that I want to be a stay at home wife and mom, or that I want to be a Domestic Engineer (I've gotten some interesting responses to that!), or that I simply felt that I was supposed to be at home. Before I go any further, please understand that I'm not saying this is what every girl finishing high school should do (I'll leave that up to God's speaking to their hearts), or that I perfectly understand His plan for me. Perhaps now more than ever, I feel like I have no idea what He's going to come up with next, but I can't wait to find out. Anyway, moving on. Lately, God has been giving me so much assurance and peace in His plan, that I am able to say, "This is what I want to do!" I know some people have a hard time with the fact that I could have done well in college and gotten a high-paying job, and instead I am staying at home. Please don't think I have given up learning! I love to learn, to read, to grow. But now, I can grow in the ways I need and want, and not in the way that the school system mandates. I have so enjoyed reading a varied assortment of books that have stretched me and challenged my brain. I love that I have learned many life skills that, sorry to say, I don't think I would have learned at college. There are so many invaluable things that I would have missed out on had I been gone at college this past year and a half. If I had gone to college, I would never have started working at Kal's. That has been one of the most challenging and rewarding things I've ever done. I still remember the day that I made a sale all on my own (no running back to my dad's office to ask the sku number for something). It was only two different dimensions of lumber, but I can still feel the relief that I was finally catching on and maybe I could do this. Over the months, I have gotten to know some of the most interesting people. Some are strong men of the faith who have challenged me and helped me to walk closer with God. Some are not followers of Jesus, and have helped me learn to deal with (sometimes difficult) people, and to try to show Christ's love to them in the small window of time I am allowed to be a part of their life. The time I've spent with my dad here could never be replaced. Never. Second, if I had gone to college, I would have missed out on a lot of time with the rest of my family. Yes, I know I won't be living at home forever, and someday I'm going to have to miss out on much time with them, but why start sooner than necessary? I firmly believe God put our family together for a reason, and that I can learn a lot from them. I've gotten closer to my mom, as I have learned aspects of housekeeping from the greatest housekeeper I know. My sisters continue to be some of my closest friends. Third, going to college would have meant much less time with Kyle and Ella. As you can tell from our blog, that would have broken my heart! Fourth, because I keep saying that I want to be a homemaker and I really feel that is what God is calling me towards, I have become more committed to it, and hope and pray that when I do get married and have children (God willing), I will be more dedicated and ready to serve them. By far the most important thing that I have experienced by staying home is a closer walk with our Father. He has taught me so many things, and showed me I have so much more to learn. He has helped me to let go of some of my greatest fears (such as not having a definite plan for the next four years that college would give), and pointed out painful areas I still need to work on surrendering fully to Him. Sometimes I feel like I'm on a roller coaster, as He takes me on this wild ride, surprising me at each turn. Now, why would I want to trade these experience for anything? Granted, the argument is that I am missing out on many parts of the college experience. Sure, but is that the "experience" I want to have? Another argument I hear a lot is, "What if you never get married?" or, "Don't you think you should have a back-up?" What, in case God doesn't come through? I had really thought about that during my senior year when I was wrestling with the question of what to do next year. Shouldn't I just go to college and get a degree just in case? Then I realized that God was asking me if I could trust Him enough to do what I knew He was speaking in my heart to do. It hasn't been easy. Anyone who knows me knows I like to have a plan and be in control. Maybe this is God helping me change that a little and learn to rely on Him more. In summary, a college "experience" could never replace what God has let me experience at home. It bothers me that our society seems to think that college is the only option for a girl graduating from high school. Just because I'm not spending thousands a year to get an "education" doesn't mean I'm not learning, and it doesn't mean that I'm just sitting on the couch eating bon-bons waiting for some Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet and set me in a castle with servants to take care of my every whim. I might not know exactly what my future will hold, and, who knows, maybe some day I will find something that I just love to do and will want to be further trained in that area away from home, but at this point, all I know is that I AM doing what I want to do.

Christmas #2

Friday night was our second Christmas celebration with our mom's side of the family. It was much smaller than the first, because Grandpa and Grandma have left for Arizona, Ross and Brittany are back in Louisiana, and Sam is now in Afghanistan. For this Christmas, the cousins draw names and exchange presents. Katie drew Carson's name and she gave him this little dinosaur model/puzzle thing from the Science Center, some little dice that have animal pictures on them, and a dinosaur pencil topper from a cereal box. Amy had Taylor's name, and she got her a poster, a calendar with puppies, and some stickers. I had Hannah's name, and I got her the book "Captivating," which I had recently read and really enjoyed.

Taylor bought the game "Pictionary Man" with some of her Christmas money from Grandpa and Grandma.

This was one of Mom's attempts. This was Amy's attempt at the same clue. Can you guess what the word was? We'll post the answer in a few days...

Aunt Peggy and I aren't real Pictionary people. We sat down on the other end with our handiwork.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Olympic Bound

Mom taped these two amazing gymnasts practicing at our house last week. With a little more practice, I think they could take the gold!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where's Charlie?

Both of the twins are saying so many new words these days. Last week, Charlie was hunting with some of our friends. During breakfast, they were saying Charlie's name, and Amy said, "Charlie is hunting." For the rest of the day, they remembered that and wanted to talk about it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter Formal 2009

Last Saturday was the date of our youth group's annual Winter Formal Alternative entitled "A Night in Paris." We host this event each year to give teenagers the opportunity to enjoy dressing up, fine dining, and dancing in a Christ-honoring atmosphere. We strongly encourage chivalry and modesty, and we always have a lovely time. This year we set a record for attendance: I believe that around 80 students attended! We began the evening by meeting in our church's foyer for pictures and punch, then moved in to the multi-purpose room for a catered dinner. Everything was decorated so beautifully! Later we drove over to a local community center, which was already covered in Parisian-inspired decor. We danced the night away and then returned to church to get some much-needed sleep. I loved it, and can hardly wait until alternative prom in May! These pictures aren't the best quality, so if I get some better ones from friends, I will have to post them. My mom insisted that we get a picture of me with my dad before I left. He wasn't too thrilled about getting his picture taken, and asked, "Why in the world would you want a picture of Beauty and the Beast?!" :-)
I love this dress. I bought it at a second-hand store for $20. (I have been to formal four times, and have never spent more than $31 on a dress!) I will try to take a close-up of it sometime so you can see the detailed flower pattern and the sparkles!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Last year, I (Julie) baked a bunch of Christmas cookies and gave them out in little goodie bags to the customers and truck drivers that come into Kal's. I had so much fun that I decided to do it again this year. Yesterday, I got all the cookies out of the freezer and packaged them up.These are all the ice cream buckets I had them stored in. I realize now that I didn't set them up very well to be identified in a picture, but I'll try. Top row (L-R): Buttery Spritz, Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter Shortbread, Three Color somethings (oops, I forgot the name). Second row: Andes Mint Sugar cookies, Chocolate Wrapped Peppermint cookies, Butter Ball Chiffons, Cranberry Walnut cookies, Roly-Poly Gingerbread. Third row: Buttermilk Pralines, Linzer Tart cookies, Spice Spritz, Chocolate Cherry Cappuccino Bites, Raspberry Thumbprints. Fourth row: Cherry Bon-bons, Snowy Eggnog Teacakes, Ginger Wafers, Dazzling Stained Glass cookies, and Candy Cane cookies. I had so much fun making all these, but the best part is making someone's day with a bag of cookies. I do get a lot of surprised looks; no one really expects to come into a lumberyard and walk out with a bag of Christmas cookies!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Our Tree

Just as it has become a tradition to decorate Bop and Nanny's tree the day after Thanksgiving, for the last few years, we have put our tree up Sunday night after Thanksgiving, when we get home from Bop and Nanny's. Notice the cute snowman tree skirt, a gift from Amy to Mom a couple years ago.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Throw Your Net on the Other Side

1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias.[a] It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3"I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. 6He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

The other day, I (Julie) had a situation just like this. Ok, not just like this, but this is the Scripture I thought of right away. Here's how it went: I was asked to make some cookies for the Christmas Women's Tea at our church. Sure, I'd love to! So, I went on Monday to buy all the ingredients. I went to the grocery store to get everything but the pecans that I need for the Maple Meltaways, because they are cheaper at Harmony Foods (a natural food store) in bulk. But the grocery store didn't have maple extract, which is rather essential to Maple Meltaway cookies. Well, I didn't give up. I went to Harmony Foods and figured with all the weird stuff they have there, they must have some maple extract. Nope, but they could order it, which I didn't want to do, because I needed it soon. So I got my pecans, and then I thought I'd go to Ben Franklin, because they have a small baking section. No maple there either. Lots of vanilla, but no maple. By this time I was rather frustrated because I couldn't think of any other place on that side of town, and I figured I would have to go to one of the other grocery stores all the way across town and I didn't have the time to drive over there now, so who knows when I would get there. So I got in the truck, which was "parallel" parked in front of Ben Franklin (parallel in quotations because the whole parking area was open and I just had to drive straight into the spot...I don't parallel park), and for some reason (which now I know was the whisper of God), I thought, I'll just go one block further and see if I can think of any other place on this side of town that might have it. As soon as I thought that, I thought, that is so stupid, do I think that just driving one block further will make me think of someplace after I had been wracking my brain ever since I found out the grocery story didn't have it? By that time, though, I was halfway through the intersection, so I had to just keep going that extra block. Well, guess what. In the middle of that next block, there is a tea and gift shop owned by a woman at our church, and that's where my mom usually gets vanilla extract. So I parked and went in, and there it was. I think I blushed when I saw it. God knew where that maple extract was and I doubted that He could bring me there. I walked out of there, and I almost started crying. Our wonderful Lord can handle the big things and the little things. He cares about my maple extract. Maybe this wasn't as big a deal as the net full of fish, and I certainly hadn't been shopping all night, but I just felt like God reached down to remind me that He was there and He works in every part of life. I never thought I could learn this much from a little bottle of maple extract.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How to Decorate Bop and Nanny's Tree

It has become a tradition for us girls to put up Bop and Nanny's Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. We love it, because when we were younger, we would always marvel at how beautiful it was, and now we get to be a part of making it beautiful! Bop and Nanny like it to, because then they don't have to do it. Bop has made it very clear that this is our job now for the rest of our lives! I (Julie) made sure to take lots of pictures, so I could give you all a step-by-step tutorial on how it is done. Enjoy!
Step 1: Get out the smooshed tree. This requires assistance from either Bop or Dad.
Step 2: Fluff it. Step 3: Hang 5 strings of new LED lights, one layer toward the inside of the tree, and one on the tips of the branches. This is usually accompanied by a 20 minute pause while Bop runs into town to get another string of lights because he likes LOTS of lights.
Step 4: Make sure the lights meet Bop's approval. Step 5: Put on the strings of red beads and popcorn. Then give Dad a footrub after he moves it back into the corner and is waiting for Bop to get some nails to shim it so it stands straight. Step 6: Get it standing straight.
Step 7: Hang the multitude of wonderful ornaments.
Here's a picture of it at night. Isn't it enchanting?