I had no chance to post last night. Our dear friend Steve and his son Spencer came for supper and stayed visiting until very late at night. We don’t see him often at all now as he lives a two-hour drive away.  We planned this event several weeks ago, not knowing that Steve would happen to be here on an evening when he’d get to see ALL of our kids. So it was a good time of fellowship and catching up.

Today I had to be up relatively early to drive Lucy and Bri over to the bride’s house. Bri was a bridesmaid and Lucy was in charge of the bride’s hair and makeup.

After breakfast, Lina and I visited a couple of craft stores to pick up a few items we needed. I showed amazing self-restraint even in the face of some very good sales!

We returned at lunchtime and shortly afterward Daniel and Mercy left for the wedding. Meanwhile, Mary’s friend Joy had arrived so a bunch of people went out for coffee with Joy and Spencer took off for a nearby town to visit friends.

Later in the afternoon, when everyone had returned from their wanderings, Joy left to go home and Mary also left to pick up Spencer and take him to a concert in Dallas. Mary will return late tonight and Spencer will stay in Dallas until Monday.

This afternoon I successfully replaced the broken string in my autoharp after ordering and receiving the right replacement string. It’s good to have my instrument back in working order.

We had our “New Year’s” dinner today so Flynn could have the ham he’s been looking forward to. Early tomorrow morning, Mercy and Daniel will be leaving for North Carolina and Flynn will be leaving to go home to Colorado. I wish I had known that Thursday evening would be the only time we’d all be together. I would have taken some photos! Now everyone is dispersing.


Happy House, Fuller House

What a day! My poor husband had to get up early and go to work again, but the rest of us mostly slept in. I did manage to get up in time to make low-carb, gluten-free bagels for Mary and me to enjoy for breakfast. It had been awhile since I made bagels, so it was a nice treat.

I turned the rest of the leftover turkey into my famous turkey salad so that the family could have it for lunch, after which I had to go to Walmart to get a few things that I won’t be able to get at Aldi tomorrow.

Later in the afternoon, I took Mary out for coffee. I rarely get a drink when I go to a coffee shop. I don’t drink coffee, and I have yet to have tea in any establishment that is even close to as good as the tea I make at home, so if I get anything it is usually mineral water. But I am happy to go to coffee shops to spend time with my kids.

I dropped Mary off at the house and picked up Lucy and we drove to the airport to pick up her friend Bri, who flew into town for a wedding this weekend and will be staying with us. Bri joined us for a delicious supper (I made pork roast) and then afterward, Mary insisted that we all assemble in the living room for one final Christmas gift. She left the room to get the gift and came back with Mercy and Daniel! They drove all the way from South Carolina today, so they can also go to the wedding. (The bride is one of Mercy’s good friends.)

It’s been fun figuring out where everyone is going to sleep—we have 12 people in this house right now! Mercy gave us all the presents she brought from Russia, including two beautiful souvenir teaspoons for me. My teaspoon cabinet is already full, so I may have to get some kind of overflow display . . .

But of course the best gift of all is having Mercy herself here for a couple of days. It’s been a very wonderful and laughter-filled evening.

The Donut Debtor

Ever since the donut shop opened within easy walking distance of our house, Jasper has made a habit of walking over there to buy donuts for his breakfast every Wednesday morning. When an adult sibling is visiting, they are expected to get up early and go with him for a sibling bonding experience.

This morning, Flynn had offered to go with Jasper and buy enough donuts for all the donut-eating members of the family (everyone except Mary and me). They ran into a problem, however. The shop’s card-reading machine was not working and thus they could not accept Flynn’s credit card for payment. He did not have enough cash.

The owner was not concerned. Since Jasper is such a loyal customer, he said to go ahead and take the donuts and Jasper could just owe him $7 and bring it the next time he came in. How often does that happen these days? Credit from a donut shop?

Of course, I made sure to get Jasper over there with the $7 later this morning. I wanted the shop owner to know his trust had not been misplaced.

Mary was gone all morning visiting with a friend, and Spencer was at work, so it was a slow morning. We had planned to go to that new coffee shop/bookstore this afternoon, but when I looked it up I saw that it is closed until after New Year’s, so instead we stayed in and Flynn got the other kids playing a game he had brought. They had a good time.

I took Lucy out to buy a dress because she is going to a wedding on Saturday and she needs something to wear. She found something she can be happy with.

Later, I had to make an emergency yarn run. Yesterday Jasper had been outside having an airsoft battle with his neighborhood buddies, and when he came back in I saw that he was wearing my scarf. Now I have scarves that I wouldn’t mind him wearing, but this particular scarf is precious to me because it was given to me by my best friend when I was fifteen. It is the only thing I have from her, and I didn’t really want it to be worn by my teenage son.

He complained that he was forced to wear my scarf because he doesn’t have one of his own. I’m not sure how that happened. All my other kids were subjected to hand-knitted scarves from me quite early in life. Clearly, I could not let this injustice continue. So I hightailed it to the craft store and bought some yarn. He wanted “camo” yarn so I got the closest I could. It is now seven inches long.


A Quiet Boxing Day

Today my husband had to go back to work, so he got up at 6:00 a.m. Nobody else did. I didn’t get up until after 8:00!

I had to go to Aldi to buy produce for tonight’s supper, and while I was there, I stocked up on next year’s wrapping paper at less than half price.

This afternoon I took a nap in an empty house as all the kids went out shopping together. Then I had to get going on supper prep. We had company coming and I had promised them a salad bar, which meant a lot of chopping, not to mention hard-boiling eggs, cooking bacon, cooking chicken, and so forth. When Mary came home she made some gluten-free croutons.

The friends who came for an early supper were a couple I’ve known since high school days in Africa. Although we are friends and live in the same town, we rarely see each other, so it was great to catch up with them a little bit. The salad bar turned out very well, too!

Our friends had to leave early as the wife works a very early morning shift, so after they left we still had time to watch a movie together. I really treasure these family times.

The Mystery of the Missing Gift & Guilt Gifting

I hope your Christmas was as enjoyable as ours. I was up early working on our big Christmas brunch. I haven’t figured out a way to sleep in on Christmas Day yet.

Eventually everyone got up and we had our brunch before opening gifts. I think everyone received at least one gift they really liked. But when the gifts had all been opened, I was puzzled. Jasper hadn’t opened one of his gifts from us, and it was nowhere to be found. I remembered wrapping it, but we couldn’t find it. We looked and looked and looked. Nothing.

It wasn’t until evening that I thought to look in my sewing room, where I had originally stashed some gifts. That’s when I realized how dishonest my memory can be. I had NOT wrapped Jasper’s gift. It was still there, in the bag from the store!

I was just so relieved I could finally give it to him . . .

This afternoon we were able to have a video call with Mercy and Daniel, and watch them open the gifts we had sent them. It was good to see her looking so happy!

There were some gifts I gave this year that were motivated by guilt. Like the hammock straps I gave Spencer, because I had given him a hammock for his birthday, but it didn’t come with any straps that would enable him to use it!

And maybe you remember that last week I was frantically working on a project that had to be done by Wednesday afternoon. That project was making a Japanese kimono for Mercy—something I had promised her for Christmas six years ago.

In my defense, there were several road blocks. I bought the silk for the kimono and had it on hand six years ago, but when I went to cut it out, I discovered that it needed lining. There was no option for making it unlined. So I had to wait until I could save up for more silk for the lining. (If you’re going to go to all that trouble, you might as well use the right fabric.)

At some point I did cut the thing out, but when I started reading the instructions I found them virtually impenetrable. I took the first tentative steps, but then gave up in frustration. I didn’t want to mess up with all that expensive silk.

So I’ve had this kimono hanging over my head for six years. I really wanted to finally make it for Mercy, so this time I did some research and found out that lots of people found the pattern very difficult to follow. I found a YouTube tutorial on how to do the sleeves, which had stumped me before.

I spent three days working on this project and in the end I succeeded. Today I got to watch her open it and see the expression on her face when she realized what it was! She had to wait a long time for that gift!

Mercy's Kimono

The guilt gifting prize, though, belongs to a gift I gave Mary. When Mary was eight years old, we were deep into our Little House on the Prairie days, and Mary wanted a “little house” type dress. I bought some pretty blue and white fabric and prewashed it . . . and never got around to making the dress.

By the time the guilt started getting to me, she was long past the age when she had any interest at all in a dress of that type. So, four or five years ago I had the bright idea of using some of the fabric to make a fleece-lined throw. I bought fleece in a coordinating color . . . and then I did nothing. Until Saturday, that is. I laid out those fabrics and made a blanket from them and then tied the two layers together with yarn.

I blush to disclose the fact that Mary is currently 26 years old. She had to wait 18 years for me to make her something from that fabric. We’re calling it the guilt blanket now.

We finished off the day with the traditional turkey dinner, a Christmas movie, and dessert. Lina made a pecan pie and Mary made a fabulous raspberry trifle. My daughters are great cooks!

Christmas Eve Update

—Mary and Jordan arrived yesterday afternoon

—Flynn arrived in the evening

—Spencer’s friend Britton and his wife and adorable baby daughter came for a visit in the evening.

—This morning most of us went to church in Henderson, where we used to attend many years ago

—It has been wonderful spending time together today

—We had our traditional festive candlelit Christmas Eve fondue dinner today

—After the fondue, we piled into three cars and went to see the local Santa Land

—When we returned home, we had piles of Christmas treats and eggnog

—All the kids got to open one gift

—Most amazing of all, I finished with all my Christmas crafting. This may be the first year ever that my Christmas crafting goals were realistic. It’s like a Christmas miracle.

A Family Outing

Today I got a good start on Christmas cards and hope to finish tomorrow. I also worked on secret projects and kept making mistakes, so I took a break from that.

After supper, all of us except Spencer went to see the new Star Wars movie (Spencer had already seen it and hated it). I am still processing it. At least now I don’t have to worry about spoilers anymore.

Only two more days until Flynn and Mary and Jordan get here!

Working Hard

I bet you wonder where I was last night. I was very, very busy. I was involved with working on a project which I can’t tell you about, and for reasons I also can’t mention, it had to be done by this afternoon. It was something I’d been putting off for some time, because I knew it would be difficult and not enjoyable.

So I worked until after 1:00 last night and then I had to give up because my various aches and pains were affecting my focus. When I have a deadline like this, it enables me to focus intensely for long periods of time. I ignore all external stimuli and concentrate solely on the task at hand. So yesterday and today were very intense. BUT I made my deadline. Afterward I hardly knew what to do with myself! Well, other than make myself a heavenly mug of tea . . .

Lina returned from San Antonio this evening and it has been nice to have her back. Just a few more days until we have more family arriving! Maybe I should think about sending out Christmas cards tomorrow.



One More Week!

I’m sure you’ll all be happy to know that my backup autoharp performed admirably during church on Sunday.

We had three students over for dinner on Sunday night, and made pizza for them. I decided for the first time in over a year to make some low-carb pizza for myself. I was surprised to discover that I have more or less lost my taste for pizza during the years I haven’t been able to have it. That makes my life much easier.

Lina left Sunday morning for San Antonio, where she is currently visiting one of her college friends. I am trying to take advantage of her absence to catch up on a bunch of projects. Today I:

-Went shopping

-Wrapped a bunch of gifts

-Made several gifts

-Made a massive batch of my famous hot chocolate mix

-Mailed a gift

Tomorrow I hope to be even more productive!

Third Sunday of Advent

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

Emily E. Elliot

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.


O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.


The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.


Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.


When the heav’ns shall ring, and her choirs shall sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”

My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Advent 3