Saturday, December 31, 2011

Craft-making Molly

Hi, this is Molly.
Last week I learned how to sew with my new machine I got for Christmas from my aunt and grandma. The first project my mom and I worked on were some small bags. They are very easy and fun to make!
Lately I've been thinking about selling them. They would only be $1.00. Very inexpensive! :) If you want one, just let me know. You can pick the fabric or I can just make you one of any color/print.

Here is a picture of ones I've already made:

Thanks for looking!

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Slight Detour


Well, during all of the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas, I, Jan, ended up taking a very unexpected trip back to Kansas. I was blessed with the undeserved privilege of accompanying my  uncle and aunt to the funeral of my dad’s sister, who passed away at the age of 86 on December 13. My family sent me off with their blessings and Emily took on a huge load while still trying to get her own things done as well. Poor thing . . . she  ended up getting sick in the midst of it all, however.


My dad had an older brother and an older sister who lived in Kansas. I got to see my “Kansas Aunt” during our summer vacations while growing up and when she and her husband came to CA for visits. (In the photo above, is my aunt in the middle holding my sister, Gail. Uncle Cliff is on the right behind me, and my grandmother is on the left. My aunt cared for my grandmother for many years since she suffered from Alzheimer’s.)


The flight back to Kansas by myself was very “weird”. I’m so not used to being alone. I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t trying so hard to keep myself from “getting sick” on the plane –forgot my motion sickness medicine.

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And then I had the luxury of having a wonderful room all to myself. It was quiet and wonderful . . . and quiet.

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When I got to my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Newton, KS, their flag was flying at half-mast. Sigh . . I had been so busy getting ready to leave and for covering for my responsibilities at home, that I hadn’t had any real time to soak in the reality that she was really gone.

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(The above photo is of Uncle Cliff and his 4 surviving sons.)

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(This is of my Uncle Cliff, Dixie’s husband, and my Uncle Jack, my dad’s brother.)

The service on Saturday was beautiful and it was fun to be with so many of the family again.

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There were lots of memories shared. Lots of laughing and  looking at photos and enjoying one another, just like Aunt Dixie loved to do.

Some of MY favorite photos of her . . .

In 2009, we stopped in Newton for a few days’ visit:

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We went shopping in a nearby Amish town. These two were real characters! (Hmmm . . . see any resemblance??)

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We also toured the underground salt mines.

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Uncle Cliff and Aunt Dixie wanted to take us for frozen custard at Freddy’s. They didn’t have to twist OUR arms.

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In February of this past year, they called one morning to tell us they were in town and ended up stopping by for a visit. So wonderful to see them!!

We were able to offer them bananas for lunch (it’s all they wanted) and let them fight over the knife and peanut butter jar. They cracked us all up!


It was wonderful having this woman in my life.

I will miss her greatly and hope that much of her spunk and character have made its way down to me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Preparations

It’s funny  . . . I’m writing this post 3 days AFTER Christmas. But things were so busy before Christmas that there just wasn’t the time. Why do I blog at all? It’s really so that our family will have a record of our year. We think we won’t forget, but we do. How often we’ve looked back over past blog posts from years ago and exclaimed, “Look how little you were!’ or “I remember when we built that.”

So, this Christmas was fun. Every year I try and keep things simple and low-key, but as usual the days just keep getting more and more busy. We filled our days with baking and shopping and decorating and playing. And we were able to fit in a few evenings to watch some Christmas shows.

David and Jonathan helped Earl get our house lights up.




The coveted Christmas job is to get to set up the nativity set. One must use extra care when unwrapping the figures and placing them on the piano. They were handmade by my great-Grandmother and were passed down to me.


This year, Emily and David put up the artificial tree all by themselves!

They even got the lights put on.




Then, it was time to go down memory lane and sort through all of the ornaments . . .





Jonathan got the job of climbing up on Earl’s shoulders to put the angel on the top of the tree. It was then we discovered he was afraid of heights. Ha! He was a good sport and everyone encouraged him on. They had a little trouble getting her straight and all, but eventually she was sitting pretty, as they say.




We did a lot of baking. We made two batches of “Crock Pot Candy”. We made 16 loaves of Christmas bread. We made about 6 pans of toffee. And we made 3 pans of fudge.


We then boxed it all up and handed them out to neighbors.



We also spent some time at my mom’s in Irvine. We helped her get her tree and the kids decorated it and all and we made her some pretty wreaths for her kitchen and just enjoyed a wonderful day together.










So . . . that is what kept us busy leading up to Christmas.

As we awaited the Day of Celebration, we busied ourselves in enjoying the relationships around us and surrounding ourselves with many reminders of the sweetness of the Lord’s faithfulness to us in keeping His promises.

We hope your days of preparation were enjoyable as well!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

So Thankful . . .

I have always enjoyed the fact that Thanksgiving is right before heading into the celebration of Christmas. Despite the fact that the retailers want to skip right over it, it helps me to begin focusing my heart before heading into the season of fighting the busy-ness that so easily distracts me from what I want to be doing.

This Thanksgiving, we had the joy of Earl’s mom and sister come and stay with us for a few days. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal together (Jan’s mom was also there, but Gail couldn’t make it), and then were blessed with lazy mornings and slow days.


(As usual, the kids all pitched in to help clean and then decorate the table. Jonathan enjoyed putting the homemade placemats out, and then made place cards for everyone.)


(Emily was a huge help in the kitchen and Earl documented all the preparatory activities, as Jan was busy.)


(The finished table. Just waiting for the food and for Earl to get back from the airport with Rita and Sonya.)


(We printed up a devotional from C. H. Spurgeon to read before the meal.)


(Jan’s mom, Nancy, making her famous gravy from the turkey drippings.)


(Rita just dove right into the preparations when she arrived and helped get that turkey ready for the table.)


(The meal was delicious, and David entertained us with some Thanksgiving jokes and a story he wrote for the day.)


(We ate early and everyone was pretty tired. We lit a fire in the fireplace and just hung out in the front room chatting. Here is Jonathan between Sonya and Rita, waiting for everyone to be ready for dessert.)


(Dessert and coffee time finally came and we enjoyed a restful evening.)


(On Friday, we were all dying for a walk, so we headed to the park for some fresh air and exercise. It was a beautiful day!)

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(Saturday, we headed to Seal Beach and walked down the pier to get some delicious lunch.)



(After lunch, the sun was so glorious and it made the shadows perfect. This is one of my most favorite “shots” of the year!)


(On Monday, we took them down to Dana Point Harbor to walk around a bit. It was another beautiful day!)


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(In search of some lunch . . .)


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(We tried to catch a little of the LSU vs. Alabama game, but Rita couldn’t bear to watch it for long. But she couldn’t bear NOT to watch it either! This was the day we left and went to the park. She couldn’t get her mind off what the score was and was dying to get back home. So funny!)








(When we weren’t touring Southern California, the kids and Earl’s mom and sister shot a lot of hoops out front!)

It was a wonderful time having them here. It was nice for us all to be together since losing Earl’s father back in March. Life can be hard, but how good of our God to bless us with moments of joy through sharing in the lives of those around us.

Jesus was the “consolation of Israel”. Why did they need consoling? Because their sin was forever separating them from God, and their life in this world, tainted and stained by sin, was hard. They longed for relief. I too long for relief. I get frustrated when I expect this life to be what heaven has been promised to be. But when I look, during this season, at the message of Christmas, I am comforted . . . Jesus did come, as He promised. He IS my consolation. He came to take my place (and the place of everyone who trusts in Him) and to drink the cup of God’s wrath, so I wouldn’t have to. He came that I might be reconciled back into fellowship with my Creator and Lord. And now every day is filled with the knowledge that He Who was faithful in the past to keep His promises to send a Savior, will continue to be faithful to be with me and to give me all I need to walk in faith and joy and hope and love.

So thankful for the “Consolation of Israel”!

Are YOU consoled by the message of the manger?

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