Friday, December 31

minute by minute

As this year comes to an end,
I reflect on the ways my family and I have grown through the fun and the difficult times.
Overall, it has been a good year.

Several years ago, I told my husband, I am not asking for the next year to be better than the last. I just hope I can gain better tools and coping skills to be able to handle
what life throws my way!

I wish the same for you!

Life happens.
It unfolds minute by minute before our eyes.
We chose how we see it and handle it!

May we all choose wisely!

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Much Love ~ Inge

Thursday, December 30

another girl in the house

I have never made a doll before.
Having three boys there is no real pressing need. But, since I borrowed the sewing machine I have wanted to make a doll for some reason.

I had a ton of work to do yesterday and told my impulsive side that I would reward myself with some fun sewing time if I finished my “To Do List” first. I worked hard with the goal in the back of my mind: ….work and then play…..first things first…..I think I can, I think I can! I kept my focus all the way up to 10:30 p.m. and then sat down to p l a y !

I had the idea in my head that it would be pretty quick, so I pulled out some scrap material: brown felt, a white tee shirt, a pretty pillow case, pink thread and cotton stuffing.
How hard could it be?
Well, let’s just say Elizabeth and I were up into the wee hours of the night. I ran into a couple creative obstacles, but it really was fun.

Here she is; Elizabeth.

In the morning, I introduced Elizabeth to the boys. My middle son was surprised that I made her in one night and my youngest, well, my youngest is in love! He played with Elizabeth most of the day. I told the boys she was named after my Aunt Beth in Colorado. I don’t get to see my aunt that much but she has a special place in my heart.

I love you Aunt Beth!

Wednesday, December 29


A friend of mine mentioned she was saving up for a new camera
(her last camera lost a battle with h2o)
and she just needed cold, hard cash for Christmas!

That is what I gave her!

Merry Christmas, Caity!

I love you!

Monday, December 27

the 23rd, the 24th and the 25th

From the 23rd through the 25th it is kind of a blur of family, friends and food. But, I promised to share our 25 envelopes and ideas inside so here are the three I skipped.

December 23rd

It’s family game night!

We actually did not get around to it on the 23rd! But, we are making it up by putting together a very difficult puzzle. When we have a break and we are home for a couple of days, I like to leave out a puzzle that has a bazillion pieces! It is great as, one by one, each of us sit down next to each other and work on the puzzle together.

No one wins and no one loses.

It is a team effort.

It is relaxing and fun for us!

December 24th

Visit Grandma and Pappy and relatives! Then head over to the Christmas Eve service at church.

This was a fun time, a bit loud and crazy, but definitely fun!

December 25th

It is Christmas! This is the day people around the world celebrate Jesus’ birth! Open up presents and eat some stolen with Grandma and Pappy!


Storm Troopers descending on our little ginger bread house!

Saturday, December 25

the 25th

December 25th

******* Merry Christmas!! *******

Friday, December 24

the 22nd

December 22nd

Decorate a gingerbread house!

I have been busy, busy, busy. But who isn’t; so, I won’t complain. It has been great having my husband here. He truly is a big help! He has been the resident dishwasher and my “errand boy!” I tend to get a wee bit snippy if I lose my focus and he keeps me in check. I have been cranking out the baked goods and have been busy wrapping gifts and assembling plates of food.

Looks like we might get some snow on Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22

"Do you want to see Jesus?"

December 21

s l o w .... d o w n

This week I am very busy playing catch up since last week I was wearing my nurse hat and in no mood to bake. Today, I was at the kitchen table whipping up a little hat with a borrowed sewing machine as the youngest elf swaggered in for the umpteenth time and asked if I wanted to play with the manger scene with him. I said, “yes,” as mothers do when they are focusing on something else; not fully listening and letting out an “uh-huh.” Some time later, I don’t know how long, I heard him speaking just a bit louder as he said, “Do you want to see baby Jesus?” I tuned in at that point and said, “What did you say?” He looked up in my eyes and calmly said,
“Do you want to see Jesus?”

In my mind, I tallied up my long, ‘To Do’ list against my allotted time and plummeting energy level and thought, ‘No, I really don’t want to see Jesus, I just have too much to do!’

the kitchen table

As soon as that thought reached the punctuation mark in my head, I thought, yep, this is not right.'

Convicted to the core….I sat for a moment…..and thought how ironic this is. Here I am making homemade gifts of love, in the spirit of Christmas, celebrating Jesus’ birth and I don’t have “time” for Jesus.

I turned off the sewing machine, and said, “Yes, I want to see Jesus!”

He collected the little figures of the people God used to alter history, my life, the world. I grabbed some cotton balls for sheep and we played. We made the figures act out Mary and Joseph looking for a room, we acted out Jesus being born (a shortened 5 year old version) and laid in a manger. I turned on the sewing machine lamp when the angel appeared before the shepherds and said,

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

We brought the wise men to meet Jesus and emphasized that they came later, not the day he was born (Thanks, Dad). We talked about the ways frankincense and myrrh was used during those times and why they were considered gifts.

As we played I brought over my Bible and read the passages of Jesus’ birth in Matthew and Luke.

It was good to take a break. It was good to talk about Jesus and share the story once again with the boys.

I know I can’t be there for every learning opportunity, but if I see a really important one, one that is coming from the heart and can change a heart, a life, a world, I will drop whatever it is to be there.

Making time for Jesus in my life isn’t just about a book, a story or little figures. I try my best to weave it into the little things that I do every day. I am not perfect, but I try my best to glorify God in my thoughts, words and actions.

It is leaning on God’s strength and not my own during the little trials and through the darkest hours. It is faith in Jesus’ act on the cross and not my daily acts. The hope and joy in knowing that Romans 8:28 is true: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” These sustain me even through the crazy busy times, a car dying, the spilled milk and sick children.

Enjoy this season, and whatever season of life you are in, and make a little room for Jesus in your day.

Tuesday, December 21

the 20th

December 20th

Hang up some mistletoe!!!

the 19th

December 19th

Take a walk in the dark with a lantern to see the neighborhood’s Christmas lights!

the 18th

December 18th

Make a birthday card for Alice!

My sister had a very classy birthday bash at her house on Saturday. We had a great time celebrating and our good friend, Joyella, made a delicious pumpkin cheesecake! Yum! Happy Birthday, sis!

yummy pumpkin cheesecake!

my sister and my dad

Sunday, December 19

the 17th

December 17th

Make potato stamp cards for family and friends

Friday, December 17

the 16th

December 16th

Decorate oranges with cloves and ribbons to make pomanders.


We are a family that is committed to sharing.
So along that line, the littlest elf has shared his illness with the middle elf this evening.
We might just have to hang a pomander in his room!

On the brighter note, we had our first snowfall. It was only an inch but it was enough to coat the yard. The boys got excited, bundled up and ventured out into the land of “Hoth!”
I filled up the bird feeder and cleared the walkway.

It was very pretty.

(Oh, and asked my husband to pick up bread,
milk and toilet paper with the rest of Maryland!)

Thursday, December 16

the 15th

December 15th
Make thumbprint snowmen and bunnies with paint, and add details with marker!

Here are some of our thumbprint snowmen and snow bunny cards we made.

The boys said

my bunnies looked like cats.

I told them they were actually “cabbits:”

half cat and half rabbit.

Wednesday, December 15

the 14th

December 14th

Buy some canned goods and give to a family in need.


I want my kids to be grateful for what they have and also to be willing to do something for those who have less.

I have been on the receiving end in ways that I will forever be grateful. Whether it was helpful advice, a job offer, a hot meal during a crises or simply a helping hand, they make a difference.

If we are able, I feel strongly that we are to give back what we can.

Around the world, there are many who go to bed hungry. And there are some that go to bed hungry not very far from your home. If you do not know a family who is in need, ask a friend, a local church or get in touch with your town’s Food Bank.

Our family finds various ways to give back throughout the year. Through donations, volunteering or visiting with an elderly neighbor. One year, my oldest son and I helped out at the Maryland Food Bank. We usually did things through our church and their mission outreach but that year we decided to do something additional. I can tell you that it was very rewarding and educational for both my son and for me. I really want to go back and help again.
Click here to locate a Food Bank near you!

If you want an easier way to help fight world hunger, here is a link called freerice. This is a fun way to test your knowledge and give grains of rice to those in need. For every question you answer correctly, 10 grains of rice are donated. Check it out when you need a break from baking, cleaning or wrapping presents!
It is fun!

It is the little things that count.
They add up over time.
The seeds of kindness that are sown today grow and multiply.

Monday, December 13

the 13th

December 13th

Sing Christmas songs together as a family and drink some eggnog!

I made Chocolate Cherry Biscotti tonight!
It was the first time I ever made biscotti.
I was very impressed! It was much easier than I thought it was going to be. I also used the rest of the cranberries I froze from the oatmeal cookies instead of using cherries.

Here is the recipe!


The elf is back.

He looked like a mini-version of Johnny Cash all day. He wore his black, buttoned-down, ‘Zorro’ shirt and his brother’s black dress pants today.

I expected him to break out in “Ring of Fire” any moment.

Sunday, December 12

the 12th

December 12th

Take a family photo together for our Christmas cards!

Yup, this is late! But some things are better late then never!

Here is a sneak peak of what took place while I was setting up our little photo shoot.


All of us were waiting for the next family member to drop ill from the youngest elf’s sickness.

Knock on wood,

so far so good!

the 11th

December 11th

Take a bubble bath by candlelight!

The boys love this!
We fill up the bath tub full of bubbles, (safely) light some candles and turn off the lights. My husband likes to throw some glow sticks in for extra fun. The boys giggle, laugh and pretend they are snorkeling in a deep, dark cave full of stalactites and mysterious creatures.


Our littlest elf fell ill.
I thought it would be best not to bake when sickness is lurking.
He has a little stomach flu.
Poor little elf.
My middle son made a get well card and a white feathered bird for him.


We did manage to cut out and hang some pretty snowflakes.

Check out what Peter Callesen can do with paper.


Saturday, December 11

the 10th

December 10th

Make paper snowflakes and hang them around the house!
(one of my favorite things to do)

I love paper. I really love paper. I like buying paper, organizing paper, selecting the perfect paper for a project, feeling paper, making paper, cutting paper, sewing paper and challenging myself to the next level of what I can do with paper.

I have to thank my mother and father for being incredibly creative parents. All five of their children are very creative in their own ways.
At age five, my parents could do anything, everything and more!

They amazed me.

I would sit and watch my mother draw, sew, paint or bake
and wonder if she was born perfect.
She used to joke she could make anything out of a brown, paper, grocery bag. I believe I have seen her use a brown, paper, grocery bag about fifty different ways in my life time.
This is true!

My father is a good mix of Charles Ingalls and MacGyver. My father can pretty much design and make anything with wood. And in a pinch he can use anything in a room to fix pretty much anything. It’s true. I have seen it myself. I have witnessed him use a wire hanger about fifty different ways in my life time.

I think what attributed most to our creativity
was the fact that

they did
things with us
and spent time
teaching us how
to do things.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

I love you!

Friday, December 10

the 9th

December 9th

Go to the Annual Christmas Tea!

Busy week:
(insert home school on week days)

Sunday: Church, prepare for home school review, make birthday cards, 2 Birthday Parties
Monday: home school review, Mom babysit and stay for lunch : ),
made happy paper chain
Tuesday: ran errands, pick up craft supplies, made cranberry oatmeal cookies
Wednesday: hubby off work, was paid to do a Research Group, more errands, craft prep work
Thursday: Christmas Tea, in charge of crafts for 70 women at Tea, oldest sons’ college guitar ensemble
Friday: Visit train garden and lunch with friend and her kids

No little elves made the Snickerdoodles yet, but I hear they might tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 8

the 8th

December 8th

Make Snickerdoodles and save some for relatives!


Here are the cranberry oatmeal cookies.

I wish you could have one!

They taste so good!

When baking with children, I try to make it easy on myself and make recipes that are simple, tasty and tested. I do not have the time or money to race around and find eleven rare ingredients and spend hours laboring over a cookie. The goal in baking with children is for them to learn how to follow directions, instill patience, develop language and simple math skills, spend quality time together, learn responsibility and gain a sense of accomplishment.

If you are stressing about reading a long, detailed recipe, end up snapping at the children and eventually send them out of the kitchen so you can finish, you have lost a learning opportunity. Save the complicated recipes for when the kids get a bit older and you both have developed more patience and you care less about what the kitchen looks like.

It will most likely get messy and your children will too.

Just relax and have fun.

We listened to 'The Sound of Music’ sound track and sang away while we baked!


So, that being said, I literally, lifted the lid off of a Quaker Oats (Old Fashioned) container and followed their recipe on the back of the lid. I did decide to substituted cranberries for the raisins. The kids did great and the cookies turned out delicious!

My husband raved over the cookies.
After he ate five of them, I had to hide them so I could actually give some to the neighbors!

Even the Nutcracker tried to get one!

Tuesday, December 7

the 7th

December 7th

Bake cranberry oatmeal cookies and share with neighbors!

If you are looking for some great holiday recipes that are scrumptious check here!


"We interrupt this program for an important announcement!"
I forgot to mention where I got the envelope idea from!
About two years ago, I saw the envelope idea on the blog
I loved it!
It was simple and creative and Andrea provided a template too!

Thank you Andrea, for the inspiration!

Monday, December 6

the 6th

December 6th

Have the family make a colorful paper chain!

Sunday, December 5

the 5th

December 5th

Collect some toys and clothes of your own and give to someone in need!

I come from a family of “collectors” and have the habit of “collecting” more than I need. I am trying the less is more approach. It is hard to change habits after they are set but it can be done.

***_ b a b y_-s t e p s_ ***

If you are a “collector” and have more than you need, would like to get rid of some stuff (or alot) and would like advice or helpful hints, The-Organizer-Lady is a great place to start or restart.

Saturday, December 4

the 4th

December 4th

Make and hang edible gifts for the birds

…and squirrels!

We are delighted to have a variety of birds visit our backyard throughout the winter. So far we have seen cardinals, chickadees, blue jays, variety of woodpeckers, hawks, finches, sparrows and morning doves!


I took the boys to hear /see The Nutcracker at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra this morning!
My youngest fell madly in love with the Sugar Plum Fairies!
Oh, my!