30 December 2007

Day 12: Christmas Day and So Forth

Well, as my family can attest, Christmas 2007 was like never before. I last posted on Christmas Eve, just before starting the traditional late-night present-wrapping. When I finally came to bed a little after midnight, I woke up Enoch, who began coughing and then started vomiting. He definitely got what was going around, and I think he got it worse than the rest of us. So he was barely coherent for most of Christmas Day, and took a few photos from the couch where he spent a good portion of the day in and out of wakefulness.

Despite not having my right-hand man to help, I managed to pull off a lovely roasted chicken dinner complete with brussel sprouts, corn, mashed potatoes, and some kind of mushroom-gravy-pan sauce. It was very helpful that the children had so many new fun things to play with to keep them pleasantly occupied.

It was a late dinner, and Enoch had begun to regain his appetite.

Is Enoch hallucinating, or is that a 35-year-old woman in a pink fuzzy bathrobe?

And, as per usual, the post-holiday depression reared its ugly head, just in time for my 35th birthday on the 27th. I woke up, and just wanted to stay in bed. I didn't feel like doing anything, but at the same time, felt like going to the beauty salon and getting a new look. But because everyone is coughing and sniffling and gagging, I stayed home and we kept it pretty low-key. I'll have to save that trip for later when I have the guts. Enoch made some wonderful chicken soup (he was and is feeling much MUCH better). After dinner I enjoyed opening a huge box full of "pear things" (pear candles, pear hand soap, pear jelly beans, pear-shaped jewelry holders, and pear "dustable" home decor items, to name a few) from Enoch's sister, and Enoch bought me a beautiful leather-bound John MacArthur study Bible. It was a delightful end to an otherwise rather unexciting day.

So now I'll just post various Christmas pictures for everyone to enjoy while I labor over my thoughts about new years resolutions.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with the ones you love, and may all your hopes for the New Year be realized!

25 December 2007

Merry Christmas

"For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

24 December 2007

Day 11: Christmas Eve

It's 9:35, the kids are finally in bed, (Enoch as well) and now it's time to wrap presents! So instead, I'm doing what I have done well ever since I was born 16 days past my due date: procrastinate! I'm not wrapping gifts or doing dishes, I'm writing on my blog, of course!

I just want to make sure I get to 12 postings by Christmas, that's all. So I'll just tell you about my rather delightful day. We had breakfast together as a family, and then Enoch and the boys went on some errands (which included stopping at a skate park next to the recycle center to ride their scooters) while I stayed home with Rosalind and finished sewing the tree skirt and matching stockings. (Sorry, no photos tonight.) I felt rather spoiled, but I'm sure the boys were feeling pretty special as well. Enoch fixed our favorite crock-pot meal (white beans with sausage), so I had no worries about dinner.

After quiet time, the boys took their scooters behind Wal-Mart for some more riding, and Rosalind and I later joined them at the Shop-Rite for a little grocery shopping. I baked a couple of pumpkin pies when we returned, and then we had our delicious meal with crusty Italian bread while the pies cooled.

After dinner, we drove to church for the 6pm Christmas eve service. Enoch was operating the sound booth on the balcony while I tried to sit with the kids in the pew. Rosalind was way too wiggly, so I had to leave the boys by themselves while I walked around with her in the back. The kids were well behaved, and enjoyed the singing and the kids choir, and thankfully it went by quickly.

When we got home, the boys wanted us to read the Christmas story to them from their Children's picture Bible. I always get frustrated reading the children's Bibles, because they leave so much out, or they make comments or put phrases in that aren't exactly true to the story. I'm a much bigger fan of just reading it straight from the Bible, and maybe stopping to discuss what we're reading. Tristan wound up the musical box that plays Silent Night. It made sweet background music for our little story, which was mercifully short, thanks to Enoch's superior reading abilities.

Finally, we ate pumpkin pie, drank egg nog, and watched The Muppets Christmas Carol (a Muppet version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol). It was unusual and delightful, and I even got a little cat-nap in there. So now, I must make Christmas pretty. Wrapping paper? Check. Scotch tape? Check. Gift tags? Ah, we'll make them. Ribbons and bows? Uh-oh. Well, maybe it won't be over-the-top pretty. At least cleanup will be a little easier.

Well, have a Merry Christmas everyone! And to all a good night!

22 December 2007

Day 10: Work in Progress

Well, a lot has been going on these past few days as school has now wrapped up for the "year" for Julien and Enoch, and we have finally begun to think about Christmas shopping. (!) Now that it's only 2 days away! (Sigh) I live two blocks from Wal-Mart. You'd think I would have no problem getting my shopping done, but no.

Besides that, I've been attempting to sew a Christmas tree skirt, which has turned into a much more involved project than it should have been. (I decided to make it reverse able with a contrasting fabric.) We've also been working on shuffling and re-arranging furniture as we recently acquired a second sleeper-sofa from the same family at church that gave us a new bunk bed set earlier this year. It seems they are doing a lot of furniture shopping, and have much to give away. We are thankful to have a second sleeper sofa to tempt even more relatives to come for a visit!

Once we get everything re-arranged and looking decent, I'll post some more photos. Maybe by late spring. (That was an attempt at a joke...)

I'm still waiting for more people to respond to my questions about doing chores. I know, I know, it's only the busiest time of the year and all! Who is thinking about chores this time of year, anyway? Right now it's more like Christmas-crisis management. You know it's only going to get messier before the real cleaning picks up after the New Year. That will get me thinking about resolutions. Hmmmm.

Any how, if you haven't yet posted a comment about chores, you can link to it here and do it now, and I'll be very excited to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

18 December 2007

Day 9: Help Me do My Chores!

Last time I posted about my favorite dish towels, which have the days of the week and a motif of a kitten doing different chores embroidered on them. Then over the weekend I got a little touch of whatever Julien had last week, and I'm finally starting to feel better. But, I was really trying to get to the point of asking this question, which is:
Do you have an overall weekly plan for doing your chores? If so, would you please share it in my comment section?
I'm always looking for new ideas (or old ones that I've never heard of or tried before) to help me improve my skills as a housewife. While reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I learned that the pioneer women used to:
Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, Churn on Thursday, Clean on Friday, Bake on Saturday, and Rest on Sunday.
I don't have my routine set quite so firmly, but I'm working on it. So far, I'm aiming to wash on Mondays, mop the kitchen on Wednesdays, clean the bathroom on Fridays, make pizza on Saturdays, and rest on Sundays. It's not quite where I want it to be, yet, and certainly is a far cry from the churning, mending, and milking that those pioneer women used to do every day!

Personally, I tend to loathe Mondays. Mainly because we rest a little too much on Sundays, and I find I have a sink full of unwashed dishes and an overall messy house to contend with on Monday morning. When we used to have to go to the laundromat, I got very used to only doing laundry one day a week, but it wasn't always on the same day every week. Now that we have our own laundry facilities, I find it's harder to keep up with it on a daily basis. Sometimes I'll wash load after load, but then take days to get around to folding it and putting it away. I'm beginning to try something different, and I'll let you know how it's working in a future post.

Please! Help me to improve! In the comments section, please answer any or all of the following questions:
  • What's your overall weekly plan for doing your chores?
  • How often do you clean the bathroom?
  • (How often do you think one should clean the bathroom?)
  • How often do you mop your kitchen floor?
  • (How often do you think one should mop the kitchen floor?)
  • What tips, tricks, or bright ideas have you found to be helpful to you in getting the jobs done?
  • What's your favorite chore?
  • What's your least favorite?
  • What cleaning supplies, tools, or appliances do you find to be most useful or helpful?
  • What Scripture verses, slogans, songs, or ideas have you found to be most encouraging in being diligent and getting those chores done?

Your comments are greatly appreciated! I would prefer you comment here on my blog so that other readers may benefit from your input, but if you prefer to e-mail me directly, you can do so at merrilee.stevenson@gmail.com. I hope to get lots of good ideas! Thank you in advance for your help.

14 December 2007

Day 8: White Kitchen Towels

**Correction: For those of you who read this post earlier, I mistakenly said that the towels had come from Enoch's maternal grandmother, Great Grandma Chace, (who has often sent us homemade gifts through the years). Thanks to a head's up from Mom Stevenson, I learned that they actually came from Enoch's paternal grandmother, Great Grandma Stevenson. Keeping in mind that Great Grandma is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, it somehow makes me appreciate these towels just a little bit more.

When Enoch and I were first married, his paternal grandmother gave us a set of white flour sack towels; each one was hand-embellished with the days of the week, and a motif of a kitten doing the daily chores. I kept them tucked away for many years, supposing I would never use white kitchen towels, and thinking they were too special to actually use.

But when we moved into our new home, I discovered them in storage, and noticed they had begun to look a little yellowish. I decided I might as well use them and enjoy them, since they didn't look like they would improve with age. And now they are my favorite towels! Not only that, but I added to my collection of white kitchen towels: I now have white bar towels for countertops, white and blue striped dish towels for dish washing, white hand towels stacked by the microwave to replace paper towels. I even bought more flour sack towels from Target, but they aren't nearly as good in quality as the ones from Great Grandma Stevenson.

What I love about those towels is that they're large enough to wear as an apron, simply by folding them in half diagonally and tying around my waist. But I usually wear a full-covering apron, and hang one of those towels on my side for drying my hands or wiping out a mixing bowl, or drying off clean dishes. They are thin enough that during my down times throughout the day, I can hang them up to dry and they dry easily to be re-used. They are also great for spreading on a counter-top and using as a place to set clean dishes to air-dry.

I will confess, on occasion, they have been used for more messy clean-up jobs. Once my husband used one to clean up purple grape juice, and I was sad in my heart because I thought that the Wednesday towel would forever look different from all the others. How wrong I was! These towels are no longer yellow; they always come out looking white and beautiful, even if they have had food stains on them a couple of days.

I now prefer white kitchen towels, and any time Enoch needs a rag for a messy clean-up job, I hand him the few remaining colorful ones I have left in my drawer, knowing that someday I'll probably replace them with more white ones.

Wednesday still looks white as ever!

And, yes, (in case you're wondering) when I wash and fold them, they do get stacked in the correct daily order. It's always a delight to pull out the day's towel and hang it on my apron as I begin my day's work.

13 December 2007

Day 7: Elf Yourself!

Okay, this is just silly and slightly immature, but we had fun doing this, and I'm just going to blame it on my big sister who made me do it. Click on the link(s) below to see my favorite elves of the season:


I'll hopefully have a more meaningful post up sometime soon. In the meantime, Julien is home from school (so far not puking, thankfully), and the house needs my undivided attention (does that really even exist? I doubt it!). I hope you are having a day filled with laughter and good will.

***Okay, if you liked that one, here's another one, just because the first was so much fun:


12 December 2007

Day 6: Oodles of Fun!

I was going to post something else today, but maybe tonight I'll be able to finish it up. Instead, I'm playing nurse to Julien, who was sent home from school today because he vomited. We thought he was feeling better, but he chucked again at home. We later tried to walk to the mailbox at the corner of the block and then to the produce store, but turned back when he threw up a third time. Pray that we don't all end up with our own personal garbage cans at our bedsides. I'll spare posting any photos.

10 December 2007

Day 5: O Christmas Tree!

We finally got our tree up this weekend.

Each year, I say, "Next year we'll put up the tree Thanksgiving weekend," but each year it ends up being the first or second weekend in December. Oh well. Enoch keeps thinking it would be fun to get it and decorate it on Christmas Eve, but I always enjoy having the tree around to help put me in the holiday mood well before Christmas.

A couple of years ago, we purchased some plastic Christmas balls from IKEA, and I must say they were a wise investment. Even Enoch has come around to appreciating them, though I don't think he was real fond of the color blue! They are great for this time of our lives, when the kids are small but incredibly enthusiastic about decorating the tree. They are shiny and frosted-looking, but they bounce when they are dropped, and they don't break easily.

Here's a few photos of our Christmas tree decorating. Rosalind had already gone to bed, so I tried to capture a few shots of her first moments with the tree the next morning. She's also enjoying the string of jingle bells hanging from the closet door.

For those of you who know how to take great digital photos, I can use your advice. I like how most of my photos look in natural light, but end up getting lots of blurry shots because my subjects either won't be still, or I can't keep my hands still when pushing the button. So I have to either tolerate the flash, or tolerate the blur. It's hard to decide, but I still usually prefer the natural light over the flash.

07 December 2007

Day 4: Baby Steps

Last night while I was getting dinner ready, I took a few snapshots of my kitchen helpers. The boys peeled potatoes while Rosalind threw the peels like confetti and began hiding them in the clean bowls in my cupboard.

Once they had finished their job, I sent them off to play, and a short while later, Rosalind came walking into the kitchen without holding onto the wall! We were so excited, and we jumped up and down, and only two minutes later, Enoch came home from work. But sure enough, she showed her Dad that she could walk without holding on, and we all cheered for her. Of course, I forgot to snap a picture last night, but tried to get a couple this morning that I could use as "proof."

Look out world! Another Stevenson child is claiming independence!

06 December 2007

Day 3: Pictures

Seventeen inch snow storm, President's Day weekend, 2003

(Heavy Sigh)

Okay, I don't have any current snow pictures. We really only got an inch or two of snow; just enough that Enoch needed a little push to get the van out of the driveway this morning. Just enough that we got all the way to school before I realized we'd forgotten Julien's backpack. You know, just enough to throw your normal routine off. And, in my defense, it is too cold to be outside for very long to take pictures. I think it's only going up to 37 degrees today, not including the wind chill factor. And, one of my biggest complaints about winter in Philadelphia, it's sunny and clear! (I always think if it's going to be that cold, it should at least be overcast, and precipitating.)

So I was planning to post some Christmas pictures from last year, and talk about how they're so late that they are early, and for some reason, they have vanished from my photo library! I'll need to get Enoch to help me look a little further, but I am truly disappointed! So I guess I'll post a handful of other (even older) winter photos, but of course, key people (like Tristan and Rosalind) will be noticeably absent from them!

winter in Drexel Hill with our snowman, Ned

Julien's first Christmas tree

Please, God, let Mommy say I can go outside to play.

Better late than never? Something is better than nothing! I hope you agree!

05 December 2007

Day 2: Snow!

I love it. I was taking a little power nap this morning (due to low caffeine levels). I woke up, and saw a few white flakes falling outside the back window! We're expecting anywhere from one to three inches, thanks to Alberta, Canada. So it's a small bit to start, but I'll gladly take it. Since it's now only 11am here, and it literally just started, I don't have any pictures of it, yet. But stay posted. Perhaps I'll be able to take a few once things start to look wintery. I heard on the news today that we've had snow fall on December 5th every year for--a long time. So I like December 5th. Even though it's technically still fall, I hope you're getting all the snow you wish for this winter.

01 December 2007

Day 1: Good deeds

1 John 3:16-20

I've been reading the book of 1 John nearly every day for the past month or so, and recently as I was reading, this particular passage stood out to me, and I felt compelled to write about it. I guess it stood out to me because this is the time of year when many people are generously giving to charity as well as giving gifts to loved ones.

Usually about this time of year I'm thinking about what I would give to people if only I had the money, and then I think about what I could possibly make that would be generous as well as affordable... And the more I think about it, the more discouraged I can get!

We have been blessed year after year by family and friends who have given generously to us at Christmas as well as throughout the year. If it weren't for them, Christmas would certainly be a lot more sparse at our house, that's for sure! Not that there's anything wrong with sparse; We try to live by the "less is more" philosophy, and remind ourselves to be content in whatever state we are in (Philippians 4:11-13). At the same time, I've been convicted time and again about my own laziness when it comes to showing thanks and gratitude to those who have been so generous.

That's what stood out to me in the 1 John passage, as it spoke of our heart condemning us. As I re-read verse 18: "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth," my heart was convicted. I've had people tell me I'm pretty good with words. Those times when I do sit down to write a thank-you note or a note of encouragement, the words come easily, and I find myself pleased with the outcome. I actually get a good feeling from doing it. But usually I let time pass, I keep carrying around the intention to do it, but before I realize it, February is here and already Valentines Day and Julien's birthday packages are arriving!

This passage is really talking more about not "giving lip service" but instead doing things that come from an honest and sincere heart. Although this passage is saying not to love with word or with tongue, I think that the "deed" and the "truth" that I need to love with is exactly that: the deed of using my words to express the true appreciation I have for those who love us so much. I need to be willing to lay down my life so that I can love in the way that the Lord lays on my heart. What exactly that will look like, I don't know, yet. But that's what is on my heart today.

I hope this passage makes you pause and think about the things that you are doing this holiday season (and throughout the year). I hope you find the deeds and truth in which you are to love others this Chirstmas.

30 November 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas

"On the first day of Christmas, My True Love gave to me..."

I did something in October that I've never done before: I posted twelve times in one month! So I was thinking it would be fun to challenge myself to post at least twelve times in the month of December, and call it the Twelve Days of Christmas. Of course, I could always post more than that, but let's just take it one "day" at a time, and see how it goes.

I was writing an entry today (November 30th) that I liked so much I wanted to save it for December, to be the first of my twelve days, and I was thinking about that idea, "my True Love gave to me." Since I am a Christian, Jesus Christ IS my True Love, so I hope to be writing entries that, in essence, are reflective of what He has given to me.

I hope that life doesn't get so busy for you that you are unable to reflect on all that God is teaching you and doing in your life. If you care to participate in your own "Twelve Days of Christmas" challenge, please leave your name and website or blog link in my comments section, so I can read and encourage you as well! Or, if you don't have a blog of your own, leave your thoughts here in my comments sections--and I'll be thrilled to have at least twelve comments in one month! Stay posted! It will be a Christmas miracle!

I Should Write A Poem

I could use your help.

It seems that my ability to express my creative ideas is coming in direct conflict with my responsibilities as a wife and mother. What I mean by that is that the amount of time and energy and...TIME that it takes for me to write sometimes takes away from the time I should be spending being a "worker at home" (Titus 2:3-5). (Sigh.)

I'll try to explain what I mean. This time of year (autumn) is my favorite. I love the cooler air and clear skies. I enjoy watching the leaves change colors from day to day. This is the best time of year to go hiking and enjoy the beauty of God's creation all around. And I got to thinking about the fact that every leaf on the tree is like a snowflake: no two are exactly alike. At least I think so. I'm not certain about that little fact. But of this I am sure: the leaf falls from the tree only once. I think about that when I look at a leaf floating down and swirling in the gentle breeze. I was able to witness the one and only time that particular leaf made it's final graceful decent from the tree to the ground. And I can say thank you to God for allowing me to witness that once-in-a-lifetime moment, which I used to take for granted.

I know there's a poem in there somewhere, but I've got laundry and dishes and dinner and--the list goes on--and I don't have the time to dedicate to working it out into a poem. But maybe YOU can! Please feel free to post YOUR poem in the comment section of this post. I'd be honored to read it!

25 November 2007

Happy Anniversary

Mom and Dad: Happy 40th Anniversary!

I'm A Turkey

I could come up with all kinds of excuses as to why I haven't posted for so long. But let's just say I'm a Turkey and leave it at that. (The reason I'm able to post right now is because I'm home from church with a sick baby, who is napping at the moment.)

So much has happened in the month of November, and I didn't even post pictures from October when my parents were here! So here's a collage of photos, just to get them up here and get on with my life as a blogger.

Grandpa reading Curious George to the curious onlookers.

Grandma oversees the cupcake decorating. (I don't know how we ever survived doing stuff like this when we were little--I have very little patience for these messy activities. Thanks, Mom, for having so much patience and for not killing your children!)

Rosalind likes to squint and offer a cheezy smile when the camera starts to flash. Because she got so much attention from doing it, the boys wanted to be cheezy, too.

We celebrated two birthdays in October; first Rosalind's, and then Mom's.

Happy Birthday Girls!

After Grandma and Grandpa's visit, we had a lot of work to get caught up on. (Remember my post about the desk?) Not only did I have stacks of laundry and general cleaning to do,

but we also had to harvest the last of the carrots and get the tulip bulbs into the ground before frost.

We made it just in time. I'm looking forward to seeing the results in April.