What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Friday, December 12, 2014

You don't know what you've got

There are these infuriating moments in everyones' life that seem as though if everything could go wrong it would- and all at once too.  Usually, if all goes as it should, at the end of things the person is made stronger for it.  Or so I have been telling myself.  

That has been my month of November- December.

It has been nothing earth shattering or life altering...just many things all going wrong at once.

My dryer has not been able to work since spring- which was of little consequence in the summer but now requires curtain rods to be set up between chairs in the school room to hold the gazillion socks that get wet and replaced after snow playing each day and undies hanging all in a row on the curtain rods above windows in the laundry room and clothes hanging from every spare nail down cellar, requiring you to stealthily slump and spin between them to add wood to the woodstove every few hours.
The pile of eggs we use at breakfast time- it's ridiculous.
Our van started acting crazy so I took it to a local guy who told me that it won't pass next inspection (in a few months) without first socking a tidy sum into it (and it is at 150,000 miles and so...a conundrum) so a different vehicle must be in our near future.

Then about a month and a half ago, my oven stopped working entirely.  It miraculously revived just long enough on Adele's birthday to bake a cake for her and then it went back to its silent, black, gasless coma.   A birthday miracle, of sorts.

For several weeks now our computer has been whacked out and shuts down/freezes up very often when I get on it.  It works when I finally get Matt to check it out and then it throws a little fit as soon as he heads off to work.  Thus, no computer for me either.  (Hence, the lack of blogging.)

And then, two days ago the dishwasher quit working too.  It was at this point that my eyes began to glaze over and my neck began to twitch.

All of these things still sit, unrepaired, because the extra money that we have had access to was put toward something different.  (Before, of course, we knew that it would come in handy again...and again...and again.)  This 'something different' is something I would have shared with you by now (because it is very exciting!) had my computer not been being so mean to me.  I will, though, and soon!  (Because it is very exciting!)

Being out of all these conveniences all at once is pretty overwhelming!

When I find myself inwardly grumbling at the unjustice of it all (grin) I realize just how spoiled I really am and have always been.  Dryers are a CONVENIENCE item.  A dishwasher is a CONVENIENCE.  A computer is a CONVENIENCE.  Even an oven makes things easier but isn't necessary for life.  I am not saying that they aren't huge conveniences and that I would ever want to live without them- but once upon a time people did and not only did they survive, they thrived.   Even today- there are millions of people who are somehow living without a computer.  (Can you believe it?)   They are not pivotal for our existence...they don't sustain us in some way.  They make life easier.

And so, even though I live like the wealthiest of all peoples just in the owning of these conveniences, I can fully attest to taking them AND my circumstances in life for granted.  I fully admit I have felt poor and,when I think of all our repairs and upcoming bills- FEEL poor even now.  This coming from the girl who has never lived out of her car, sacrificed her own dinner to feed her children, gone without shoes or slept without blankets or wondered where the next meal would be.

How dare I complain about what I don't have!?

Sometimes, when life gets a little bit too easy (or we forget to see just how easy it really is) maybe it is a good thing to have a reminder, every now and again, that a dryer is a gift from God that makes things easy.  Not just something that sits in the laundry room drying things.  My dishwasher is a gift from God and a huge help to me when I have just made a big meal at the end of the day and the last thing I want to do is clean up all the dishes covering every surface of the kitchen.  I remember that now.  The capabilities to put something raw into an oven and turn out something delicious and warm is an AMAZING feat that shouldn't be taken for granted.  It's amazing, people!


We have so much.  So much.

back when the oven still worked...
Another wonderful realization occurred to me the other day while contemplating all this.  Matt has been very positive and cheerful about it all!  Now, you must know that I am the eternal optimist in this family and Matt is the eternal pessimist. (He may say 'realist' to that point.)  But I tend to think positively and view things with rosy glasses and he tends to get discouraged more easily and focus on the negative things.  But in this case- and completely contrary to our natural tendencies, I have been the one discouraged and he has been the one encouraging me...despite the fact that it will be up to HIM to do the fixing of these things!

Isn't that just so how God works?  When Matt is discouraged, God has allowed me to encourage him.  When I am discouraged, God has enabled Matt to encourage me.   God so ably provides for every one of our needs- physical, spiritual, and emotional.

Sometimes He needs to clear away the excess and take a few things away for our needs to be met in the best way possible...and maybe it isn't the way we first thought.  But God knows just what we need- even when we don't- and He always provides.

I took the children to a show about the Wright Brothers.  It was cheap (meant for school children) and oh.so.fun.

It was for grades 4-8 but even Judah and Adele' sat nicely through the whole thing.
One amazing convenience I was able to replace recently, thanks to a friend who wanted to sell hers, was a sewing machine!  So I have been busily stitching away in the afternoons on my very convenient, very amazing, very wonderful new (to me) sewing machine!  I may not have a working....well, ANYTHING ELSE (wink)...but I have a working sewing machine now!  And boy, am I so thankful for that!  Stitches even the thickest fabrics like it were stitching through butter.  (Thank you again, Michelle!)

St. Nicholas Day
I am woefully behind on all Christmas-making and have now settled on the notion to pare down, pare down rather than stress out, stress out.  I really so enjoy making things at Christmas but it is very unwise to begin just 13 days before Christmas.  The year I did at least one gift a month all year was so...pleasant.  I may do that this coming year again.  I already have a fabulous idea for my in-laws.  When we moved into this house, Gram had a suitcase filled to the brim with strips of fabric (she loved to make log-cabin quilts) and I kept them...for someday.  It just occurred to me that making Gary a quilt from his mothers' strips of fabric would be such a wonderful, sentimental gift that I am sure would greatly touch him.  This is one of those gifts I contemplated (for a second) trying to start and finish before Christmas.  I know, insane.  But for NEXT year....totally doable.

and a chocolate letter- a van der Jagt tradition.
It's been so long since we chatted- what's new in your neck of the woods?  

How are the Christmasy things going?  

Tell me- what blessing in your life do you most take for granted?  Remind me to be thankful for that too, would you?

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


And with one fell swoop, Adele' is six.

She spent the day waiting until evening when that magical birthday time of presents and cake would come, bringing Papa home with it.

Dinner request was sausage gravy and fresh strawberries.  (I must make a pretty mean sausage gravy since it seems this is the birthday meal always requested by everyone in this family.  Either that or I have a very unimaginative family.)

I was under strict orders to replicate exactly the design she had made for her cake (this was a first for me!) and the edible version pales in comparison to her paper one.  She mentioned next year that on her birthday next year she may want to decorate her own cake her 'own self '.  WHAT?!?!? I am not sure I am entirely okay with that...

I was a wee bit stumped for gifts this year...even in their little, my children have SO MUCH.  My one inkling turned out to be a great one.  I have eyed her eyeing the snowglobes every time we would go to the store and wondered if she might like one of them for herself.  Oh my goodness... I am so glad I did.  She opened it up and gazed at it for a minute or two with this faraway look in her eyes and a smile swirling about her mouth and then said...."Oh.  I have wanted one of these for years!  Thank you thank you THANK you."   Pretty much the best reaction one could hope for.

She has always had pretty amazing reactions to kindnesses, though, and has the gift of making the giver feel incredibly happy to have done something for her in the first place.

She is a dear girl who often encourages and praises her siblings for their good works- and needs very little praise herself.  She forgives easily and loves unconditionally.  And in these six years I have loved every minute of getting to know and love this girl.

I can't wait to watch her grow into this year and  Lord willing, into many many more.

Monday, December 01, 2014

A winner!

Just a quick pop on to let you know that we have a winner for the Lilla Rose Giveaway!

Congratulations go to Courtney (courtneylane6)!!!  Email Leah for your prize!  And everyone else- thanks for playing along!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A bit of cinnamon


 The year she was born, I wrapped her loosely in pink and went straight from hospital bed to Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws house.  Some thirty people stood shocked as I came in- wondering how less than 24 hours after giving birth I was able to go 'visiting'.

It was the joy that did it.

It was warm that Thanksgiving and I distinctly remember people talking about sitting outside- just like the pilgrims.  Blessings fell down on her head that day, her first day, from all her many admirers.

This birthday, quite unlike her first, blessings fall from snowflakes instead of mouths but they cover her nonetheless.

No school on birthdays in this household!  Adele' is spending her day with her new doll from Grandma and Grandpa and counting down the minutes until Papa comes home and she gets her presents from us and gets to eat cake.  And biscuits and gravy.  And STRAWBERRIES ON THE SIDE.  (Her birthday wish.)

As for me, I am making a quadruple batch of cinnamon and vanilla bean ice cream to bring with us to the Thanksgiving festivities, among other things.  I made a batch last week and about died of goodness.  I immediately thought how amazing it would be cozied up to a piece of pumpkin pie on a dish and new it was just the thing I ought to bring.  (A good way to use up the ever present supply of jersey milk around here too!)

My fingers smell like vanilla and the kitchen smells of cinnamon while the snow blankets the earth outside our windows.

A good way to spend a birthday, methinks.

Cake decorating is next on the docket.

As for the yarn along~ I finished a vanilla version of the calm cowl a few weeks ago using the very last of the lamb hat and snowdrop neckwarmer.  I'll be sad to have that luxurious yarn all used up.  It was lovely to work with.  I didn't make it as large as the pattern suggested because I had only remnants left to work with- so it is missing some bulk...but I like it anyway.  I have a few scarves on the needles and hook this week- two men in my life (both in their 90's) need a bit of warmth from me this year and I am hoping to deliver.

I've been reading plenty of stories to children but haven't had the opportunity to read any books for myself this week.  I got a good one from the library though- that I hope to crack open soon.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a World War II historical novel recommended by a lady in my knitting group.  I love reading about that era, so I look forward to the time when I can crack that book open- whenever that time happens.

Hope you all are warm and snug today!  And a happy, happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Bit of Lovely (and a Giveaway!)

A bit of lovely to watch:

I came across Pentatonix last year around this time- with their rendition of Little Drummer Boy and rediscovered them today singing one of my most favorite Christmas songs of all time.  Boy, do they know how to make music.  I love watching the beat guy in particular.  He does things with his mouth that I didn't think were possible.  (That sounded weird.)  

WARNING: when it comes to Pentatonix, once you start listening you may find yourself searching youtube for all their songs.  Just so you know.  I have decided that maybe I *need* their new Christmas album That's Christmas To Me.  

I am getting more in the Christmas spirit by the day...that's for sure.  But before I can get into the Christmas spirit fully, I have to get into the birthday spirit. Adele' is my November baby and her birthday is the day before Thanksgiving.  Then after that, I have to get in the Thanksgiving spirit.  And then- WATCH OUT!  Nothing will be able to hold me back then.


This week is going to be a busy one.

The weather is warming up for just a few days making the last gardeny things that I never got to when the chill popped down to nearly single digits once again possible.  
Adele's birthday.
Knitting class.
Black Friday otherwise known as HURRAH!  MATT'S OFF!

Off the top of my head...a few things that have to get done this week:

  • plant garlic!  I almost missed my window!
  • cover strawberries with hay...or should I say weeds?
  • clear garden(s)...I am so unmotivated to do this.  
  • plant grapes I hope it isn't too late.
  • replant Rhodo.  We had to move my rhododendron and the "moving" for Matt meant plopping the whole rootball on top of a bunch of perennials in my flower circle.  (In all fairness- he was a wee bit busy with better things than to dig a hole and plant it.)  And there it has stayed ever since.  I didn't even notice it until last weekend- it kind of camoflaged right into the dead and spindly stalks of perennials   If it is going to survive I have to put it SOMEWHERE.  (I have no idea where.)
  • can beets (and freeze greens)
  • bake Adele' a cake. (she's drawn me the details to follow.)
  • wrap birthday presents (once I figure out what they will be.)
  • make food for Thanksgiving (though we are not hosting so that shouldn't be too big a deal won't be a big deal)
  • make a stinkin' Christmas list for goodness' sake.  (I've only been meaning to do this for over a month now.)
  • bake communion bread (so glad the oven started working again after two days of....well, NOT working.  At all)
  • Hang mountains of laundry on lines during these two days of fair weather.  (A broken dryer isn't too big a deal in the summer.  It is a far bigger deal these days.)
  • Make cheese (when is this ever NOT on my list?)
Yep- plenty to keep me busy.   But before I get DOING- I have a wee little surprise for you!

A bit of lovely to WIN!

A GIVEAWAY!  Just in time for Thanksgiving...a little thanks GIVING.  (get it?)

I have teamed up with my friend and Independent Consultant Leah Terry to give one lucky reader a Lilla Rose Flexi-Clip!  (I've told you how much I love them before.)

The winner may choose one-flexi-clip of their choice, up to a $16.00 value.  Check them out!  Such a great selection!   And before you choose, check out the special video they have to help you determine what size and style would best suit you and your hair type.

This Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

The winner will be announced on December 1st!

A little birdie tells me that the folks at Lilla Rose are planning a pretty amazing Black Friday special but the details won't go live until 3am on Black Friday...so check back and see just what goodies are in store!

If you have stocking stuffers planned or a few girls to glam for the holidays~ keep in mind that:

 If you are BRAND NEW to Lilla Rose and you order 3 items, you will get an additional item (up to $16 value) for free. Do not order the free one on your order. Leah will order that for you. You may contact her at terrytribe@gmail.com.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

winter harvest

It was 10 degrees last night.  Absolutely freezing.  And that has been pretty standard for the last week.

Before it went to single digits, I wanted to clear the garden of as many greens as I could.  I knew the plants left in the garden are cold-tolerant and hearty...but HOW cold tolerant and HOW hearty was the question.

  I brought in laundry baskets full of collards and swiss chard.  Bowls and bowls of kale.  An old enamel baby bathtub full of beets.  A vase full of Italian leaf parsley.  And I brought in the half-frozen rosemary to overwinter in the living room.

Judah, rainbow boy, helped me in between beginning his own soggy squash, flowered broccoli and half-rotten watermelon garden.  Next year when melons, squash and broccoli appear in between the cucumbers and tomatoes, I'll remember the boy who braved the cold to be with me.

In the meantime- the swiss chard, kale and collards seem unaffected by the cold.  This may not be the last harvest after all.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Visit with Opa


Adele', Judah and I were able to tag along with my mom and my sister (and a few of the children) to go and visit my Opa (grandfather) last weekend.  With winter weather fast approaching, I didn't want to miss the opportunity while I had it.

I am so glad I did!

We stopped first to visit with my Aunt Jan, who let me borrow some old photographs of my Oma and Opa when they were young to make copies of for myself.  I brought them in when we went to see Opa and, as we looked through them, I saw a glimpse or two of the old Opa.

You see, my Opa has Alzheimer's.  He does not remember me at all (and sometimes, at his best, mistakes me for my mother-his daughter) nor does he remember where he is...who he is with, that Oma has died, what he just said and so on.  The result is a vague circular discussion that seems to go round and round unless you some how stop or divert it.  He is very gentlemanly about it all, for the most part.  He says things like "You look like a nice girl."  and "I say, m'lady, why do you not visit me more often?"  He is good at chatting to a person without actually admitting that he does not remember their name or how they fit into his story.  What he does not realize is that he often says the same thing that he said just a sentence before.  Behind his eyes is an emptiness that I despise.  I remember when his eyes were full of life, of joy, of stories...of all the things that made him HIM.

When those old photographs were brought out, though, a sparkle of joy was kindled again.  He did not remember all the people in the photographs but, for a moment, he was out of that carousel of words that Alzheimer's has forced him to ride round and round.  He was there.  And those pictures- they reawakened a part of him, deep within, and he then began talking about the war!  He began to relate stories of himself hiding Jews in the Underground during the Dutch Resistance.  He spoke of a long engagement to Oma because they could not be married lest she be hurt by association if he were discovered to be helping the Jews.  He recalled living in a church organ to escape with his life from the Germans.  (All quite true stories, by the way.)

And for a moment...a beautiful moment... that was my Opa again.  His eyes were full.  His smile real. His words were memories instead of observations.  It was only a brief glimpse- only a few minutes worth- but I have longed for those minutes for a very long time.

Well worth the wait.