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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Woodland Party

The first snow of the season happened on November 20th  and not just a few flakes to tease the children.  It came on the heels of a most amazingly mild, blue-skied, 61 degree late-November anomaly, in which I very smartly (if I do say so myself) hung Christmas lights outside before the cold hit.  The sun went down and the air turned downright chilly.  By morning, we all awoke to a winter wonderland.  The first snow was the very best kind of 'first snow'; the kind that turns the world all snow-globey and covers the ground and trees and barns and roads with inches and inches of beautiful flakes.  It was (and still is) perfect snow for snowmen.  And sledding.  And catching on tongues.  And admiring.

It might be winter outside our door- but just a few days ago it was 60 degrees so these photos might look outdated but they aren't THAT far gone.  (Unlike the non-existent birthday posts I've been meaning to post since April.)  

A few weeks ago we hosted a Woodland Party.  It was on-again, off-again for several weeks and spit and sputtered into reality, making it feel spur-of-the-moment when it had been in the back of my head since summer, when I had originally hoped to have it.  But summer slipped by, covered in slimy tomato seeds and I knew if I put it off any further it wouldn't happen at all.

We don't have 'birthday parties' for the children but the goal has been to have themed parties every now and again instead.  It's been far too long since the last one!  (In my defense, we did move into a fixer upper!)

The object was to get some local homeschooling families together to get to know one another better and to give my children an opportunity to turn acquaintances into friends as only time together will do.  The guest list was topped off at 54, though there were several other families we had wished we could have invited as well.  One must eventually stop the invites, right?  Only six families represented that guest list.  Awesomely fruitful families, am I right?!?!  ;-)

Three important decisions at the outset: First, it had to be a costume party.  (They are the very best kind of party, after all.)  Second, the party would have to be inexpensive to host and third (and most importantly), it would be one which would not be stress inducing.  ( I am prone to making hostessing such a big deal that I wind up stressing instead of enjoying. This is something I have been working on.)  I am happy to report, it succeeded at both points.  

Having a party after Halloween meant I got to score Halloween clearance at 75% off to be used for the party.  Popcorn balls for pennies and my childrens' Halloween candy for prizes.  Pumpkins to decorate the porch (after the few measly pumpkins we grew rotted) for .50 or $1.00 each.  Dozens and dozens of Glo-sticks bought for about $3.00 in total.  Very handy, indeed.

The Decorations~

We used scrap fabrics from my stash (anything woodsy I could find) and curtains from the boys' room to decorate tables.  Matt cut wood slices for me from some logs we had lying around and Andrew let me use his abundant supply of antlers and deer skulls.  I raided the toybox for all our woodlandy plastic animals and raided the woods for moss, bark and fungus to decorate with.  

The Games~ 

We had a relay race of children making a birch wood tower from some blocks we had made.  I wished we had been videoing that race- it was hilarious.  Get a bunch of people from four years old to adults racing each other- and it is just awesome.  

We had an antler ring toss made with Andrews' deer skulls.  (He has found them all in our woods!)

There was also a Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Buck game, courtesy of Corynn and her artistry.

Several other games were planned (donuts-on-a-string eating contest, anyone?) but never happened just because children were off having their own fun.

The Costumes

One week after Halloween, I warned the children I would NOT be putting lots of effort into woodland costumes.  Andrew wanted to be Daniel Boone again anyway (Blessed boy!).   Judah already had a woodsmans' beard (until the morning of the party when he couldn't find it and I had to quick stitch up a replacement before church).   I raided Ineke's clothing drawers and stitched a few felt elf ears to pin to the hat I knit for her a couple months ago.  Adele' grabbed a fall-ish dress from the dress-up bin and I made her a butterfly crown.   Corynn wanted to be an owl- she made and painted her own mask and I made some felt wings for her which incidentally, was the very thing her best friend came as, unbeknownst to either of them.  I was a fox for the evening- and the very same thing that my closest friend dressed up as, again- unbeknownst to either of us!  Like mother(s), like daughter(s).  ;-)  

These owls lost their wings!

There were so many amazing costumes, my one great lament is not getting good photos of everyone in their duds.   Everyone looked SO great!

The Trail Mix Bar (to fuel further adventures...)

Remember this fabric?  You'll be seeing it again soon!

Because there were so many children in attendance, I thought a Trail-mix Bar (to fuel the next adventure) would be cheaper than getting (or making) individual favors for everyone.  It turned out to be the biggest expense of the party, but pretty darn fun though.  We all had fun decorating a roll of paper for a tablecloth and the trail mix food was all 'themed'. There was:

Teddy Bears (to eat before they EAT YOU): Teddy Grahams
Bear Poop: Whoppers
Deer Droppings: Raisinets
Nutkin's Winter Stash: Peanuts
Elvin Tobacco: Craisins
Pixie Pillows: Marshmellows
Twigs: Pretzels
Chipmunk Chips: Golden Graham cereal
Candy Corn: well, because they were also discounted after Halloween.  And because, I have a major weakness for them.

The Stress(lessness)

Instead of offering loads of delicious and varied foodstuffs, I told myself I would limit the vittles to soup and bread for dinner.  A big vat of chili and a big vat of potato corn chowder and loads of bread, to be sure, but making LOTS of one or two things is far easier than making a little bit of many different things.  I invited anyone coming to bring a dessert and I made one single solitary snack (the cheeseball pumpkin).  I offered water, cocoa and warm apple cider (that I canned last year).  It was surprising how much food I had leftover, too.  I was able to pass on leftovers to four different families (and have the night off of cooking the next day for ourselves, too!)

 I didn't go nuts cleaning the house: It being an outdoor party and all, I just tidied things up a bit, vacuumed the rugs and made sure the bathroom was clean.  I didn't dust.  I didn't de-cobweb.  I didn't clean off the top of the refrigerator (a dumping spot of ours).  In truth, I didn't even think about it because I was too busy with other things. After the party I discovered to my horror the ridiculous amount of cobwebs in every nook and cranny of the downstairs, the picture leaning against the wall in the corner that I had planned on hanging and the dust coating the piano.  People wound up in the living room, visiting, nursing or just warming their bones but- if they noticed the dust and cobwebs they didn't care.  That's what friends are for.  ;-)

Because hosting takes so much time, I didn't get many pictures during party or of the most important things...the people there... (most of these were taken the next day as I was cleaning up) which was a shame because, well, I just love these people. They are MY PEOPLE.  

 It was such fun- the children enjoyed themselves so much- which was the whole point.  I am so glad that we were able to squeeze that little shin-dig before the weather turned cold.  

And now the snow can come- we are warm and toasty with the recollections of time spent with good friends.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Broken Babies and Little Mercies


It has been soooooome week.

Somehow, despite the fact that I was able to get four children through babyhood relatively unscathed- including my bull-in-a-china-closet boy Judah (by some miracle!), the fifth time has to be the 'charm'.   Ineke had a more than minor setback this week when she fell off a couple of stairs onto concrete.  I am not sure if she hit her mouth on the stairs or on the concrete but the place she made contact during the fall was her two little bitty baby bottom teeth.  The fall resulted in a very bloody baby (I'm telling you- it was gruesome!) and a very frantic mother when I put my finger in her mouth to find the 'cut' and discovered both of her baby teeth and gums startlingly move forward with my finger.  Turns out, she fractured the part of her lower jaw that connects with the teeth.   She is on a pureed food diet for the next two weeks as we wait to see if the bone heals and forms back together on its' own or if further measures need to be taken.  I won't go into the 'further measures' or the possible problems she may face down the road.  I'll not borrow worry.  We'll know more in two weeks.  And that is where I leave it.  In the meantime, I've been given strict orders not to let hard things go near her mouth (she is not even allowed things like cheerios) and warned that any repeat trauma (read: mouth bonking) could ruin any healing that may be able to happen.  Well, you tell my teething, toddling 11 month old not to put hard toys near her mouth, her fingers IN her mouth or that she can't push her little teeth forward with her tongue, playing with the flap of teeth that are not supposed to move.  And as she toddled around (yes, she's taken her first steps and is making her way-quite precariously-across rooms now), you try and see how easy it is to keep her from getting 'bonked'.  The girl needs to be wrapped up in a ball of bubblewrap to fulfill that tall order.  It's been interesting.  It will continue to BE interesting.  I pray that her jaw/teeth are able to heal without any permanent damage.  (Please, Lord!)  She is in good spirits though- the pain doesn't seem to bother her as much as the fact she can't eat a few crackers now and again.

That night was topped off with a flat as a pancake tire on my van but praise God, the air started gushing as we pulled back in the driveway and not out on the highway in the dark.  There are always silver linings and that one was no small thing.

The very next day, I learned that a friend of mine is going through a situation even worse as her two-year old son was involved in a farm accident and had to have two of his little fingers amputated.  Poor soul!  Poor, hurting babies.  Life is fragile, isn't it?  Bodies are fragile.  We forget because we use them so hard and they so often take the beating without much ado.  But then, in a moment, we realize just how finite, just how small, just how dependent we are upon every single second of mercy God gives.  The little pearly teeth planted firmly in your mouth is a mercy!  Those ten fingers on my hand as I type are a mercy.  A mercy times every minute of every day that I have been living that I wasn't even thankful for until I realized that it didn't need to be so.  And the accidents were mercies too.  Baby Ineke and Baby Tye could have been broken so much more deeply- so much more tragically.

Life is a mercy.  Every single minute of it.

I'm  sorry it took two broken babies to remind me of that fact.