Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

fun and games


template by the great Jessica Sprague and supplies from Crystal Wilkerson

A few Christmas' ago, Stumblebum was introduced to the Groves Family Christmas. Lisa brought it, and I remember the game made for the best pictures. We played again this year, and clearly the picture taking opportunities did not disappoint.

The game is easy. It is your basic game of charades, but before you act out your list of words, you roll two dice. On each die there are different things you have to do while acting out your card such as fingers crossed, hand over eyes, hand on head, eyes closed, hum a song, on one leg etc...

I recommend this game for families that need a full participation game for all ages.

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I am trying to get my christmas pictures into digital layouts right away. Digital scrapbooking is so quick, and I am beginning to utilize ready-made templates. It means that the Stumblebum layout above took me about 15 minutes to put together...not bad for getting so many pictures showcased on one page.

The template I used is up at http://www.jessicasprague.com/ as a free download. Plus, Jessica has a video tutorial of how to use the template right on that main page (just scroll down). If you have Photoshop or if you have ever wanted to get a better idea of how digital scrapbooking works, I recommend you buzz over to Jessica's website to watch the tutorial. I think you'll be glad you did.

the favorite gift I gave

digi paper and supplies from Crystal Wilkerson

For Christmas, my two-year-old niece asked for princess stuff. Now I know a tutu isn't really princess attire, but it is immediately what I thought of because princess' are pink and fluffy and so are tutu's. So I went online and found this no-sew tutorial. Super easy, and SUPER fun to make. I made Ruby's tutu and then another for my 1-year-old niece, Penny. And then I decided that since I had Sara's name for christmas, there might need to be matching mama-daughter tutu's this Christmas. When Ruby opened her gift she started yelling, "Cool Princess! Cool Princess!" Then she put her tutu on and continued, "I'm a cool princess! Look, I'm a cool princess!" She kept her tutu on for the next five hours. So did her good-sport mama. :)

the christmas road

My grandma sends a devotional email to her family almost every day. Recently she wrote about another christmas memory:

Merry Christmas, dear family. We had a little coating of snow last night. Reminds me of years ago when snow was always expected and accepted at Christmas. Dad and Ed Hybbert would plow roads thru the fields where the snow wasn't so deep in order that we could worship on Christmas at Immanuel. Think of all the fences they had to cut and then repair later.

Just picture that! New roads just for Christmas! Plowed through farm fields three miles away.

I love the community picture this paints, neighbors working together all going to a white steeple church in Southern Minnesota to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. Weather didn't stop them...they busted up fences on the way. What a glorious example they were to their children, getting them to church, raising them in the faith, believing with might that God is indeed with us.

Haste! Haste! To bring him praise!
The babe, the son of Mary.

there and back again...

I drove to Minnesota on Saturday and back to Nebraska on Sunday. 12 hours of driving for 16 hours of Minnesota fun...only 8 of which I was awake for. Was this a crazy last minute idea? Yes. What it completely worth every single minute in the car there and back? Hello. Not even a doubt.

My nice Maddie was in her high school production of Annie. She was Lily, Rooster's ditsy girlfriend and she was amazing, stunning, hysterical and perfect in this role. On Thursday my parents saw the show and my mom called me Friday morning insisting that I come home to see her in this play. Dad was able to get us tickets, and at some point on Friday, we realized that Annika and her family would be in Minnesota after their 23 hour drive from Montana so she and Mara could come too.
Mara is an Annie fan like no other. She has every word memorized and was completely star struck that night. She was so excited to get her picture taken with Sandy. And her reaction to seeing Annie after the show was similar to how most kids react when they meet Cinderella at Disney World. She was in love.

I was so glad I made the trip...although soon after I hit the road, Rory started to feel ill, and by the time I was in Minnesota he had been hit with the 12-hour violent flu. And had no one to care for him...total bummer. He's better now, but yowza. It hit him hard. Now we're just praying that I wasn't a carrier, bringing that lovely illness to Minnesota just in time for Christmas. I am praying hard.

Being with family and seeing them shine is such a joy. Jack, my nephew in middle school, mentioned that he just tried out for his spring musical, and even though it is only a "60-90 minute show, auntie Becca, I think you might like coming back for it too." Sounds like a great plan to me.

our abc's

I spent a good part of the weekend working on Our Family ABC book. My mom had this fabulous idea to use our family pictures to make an alphabet book for the grandkids for Christmas. It was super fun to put together as it meant I spent a lot of time looking through all of our family pictures. There were letters that proved to be tricky though- I didn't have much for O, X or Z, but I got creative. And thanks to shutterfly and their "each additional book 50% off" deal, it didn't break the bank either.

get your tickets!

The concert on Thursday night was really great...nicely thought through, with lots of media used during each song. If you are in Minnesota, I really, REALLY encourage you to get tickets for the show in Alexandria on the 17th or the show in the twin cities on the 18th. You will not regret it.

The concert began with a reading by Sara, wondering what it was like for Jesus to leave paradise to come to earth for the sins of man. And wondering how excited the angels must have been for that moment, when God was born in baby form, God with us. The whole concert kept this depth of the Christmas story...told anew in many ways, but always the same true story.

God's big picture

The first day of 10th grade, I walked into my 1st hour English class. There I found that a mistake had been made on my schedule and that the AP English class I had registered for was right next door to the class my schedule had me in. The teacher in this classroom was Mrs. Groves. Wanting her to know this misunderstanding, I walked up to her, explained that I was actually supposed to be in the AP class next door but because the office wouldn’t do any schedule changes until the following week, I would just be in her class for a week.

She began class by telling us of how she was currently living at her in-laws because there were bats in their house. She told us this news by acting out what bats look like when they waddle around your bedroom floor. She was freaked out by these things, and laughed hard as she explained how she and her husband tried to fight these things for a while, but finally just had to call a batman. The lesson for that first day was comparing an Elie Wiesel poem to a song by Sting, with the words written side by side on the overhead.

I was spellbound. This woman could tell a story. She loved words. She loved searching for meaning in life. She was smart, articulate and hysterical. The bell rang for first hour to be over, and she announced that we needed to be back in the room by the time the second hour bell rang. I checked my schedule. This was a block class…English and history for two periods with Mrs. Groves.

By the time the next Monday rolled around, when I could finally straighten out the whole scheduling mistake, I had decided to stay in Mrs. Groves class and drop out of AP English and AP American studies. All because of Mrs. Groves.

She told stories using her entire body, acting out scenes and using sound effects. I’ve always been a storyteller, but that year, it was like I was in English class with an emphasis on oral communication. And not just through class speeches, but by watching this teacher captivate her entire class bringing books and authors and American history to life.

That spring, my mom was diagnosed with a rare cancer, and I often would stay after school just to talk with Mrs. Groves about how I was feeling and we’d pray for my mom and for the doctors. And we’d get into long conversations about the church and how I saw God at work. We came from very different church backgrounds, but our conversation was equally passionate and excited about what God is doing through the whole body here on earth. She talked about how she was about to begin recording a few songs for a CD, and I was so excited to hear what her music would sound like.

I thought about all of this at her concert on Thursday night…how amazing our friendship is, starting the first day of 10th grade as a teacher and a student. After college Troy (Sara’s husband) asked me to join their ministry as the assistant, road manager, and babysitter. During that year I met Troy’s brother, Rory, and fell in love fast. Rory and I were married a year and a half later, making my 10th grade English and History teacher my sister-in-law.

Don’t you just wonder what God must be thinking when he watches us walk through life, knowing all, everything that happens from the beginning to the end of time? I just wonder how big God was smiling, watching me on the first day of 10th grade, explaining to Mrs. Groves that there had been some sort of mistake.

a few more thanksgiving pics

We had a lovely thanksgiving at Kyle and Lisa's. This was the first year that my family and Rory's family teamed up for one shared meal. The last five years, Rory and I have had thankgiving dinner at 1:00 and again at 5:00 with our two families. I love that I always get to see both families on every holiday and that it works out this way, but I must say it was SO GREAT to get to eat the meal this year and then not have to go anywhere. We got to just lay around and read the paper and play Mexican Train and 20 questions. My folks and my grandma came and it made for a lovely dinner and loving company all around.

I have to get the recipe for these whipped sweet potatoes with toasted marshmellows. I remember the first holiday I had these and it changed my life forever. Lisa did not disappoint...look at those golden marshmellows!!!

Classic Paul Harrington

We're still in Minnesota, soaking up every minute of family time. Last night we were flipping through the channels and my dad announced with his tv guide in hand, "this is a hallmark movie called, A Dog named Christmas. Stay tuned for the sequel 'A Cat named Easter.'"

Perfect Paul Harrington humor.

I am off this morning to The Great Cookie Swap. I can't wait!

the perfect thanksgiving plate.

Going clockwise you'll find creamed corn, my-favorite-ever-sweet-potatoes-and-marshmellow-lisa-I-love-you-fluff, my mom's amazing cranberry and apple jello, stuffing with gravy and my personal ham. I don't really care for turkey, and Kyle and Lisa are SO GOOD to always make me some special ham.

Actually, great story: one of my first Easter's in the family, Kyle pulled me aside and said, "Hey, we know you don't like ham, so we made a turkey just for you." It honestly was the most thoughtful, welcoming, we-love-you gesture. And then I had to kindly say, "Oh, shoot, I actually like ham. It's the other way around...it's the turkey I'm not so crazy about" The polite side of me thought I should just go with it, but the thinking side of me realized that if I didn't speak up in that moment I would be eating Easter turkey forever. Regardless, the lengths of making an entire extra meat for me on the holidays speaks VOLUMES of how well cared for I am in my married-into family.

The Forest Room


My cousin Jeremiah is married to Sarah, the lovely author of The Forest Room blog. I have yet to meet her, which seems crazy-strange, because I seriously feel like I know her quite well. All because of her blog. My grandma Bredberg was just out to Kentucky to visit the family out there and she posted some stunning pictures of their time together. (The picture above was taken from her blog) I just thought I'd point you in that direction, because all of her pictures and stories and lovely. And if you scroll down past the post about our grandma, you'll see a post she recently wrote about making her own cheeses. I had actually never even considered making your own cheese, but now I'm intrigued.

Again, I haven't ever met Sarah, but based on her blog, I think she is the most peaceful mother of four I have yet to meet (or have not met...) She writes about her joys and challenges in home schooling and includes magnificent photography of the learning happening in their home. When I read her blog and wish I could be in her house each day as they learn because her lessons always combine the subject at hand with some grand exploration through food, art, costumes and writing. She is one creative and imaginative teacher, and to me, there is nothing greater than to see another person's creativity and imagination embodied in their daily work. Enjoy this blog!

Sugar and Spice.


I have been baking today. I love baking. I was baking cookies. I LOVE cookies. I was baking sugar and spice cookies filled with good things like molasses, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Our house smells divine.

My sistah, Lisa, throws a cookie swap every year. It is larger than life. Last year, I realized that the date she had picked for the cookie swap we were supposed to be at Disney World. And honest-to-goodness, I changed our flight. We did Disney in a half day, because I didn't want to miss the cookie swap. When I realized this conflict, there were tears followed by a very confused husband, "so what you're trying to say is that you would rather go to Lisa's cookie thing, more than Disney World?!!" "yes, Rory, (sniff sniff) I am saying exactly that..."

My first year at the cookie swap I brought peanut butter buckeyes, sort of cheating because they are a no bake, and being that everyone must bring TWELVE DOZEN cookies, I ended up feeling badly that I didn't actually bake like everyone else. However, when year two rolled around, I again took the easy way out and made my mom's apricot-coconut balls. Another no bake. I love these babies, but they're hit or miss, depending on if others like apricot, coconut and dark chocolate. (if you like those three things though, you'll flip over these things...)

Last year I made oatmeal cranberry cookies and this year, I made these sugar-ginger deals. They smell and taste fantastic. And the best part? The dough isn't actually that delicious, so this is like the first time in my life that I made cookies and don't have a tummy ache from eating so much dough. It seriously is a perk! But the cookies, once they are baked, are my absolute favorite. A classic, Christmas cookie.

So here's the recipe. The cookie swap isn't until next Monday, so the cookies are safe in freezer bags for a week until I get them out to package them up beautifully for an event that tops Disney World. And I LOVE Disney World.

Sugar and Spice Cookies
3/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses
(beat above together)
Dry Ingredients (mix together and add to butter mixture)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat over to 350. Form into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place two inces apart on baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes for a chewy cookie. Makes four dozen. Enjoy!

Aunt Annie

I have a 10 year journal that I have been HORRIBLE at keeping up with, but I'm trying to do it again (just jot down a sentence each day of something memorable.) So I just looked through it and on November 12th I have written under 2006: "Shepherd of the Valley's 25th anniversary celebration at Eastview Highschool. Family went out for pizza after. AUNT ANNIE HAS BEEN HEALED!!! Amazing story we got to hear over pizza. Praise God!"

This is why you keep a 10 year journal. I loved remembering that moment of hearing my Aunt Annie's healing story. My Aunt Annie had chronic fatigue syndrome for over a decade. Much of the time she was unable to be out of bed for more than an hour or two at a time. And then she went to a prayer retreat to pray for missionary work all over the world. And in one of the services, she went forward for prayer and was healed. Absolutely, in that moment, healed.

I wrote an email to Annie after reading this blurb in my journal. I wrote, "Made me so happy to think of that moment of hearing you share that miracle. I remember talking to Rory at length that afternoon about how I need to pray like I believe something will happen. You know how you forget that sometimes? Like prayer is just routine, but without the belief in God's power behind it? I just did a Bible study all about not just believing in God, but absolutely believing God can do what he says he can do. Love that. I think I'll be learning this lesson my whole life long."

And then I just got this email back. Breathe deep as you read this. Aunt Annie is gentle, thoughtful and wise. You'll want to savor every word.

Thanks Becca for the reminder of that amazing time of worship and the quiet, overwhelming knowing that God was reaching out to touch me and heal me. He is such an awesome God and totally faithful to His promises and His people. Good health is a wonderful gift and blessing, best treasured by those who had lost it and now have received it back. Love and Joy, Aunt Annie

Fireflies and Songs

Well everybody, Sara's new CD came out yesterday and it is phenomenal. I know I've raved about it before, and another time after that and I know I just might sound like a broken record. But we got the pre-sale package yesterday (anyone else get this thing?!!) and watched the five music videos, listened to her audio book of the stories behind the songs and listened to the four extended play songs and there is so much good stuff to chew on. She did a remake of Jars of Clay's 'Flood' that is crazy amazing.

So, if I just can twist your arm a tinsy bit harder, I think you'll like this record. It's more acoustic and calming than anything else and I just can't get enough.

back from vacation...

Today I left these lovely ladies in Montana, and flew home to the love of my life. It's a good thing I love Rory so much, because leaving these girls was really hard. Mara pointed out many times during my four days there, "I am growing bigger because...my legs are way longer" or "because I can see out my window better in my carseat!"

I soaked up the Flathead Valley, soaked in every moment of sister time, and laughed hard with her strong, opinionated, hysterical girls. Jedd was in Minnesota for most of the time, so it really just was a good ol' girls get together. We built forts, played with glitter glue, played lots of candy land and did a 64 piece strawberry shortcake puzzle close to 64 times, watched little orphan Annie, went out for hot chocolate, played at the park, celebrated Annika's birthday a bit early with a tea party and hung out on a beautiful dock on Flathead Lake.

The good news? Only 49 days until I see these guys again at Christmas!!!



Off to Montana!!!

So, this is pretty sneaky, but the last few days were posts that I wrote on Wednesday night and post-dated. I feel so blog savvy! And this post is also being written on Wednesday night. I stocked up on blog posts because I am actually in Texas right now at a Lutheran Outdoor Ministry conference. The weather has been lovely (forecasted 73 degrees) and I'm sure I've made some good friends by now.

But today I am flying from Houston to Denver to Kalispell, Montana where I will be greeted by my sister for some quality sister time. I miss this woman so much and hate the fact that we live so far away from each other. So here's to some good laughs in the days ahead. Here's a laugh to get us started. Annika really knew how to work a perm...and a matching sweat suit...and a 10 speed.

one week and one day....

...and I will be in Montana with my SISTER!!! I cannot wait, I cannot wait, I cannot wait. I found this picture in my parents halloween stuff and am pretty sure we will resume this posture when she picks me up at the airport. We've practiced similar lifts as seen in dirty dancing when we were a bit older and I'm confident we've still got it. So look for me, Annika, leaping into your arms in EIGHT DAYS!!!

that little camera cord thingy...

(this picture was taken at the cemetary...it was a beautiful, dreary sort of day.)

I have much more to report from our weekend of family. Like how when we got to my cousin's farm on Saturday, instead of riding on the combine (the fields were too wet) we shot tomatoes off of tin cans with big shot guns. The daughter in me who was raised to hit the deck if I ever see a gun had to calm down a bit. And in the end, I really enjoyed watching tomatoes and glass bottles explode.

We were at the farm for baby Ida's baptism. I've got some pictures on my camera of all of this (updated: just added a few), but alas, I lost that precious little connector cord that dumps my camera onto my laptop. Tough to say when that will show up again. I vaguely remember seeing it in Sara and Troy's front yard by our car and thinking that I should go back and pick that up. hmmm....

All in all, these past two weekends have been precious days of family and friends and feeling so blessed to take it all in. I drove 24 hours between my two trips to Minnesota back and forth and took in some glorious fall colors and golden corn fields. The sweet reunions with family and friends, the colorful trees, a beautiful life lived fully and celebrated even in death, and the new life given at baptism all served as poignant reminders of the beauty God has given us here on this earth. I feel full, content, joyful and happy.

This picture makes me laugh. We were practicing a chin down, eyes up flattering picture pose. It just makes me laugh because we're all doing it so purposefully. ha.