Farewell, 2018 {Yearly Wrap-Up}

Hello, dears!

How was your Christmas? Mine was a little different than normal, but still wonderful. 🙂 We had 5 celebrations with different parts of the family, caroled at a nursing home, had a beautiful Christmas Eve service, were blessed with many fun gifts, and ate WAY too much good food. XD

Now, the post. Whew, where do I start? 2018 has probably been the most exciting, scary, stressful, wonderful, and all-around life-changing year for me yet. O.o I don’t think I can do it justice in one post, but I’ll try.

Today I’m going to show you guys some highlights, blog stats, popular posts from this year, goals for 2019, and more. I hope you enjoy the ride! Let’s start with some highlights from 2018, which aren’t necessarily in order.

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~ Hello, 2018 ~

It is 2018. IT IS 2018!

Surprisingly, it feels right to say that. I’m usually amazed that the next year has come so fast, and I sort of am this year as well, but it doesn’t feel as weird as usual. 2018 doesn’t seem that strange to type or write, it feels good.

But before I delve into this new year, I wanted to recap the last. So here you go! 2017 in review.

Guys this has been quite the year…

~ Highlights of 2017 ~

  • We bought a new farm.
  • I started a new Etsy shop.
  • I reached over 3,000 followers on my blog.
  • I started my last year of school!
  • I took hundreds (probably over a thousand) photos, and better learned how to use my DSLR. You can find a lot of my favorite pictures from this year here, here, and here.)
  • I made so much art.
  • I (and my friends, of course) deepened friendships both in real life and through blogging. ♄ I especially enjoyed getting to know my blogging friends better – you guys are the BEST, and I love emailing/commenting/writing to you and reading your amazing posts!
  • My siblings and I raised and sold adorable baby bunnies.
  • My family went on trips to Assateague, Chincoteague, and Amelia Island. 😀
  • I played piano for church!
  • We went camping with family.
  • We creamed 150 quarts of corn. O.o
  • We watched the solar eclipse!
  • And so many more memories. ♄

I learned a lot this year, and I feel like God grew me as well (although not in size – I think I’m about done growing now XD). More and more often I found myself stepping back from the moment and seeing the big picture and the small blessings, and realizing that almost every worry loses its urgency and importance in light of eternity.

Ahem. Anyway, before we move on to the goals/resolutions, we must have the obligatory stats, right? XD

~ 2017 Stats ~

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  • Views: 50,174
  • Visitors: 16,171
  • Likes: 10,656
  • Comments: 8,958
  • Total Posts (over all years): 456

~ Popular Posts from 2017 ~

So those are some of you guys’ favorite posts… here are some of my favorite posts. Actually these are just the posts with some of my favorite photos from 2017 in them. 😉

~ Best Photography Posts of 2017 ~

  • Summer 2017: basically summer memories + a selection of summer’s best pictures.

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  • Bunnies in Autumn: One of my very favorite photoshoots of the entire year! EEEE THEY’RE SO CUTE!

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~ Resolutions ~

And now for last year’s goals… Let’s see how I did.

  • Meet at least one more of my blogger friends. Sort of not really? I got to video chat with one of my friends, which was SO fun, and I saw pictures/videos of many others, but sadly I did not meet any in real life. :/ Oh well, there’s always next year!
  • Grow my Etsy shop. If I was talking about my clay Etsy shop… not exactly. If you’re talking about my new art Etsy shop, yes! (Since I have two sales compared to zero when I started. XD) I think this year was sort of a practice run and I’m looking forward to digging deeper into this business in the coming year.
  • Start a Bible journal and keep it going throughout the year. Check! So far I’m in 1 Samuel, and I’ve hand lettered my favorite verse from all the chapters I’ve read so far. I cannot WAIT to see all the journals when I’m done, and I’m definitely going to continue this goal into 2018.

So what is my New Year’s resolution for 2018? Well, it ties in to one of the most important things I’ve learned this year: I can’t do it.

You know on Disney movies how they’re always like, “Believe in yourself”? That’s true, to a point… but only to a point. I’m not saying self-doubt is good or you should hate yourself – not at all! That’s way too far in the other direction.

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BUT. The thing is, I’m a pretty poor thing to believe in. I’m broken and fallen and weak, and so are we all. But even though I know that, sometimes I forget, and think that I know best instead of God.

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Considering moving and selling the farm and other things that are out of my control has shown me that I just can’t do this on my own. I’m not big enough, not strong enough to change the weather or the timing of plans or… well, anything.

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But see, this is not depressing or sad for me – it’s a relief. Because even though I can’t do it, God can – and he will. Why would I want to believe in myself and my weakness, when I can believe in God and his strength? I wouldn’t. I don’t.

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So one of my “New Year’s resolutions” is to believe less in myself and more in God. I’ll have to put it into practice to even complete it, because I certainly can’t do that on my own!

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So yeah. Those are my thoughts (and some pictures) from this past year.

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I can’t wait to see what God will do next year. Eeep, it’s so exciting just thinking about it! Happy New Year’s, guys. I hope it’s the best one so far.

Bring it on, 2018. I can’t do this… but God can.

***Allison***

Christmas 2017 {Gifts + Adventures}

Heyyyy, dears! I hope you guys had a lovely Christmas – I sure did! There was so much fun, family, and food… it was wonderful. 🙂 And of course it was great fun to give and receive presents! One of the best parts about giving presents is seeing the expressions on people’s faces when they open the gift, and there were some pretty great expressions – especially the uncontrollable laughs. XD

I absolutely loved the gifts I received as well! If you gave me a gift or Christmas card… THANK YOU SO MUCH. ♄

Anyway, I decided to do a little Christmas haul post for you guys! And nope, I am by no means trying to brag by posting about my presents, and I don’t think I’ve never read a haul post that was… I just wanted to post this because I love reading Christmas haul posts, (though I despise the term “Christmas haul,” heh heh). What ’bout you?

~ Selected Gifts ~

Just a note: these gifts are in random order, not by how much I like them or anything. Pretty much by how they came up on the computer. XD AHEM. Let’s begin.

#1: Sealing Wax

This stuff is so neat! Basically you light a candle, put a piece of wax in the spoon, and hold the spoon over the flame until the wax melts, after which you pour it onto the area to be sealed. I tried it out and it worked pretty well, although there were a few bubbles and I waited too long to press the design in so it didn’t show up. It also made the spoon really black, but you can just wipe that away with a paper towel. Perhaps my sealing techniques need polishing too. HA.

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#2: Macro Lens Extension Tube Kit

EEK I’m so excited about these! When you attach them to your DSLR lens, they let you take super close up pictures, almost like a mini microscope! The lenses are stackable, meaning you can choose how many layers to attach depending on the zoom you want.

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Why do I love this picture??

Honestly I still haven’t quite got the hang of using them, but I can tell it’s going to be tons of fun once I do. 😉 Here are two test pictures I got so far, and I’m sure there will be lots more in the future! Let me know if you guys want a more in-depth review.

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Behold… my pajama pants.
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There must be some dirt on the lens or something. Tsk tsk.

#3: Stuffed Hedgehog

LOOK IT’S SO ADORABLE AND SQUISHABLE. Sweet Laura sent me this for Christmas and I love it! HOW COULD YOU NOT? ♄ It’s so soft and fuzzy and fun to hold. 🙂

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#4: The Julia Rothman Book Series

I LOVE these books. I discovered them at a friend’s house and so enjoyed the charming illustrations and fun informative writing that I decided to put them on my list! My favorite thing about these books might be how pretty they are. XD The illustrations are beautiful and whimsical, not to mention the books are like mini encyclopedias bursting with entertaining and interesting facts. They’d be great coffee table books.

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This particular boxed set is excellent, especially since it comes with 10 (I think) framable prints from the books! Here’s a selection of my favorites…

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#5: Micron Pen Set

THESE ARE AMAZING. (I say that about everything, don’t I? XD) But seriously, I am SO happy with these pens so far! They come in a large variety of tip sizes, ranging from 1.0 mm to 0.15 mm, not counting the brush pen which can be different sizes depending on how hard you press. Guys, the smallest pen (a 003) has SUCH a fine tip, it’s barely visible! Okay, maybe not that fine, but you know…

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I made these two ATCs to test out the Microns. I also used watercolors and a brush pen we’ll address shortly…

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Here’s another test page, with lots of different vines in descending order of the Micron pen sizes, and labels for future reference. Look how thin the lines go!

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#6: Black Velvet Brush

I don’t have many good quality brushes, so I was super excited to get this one! The great thing about this paintbrush is that it can hold a fair amount of paint and works for both good-sized areas (like behind the “hello”), and tiny spaces. Usually brushes don’t hold their point very well but this one really does! That’s my favorite part about it – the superfine tip. (As you can tell, I like fine-tip things because I love making and drawing tiny details.) I also used this brush in the watercolor pieces above.

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#7: Black Brush Pen (Sakura)

Brush pens are so much fun, and I use the black one I already had a lot. This one is better quality than the one I have now, plus it comes with a refill! It’s also super fun to use and the ink is very opaque. (I used this for the “hello” word and outlines on the ATC.)

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#8: Travelogue Sketchbook

A new sketchbook, EEP! I’m quite excited about this one as the pages are thicker and better quality than my current sketchbook’s, so it works better for mediums like watercolor. I used this for the vine picture, by the way, and it didn’t buckle that much – woop woop! It’s quite a bit smaller than my current sketchbook, but I like drawing small anyway, so that’s fine. 😉 I cannot wait to fill it with drawings!

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#9: Lined Notebook

This is SO pretty and classy, don’t you agree? Clara sent it to me for Christmas and I love it! Thank you so much, my friend. ♄ The padded cover is light pink with gold accents and bookmark, and the clasp is magnetic. The paper is lined, with a fun border. 🙂

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#10: Micromagnets

And last but not least, we have these super neat micromagnets! They are SO fun and addicting to play with, hee hee! Micromagnets are tiny magnet balls that you can build and mess around with to your heart’s content. 🙂 They’re super strong, but still flexible, almost like magnetic cloth or something. It’s kind of hard to explain what they’re like, but they’re amazingly weird and fun. XD Look up micromagnets and see if you can find a video maybe?

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And that’s the end of the gifts! That wasn’t all of them, but it would be way too long of a post if I included all the delicious candy and snacks and fuzzy socks too. So I’ll spare you the details. XD

~ Select Christmas Adventures ~

  • My brother got a sticky bug toy that climbs down the wall, and he, uh, threw it a little too high and it stuck. XD He got out his new fishing pole and tried to poke it down, and then Grandaddy got his enormously long bamboo pole and after much prodding and laughing, he got it. XD XD

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  • We had some rather interesting food in our several Christmas celebrations so far. For instance…
    • Tripe: pickled cow’s stomach. IT TASTES LIKE RUBBERY VINEGAR BUT WORSE.
    • Divinity: a sweet marshmallowy macaroon type thing. Yum.
    • Scrapple: basically the leftovers from butchering a pig made into a sort of meat pudding and then fried. It’s actually quite good if you don’t think about what it’s made of…
    • Hominy: corn without the hull, so it’s soft and tender. Quite yummy; tastes similar to potatoes.
    • Baklava: a Greek dessert with delicate, super flaky pastry and honey and nuts. DELICIOUS.

Have you had any of those?

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  • My brother got a drum for Christmas. -_- *covers ears*  XD He’s actually pretty good at it, it’s just REALLY LOUD. HELP.

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  • Carmen got a beta fish, and she’s still undecided about the name. Which do you think is better, Gilbert or Bobo? (Hint: PLEASE PICK GILBERT. XD)

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  • We always measure the grandchildren at my grandparents’ (on my Dad’s side) Christmas, and this year I was 5′ 10.5.” O.o I think I’m done growing now, heh heh. I hope so, because it’s almost impossible to find clothes that fit as it is. Oh dear… XD

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Annnnd that’s about it! I hope you enjoyed reading this (rather large) post as much as I enjoyed making it! 😀 Thanks once again to everyone who gave me those lovely gifts. 🙂

How was your Christmas? What was your favorite gift?

Thanks for bearing with me through all these Christmas posts, dears. I believe this is the last one, so congratulations on surviving the overload! *applause*

***Allison***

P. S. I doubt anyone will notice, but just in case, I wanted to let you know that I may post a bit irregularly over the next two months, since we’re pretty busy fixing up the new house(s) for when we move. 😉 AHH I’M SO EXCITED.

{Little Drummer} A Story + Christmas Photography

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“Come,” they told me, “a newborn King to see.”

The journey was long, but we were strong.

“Our finest gifts we bring… to lay before the King.”

Blankets and wool against the cool.

“So to honor him… when we come.”

Kneel down, creaking sounds; bow low, down we go.

My father and the other shepherds knelt beside the manger in awe, but I stood back. I had come to see a king, and here was a child wrapped in dirty rags and laid in a feeding trough. I had come to see a palace, and here was a drafty stable shed. I had come to honor him, but he didn’t even look at me. The baby’s eyes were closed and he slept silently.

But then I remembered what the angels said, and a thrill of fear pierced me again at the thought of their thundering voices and blindingly bright faces, faces that had seen God Himself and yet deigned to appear to us, the lowest of the low. Shepherds. They had said, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger,” and at the thought, they had been filled with such ecstasy that they poured out the most beautiful and terrible song I had ever heard, with a thundering, pulsing beat that made my heart ache in reply. And they were right. There you were, sleeping among the stiff rags and coarse hay.

Remembering this, I knelt – out of obedience at first. But when you opened your eyes and looked straight into mine, I knew that you were no ordinary King: you were our Messiah, our Savior, the long awaited perfect Lamb, better than any unblemished sheep we raised for the temple. For in your new-opened eyes I saw the wisdom of eternity, and a love more beautiful and terrible than the song of the angels. Love for me, a lowly shepherd boy, a little drummer.

I longed to give you a gift then, a gift worthy of such a King. But I had nothing.

Little Baby,
I am a poor boy too.
I have no gift to bring
That’s fit to give the King.

I looked down at my feet in shame and there was my drum. The only thing I possessed. It would not do much good to give it to you, but maybe… I raised my eyes humbly to your mother who was watching you with worship on her calm and tired face. I asked her if I could play for you. My father held out a hand to stop me, but your mother smiled and nodded.

The night was silent then. Silent but for the rhythms in my memory, the precious stones I had collected on our journey until I had a chance to drop them one by one onto my drum. Now I let them go.

Tha-THUM. Pa-RUM. Tha-THUM. Pa-RUM. The piece started slowly and softly, to the deep beat of my own heart. Rip, strip; rip, strip. I added the comfortable beat of sheep chewing up grass.

The song was gaining strength, but it was still hungry. I fed it more rhythms, dropped more stones: The heartbeat quickened and pounded as the angels appeared, then the tempo scattered and broke into the complicated, powerful roll of the angels’ hymn that had nearly ripped my heart out when I listened. Finally the heartbeat slowed again, accompanied by the slap of our footsteps traveling to meet you. And then everything sped up and crashed together at the moment when you looked at me and I saw a Redeemer in your eyes.

I thought I was finished, but the rhythm took hold of me and I played a song I did not know, a song I had never learned. The staccato tempo of the donkey’s feet carrying your mother here. The cries of pain as she brought joy into the world. The first breath of a new life and yet a life that had always been. The sound of a thousand thousand hearts beating in unison, aching with longing for a King, a Savior to heal up the cracks where sin seeps through. And the shivering bleat of a perfect, unblemished little lamb who held deep power inside.

The song swelled and grew as I added each new rhythm, flying upwards and outwards until it blended with the billowing, whirling wind outside. The pulses crept under my closed eyelids and traveled with a delicious tingle down my cheeks and into my mouth, where they piled so high that the corners of my lips stretched up to hold them all. Still they kept seeping in until at last they overflowed and burst out my mouth in a jumble.

The laugh bounced off the drum with the rest of the precious stones, then followed them over the side, single file, until the only stone left was the soft, deep thump of my heartbeat. At last, it too danced off the drum and the world was silent once again. I sighed, satisfied, my gift completed.

I opened my eyes and looked at you. And you smiled at me.

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Well, that was fun! Maybe not the best thing I’ve written, but something I’ve been wanting to write for a while. I know, I just posted a Christmas story… sorry ’bout that. :/ (I promise I will cut down on the writing and Christmas-themed posts and get back to normal after December. XD)

But I just love the Little Drummer Boy song. It’s such a sweet and powerful reminder that we, too, have nothing fit to give our King – and yet he laid down his life for us. Though we crown him with thorns, yet he smiles at us. The least we can do is play our life song to him in gratitude. ♄

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the little story and Christmasy pictures. 🙂 And MERRY CHRISTMAS, GUYS! I hope you have an absolutely stupendous one. ♄

***Allison***

Christmas Light Photoshoot + Traditions

MERRY ALMOST CHRISTMAS, GUYS! 😀 I thought this would be a good opportunity for the Christmas Traditions post I asked you guys about recently, as well as some photos from a little photoshoot Megan and I did a while ago. Megan already had the lights out so I thought we might as well take some pictures. 😉 The lighting was a bit difficult, but I think some of the pictures turned out pretty neat! So here’s a sampling.

Megan took all the pictures of me and I took all the ones of her. I believe the random bokeh/light pictures are mine as well.

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This is one of my favorites of the ones of me. 🙂

#1. December is practically a season of traditions for us because we have so many. At the beginning of December we start listening to Christmas music (NOT BEFORE, AHEM), and put up the Christmas decorations. Nativity scenes, snowmen candle holders, poinsettia table runners, handmade “stick” people… all sorts of things. I especially love to gently unwrap the ceramic Nativity pieces from their fragile brown paper wrappings and stand them up on top of the desk. I can see them if I look up right now.

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#2. We usually get our Christmas tree the first or second weekend in December. We always cut down a live one, and wouldn’t have it any other way. 😉 It’s a great adventure and we usually end up searching the entire tree farm before we find the perfect one. XD But I think the best part is decorating the tree – pulling out each ornament and hearing its story, and sitting back to enjoy the magical end result when we’re done.

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#3. Our grandparents take my siblings and cousins and I to their church play every year. It’s quite fun. This year they had more of a Nativity scene thingy with a choir, which was different but beautiful. And the wise men’s costumes were SO funny – the camel was attached to the suit, and had two little wise men legs sticking out the sides so it looked like they were riding the camels… Ah, it’s hard to explain, but trust me, it was super funny. The audience all laughed. XD

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#4. Most every year we decorate sugar and gingerbread cookies with our friends. I, of course, love to make mine artistic and take a long time on each one, so I’m not very helpful in getting them all decorated. XD We don’t make that many cookies compared to some people, although we still have plenty of Christmas treats at celebrations and such.

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#5. The Sunday evening before Christmas, our church always has a Lessons and Carols service where different men from church take turns reading parts of the Christmas story in between the congregation singing Christmas hymns together. And we have a little party with refreshments afterward. It’s beautiful and I can’t wait to go to it again this year. ♄

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#6. On Christmas Eve we have a fancy, delicious dinner by candlelight, and then open our Christmas pajamas for that year. 😉 We all grab some popcorn and hot chocolate and drive around looking at Christmas lights and listening to Christmas music. Sometimes we find a house that has a light show synchronized to music and other times we just drive around neighborhoods and random roads, exploring.

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#7. We’ve always had a ton of different family Christmas celebrations with different parts of our family. On Christmas morning we have a delicious special breakfast, and then open presents youngest to oldest, beside the tree. Christmas is obviously not about presents, but I do think it’s a lovely tradition, though it can easily get overdone. It’s so fun to see the expressions and smiles on your family’s faces when they open your presents and see what they picked out for you. 🙂

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#8. We always like to drive up the hill to our grandparents’ house on Christmas Day too, after we finish our own Christmas celebration. Our cousins come up the road too and we all have a wondrous time. My grandparents are so, so generous and thoughtful with their gifts and their love, and we have so much fun giving them and each other gifts too. After the floor is covered in wrapping paper, we stop for a scrumptious lunch which always includes crab legs for special. We hardly ever have seafood, plus crab is one of my favorite foods, so ’tis extra delicious. 😛 The rest of the day we try out our new gifts and relax and talk and eat leftovers.

Ahh, Christmas Day is probably my favorite (or pretty close to my favorite) day of the year. 🙂

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#9. My mom’s side of the family also has a Christmas get together which begins with a delectable feast of a brunch. Then Grandpa reads the Christmas story from his Bible and we exchange gifts. 🙂 After that we (at least the older kids and adults) play all sorts of games together for pretty much the rest of the day – it’s so much fun!

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BAHAHAHA Megan has such random ideas. XD XD XD

 

#10. We ALSO have two Christmas get-togethers with extended family. For my Great Grandma’s Christmas we, again, exchange gifts and have a delicious meal together. They’re all starting to sound rather similar, huh? But there’s always something different and special about each celebration – I guess that’s why we have so many. 😉 And lastly (well it’s first this year, but last in this post) we have an extended family get-together which in which we surprisingly do not exchange gifts (which is probably a good thing, heh heh O.o). But we DO continue the theme of amazing food with fried oysters and steamed shrimp that everyone gathers ’round and eats hot off the trays until we barely have room for the rest of the meal. I… prefer the shrimp. XD Once you take a look at the inside of a oyster, it’s a little hard not to think about it. 😛 Which do you prefer?

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Megan was frustrated with the lighter, I believe. O.o

 

Phew, so there you are. I don’t think I wrote down all of our Christmas traditions, but most of them anyway. 🙂 Traditions are great in general, but I think there’s something extra special about Christmas traditions, don’t you?

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I love this one too. ♄

 

I hope you enjoyed this post, dears, and hopefully it put you in the Christmas mood. 🙂 Which of these pictures was your favorites? The traditions? Which of YOUR Christmas traditions are your favorite?

IT’S ONLY FIVE DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS, GUYS. We can do this. *determined look* XD

***Allison***

Write Christmas: My Entry

Heyyy, guys! DID YOU KNOW IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS? Oh, you did? Well. Anyway, speaking of Christmas, I entered the “Write Christmas” writing contest (see details here), and I wanted to show you guys my submission today! 🙂

First, can I just say that writing an 800-word story is REALLY hard? I mean I love writing short stories, but this was a very short short story. O.o I edited and fiddled with it and finally got it down to exactly 800 words. XD

At the same time, a small word limit was quite helpful for practicing tight, clean writing, which I loved. Okay, enough about that stuff – here’s the story! I put the prompts I used at the end so they don’t spoil anything. 😉

Christmas Coal

William heard them whispering when they thought he was asleep. He wasn’t asleep because he was cold; that was what they were whispering about. The coldest Christmas Eve anyone could remember, with no coal to guard them from the gnashing, growling, wild wind that clawed through their leaking walls.

The boy’s heart ached as his mother’s whisper turned to a sob, and he wished longingly that he had money to get them coal for Christmas. But he had nothing – until the wind swept an idea into the room. William brushed his black hair out of his face along with the cold, dark thoughts, and fell asleep smiling.

The plan recycled itself through his head the next morning when he catapulted into the snowy streets. Every night on Christmas Eve, St. Nicholas appeared in the town square to spread gifts to children gathered there. But before he did, he always asked if they had been good that year, else they would get naught from him but coal. A bag of coal, and just for being naughty!

William’s first victim was a horse and carriage. He darted in front of a strutting gray mare, shouting and waving his hands until the horse reared back in terror, nearly slamming the carriage into an iron railing. There, he thought grimly. Surely that was naughty enough for a bag of coal. But as he spun around to leave, the driver clambered out of his seat and rushed toward the boy, whose eyes widened as he was met not with a box to the ears, but an embrace.

“Oh! What a brave one ye are, lad! M’horse wouldna be prancin’ so pretty if na for thee. Who could ha made so deep a pit right in t’middle o’ t’street, I canna fathom, but I bless the good Lord who sent thee today.” The old man winked and pressed a silver-wrapped chocolate into the boy’s palm. He watched blankly as the driver remounted and carefully maneuvered his steed around the snow-covered hole. All that risk for nothing! Ah well, at least he had thought of a second plan.

William shuffled slowly along the sidewalk, waiting for an older boy and girl to pass. When they did, he rushed between them, holding a sprig of mistletoe above their heads. The boy and girl stopped and glanced at each other with delighted smiles of recognition, then at the leaves in the air. The older boy chuckled awkwardly. The girl blushed and murmured something. Suddenly, to William’s horror, they kissed, right under his hands! He drew back in disgust, but not before the girl had pressed a golden butterscotch into his hand.

“I’ve been waiting so long,” she whispered happily. “Thank you. And Merry Christmas!” The boy only nodded in confusion and stumbled off, leaving the two talking and smiling together. How could this have happened again? At this rate he was never going to get his coal!

But as the afternoon wore on, each new plan was received with gratitude and a piece of candy instead of the angry words he eagerly anticipated. Why was it so hard to be naughty now, and so easy the rest of the year when he tried to be good?

Finally, as night arrived, William had one last chance. There sat a bag coal, waiting temptingly on the doorstep of a shabby house for him to snatch it up and race home. But his hand was stayed by snatches of a carol sung in a sweet, high voice nearby. “Do you know what I know? A child, a child, shivers in the cold – let us bring him silver and gold, let us bring him silver and gold!”

The boy stopped. He pulled his thin jacket closer around him and closed his eyes miserably. If the High King had given up Paradise to shiver in a cold stable that he might warm the icy, sinful heart of all the world, how could he steal warmth from a stranger who might need it more than he? William knew the answer: he couldn’t. He would gather some wood from the park, and though it wouldn’t burn long, it would warm his family for a bit. And at least he had the candy.

But William gazed at his handful of gold and silver sweets in his palm, and then looked up to see the caroler standing near. She was very small and thin, with dirty red hair and hollow cheeks. Her eyes were bright, and she was smiling at him.

All at once he stood up and held out the candy. The girl gasped with delight. Then she caught up the bag of coal behind him and held it out too. “Take it, please,” she beamed. “It’s an extra bag. We call it Christmas Coal.”

*********************

Prompts Used:

Ah, that was fun. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed reading it, dears! And since this post is so short, I thought I’d include some of my favorite Christmas songs/videos I discovered this year. The first one is hilarious, and the other two are just beautiful (and did you know the second one is sung by a fifteen-year-old?!). ♄ Let me know which one was your favorite, and Merry Christmas! 😀

***Allison***

 

 

Labor Day Adventures

This Labor Day we did something a different than an ordinary picnic or cook-out. Since Dad and the boys were out harvesting corn, Mom suggested that we girls pack a lunch and just go out and walk around the farm. So we did! It was quite fun.

We packed some sandwiches, mint tea, chips, and a couple other things which I can’t remember (XD), and took along backpacks filled with books and cameras.

This is my cucumber sandwich. Say hello. I didn’t want to waste the bread crusts after I cut out the sandwich, so I flattened them with a rolling pin, spread some cream cheese on, and rolled them up into roses. 😛

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First we headed past a place we call “The Sycamores” because… there are a lot of huge sycamore trees by the creek. DSC_2030 (853x1280)

I found some lovely periwinkle morning glories along the path. Aren’t they charming?

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We finally settled on a pretty, peaceful corner of the pasture filled with smartweed – a dainty little pink flower. We spread out a blanket, hung the hammock, and relaxed.

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This looks kind of weird…

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I love this one. ♄

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I did a really fun, cute photoshoot with my little sister here, but this post would be insanely long if I included all those photos oh wait it already is, so I’ll save it for later. Anyway, this was a great spot for taking pictures of little things. My favorite! 😀

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In interesting twisty stick.

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I love the bokeh in these pictures!
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Have you ever tasted sourgrass, or wood sorrel? That’s what this is. It tastes, well, sour.

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So pretty! ♄

 

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I found a beautifully shiny, polished nut.

 

The scenery was more scrubby here than the rest of our farm, but still pretty.

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Trees are nice.

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After we ate lunch and read for a while, we decided to move to a different spot. We crossed the barbwire fence (no easy feat in this pasture), walked over the field, up the hill, down a lane, and up another hill to a beautiful hidden spot behind a pasture. We’d never been there before, which is something rare since we’ve walked pretty much everywhere on our farm, and it was delightful to explore it.

Unfortunately I didn’t get many pictures with my camera because it ran out of battery, but Megan lent me hers.

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HA HA cows are such funny creatures. XD

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I think this picture is so neat but I don’t know why – it’s rather cluttered.

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I had the idea to play mancala while we were there. (Have you ever played that? It’s really fun!) I dug out some holes in the dirt with a stick and used corn kernels for the marbles. It actually worked!

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It’s really hard to see on camera, but Carmen and I built a great fort around this perfect square of trees. There were huge logs scattered everywhere (one pile was in a huge sinkhole O.o ). They made great walls but were exhausting to carry. We didn’t finish the fort, but we did make a good start.

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Mom and Carmen and I also built this little campfire area in a pretty shaded nook. We stacked stones for a firepit, hauled in some rocks and stumps for chairs, and made benches from logs and rocks. 🙂 It was fun.

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Mom also found this really odd-looking spider. O.o (She’s for you, Clara. 😉 )

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In the evening our whole family came up and had a picnic with us, and a bonfire too.

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So that’s what we did for Labor Day! It was great fun, even though the mosquitoes practically devoured me. I got over 40 mosquito bites (yes, I counted XD). O.o Anyway, the memories will last for much longer than the bites will, so it’s all good.

I hope you enjoyed this loooong post, my dears! Which was your favorite picture? Which was your least favorite? What did you do for Labor Day?

***Allison***

Of Mother’s Day, Green Truck Rides, and Stampeding Cows

Hello, dearest readers, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! I hope you let your mom know how much you appreciate her hard work. I certainly do appreciate my mom’s hard work! She’s does so much for us – cooking food for seven people three times a day, cleaning the house, homeschooling five kids… so much work, with so much love and patience. ♄ Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! 😀

After supper today we went on a Green Truck Ride with the whole family for fun and kind of also to celebrate Mother’s Day. (In case you’re wondering, a “Green Truck Ride” is when the kids hop on the back of Dad’s old, restored, mint-green truck and Mom and Dad drive us around the farm. 🙂 It’s always quite fun.)

Of COURSE I brought my camera, and even got some neat pictures to show you guys. What a surprise, huh? XD (Note: I did edit most but not all of these pictures a bit, in case you were wondering.)

Oooooh isn’t this pretty with the mountain in the background? This isn’t the main part of our farm – it’s the back section which has its own barns and silos and such.

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This picture is of a neighboring farm:

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And now we’re back to ours. I thought the fields looked lovely in the golden sun!

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Maggie loves to ride on the truck bed with us. 🙂

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Isn’t this picture neat? You can see my Dad through the window and in both of the mirrors.

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We stopped to visit the cows and they all came running up to us. XD Hmm, this looks like a good opportunity for another “Rather Puzzled Cows” story… (See the first one here.)

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“Lookout to chief, over. It seems we have some strangers on the premises, do you copy?”

“Chief to lookout, over. Visitors you said? Hmm, we haven’t had any in a while. I’ll sound the alert. ALERT, ALERT, EVERYONE. VISITORS ARE APPROACHING. STAMPEDE AT WILL.”

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*Pant, pant*

*Snort, snort*

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“Eww, they’re only the strange looking two-legged things again.”

“*Gasp* Well! I’m shocked at your language, Bertha. How could you be so cruel? I think they’re kind of cute.”

“Hmph. They look suspicious to me. I shall give them my hard stare and see if that drives them off.”

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“Well that didn’t work – look.”

“WHOA STAND BACK! THEY’RE COMING FOR US!”

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“What d’ya think, girls? Don’t they look suspicious to you? Especially that one holding out the stick.”

“Hmm, I see what you mean.”

“Yeah… let’s take it slow here, ladies. You never know what could happen with these creatures. Just stand back and watch carefully. Close scrutiny is always the best choice in cases like these.”

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“OOH, OOH! Hey Bertha, should I run them through with my great and mighty horns? Huh, huh? Just let me at ’em, and I’ll-”

“Oh puh-leez. You’re horns aren’t big enough to butcher a groundhog.”

“B-but… *Sniff* Okay then.”

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“Wait. Guys. They’re moving again. HEEELP!”

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“Sheesh. What a bunch of scaredy-cows. Why did I get stuck with this herd? I mean, really!”

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XD Hee hee! That was fun.

So anyway, after the cows we went to the grain bins with Mom and Dad. It was so much fun! We took the speaker in to see if it would sound all echo-y like our voices did, but it didn’t echo as much as I thought it would. It just got dusty. 😛 The kids played catch with a sock filled with corn, everyone jumped from the ladder a few times, and we listened to music and sat amidst the corn kernels. 🙂

Here’s a couple of pretty cloud pictures to end on…

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So yep, there’s our Mother’s Day adventure of sorts. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed the pictures and my rather rambling commentary. Thanks for reading, my friends!

***Allison***

P. S. The next post will hopefully be the birthday haul post. 😀 Except I thought of a much better title. XD Hee hee!

Happy Easter!

It’s Easter! For some people that means it’s time for egg hunts and chocolate candy, for some it means it’s time to devour a huge feast with family and friends, and for some, it is a time to remember the day we were set free. For some, it is a time to remember when Christ was crucified for our sake, how for us he bore the tremendous burden of all sin past, present, and future on himself. And that is no little thing!

If you’ve been a Christian for a while or all your life, truths like this can be far too easy to forget or push to the back of your mind. I know it’s that way for me. But every time I stop and think, really think, about what Easter means, it nearly makes my heart explode.

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First of all, I can tend to brush it off and say, “Oh, Jesus was God, so how bad could it have been? And he knew he wouldn’t stay dead in the end, right? I mean, if I knew all that, I could probably do it.” But… nope. I couldn’t. Because even though Jesus was fully God, he was also fully man, something that our puny human selves just can’t get our minds around. That means that he felt every single thorn in his crown and every single nail in his body, and it hurt him just as much as it would hurt you or me. Death by crucifixion was the most terrible way to die there was. Jesus was beaten, stripped, scorned, mockingly “crowned” with a painful ring of thorns, and nailed to the cross. That’s the part that always gets me. I can’t even imagine how much it would hurt to have nails driven through your palms and feet, and then to have to hang there against the rough wood, hour after hour, barely able to breathe, while your blood and life just drain away… it’s terrible to think about anyone undergoing such treatment.

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And even though Jesus did know that death couldn’t hold him, he still wasn’t looking forward to the ordeal of proving it. He prayed to God his Father and said, ““Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:43) Later it says, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22: 44) Isn’t that a terrible picture? It’s terrible to know what’s coming, and to know it isn’t good. You know when you have to take a test for school or something and you’re just so nervous? Jesus was about to take the hardest, most painful, most terrible test ever, and he wasn’t just nervous. The Bible says he was in agony.

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What makes it even worse is that Jesus didn’t have to do this at all. It would have been perfectly just and good to leave us to our sin and let us die a well-deserved death. But he didn’t! Think about it really hard: Jesus loved his creatures, his people so much that he was willing to go through all of that agony for them – even though they hated him!

At least it would have made a little more sense if the people who crucified Jesus had a reason to call him a criminal, but Jesus was no criminal. Since He was fully God, Jesus was perfect. He never made a mistake. Not even once! That’s another thing that’s almost impossible for us to completely understand. Well certainly he must have made one teeny tiny little mistake, right? Wrong. Jesus was perfect, and that means he didn’t mess up – ever.

Then why was he crucified? Because we are fallen creatures that can’t see our Savior when he stands before our eyes. We look at his face and we are afraid. Afraid and guilty and ashamed of our sin. We don’t want someone to tell us how sinful we are and to rule over us. We want to take care of ourselves and live our own lives how we please. So we kill him.

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Isn’t that terrible? I mean, think about it! It makes no sense at all – we as broken, sinful humans crucified the very one who came to save us from that brokenness and sin. But it’s true.

That just makes it all the more wonderful. If you met people who hated you with every ounce of their strength, who flogged you and beat you and wanted nothing more than to get rid of you in the most torturous way possible, would you want to voluntarily die for them so they wouldn’t have to pay the price of their sin and die a terrible death themselves? I, for one, would never do that. But Jesus did! He died for the worst of sinners, he died for the people who were killing him!

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But, of course, that isn’t the end of the story. Jesus didn’t just die for us, he rose for us too. Jesus is the only one who can conquer death itself. I love the part about the resurrection. When Jesus’ disciples see the stone rolled away and the linen wrappings left by themselves inside the tomb, what a shock that must have been! Had someone stolen their beloved Teacher’s body? But the stone sealing up the tomb was so heavy, and there were two guards in front of it. What were the other options?

And then, when they saw Jesus, how amazing would that have been? If you think about it from their perspective, you can understand why they could hardly believe their eyes at first. I mean, here’s this wonderful man that you love so much, dead. Gone. Sealed inside a tomb. Then one day he appears in front of you, inside a locked room! No wonder the apostles thought they saw a ghost at first. Can you imagine how deliriously happy they must have been when he showed them the nail marks in his hands and feet, and they realize that it wasn’t a ghost but their beloved Teacher, risen from the dead?

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And that is the Easter story. Jesus died for the criminals that hung beside him on their two crosses, and he died for us, his people, and not only that, but he rose again. I know many of you have heard that phrase “He died for us” over and over and over again until all the life has worn out of it. But don’t let that happen! That truth, that fundamental truth of the Christian faith, that is what sets us free. It is what gives us hope. It is the most amazing thing you will ever hear, and I pray that you and I will remember it this Easter. ♄

***Allison***