Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Thanksgiving and Christmas 2017

 You have been warned: total photo overload coming! 

Thanksgiving 2017 

Breakfast - Chloe was still asleep. We had eggs, bacon, and French toast made from croissants, something I learned on the Pastors' Wives retreat this summer. A game changer, I tell you! Costco sells really good ready croissants that are not full of junk that are perfect for making this. 

I spent the morning leisurely getting the big Thanksgiving dinner cooked, though I had prepped much of the food in the days ahead so there was not too much left to do. I used the slow cooker for the stuffing and the InstantPot for the mashed potatoes, which made things even faster and easier. 

The rest of the family enjoyed board games, decorating a gingerbread turkey (thank you, Trader Joe's - but dang, those candy-coated sunflower seeds are like crack!), reading, going to the park, and making music.



 The game is called "Settlers of Catan". It's a favorite with the guys in this family. Isaac won.

We had the typical Thanksgiving meal - brined turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato rolls, and corn. Check out my gravy boat - that's a half gallon measuring cup! The one dish I didn't make this year was green bean casserole. I love it, and I knew my husband liked it, but nobody else cares for it. I figured nobody would miss it, so I skipped it. When I later asked him what his favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal was, he said it would have been the green bean casserole, but that there was none. Ha - lesson learned! Evidently, my husband really loves it! I won't be skipping it next year.

Stephen looks excited for the meal!

 Check out little Chloe stuffing her face with food! It is unbelievable how much food that little girl can put away. Actually, she's not so little anymore, but a hefty toddler.

After the big meal, most of us lay down for turkey-coma induced naps. Those who didn't played more board games. After very long naps, we had our typical dessert-for-dinner meal to round out the day.

Christmas 2017

We do not have a set tradition of when we open Christmas gifts. Sometimes we do it on Christmas Eve after nap time, other years on Christmas Day in the morning. Some of it has to do with what day of the week those days fall on. Since this year Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday, we were busy with church all day. Our church hosts a Cookie Bake-Off on the Sunday afternoon closest to Christmas, so it was even busier than usual. 

We don't do stockings. I did not grow up with that tradition, and have never adopted it since we do advent calendars for each of the kids instead. 

So this year, we opened gifts on Christmas morning. I told the kids the earlier they got up, the later we'd open gifts, but they were still all up bright and early long before the sun - even Chloe who typically sleeps until 9 a.m. I changed my game plan to, "We'll open gifts as soon as I get a nice picture of all of you smiling."

That looks like a lot of gifts, but there are a lot of us! :) As in the last few years, we tried to keep gifts mostly focused on events, outings, memories, and consumable goods rather than more toys. (We do make an exception for outdoor toys.) Having a family of almost 12 in a 1,550 sq foot home requires me to be a minimalist.

Solomon and Isaac each got a gift card to a local roller-coaster park, and a new shirt/sweater each. John got a subscription to TinkerCrate*, and a retro handheld game console. The big girls each got Christmas dresses (we did let them open those of the morning of Christmas Eve so they could wear them to church that day), as well as a kid's craft class at Jo-Ann's. Miriam also got a book and a single craft kit from DoodleCrate* (which she loved, so I will get her a subscription for her birthday in February), while Becca and Anna got matching outfits for themselves and their dolls as well as some books they had been wanting. Stephen got a Duplo pizza parlor, a knight costume, the latest Patch the Pirate adventure, and a sweater. Boaz got his first bike and a coloring book. Chloe got a Christmas dress, as well as PJ's, and a CD with lullabies. 
(*Both kids loved these kits. If you are thinking about signing up, please consider using this affiliate link and I will get a small credit applied to their accounts for future kits.)
The bulky thing under the blanket is Boaz's bike. There is a funny backstory to this gift. Back in November, my husband and I went on a 'date' to Wal-Mart. We brought 'Hurricane Boaz' along because he was up early from his nap and tends to wake the rest of the house once he's up. Once we got to the store I stayed behind in the van because I suddenly needed a cat nap myself, while Dad and Bo went into the store together. Shortly afterward, I received this photo from them. My husband, who grew up riding dirt bikes with his Dad, just could not resist this little bike for Boaz, who fell in love with it the moment he saw it. It took much convincing to get my husband to agree to at least hide it as a Christmas gift. Even though Bo already knew about it, I figured he would forget, plus he would be disappointed on Christmas if he didn't have a gift under the tree like the rest of the kids.

Who COULD say "no" to that face??!?

Then of course there were gifts from the siblings to the siblings. Again, to keep things simple, our tradition is that for Christmas, each sibling gives a gift to only one other sibling, keeping the grand total of gifts exchanged to 9 (as opposed to 72 if they exchanged gifts with every sibling - help us all!). There were also gifts from other relatives and friends.

 My gift for my husband, to keep in his office. I had asked him not to get me anything because he spoils me so much year-round that I could not think of a single thing I would have wanted much less needed, but he still surprised me with some thoughtful things he knows I enjoy.

The girls at church in their Christmas dresses

Chloe singing along

Being 37-weeks pregnant, I kept the meal a simple affair. I made a prime rib roast that came out sublime thanks entirely to grass-fed beef and Pioneer Woman's  foolproof recipe. The side dishes were German fried potatoes, roasted broccoli, and popovers. Fast, easy, but oh so delicious!

 I love these cast iron muffin pans!

Unfortunately, shortly after we opened gifts, Isaac and Boaz started coming down with a sickness that had been making its way around our church and finally seems to have caught up to our family. Boaz went back and forth all day between running a fever and throwing up, and being perfectly fine, while Isaac was lying down sick most of the day and even missed the big Christmas dinner. Both are feeling better today and on the mend, but now Solomon and Anna are on the downward. Hopefully, this will work itself through the family quickly. I have been giving them these capsules and Reed's ginger ale (with real ginger) which seems to help them get well very quickly.

For us, Christmas holds another special place in our hearts. Our church started twelve years ago on Christmas Day 2005. My husband preached a wonderful sermon on Sunday night, recounting some of the memories. I love our church, and our people, and am so thankful for it! Here is the sermon:


  1. When you take the pictures of your family sitting around the table eating what looks like wonderful food, I never see a place set for you. Am I missing it somehow?

    1. She has stated that her husband prefers her to wait on the family during meal times and eat when everyone is done.

    2. What anon said above is not true. My husband has never expressed such a preference, nor have I ever said so.

      I have said that I prefer to eat by myself, simply because I like to eat uninterrupted and in silence. I typically eat before or after the family at meal times.

      However, on holidays, I do usually sit at the table with everyone else. I sit just to the right of my husband, which is not visible in the pictures.

    3. Eating uninterrupted and in silence...We are on the same page!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing these precious moments of your family with us. Your children are so adorable. And the foos looks amazing!

  3. Hi! We had quite a similar story but me being the poorly one. I have a special remedy that works amazingly well with unvaccinated children specially if medicines are rarely given. Chop 2 organic onions and add raw orgic honey .leave over night .in the morning you will have a sirup which you can give as much and as often you like. Great for sore throat, coughs and colds in general. Pray all your little ones get well soon.

    1. I can attest to that. My grandmother would give me this when I was little. It works marvelously. My girls were “diagnosed” with asthma when they were very little. They had to use nebulizer treatments every time they got sick. Then a woman told me that making an onion/garlic tea would help. It brought back memories of the onion/garlic in honey concoction. Boy was she right! Never again did they need those treatments. Onion is a natural expectorant. Garlic is a natural antibiotic.

    2. My mom used to make this onion syrup, as I also have myself. It is indeed extremely effective!

  4. What a wonderful time of celebration you all have had!
    1. No, I couldn't say no to that face either!
    2. What a sweet and loving gift you gave your husband!
    3. Gingerbread turkey....hum....very interesting!

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Merry Christmas to you all! What lovely pictures! And I especially love the picture you gave to your husband - what gorgeous calligraphy!

    Hard to believe, but we had exactly the same experience with illness on Christmas. Our #3 woke up, opened packages, and then announced he was going back to bed. Within a short time he had a good fever and was complaining his stomach hurt. He was sick all day, missed Christmas dinner, and then by bedtime was totally back to normal. Weirdest virus I've ever seen!!!

    Have a wonderful Christmas week, and a great New Year's with your beautiful family! Wow, your littles are growing quickly!!

    1. I should clarify, I did not do that calligraphy! It was purchased from an artist on Etsy.

  6. I am just wondering, why are you talking about cooking bacon with eggs?

    According to the Bible, bacon (pigs meat) is an unclean food.

    1. That is an Old Testament ordinance under the mosaic law. It was specifically for the Israelites in order to set them apart from other nations and make them different. Not everything from the Old Testament has been changed, but food laws have been changed in the New Testament and we can now eat any type of food.

  7. Sounds like a perfect holiday season to me with lots of good times & memories. Beautiful photos of your family and the food looks delicious!!

  8. You have a beautiful family and home. I find you simply amazing and do not know how you do everything you do, especially being pregnant. I love all the creative and cool stuff you do for the kids and your husband. I'm a chef by trade and your food looks like a white table cloth eatery. Hope your family gets well and you all have a blessed new year.

    1. Thank you for your very kind and generous comment. It might be my favorite on this blog, ever. :) That's quite a vote of confidence from a professional chef. Even though for now convenience dictates everything be served on paper plates and plastic tables, I do very much enjoy making food for the family.

  9. Thank you. I'll show you my lovely paper china I have. Lol. Mrs A. I have know doubt you could walk into my job and within a week would be able to work on the line with us. You really are a talented person and very creative. Hope you and your family have a great year.

  10. Querida zsuzsanna. No se si podrás comprender este mensaje porque mi inglés no es bueno así que prefiero escribir en español. Te sigo desde hace años pero nunca me animé a escribirte. Quiero darte la enhorabuena por la familia tan bonita que estáis construyendo y por tu carácter a la hora de defender tu forma de pensar. Aquí en España realmente es muy difícil encontrar a gente que piense así y me da mucho ánimo leerte porque veo que no estoy sola! Que hay más gente que pone toda su vida en manos de Dios y le confía su fertilidad, sus finanzas y todo a Él. Un abrazo enorme desde aqui y toda mi admiración!

  11. Chloe has grown so much!! Also, I like to see that all your girls play with dolls. Some girls today seem to want to be "grown-up" at too young an age. And some parents seem to encourage this.

  12. Zsuzsanna, I always say that compliments on my food are the very best compliments! That & being told my children are the best behaved always make me feel so wonderful! Haha!! Glad you all had a nice Thanksgiving & Christmas! You’re such a great role model! Much love from Virginia!

    God bless, Logan (I’m female, btw).

  13. Beautiful family! Enjoyed seeing those happy little faces! What a blessing, may the Lord keep on blessing your family!!Food looked delious as well!

  14. Blessed homeschool momFebruary 11, 2018 at 8:17 PM

    I found your blog while searching for "church nursery" info. (Not b/c we use the nursery--our "baby" is grown up and I've never been fond of the nursery and "sunday school"--but I was searching b/c we are being asked regularly to help in the nursery *sigh*).
    Anyhow...I love your photos and immediately noticed your hanging solar system and thought-- Yep--that's a homeschooling family! ;-)
    May the Lord bless you and keep and make His face shine upon you and grant you peace.


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