Friday, December 31, 2010


We had a prodigious party Tuesday evening (vocabulary word borrowed from Brother Byler's Christmas card). Our family hosted a pizza-game night with the Byler family joining us for homemade pizza followed by candy and card games. Kaelyn and Janessa did not lack for attention since the gathering included their parents, all four of their grandparents, five uncles and nine aunts. It was truly prodigious to have our entire families together again.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Sweet is the description of our time Wednesday afternoon. The ladies in our family were invited to tea with friends. It was delightful to be together, and our conversation ranged from the memory of eating a huge bag of fortune cookies to our favorite paths in the Dow Gardens to a passion for the people of North Korea. The visit started as we gathered around a table ladened with sweet treats, and ended with equally sweet fellowship hours later as we bowed in prayer in the living room. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


For the past few Christmases Aunt Gera has lamented that she has no little girls to buy baby dolls for Christmas. Over the years, as her nieces have grown taller (until they are taller than their aunt), one by one they reached the point where they no longer play with baby dolls.

This year, though, Aunt Gera again bought a baby doll. This time it was for her great-niece, who is still significantly shorter than her great-aunt.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lansing shadows

The sun neared the horizon as we left the Michigan Historical Museum last Wednesday afternoon. We toured the museum as part of Julie's (belated) birthday celebration.

Monday, December 27, 2010


"Dear Father in Heaven," Abigail prays at every meal, "please help Mommy to have another baby."

God answered prayer. On December 22 Carmen delivered a seven pound, eight ounce baby girl. Jimmy and Carmen named their fourth daughter Hosanna Grace. 

"Mommy gots the baby out," three-year-old Abigail proudly announces.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Baby doll

For as smart as uncles are, they sometimes need lessons on how to dress baby dolls.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The pianist

...who faithfully executes Christmas carols, even when they are in a minor key.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Black and white

Days are short in Michigan. It's less than nine hours from sunrise to sunset this week. Even then, there are days and weeks when the sun never breaks through the gray sky.

The snow helps to reflect the little light, but still it's difficult to take pictures. Tuesday, I deliberately sought winter photo subjects. Naomi and I visited the homestead at the nature center to create images of the snow.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010


Sometimes older is better. Julie's new sewing machine balked at eight layers of denim, so Betsy resorted to the old treadle machine. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010


It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; 
you made both summer and winter.
Psalm 74:17 NIV

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

My house

I am in the process of redecorating my house. Technically, it may not be redecorating, since the original theme was green crayon applied by one of my younger siblings.

Grandpa built the dollhouse and furniture for me one Christmas years ago. Earlier Grandma bought me a little mice family for my birthday. I spent many hours managing my household.

My house has been stuffed in the closet for years. This week I found paint and brushes and turned walls green, yellow, purple and blue. Next I'm planning to paint the furniture. Then I will be ready for my friends to come to my house to play.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Snow day

We had our first snowstorm of the season this past weekend. Caleb Byler's wish came true, and schools closed on Monday.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If you like Creamsicle®

December 9 10:10 a.m.

December 13 9:35 a.m.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Photo credit: Harold Klassen
Our church caroled this weekend. Friday evening we sang Christmas songs on the steps of the Dow house as part of the Dow Gardens Christmas Walk. Then on Saturday we packed fruit baskets,  which we delivered to neighbors as we caroled. 

(A friend took this photo, so I'm a part of the group too. Can you find me?)

Saturday, December 11, 2010


My Grandma loved pickles, especially the big, homemade ones. Her cure for a sore throat was to drink the pickle brine. Not too much pickle juice, though, she'd warn me, or it will upset your stomach.

Friday, December 10, 2010


     to the plastic surgeon.

(And, of course, the ultimate glory belongs to God)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Logan and Allis

An "Alice" moment, doesn't refer to Logan's preoccupation with a girlfriend, but rather to his obsession with an Allis Chalmers WD45 tractor.

Last week, the boys and Uncle Paul, with truck and trailer, ventured to southern Ohio to purchase a project tractor for Logan. His older brothers assured Logan that the tractor was a good deal. It was such a good deal that it was the topic of conversation at the table for several meals. After a few days, the older boys can talk of other matters, but Logan appears hopelessly smitten.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cookie exchange

The cookie exchange on Saturday was exclusively for ladies and girls, but that didn't stop the menfolk from giving instructions about the distribution of the treats.

After arranging the cookies on the dining room table, the ladies and girls met in the living room to share ideas of how to keep Christ as the focus of the Christmas season. 

Then the ladies, led by the girls, sampled cookies. Energized by sugar, the girls raced outside while the ladies sipped coffee and tea and  visited. Before they left, the ladies assembled plates of cookies to take home to their waiting menfolk. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

PJ party

Last Monday I mailed a box of gingersnap cookies to my aunt in Louisiana. On Friday I received a package from her. It was full of five flannel, "granny-style" nightgowns.

(Thanks to Lauren for serving as my voice-activated shutter release)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Frizz

Kendra opening and admiring gifts.
We held a Ms. Frizzle themed party for Kendra Thursday evening. Kendra's family planned the event as a graduation/moving away/housewarming party. Kendra graduates from Saginaw Valley State University this December with a degree in Secondary Education, Chemistry and Biology. At the beginning of the new year, she plans to move to Pennsylvania where she accepted a job teaching science at a small Christian school. 

Since Kendra loves science and shoes, we themed the party after Ms. Frizzle, the eccentrically-dressed science teacher whose school bus magically transports students on field trips through the solar system or the human body. Ms. Frizzle's outfits--her dress, shoes and earrings--change to reflect her environment. On one page of the book she may be wearing a dress covered with red blood cells, while on the next page her dress is covered with thermometers.

The main decorations at Kendra's party were Ms. Frizzle inspired shoes. One shoe featured a bolt of lightning, an umbrella and raindrops. Another showed a bumblebee amidst bright flowers. Chemical equations and notations were scrawled across one shoe, while a forth shoe simply bore the outline of a foot with sparkly, red toenails. My favorite was the pair of frog shoes. A green, plastic frog rested on the right shoe of a pair of red pumps. "Ranidae," the frog family, was spelled with alphabet beads across the top of the left shoe.

The shoes were meant for decorations, but Kendra liked them so much she tried them on and declared that, in true Ms. Frizzle style, she will wear them when she teaches. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Amish doll

Libby transformed a doll into an adorable little Amish girl. Julie and I display Secrist dolls, which we received as gifts years ago, in our room. Recently I noticed that the dolls' dresses were faded and the elastic in their bloomers had lost its zip. I asked Libby to sew the dolls new outfits for my birthday. Happy to oblige, she created a dress, pinafore and cap fashioned after an Amish girl's wardrobe.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Bethany, Bekah and Abigail helped me mix, shape and decorate buckeyes Wednesday morning. The ladies in our family are hosting a cookie exchange this Saturday. I babysat the girls while Carmen kept a doctor appointment, and it seemed the perfect opportunity to play with colored sprinkles while preparing for the party this weekend. The chocolate-covered, peanut butter candies aren't technically cookies, but I figured that they would cause our guests' mouths to water before they could complain. 

The girls measured and stirred ingredients for the peanut butter centers of the candies. Then we rolled them into balls. Bethany finished a page of math while the peanut butter balls cooled in the freezer. Then I dipped them into melted chocolate, and the girls adorned them with colored sprinkles and edible gold balls. While the chocolate hardened, Bethany copied and illustrated the recipe and Bekah dictated the story of making buckeyes. 

Bekah holding her story of the Buckeyes

Bethany's illustrated recipe

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar
4-6 cups chocolate chips

Combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. The mixture will be dry. Roll mixture into small balls. Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. 

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave. One at a time dip peanut butter balls in the chocolate. Return candies to wax paper lined cookie sheet. Decorate with sprinkles.

Abigail helped lick the utensils
(Any ladies in our area are invited to bring three dozen cookies and attend the cookie exchange at 1 p.m. at our house this Saturday. No fair to bring buckeyes, unless you decorate them with a different type of sprinkles!)