Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

"I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise 
shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; 
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, 
and let us exalt his name together!"
Psalm 34: 1-3

We pray that this letter finds you all well; and that you have been able to see God's hand at works in your lives this last year.

This year we celebrated 10 wonderful years in our home. We are very blessed to be where we are; both in our neighborhood and in our church family. James is continuing his job with the same company and is thankful every day for his job. He is still managing the Outdoor Advertising division and enjoys working there. Charlotte is kept busy with things in the home; along with the homeschooling of all 4 children now. She also enjoys teaching in the small co-op our family is a part of. She loves to cook and bake, and has enjoyed learning more about photography this last year.

Mr. Lego is 13 now and has really shot up this year in height. In fact he is now halfway between his mom and dad. He enjoys creating things with his Legos, reading and drawing. This year he has had more opportunity for leadership positions in 4-H which he enjoys as well. Bookworm is 11 and is growing taller too; but still has a few inches to go before she is taller then her mom. She enjoys reading, crocheting and knitting, and would attempt to try to do all three at the same time if she could. In school she enjoys math and writing and taking care of the rabbits. Dasher just turned 10. She enjoys playing with her cars, play dough and likes to read in school. She especially enjoys the craft projects we do with our co-op. Nutsy is now 5 and is learning her letters and numbers this year. She loves coloring and creating things on paper. 

The rabbits have multiplied, been sold, and are multiplying again. At one point we had 19 rabbits in our rabbitry; right now we have our 5 adults and 5 babies with more babies coming next week. These are all 'practice' litters for the fair next spring, so they will all be sold as pets. We have learned so much in 4-H this last year and are thankful for the opportunities it gave us to serve others as well as meet new friends. Our parakeet, Sunny, is doing great and wakes us up every morning with his cheerful chirps. 

We have enjoyed reading all the Christmas cards we have received this last month and seeing all the photos from our family and friends. They go onto our refrigerator where they are constant reminder of the wonderful people God has brought into our lives, and also a reminder for us to keep you all in prayer.

May God bless you in the coming year and may we all continue to see His providential hand in all things.

The Joyful Hearts Family

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: Of what to say in our annual family letter. I'll put it up on my blog later this week and then that will be all I am blogging or Facebooking until 2011. I'll miss reading all your blogs for a couple weeks, but I need the break.

What I'm reading: I don't have anything in the lineup right now....

What I'm listening to: Girlies talking in the kitchen; a ticking sound coming from somewhere.

What we're learning: We are on our winter break from formal schooling for the next two weeks. And it was very nice to have a more laid back morning today....I am still in my bathrobe. :-)

What I'm watching: Sometime this week my Sweetie and I will view our annual watching of Christmas Vacation. Also a dear friend is letting us borrow Elf, which we have never seen.

What's cooking: I am planning our Christmas Eve dinner, which is usually fun appetizers. Some new ones I am trying are Baked Brie and Mulled Wine in the crock pot.

What I'm buying: The only reason I have to go out to the store this week is for veggies and milk. Which is wonderful because every other store is probably crazy right now.

What I'm thankful for: All the rain we have been having. And there is more coming.....all this next week.

What I'm creating: I would like to make some cookies today or tomorrow with the girls; maybe Chocolate Chip and Apricot Crescents.

What I'm praying: For traveling mercies as many I know are traveling over the next couple weeks. And the roads are going to be a bit slippery.

What I'm planning: Later this morning we are heading to the food bank to help fill bags, then tomorrow we will be there to help pass them out. Then on Wednesday we are going to go caroling at the assisted living center, then a cookie party with friends that night. I love having these opportunities to serve others and am happy to see the kids so enthusiastic to participate.

What we did this last weekend: We had a really fun Christmas party last Friday night, then a pretty normal Saturday. Yesterday we were at church in the morning, then had some good friends over for lunch, then back for our evening service.

What I'm looking forward to: We will be seeing family, spending a day in San Francisco, spending another day up playing in the snow, having good times with our kids, and going to a New Years Eve party with friends. Lots of fun things ahead.

A picture to share:

~This is going all the way back to 2003....Mr Lego was 6, Bookworm was 4 and Dasher was just 3. Time flies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Birthday Girl

It has happened again; another birthday. And this time it is Dasher. She is now a big 10, which means I now have 3 children in double digits. Dasher is such a joy to us and I thought I would share more of her personality with you.

She loves to laugh. For being our munchkin girl, she has the deepest belly laugh in our family.

She also has the longest eyelashes of us all. With those eyes she is a great finder-of-lost-things; so much so, that when someone misplaces something we all turn to her to help find it.

She loves to have fun. Having an older brother and sister have given her a tougher personality; and here she is, right in the middle of a snowball fight.

She really loves animals so 4-H has been a good fit with her. And she is the one who will pick up almost any bug and carry it around for a while.

She brings a bright light of joy into our family. Many times she can find the humor in different daily situations and never fails to make me laugh.

She is also my crazy monkey girl. Seeing these kind of antics at the park is a normal thing with this child.

My sweet Dasher; I pray that you would continue to follow the Lord with all your heart, and that He would continue to lead you. I am so thankful for your smile, sweetness and hugs. Happy Birthday, my new 10 year old!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am a procrastinator. I have a photography assignment due today and for that particular shot I need sunlight. Well today it is foggy and it is supposed to rain the next couple days. :-(

What I'm reading: Still reading Faith Driven Family. Last week the girls all had dental appointments so I got a good chunk read during the two hours I spent in the waiting room.

What I'm listening to: Josh Groban singing O Holy Night. So beautiful.

What we're learning: This is our last week of formal schooling before taking off for two weeks. The two older children both have writing paragraphs due, while Dasher is doing narrations and copywork from Pippi Longstocking. In history we are studying St. Boniface, the Iconoclast Controversy, and Charles Martel.

What I'm watching: This last weekend my Sweetie and I watched The Caine Mutiny with Humphrey Bogart. It was a good one.

What's cooking: Tomorrow night I am planning to make Chicken Pad Thai with Peanut Sauce. Yum.

What I'm buying: I crossed off the last item off of my short Christmas list last week. Gifts are not big things for us; we only give one gift to each child and also to our immediate family. I also make some homemade gifts for friends. Maybe if I remember I'll write a post with my homemade gift ideas. I can't share right now because my dear friends read my blog....

What I'm thankful for: That I have a God who cares for the birds, who causes the wildflowers to be so beautiful and created intricate me. And seeing all these wonders causes me to not be anxious (at least to try not!) about the future.

What I'm creating: A fun day for Dasher this Wednesday because she is going to be turning 10 that day! We have our co-op Christmas party that day, then she has requested steak, peas, mashed potatoes and gravy for her birthday dinner. And cake, of course.

What I'm praying: For those around me in need; whether health needs, financial needs or spiritual needs.

What I'm planning: To address all 79 of our Christmas card envelopes tonight. I might need a serious wrist massage afterward. My back might be aching too.....

What we did this last weekend: We did things around the house and my Sweetie and I finished our Christmas shopping on Saturday. Then yesterday we heard an incredible sermon on not being anxious, then all the parents in our co-op got together for dinner. It was a fun party!

What I'm looking forward to: We have a Christmas party to attend this Friday that I am looking forward to, then on Saturday we are planning to go with friends to see some lights at our city park and zoo.

A picture to share:

 ~Piles of leaves were meant to be jumped into.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it seems like we are getting a lot of rain. It is really a good thing here in No. looks like it won't be a drought year.

What I'm reading: Still trying to get through Faith Driven Family. I did not get as much reading time in last week as I wanted.

What I'm listening to: Children chattering. I am watching 2 of my friend's children for the next couple weeks while she goes down to SoCal to pursue treatment for her cancer. They are the same age as two of my kiddos and so this is like one big party for them. I will break the news to them in the next hour that we do have to start school.....

What we're learning: In history we are learning about the epic of Beowulf, Wu Zetian of China, and Medieval Spain. I also just realized that the older children have not done any planning at all for their 4-H presentations. It needs to be 3-5 minutes long with visual aids and they need to be memorized and ready by February, so we need to get on it.

What I'm watching: The kids playing with the baby rabbits. Like all babies, I wish they stayed cute and little like this forever.

What's cooking: This week I am planning to make Beef and Barley Soup in my crockpot. I really, really love my crockpot, especially in the winter.

What I'm buying: I am finishing up my month of teaching about Spanish Expansion and Missions in our co-op this week. I decided to let the younger children try to make 'adobe' bricks with play-dough, so I need to go out and find some of it.

What I'm thankful for: A husband who is good at fixing things and will research how to repair stuff to save us repair-man bills. Thank you, my love.

What I'm creating: Christmas cookies. This Sunday, all the parents in our co-op are having a dinner together and a cookie exchange. So I am trying to decide between making Chocolate Pinwheels or Apricot Crescents. Whadya think?

What I'm praying: We have been so, so blessed this flu season so one in our family has gotten sick! I know it will come someday soon, and I am praying it is not during our time off between Christmas and New Year's.

What I'm planning: Fun things to do during our school break later this month. We are thinking a day up at the snow, maybe a day in San Francisco, a day to the zoo.....

What we did this last weekend: We did some work around the house on Saturday, then had really yummy Indian Spiced Lentils that night. Yesterday after church, Sunday school and our monthly fellowship meal, our family headed to the assisted living center to help with the service there and visit the residents.

What I'm looking forward to: The fun things ahead. Seeing our families around Christmas, another Christmas party at a friends house, caroling, and our annual New Year's Eve party with friends.

A picture to share:

~An outtake from our Annual Family Photo Shoot.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Apples, Snow and Trees

The day after Thanksgiving was a fun one. We headed up into the foothills near us to a place called Apple Hill. This is a really fun area where about 40 different apple farms sell everything and anything apple. It has become a yearly tradition for our family to head up there at least once or twice a year to get our apple fix. And we do have our favorite farms where we get different munchies.

First was Rainbow Orchards and their Apple Donuts.

Next was High Hill and fresh Apple Cider. This stuff tastes just like you are drinking an apple.

Then we went to Boa Vista for Caramel Apples. They even had Apple Wine tasting! Hmmm, it was a little too sweet for me, but they had a good Syrah that I liked.

Of course we had to buy some apples....

All along the way we had seen hints of snow under the trees so we headed up the hill just a little further until we saw this:

 We all jumped out and started to play in the white stuff.

This is what I saw when I got out of the car with my camera.

Sneaky girl. Go get your dad. My excuse is my expensive camera.

It didn't take long for the battle lines to get drawn....

Don't mess with my Sweetie.


Dasher was right in the middle of the fight too.

And if I saw this coming at me out of the corner of my eye, I would cover vital body parts too.

There's nothing like a face full of wet snow.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lego was off into the trees to plan another ambush.

There wasn't much of it, but plenty to have a snow fight.

Then we came back down the hill, driving right by all the U-Pick Tree Farms for $79.99, to Home Depot, where for $24.99 we got ourselves a winner.

Exactly 1 hour later, this was in our living room.

To me, Christmas is for my children, so I let them decorate everything, including the tree.

Now we are looking forward to caroling, hot chocolate, Christmas parties, warm fires and seeing family!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010

Thanksgiving was good this year. It always is. We do the traditional food.....turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, yams, rolls and Ambrosia. This year, while the turkey was roasting away in the oven we did something different by heading to a nearby zoo to watch the animals eat their feast.

The bears got some kind of berries stuffed in pumpkins. This was really neat because every other time we have been at the zoo those bears have been in their dens, sleeping. The lazy bums.

My Sweetie's mom came to spend Thanksgiving with us. She is known to the kids as Obachan, which means 'Grandma' in Japanese.

We stopped off at the park there and had a few minutes to play on the playground. Yes, it was a bit chilly.

When we got back home the turkey was almost done, so we fixed the rest of our feast. And feast we mouth is watering just looking at this photo.

The girls....having a grand time eating.

Mr. Lego picked up the drumstick first and ate everything on his place. Twice!

After cleaning up everything we all went for a walk, which feels so good after eating so much. Then back home for a few rounds of Speed Scrabble.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I love the sunlight. It really helps me get up in the morning when the sun is shining. I also love standing in the sun on a cold day. That is another reason why I don't think I would do very well in the north.

What I'm reading: I am starting to read Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr. this week. I have a review due next month for this book and I need to get on it....

What I'm listening to: Christmas Music. Yup, it is now that time of year. And right now it is Fernando Ortega's Angels We Have Heard On High.

What we're learning: Back to school this week. We will be learning about the Tang Dynasty and the birth and spread of Islam in history. In science the children will be learning about marsupials and we are onto question #26 in the Shorter Catechism.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend we watched The Two Towers and Return of the King. ROTK is the only movie that still makes me cry; every single time I see the ending.

What's cooking: Yesterday we finished off the 18 pound turkey with homemade Turkey Soup. Later this week I am planning to make another soup favorite; Meatball Soup. 'Tis the season for warm soup!

What I'm buying: I don't have any buying planned this week except for my weekly run to get vegetables and perishables.

What I'm thankful for: Even though the last few days have caused us to remember the blessings in our lives, I still am thankful for those harder times when the Lord is sanctifying me through my trials.

What I'm creating: Pretty portraits. I am really, really stumped by one of my photography assignments: getting the right light (3:1 ratio) on someones face. And since it is sunny now I can get outside and work on this later today....

What I'm praying: That I would not trust in the material gifts God has blessed me with, but in God alone.

What I'm planning: This week we have co-op at my house. I am teaching about the continents and the geography of California with the younger ones and then reviewing Spanish expansion and writing references with the older children.

What we did this last weekend: We had a great Thanksgiving weekend and I am planning a blog post about it. But to recap....eating, walks, Christmas tree, apples, hot chocolate, eating, snow, baseball, lights, eating....

What I'm looking forward to: We have a normal school week this week. Then we have another church dance practice this week and I cannot believe it is going to be December this Wednesday.

A picture to share:

~Oh yeah, baby.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And while I am thinking about turkey,  how I want to set the table and if my fondue will come out tonight, I still want to focus on what I am thankful for. So here is my list, followed by the children's lists as well.

Christ, and His saving work on the cross. That He saw me in my sinfulness and extended unmerited grace.

For our church. As a congregation we have been studying and memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism this year in Sunday School and I have immensely enjoyed that.

My faithful husband. My best friend, lover, and closest companion. Need I say more?

My precious children. They bring such incredible joy into my life!

My home. It could really be anywhere as far as I am concerned. As long as I am with my Sweetie and children, home could be an apartment, duplex or house. It is what is inside those walls that make it a home.

My washing machine and dryer. I could give up my dishwasher and microwave, but not having these machines to clean and dry our clothes would definitely make my life more challenging.

Music. I love having beautiful, encouraging music playing. From Fernando Ortega to Bach's concerto, I find comfort and am thankful for music.

Tea is such a luxury, but so soothing to me. I have at least one cup most every day and love to try new flavors.

My camera. I love capturing moments. Especially moments that will someday fade. And I am so thankful that I have my Nikon to take photos with.

Color. God is so gracious to give us such a beautiful world to live in and I am so thankful I can see and enjoy the beautiful colors that are in it. 

It is good to give thanks to the Lord
to sing praises to your name, Oh most High.

Psalm 92:1

Mr. Lego

  • My lego collection
  • The baby rabbits
  • Jesus who died on the cross
  • Clothes that I wear
  • For Christian music


  • Books to read
  • For turkey
  • That Jesus died for me
  • Christmas Music
  • That I am not sick and am not disabled


  • For Thanksgiving
  • For God and that He died on the cross for our sins
  • I am thankful for the world that God created
  • I am thankful for my rabbits
  • For my toy cars


  • Christmas
  • Eating turkey
  • Bracelets and necklaces
  • Shoes
  • Pictures on the walls

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am cold. I love warm weather and get cold very easily in the wintertime, so I am sitting here with 2 sweaters, my warm, fuzzy slippers and a cup of tea.

What I'm reading: Not too much this week....
What I'm listening to: The wind blowing outside. It was stormy here over the weekend and this is our fourth day of rain.

What we're learning: We are taking a break from formal learning this week, but the kids still read like crazy.

What I'm watching: The fridge getting full. Although by the end of the week it will have thinned out a bit.

What's cooking: We are going to start a 'Thanksgiving Eve' tradition.....fondue. I found a crock pot recipe for one that we are going to try this Wednesday.

What I'm buying: I tried to escape the rush at the stores by doing the grocery shopping for Thanksgiving this morning. No lines at all and I got a turkey for 68 cents a pound.

What I'm thankful for: That so far this season we have not gotten sick. And I pray this lasts through this week. At least.

What I'm creating: We are hoping for more baby rabbits this week.....we'll see....

What I'm praying: That I would remember to store up my treasure in heaven and not here on this earth.

What I'm planning: Thanksgiving food, along with, I am sure, a million other people. We are having the traditional dinner with turkey and stuffing, green bean casserole, yams, potatoes, cranberries sauce and ambrosia, just for my Sweetie.

What we did this last weekend: On Saturday we had a nice day at home doing stuff around the house, then after church yesterday we had some friends over. Then last night we had a visit from the grandparents who were in the area. It was a short visit but fun to see them!

What I'm looking forward to: Tomorrow we are helping to pass food out at the food bank with 4-H, then Thursday Obachan (Sweetie's Mom) is coming for Thanksgiving. Then off to find a Christmas tree on Friday and to pull out the Christmas decorations....

A picture to share:

~Grandma and Grandpa with the kiddos.