Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas at School

    Our little school was planning its Christmas program. It wasn't going to be much of a production. Mostly just singing Christmas carols and reciting poems, and the Christmas story from Luke 2. The fun part would come when we got to exchange gifts.
     Everyone threw their name into one of the boy's hats. Teacher Ruth added her name too, even though every family was expected to give her a nice gift.
     The day of the program arrived. It was a little overwhelming having to stand at the front of the school room while the entire Amish community had gathered to see our performance. The singing went well. I stood uncomfortably with my hands clasped behind my back the entire time, just like Mom had instructed me to. Beside me cousin Emma was playing with her apron, not minding what her hands were doing as we were singing. It looked more comfortable than my position, but somehow I managed to stick to it, and when my turn came I recited a little poem about a snowman.
     Another song or two and then we were free to go back to our seats and it was time to exchange gifts. I had been eyeing the heap of nicely wrapped gifts that were piled on the teacher's desk, secretly hoping that the one huge box would be mine.
     Instead I received a much smaller, lumpy package. It contained an apple shaped candy dish and a paint by number set. I was thrilled with it, and carefully set it on my desk as I watched the rest of the children open their gifts.
    Finally the biggest box was presented to Abe, an eighth grader. He tore the wrapping paper off and opened the box only to find another box inside it. Inside that box was another one. And so it continued until finally he got down to the last one. It contained a simple coloring book.
    Teacher Ruth was rolling with laughter. She was the one who had drawn Abe's name for the gift exchange.
      I was only six, but that didn't stop me from burning with indignation at the injustice of it all. I slipped Abe a pack of smarties as we were leaving for home. Hoping that it would help his school Christmas be a little better.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Picture my Week

Our daily walks became a little more difficult with all the snow. Steven gallantly led the way and made a path for me to follow.

The girls and I made numerous Christmas treats.  Rosie Mae's hands bear the tale of some chocolate dipped treats that were rolled in red sprinkles.

We have all been enjoying the pretty splash of color from the poinsettia on the kitchen table. Kenneth received it as a prize for winning a game at a Christmas party we attended. He in turn, gifted it to me.

Friday, December 15, 2017


    My earliest Christmas memory is from when I was almost four years old.
    Daddy and Mom were going to a town a little farther away than our horse Jim could take us to. They had hired a driver to take them, and for some reason Grandpa and Grandma couldn't babysit that day which meant John and I got to go along.
    After we arrived at the store Daddy and Mom each got a cart. John went with Daddy and I got to sit in the cart that Mom had. It was the most interesting store ever. They had toys, and toys, and more toys. Mom pushed her cart up and down the aisles looking for something while I was too awestruck to do anything except look wide eyed at everything.
    She finally selected a package of wooden blocks that had the alphabet printed on their sides. After paying for it we headed back outside to sit in the car where we waited for a few minutes until Daddy and John came out to join us and we went back home.
    The next few days Mom made a few pans of rice krispie candy and a batch of caramel corn, but packed it away until later.
    One morning when John and I got up we were greeted with a cup of hot chocolate and an orange next to our usual breakfast. Daddy and Mom seemed extra happy as they wished us a Merry Christmas and waited semi patiently for us to slowly enjoy our delicious breakfast.
     Once the dishes were cleared away they gave John those wooden blocks Mom had bought and I received a Memory game. They helped us play with them and then we got to eat those treats Mom had been making earlier. It was a great day!
     This thing called Christmas was fun! I wished they would do it more often.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. 'Hurry less, worry less'...what's your strategy for making that happen this holiday season? How's it going so far?

I don't really have a strategy for that. I have plenty I want to do, but I'm not getting stressed about it.

2. Do you have a list of to-dos that need accomplishing in order to prepare your home and/or property for the winter season? What are some of the jobs on your list? Are you a do-it-yourselfer or do you hire someone to accomplish these tasks?

Winter is here already and everything is blanketed in a layer of white. Our preparations had been done for a while already. We don't have a big list of things that we do to prepare for winter. Mostly just make firewood, buy coal, and bring in the wind chimes.

We are a do it yourself family. It's been years since we hired anyone to do anything for us. The last time was in Missouri when we hired someone to fix our stove while LV was gone for a week at a time working, and I couldn't fix it on my own.

3. According to dietitians surveyed, the most popular health foods for 2018 will be -turmeric, sprouted foods (bean sprouts, breads with sprouted grains, etc), veggies in place of grains, dairy free milk, and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, etc).  What's the first thought that ran through your head when you read this list? Of the foods listed which one might you add to your regular diet? Also, can milk really be dairy free? Is it still milk?

It doesn't sound very appetizing to me, though I do love sprouts. My mother used to keep them on hand during the winter months so we have something fresh to eat year round. I have no desire to eat bread made with sprouted grains ... and dairy free milk is simply a milk substitute to me.

4. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet. According to the Pantone site 'Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking pointing us to the future.' What say you? Do you like the color purple? Did you see the movie or read the book-ha!?  Is purple a color you wear often? Describe for us one purple item in your home without using the word purple.  If you were in charge of such things what color would you select for 2018?

I love the color purple! I Have not seen the movie or read the book. I do wear purple quite regularly. Other than clothes though not much else is that color in our house. One of the quilts I have has some in it, but it's not the main color. The only other thing would be the computer mouse pad and maybe a book cover or two. In fact book three in my series just happens to have some.

5. Favorite book read this year?

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I don't know why I've never read it before, but I really enjoyed it. It reminded me a lot of the Anne of Green Gables series.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

The girls and I have been busy making Christmas snacks and treats. We're down to only three more things and we'll be done for this year. Today we'll be making the fruitcake! We made it all the way to day 45 once again. I'll be so glad to get it off the kitchen counter, but somehow I already know we'll be doing it again next year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

School Days

     First grade started off great after I got over the newness of the first day. My teacher Lydia Troyer was kind and efficient in teaching a one room school with grades 1 through 8. We all loved her, but after six weeks something happened that she had to go home, and since that was out of state the school board had to find a new teacher fast.
     On Monday morning when we got to school we were greeted by Ruth Miller who had agreed to finish the term. She didn't look as if she knew how to have fun as she sat grimly at her teachers desk and looked sternly at us.
     We all sat there quietly and looked at her. I started feeling a lump in my throat again, I wanted to go home or have Lydia back, I looked over at cousin Emma and she looked scared too. Finally Ruth cleared her throat and said that we need to forget we had a teacher before her and that she will be making some changes. For starters she wants the upper grade children to go take down all the art that is on the walls.
     I watched in dismay as they took down all the art that we had created during happy art periods the previous six Fridays. They laid them on her desk and she took them all, crumpled them, and threw them in the trash can, and stated "There, that's the last of that nonsense! We come to school to work, not to play." And proceeded to give us our assignments.
     It wasn't long before it was obvious, that she didn't like cousin Marvin. He had a problem with stuttering that grew a lot worse after she started teaching. One day when the second grade was having their reading class, he was having an especially hard time with his stuttering and Ruth got very frustrated with him and told him that since he is too much of a baby to read to go back and sit in his seat.
     I watched in consternation as he walked to his seat blinking back tears, and Ruth grabbed the trash can which was almost half full of crumpled papers and shavings from sharpening pencils and roughly placed it upside down over Marvin's head and shoulders. The trash fell on his lap and the floor around him as she told him he has to sit there like that for the rest of the day.
     I tried my best to please her, to avoid experiencing her temper, but like everyone else I got to experience it directed at me a time or two as well.
     Once the school term was over Ruth was not hired again. There were rumblings of problems in the community and everyone decided to home school the next term.

Monday, December 11, 2017


     Mom used to make a weekly trip to town with Jim and one of our buggies. Most of the time John and I would stay at Grandpa Masts while Aunt Emma went with Mom.
    We always had a lot of fun playing there. Often if Mom was gone over lunchtime Grandpa would sit on his creaky rocking chair and ask us to come to him. He would have both hands closed and tell us we can have whatever is inside. We would tug and pull at his fingers until we finally had them open, and then get the treats he had hidden there for us. Most often it was a kids chewable papaya tablet, that we called monkey candy, other times there would be a few sunflower seeds. We didn't really mind what he held in his hands, the most fun was in opening them.
     One day after Mom came back from town and we were talking to Grandma yet before we started for home, she told me that she bought something for me and I could go look in the back of the buggy in a certain bag.
     I ran to the see what is there, and found a tin lunch box with Care Bear Cousins. To me it was the most beautiful one I had ever seen. I showed it to John and David and then had to run and find Vernie and Grandpa to make sure they see my new treasure too.

     Mom told me I could use it to go to school. I was so excited and eagerly counted off the days until I could finally use it.
     When the morning dawned for the first day of school I watched excitedly as Mom packed my lunch. I wore a new green dress that Grandma had made for me. Mom hitched Jim to the buggy and we headed for school. Once we got there they went inside with me and helped find the desk that had my name on it. There was a brand new pencil laying on top and several shiny new books. I loved books and could hardly wait to start coloring and writing and what ever else was involved with this exciting new event.
     But then Mom said "Good-bye" and went out the door with John and David and headed home without me. My shiny new lunchbox and the books and pencil lost their charm as huge lumps started forming in my throat. I wanted desperately to cry and run home to Mom. Cousin Emma was also in first grade and was sitting right across the aisle from me. She wasn't having any qualms about going to school and told the teacher that "MaryAnn is going to cry." The teacher was very friendly and soon had me calmed down with some pretty pictures to color.
     By the end of the first day Mom was waiting for me as soon as school let out. I decided school isn't too bad, there were a lot of interesting things to do and all my friends were there too. And at the end of the day I could go to the place I loved best. Home.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Picture my Week

I'm pleased at how my walking/hiking is getting easier. Though I can walk much farther and faster than I used to, my energy still doesn't match that of my daughters. On Sunday afternoon we headed to a nearby hiking trail. The girls ran ahead, and this is what met my eyes when I caught up with them. It almost made me feel dizzy just seeing them sit p there like that.
The tunnel doors have been closed for the winter. I was a little disappointed to not be able to walk through it, but have put it on my list of goals for 2018.

Steven played Joseph last night in our homeschool group's Christmas show.

We've had a busy week with school, Christmas play practices, making gifts, and working on getting our Christmas treats made. Even so Rosie Mae took a few moments to join Steven under the Christmas tree when he wanted someone to admire the beauty from a different angle.