Good Tidings!

I feel that we have not yet found the extra time that we thought we would have when we moved back to Lincoln.  The idea was that we would be on the road less, offering more time for many other things.  It has been non-stop with barely a little extra time to take a deep breath since school began.  We remain in a state of "as soon as this is done, then things will slow down a bit."  No complaints here, just the facts.  We've been hearing for years that if we think we're busy now, just wait...It's true...just plain true.  It's not for lack of consciously selecting what we do and do not say "yes" to in an effort to prevent overload.  It is simply that we have seven kids who are all growing.  High school has definitely provided a new schedule to get used to.  Go-go-go-go-go.  We failed to realize that reducing our driving would mean reducing our family time together.  Many things to figure out!
I have this same picture from year to where Jakob stands UNDER the '5', and now he is at the '6'.

We chose to continue our tradition of cutting our tree from a farm in a little town east of here.  It gave us family car time!  Traditions are wonderful. 

Advent provided a bit of a slow down for us, and rightly so. What a beautiful season Advent is. It goes so fast...much faster than Lent, that's for sure, but it is indeed a time of preparation. Not just for the coming celebrations and hosting and gift-giving, but for the coming of Jesus. Preparing our hearts for the celebration of the infant Christ.

Year after year, it looks different in my head than the way it actually plays out.  This year, we opted to try a different Advent calendar.  We had a daily random act of kindness written on a card that would be pulled out each day so that we could treat others outside of our home to the blessings of the season.  We didn't do a great job of completing them all...maybe next year.  Oh well.  We didn't take a picutre of our tree before it came down because it was somewhere around the temperature of 1 degree outside!  Oh well.  The most expensive ornament of any of them was broken five minutes into decorating the tree this year.  Oh well.  The stockings were missing--until the very last second, causing much comotion regarding what should hang from the mantle of the fireplace.  Yep...that's right..."oh well."  It is almost comical the number of things that I could continue to list that could cause an upset of how things were supposed to be.  One of our advent cards was 'go through a drive thru and pay for the person behind you'.  Not wanting to take the chance that we would be in front of the car who ordered for the office, we thought it would be good to ask the attendant to give the car behind us a gift card with an attached note saying 'Happy Advent!' on it.  EXCEPT, there was never a car behind us...even though we waited behind 9 others!!!  OH WELL!  None of it matters...if it did, Christmas would be miserable because I'm sure nothing will ever go as it does in my head unless we are filming and can edit!
Year after year, Tim lifts someone up to put the angel on the tree...I think it is getting harder!  :)

Our advent was wonderful, and our Christmas IS wonderful...we like to make sure we remember that there are twelve days of Christmas...not just one.  Christmas music fills our house and gifts continue to be delivered and cards sent.  (This is more because I'm a procrastinator though!)

We spent Christmas in our new house.  It was lovely and cozy and simple.  I'm not sure if we've ever spent Christmas eve without extended family.  It was nice in it's own way, but I'm not sure I would say I prefer it over more of us being together.

We ate traditional Christmas food from my family...Chicken noodle soup and butterballs.  If you've never had a butterball, you are missing out.  There is nothing about it that is good for you, but everything that is just plain good!  My Grandparents give us butterballs and noodles they make at their church regularly.  This is a Russian-German food that most of their church family and their families are quite familiar with!  I remember getting to help on occasion when I was little.  I've never made them myself, but the recipe is simple:
 3 cups brown bread crumbs
2 cups toasted bread crumbs
5 beaten eggs
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sweet cream
allspice and salt to taste
The cream is heated and the toasted breadcrumbs added to it.  Allow to sit 10 minutes.  The salt and allspice is added to the untoasted breadcrumbs and mixed with melted butter, eggs and then the soaked bread crumbs.  It is mixed by hand and formed into small balls.  They are added to the soup at the end and are done when they pop up to the top. 

I know this may not be the best looking dish, but it is so delicious.  I made 3 dozen butterballs--evenly split, everyone could have four.  Someone swiped one of mine right from my bowl!!!  The noodles are fabulous and cooked in chicken stock--the cooked chicken served with cream and onions on bread.

I eat mine with more allspice and a fork.  I know it's soup, but I just always have eaten it this way!  I'm thrilled that my children like this's a tradition that continues. 

On Christmas eve, we ate, opened some gifts and then bundled up for Midnight Mass. 

The church is slowly filled with light and we are reminded that we are the Light of Christ in this world.

Christmas Day was spent with the for all.
Grandpa is trying as hard as he can to pull candy from a giant ball of packing tape before Jody rolls doubles.  I've never seen so many people work so hard for a few pieces of candy!!  LOL
  I love Christmas!  Happy birthday Jesus...thanks for being born!