Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29

1 Ewe+1 Ram+3 boy Lambs
-5 miscarried Lambs, 1 brother (Tim), 3 Grandmas, 2 Grandpas, 4 Great Aunts, 2 Great Uncles, and several family friends going to join the saints in the Church Triumphant
+1 Brother-in-law (Eric)
+ 1 Saturn- 2 Saturns + 1 Blazer- 2 Blazers
+1 Toyota Camry + 2 Minivans-1 Minivan
+ 3 Digital Cameras- 2 Digital Cameras
+1 Laptop+ 2 Computers
+ Several vacations to IN, ID, CA, SC, AL, MO, WY, NE, etc.
+ Ewe's first cell phone
+ Living in 3 houses in 3 different parts of the country
- 1 house (sold)
+ 2 Major moves to different states
+ Ewe changing from classroom teacher to Mama to homeschool teacher
+ Ram changing from student to pastor
+ 1 major surgery for Ram
+ Ram two Calls to 4 different churches
+ Plus making many new friends from many different parts of the country and a few from overseas
+ Moving from living in the same city as one set of parents to the same state as the other set of parents
+Living in a big city, in a town of 113, and in a suburb of a big city

=10 years of holy matrimony for Ram and Ewe!

We thank Christ for being the center of our marriage and being with us through all these changes. We know he will continue to be with us in future years and future changes too.

*Sorry I can't post a photo, but the wedding photos are still packed!

**Baker family, you are in our thoughts and prayers today. We know while this is a joyous day on the calendar for us it is a difficult anniversary day for you which makes it a bittersweet day for us. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May we continue to look forward to the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day 1

3 Handsome Lambs

Photographer: Lamb 1
Not bad for his first photo!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

*Photos taken at our new church on Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Lamb 1
Lamb 2
Lamb 3

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:11

*Photos were taken in MN in October

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Are you listening?

The secular world says Christmas is only one day. About a week ago I heard a fellow customer talking on her cell phone in the grocery store. She was talking about taking down her Christmas tree. This was a week before Christmas Day! In our family we wait until Advent is almost over to decorate our Christmas tree. First we observe Advent. We take our Christmas tree down after Epiphany. We observe the whole 12 days of Christmas, not just one day.
Did you know there is a radio station that plays Christmas music for the whole Christmas season? You can listen here. Thank you Lutheran Public Radio for beginning Christmas music today.
You can also listen to talk radio about the Christmas season here on demand. Thank you Issues Etc. for discussing the issues in our world from a Lutheran viewpoint.
Our computer is tuned in to Christmas music today until we leave for church tonight. Is yours?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Busy Weekend

We had a busy weekend at church this past weekend. Sorry it took me so long to post these, we were recovering from the weekend for a few days while also getting ready for Christmas.
Our family did not help, but our church provided food for 18 needy families. They went shopping, packaged up the food, and delivered it. Oh how excited those families must have been to receive a turkey, bag of potatoes, gallon of milk and OJ, bag of flour and sugar, and several canned goods to complete their Christmas dinner. Times are hard for many people in this economy and I'm glad our church was able to help out these families that needed it. I hope that next year we can help with this project as I think it would be good for the Lambs.

Saturday morning we had dress rehearsal practice for the Christmas program.

This was the first year our church tried doing a Living Nativity. It was out by the street for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. One man read the Christmas story and other readings from the Bible and the "actors" acted it out. There were no speaking parts except for the reader. Ram was King Herod and he is not in this photo. After watching the Living Nativity then you were invited into the church for cookies and apple cider. It went well for the first year and they plan to do it again next year.

Lamb 3 was not feeling well on Saturday night, I think he was just tired and too many cookies because he was better on Sunday. I had planned to go to church for early service but thought it would be better to let Lamb 3 sleep in a little more. The Lambs went to Sunday School and the Children's Christmas Service was during second service at our church. Here are my two shepherds and one sheep.

Shepherd Lamb 1

Shepherd Lamb 2

Sheep Lamb 3

All the children (except Lamb 3 refused to be in the photo)

After the second service there was a Happy Birthday Jesus party. The Lambs enjoyed these snowman cupcakes even though the toppings were sticky so Lamb 1 with caps on his teeth couldn't have them.

Happy Birthday Jesus Party
The Lambs were given treat bags

Sunday evening one of the families from church had a Christmas party at their house. The entire congregation was invited. It was well planned with crafts for the kids upstairs while the adults visited downstairs. They provided ham and turkey and we brought sides. Our letter of the alphabet was asked to bring a salad. I took these veggie trays and hummus. It was appreciated by those gluten free members and by others who had too much sugar all weekend. I didn't bring many veggies home. All Lamb 3 ate was hummus and dessert. The Lambs had a great time and our members appreciated seeing them outside of the church, especially seeing them "just being boys".

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Homeschool Christmas Vacation

At one time Lamb 1 was a whole year ahead in math, doing Saxon math 2 book while he was in first grade. Then Ram had major surgery, I had some miscarriages, and we had a major move. I am happy to report that Lamb 1 finished his Saxon math 2 book on Thursday. He will begin Saxon math 3 after Christmas vacation. After he completes Saxon math 3 I do not know what math curriculum we are going to use. I like Saxon for the lower grades but not for the upper grades. After our major life events I'm proud that he is still half a year ahead in math.
Lamb 2 finished his handwriting of capital letters on Thursday too. Writing is very difficult for him and lower case letters will be a challenge. He is only in kindergarten and as a boy, I don't push him in this area. I know it will eventually come. He is eager to write like Lamb 1 so I'm glad he at least knows his capital letters now. He is plugging away in Alpha MUS and doing very well.
Lamb 3 will begin preschool in January. In homeschool he has been working on coloring and cutting with a scissors, both skills that will help him in preschool.
Since Lamb 1 and 2 were at a good breaking point I declared Christmas vacation began on Friday. They have their Sunday School Christmas program on Sunday and we have cookies to bake!
We are all looking forward to adding all subjects in after Christmas vacation. After our move we just did the basics in homeschool the last few months. I especially want to add more memory in, using Andrew Campbell's book, Living Memory. The Lambs want to resume Latin studies and study of Egypt in history.

Friday, December 16, 2011


When it was clear that the MN churches would not be able to pay Ram so he could stay there as a pastor until he retired, we began praying for a Call for Ram. In our prayers we prayed that we would move to a growing area with the possibility to grow the church. We loved our members and churches in MN, but it was tiring to live in a place where everyone was moving away and few were moving to the area. While we lived there a public elementary school closed and a bar closed and several businesses and stores closed. A LCMS church about 45 minutes away closed. Ram did about 50 funerals but only a few baptisms.
When Ram received the Call here we could tell this was a growing area; population growth is really exploding here. That was a positive sign that if the area was growing, there is the possibility to grow the church.
It wasn't until we moved here that we saw how MUCH the possibility is to grow the church. Ram went to a church meeting on Tuesday night. There is talk of definitely having a building project and possibly even moving locations so we could have more space. Many of the members desire a real sanctuary with pews. The preschool is growing and needs more space. Our church needs a better area for events at church besides just moving chairs and setting up tables in the sanctuary.
And the best part-they aren't doing anything special at this church, they are just being LCMS. I'm going to be very interested to see how God answers our prayers and what happens to our new church in the next 5-10 years.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More Family Update

My last post was getting quite long, so I decided to continue it here.
Saturday morning I went to LWML. In MN they wanted the pastor to come to Ladies Aid to lead Bible study so with the exception of a few times a year where our whole family went, I wasn't able to go to Ladies Aid because I needed to stay with the Lambs. The LWML group is small here-we'll have to work on increasing attendance.
Saturday after the Lambs were in bed, Ram went grocery shopping. I'm still not used to living in a place that has stores open 24 hours a day. We were trying to figure out a time to go shopping in our busy schedule. Then he decided to go then.
I have looked at a few stores here and I can't find pretzels in Christmas shapes (tree, bell, star, etc.) That was always an easy baking project for the Lambs-dip the Christmas pretzels in chocolate. One more example of my frustration shopping here.
The Lambs and I have made 5 different kinds of cookies already and have plans to make more. I'll have a post of what we've baked soon.
Monday Ram went to the mortgage company and got preapproved for a loan. We would be allowed $280,000. Isn't that crazy on a pastor's salary? I know the house we buy will be no where near that much!
We spent Friday afternoon and most of Monday with Ram and I was glad because this is the busy time of the year and we won't see Ram much more this week.
This weekend will be busy with the Christmas program for the children on Sunday and a congregation open house at one of the member's homes on Sunday afternoon and a Living Nativity on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Family Update

On Thursday I tried going to a new chiropractor. He was running a deal that if you brought in food for the needy then your first visit was free. I liked him so I took the rest of the family back on Monday. Ram and I really needed adjustments after moving, sleeping in hotel beds, and the stress of living in a new place. We found out Lamb 1 has mild scolosis. Since we homeschool he has not had checkups with the school nurse and I had no idea. The chiropractor wonders if possibly his spiral fracture of his leg as a toddler is causing some of his problems. So the chiropractor will work on this monthly and if it doesn't improve we may look into seeing if there is a problem with his leg. Thankfully it is mild and the chiropractor can work on this. Lamb 2 was perfect, probably didn't even need an adjustment. Lamb 3 was afraid of a new chiropractor, even though the doctor's first name is the same as Lamb 3's! This chiropractor does things a little different method than our old chiropractor, but I still like him. I'm thankful there is one more new doctor that we found and liked.
Friday we looked at two houses. We ruled out one because none of the bedrooms were big enough for 3 Lambs (even with a bunk bed) and they don't want to be separated. The second one is a possibility-it had built in bookshelves in almost every room of the house. It had one big bedroom with bookshelves built into the whole wall. That would be our schoolroom/library. I liked the second house we looked at but I'm not willing to buy the first house we look at. Besides the bookshelves there was nothing that jumped out and told me this was THE perfect house for us.
There are two more houses that I would like to look at, both are near the one that we liked. One is brand new never occupied. Can you see any problems with buying a brand new house? Or would it be ideal to buy a brand new house? The problem with that one is there is a high home association fee. The benefit is a community pool. I'm not sure I'm willing to pay $700 yearly the whole time we live in that house, but it would be nice to have the benefit of a pool. We haven't looked at this house yet so we will see. After we look at these two houses then I think we'll take a break from house shopping. There are not many houses on the market during the winter and I think we'll do better in the spring.
After we looked at houses on Friday we took the Lambs to the park. I couldn't believe we were playing at the park in December. We did wear winter hats with our sweatshirts! We almost had the park to ourselves. It would be nice to live near that park.
Friday evening some church members invited us over for dinner. Their children are grown, but the Lambs had a great time at their house. They played with Legos (they had tubs from when their boys were little), made their own pizzas for dinner, had cake and ice cream for dessert, and played Wii for the first time. Lamb 1 was really good at Wii bowling. Lamb 2 and 3 didn't really get Wii, but they were thrilled when it was their turn each time. It was nice to be invited to their house-we can't really invite others over here while we are in this rental house.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


My last post had a comment asking what we did for the 12 Days of Christmas stockings.

My mom filled our stockings each day for the 12 days of Christmas. We had a little larger gift in there for Christmas and Epiphany, and small gifts the rest of the days. Since our family was just two girls, the larger gifts were usually something like a purse. The smaller gifts were things like chapstick, candy, hair ribbons, etc. We always looked forward to Scotch tape in our stockings because we were not allowed to use my parents' tape (we would have used it all) and we always used ours up to wrap presents.

We have taken my parents idea but made it for boys since the Lambs are all boys. Christmas Day we put the smallest present Ram's mom gives them for Christmas that fits in there. They are allowed to open their stocking on Christmas Day before we go to church. We also put peanuts and oranges in the stockings then because that was Ram's parents tradition from Ram's mom's dad. For the rest of the days they get small gifts, often ones that we would buy them anyway, they are just in their stockings. Toothbrushes, crayons, Scotch tape, blank envelopes, candy, small cars, etc. Epiphany is a big gift from Ram and Ewe, sometimes it doesn't fit in their stocking. We started this because we wanted it clear that Papa and Mama gave a present and what they gave instead of being confused with all the other gifts from church members and from grandparents. A typical Epiphany gift: Lamb 1 received a watch when he could tell time.

I have heard of families that make a scavenger hunt with clues in the stockings where their treats are hidden in the house. I have heard of families that have treats in the stockings that the children receive once a year like pop or certain sweets. I have heard of stockings with totally silly gifts that the whole family can enjoy during Christmas vacation-like cans of silly string and a chance to go crazy together in the garage.

Some days I give "coupons" that they can redeem that day. When we lived in MN it was coupons like the next time we go to a city with Starbucks you can get your own drink. Also coupons like you can play play dough today for an unlimited time. I do try to limit the coupon days because they aren't as much fun for the Lambs as getting a gift.

Filling stockings for 12 days does take some organization and planning. It can get expensive to do 12 days times 3 (or however many children you have) Lambs. If you plan ahead you can get school supply type gifts on sale during August. If you don't plan ahead you may be able to get some deals during After Christmas sales. You can have some days be "coupon" days like I described. Some days can be a gift all the children could share, but that day wouldn't have something in each stocking. I would encourage you to be creative.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nicholas Day

My mom lost her dad in an accident a few weeks before Christmas when she was a young girl. Her dad had already picked out the presents and her mom wanted them to know that the presents (especially dolls for the girls) were from her dad, not Santa. So that year she not only lost her dad, but she also lost Santa. After that, she decided she would never do the Santa thing with her children. So growing up we never did Santa.
Because of my mom's experience I knew we would not do Santa with our children either. Julie Stiegemeyer wrote Saint Nicholas. I bought a copy and had it signed by Julie when I was pregnant with Lamb 1. We try to read it on Saint Nicholas Day each year. I like that it is short enough for even young Lambs to pay attention to the whole book.
Because we don't do Santa, but the Lambs know Saint Nicholas was a real man, we don't even talk about Santa, we only talk about St. Nick. When we moved here, the Lambs would walk into a store and talk about how many St. Nicks were out on the store shelves already at Halloween time. We went to the mall a few weeks ago and the Lambs pointed and yelled that they saw where people were having their picture taken with St. Nick. When we drive down the street they talk about how many St. Nicks they see outside on people's lawns for Christmas decorations.
Lamb 1 put his shoes out for St. Nick on Sunday night in anticipation of today. I didn't take a photo but the Lambs received chocolate coins in their shoes this morning from St. Nick.
This "solution" to Santa Claus has worked for our family. If someone would ask them if Santa Claus came to their house they would answer yes, because he came on St. Nick Day. If someone would ask them if Santa Claus was real they would answer that yes, St. Nick is real. They know that Santa Claus is the American version of St. Nick with flying reindeer and other additions. I like that I don't need to keep this a secret.
But what the Lambs look forward to is presents from Grandpa and Grandma and Great-Grandma and Aunt Hannah and stockings filled for the 12 days of Christmas by Papa and Mama. What they really look forward to is being in the Children's Program at church. We don't open any presents until after all the church services on the afternoon of Christmas Day. I like that they know people that love them give them their presents. Now, the next thing we need to work on is being able to have a conversation with either Grandma or Great-Grandma in November and December without having their Christmas wish list be part of that conversation!

Disclaimer: If you chose to do Santa with your children, I can understand the magical part of Christmas that many people have as part of childhood. It was just never part of my childhood experience so it also never became part of the Lambs experience. This post is explaining what has worked for our family, not criticizing your family if you do Santa differently. This post gave me the idea to post about Santa.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Writing thank you notes

The boxes are unpacked so earlier this week I sat down and made a list of all our friends both there and here that helped us at our time of farewell and moving. I realized how long the list was and decided it would be best to go stock up on thank you notes before beginning. When I sat down to write those notes, I could only write a few before too many tears flowed to continue.
This is the 17th time that I've moved. I knew it would be more difficult because this is the first time I moved with children. There are so many things that were right about moving here-they were exactly what we prayed for before Ram received a Call to be  pastor here. But we have to find all new doctors here after becoming close to several of our doctors in MN. ID has the best homeschooling law in the country but I found out that they are unfriendly to homeschoolers that need services from them like speech therapy. After student teaching in WI, teaching in a school in IN, and sending the Lambs to the public school in MN for speech, this has been surprising to me that all students do not have a "right" to speech. I was so happy to move to a city with stores just down the road instead of a big mall 3 hours away. But the stores here carry different brands and products than they did in MN. I was used to buying specific items in specific stores in specific towns-even if that meant stocking up when we were at that store and only buying some items a few times a year. Even if the stores carry what I'm looking for, I'm not used to where on the shelf it is like it was in MN. Ram is busy at church so I'm navigating my way through traffic in a strange city with 3 Lambs along. (I must say they have been quite the troopers for the shopping that we have done and I've bought them a few McDonald's ice cream cones to say thank you to them.)
When we were in MN I thought this was the perfect time of year to move-our garden was done, etc. Now that we are here, I realize it was a really difficult time to move. In MN I was really busy this time of year-getting ready to go to all the Ladies Aid Christmas parties, Christmas program practice, Christmas caroling, etc. I brought food to almost all those events so I was busy cooking and baking the whole month. Since this is a bigger church there are more people to help. Here others cover almost everything so as pastor's wife I'm not expected to do those things.
Oh, how generous our former members and friends in MN were when we moved. Here they were losing their pastor and his family and unsure what the future held for them as a tri-parish. They helped us pack, brought us food, gave us gifts, and made sure the parsonage was painted/cleaned/repairs made.
So this post was just to say that I miss MN and our friends and church members there. I know that I will get used to ID. I know there are a lot of great things about our new town and our new church and I will get used to it. I know there are a lot of other wives of pastors that have been at this point. I know I will get the thank you notes written. I know I will get used to my new role as wife of the pastor here. But I will be thinking of what our churches in MN would traditionally do on each of the days this month.
On the positive side, a couple from church invited our family over for dinner this week. If I'm not so busy with church activities, this will mean more time to do Christmas activities and baking with the Lambs.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First Field Trip

Our church preschool went to Albertson's grocery store for a field trip a couple of weeks ago. We asked if we could tag along. They were surprised none of the Lambs had ever been on a field trip before. I had my hands full with Lamb 3 being very clingy-I think he was afraid I was going to leave him with the teachers and students. We had told him he would start preschool after Christmas and this field trip was not part of what he expected. So I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked to. For the field trip they went to each section of the grocery store and talked about healthy food choices from that section-to buy bread at the bakery, but only occasionally buy donuts or cake. At each section they were given something to put in their bag. At the end of the field trip they had a lunch to eat-sandwich from the deli, apple, banana, granola bar, bottle of water, piece of bread, etc. They also received some nice coupons for when we shop there and since I have 3 Lambs I received 3 times the coupons! After touring the store then each child got to pretend to be the check out person and scan some items and then they sat down and ate their lunch together. It was nice for me to meet a few other stay at home moms. The preschool met at the store so parents had to bring their children, there was no bus or van to the store. We enjoyed our field trip and look forward to going on the next field trip with the preschool. Thank you Albertsons!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pantry Shower

We had some interesting meals here between the time that we got a refrigerator and when the church had a pantry shower for us on November 13. I didn't want to stock our pantry until I saw what we received at the shower.
The shower was overwhelming. It was very welcome after we had a full pantry in MN and gave away an entire chest freezer and pantry full of food.
We received lots of chocolate chips and items like pasta and spaghetti sauce. The boys ate their first can of Chef Boyardee. Toilet paper, paper towels, cereal, pure maple syrup, and other canned goods were appreciated. We also received several gift cards for local grocery stores. We even received a plant which was appreciated after I gave away all but one of my plants when we moved. It was great to be welcomed to the church with this pantry shower. The day after the pantry shower we went grocery shopping with our gift cards and finished filling our pantry with items to cook from a menu for a couple of weeks-basing the menus on the items we were given at the shower and finishing the menus to make complete meals.

The Lambs helped unload the car with the items we received while Ram led the second service at church. Then they unpacked everything to see what we received. We ate some soup we received for a fast lunch when Ram got home. Then they put everything out on the table and played store. So the pantry shower not only filled our pantry, but it also provided entertainment for the Lambs for an afternoon.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A surprise

One day a few weeks ago Ram brought home an envelope from church. I would have sat down and blogged about it right away, but we didn't have Internet at home yet. A Looper that I have never met before sent me a gift. She didn't know my home address so she sent it to church. That is what is so nice about having a pastor for a husband! She sent a really nice card with it to encourage me as she knows moving is hard. She knows that we used to live 1 1/2 hours from Target and now Target is right down the road. So this is what she sent. I had never seen "gift coins" before. They were perfect for the Lambs to each get a treat and Ewe was allowed to use the extra coin on herself. It was good timing to get a gift as Ewe was discouraged-the washer had leaked water all over the office, we didn't have Internet at home yet, we found out that the post office wouldn't forward our mail, unpacking wasn't going as fast as Ewe would have liked after Ram started working at church, etc.
Ram took the Lambs to Target one day and gave Ewe a few minutes peace. Lamb 1 chose Legos and Lamb 3 chose Duplos which did not surprise me. They chipped in a little of their spending money with their gift coin and were quite happy. When they got home they claimed that Lamb 2 had spent a lot of his spending money in addition to his gift coin. Actually what Lamb 2 chose was on sale so he didn't spend that much extra with his gift coin. He chose a Busytown Richard Scarry board game. It surprised me that he didn't buy Legos. I thought that this would be a good learning experience for Lamb 2 with his spending money. It turns out that the Lambs have played this game several times almost every day since he bought it. They can all 3 play it or just 2 of them. It is huge spread out on the floor several feet. Yes, Lamb 2 won't have as much spending money as the other two Lambs the next time they go shopping. But it turns out it was a very good purchase for him. Add in that many of our games are still in the garage and it makes this even better. Once again the cashier was patient as the Lambs counted out their own money along with their gift coin to make their purchases.

So thank you to my Looper friend for not only thinking of sending a small gift, but also getting it in the mail. I often have good intentions but time goes by and ideas like this don't happen. I haven't used my coins yet, but one of these days we'll have to go to Target so Ewe can get her treat too. Hopefully some day I will get to meet this Looper friend in person.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ram's installation at our new church on November 6

Janet, Ewe, Becky
These are the "local" Loopers (LCMS homeschool e-list). Janet is about 1 1/2 hours and Becky is about 20 minutes away from me. They were both thrilled to have a Looper move so close! Janet's husband had to miss a football game to come to the service, but they enjoyed the service and stayed to eat afterwards. Becky's two children were real troopers to sit through a long afternoon service for a pastor they never met before. Becky's husband was out of town for the weekend so she was on her own with her children. It meant a lot to me that two Loopers I never met before took the time to come to the installation. Janet's children are older, but I still hope to be able to get together with her occasionally. I really look forward to getting Becky's kids and the Lambs together as her children are just a few years older than the Lambs. It's wonderful to already have local friends when we first moved here.

The pastors at the installation
The most familiar one (for Higher Things participants) is probably Rev. Timothy Pauls. Ram knew the names of a couple of other pastors from the circuit and looks forward to getting to know them better. Rev. Pauls was very happy to see Ram return to ID.

Our family with Ram's parents

Our family with Ewe's parents

Our family

Ram with Ewe's dad, who preached for the installation.
Ewe made Ram's stole for his Ordination
Ewe's dad's stole was a gift from a deaconess in Thailand

We had to hurry to take photos after the service. We found out our church is dark and photos are a challenge. I miss that part of our last church, photos with lots of sunlight through the stained glass windows. Following the installation service there was a potluck with meat provided by the church and a birthday cake for Ewe. It was nice to have some time with our family and friends after the long day of church and Sunday School in the morning and the installation service in the afternoon. There was some miscommunication between Ram and Ewe so we thought we had camcorded the installation service, but a new "tape" was not put in. We were just glad to see that the camcorder had not taped over the last thing recorded. It would be nice to have that service recorded, but it wasn't as bad as if we would have messed up recording something important to the Lambs. Lamb 2 and 3 slept through most of the installation service and Ram's mom helped Lamb 1 pay attention through the long service.