Thursday, December 27, 2012

Quest Notes : Images of Christmas (Updated as a Link-up!)


Today I'm linking up to "What I'm Into" which is hosted by Leigh Kramer at Hopefuleigh.  Now and then I put up a "Quest Notes" post, which is essentially the same thing as "What I'm Into", so this morning I thought, why not join in the fun? 

My husband and I have cut down our own tree every year since we were married in 2001. 
A very special job.
Our hero.
When you wait until Dec. 23, most tree farms will give you free stuff. We walked out with the giant wreath on the right and a wreath making kit -- as well as complimentary hot chocolate and cookies, of course.
The Christmas tree at the top belongs to my 3 yr. old. And he's reaching for more cinnamon candy!

Here's what we ended up reading for our Advent Literary Countdown. The larger books contain classic Christmas chapters.  The only one we never got around to opening was Little Women! Alas! One of the best! Oh well, maybe next year. The titles highlighted in green are the titles which kept our attention from beginning to end, warmed our hearts and enriched our minds -- they are the books we will reread next Advent.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

Christmas Around the World, Lesley Sims -- This just skimmed the surface. We all wanted to know more. 

Samantha's Surprise: A Christmas Story, by Maxine Rose Schur -- My boys were bored with this one.

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (abridged and illustrated) I adore Dickens, but my kids couldn't hang with this. We read one chapter.

The First Christmas, by Lynne Bradbury -- Too cartoonish.

A Year Down Yonder, by Richard Peck (Chapter 4, "Away in a Manger")

Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder (Chapter 4, "Christmas")

Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Chapter 25, "Puffed Sleeves")

The Nativity Story (a companion book to the film from New Line Cinema)

"The Night Before Christmas", by Clement Moore, illustrated by Tomie De Paola (We also shared copies of the same poem illustrated by Tom Browning and Mary Englebreit which I picked up from the library. Next year I think we'll try the Tasha Tudor version.)

"The Little Match Girl", by Hans Christian Andersen (The copy I have is from 1967. Next year I will try to obtain the version I linked to -- illustrated by Rachel Isadora.)

A New Coat for Anna, by Harriet Zeifert

Once Upon a Company, by Wendy Anderson Halperin

"The Gift of the Magi", by O. Henry, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

Stranger in the Woods, by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick

A Cowboy Christmas, by Audrey Wood -- Think sappy TV drama. 

Jesus' Christmas Party, by Nicholas Allan
A few years ago when we lived in a tiny 2 bedroom farmhouse, I hauled our scroll saw into the dining room to make these cutouts. Now I use them for our Advent reflections.

I won this at a "white elephant" party!  I could not have been more thrilled/surprised/grateful! It was hand woven in Kenya! It  now serves as storage for our wooden Advent cutouts.
My mother-in-law has always kept us well stocked with snuggly Christmas PJs. Right after Thanksgiving I put them in a central location. My toddlers especially love to put on their PJs mid-day and cuddle down with a sippy cup of milk.

My treasures: This is the first year that my oldest two kids (ages 9 &10) completely surprised me with gifts they picked out and purchased with their own money. How delightful!
I finished The Return of the Native today. The Classical Quest Synchro-Read on Facebook has really helped me to stay on track with my reading goals during this busy season. A big thank you to everyone who chimed in with encouraging words and insights!

Hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season! I'd love to hear about your festivities.
Blessings to all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

let the children come

Children know instinctively the correct way to arrange a nativity scene: everyone should be crammed in as closely as possible to see the Baby. 


I hope you are finding time to frolic and play and laugh and sing this Christmas. 

Even the Prince of Heaven became a little child. 

I saw these two videos on Anne Voskamp's site yesterday. 
After dinner, I took my laptop into the dining room, dimmed the lights and watched them with my family. 


“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 
Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Mark 10:14-15
Love to all,

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Finding Courage to Send My Kids Back to School

My son, who just turned six.
About the time I was finishing up my "Classics and the Bible Sundays" post on Friday, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary occurred. The post is saved and I'll most likely put it up next Sunday.

But this morning, my mind is plagued with two pressing questions:

How am I going to find the composure to talk to my older kids about what happened?

How am I going to find the courage to put them on the school bus tomorrow morning?

Our family is relatively new to public school. About this time last year -- just before my fifth baby was born, we stopped homeschooling. I believe I can still clearly recall how I would have reacted to this event when I was a homeschooler: stunned and deeply saddened, but also, relieved that my kids were home with me and "safe".

But God is not calling me to a false sense of security; He is calling me to trust Him. Through this tragedy, I am now entering into a profound sense of empathy with other parents all over this nation.

We don't know what tomorrow holds.

Even still, we must reach forward with hope.

The following is a statement from Jimmy Greene, whose daughter, Ana Marquez-Greene,  was slain at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday:

As we work through this nightmare, we’re reminded how much we’re loved and supported on this earth and by our Father in heaven. As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise. I love you sweetie girl.

Tomorrow morning I will hug my kids as I always do. I will say what I always say --

Go with God, children.

When the bus pulls up I will take my heart and place it on that big yellow bus. My children and I will wave to each other until we disappear from each other's sight.

And the only way I am going to be able to do it is through the love and support of my Father in heaven. Thank you, Jimmy Greene, for reminding me of this.

(Please take the time to click on his name and read the "Message" page, which was part of his professional website before this tragic event occurred.)

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."—         Philippians 4:13

Green family
The Greene Family. Ana is on the right. (via)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Much love to all,


Friday, December 14, 2012

He heals the brokenhearted

Our country mourns the loss of the precious little ones whose lives were taken today at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

As a mother, my heart is aches.

On my knees for those mamas.

God help them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Invisible Friendship

Recently, I found some letters. 

Written by hand

A whole correspondence from across two continents, spanning seven years between my best friend and me. (I now have both sets.)

I uncovered them from deep storage and I'm in the process of carefully reading each one.

Finding these letters was an event. I expect they will find their way into my blog posts for quite some time.

This morning, as I set out to walk through the cold, crunchy fields near my home, I pondered this quote which I had copied into a letter in January of 1995:
Familiarity sometimes renders people physically invisible, for you find yourself talking to the heart -- to the essence . . . rather than to the face. ~Michael Welzenbach

I understand this quote is referring to when you are in someone's actual presence and you know the person so well they become physically invisible to you. You don't notice their "warts," so to speak. 

But to me, the quote describes the way I used to feel about receiving letters from my dear friend, Jeni. We were forced apart physically through life circumstances, yet through our letters we drew closer than ever before.

And that is how I've come to feel about blogging. We sit behind our computer screens and we share  what matters to us. Bit by bit we crack open the door of our souls and allow others to peer in.

I have always been more transparent in letters than I am able to be in person. (Maybe this is also why I often think of the writers of the classics as my personal friends.)
As I mentioned yesterday, I'm into making what I call "cyber-samplers" lately. Here's a new one for you --

Love to all,


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cyber-Samplers for 12/12/12

Nearly blinded myself this morning while attempting to capture this shot.

Took this of my son while on a camping trip last summer.

Made this with a paper bag on the kitchen floor.
I've been having a blast making little quote pictures lately. If I hone in on your favorite quote, I'll probably be sending you one. (If I know your email address, that is!) When I was a teenager, I cross-stitched little designs and sent them to my friends in the mail. I've come to think of what I'm doing now as as "cyber-stitchery"! What you see here are "cyber-samplers".

When I hear a person say they love a certain quote, I try to really pay attention to it. The quote will usually reveal something essential about that person, something he or she may never articulate to me any other way.
 Made this with a silk apron which has "France 1919" embroidered on the pocket.

I always read with a sharp #2 Ticonderoga. My pencil also serves as a bookmark. 

On my blog you will only see cyber-stitchery from quotes that I've come upon in my reading -- stuff I've underlined and reread and pondered on my own. This is a little rule I follow because while it's fun to skip over to Pinterest or Wikiquote and grab a quote I like, there is nothing quite like scaling a mountainous tome in a hungry search for a morsel of nourishment. Something about that whole process makes a quote much more memorable and personal to me. If feels like it's mine.

For this one I used some red Christmas wrap with white dots. 

Took this picture on one of my morning walks this past year. 
Take care dear ones.

Oh and I nearly forgot -- Happy 12/12/12!
This is a good day to do something you'd like to be remembered by!

Love to all!

~ Adriana

p.s. Did I invent two new terms? I haven't noticed anyone else use "cyber-stitchery" or "cyber-sampler" before. Which do you like best?

This is a portion of a sampler I made in 1996.

p.s.s. If I DO send you a quote via email, It's a gift. Please don't feel obligated to stick it on your blog or anything! (But you certainly may if you want to.) No need to reference me in your post, my  blog-signature is already on the stuff I make.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An Essay I Wrote at Age 12: "Hopes for My Life and World"

 An Essay I Wrote at Age Twelve

"Hopes for My Life and World"

First off I think I should get a job, nothing drastic, maybe something like a waitress for a restaurant. I do think this is important during my teen years because I don't think I should depend entirely upon my parents and I don't think they would want me to either.
Also while I'm young I would like to have some of my writing published and if I'm lucky I'll make a little money off of that.
One of my greatest hopes is to become a professional pianist. I have always loved music and it is very enjoyable for me to play. I would also like to learn to play the violin.
I do plan on getting married. I'm willing to wait for the perfect time because I would never rush into a life long disision [sic] such as marriage.
I also want a house if I have to get a small one at first it doesn't matter I will take it step by step.
After I'm married I would like to have children, the number doesn't matter I have always loved children and I wouldn't mind having them.
Maybe in my free time I would like to teach piano lessons, because I like to teach and I love the piano.
I want to travel very much, although if I ever do it, it will probubly [sic] be when my kids are grown and married. The place I want to go to the most is Vienne [sic] Austria.
I know that while I grow and change the world is growing and changing too. I hope these changes will be good. That young people would not be influenced by evil. That the leaders of the countries would be strong in good beliefs, and the people would learn to be more mercyful [sic] and understanding.

A Letter to My Twelve Year Old Self (at age 36)

Dear Twelve Year Old Self,
You will get a job, when you are fourteen. Your mother will take you to get a worker's permit and you will wash heaps and heaps of dishes at your uncle's food commissary. You will work many hours in the summer. You will enjoy being in the midst of your aunt and uncles who work there too. Eventually, your grandmother will teach you how to mix the spices for the secret recipes.
You will have some of your writing published, but that won't happen until you are nineteen, after you have traveled abroad three times (on your hard earned dollars from the commissary and love gifts from friends and family). You will be commissioned to write a book of moral lessons for a children's ministry. You will be given a check for $250. You will take the check to the commissary office and have a copy made for a keepsake because it means you are officially a writer.

You will read a short article about Eliza Lucas Pinckney and you will become intrigued. You will begin to compile research on her. Soon you will have amassed so much material that you will decide to go to college to see if someone there can help you figure out what to do with it all. Besides you will be feeling lonely for other people to discuss your passions with. You will find out however, that most other people are not there for the same reasons you are.
Unfortunately, you will always be too introverted to play the piano much in public, but that will cease to bother you over time. Many of your piano students will perform however. One of them will go on to study at a conservatory of music after learning the basics from you. He will honor you in his final recital along with his master instructor. He will say something like "you introduced me to the love of piano". He will major in "public performance" in college.
The desire to play the violin is just a passing fancy. You will hardly ever think of it again.

You will meet a cowboy.
At first you won't be interested in him, but over time he will begin to win your heart with his honesty and integrity. One special Valentine's Day, he will give you your first kiss on a red sofa, a moment after your grandmother steps out of the room.

    You will get married.
Many of your piano students will come to your wedding. You will insist that a piano be placed in the middle of the reception hall so that your students can play their favorite music for the wedding guests.You will live with your husband -- first in a basement apartment, then a small farm house. At last you live in the house of your dreams, where you hope to grow old. 
Six weeks after you are married, you will find out you are pregnant. You will take a long walk and pray a long prayer of thankfulness for this news. You will know deep inside that you are embarking upon the most important work you will ever do: mothering. On this walk you will ask God to give you five children in ten years.

And He will.
After you give birth to your fifth baby, you will take another long walk. You will say another long prayer of thanksgiving. You will call that day, "The First Day of the Rest of My Life".
  1. This is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your 12 year old heart, and your 36 year old heart-with your dreams worked out.
    Linking up from MMD.
  2. Beautiful essay, beautiful response. I am blessed to have seen these hopes for your life, if not for your world, become reality. Thanks for posting this. Jeni


    1. I would like to introduce everyone to my dear friend Jeni, whom you can see zipping up my wedding dress in the above photo. I met her the year after I wrote "Hopes for My Life and World". She took me under her wing and taught me how to survive private school. I recently enjoyed some time with her a few weeks ago when she was visiting the States from her home in Europe. She gave me the flowers which I used for my post "Spend Out".

      Love you Jeni. (Did you noticed I used the word "whom", both in this comment & in my recent Classical Quest post? I told you I wouldn't forget! That's 2 points now.)
    2. Thanks, Adriana! I can always count on you to make me smile. I thank God for allowing our paths to not just cross, but for them to be parallel at times. As a missionary kid adjusting to American life and trying (in vain) to be cool and fit in, being with you gave me such a different perspective on life. Thank you for being original and true to yourself. BTW, I am anonymous because I don't know how to just post my name.

  3. What a sweet post full of heart. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoy your writing.
  4. Wow, I do not even remember one assignment from 6th grade. Love your reply and learning a bit more about you.
  5. I loved reading this. So beautifully done. : ) I must say, you were a wise 12-year-old!
  6. Truly touching. Although maybe your 12-year-old self doesn't need a reminder of the errors in her essay--I would imagine the teacher took care of that. ;)

    Came over from MMD. Really enjoyed this; thank you.


    1. Quite graciously, my teacher, Mrs. Jones, did not correct any errors for this one. She just put one small check mark at the top of the page: assignment complete.

      I just realized -- with a chill -- she might have DRASTICALLY ALTERED THE COURSE OF MY LIFE if she had cut loose and splattered the whole thing with red ink! I'm sure the paper would have ended up crumpled in the trash can and long forgotten! I'm glad you commented on this because you've prompted me to try to find her. I think she would like to know the long term outcome of her assignment!

  7. So beautiful. Thanks for sharing your heart!
  8. Oh my word, that was beautiful Adriana. Adding the detail that the couch was red was a perfect touch, so deft. And 5 kids in 10 years? Gutsy prayer! What blessings God has brought you.


    P.S. New guest post up at Laura's Enough Light blog. (Linked it through my name above.) Hope you get a chance to take a look.
  9. This just gives me chills. Thanks for sharing! Bonnie Link
  10. What a lovely and unique way to share this! Beautiful :)
  11. Beautiful! I love that you've held on to that letter all these years.
  12. Thank you all for your kind words. A few days ago, I was fretting b/c I wanted to participate in Anne's blog carnival but I found myself with very little time to retrace my life story. Suddenly I realized half the post had already been written 24yrs. ago! Whew! The rest fell into place in less than an hour! My kids enjoyed digging into old photos with me. :)
  13. Very beautiful, Adriana. Thank you for sharing. Your honest prayers and hopes as you began your marriage are encouraging to me as I begin mine.
  14. How lovely, Adriana. :-) Truly amazing that you had these dreams of yours to look back on and delight in. How FUN to see your deepest dreams come true. Love it. :-)
  15. What a precocious twelve year old you were! :) I really enjoyed this.
  16. Oh, thank you so much for stopping by my blog and letting me know about this beautiful life-story filled post, Adriana! I had no clue that a little blog post of my own would, a year later nonetheless, spark the idea for you to share your beautiful story with us all in the blogosphere.

    Much love and more beautiful life to you,
    Sarah Elizabeth


    1. :) Sarah -- I told you I would let you know when I wrote the post -- though I didn't imagine it would take over a year for me to get around to it! (My old blog was Live Laugh Love Learn.) You were so sweet and encouraging when I first started blogging and of course I couldn't forget that!