Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye to Another Year

This has been a long year for me, and in a sense I'm glad it's finally over. At the same time, time continues to fly by so quickly, wondering where it went!

We started this year with a little boy about to turn 4, loving everything to do with David the Shepherd boy. He still has a "friend" named David who is usually with him. Lately, he's been telling us that he must go to town with David to go shopping. In April this year, Luke asked Jesus to forgive his sins and come into his life. He has always had such a tender and eager heart for anything to do with God, and his heart is also tender towards others. He'll often quickly do Susanna's chores if she doesn't want to do them so that she won't get into trouble (she still does). It's been a joy seeing Luke grow more physically, mentally, and spiritually this year. His jeans are often still baggy around the waist, but they're high above the ankles! It is amazing at how his mind works, putting things together, reasoning things out, coming up with ideas that really scare me because no four year old should be able to come up with the things he does! I'm really going to have to be on my toes.... Luke developed true friendships this year, looking forward to seeing his friends at church, the library, and Cubbies -- inviting them over for play dates, and experiencing the disappointment of how it feels to be "outside "when two good friends are better friends with each other and prefer their own company without anyone else playing with them. He decided he wanted to do 'real' work with Daddy on the farm this summer, although he didn't often have the chance, but he sure was an asset to our Pumpkin Parties in the fall when he started out as a little scarecrow and later morphed into Davy Crockett. Davy fell to the wayside shortly after when he discovered Daniel Boone....but even Daniel Boone didn't hold the same magnetism as Aslan in the Narnia books. Luke has also really embraced "school work" and knows all the alphabet - by letter recognition, sounds, and writing. He is eager to write things down whenever he can and has started captioning his own sticker book, a Christmas present from Aunt Lori. He also loves to color and amazes me at how well he does. Right now he is looking forward to his fifth birthday, complete with his first real birthday party where he can invite friends that aren't just family.

My baby Susanna turned three this year and it's hard to believe how fast she is growing, too. It often seems she is in a race to outgrow her big brother, and there are times they are the same height. I do believe her feet are bigger (although she tells everyone she has very little feet). Those little feet prefer to be bare....or wearing fancy slippers or high heeled shoes. I cannot keep socks on that girl! She loves princess dresses and twirly dresses and doesn't care how pretty something is...if it doesn't twirl out, she doesn't want to wear it. She wears her pants and jeans backwards (after all, buttons ARE supposed to go in the back!), and continues to be fiercely independent in all things. One of the hardest things for her to say is "will you help me, please?" Followed by "I'm sorry. Please forgive me." She loves helping me however she can, unless it involves picking up toys. Susanna has a beautiful voice and will often hum and sing as she is playing around the house. She surprised us all this year by learning how to whistle...and this after learning how to wink last year! While Susi could care less about doing school work, she loves to draw and write on anything and everything she can find. She's learned, however, that she must scrub the walls she writes on....after she can once again sit down (not that she sits while scrubbing the walls....). She has also cultivated friendships this year, enjoying very much time spent with Simone and Nikki, but by far her favorite friend is the little girl with lots of curls named Kayla. Susanna is often found just spinning around in circles and had us laughing the other night when she couldn't even sit without toppling over after spinning and spinning and spinning (my stomach turned just watching her!). Susi also asked Jesus to forgive her sins and be part of her life in July this year.

Tony continues to amaze me, too, and I appreciate him so much. He is dedicated to all he does and works so hard. I see the things Tony thinks up and completes and understand more why Luke thinks the way he does. I'm in awe at everything Tony does both at the farm and at home. He's a wonderful daddy and an even better husband, all the time continuing to grow the farm, increase the pumpkin parties, and teach Sunday School (although he is taking some time off from that right now). Through the difficulties I had this year, Tony was always there, helping take care of me, keeping the children occupied, and still juggling the responsibilities at the farm, too. Oh, I love this man!

As for me, I've learned some valuable things this year.... there are times when I have to slow down, say "no," and not worry about if something is going to get done or not. Don't ever have sausage the morning after having your gall bladder removed. Never have major dental work done two weeks after major surgery. Eating lots of nuts is not a wise thing when you no longer have a gall bladder. Christmas letters don't have to go out by Christmas. They don't even have to be written by the New Year....but of course, you probably can't call them "Christmas" letters then! And God is faithful through everything. Through health problems and trials, through good and bad, He is always there providing in ways I can't even begin to think of. My brother showing up an hour before I had to be rushed to the ER (and admitted for gall bladder surgery -- it's amazing how removing one small organ can make one improve so much! Of course, it depends on the organ, too....), a dear friend from Alaska popping in to visit me while at the hospital (granted, her husband was in ER at the same time while they were here visiting family!), friends who brought meals or played with the children during times I was too sick to do anything, two good outside sources of income that are flexible and provided income for us this year, and the joy and delight of family and friends.

We started the year saying goodbye to Tony's sister Rita and her family as they returned to the Philippines but said welcome to his brother Mark and family as they moved back to Park Rapids from Spokane in July. We also welcomed a new nephew on each side of the family, two boys with wonderfully strong names to grow in to; Josiah David and Silas Elliott. We enjoyed family visits from Papa and Grandma; Uncle Al, Aunt Carla, Katherine, Elisabeth, and Olivia (before they transitioned from Uganda to Rome); Uncle Paul, Aunt Lori, Carrie, Mary Joy, Jim, and Erin as they spent lots of time at the lake cabin, and Uncle Tim, always a favorite visitor.

Tonight we're staying home, having fun food (shrimp cocktail, pigs in blankets, apples and marshmallows dipped in hot fudge and/or caramel, sparkling juice, popcorn), maybe watching a movie, playing a game, and seeing how long the children can make it before they become too fussy to deal with any longer. I suspect Susi will last longer than Luke...she's already been napping for an hour and he has yet to even close his eyes. Oh well....I'll be surrounded by those I love the doesn't get much better than that!

Have a wonderful new year, and I hope this past year was full of blessings for you!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Presents

As things are getting a bit less hectic around the house, the kids have been enjoying the gifts they've received. Luke, especially, has been enjoying the Narnia book he got as well as the animated movie, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (I've set a limit to twice daily). His new name that he wants to be called by is Aslan. One of the things he likes to say most, as he bounds up to Susanna on hands and knees is, "climb aboard, children!" He is making a paper sword and shield with Daddy right now (I guess the plastic ones aren't good enough!) to fight the White Witch.

Susanna, on the other hand, is stocking up for any unexpected crises that may come her way. She has taken to stuffing extra toilet paper down her underwear just in case she runs out.

I guess what's important to one isn't as important to the other......

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Carter Christmas...the day after

On Saturday, we had the Carter "fun" activity day...sledding down a big hill, cross country skiing, bonfire for a hot dog and marshmallow roast, a warm fire in Grandpa and Grandma's new house, fresh pressed cider, hot soups, and much more fun!

A Carter Christmas...our family

A Carter Christmas...the Family!

Here are some family photos from our formal Christmas get-together at Mark's...

A Carter Christmas...the Fun!

After chowing down (photos on the following post), Mark read the Christmas story, then we opened presents!!! (Tony had Samuel's name and made him that really neat hay wagon that Samuel's loading up with "hay"!

A Carter Christmas....the Food

This is from our formal get-together at Mark's house on December 26 -- we enjoyed some yummy snacks!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas! Enjoy your time with family and friends...and do something special to celebrate the day we recognize as Christ's birth.

We've been opening a few presents each day for the past several days....we don't open presents on Christmas Day itself because it's Jesus' birthday, not ours. The joy of giving during this season is spread out for us before and after while today we have a mini-birthday party -- bake a cake and decorate it to have for dessert after Christmas dinner.

Yesterday, as we put another day up on our monthly calendar (don't even ask me about our Advent calendars...we've opened boxes and pockets maybe four times, each time trying to catch up on the days missed...we're on the 21st right now!), I asked Susanna how many more days there were until we got to the Christmas tree day on the calendar. All of a sudden she realized and shouted, "it will be Jesus' birthday!" I loved that "Christmas tree day" on our monthly calendar represented Jesus' birthday to her. I hope and pray that through the years their (our) focus stays on His birthday and not just the worldly hype that surrounds Christmas. We love the presents, the lights, the santas (even though we definitely know he is "not in this world" as Luke puts it!), and everything else that often gets in the way of our view of the manger, but may we, and you, make sure nothing block our view or takes away the deep appreciation of it as everything else stays on the sidelines.

How about you? What do you do special to celebrate Christmas?

Merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


We have a pretty big house...I think it's about 3300 sq feet, but I could be wrong. It's like a double split level...four stories, but more like two split levels on top of each other. It originated as a small country school; our dear friend LaMae went to kindergarden here more than 70 years ago. It was empty for a long time then my in-laws bought it with a quit claim deed for the mission group they worked for and established a church here. It was empty again for awhile, then another group started meeting here, added on, did lots of work to it. All I know is I enjoy our house, but it can be a pain keeping clean with two small children, especially when you live on a dirt road on top of the natural messiness of kids!

Anyway, because of the size, we don't heat most of the house during the winter months -- we heat the majority of our living area downstairs (bathroom and kitchen/living area), our bedroom, and the kids' bedroom. We have a storage heater at the entrance way that is on low to keep things a tad warm as you walk in...along with countering the cold air coming in from the front door that doesn't seal as well as it should. And our temps have been COLD lately! It's been so cold that as I was making Christmas cookies last week, I often "refrigerated" the cookie dough on the steps leading upstairs instead of in the fridge. I canned the last of my stuff today -- another huge batch (35 quarts, 11 pints) of chicken soup since we've already gone through most of the 27 quarts I canned just last month! I started canning yesterday but didn't I stored my big pot of soup by the front door to keep cold overnight...and that did the trick!

Did I mention it's been cold here? And we got another big snow storm today? Tony figures we've gotten about 30 inches in about the last month or so. I'm actually excited that on Friday we'll be having a "heat"'s supposed to get to about 20 or so! And today was the first time in weeks, I think, that we went above 0! Did I mention it's been cold here (come visit, Anna! I'm sure Daddy would love to bring you!)?

Lately, my kids have been fascinated by their gender-specific parts. Susanna has decided she doesn't like hers because it looks all smooshed and yucky but Luke's looks really silly (time for separate baths, do ya think?). Last week during our small group Bible study, we had no one to watch the kids, and had extra kids there from couples singing in the Cantata who were practicing during our study. I stayed in with the nine rugrats, and Luke decided out of the blue to inform me and everyone else (including the two little girls in the room beside Susanna) that his gender-specific part hurt....I quickly tried to change the subject, but four of the other little boys chimed in with the same comment. Did I mention that they know the proper names and use those names to anyone who will listen to them? No, I don't over react; I often just try to ignore what they are saying or comment appropriately.

The other day Luke got mad at Susanna and told her "Go out to the steps! I will be there in a minute." She headed out, stating firmly "I don't want a spanking!" Luke soon followed and Tony overheard a discussion between them about her behavior. A couple minutes later, they came in together, she all happy because "I didn't get a spanking!" And he better be glad that she didn't!

She came in our room earlier today as I was starting to go through the mess that has taken over since this summer (mainly paperwork for the farm, our personal things, Watkins, Greenstar, and even some old AWANA stuff). She brought a fair collection of "toys" with her then proceeded to leave them in the middle of the room to go back downstairs to play. So I gathered everything up, put them in a small box, and set them at the top of the stairs. A few hours later, she came back up to get her princesses and asked where they were. I told her I'd put them in a box by the steps, and she informed me, finger wagging "I am vewy angwy of you, Mama!" Startled, I asked why, and she replied, "You hided my things!" Good thing I didn't "hided" her things in the garbage as I was tempted to do......

I love my hubby. I've mentioned that before, but this awesome man got me two particular things this past week that made me VERY happy -- a beautiful poinsetta (after a not-so-subtle hint from me and a demand from my SIL Beth -- but men often don't even get not-so-subtle hints, so I was proud that he did!), and a HOUR LONG massage gift certificate from my chiropractor's office! Wow! (Okay, that was a subtle hint, too, and while I kinda expected the poinsetta, I did NOT expect the gift certificate.) These are big things for my love to do for me, and I really appreciate it. This, in amongst helping with the kiddies more than usual (he's able to do seed orders and other things while playing with them) so I could catch up on other things.

Christmas cookies are baked. Canning is done. Maybe I'll finally get time to jot a Christmas letter...and maybe we'll get our family Christmas picture taken before Christmas, although I suspect it'll be at Mark and Beth's on Friday when we have our formal Carter gathering. So, if you've not gotten our letter yet, that's why. And the letter will go out to most people electronically, which I hate doing but Tony's asked me to do this year -- to me, I don't like the idea because we have super slow dial up, and even the simplest of Christmas letters that we've been receiving that way take 10-30 minutes to download. There have even been a few that have had to been deleted from the server because the size was too big for us to receive.

And yes, I've been playing with the kids, stopping what I'm doing (usually) to give kisses, and even had them finger-paint before bath time tonight (okay, Tony supervised, but I took pictures, which I'll post at another time).

We're having Tony's oldest brother and his family (minus son Andrew who is in Iraq for another month) for brunch on Friday. I'm planning on making a yummy breakfast casserole (recipe on Marie's site -- Make and Takes -- today), fresh scones and clotted cream with home made CARTER strawberry jam and Greenstar's cherry preserves, pop up pancakes (also on Marie's site), and ambrosia...probably do chilled pineapple juice, maybe with some ginger-ale, and hot spiced tea, of course! If you lived closer, maybe I'd invite you (and notice I didn't mention the time so those who DO live closer can't come...maybe another time!). It'll be just our family for Christmas dinner, then the next two days will be crazy busy with Carter activities. Sunday is the Christmas program (yes, I'm carefully watching the weather and praying that we'll FINALLY have it -- even though it'll be two weeks since our last practice!), and a brunch with my mother-in-law on Monday -- she's part of our church's mission circle, and I'm honored to usually attend brunch with them each year. This year, I think most if not all of her daughters-in-law will be joining her.

(and yes, Chuck, I promise I AM taking it easy and not over doing it! -- and Brownie, I'd go mad if I wasn't keeping busy some how!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Cantata

This year, for the first time in a very long time, we had an adult Christmas Cantata at Faith Baptist. There has been talk about a choir for awhile, a sort of "we should" type thing, with most people afraid to speak too loudly about it (or they'll be in charge! is it that way at your church, too?). However, Pastor Mark bravely took charge and hoped there would be enough interest. There was! I really wanted to be in it, but I forgot about the first practice, then there was the little matter of gall bladder problems that caused me to miss three Sundays and barely be able to make it through the next two Sundays, so....

But anyway! Yesterday we had an amazing performance of several dozen wonderful voices praising God with a story of Christmas through the ages (well, at least through the last 2,000 or so years). Several selections from Handel's Messiah as well as medleys of other well-loved Christmas favorites. There were a few scenes as my nephew Clinton portrayed Martin Luther, a family friend played his wife, and our summer babysitter and her brother played his children (and had a hard time keeping straight faces with Clinton's performance!). There was also a "modern" scene with yet another friend portraying someone who seemed a bit lost with the modern technology and instant demands of today's Christmas (or at least today's world), but the message was very clear that through the ages the reason for Christmas has remained the same... the birth of a precious Baby literally sent from heaven as the Savior of the world.
"Martin Luther and family"

Today's modern family (hmm...the Luther kids aged well!)

There were beautiful solos and duets, faces visiting from college, and faces I don't remember seeing before...but how awesome it was seeing them all come together to glorify God!
Some of the soloists (and duets)

Another babysitter along with accompanyist and fellow blogger JANE!

As this week continues, and as many of us (okay, definitely me, how about you?) continue to be crazy busy, don't lose sight of the reason we are celebrating this season.