Monday, December 24, 2012

It's That Time of Year...

....When the house is decked with garlands, bows, and lights
-The kitchen is filled with aromas of the many delicious baked goods...and the household is in a state of constant "sugarhighness"
-Pine needles become the number one item tracked throughout the house...usually only outmatched by the tracks of dirt that come with living in the country
-The special pumpkin and apples candles get taken out and lit, adding to the sweet aromas
-Purchases of Costco's Holiday Coffee blend replace the usual French Roast
-Anticipation is high...excitement level's at its little ones rejoice over their three week break in school
-Everyone rejoices over the fact that they have the men of the house around 24/7 
-Each day, eager faces peek out of the windows to see if, by any chance, the passing FedEx truck is meant for them...then the crowds re-position around the mysterious box just delivered
-Piles of gifts surround the Christmas tree, as some gather around to carefully inspect each gift...which involves: checking for peak holes in the packages, poking them, and jiggling and jangling them in every which way (don't ask me how I know :)
-It's time for those bits of unfinished stories to come out, and those piles of books you've had stacked up for months, with the intentions of reading them, to finally get done...time to join the littlest sis, after months of begging, for a time of dolls
-Everyone around sends out their wishes to all of the scrooges of this year for a very merry Christmas...NOT a happy holidays :)
-Old Christmas songs are taken out and played all day long...girls pick up their Christmas sheet music selections instead of the regular classical music (whew!!! :)
-The events that fill their schedules seem altogether more attendances at the Word of Grace Bible Church for the annual Christmas concert (the prettiest thing you ever saw!!!), driving to down town Portland for the play "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol" (Which was also an amazing success), and shopping at the Woodburn outlets, all lit up with the lovely lights and the famous Woodburn Christmas tree...and all around, the stop lights seem to flash a brighter red and green...yes, that was very original, wasn't it :)
-It's time for the traditional movie marathon to begin...this year being none other than the famed "Pride and Prejudice"
-Traditional Christmas movies are watched that are ONLY ever seen around Christmas the George C. Scott "A Christmas Carol" (it's important that I specify ;), "It's a Wonderful Life", and "Christmas Card" (I know, I need at least one cheesy hallmark film for the holiday season :) Oh, and I can't forget..."Cricket on the Hearth" all time fav!!!
-Old and young alike are dreaming and praying for a white Christmas
-Jesus birth and coming death is remembered...the birth of our knew hope in Him....of a grace undeserved, and righteousness that we did not earn...Jesus Christ: the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas!...and like Ania told me as she reached chapter 2 in Luke, "Nae-Nae, I just skipped over that because we're gonna be reading it in a couple weeks." :)
-And like every Christmas year before this, the Spafford family resolves to send out a family picture to all their friends and family....and as tradition would have it...they never do :)

Have an amazingly Merry Christmas, filled with joy, and thankfulness....and lots of Christmas baking ;)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tis the Season!

Seeing as how it's so close to Christmas and all, (I can't believe...only one more week!!!), I thought I'd post a few of my favorite Christmas songs, two of them being new to this year for me.

First, I really like this beautiful version of "Mary Did You Know" by Scotty Mcreery...adding a splash of country to the song :)

Secondly, I won't be offended if no one likes this one...seeing as how I'm the only one in the family who does :)

And lastly is Casting Crown's, "While You Were Sleeping", sadly applicable to America today. It's a good reminder that, through all of the most recent difficult events of this year, it was similar to the way the world was at Jesus birth.  As Russel Moor said, "Jesus was not born into a gauzy, sentimental winter wonderland of sweetly-singing angels and cute reindeer nuzzling one another at the side of his manger. He was born into a war-zone...The mystery of evil is a declaration of war on the peace of God’s creation. The war goes on, but not for long. And sometimes the most warlike thing we can say, in an inhuman murderous age like this one, is “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”
It's a good reminder at this time of year, that as it's fun to be all together, receive and give gifts, (and to fill your house with Christmas baking :)....this is not to be our focus; we're looking at the birth of our Lord and Savior, with also the remembrance of His death on the cross. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Reason for these Insane Hours!

It's all been since Daddy's left...everything has been thrown off rhythm, schedules have gone kilter-wacky and life's routines have become, well, non-existent. It has been since then that we have not "hit the hay", so to speak, any earlier than...2:00 AM :)

At first it seemed like it was for a good enough excuse.....Mom was determined to finish the over-abundant supply of apples that we'd obtained. For not only did we have the 1800 pounds that I'd mentioned before, but a couple from our church had offered us another 200 pounds of apples..and mommy just couldn't turn it down :) Hence, our last few weeks have been consumed in none other than apple canning. But, Jonathon got rather tired of coming home each night, expectant of a lovely meal to fill his empty stomach  only to find that there was not a stitch of dinner to be found, and no signs that any attempt to do so had been made. He was told it was because all of the stoves, oven, and crock pots were occupied....this did not console his aching stomach. Finally!!! ABSOLUTELY appled out, mother determined to finish them that night...even if we had to stay up till 3:30 in the morning to do so :) 

Next, we were struck with that panicky feeling that you get around Christmas time, when you realize Christmas day is only three weeks away, and you have yet to finish the present shopping (or maybe that's just in the big families when there are nine different individuals to shop for :) So, the next few evenings were consumed in online Christmas shopping. Due to the number of people we had to shop for, it usually took us till late into the night, and early into the next morning.

 After a few days of this, we finally came to the realization that this was totally messing up our day schedules...and we were not getting up till around 10-ish...which meant we either had a sort of brunch when we woke up....or nothing at all :)  The positive to this was that it did help sleep some of those hours away that we might have spent agonizing over Daddy's absence ;)

Another reason for these late hours was because of that final rush week for Jonathon, it being the week before finals, when he and his team had to finish up all of those unfinished projects before presentations...(and we girls, who already absolutely never see him, see him even less.) Starting from Tuesday, we'd plan on Jonathon's friends coming over every evening...and often times working late into the night. Our job was to keep them in plenty of brownies and coffee. (The above picture is one we shot of his team of 2012)

This has gone on since Tuesday, following all of the way to Friday, which was another grand finale of 3:30 AM. The number of eager stayer-uppers had dwindled down to a faithful three: mom, Leisel and I. Mom and I were determined to finish some of the shopping that night...or rather early morning. Leisel could not be part of it since some of the shopping was for her. We began the online shopping...but as we neared the end of it, things became...well, a little less enthusiastic. would find something I liked online, show it to mom and then pause to wonder in my half awake state why there was no response from her...then, looking over, find her in a state of un-awakedness. I then would start to think, with the part of my brain that was still awake, how my words were sort of slurring together and the mouse wasn't going where I wanted it to. I am afraid to say we slept in embarrassingly late that same morning. When the Dentist told me that day, "Yah, today is really going by fast for me." Little did he know the reality of his statement...we'd only been awake for those last two hours, and it was 1:00.

You may be wondering, "Do I have a solution to these messed up sleep hours or disheveled schedules???" I am afraid that it is not one to be got till the return of the head of the house ;) That might then begin to renew that same vigor that we once had for normal life once gain.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Are You My Mother????

It began with what I guess you could call a pretty reasonable assumption. In fact, there wasn't really any reason for me to question the grounds on which it was assumed. Besides, I wasn't the first to receive this question. Charae had told us before how she'd many times been on the receiving end of this mistake. Let me explain...walking beside Ania one day, I was asked, "Is that your child?" Well, I mean, she has red hair, as do I, and she possesses a considerable sum of freckles, as do I!!! :) It is understandable how we could look related...and, due to the considerable age gap, how I could be her mother.
That would have been fine, if it would have stopped there. But, nay, this was just the beginning of what would be followed by a series of rather disturbing assumptions.... 

A while later, I went to help out at a wedding. We got there, all happy and ready to work....but little did I know, I was in for the second mistake of the year. Our job was to refill the food at the tables...we were at a point where there was nothing then to do, so we stood out in the open area talking with some friends. It was then that, someone standing by asked Grant, (a friend of ours) whether I was his mother. Eek! I mean, he's just two years younger than me. I didn't see it then, but though this might have seemed a bad thing at the time, it was one of the milder cases of misunderstanding.
I was just getting over this when...

A few Sundays ago, Leisel and I were lazily strolling down rows of tables filled with all kinds of beads and special gems...we were attending the annual bead fest in Portland. Now, I'll admit Leisel and I have been labeled as many things...we've been asked before, when we were younger, whether we were twins, or, as we began to grow up, even if I was her older sister....except, within the last few months, I've grown up to be none other than the infamous mother. As Leisel and I walked up to inspect the earrings on one man's table, he started showing Leisel all kind of earrings....and then he asked it, "So is this your mother." I managed to retain a smile. (but in side, I was saying "I bid you a very good day sir. You sure know how to lose business" :) And Leisel is two years OLDER than me!!!!! This was just not getting any fact, it was getting worse!

....And then it happened. Just when I was beginning to think that it couldn't get any did :) While strolling through the mall with part of the fam one day, Jonathon ran into a guy he knew from college. The guy walked over to meet all of us.  He then turned to me, extended his hand and introduced himself. (Slow down here Buddy,why are you treating me so...well, adult-ish) Then after Jonathon went through all of our names, he pointed to mom, "And that's my mother." The poor guy looked momentarily confused and then started pointing, (Why's he pointing in my direction???) "Oh I thought," he began, and wisely stopped himself. It was then that I could feel all of the blood drain from my face, and my heart sank to my toes....(PLEASE! NO, NOT JONATHON'S MOTHER TOO!) He couldn't meant that. This went beyond logic....beyond sanity...and worse of all, beyond what I could bear. Here I was, surrounded by sisters, part of which were older than me, and my MOM and grandma were there.... and of all the people, he picked me. Asking that was the last straw...but due to my surrounding and the current circumstances, I didn't sock him.

My family, in an attempt to console me, could have blamed the first mistake on the part of the person as just not thinking...or even the second...but this was FOUR separate times. Whew! We figured that this put me at about 40. I knew that if they knew me personally they'd immediately retract that statement and put me at about 12 years of age...

Since then, I have tried walking with half my height's capacity, checking every day for any grey hairs, and concealing any forgotten wrinkles.

I shudder to think what they'll think I am when I finally reach the stage of motherhood :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2nd Annual Apple Cider Pressing

I guess you could say that I have always been one to romanticize what things used to be like in the old days....get togethers with friends and neighbors for harvesting, or the annual festivals....we girls have always talked about how absolutely wonderful it would be to organize a harvest fest someday, complete with hayrides, pie tastings, and barn dancing....or perhaps, just a simple get together to press cider....

...just last Saturday, a group of friends joined together to process their crates of apples for their second annual cider processing. 

...only this year, instead of last years 900 pounds, they each got 1800 pounds. 

You can tell by the looks on their faces that they were not at all excited, as they began the cider processing that day...

The weather proved to be a bit chilly that mugs of cider were passed around to help thaw frozen fingers, and warm cold bodies.

...while others figured out different creative way of escaping the cold.... I said, they were creative :) 

The young men in our group kept a warm fire going at all times for that moment when it would be needed....

As lunch time rolled around, people began filing inside for bowls of warm chili and corn bread, and headed back out to eat by the hot fire provided....

      ...believe it or not, it actually got too hot :)

In the time that we were there, we only ended up with a few casualties...

...none of which actually lost their fingers :)

The boys kept themselves dutifully employed the whole time...errrr, at least most of it :)

After a considerable amount of cider had been pressed....the long awaited for competition began....rematches from last year.

All the while, as each participant stepped up to do their part in the pressing competition, the spectators on the sides cheered them on with bits of encouragement..."You're just NOT going fast enough!!!"

....well, I mean, after a couple years of friendship, you have a different definition of the word encouragement :)

The winners this year were Nate and Titus Copper, winning at 3:10 ...Jonathon and Ben were a close second, coming in at 3:23, which was good for amateurs :) We found out though that they kinda has an unfair advantage, having seen all of the mistakes everyone else made along the way...and then learning from them, so that by the time it was their turn, they were experts :)

I am afraid that, since I figured it might fall under the category of bragging, I cannot mention Rachie and my score *cough*....The rest of the scores were as follows: 
Kayleen and Lauren~ 5:34
Charae and Sarah~ 5:13
Leisel and Emily~ 6:08
and Rachael and Lynnae~ 6:18

We finished with up with 30 gallons of cider for our family, and the Coders ended up with 48 gallons. The rest was taken home to be processed into applesauce and apple pie filling, where it is now, at this very moment, being done. The annual apple cider processing has now officially become a tradition...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Our Adventures Babysitting.

Okay, so I'm posting this post a little late...a week ago yesterday, to be precise, but due to the fact that I have another Saturday happenings post coming up, here it is...

Last weekend, Leisel and I had the privilege of babysitting the Copper's seven little children. They were the cutest kids, so you'll have to forgive the lengthity of this post....I was snapping photos ALL the time :)

They proved to be quite a handful, as there were times when you had all seven of them asking you something at once....but growing up in a family of nine had kinda prepared the both of us for a lot of commotion ;)

Our introduction to the kids was when Nate, the oldest of the seven, first warned me, "You know, I think you might find us kinda' dangerous kids. I mean, we climb trees as tall as that one," he pointed to a nearby tree, "We even climb the shelves in our closets. In fact, you will probably find us more times up than down." was true :)

Little Vancy had my heart from the start...I know, isn't that the most adorable face you've ever seen??? :)

Within the first few minutes of our time there, after Nate had gotten over the shock of finding out that I had never before carved a pumpkin, he took me to their front steps where I was able to carve my very first pumpkin, with his expert help.

Our next lesson was to be that on the art of blowing out candles....or not. For as Nate put it, "Instead of blowing out alllllll of those candles and wasting all of your breath, you just take your fingers and pinch it."...we're now a professionals :)

Darby enjoyed showing off her assortment of colorful nail polishes....and receiving several manicures from Leisel while we were there :)

Andi was my little cuddle bug...She stuck by my side and informed me from the start that she wasn't going to go anywhere that I did not go. In fact, it was interesting to hear her and Darby debating the next day whether Leisel or I was their favorite sitter.

There were moments that left us both the time the toilet got clogged and ended up overflowing all over the bathroom floor.

 When their energy was at its peak, we wore part it off dancing to their favorite CD, "Slugs and Snails", all the way from "You've gotta eat them beans, boys" to "Whose got the ball?"...the scary thing was, that by the end of it all, I was singing the songs around the house :)

In the time that we were there, Leisel and I became expert tic-tac toe champs, with the hints and tips provided by both Andi and Hally...

The sermon, the next day was to be  preached by Nate, who had been preparing all the previous day. He'd even given a call to his grandpa to discuss some parts of the Bible. He discussed the creation, moving through Genesis, Isaiah, and was priceless!

After the sermon, he let me know that, were my pastor ever to get sick, and our church needed an extra speaker, I could tell them that I knew a young boy that had spoken a 45 minute sermon on the creation, and who would be willing to do it for us.

I know it, Vancy was not happy to wear them corduroy pants...but the weather was too chilly that morning for me to let him wear his shorts....thus the sad face :)

Hally shared with us her dreams of playing Christine's part in Phantom of the Opera some day, and we enjoyed hearing her imitate the different parts.

There were times that I found it hard to keep a straight face when around the when Tray prayed for our breakfast the next morning. (the thing while we were there was how Leisel and I said O-men  after our prayers instead of A-Men (with the longer A)....hence his prayer that morning, "Dear Jesus, I do pray for these girls that say O-men after their prayers instead of A-Men, when I really think that A-men is more fun to say. I do pray all of these things, A-Men.

Leis and I had a wonderful time....the kids were wonderful, we had a blast, and felt really privileged to be able to babysit for them...