Tuesday, December 30, 2008

christmas has been packed away, and once again i find myself feeling this way.

daddy, catch me too!

Monday, December 29, 2008

disneyland, newport beach, and sarah markley

lots of pictures and fun in this post.

last week our family traveled to so. cal. (that is southern california for you non-californians).

our christmas gift to the kids this year was disneyland.

at disneyland tinkerbelle can fly! it is after all "where all your dreams come true."

even the dream of a white christmas comes true in disneyland.
we were privileged to get to spend the weekend at a family friend's beach house on newport beach. it was wonderful to wake up each morning to the sight of their "big back yard," the pacific ocean. apparently in newport beach santa does not travel by reindeer and sleigh, but by surf board and roller blades.and since we were in so. cal. i could not miss the opportunity to finally meet blog friend sarah markley! this was my first (in person) blog friend meeting.
isn't sarah BEAUTIFUL! not only did i get to meet sarah, but her wonderful family. husband-chad, daughters- hope and naomi, and her parents- al and hannah. (btw- sarah, i agree with chad, you should post an abc's of chad, or at least post all the titles for the abc's of chad).

sarah and i hugged immediately, and then both looked at each other as if to make sure the other was real. before meeting sarah i thought she was beautiful, because of what comes from her heart and spills into every word she writes on her blog. seeing sarah in person only made her more beautiful.
it was good to just be with each other- to share our lives, to watch kids play, to share words, laughter, wonder, and to share time for a little while.

but it wasn't enough.

as we said good bye, it occurred to me that i will miss sarah. tangible sarah.

i thought about how blogging is interesting, crazy, and wonderful! and i thought about how i miss each of you. i would love to sit and visit with each of you- to see your faces, hear your voices, to hear all your stories.

for me blogging isn't enough. it is the appetizer of this friendship meal. i look forward to the day we will finish our appetizers, share the main course, and finally have our chocolate chip ice cream.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Merry ChristmasMy prayer for you this Christmas and New Year-
"Let us love Him! Let us love Him! He made us, and He is near.

He did not make things and then walk away.
He remains intimately involved and all things have their being in Him.

See Him.
There He is, where truth is loved.

He can be found within the very heart, even if the heart strays from him.
Wrap your arms around Him who made you and hold tight."

St. Augustine

Thursday, December 18, 2008

surprise from my nieghbor in idaho!

look at this fun surprise package of goodies i received in the mail!
it came from my "neighbor" kristen. she lives just a few miles away...in idaho!

doesn't it look like i elfed myself in this picture? my head looks really big!
the package was filled with the yummy treats to eat, M.E. goodies for me, hot cocoa and marshmallows (you thought of everything), a family christmas card, and the sweetest note!! kristen, i too wish i could sit with you , share a cup of hot cocoa, and good conversation, while the kids dance and play together around us.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


This Tuesday we set up our annual Free Hot Chocolate table. This was our 5th year giving away free cocoa to the community. It was cold, buurrrr. Perfect weather for hot cocoa.
A new edition this year was the Sierra Singers, from our church. They joined us, and sang Christmas carols as we gave out cocoa.
It was such a blessing to see people get their free cocoa loaded with marshmallows, whipped cream, and a candy cane, and then to watch them enjoy beautiful carols that speak the truth of Christmas.
It is my prayer that each person we come in contact with will one day receive the free gift of life which was given to us in Jesus that first Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

the cookies that saved christmas

i am not a baker, and i don't love to cook. i blame it on my mom (hi mom), she never allowed us in the kitchen while she was cooking. she did allow us in the kitchen to clean it. i am a great kitchen cleaner.

i was a little overwhelmed when i had 2 cookie exchanges to bake for this weekend. agghhhhh! but then, i found this! sarah, over at the blog short stop is making cookies every day during advent. and she is sharing her easy, delicious recipes!

i made the caramel meltaways, gingersnap cookies, and the peppermint cracker candy.

these cookies were a big hit.
thank you sarah for the cookies that saved christmas!

now onto other random things...

i have a starbuck's name. you know how the barista asks your name, to write it on your cup, then calls it when your drink is ready. well, i tell them my name is rachel. however, sometimes i forget that i told them my name is rachel, and my drink just sits for a while waiting for rachel to pick it up.
so here is the reason my starbuck's name is rachel- a few years ago i was with a high school friend at a starbucks outside our home town, there we ran into a guy from high school. he remembered my friend's name, but he forgot mine, thought it was rachel. i was shocked! because i think i am pretty unforgettable :-)

and another random thing (watch out bethanne, i could get use to this)... "irregardless," do you think it is a word? i don't think it is a word. but a lot of people like to argue about whether it is a word ot not. at least a lot of people i am around like to argue about whether it is a word or not.
(hi people!)

hmmm, what other random thing can i talk about?? GUESS WHO I GET TO MEET NEXT WEEK!!!!! SARAH MARKLEY! i am SO EXCITED! what if i act weird and quirky. i act weird and quirky when i am nervous and excited.

a little more randomness... so we're going to southern california next week, and there is always one reason i do not like to go to so. cal. CLOTHES! i live in the mountains people. it is totally acceptable to wear keen sandals with wool socks here in the mountains. i don't do it, but you would not be frowned upon if you did. here in the mountains you could wear the same clothes for a week, no one would care. in the mountains people who wear over sized sunglasses and carry dressed up little dogs in tote bags are laughed at. we like our dogs big, wearing the coats God gave them.btw- it is totally acceptable to wear your apron like this in the mountains.

i do not have the so.cal. glow (tan). i am pasty white! it's 35 degrees here today (okay, for some of you that is not cold). is it warm there? do i have to pull out the summer clothes? summer clothes and cookie exchange season do not go well together.

see, it is already starting! i am getting quirky and weird because i am going to meet sarah!
i am also on a bit of a sugar high (mmm, those cookies are good).
i hope sarah likes me "irregardless" of my quirky nevousness. if it doesn't seem to be going well, i can always introduce her to rachel!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


it was sunny when we left our house to make the 45 mile drive to fresno for dr. appt., shopping, and groceries. it was sunny, and then in the blink of an eye it was foggy. very foggy.
i motioned to the kids to, "look out the window, look at all the fog." they glanced, acknowledged it, and quickly returned to their reading.
it struck me that they weren't concerned about the fog, or their safety. they trusted that i would get them to our destination safely.
and i thought about the son, and the fog that has appeared in my life, and about how i want to trust that he will get me through the fog, and to our destination safely.

the fog-
in feb 07, at 33, i had a laparoscopic hysterectomy. endometriosis was found and my uterus was removed.
after the surgery i entered into a depression. 6 months after the surgery other health issue arose.

last march i began having severe pain in my right ovary. i hoped it was just a cyst (a very painful cyst). the pain persisted. after tests in june, i was told that i do have a cyst, on my left ovary. on my right i have a small mass. we do not know what it is, could be scar tissue from surgery, could be endometriosis, could be something else.
surgery was recommended.

i usually face situations head on, but i am physically and emotionally tired of having health problems. i decided to try progesterone cream to see if it would alleviate my symptoms. and really, to see if it would allow me to ignore the problem, and prolong the need for surgery.

the progesterone cream helped for a while. decreasing but not eliminating the pain.
until recently. i have had constant nausea (which may or may not be related to the endometriosis). and my right ovary causes constant stabbing pain.

i saw a dr. today, and here are my options- receive a medication that will shut down my ovaries, putting me in menopause. i can do this for as little as one month to a year. this will help me determine that the pain is in fact due to the ovary.

or i can have laparoscopic surgery. they will look at the ovaries, and determine at that time if i should have one or both removed. if both are removed i will be 35 and menopausal.
if one is removed, their is a likelihood that the other will need to be removed soon after.



ughh, fog.

i do not want to be menopausal at 35.

i do not want to be on hormone replacement therapy.

i do not want to be depressed.

surgery is expensive.

i do not want to be in pain.

and at this moment, i just want to be like my kids, not consumed by the fog, trusting that my father can get me to the destination.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


i am easily side tracked.
at this moment i should be fixing my family dinner before we head off to the kids science fair tonight.

and i should be getting things together for tomorrow, because we leave the house at 8:15 a.m. and will not return till 7:30 p.m accept to drop off a large load of groceries. because (as linda once said) "if i'm not proactive, i am reactive, and that can be very unattractive." nobody likes to be around me when i am reactive... especially me.

but instead, i am taking pictures of myself. why? i don't know, i thought i'd show you that sometimes i go curly. and add to that this darling headband my g-ma crocheted for me (i have a handful of them in various colors).

btw- do you see how empty the fridge is! do you also see the uncooked chicken and celery that was suppose to be our dinner tonight?

what else can we have for dinner? there's some homemade salsa, ooh and some tortilla's, hmm do i see cheese? dinner is served!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Spirit of Giving

"God loves a cheerful giver," are words spoken often in our house. i think it is important to cultivate a spirit of giving in our children, and in each other.

typically when one thinks of giving they immediately consider their wallets, but in all honesty our wallets are pretty bare. because of this we have looked for creative ways to give over the years. i hope that regardless of how empty or full our wallets are we will always seek creative ways to give.

a creative way to give to the community:
free hot chocolate stand- for 5 years we have served free hot chocolate to our community. first, we get permission from a local small business, and use of an outlet. next, we set up a table complete with 2 large coffee pots (we borrow these from our church) filled with hot chocolate (enough for 160 cups), toppings of whipped cream, and marshmallows, and add a candy cane. then, we put the kids to work, inviting passers by to receive their free hot chocolate.for an individual or family:

the 12 days of christmas- we have had the opportunity over the years to surprise families in need of christmas blessings on the 12 days before christmas.
first, choose a family that needs to blessed! may be a family new to the community, a family facing financial difficulty, or a family struggling with health. there are many who need a bit of light to shine on them and their circumstances. many who need tangible love from their community (or even strangers) poured on them.
next, find 12 families (including yourself) to be gift givers for the 12 days leading up to christmas. assign a day to each family, give a gift tag to accompany their gift, and directions to the recipients house.
then, deliver gifts! gift deliveries are top secret. deliver early a.m. or in the p.m., be creative in your deliveries, send someone dressed as santa, or in camouflage. this is the one time a year it is okay to doorbell ditch (accept don't ring the doorbell)!
finally, with the last gift delivered on christmas, send a card with everyone's names, wishing them a very merry christmas! this years gift tags have a #1-12 on one side, with this saying on the other. for family:
with as many as 7 families filling the jones house, and a grand total of 23 family members, well, that is a lot of gifts! we decided to get creative to find a way to blesss family members. how do we do it? breakfast in bed!
on christmas eve. morning families are served breakfast in bed.
the night before we leave a door hanger on each door (just as you would find in a hotel), asking family members to tell us the time they'd like their meal delivered, beverage choices, and other special instructions.
on christmas eve. morning we wake early and get to work. michael does most of the cooking, while i serve as assistant. we ready the meal, ready the trays, add a special note accompanied by the christmas story of jesus' birth, then deliver the breakfast trays.

my favorite year delivering breakfast in bed, was christmas 01. first let me tell you i was miserable! 7 months pregnant with josie and on crutches due to a sprained ankle.
but this christmas was special as it was our last christmas with michael's grandfather, dick jones, or gramps as we called him.
his grandparents were so delighted to be served breakfast in bed! in all their travels, gram and gramps had never been served breakfast in bed before, they were thrilled. gram was so thrilled, that she took the door hanger to her next hair appt. and bragged to her stylist of this creative gift.
emilie (2), a very pregnant me, and gramps. gramps feels josie kicking!

what are some creative ways you give at christmas?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

oh christmas tree, how lovely are your branches

we always get and decorate our christmas tree the sunday following thanksgiving. we are a one christmas tree family. there is no theme to our tree. i confess, that sometimes i have tree envy. the obsessive compulsive person in me would like a themed tree. but our tree shares our history. there are ornaments from mine and michael's childhoods, ornaments given to me from former preschool students, ornaments the kids have made (that i tolerate), and more. getting out the ornaments always takes us on a walk down memory lane. it causes us to see God's faithfulness in our story over the years.

this sweet little house was given to us the year we moved into this house (thanks jeff & kelly). do you see the holly hobby ornament from my childhood!
this ornament, is a crocheted me. my g-ma made this in 1992 for me when i had my first apartment. she also made one for my roomate julie (my b.f. since jr. high). i have both.

because it really is a "wonderful life." if you have never seen It's A Wonderful Life, stop everything, get it, and watch it! it is the BEST Christmas movie of all time.

this is one of those ornaments i tolerate. noah made it. doesn't everybody want a snowman ornament made from a soda can?when the kids were born, michael's mom began a tradition of giving each kid thier own themed ornament each christmas. noah gets animals (because of the ark thing), emilie gets angels (because she is one), josie get stars (cause she is one too).
we put off school work one day last week and painted ornaments instead (hey,it's art!) emilie painted this one. btw- you can find ornaments for just 50 cents at michael's craft store.
josie painted this one for me when she was 4. i love it.
i love these kids! how do you like josie's p.j.'s? she is really into layering her p.j.'s. too bad you can't see her wild socks!
and finally, my favorite christmas tree this year. a lego tree made by all 3 kiddos. it even lights up!

Friday, December 5, 2008

deck the halls

the hall way is a favorite spot in our house. some years ago michael surprised me with new pictures of the kids which were matted. he then hung the matted pix in the hall on clothes line with clothes pins. this is an inexpensive way to display family photos. one that reminds me daily of how very blessed i am.
this year i decked the halls with our stockings.

"if these old halls, if these old halls could speak, of things that they remember well, stories and faces dearly held ,a couple in love living week to week, rooms full of laughter, if these halls could speak."

lyrics by amy grant
a few weeks ago i discovered a box i had been given from michael's grandmother. gram (dottie jones) use to be a teacher, and in her teaching days she had saved clippings from christmas cards. in my box were several vintage clippings of santas, snowmen, and other christmas scenes. i took the clippings to thanksgiving with the jones family, and we girls made "Believe" banners.

look how my emilie is catching up to gram.
and finally, how precious is this willow tree nativity! every christmas it sits here on top of the piano. the rest of the year i have willow tree pieces that tell the story of our family in this place.a

tomorrow i will share some of our favorite christmas ornaments!