Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Traditions

One of my very favorite Christmas traditions is constructing Graham Cracker houses. This year we had a small party (27 people). Nani hosted it, and we had a blast! Here's Micah's and Eva's houses. We constructed them ahead of time, and they just put candy on them. I built a bridge, patterned after penny bridges that I saw online. Nate built a water wheel. And some cute houses were built too -- see the snow man waving?

Here's my recipe for great Graham cracker structures:

Off-brand Graham crackers -- get the cheapest ones you can, since they're usually harder, and therefore structurally stronger.

Candy canes -- melt these in a frying pan or griddle over low-medium heat. Use them to glue the graham crackers together into a structure.

Glue frosting -- mix 1 lb of powdered sugar with 6 egg whites and 1 tsp. cream of tarter in an electric mixer on high for 10 minutes (use a Kitchen Aid if you want your motor to last). This is terrific "snow", glue for candy, and sculpting medium.

Candy ad nauseum. Expect a tummy ache the next day.

Test shoes

My first attempt at baby shoes. Aren't they cute? From the same tutorial as the blue shoes made for my friend's baby girl.

Christmas gift Bag

I had this idea more than 5 year ago to make a bag out of ugly ties. Finally, after reading the SewMamaSew blog (, I was motivated enough to try it. Here's the result. It's actually really neat -- I just need to learn to take better pictures. The handles are ties, and the inside pockets are also made from ties. I'm really tickled that it turned out so great. The recipient was thrilled too -- told me to make more and sell them.

So, if you have old ugly ties you'd like to donate.....

Gifts for Little One

Shoes and a teething doll for a friend's baby.

The shoes are actually more like slippers, made from a cut-up wool sweater, using the tutorial at

I really like them. The color in the photo is mediocre -- sorry. I took the pic with artificial light.

The knotty doll is loosely based on this tutorial:
I think she's really cute in tie-dye. I made my baby one too. I think I'll make more.

Isaac's Road Rug

Here's the Road rug I made for our friend, Isaac. It features a lake (blue), a park (just below the lake, with a swingset, etc), the Zoo (see the animals?), McDonalds and Russ's (their grocery store), Their house (the white one), and their church. It was a blast to make!

Lessons learnt:

1) Spray adhesive doesn't work. Sew it instead.
2) Sew from the top down. Even my nice Bernina really complained about sewing 4 layers of felt together.

Happy Holy Days!

And even more so -- Merry CHRISTmas!

We have recently visited several local churches, and have thus made many new acquaintances. When we meet new people, usually the first exclamation is “Wow! all they all yours?!”. Yes, all four kids are ours. Micah is 5, Eva is 3, Moriah will be 2 in January, and Isaiah is about 6 months. Four kids in five years.

When that initial shock wears off, they go on to the normal questions. "So Chester, what do you do?”. We not sure what people expect for an answer, but it certainly isn't his usual, “I'm a full-time Dad and student”. Yes indeed, Amy works part time, Chester is a student. This arrangement, while rather unconventional, allows some really neat family dynamics. Chester dedicates three days a week to studying, and has a major role in the kids lives. He trains them in character, plays in the garage with them (you should see the ramps Micah makes for his cars), and is quickly passing on his love of tools and gardening. Amy works four half-days a week, and during that time escapes from the constant noise of children, and gets things done that generally stay done and are appreciated. What mom wouldn't kill for that? Additionally, her job is flexible with time and pays quite well. Having this outlet allows the rest of the week at home to be a time of reading to the kids, “playing school” (Micah's learning to read) and just loving on the kids. The kids spend one afternoon a week with Nani (Amy's parents are “Nani” and “Papa”), and they look forward to that afternoon all week – she really has the magic touch.

By then, our new acquaintance is pretty well in shock. And we haven't even invited them over yet to discover that we have eight people living in our small three-bedroom house (Nathan and Toby, two of Chester's brothers, live in our basement while all three of them study Mechanical Engineering), that we have no TV (“No wonder you have so many kids!”), that our girls sleep on bunk beds made out of industrial steel shelving, that we grow eight kinds of perennial fruits in our yard, that between the adults who live here, we own ten motorized vehicles (not all of them run!), nor that we spend almost nothing on food for our tribe (God usually provides free food for us). Chester was once told “I like people who think outside the box, but you seem to live outside the box”.

We're not just weird to be weird though. We have a purpose in life. We hope that when we're finished with the necessary education, God will allow us to serve missionaries through Chester's aviation and engineering (and maybe through Amy's computer skills too). It'll be four years or so before he's done, because his three days allotted to study allow just enough time to take three classes per semester. But the pace is reasonable, and he's able to absorb the knowledge rather than just cramming for exams all the time. And by God's grace, we are staying financially afloat living on one part-time income. Money is tight, of course, but we trust God to continue to provide, just as He always has. The Davis clan in Omaha has a sign that we love: “We don't believe in miracles, we rely on them.”

Yeah, compared to the average American, and even the average American Christian, we're odd. We have a reason though, and we're living on purpose. In a world where everything is increasingly busy and costly, it's nice to know why we choose to live the way we do, and trust the One we serve. If our new friend hasn't yet run for cover, we finish with these questions:
"How about you? What's your purpose in life?"
"What do you do, and why do you do it? ”

We'd love to hear your answers to these questions, and what God is doing in your life – drop us a note!