Saturday, December 31, 2011


We started the day with cherry turnovers, a Steele family tradition that Joshua remembers from childhood. Every Christmas that we've been in Ukraine, I have attempted to create a home-made version of these turnovers, since Pillsbury isn't exactly an option here. ;) My inventions were usually tasty, but not quite the thing of childhood memories. This year, however, I finally got it right!

A cozy sight

Up early stirring up the glaze

What is Christmas without good food?

Sampling the finished product

"That looks good. Can I have some?"

Playing with stocking stuffers

Our families were so generous and sent over big Christmas boxes! We took our time opening the gifts and played with each new thing along the way.

Watching to see what Abby will get.
I love what I've already got. ;)

Bekah's gift from Abby

"Thank you so much!"

Abby with her dolly, Camille

Hosanna was quite taken with one of Josh's presents.

"See, we're going to take the paper off, like this..."

"You want to see what's in the box?"

"Look! It's a new watch for Daddy!"

"Alright! Can I play with it?"

P90X Grad with T-shirt to prove it

New mugs are always welcome at our house!

My mom spent hours putting together these beautiful Dirndls for Abby and Rebekah. She did a wonderful job, and the girls have just about lived in them ever since!

"Rebekah, where's your
Christmas cheer?"

Sporting a new hoodie
Inasmuch as we are blessed with so many earthly comforts, I am often reminded of the great joy we have in possessing forgiveness of sins and unlimited fellowship with our Creator through Jesus Christ! It is a wonderful thing to celebrate the fact that He became one of us so that we might become sons of God!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Of Christmas Clean-up and Scrooge

Photo, courtesy of Robert Doucette
As wonderful as the holidays are, they seem to bring along with them a truckload of food preparation, house cleaning, picking up, and reorganizing. It's almost enough to tempt one to a "Bah! Humbug!"

Almost, but not quite. ;)

A couple of days ago, I took a break from the piles of stuff and mound of dishes long enough to download this wonderful, free audio of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Even if you aren't a lover of Charles Dickens, as I am, I defy you not to be entertained by this story! Not only is the tale a timeless classic, but the narrator should win a prize for his performance in this rendition.

Personally, listening to audio books or sermons helps my work hours be that much more pleasant, and even sometimes anticipated. ;) This book definitely had that effect. In fact, I could see it becoming a yearly tradition.

So, if you've got a chunk of house work waiting, or plans to sit in the car traveling somewhere, you might consider checking it out!

I daresay you'll heartily enjoy it! ;)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Month in Photos

Vinegar and water makes for an effective
and kid-friendly cleaner!

Helping Mamma rid the house of germs!

Favorite pastime, for all parties involved.

Friends from church sent us a card, with stickers!

The girls love table activities.

It's that time of the year!

Decorating was a breeze with these two around!

A bright spot in our house.

This flannelgraph has been a favorite.

Chasing away sickness with lots of fluids!

Zoobooks are always a hit around here!

Making a manger with dry spaghetti and craft sticks.

It was quite fun to eat the spaghetti, too. 

Our first light snow


"Hey! Watch where you're aiming that thing!"

Simple things often provide the best entertainment.

Silly girl.

New chicken recipe with pecan rice. Mmmm.

Sister snuggle time.


Monday, December 19, 2011

SHOCK: Have the Steele's stopped homeschooling?

Joshua posted an intriguing article today on homeschooling. If you'd like some food for thought, go here to read it!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Favorite Christmas Tunes

I think Christmas music is great! On the whole, it is beautiful, nostalgic, uplifting, and full of truth. At our house we began listening even before Thanksgiving this year, and it has helped to counter the winter blues. So, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite picks of the season.

I realize that people have a varying array of opinions, preferences, and convictions with regard to music.  The following is simply music that I enjoy, and that I listen to in good conscience. If this music doesn't appeal to you or fit within your criteria, that's ok. I still want to be your friend. :)

You can find the first three of these albums on, where you can listen for free!

Celtic Woman, A Christmas Celebration
Josh found this album several years back, and it has remained at the top of our favorites list ever since! These ladies have some of the most angelic soprano voices I have ever heard, and their arrangements are refreshing and stunningly beautiful. You'll also find a lot of interest in the background accompaniment, primarily in killer fiddling and deep cello.

Fernando Ortega, Christmas Songs
I find Fernando Ortega's compositions to be beautiful in their simplicity. His arrangements of familiar hymns are unique and add a lot of interest. I do not own every song in this album, as 2 or 3 of them did not appeal to me. I think the rest are winners, though!

Josh Groban's Noel is a new acquistion as of this year, and I'm so glad I got it! He is well-known for his beautiful tenor/baritone voice. These pieces are primarily choral in style with a little bit of pop thrown in. I nixed one of them, but have thoroughly enjoyed the others.

I really love a song that makes me tap my feet because I just can't help it! Smoky Mountain Christmas album does just that. I have even been known to grab a toddler or baby and start dancing around the room to one of these fiddle pieces. Great inspiration for house cleaning.

Want to be Happy?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Modicum for Mamma: You are God's Representative

A modicum is a small quantity of a desirable or valuable thing. My hope is to post on a semi-regular basis small, practical things I am learning about parenting from the older, wiser people in my life.  Moms have one of the most challenging and important jobs in the world, so they need lots of encouragement. At least, I know I do. :)

So, here goes...a small something that is helping me in my parenting journey! The following are quotes that deal with an issue paramount to any mamma: discipline.

"Kids…need to learn that the root issue is their sin, and they need to be taught the remedy for their sin. Chastisement is not for the benefit of frustrated parents. It’s supposed to be for the benefit of the child. And in order to get the full benefit, they need to understand that the real problem is their sin – sin that offends God."
John MacArthur, The Fulfilled Family, 2005, p. 117.

"Your focus can be sharpened by the realization that discipline is not you working on your agenda, venting your wrath toward your children; it is you coming as God’s representative, bringing the reproofs of life to your son or your daughter.  You only muddy the waters when the bottom line in discipline is your displeasure over their behavior, rather than God’s displeasure with rebellion against His ordained authority."
"Remember, the issue is never, “You have failed to obey ME.”  The only reason for a child to obey mom and dad is that God commands it.  Failure to obey mom or dad is, therefore, failure to obey God.  This is the issue.  The child has failed to obey God.  The child has failed to do what God has mandated.  To persist places the child at great risk." 
 Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Shepherd Press, 1995, p. 52., p. 132

These quotes really made me perk up my "ears", mainly because I was so convicted. How often do I get my feathers ruffled because I have been mistreated or inconvenienced by my child? "And you had the audacity to disobey me again?!" 

We can so easily become frustrated over a child's misbehavior, if for no other reason than the sheer number of times we mammas must discipline and reprove in order to build character. I love the idea presented here of being God's representative. I am an ambassador, so to speak, to communicate to my children how God perceives their disobedience, not how I feel about it. How important to their ultimate understanding of offending a Holy God and their need for Christ's imputed righteousness!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Update on Rebekah and Pertussis

[For the original post about Whooping Cough, click here.]

Well, the prognosis is a mixture of good and bad.

The good news is that Rebekah is getting progressively better. Yay! She has been sleeping through the night without coughing and is having fewer fits throughout the day. We are all very grateful to have gotten a bit more sleep this week!

The bad news is that Hosanna has begun coughing pretty badly. Enough to need constant checking throughout the night. So far, she hasn't had too much trouble breathing or caused us any real scares. However, we probably still have a ways to go before we're out of the woods.

We appreciate everyone who is praying for our family! We covet your prayers that Hosanna would get over this soon, and that we would be able to avoid hospitalization.

We are still keeping close to home and away from all our friends.

Whew! I think we are tired of being sick. Can we pleeeeease be done soon?

2011 Fall Family Photos

A few weeks ago we rounded up the girls on a cold fall day and took them down to a local park area. Joshua had recently gotten a new camera and was anxious to try it out on us. I think he did a super job with these! Our days of hiring a photographer for family photos might be over.

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