Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Greetings From the Pruett Family!

Greetings from the Pruett family! 2014 was a year of blessings, hard work, different hard work, and more blessings. The highlight of our year was the birth of our son, John William Pruett. He was born on his Great Grandma Jan’s birthday, Wednesday, 16 July, 2014 at 11:06 pm and weighed 9 pounds, 10 ounces. He measured 21.5 inches tall. John William is named after Zachary’s dad, William John “Bill” Pruett, a man who means the world to our entire family. He is a true gentleman and a man whose faith in Christ and willingness to help others will set a godly example for our son.

John means “God is gracious” and William means “Strong-willed warrior.” We pray that our son would choose to be a warrior in the fight for truth and be a strong witness of God’s grace.  Fittingly, John is also named after John the Baptist, a perfect choice for our son since his momma was named after the Biblical Elizabeth, and daddy Zachary’s name is derived from the Biblical priest Zechariah!

We are so happy to have our little boy, who really doesn't seem that little to us. At five months old, John fits best in nine month clothing and is a tall, strong baby with a gentle, content personality. He loves to watch what is going on around him, especially his big sister. Scooting successfully is his next big challenge now that rolling in both directions has been conquered. Nothing within reach -- or just out of reach -- is safe now that John has discovered the ability to grab and feel new things. John is a good sleeper, and nothing makes him happier than waking up from a long nap.

Anna Christine is 2 1/2 years old and has thrived as a big sister. She brings her brother toys and informs her momma when she thinks John needs to be picked up, given a nap, or nursed. She takes after her mamma in that she loves to sing nonsense songs about her day. She shows a love for rhythm and movement in her dancing. We live in a musical here! Anna loves her books and toys and is very particular about which ones stay with her at night and during naps. Her favorites right now include Hello Kitty. Anna likes a tidy crib and doesn't want it cluttered with too many things. Her vocabulary and ability to put together full sentences has grown immensely in the past few months.

Zachary is busy working and learning. His computer repair business is continuing to grow. There is something special about his happy smile and the twinkle in his eyes when he is able to resolve someone's computer problems, recover what was thought to be lost data, or speed up their computing experience. Also, after six months working in retail, Zachary was given more predictable hours when he was blessed with a job at Ward's Air Conditioning.

Elizabeth's life is full with caring for two little ones. She went on a pre-baby quilting marathon in anticipation of a break after the baby's birth. Four quilts (ranging from crib to lap size) and three Christmas stockings were hand quilted in the first half of the year. Also, she can't stay away from a good family history project. Pictures have been scanned, research has been done, and a new family tree has been printed. She loves to help extended family with their shared ancestry, so feel free to send her a note.

May God bless you in the coming 2015!

Zachary, Elizabeth, Anna, and John Pruett

Zachary's Email:
Elizabeth's Email:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

God Made Pink

Anna looked up at me from across the table, "God make pink?"
"Yes, He did!" I answered. "There are pink flowers God made, and when the sun sets in the sky there is often pink in the sunset. I think God did a good job making pink, don't you?"
"Yes!" Anna paused to think. "I like Him!"
"You like God?" I said with a smile.
"Yes. You like God?"
"I love God!"
"Daddy like God?" she went on.
"Yes, he does!"
"John like God? 

I thought about this, "Well, John doesn't know much about God yet, so we need to teach him about God so he will. Will you help us tell John about God?"
Anna looked down as she considered this before nodding.

I like how Anna went from one of her favorite colors to thinking about God and deciding she liked Him.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Gingerbread House Part Two: Gingerbread Town

This is me with Moore Lumber
It was ten years before I had the chance to decorate a gingerbread house. Actually, it wasn't really a gingerbread house at all. It was a gingerbread lumber supply business in a quaint little town made of gingerbread, frosting, and candy. Its sign read:


Then followed a list of the eight founding citizens: my sister, brother, me, and the five friends who collaborated to build the town.  The sign ended with a note stating that "Town building code specifies that no inedible materials be allowed within the city limits."

My sister, me, and David at the art show
Pleasanton and the event that created it was organized by several families who were quite familiar with confectionery creations. They were practiced and seasoned builders, and my siblings and I were the newbies. I was amazed at our friends' creativity and felt privileged to be part of such a fun endeavor.

There was a church, hotel, train, general store, garden, horse and carriage, my brother's bank, my sister's pretzel log cabin, my Moore Lumber, etc.
my sister Susanna's log cabin
We were instructed how to make the patterns during the planning process, one of the moms picked them up and took them home to make and bake the gingerbread pieces (which must have been a ton of work), and then the party could begin!

my brother David's bank
There was so much candy! The variety of colored frosting and candy meant that Pleasanton was a vibrant place to live and work. Moore Lumber had a yellow facade with a white door and windows trimmed in pretzel sticks. The sides and back were frosted brown (over the brown gingerbread), and the roof was tiled in chocolate bars.

The creative process was exciting and the time with friends rewarding. I realize there was a lot of work that went on behind the scenes. I am so thankful. Our family had a blast!

Any successful town from this era needed a train.
The icing on our gingerbread experience was that our town was included in a gingerbread show held at the local art center. There were quite a few entries, but very few collaborative efforts on the scale of Pleasanton.  I think being part of a group increased our creative horizons. ...Because really, Moore Lumber wouldn't have made much sense without the community surrounding it.

Thank you, friends, for the opportunity to be involved in such a fun project!

I still wanted to make a more traditional gingerbread "house," but more on that in Part Three.

I was impressed by the garden.
Thanks again to my mom for finding these pictures from 2005!

Gingerbread House Part One: The Gift of a House

There is something so enticing about a little house made out of sweet, edible goodies.  The first gingerbread house I saw up close was gifted to my family in 1995 by a church member. I was just a child and don't remember who made it for us or why they gave it to us, but it had a strong pull on me.  My mom remembers me licking my lips as I took in the wonder of the gingerbread house.

We didn't eat much candy as children, so there were sweets on this little house I hadn't seen or tasted before. It all looked so good! I don't know if the giver intended us to eat her house or not, but it was only a matter of time before we wanted to do more than just look at the treat.

Mom and Dad saw the gingerbread house as a decoration. Conveniently, I don't remember if my parents told us not to touch it. I do remember spending what felt like long hours staring at the little house trying to pick the most inconspicuous piece of candy to pry off and eat.

I grew bolder over time, and one little piece after another made it into my mouth. My sister and brother may have helped me in this. I hope they did, anyway, because I would hate to be the only one who picked at the gingerbread house. Some of the candies were stuck tight with frosting. I only know this because of my attempts to remove them!

Eventually, the gingerbread house wasn't much to look at. Even I was less interested in eating candy that had been sitting out and collecting dust. Mom decided it was time to throw it away. Gingerbread houses don't last forever, and I was sad to see it go, but it did plant the desire to make my own someday.

So, to whoever gave us that beautiful gingerbread house, thank you. You gave three children a lot of joy that year.

Also, thanks to my mom for digging out these pictures!

Our Christmas Music

Singing Christmas carols is among my favorite December activities. A daily Advent celebration forms the perfect excuse to pull out the songbooks and sing together, and I am enjoying this sacred time with my little family.

Of course, looking back over the years, I haven't always needed my family to have an all out Christmas carol marathon. I remember one year I found a thick book of Christmas music and sat on my bed singing solos until my voice was hoarse. My sister shared a room with me and was not thrilled. ...But singing these well beloved Christmas songs is addicting!

I went to the library last week with one main purpose: to find the book A Treasury Of Christmas Songs: Twenty-five Favorites To Sing And Play put out by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I checked it out for the first time last year and fell in love. It is visually appealing, contains the actual music, and includes multiple verses for all the songs. While the collection is made up of both secular and sacred music, most of my favorites are in there. I renewed the book as many times as I could last year and had it for the full six weeks allowed -- covering the entire Christmas season.

I almost felt guilty for keeping this treasure just for my family last year, so I gave the rest of my community a head start this year. At least, I can try to claim benevolence; I was kept away from the library for multiple reasons. So, last Wednesday, with only eight days until Christmas, I hardly expected this perfect combination of music and art to still be on the shelf. It was!

Two other Christmas books joined my collection in our hurried library visit, and I was only half surprised when I realized they were all music books. One, my daughter's favorite, is a pop-up book called Ding Dong! Merrily on High (A Pop-up Book of Christmas Carols) by Francesca Crespi. There are five songs with interactive pages that awed my daughter. Her mouth went agape when a brilliantly colored star appeared in the night sky, and managed "Ah" before saying excitedly, "That is cool!"

The last book was more for me. Silent Night: The Song and Its Story is written by Margaret Hodges and illustrated by Tim Ladwig. The beautiful illustrations kept my daughter's attention for a short time and mine from cover to cover. I continued to read while Anna played around me. The song's story includes a telling of the biblical account of Jesus' birth. The book was worth it for that page alone, but the story finished by showing how much "Silent Night" has meant to people around the world throughout its history -- particularly soldiers dealing with the brutality of war.

So, I am very pleased with the music in our house this Christmas season. It gives me so much joy to hear my 2 1/2 year old try her best to sing with us or break out in song on her own as we go about our day.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

New DAR Member; Patriot Ancestor Solomon Tuttle

Happy! One of my joys in genealogy is when my research is examined and approved by professional genealogists. Hard work has paid off, and I am now a member of the DAR.

My patriot ancestor is my 5th great grandfather, Solomon Tuttle, who entered the service May 1775 and was at the taking of Ticonderoga by Ethan Allen and of Fort St. Jean by General Montgomery. He served as a Minute Man 3 years and was a prisoner 1 year, 9 months, and 3 days. He was born in Connecticut, farmed in Vermont, built one of the first houses in Athens, Ohio, and died at the age of 73 on 30 November, 1830 -- on what would become my birthday more than 150 years later.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Shadows of the Workhouse" by Jennifer Worth

There are some books we read for pleasure; there are some books we read to grow our understanding of humanity. The trilogy of memoirs by Jennifer Worth is most decidedly in the second category.  I reviewed the first book several months ago, but I just finished the second book, Shadows of the Workhouse, this week.  It is even darker and more difficult to read than Worth's first book, Call the Midwife. I actually began reading it several months ago while I was pregnant with my second child, but I had to put it away. The first chapters about a little girl named Jane who was born, raised, and tortured in an English workhouse sent me into a panic attack, and I couldn't go on for a great while.

Warning: this book contains content unsuitable for a young audience.

Does this book have worth? Yes, I believe it does, but you need to approach it in the right frame of mind.  Many of us (especially those of us with the ability to read this on the internet) live lives of luxury. Frankly, we are rich and spoiled, and it would do us good to stop what we are doing and serve someone else.

This book shows that some suffering is brought on by hunger and poverty, but there is an even greater suffering brought on by being lonely and unloved. We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus and love others. We need to get over our sensitivities to smell, bugs, or whatever else stops us and spend time with those who need someone to care.

Worth's story about how she did this for one old veteran who lost half his family in World War I and the other half in World War II illustrated this kind of service. As a nurse, Jenny spent her days with the infirm as well as with new mothers and babies. Some might think the work Jenny did while on the clock was enough; she was doing her part. But no, she spent her evenings off to visit with someone who received no other visitors -- a virtual outcast in the city he had called his home since boyhood.

...And she didn't stop going. No, it wasn't easy. No, she didn't do it flawlessly. No, she couldn't make the old soldier's life perfect.  Yet, she made it clear that she cared, and that one thing made his life better.

I wonder, who are the outcasts I can reach out to? We all must be on the lookout for those in need of a comforting word, a smile, a listening ear, and the practical care involved in meeting the physical and emotional needs of others. We are the hands and feet of Christ, and we serve others in His name.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Our Advent This Year

Every Advent is special in its own way. Looking back to when I was just a child, I can't tell you what I enjoyed most about it. Was it the anticipation of Christmas Day? The music? The candlelight? The cookies and coloring sheets we sometimes had? The sound of my father's voice as he read the Holy Bible?  I don't know that it was any one thing in particular. It was the full experience, the opportunity to come together as a family and remember what is truly important.

This year is special in its own way. I am married now with a baby experiencing his first Advent season and a toddler who is old enough to look forward to it each evening. Anna was both fascinated and concerned about candlelight at first (a few hand puppet shadow shows helped put her at ease), and she was intrigued by the "new" Christmas music. The gentle melodies of Silent Night and Away in a Manger are rather somber sounding and made her cry without knowing why. Now, she does her best to sing the parts she knows and asks for Silent Night.

Best of all are the stories this year. The Jesus Storybook Bible wasn't a new book for us, but we weren't reading it chronologically or every day before this Advent season.  Now, I realize it is practically an Advent book! Every story, even from the Old Testament, points toward His coming. We add Jesus' name for clarity so our toddler can understand better, but each story ends by pointing toward the coming of our Savior. It is a great way to consider the Old Testament, and you don't have to be a child to appreciate this book.

We are lighting two candles each night now, and the light of this season will glow brighter and brighter as we come closer to Christmas Day -- the day we celebrate the miracle of Immanuel: God with us.