This year, we enjoyed being able to spend Thanksgiving Day with my husband's family in Ohio. The ladies did an excellent job preparing a hearty Thanksgiving meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, salad and, of course, Mom's pumpkin pie.

There are so many things that have filled me with joy and given me reason to be thankful. Primarily, I stand in awe and gratitude to God for sending Jesus, the Savior of mankind. With Jesus, we have a reason and purpose to go on in life, even when facing hardships and trials. And, yes, we do have an extra reason to rejoice this Christmas season with a newborn son in the house.

Austin is doing well and growing like a weed. He's gaining a pound a week. He rapidly outgrew his newborn sleepers and is already filling up the next size. Besides some tummy-aches and occasional earaches, he's doing great. My sisters and mother have been a tremendous blessing these last days. They're excellent with babysitting or helping with my housework.

Julia seems to be adjusting well to her baby brother and is quite protective of him. When he starts waking up and squirming around, Julia is quick to notice and inform me he needs to be picked up.

"Mom, mom, the baby. The baby is awake," she says excitedly. Julia is my helper in many little ways, and she's had lots of fun helping me open cards and gifts. I want to thank readers again for all the thoughtful cards and letters celebrating the arrival of Austin.

Talking about Julia reminds me there's something else she's been excited about: my husband Daniel purchased a tiny calf that was only several days old. It was delivered to our house one evening after dark. It was snowing lightly when Daniel carried it up to the front porch where Julia and I could get a good look at it. It was as black as the night.

"What about calling her Midnight?" I asked Daniel. Yes, of course, it fit perfectly for a black little calf that arrived at night.

You can guess what is now Julia's favorite part of chore-time. Daddy does a wonderful job in patiently bundling her up and taking her with him to give Midnight his bottle.

Daniel enjoys working with calves, that is, if they're healthy and thriving. He's already had a tough time with illness, etc., with the calves he has had in the past. Midnight is quite stocky and seems to be healthy and doing well. Hopefully it can stay that way.

Yesterday I made a batch of granola. I thought maybe that would be something you'd like to try. I don't know about you, but I am a granola fan. I love tasting others versions and kinds of granola.

I like adding different twists to our granola by using raisins instead of chocolate or butterscotch chips and Julia likes when I put in Cheerios instead of graham crackers. Adding some sunflower or ground flax seeds also makes it delicious and healthier.

Homemade

butterscotch granola

10 cups oatmeal

2 package graham crackers (crushed)

2 cups coconut

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

3βΡ4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups of butter

1 cup of butterscotch chips

Melt butter and add to dry ingredients. Spread evenly on two large cookie sheets. Bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes. Stir every 5 to 10 minutes. Add butterscotch chips during the last minute of baking.

Yield: 1 gallon

Gloria Yoder, 25, is a young Amish wife and mother who lives in rural Illinois.