Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015 has been quiet, by which I mean that no cousins, aunts, or uncles are here visiting. It's sad, and we miss them a lot, but we doing our best to look on the positive side of things.

1. With my mom's back, it's best that she rest in her chair as much as possible. If all the other grandkids were here, she would either be out of her chair more than she should or she would be wishing she could do more with them.

2. Less dishes.

3. We aren't staying up as late and we are sleeping in longer.

4. Fewer pictures to edit.

4. We are all getting some good "small family" time instead of "extended family" time. Which is good for me as I consider that things will be very different in our house in the matter of 7 months time. (As I typed that, I felt like my breath got knocked right out of me.)

5. Less dishes.

We spent our traditional Christmas Eve at my parents' house opening gifts and eating treats. And, since there were less people, that meant I could eat lots more almond stick.

Before presents, Mom always makes us pose for pictures. At our ages, we're all very cooperative and we moved right along to gifts!

Like I said, fewer pictures...

But I did get a video of Sarah opening THE GIFT. THE GIFT she's been begging for and wanting and hoping for and hinting (not-so-subtly) about...

My brothers, sisters-in-law, and parents helped soothe the pain of being far away by texting and emailing cute pictures of the kids and activities everyone was doing.

We even got a Christmas morning picture from the SoCal Balls!

On Christmas morning, we went to church and then had our ham dinner at my parents' house. After dinner was cleaned up, we went to visit my Grandma in the rest home and my Aunt Nancy was there visiting as well! Aunt Nancy came back to my parents' house with us for dessert, which was great!

After dessert, we headed home to do gifts with just the 6 of us, following by watching The Nativity Story, which was I think our first time watching it all together. I really do love that movie.

The day after Christmas my uncle arranged for all his siblings to spend some time with Grandma in the large conference room at the rest home. So glad they could all spend that time together and with Grandma!!

We have another week of break and we have lots of good plans...babysitting (for Bethany), trail runs (for Bethany & Sarah), play dates (Becca & Elise), painting (me...but just a little cabinet, nothing major), working (Ed), working at school (me and whatever elves I can convince to help), celebrating the New Year with good friends (everyone!), game tournaments & dinners with friends (everyone!), and hopefully furniture shopping (Ed & I)! Hopefully there will also be plenty of sleeping in...

Saturday, December 26, 2015

December Daily Life

Plenty of other stuff has been happening in our world...

Sarah went with two friends and one of their dads to visit Dordt College in Iowa, the same weekend I was in Michigan for my grandma's memorial service. We know many, many people who have attended Dordt, and had always encouraged Sarah to visit, thinking it could be a possibility for her for college. She wasn't too excited about the idea, until the Dordt coaches contacted her and started talking about offering her money to come run for them. Calvin, her other top choice school and the school most of our family graduated from, is Div. III, so they can't offer athletic scholarships. Because of Dordt's offer, and because she had such good conversations with coaches and students and friends who are alumni, she went for a visit. And she really loved it! She loved the coaches and the team, she loved the profs, she loved the community feel. So now...she has a big decision to make. Dordt has offered her their maximum athletic scholarship. But she's pulled to Calvin in many ways as well. So she is going back to Calvin in February to meet with more English profs and the coaches and team one more time in an attempt to get a clearer picture of what will be the best fit for her overall...there are so many factors to consider...finances, team, English programs, who else is in the area/at the school, coaches, campus, etc., etc., etc. We are praying for wisdom and guidance for her as she seeks an answer to this decision.

My Melted Snowman and Choir art projects in Kindergarten - I totally loved these!

We had another fun night at the Faithlife Christmas party, though it wasn't the best ever. We had great conversation, but it was pretty cold and the food wasn't good this year. Hopefully next year we will go back to Semiahmoo - that was much more lovely!

Dinner by candlelight was one of our December Advent activities

With my mom's back issues, we weren't sure about the whole cutting-down-the-Christmas-tree it was a pretty nasty day...but since it could be Sarah's last year, we went for it. Back to our usual tree farm in the mountains and even though Mom had to wait in the car, we found beautiful trees for us and for my parents, and still got to enjoy our donuts and hot cocoa in the barn afterwards.

Bethany got to put the star up and since we didn't get a very tall tree, she only needed a little boost. It has been a great tree...good color, not losing needles...and to avoid the inevitable spider problem (that is generally enough to make me buy a fake tree) I sprayed the tree with spider spray before we decorated it and amazingly, it has worked! No baby spiders climbing on my walls, no little webs around ornaments. YAY!!!

Sarah on Tolo night - she hung out with girlfriends and had a great night!

Shine Bright like a "GEM!!!" Loved this!

Elise played piano in church - and on a couple songs I played the duet part with her.

Becca sang in church as well - so beautiful!

She also had a voice recital and afterwards there was a cookie reception at her teacher's house. This is Becca with her voice teacher and her daughter. Click here to view a video of Becca singing "Holly Jolly Christmas."

The day after the voice recital, Becca started her journey through the world of orthodontics. Top braces to start!

And then there was Elise's piano recital...

And an orchestra concert for Becca & Bethany, who both play violin.

And here's Elise on her way to her very last white cape Christmas program...I can't believe I don't have any more white cape programs for my girls! Good thing I teach Kindergarten...I'll have my "kids" in there forever!

Speaking of my "kids" - here they are in their capes! And below, it's our class on the day of our Christmas party.

The day before the Christmas program, on my day off, when I was baking, wrapping presents, and listening to Christmas music, it SNOWED! Not much, but enough to get everyone pretty excited and bring lots of Christmas joy.

Another December Advent activity was a family night that included driving around to look at Christmas lights, making homemade pizza, cutting paper snowflakes, and watching the movie Inside Out, which was super cute!

And then there was the Sunday School Christmas program and Candlelight Service which was wonderful as always!

So far Christmas break has included some time with this family, plus skating with friends!

And since those things just happened this week, and the only thing I haven't blogged is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...I declare myself "caught up"!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Notables from November

We have been part of a Life Group at church for about 5 years now. It wasn't always easy to get away when the girls were smaller, but our Life Group became family. From days on the lake, to Sunday evening chatting, to helping half of us move, to being the glue that kept us at Bethel during difficult times, to supporting each other when there were family crises...we are family. We are also going to be dividing into two separate groups beginning in the new year, in order that more people (some new to our church, some new to life groups) can become part of a group that is that special and important. It's going to be hard, but it's going to be good. It's what we are called to do. Anyway, before the "split", our life group hosted a lunch after church and we invited all the widows & widowers from the church. The picture above is from that event. Sarah asked little Nathaniel if he would go to Tolo with her (Tolo is an area-wide high school dance where the girls ask the boys) and he said no! We all had a good laugh about that!

On the same day of our Life Group lunch, my grandma passed away in Michigan. My dad was with her in the days leading up to and the moments of her entering glory, She was 93 years old and had lived a very full, well-read, well-traveled, adventurous, progressive, and exciting life. She was not your typical grandma, but she was my grandma, and she raised my dad, who I think is pretty awesome. Her memorial service was not until December 4 in Grand Rapids, but I think it's appropriate to blog about that here, even though the blog post is called "Notables from November." 

Three days after my grandma passed away, my mom hurt her back. My dad had not been home 48 hours and he was taking her to the ER, where they spent the next 2 days. So, the prospect of her traveling to Michigan for the memorial service seemed dim. But, she did everything the doctor said, and we reserved her a wheelchair for the trip, and she was able to be there. It was definitely hard on her, especially the day of the service, but she's tough. She did great.

Memorial Services aren't a very fun reason to be traveling to the Midwest in December, but we were blessed with good traveling weather and it was SO. GOOD. to spend that time with family.

Below are the displays my dad, baby brother, and I set up at the church. Thanks to big brother for picking up the easels and all the work he did with the funeral home and church prior to our arrival.

We were able to visit my nephew at his school and see his multi-age classroom. That was pretty fun. My little bro found the teacher's rolling chair and pushed my mom around the school in it! Definitely memorable. 

And there were lots of other precious family memories made.

Three of my dad's cousins who were the closest to my dad growing up. So nice to have them there.

I even got to have breakfast with my college besties!

And more from November...

Elise had her first chess club tournament!

Somebody had a birthday, and somebody took the hint that the peanut butter ice cream cake at Edaleen would be the perfect dessert. YUMMMMMMM!

Those two besties went to Senior Masquerade as burglars. Goofs. 

Can't forget about Thanksgiving!

Some Christmas prep...

We had our final XC event for Sarah...the dessert social. Coach talks about each runner and we share goodies that the runners (sometimes) refrain from during the season. 

Coach was amazing to Sarah...he said, "I know you don't know where you're going next year yet, but it doesn't matter. God will go with you wherever it is. And it's going to be OK." I know that he was named Whatcom County Women's XC Coach of the Year because for two years in a row he's led them to be the top finishing team from Whatcom County at state...but to me he's Coach of the Year because of what he said to her that night. And because of SO MANY OTHER THINGS. He deserves it more than those that voted for him know.

Sarah and her 4th and final toaster tart trophy.

And just like that, November (& even some of December!) is blogged!