"Enjoy the little things in life ~ one day you'll wake up and realize they were the big things"

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Here are a few highlight pictures from Christmas (I posted an album of 30 or so on Facebook, but I tried to limit them a little bit here). Unfortunately, the stomach flu caught up with Kevin on Christmas Eve, so he spent most of Christmas Day in bed. He did manage to drag himself downstairs and prop himself up on the couch while the kids opened gifts (which really helped it feel a bit more like Christmas ~ for me!). We got to see grandparents and cousins on Christmas night and Auntie Penny spent the entire Christmas weekend with us as well! We haven't yet been able to assemble the kids' "big gift" -- a 70 ft zipline for the backyard! Currently, the yard is covered in snow (which has made for some fun sledding the past few days). I should have figured it out by now, but for some reason it still surprises me when some of the smallest little things we give the kids turn out to be the most fun (Anna nearly did backflips over her Dora toothbrush and Samuel's little 50 cent train ornament, filled with candy, didn't leave his side for several days!). It was fun to have them open their gifts from their out of state Grandma (Shirley) while she was on speaker phone with them ~ she got to hear them "ooh" and "ahh" and chatter excitedly . . . one of these days we need to creep farther into the 21st century and invest in a webcam!

We like to set a leisurely pace on Christmas and don't usually even begin to open gifts until 10:30 or 11:00. This year was no different. By lunchtime, packaging and toys were strewn about the living room and it looked a little bit like a tornado had touched down. The kids were all very thrilled and thankful for the gifts they received ~ and in reality, we probably gave them too much. In spite of that, the deep down really fun part is that I think they truly "get it" (the older ones especially) that the real gift is still Jesus . . . born among the outcasts in a dirty, stinky stable ~ who came that we might have abundant life (both now and for all eternity), who came in a way that made no sense to give to us a life that does. We are daily aware of the many blessings He has poured into our lives. It's a wee bit late, but we wish you a Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

School, Sickness & Season's Greetings

The past few days have been an ugly blur of the stomach flu at our house. Not a big, life-threatening bout with the flu, just a wretched "little" 24 hour bug that causes plenty of vomiting and misery (x five . . . Daniel and Kevin seem to have escaped this time). It seemed like it came out of absolutely nowhere and it's been quite odd. I don't think we've ever really had three people sick at the same time. Fortunately for us, school ended just before this began and the rest of our schedule has been pretty flexible. Even though we've missed out on some things we had been looking forward to ~ it's been nice to be home together, in spite of the fact that most of us are feeling pretty crummy.

We officially ended school for the semester on Friday (and got sick Saturday night!). Our homeschool seems to be a somewhat ecclectic mix of traditional curriculum and unit studies. The unit study we're doing right now is based on the first Boxcar Children book. Since it was our last week of school before Christmas break, the kids got to do a fun little "just because" kind of project and put together a simple wooden train model and attempt to construct a boxcar. Levi's favorite part was getting to use dad's saw! Emily discovered that she does better when the instructions are written out (rather than a diagram that just shows you "what goes where").

Our kids have really enjoyed wrapping gifts and piling them under (and around) our tree. Not all of them new gifts ~ one of the biggest boxes under the tree holds Levi's very cherished (enormous!) Nerf gun, that he's decided to give to Kevin. It's really been fun seeing how much joy the kids get in choosing surprises for their siblings and parents and their anticipation as they wait for them to be opened in a few more days. They also enjoyed being part of a Christmas performance at a little local church that we've visited a few times.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just Plain Cute

Anna loves our little dancing Christmas penguin. We wrapped up the AWANAs semester this past week ~ some particularly cute little Cubbies did a great job singing for the rest of the crowd.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Conversations with kids . . .

We asked Samuel something at dinner a few nights ago . . . and he, with his mouth full of food, said "I'm chewing"!
Anna loves peas -- LOVES them! A few nights ago we had grilled cheese sandwiches and various soups for dinner. Kevin's choice was split pea and ham soup. Anna was sitting next to him and noticed that there were peas in his soup, so he offered her a bite. She didn't like it at all, but she quickly requested some "not pea soup" --which was her (very 3 year old) request for a bowl of peas!
Daniel was having a very hard time coming up with something to tell Emily that he appreciated about her (when it was her turn with "special plate") . . . after several minutes of tears and turmoil, we finally asked him if he was really trying -- to which he responded "I'm very trying!" (he sure was!)
Anna was choo choo-ing her way through the house pretending to be a train yesterday, she saw that I had some lunch meat sitting on the counter and stopped by to ask for some . . . "Mom, your train is out of energy"!
I was reading Samuel his favorite book (about fast things!). One of the pages shows a bullet train. Samuel looked at it and said "that's even faster than Levi!"
Samuel: "Mom, can I be excused, look at my (empty) bowl!"
Emily: I thought he said "Mom, can I be excused, to update my blog"
Samuel: (with a funny grin), "Can I be excused, to uptake my log"!


It seems that we are creeping closer to the 21st century at our house! I understand that for many families, texting is the "in" thing among family and friends. We haven't gotten there yet, and we don't have an iphone . . . but Emily and Daniel are sure into the computer lately! We're regularly on it for school projects and Spanish lessons, but they've taken things a step farther and have recently begun blogs of their own ~ oh my! Emily, especially, LOVES adding things to hers and has even roped a few of her friends into creating blogs as well. They enjoy "following" each others new posts and leaving comments. Emily has even discovered how to have pets on your blog! (who'd a thunk it?!) . . . Part of me thinks that we've created a monster (allowing it) and I've joked that I am NOT responsible for what she puts on there! The truth is that it's become quite an exercise for me to allow them creative, unique expression without offering too much editing or censorship (not TOO much!). Emily would be tickled pink if you checked it out and became a follower (even a sporadic one) . . . Daniel too! (www.emilygrenier.blogspot.com or www.danielgrenier.blogspot.com)

I don't think Levi is going to venture into that hobby anytime soon, but I'll let you know if he does! Right now he's busy gathering supplies for a paramedic kit and attempting to build a stretcher ( . . . he isn't content to merely learn about things without doing something with what he’s learning ~ even in the pretend realm!) He has suggested that we work together on the stretcher during our first “one on one” time of the year (when we start school again in January). I wasn’t altogether excited about the possible (prophetic) significance of starting our year off building a stretcher! . . . hmmmmm?!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Anna Banana!

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14). We had the joy of gathering around a particularly adorable Anna girl earlier this week and praying with her while she asked Jesus to live in her heart. Last December we shared a similar sweet moment with Samuel . . . prompted by the decorating of Christmas sugar cookies (hearts and crosses and angels and such). For Anna, it was the Christmas decorations that began the discussion (she keeps taking baby Jesus out of our nativity sets and carrying Him around the house with her!). The other kids were very excited for her and sang the "Yeay Anna" song afterward. At Emily's prompting, we followed it up with "Happy Birthday"!

2 Cor 5:17 is a favorite verse at our house, it says that "if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come". There is debate among Christians about how old a child/person needs to be to make that decision for themselves (in order for it to be genuine). It took us (Kevin and I) until the college years to figure out the truth and reality of that mysterious, yet simple, concept. For our kids, it seems to be around age three and a half or four. Daniel was barely three years old, but he remembers the moment well several years later (and he's always been a little ahead of himself anyway!). Whatever the case, the somewhat tattered and worn nativity sets that adorn various corners of our home, have just become a little bit more special to us!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Anna's first dance performance

Anna just wrapped up her first semester of worship dance classes (at the same place Emily has danced for several years). The girls had their Christmas performance Friday night and they were both beautiful! I conquered some last minute sewing machine challenges (hooray!) and managed to surprise the girls with matching dance outfits for their dolls. Emily was surprised to see the outfit on one of her favorite dolls, Anna was thrilled to receive her very own doll ("just like Emily's"!) and to see that she even had a matching outfit! In fact, she has hardly put it down since we gave it to her Friday night.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"A life well lived . . . a place well loved"

I've found myself in one of those "walk around in circles, fail to accomplish much" places lately. In reality, I've probably accomplished enough . . . but it has been done while being firmly planted in that old proverbial fog. One of the results is that our little blog has been neglected of late.

We made an unexpected trip out of town just before Thanksgiving because Kevin's sweet 96 year old grandma died. All things considered, it was a good trip. Kevin spoke at the funeral and did a great job. The little church that Helen had attended for half a century (!) was packed with people (which honestly surprised us ~ knowing that she had outlived so many of her friends, we had been expecting primarily relatives at the service). We were able to visit with some cherished family members and celebrate the life of one who faced great loss and hardship throughout her life, yet never allowed her heart to become bitter in response. She will be greatly missed, but her example outlives her and continues to be a cherished blessing to us.

At the very northern end of Wyoming is a little town called Greybull, which was Grandma's home for the past 50+ years and has been a place dear to us as well. There is an area on the outskirts of town that has been a personal family playground of sorts for us and the kids -- the locals call it "Devil's Kitchen" (it feels a bit to me like the Great Sand Dunes, the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde all morphed into one fun, smaller scale, land of adventure). We have some pretty fond memories of hiking and exploring there over the past few decades. We often have the place virtually to ourselves ~ and this time was no exception. Kevin and the kids went off to explore and after hiking a bit, I found a spot to sit and enjoy the quiet. I was struck by the stillness . . . like the stars that seem to overtake the sky when you step out of the glow of the city lights ~ I found myself engulfed in that peaceful, indescribable, God-whispering, priceless, stillness. There aren't enough places in our (personal) world where we get to experience that on such a grand scale. Perhaps we need to stray from the over-crowded hiking trails and seek them out a bit more (since it isn't looking like a move to northern Wyoming is in our immediate future!)

My blissful soak in the stillness was soon overtaken by a great adrenaline rush as I watched Kevin and the kids making their way along the ledge of an impressive rock outcropping (which snuggled itself up to a 60+ foot drop ~ straight down!). They eventually scooted themselves down the "less straight down" side of it ~ with Kevin "parking" a few kids in several different spots along the way and going back up to bring another one or two down, either on his lap or on his back. Fortunately they are pretty good at looking out for one another and they did exactly what they were told (this time!) -- I even got some great pictures as I enjoyed my solid footing at the bottom of the climb.

We returned home in time to enjoy Thanksgiving at my sister's house (complete with a lively game of "almost tackle" football) and to celebrate our anniversary the following day. My sweet, romantic husband pooled all of his creative energies into one fabulous anniversary gift . . . a full size air hockey table! (which he found, much by accident, at 75% off it's original price -- and who can pass that up?!) Now, before you think him an unromantic lug who was forced to spend the night on the couch after such a presentation ~ you need to know that I positively loved it! I adore air hockey and now I have daily opportunities to dethrone him from his so called "World Champion" status. The kids have never thought an anniversary so fun! (though I fear they may be disappointed next year!)