Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More December Fun!

All of the children are so helpful with sweet baby Emily!

Papa is so happy to be a grandpa!
It is a delightful thing to be!

And this Nana is loving being a Grandma!
Do you see the two new teeth our little one has!
Love 'em!

And she has discovered her tongue too!

Emily was 8 months and one week in the pics!

Katie and Emily will return in January- so glad!
Now we get to see her at 9 months!

We went to the play "Rudolph" at stages theater!
Three plays and one concert for the holidays- check!

My treasures from China love the baby toys as much as Emily does!
They missed out on their time to play with toys like this.

When we went shopping for a few baby toys for the house our kiddos were in heaven!
They touched, pushed, turned everything they could get their hands on in the toy store.
I was thinking I should just take them to the toys aisle for an outing-
 I know they would be thrilled.
But, I not sure what condition we would leave the toys in !

Now that Emily is a little bigger and more sturdy Ava can carry her!

Emily loves to stand and walk with our help!

When it was time for them to leave (and go see Andrew) Kate had a few too many things in the suitcase! Oops!
Plus, Penny wanted to go along...
Poor dear, was stuck with us!

Thanks for including us in your travels, honey!
Next stop Germany to see Andrew!

Emily has her comfy cute let's ride in the airplane clothes on!
She did great in the plane and slept most of the way!

And poor poor sad Penny sat by the door for hours and hours and hours...
In the beginning she wanted nothing to do with us but after awhile she cheered up a little and by evening she was back to her old self!

Ava loves animals and is very good with them. 
Penny sleeps with Ava at night. 
We brought her in the first two nights but now she goes in there all by herself

Anna, Melissa, Ava and Ben take piano lessons!

They played their Christmas songs for us at the end of their class!
All four have their lesson at the same time!
This works out well for our family!
Mia and Sarah have learned how to play their songs, too!

And we did go look at kitties, too!
More on that in a future post!

Penny is happy and well adjusted now!
I think she is liking our home!

2014 has been a wonderful year~
Excited for the New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Celebrating with Family- Focusing on the JOY!!

On Dec 21st Matt and Caitlin arrived in Minneapolis!

It was so wonderful having them here!
Matt has been extremely busy with studying(bio statistics)- a subject that he loves but he/they are feeling like they needs more balance. Caitlin works with special needs preschooler. Many of her little students have severe needs- she loves it but her days are challenging. 
Finals are over, school is out and they can finally exhale!
So thankful they chose to "exhale" with us!

Billy and my sister Barb.
We really have fun when we get together!

Emma and Ellie are enjoying their Christmas break from school!
Johnny is done with finals and will be spending time with Katie and Emily in Colorado over J term!

Two of our girls - Kelly and Caitlin!
Caitlin and Matt are checking out homes in the area!
They are considering moving back! (woooohooooo)

Sarah made this beautiful picture for Matt and Caitlin!
 We love Abeka art projects!
Easy to do and great results!

Kelly made "Olaf" mugs for the children filled with a hot cocoa bag and candy canes!

Mia has a blue candy cane !
Still working on the relaxed smile ;-)
After playing outside in the snow they all came in for hot cocoa!

In early December we went to the movie
"Saving Christmas"
It was not the best movie...
it saved our Christmas!


Because it reminded us what to focus on.
The joy of the season, the fun of the season, the celebration of Christ and the gifts that were given to us through HIM!

NOT the stress.
Not having everything perfect.
Not excess...

It's great to decorate your home!
It is wonderful to shop for others!
It's fantastic to serve holiday meals and goodies!
But only to the point that you are still feeling "JOY"!

It's okay to lighten up on yourself.

As the Mom/ Nana of all of this I need to feel the joy.
I can't afford to have it sucked out of this amazing time of year.
What am I teaching my children IF I am crabby, stressed and tense?
I don't want to carry this burden, only to transfer it to them...
I want them to feel the JOY of Christ's birth!

So for me-
I choose to be nice to myself.
Our bedroom- "command central"- is a wreck. 
During the month of December no one can go into my closet. 
The week before Christmas no one can enter our room.

I have soaps and candles that I forgot to put out for the holiday (theres always next year).
I had no idea where the girls leggings were on Christmas eve (straight into prayer), our back up was their old black leggings. I forgot to get shirts for under the boys sweaters- so we searched and found a few old shirts and 2 others that they hadn't worn yet.
Em and El wore MY black socks with their shoes to church. The other girls have boots to wear but Em and El's feet are too wide for the boots.
We pulled it together and it worked!

I went into this holiday with Prayer-
 Lord I know you have this covered. 
Please remind of what I need to be reminded of... I trust you. 

Somehow everything falls into place!

My job...
Is to be joyful!
I kept reminding myself ;-)

Yes, I wake up in the middle of the night and remember something I forgot or where I have fallen short...
Take it away Lord!
Let me honor you with joy!

Our decorations were extremely simple.

This is it!
Along with some garland over the fireplace.
We chose to move the stockings to the stairs so we could have fires in the fireplace.

Simple works for me and decreases my stress.
Different things work for different people.

My kitchen helpers!
Getting ready to make the egg dish for brunch!
I love working together with the children.
It's fun and it makes the job more joyful!

Christmas Eve Brunch was delicious!
We make two egg dishes and yes, I forgot the peppers and onions for the zippy one.
So bland won this year!

So thankful these two were with us!

The littles LOVE sitting at this table together!

No snow for our Christmas- but it came two days later!

Matt and Caitlin gave the children gifts to work together on!
Arts and craft projects which they love!

When Christmas was over Luke asked
"When can we do this again?"
In 365 days, honey!

I love puzzles!

Thank you, Matt and Caitlin!

Figuring out
how to do the crafts!

When the children opened the spirograph one of them said-
 we already have that...

Well, yes...
But that would be the 1968 version - 
mine from when I was a child!

Abby has settled into our family beautifully!
It didn't happen right away.
It took her a good year plus to feel better (health wise) and to figure out what a family is all about.

We love doing puzzles!
Especially during Christmas break- it's so relaxing!

Anna has surgery tomorrow.
Please keep her in your prayers!
They will be closing the fistula on the roof of her mouth- no more food coming out of her nose!
Next year they will do a bone graph to connect her dental ridge (gun line).

The dining room becomes the puzzle room!

We finished this 1000 pc puzzles in 2 days!

Why quit now?
The children have opened up every large puzzle we own and they are working on them!