Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Morning 2010...Here we grow again!

Yup, another daughter is now engaged!

Her then boyfriend, Jamie, came to talk with me and John on Thurs. He presented a well thought out plan for their future and it was evident that he really loves her. John gave his blessing, but asked that they wait at least a year. (It will be interesting to see how God will provide for two weddings in 2011)

Our future son in law, Jamie, with Anna

Here is how it all unfolded:

Until this year, Christmas always started with the kids cooking breakfast and coming in our room. This year, as a result of a too late bedtime, no one but Anna and the little ones got up. Finally, John and I got up and woke the other sleepyheads up. After breakfast, we gave the kids their gifts. Everyone seemed pleased with their gifts. I think that if a toy has Disney Cars or Princesses on it, it is now at my house.

Thomas the tank engine is another big hit with Elijah

We then rushed to get presents, food and all of us to my Mom and Dad's house. Jamie had concocted a plan for proposing to Anna. He was supposed to go with us, but called and told her that he was going to be late and would meet us there. Little did Anna know, but he beat us to my parent's and was waiting in a back bedroom when she got there. Anna was livid at him, but her temper quickly subsided when Jamie comes out from the back and quickly drops to one knee.

Of course, she said, "Yes!"

My Mom with the newly engage couple

I was there taking pictures and John, Jr was videoing.

After this excitement, we had a huge meal and opened mountains of presents.

The carnage afterward

 Not everyone was happy-go-lucky though, Beth was sorely missing Greg.

She only had Bella to cuddle with.

Elijah guzzling a M&M filled candy cane

By the end of the day, everyone was exhausted, a result of no naps for the little ones and a late,late night for the big ones.

But a very enjoyable day for everyone!

Mom and Dad being silly

With their grandkids

The only bummer was that John, Jr decided that the snow threat was too real, and he would need to leave that night, instead of spending another night. They always seem to have to leave too quickly!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve Tradition

The older kids starting rolling in on the 23rd. It's so exciting to see them come in and the younger kids so glad to see them.

I love going to church for Christmas Eve candlelight services. Our church doesn't have any services on Christmas Eve, so we travel to other churches close to home. We wanted to go to one early, to give us time to do our family celebration. This year it was a debacle trying to get to church. First of all, we wanted to go to one at 4, but Beth didn't get here in time. We found one at 5 and Beth got home about 4:45. Beth and Greg went to their separate families' houses this year It was hard on them not to be together for Christmas. From now on, we'll have to share with Greg's family. We rushed to get everyone's coats and shoes on. By the time we got to the church it was 5:10. We drove around the crowded parking lot looking to see that people weren't dressed up, because we were very much not dressed up. We finally decide to go in. Here we go marching in, in the middle of their service, John leading the way with Elijah. I brought up the rear of our eight person parade with Abbey. The usher ushered us down an isle. We experienced our own Christmas object lesson, because there was no room for us, just like Mary and Joseph. So we have to all file out. It was quite embarrassing! We left as quickly as we could and decided that church wouldn't be on the agenda this year. Maybe next year?

When we get home, we all go for a walk around our neighborhood, admiring the luminaries that line all of our roads.

Our tribute to "Abbey Road"

Then we gather in our living room for Christmas music,

reading the Christmas story in Luke,

Bella's first Christmas

and opening presents from siblings to each other and their gifts to me and John.

Next, it's on to the kitchen to pig out on a smorgasbord of sweets, savories, and anything in between.
(In fact, Daniel was up at 2am with a horrible tummy ache from all the junk he had ingested!)

Then off to bed with visions of sugarplums dancing through our heads!

Tomorrow's post: Christmas day! Quite an "engaging" day! (hint, hint)


Getting ready for Christmas!

There's something in the air... Everywhere I go people are smiling. There is a spring and an urgency in my step. Christmas is coming.  So much to do! Many traditions to uphold. One of those traditions is making cookies and goodies to give away, and, of course, eat a few ourselves. This year my kitchen crew consisted of Abbey, Elijah and myself.

First we roll

Then we add sprinkles

The Chocolate crinkles (aka do-do balls, thanks to  a young John, Jr)
require rolling in powdered sugar

While they weren't as messy this year, as some in the past, this still reminds me of a spiritual application. We encourage our kids to help us bake cookies as a bonding experience, along with learning how to cook. They also have a sense of accomplishment, having helped in the kitchen.  It's the same way with us and God. He doesn't need our help, but he wants us to help in order to learn, bond with Him and feel like we are contributing.  He is perfectly capable of accomplishing His will without our help. Just like I could have made the cookies quicker and neater without my helpers. But, He wants us to feel apart and learn how to help, the same way I want my kids to feel when we share cooking time. I love this little analogy!

The next day, we gave containers of goodies to the trash collectors and the mailman. This year, Abbey was big enough to take the treats to them. She waited and watched for our community helpers, so she could run out and greet them with a "Merry Christmas!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas with John's side of the family

As a family of 6 boys, which he is the youngest, John's family is considerably larger than mine. We really only get together for special occasions. We take turns meeting at each other's houses for Christmas. This year is was our turn. We had around 25 people over this past Saturday.

A tradition is the basketball tournament~ to say the brothers are a little competitive is an understatement!

Then a little kink in the plans. It started to snow/sleet, but the game must go on!

Grandma, Elijah and Beth

Grandma and John, Jr


The whole crew

** Update from last post:

Thank you for the calls and emails of concern. The situation hasn't really changed, but God has given me some peace.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"...And a sword will pierce your own soul too"

If you are wanting a cute, Christmas post today, you'll need to stop reading and check back tomorrow. Today my heart is very heavy. Filled with sadness, remorse and just plain old hurt. I've gone to the Lord poured out my heart and asked Him to show me my fault and heal the hurt, that's all I know to do at this point.  I know that eventually things will resolve, or at the very least, smooth out a little, but for now it is very raw. As you might guess, the problem is with one of our children. To protect their privacy, I'll not share any more specifics. On this blog, I brag on my children, but I'll not air their or my dirty laundry. I bring this up, because big families have run ins and all isn't rosey all the time. So maybe this will encourage someone else who is having a rough go also.

The title of this post is an excerpt from the words spoken to Mary, mother of Jesus, by Simeon  in Luke 2. I think that God put those words to remind us that our children will cause pain. It may be the pain of rebellion, disobedience,  rejection or something else. Heck, they aren't called growing pains for nothing, huh? It's a normal part of parenting.  From the dawn of time, kids have been disappointing their parents. I know that I upset my Mom on more than one occasion. Also, it gives us a great view of how we grieve God's heart. Here we sit knowing so much more than they do, and they ignore us and think that we know nothing. Sounds just like us and God, huh?  Everything we have comes from Him,  and yet we think that we have ourselves and our hard work to credit. 

The only way this isn't a picture of God as our Father is His unfallibility. He doesn't make mistakes. I wish I could say that about myself. Well, I could say it, but it would definitely be a lie. I know I make mistakes daily, but He can take my mistakes and use them for good. Praise God!

So what are we to do?? Apologize when we blow it.  Let them make their mistakes, love them even as they reject us and our standards. Hold on to our values and pray, pray, pray! Maybe even go to God and tell him how sorry we are when we treat him the way our kids treat us?  Whatever you do, don't feel guilty if your child makes a huge mistake, or lacks the discipline you taught them. They are individual people and, as such, become responsible for themselves at some point. We, as parents, can only do so much. I've told God, "*** is yours, I've done the best I can, the rest is up to you!"

All of my kids have given me great joy at one time or another, just as they all have given great pain at one time or another. You have to take the bad with the good. It's just the way it is. I'm thankful for the good times and pray that we will have more of them as we learn from the bad times. I'm thankful to God for this object lesson that shows how much He loves me, and I pray for His strength and wisdom as I walk this journey.

Hopefully, tomorrow will bring something fun and lighthearted for me to share!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

From the "betcha didn't know" files...

According to Elijah, there was another visitor to baby Jesus along with the shepherds and kings...

And they came riding in a car!

We now have an addition to our Nativity Set

Betcha didn't know, did you???


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Five little kiddos spend an evening together

I'm so blessed to have a friend with three little ones, who is willing to trade childcare duties. She's been working overtime for me lately, so I was thrilled when she said she wanted to go out with her husband for a few hours one evening. Then the question was...what can we do to keep them busy and give them something to look forward to. So, I came up with a game plan for a full evening.

We started out baking reindeer cookies:

They added the eyes, nose and antlers.
Caleb and Darcy

Kylie and Abbey


Watching them bake

Our herd of reindeer (all Rudolphs, of course)

The best part of cookie creating
Reindeer, like people would be boring if they were all the same. So what if his eyes are on his chin?

Or his antlers are on the side of his head?? Some of the kids took a little creative license with their cookie.

Next we made candy cane ornaments with beads.


Then, after bath time, they all snuggled on the couch and watched, "Dora's Christmas Carol"

Before we knew it, my borrowed kids for the night's real Mom and Dad came to get them. We had a fantastic time. Not one argument between anybody the whole night, not even a little squirmish. For  a group consisting of 3 four year olds, one 3 year old and one 2 year old, that is an unusual thing. Abbey loved having her friends over,  I enjoyed watching them play together and their parents got some much deserved alone time. A win-win situation for everyone!