Sunday, December 29, 2013

Birthdays and Concerts

With the busyness of Thanksgiving, basketball starting, Christmas and everything in between I never did post anything about our November birthdays and our Christmas concerts.  I didn't get many pictures taken either.  I will post a few...

 
Makenna turned 12 on the 15th.  She was very excited for this day to come.  She was able to move up from the younger kids Sunday School at church to be with the older kids.  She and Maddi get to go together and they do a lot of fun activities.  Makenna has grown a lot this last year.  She has found confidence in herself and is able to stand up for who she is and what she believes - even if others don't like it.  I am very proud of her and all that she does.  She is very smart and makes excellent grades in school.  She is on the student council and one of the editors for the school newspaper.  She continues to love music and art.  She got the lead role in the play for the Christmas concert and also made it into the SDSU Elementary Honors Choir.  There are over 750 kids that tryout throughout the state and she was one of the few that made it.  She also loves to bake and has spent many Sunday afternoons in the kitchen making yummy treats.  She played volleyball this fall and is doing basketball this winter.  She seems to enjoy being a part of a team and working hard.



Maddi turned 13 on the 21st.  She is officially a teenager and very proud of it!  She is loving Jr. High and being with the older kids in school.  She ran cross country this fall and did great.  She ended up on the varsity team, took 28th at regions and lettered.  Not bad for a 7th grader!  This winter she is playing basketball.  She also does very well in school and has made excellent grades.  She loves being a part of the youth group at church.  She, too, stands up for who she is and what she believes in.  I am very proud of the young woman she is becoming.  She loves anything sports and nothing girly :)  She is 100% tomboy.  She is a daddy's girl and loves being around her dad.  She got her hunting license this year but has not had much of a chance to shoot her deer.  Hopefully she will get a chance to shoot one next week before they head back to school.

We also celebrated Michael's birthday on the 24th.  He is not a picture person so I have nothing of him.  We did make him fried pies and celebrated after he got home from work.

Next came Thanksgiving (which I posted about - but forgot to post this picture.  They are so Michael's kids)
They weren't allowed to gnaw on those until I left the table - makes me sick to watch it!
 
Then came the Christmas concerts.  I mentioned above that Makenna got the lead role in the little play the 6th graders do for the Christmas concert.  She also had a solo.  She did a very good job!  All the kids did.  It was a really fun concert to watch and listen to!

Taking a bow at the end
 
Maddi also had her concert.  I didn't get any pictures because she never came home from school before the concert and I forgot my camera :(  They did a good job too though.


I am very thankful for my family.  My children amaze and teach me on a regular basis.  They humble me and love me unconditionally.  I am so thankful for the area we live in.  While some days it may seem isolated and inconvenient, it is a wonderful place to raise a family and the communities that we are involved in are filled with so many wonderful people!  My kids go to an excellent school with wonderful teachers and they are able to be a part of so many things.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fun on Christmas

This Christmas was a fun one for me.  I started out the season kind of down and depressed.  I'm not sure why.  I was struggling with things and the thought of Christmas coming with all it's busyness didn't help me feel any better.  However, things changed.

Blessings came when they weren't expected.  It reminded me that I was being watched out for.  Watching the kids get excited for Christmas also helped.  With each day their energy grew and they became more excited!  We baked treats, played games, and they talked about the fun of Christmas morning.  I love watching them when they are so excited.  It makes me tired - but a happy tired :)  By the time Christmas Eve got here, my spirits were lifted and I was ready to celebrate!

On Christmas Eve morning, the kids got to open their presents from each other.  They got up early so they could open them before Michael left for work.  I didn't get any pictures (lame I know).  Olivia had Zane's name and she got him a box of Packers only football cards.  Zeke had Makenna's name and he got her a bracelet kit.  Dillon had Zeke's name and he got him Garbage Pail Kid cards (Zeke collects them).  Zane had Maddi's name and he got her baseball cards.  Makenna had Olivia's name and she got her a stroller for her dolls.  Maddi had Dillon and she got him a Luke Bryan CD.  They were all pleased with their gifts and spent the morning organizing cards, listening to music, giving babies rides in the stroller and making bracelets.  The elves also came so when they woke up Christmas Eve morning there was a big box wrapped up with a note telling them it could not be opened until after supper on Christmas Eve.  They started asking around 10am if we could have supper yet! 

One exciting thing for Olivia was a letter from Santa.  She had written him earlier in the month with questions about his reality.  She had heard that maybe he wasn't real.  She wrote him a letter, drew him a picture and put 2 pieces of candy in the envelope for him and I "mailed" it.  Christmas Eve when I went out to put a treat in the mailbox for the mailman, there was a letter for Olivia from Santa!  She was so excited!  She carried it with her all day and read it several times!  He told her he was real and that he already had her presents picked out.  He told her since she had been such a good girl this year he had an extra present for her!
One more year of believing!

It was a long day for them.  Even though they were busy, time seemed to go so slowly.  Some drove me crazy at times but overall they were very good at dealing with their impatience.  Michael got home from work early and that helped.  He brought the Wii upstairs and they played some games.  Then they all helped get supper ready.

After we ate they opened the box from the elves.  It contained new pajamas for everyone, popcorn, M&Ms and a new movie.  We all changed into our new pajamas and watched the movie.  After the movie we took our annual pj picture in front of the tree.

 
Some of the kids wanted their own pictures...
Olivia was in love with her new Hello Kitty pajamas.

Zeke was being silly :)
But not as silly as these two!
 
We read the Christmas story from the Bible and then finally got them all off to bed so we could finish our Christmas Eve duties.  Boxes were brought in from the garage, stockings were stuffed, the last few things wrapped, and Santa's cookies eaten.  Then Santa delivered his presents to each room (he always leaves a little present under the trees in their bedrooms) and went to bed!  Before the kids went to bed they were given strict instructions that they could not come out to the living room until they were called (we would have and have had some out at 3 in the morning).  I took a picture before going to bed.  I was so excited for them to come out in the morning and see!


Joyce made these beautiful stockings!
 
Olivia was the first one out of her bedroom when we called them Christmas morning.
 The others weren't far behind though.  They checked out their stocking first and were pleased with all the loot inside.
 
 
 
Then it was on to opening presents.  Once that started I got zero pictures.  They had fun though and I loved listening to and watching their reactions with each present.  They each take turns so we can see each reaction. 
 
The rest of the day was spent playing and putting things together!  Zeke got a green machine for Christmas so Michael and I got that assembled for him.  Unfortunately with the fresh snow he has not been able to go out and use it yet.
 
Olivia got a new princess crown headboard and chandelier.  We put the headboard on and made up her bed and then put the chandelier up.  She was in princess heaven!

 
The girls got new things for their room - chairs, blankets and wall hangings.  We went down and worked in their room to get it the way they wanted.
 


 
 
Zane got a new telescope that Michael put together for him.  He was gone before I could get a picture of him with it though...
 
Dillon was our only no assemble person.  His highlight was a ticket to the Vikings game this weekend!  He loves the Vikings.  Michael's mom got all the boys (Michael included) tickets to the game.  His sister got them a hotel room.  They will head out Saturday and come back Sunday after the game.  Santa made sure Dillon had some Vikings apparel to wear to the game :)
 



 
We spent the day together and had a great time.  We played the new games that we got, talked to family on the phone, made supper together, ate lots of treats and food and then settled down with a movie at the end of the day.
 
I love time like this with the family.  I love laid back time together.  We had nowhere to be and nothing else to do except be together.  I wish there were more days like that but we learn to treasure the days we have. 
 
Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December

December so far has been a whirlwind!  Basketball is in full swing so most of our evenings are spent going to and from practice with games and tournaments spread throughout.  The four oldest are playing basketball this year.  Maddi is in jr. high now so we are even more immersed than we were last year.  It is fun to watch them play though.  I am one of the coaches for Makenna's 6th grade team and Michael helps out with the boys whenever he can. 

We have also been busy at school.  The kids all had their Christmas concerts.  Those were fun to watch!  Makenna had the lead role in her play and she had a solo.  She did a great job!  Zane is a percussionist in band. It is his first year and he seems to enjoy it.  The kids also did a talent show at the elementary school.  Makenna sand a song and danced.  She did a great job!  Zane sang with one of his friends.  He did a great job too.  Zeke did some magic tricks with two of his friends.  They were fun to watch.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera so I didn't get any pictures of their performances :(  I have been subbing quite a bit so I get to go to school with the kids and see all that they are doing.  I even got to go caroling with them this week!

Church has also been keeping us busy.  I teach the 6-7 year olds and Michael works the young men.  Zane and Dillon are in scouts and Maddi and Makenna are in Young Womens.  We had to speak in church a few weeks ago and the kids and I sang a song for the musical number.  I am glad to have that done with!

All of that added to the busyness of the Christmas season and I feel like the days are just flying by so quickly!  There is lots of baking to be done and surprises to wrap.  Of course in order for that to happen I have to finish getting the ingredients and surprises!  Hopefully I can find a relatively empty day here soon to relax and do some of those things.  I know the kids are waiting for sugar cookie day so we can bake and decorate!  I'm so glad they have extra time over Christmas break to relax (yeah right) and have some fun!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas

I love Christmas.  I love the spirit that comes with the season.  I love singing carols.  I love buying gifts for my family and friends.  I love seeing the surprise and joy on their faces.  I love baking Christmas treats.  I love looking at my tree with all the mismatched ornaments that the kids have made over the years.  I love watching them put the decorations on the tree and talk about where they came from.  I love being able to talk about Christ and share the story of His birth.  I love telling and listening to Christmas stories filled with love and kindness and service.  I love seeing the lights and decorations.  It is just a beautiful time of year!

This year however, I have had a harder time feeling that.  I'm not sure why.  I am trying to find that Christmas cheer so I can have it for my children.  They, too, love this time of year.  Over the last few days I have had many thoughts running through my head and many emotions running through my heart.  I decided to try to write it all down.  I'm not sure I got it down the way I would like to have but I will share it anyways...


Walking down the street, looking through the storefront windows. 
Families gathering together, friends greeting each other with hugs and hellos.
Filing into the cafe for some warm food and lively conversation.
The window fills with reflections of years gone by,
Memories of time spent surrounded by the love of family and friends.
Memories of laughter and stories, hugs and winks from loved ones.
Jingling bells bring the warm memories back to the present of cold loneliness.
Stepping back from the window the smile fades into a longing sigh.
Turning for home the joyful sounds are muffled by the flood of emotions.
Tears stinging in the cold, the footsteps become quicker as home draws closer.
Quietly a song drifts from a nearby church, "Silent night, holy night."
The footsteps stop as the words continue to drift through the air.
"Shepherds quake at the sight. Glories stream from Heaven afar."
Peace begins to fill the sad soul as the words continue,
"Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia! Christ the Savior is born"
Heading towards the church, a smile forms as the choir sings again,
"Christ the Savior is born!"
Stepping into the lighted church, warmth abounds and love surrounds.
Loneliness is replaced by wonder and awe. "Who was this child who came for me?"
A once empty heart is filled,
"Joy to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her King!"
Bowing now in pure humility, a prayer is said in silence.
"Let every heart, prepare Him room."
Indescribable joy fills every inch of a once sagging body.
Stepping out into the night with new found knowledge,
Knowing that Christ is always there with love and understanding.
Testimony bringing warmth on a cold, clear night
"Hark the Herald angels sing. Glory to the newborn King...
with angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem!"

Christmas can be such a beautiful time of year, but it can also be a very lonely and sad time of year.  There are those around us that we may or may not be aware of that are struggling and lonely.  We all go through hard, lonely times in our lives.  Sometimes we do it surrounded by those we love.  Other times we struggle through alone.  One thing that we can all be sure of though is that the Savior is ALWAYS there for us.  He will never leave us alone.  As we make room for Him in our lives His peace and love will fill our souls and we will know that all will be ok.  We can play a part in that for others.  If we will open our eyes to those around us, we can  help bring that peace and love into their lives.  We can be that hug that they need or those words of encouragement when it gets tough.  We can help proclaim, "Joy to the world!"  We can be that quiet song that fills them with comfort, that warmth that surrounds them.  I hope this Christmas season that I can be that to some one else.