Saturday, December 1, 2012

Preparing for Christmas 2012

Today we set up our Christmas tree.  It seems like the years are passing faster and faster, and the kids now pretty much take care of the tree themselves.  
 It never takes Squeakers long to get into trouble by hiding in the tree or tipping it over.   We have to be careful where we set the tree up, so that we can tie it to something if we need to, because he will just not stay out of it and we get tired of re-decorating every time he tips it over! 

 However, Monkey is trying something new this year to solve the "Squeakers" problem:  

 Every year we pick a different, and often unusual, topper for our tree.  The discussion usually begins mid-November as to what it should be for this year.  It becomes a fun time of remembering what we have done this past year and trying to narrow it down to one event or item.  

Monkey's idea won out this year...and it was a great one!  He chose (and then made) the world to top our tree.    Last May we traveled to the Creation Museum and we are studying Genesis in BSF this year, so the creation of the world has been a very common and deep topic around here.

But it also reminds us of all of the friends and family that we love who are far away from us this Christmas - aunts, uncles, sisters, brother-in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews, and all of the exchange students who have spent time in our home. 

It is also a reminder that our family is an international one.   We came from many different places, but somehow God saw fit to make us one family.  For some of our kids, this can be a painful time of year as they think about their birth families who are far away and to wonder if they are being thought of too. 

And it reminds us of how a tiny baby came to this world many, many years ago to save us from our sins, but also to save us to something better than just mere existence.  

 The ornament of Santa bowing to the manger always hangs near the top of our tree as a reminder that the gifts and the decor and the parties are all second (or 80th) to the fact that we celebrate Jesus' coming. When our kids were young, we always helped them hang this ornament and reminded them that Jesus is the real reason for the season. They now hunt for this ornament themselves and make sure it goes on first and at the top.

As we took this picture, I had to wonder just how many more years (if any) we will all be in it.  Seely now is 19, has graduated from college, and is working full time.  He also feels a deep call to the mission field and this mama's heart knows that my Christmas' with him are going to be numbered.

Mango is holding her turtle Franklin, just in case you were wondering!  Squeakers didn't make it into the picture because he doesn't sit nice when the dogs are around (and they don't sit nice when he's around either!).

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  May you see Jesus!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bad, Bad Blogger :)

Here it is, end of July again and I have not blogged in ages.  Life has been busy, but relatively drama free and that is always a good thing.   Here's a quick update on our family:
In May, we took a trip down to the Cinci area.  We spent time at the Creation Museum, the Cincinnati Zoo, the Freedom Center, the Newport Aquarium, and with friends and relatives.   Feeding the birds at the zoo was one of the favorite things for the kids.
The night before we left on vacation, Seely graduated from college.   Because of a state program allowing junior and seniors to attend college for free, he graduated with his two year degree just weeks after turning 19.  He began working full time the end of April as an Applications Developer.

Random is now 16.   He will be starting the college program this fall.   He attended Worldview Academy in June and absolutely loved it.  It was an exhausting week with over 30 hours of lecture time learning about some pretty heavy topics, but he loves talking about those things and made a lot of great friends there.  

After getting home from vacation, Lily began a therapeutic riding program.  I cannot recommend this enough for any of you who have kids with disabilities.  The staff there has been wonderful with her and she has gained both confidence and new abilities.   And it is actually therapy!  They challenge her in her weaker areas and are lavish with the praise.   Horses make wonderful therapy partners and there is something beautiful about watching a horse care for her.   She is with Buck in the picture on the left and Poco on the right.  Both of these horses are blind in one eye and have sweet and gentle spirits making them the perfect partners for a therapeutic riding program. 

Mango went to camp in June and has spent much of her summer playing outside, bowling, and drawing.   She is as delightful as ever!  Cooking has become a new love and I have a very reliable and capable helper in the kitchen now.

Monkey also attended camp for 3 days in June.  He loved it and is looking forward to being able to attend the full week next year.  Monkeys are still his favorite animals and he has been working hard learning to draw them and reading about them.  

Our school year will start the second week in August here.  We normally start earlier than that, but I'll be speaking to Japanese students about adoption the week before and it's best we start when we can get a full first week under our belts.  This year we will be studying Ancient History, atoms and molecules, birds, magnetism, insects, and the human body, in addition to the usual reading, language arts, math, art, etc.