Sunday, January 5, 2014

Our Christmas 2013

** none of this is in actual chronological order, but it is all Christmas related**

Only 5 Christmas' this year
traveling 6 out of 7 days 
1 Christmas Eve service
1 Christmas party
1 birthday boy
2 birthday parties

this was our vehicle before we left

how did we fit any gifts in on the way back?


My dad owns a house that my great uncle lived in.  He fixed it up and rents it out.  For the time, no one lives there so we stayed there (at night) the first weekend.  It was like camping indoors as there was no bed, no couch, no dishes, etc.

One of the mornings I woke up to this.  I thought it was a very pretty sunrise with all the snow.

We started the festivities with Harlie's school Christmas program.

 our little performer
 For some reason PK has a program but not the regular school grades... so Wendell did not have one.
 Here they are all dressed up in their Christmas outfits.

We have a funny story with our Christmas.

 Not sure you can tell with this picture but Wendell had set up his train tracks on the table the night before Christmas.  For some reason, Santa thought he'd put all the gifts in a pile in the middle of the table. I suppose he thought the trains could be running when the kids toddled downstairs.


Well, before it all started in the morning.  I went up stairs to check on them and Wendell says in the saddest voice.  Santa didn't come, there are no gifts under the tree.  I gave him a look because I was confused.  He then told me that Harlie had gone downstairs to peak and didn't see any gifts under the tree.  Oh, I had to smile and laugh.  I told Wendell we'd go downstairs and look; immediately, he saw the gifts on the table.  And he was super excited that Santa brought him a DS game.


Our family tradition is to give 3 gifts (an idea from MMO) and they all represent the 3 gifts from the 3 kings that visited baby Jesus in the Christmas story.  [So each child gets three gifts, usually Phil and I do to.  This year Phil and I didn't get much due to some major vehicle repairs, a bike (from this summer) and our Florida trip.]


1. frankincense - symbol of Jesus' priestly role

For us this is something of God/Christian/faith value, usually a book or a necklace or something to help the child to understand God in their life.  For Wendell we bought him a daily devotion this year.

2. gold - symbol of Jesus' kingship

For us this is something they want or of value to them.  For Harlie we bought her a Leapster as a game/educational system.

3. myrrh - preparing for Jesus death and embalming

For us this is something they need.  This also helps us to explain to the kids that there are people that don't get things they want and not even have what they need.  It helps us to remind them and ourselves to be thank for what we have and can give.  For Alveda (who does not really need anything) we bought her diapers and told her that hopefully she won't get that next year (hopefully it'll be underwear instead!)


Santa also comes to visit.  He usually leaves his gifts unwrapped and sitting out, another tradition.

(Teddy grahams)       seriously, this girl has enough toys and clothes

The nice thing about this tradition is that it actually limits what we can buy for the kids, gives us direction, and helps them to have gifts but also in moderation.  Phil and I believe that Christmas has become too commercialized and the true gift of Jesus is often put on the back burner.  Hopefully, our family can have a combination of joy, gifts and the true meaning of Christmas.

This is a repeat picture but I also want to point out one more tradition.  The cupcake on the mint green 'thing' in the middle of the table.  That is a cupcake on top of our birthday cake stand that plays Happy Birthday, a real hum dinger.  Anyways, on Christmas morning we like to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and have a small 'cake' to celebrate.  I'd make a full cake for fun but usually we have a cake for Wendell's birthday (the 21st) so we're caked out or have leftover cake.

One more picture to share.  This is a picture of our nursing home friends.  For almost three years, the kids and I have visited Martha (the person in a cream colored shirt) at Country View.  I picked Country View because it is a county home out in the country that houses the poorest of the poor.  It's a government ran facility that is like a three story nurisng home full of some pretty disabled and elderly folks.  It is also in the country (north of Waterloo) so I assume they don't get too many visitors.  I contacted the volunteer coordinator and she paired me up with Martha, as Martha loves kids.  Well, three years later, we are pretty well known there.  Not for our names (although we do have name tags) but for ours faces.  The kids are fairly comfortable going there, love their name tags and are pretty well behaved when we visit.  Our visits are usually 15-20 minutes long (so not long) but long enough to make the people smile.  God loves that we do that and I hope that I can keep up the motivation to go. If the kids can handle it, so can I.

Well, I hope you all had  Merry Christmas!

Wendell's 7 now!

For his birthday Wendell wanted to go to 
the Inflatable Park with some friends.

                      Above is the crew on the airplane. 
                      We were quite the crowd with all
                      the kids and their families there too.  

                      The real crowd was at our house for supper that 
                      night. We had everyone over for some some soup,
                      cake and icecream.  5 adults and 9 kids = a lot of
                      people in our house but we made it work and had fun!

Above is Wendell with his teacher Ms. Bell.  
He enjoys school and loves her as a teacher! 

My parents came up for his birthday (and Harlie's 
Christmas program).  So they visited Wendell's 
classroom when we handed out treats.

7 now!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

fun?, fun, brrrr.. fun

Just got some more pictures off my phone and have to say this picture will be etched in my memory forever.  
This past year I made the kids' physical all at one time and you would have thought it was party time when the nurse told them to strip down.  This picture is only a 'snapshot' of what happened.  If they'd had a disco ball and some music they'd have been in heaven.   In a private setting, I can show you some more humorous pictures.

This year the Waterloo schools had a STEM festival.  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  It was free so I took the kids and a babysitter.  On a side note, I've found that I like taking the kids to things like this but it's hard to keep track of all of them and to let them all enjoy themselves so I hired a babysitter which worked well.  We teamed up and zoned the defense with Ali wondering and the kids playing.  All three kids seemed to enjoy it so I hope they do it again.

SNOW IS HERE!!  Once the first real snow hit the kids begged to go sledding.  Ali is not such a fan but she will sit and watch.

I made a tunnel this year for the kids to go through.  We need a little more snow on top so I can make the hole bigger.

This is our compost bin full of leaves.  They sat in there and played a bit.

Amazingly our kids love to play outside even when it's cold.  I hope next year Ali is a bit more of an outside person... either way for now she still needs constant supervision so we're not usually out there too long.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


   Starting in November....

                                                                        .... still growing it.