Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Look Back

You can't help but think about the year that is ending on the last day of 2013.  It has been a full year for us.

 KJ turned 30.  I made him a basket of 30 presents to open.  I turned 31 and came down with the flu on my birthday.  James and I languished for a week.  I went to the dentist for the first time in 5 years.  We actually had a snow day.  I wrote down some priorities and goals for the year:  Love God, love my husband and children, love others.  I tried to keep it simple.  My goals were to lose a few pounds (always a woman's goal after a month of Christmas parties), organize our home better, be better at budgeting, and to cultivate a desire to see others come to know Christ.

We started seeing signs of Spring as early as Valentine's Day.  The kids and I visited lots of playgrounds and went on walks.  I attended a Saturday study on prayer with ladies in our church that was really a catalyst for a much more prayer-filled year.  KJ and Parker planned a mission trip to Paris, and I painted the kids' bathroom.

There was lots of flower-photography, an early Easter, and learning French.  Ella and I went on a road trip with my Dad to visit grandparents and my brother.  Our family Easter photoshoot in the backyard still makes me smile.  KJ should definitely wear a hat in 2014, right?

We had a really lovely visit with my grandparents Easter weekend, and I continued to photograph Spring blossoms everywhere we went.  KJ and I painted Ella's bedroom, and we were praying about the very soon arrival of our Paris trip.

 I saw the answering of so many prayers in the team the Lord assembled for our trip.  It all felt very fruitful.  KJ and I enjoyed our 9th anniversary trip afterward driving through Normandy.  We came home to finish out the last week of school with the kids and look forward to the Summer before us.

 I tried to fill life with pure Summer fun for the kids.  There was pool time and playing in the sprinkler, trips to the library and to see free Summer movies.  They played golf with Big Daddy, and we celebrated Father's Day.

We had more summer fun with cousins and friends, a rainy night of fireworks on the Fourth, and a fun-filled week at the beach with KJ's family.

It was time to go back to school for the kids, though we still tried to fit in the last of playing in the summer heat.  We celebrated family birthdays, and I had a lot of photography opportunities.  It was also time to start planning for Ella's birthday party.

Ella turned 7 (7!), and we began praying about a possible trip to England and how we could partner with churches there.  As soon as one birthday party was over it was time to think about next month's birthday.

James turned 4, and we flew across the pond for the second time in 2013.  2013 was an unexpected year of travel that in many ways was an answer to the prayer of my 2013 desire to be more concerned for people coming to know Christ.  That prayer had a broader reach than I expected as we saw the need for gospel workers in Cumbria.

November was truly a month of thankfulness. I loved the habit it instilled of even James volunteering what he was thankful for.  It was a month of lots of time with extended family, for which we were extremely grateful.

Definitely a bit of a whirlwind, but nevertheless December was filled with lights, love, and laughter.  It was filled with family and wonder at the incarnation of Christ.  It was filled with presents and childhood delight, and lots of cookies.  

2013 was filled with unexpected things, and we are excited for what the Lord might do in 2014. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Few Days Before Christmas

My parents moved in September, and this was our first Christmas at their new home.  One of my brothers-in-law asked if it was different or strange being in a new place this year, and you know, it really didn't feel that way at all.  The best part of holidays is having everyone together.  This May I will have been married 10 years, so it has been a long time since I've lived with my family, but it doesn't take long to feel at home in a place when you have the familiar people, familiar relationships, old jokes, and old traditions.  As long as we were still pouring tea out of the Santa pitcher, it was Christmas, right?

We all gathered last Sunday afternoon and attended church together Sunday night.  Afterwards we enjoyed hot soup and Christmas pajamas. How adorable are these boys?

James got to open the first present on Christmas morning.  He knew where all of his were since he'd spent time locating them the night before.

He was so excited to get his remote control car.  "It's just what I always wanted!"

I don't think Pack knew what to do with all of the excitement.

There were new books and movies, puzzles, cars, and games.  James is going to get a lot of use out of that Game Boy from the 90s.

I'm so thankful for all the lavishing on my children; they'll enjoy the fun for a long time.  My brother, Jesse, made James this amazing wooden sword and shield.  I love it.

The rest of the day was pretty quiet.  The boys went skeet-shooting in the afternoon, and we stayed cozy and warm as the cold air blew in that night.  It was really nice.  There's something really cozy about a fire and the smell of wood smoke on your clothes.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Little pre-Christmas Fun

I had plans to blog through the Twelve Days of Christmas, but all of those days were filled with so much that blogging fell by the wayside.  It has been a good two weeks of Christmas-y things around here.

Our family welcomed a new baby girl at the beginning of the month, which also gave me an opportunity to photograph one of last year's new additions.  He's such a fun little guy.

We're thankful for this sweet little baby girl.

I wrote a little about James' participation with the preschool choir at church.  He adores his teacher, "Miss Em-ly," and we're so thankful for her, too.  She's an incredible teacher, and he is really learning in her class.  One Sunday on the way home from church he told us about the 5 pieces of bread (He may have called them 5 sandwiches.) and 2 fish.  "And then!  He [Jesus] fed, like, 100 people or something!"  It was the cutest thing.

I tried to snap a few pictures in front of the tree.  Ella's enjoying chocolate milk in her Clarisse mug and watching Jack Frost.  We were excited to find it on Amazon Prime one night.

The first night James put on Christmas pajamas I wanted to take his picture.  It took a few tries, but persistence paid off.

The Friday before Christmas we decided to have a "Family Fun Night" and take advantage of some of the city's holiday activities.  Ice skating proved to be a bit of a debacle with poor James, who was scared he would fall the entire time he was on the ice.  I used to feel perfectly at home on ice skates, but it had been so many years since I'd skated last that I was nervous, too.  I just didn't holler as much as James.

The family fun got a little better after ice-skating.  We enjoyed the lights on the Christmas trees.  James and Ella picked out trees to have their picture taken in front of.

I love that little kid.

We hung out at Barnes and Noble for a while, where we ran into friends.  I discovered that James thought Barnes and Noble was Lowe's, which explained why he cried about wanting to go to a different Lowe's that had trains when we were in Lowe's last week.

Bookstores make me really happy, and so looking up and seeing this made me feel pretty happy, too.

We ended the night with some of our favorite people at Starbucks.  The kids were up past their bedtime, but it was worth it.

I failed to adjust the settings on my camera so I ended up with dark video so used an effect to try to mask it.  I hope everyone had a happy Christmas.

And all of that was just the beginning of a week full of Christmas fun for us.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Second and Third Days of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

three hours of Tolkien,

two bowls of chili,

and a gymnastics jamboree!

It was date night around here last night; KJ always gets sentimental about these movies coming out since he loves Tolkien, and The Fellowship of the Ring was the first movie we ever saw together in a theater.  Maybe that's the reason he fell in love with me... ;)  

I won't give any spoilers, but I left the theater inspired to create, with a fresh sense of awe at how Christ's sacrificial death defeated evil, and a general sense of delight in the creativity and skill of people.

James' preschool class sang some Christmas songs during the service last night.  It was very adorable.  He is very adorable.  They all wore Christmas pajamas to church.  KJ said he could also pass as a pirate with his striped pants.  I love that kid.

This is my first Christmas season to have a child so truly anxiously awaiting Christmas day.  Ella has always been excited, but James is truly impatient.  "It's taking FOREVER."  This is his general thought on anything he doesn't want to do, though.  We're counting the days.