Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

We struggle to put into words the immense blessing and changes of this last year.  As you likely know, we became a family of five last winter when two younger kiddos moved into our home and hearts.  The courts made them officially part our family in Sept. when their adoptions were finalized.  2015 was a year of transitions, changes, and challenges but also joy, hugs, and everyday miracles.  Here's a bit of a summary...

During the winter, besides our kiddos move-in and the big family transitions, the kids turned 6, 5 , and 4 with Lego Chima, Hulk and Dora cakes respectively.  Ike also wrestled in his first tournaments - he enjoyed wrestling but didn't want everyone to come watch him.  Learning what it meant to be a family of 5 and all the transitions was a big task, but God provided what we needed :)

During spring, we added a few more chickens to our flock, enjoyed a lot of time outside, and started our garden.  We also went to the zoo for the first time as a family of 5, something we did a number of times during the summer.  We also attempted our first (very rainy) camping trip and quickly realized we'd continue to enjoy our camping time together a bit more if we had more space :)

During summer, our family did a lot more camping in our new-to-us camper, including a week long camping trip up north.  The kids played tball, looked forward to summer reading and of course spent lots of time outside.  We also enjoyed a long weekend at a cabin with my parents, sister and her husband.  Plus both boys also learned to ride their bikes without training wheels!  The summer ended on a sad note though as we said good-bye to our family dog Ratchet.

Fall came with a big bang -- besides our kids starting first grade and preschool, we added the excitement of our adoption finalization and big family party.  With the start of a new school year, our weeks flew by quickly with routine.  We did fit in a few more camping trips and an atv trip up north (another first as a family of 5).  Of course there was also plenty of fun at Halloween and Thanksgiving.

As the snow has come, gone and now returned again, it is really beginning to feel like Christmas.  In a few short days, we'll gather with family and enjoy time together. As I close this post, I want to thank everyone for their prayers, encouragement and help this year -- we were blessed by so many as during our year of more hugs, tears, laughter, silly, new traditions and changes than we ever could have planned.

Blessings to you and your family from ours on the gravelly road.  

Merry Christmas and Happy 2016!

Monday, December 21, 2015

One Year Ago...

During all the Christmas hurry and to-do lists, I've been trying to do a bit of extra reflecting.

We met our younger son and daughter one year ago this month.  One year ago today, we brought our oldest along to meet his new sister and brother.

We spent our first weekend as a family of 5 -- restaurants, hotels, pools and 3 in the back seat of the pickup -- crash course in the crazy wonderful loud that would become us.

It is breath-taking how much has changed in a year.  As a friend reminded me this fall when I spotted our previous year's Christmas card on in her kitchen -- God can do amazing, He's done it in our family.

Have we "arrived"?  Is all the "hard" over?  No.  There is still processing, changing, remember and learning that will continue to happen.  There are hard things that have happened that don't go away, loss that doesn't disappear.

But then I remember how far God has brought us in one short year -- Lean in.  He's got this.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pre-Christmas Fun

While the snow is long gone, we've been having plenty of Christmas-y fun here on the gravelly road.

Visiting our favorite local lights display.

Seeing Santa and his crew when the Santa Semi came to town.


The kids' sang in the church Christmas program.

Plus goodie baking, Christmas decorating and gift making.  Its a busy month for our family on the gravelly road.

In order to try to intentionally slow down and keep our focus in the right place, we are trying a few different things for Advent.  Our big Advent calendar did not make it out this year, but instead we are using a single Advent candle our church gave us that we marked with lines for each day of the month.  Each evening we let it burn until it reaches the next line and read a short scripture together.  We are also using Star from Afar, wooden nativity set and book where you hide the star each day with a scripture verse, then help the wisemen (and you) follow the star all the way to Christmas.  Its been a fun new tradition.

Hoping you are enjoying some intentional family time and remembering the reason for the season.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Snow Fun and then Gone

Over Thanksgiving, the kids were pretty excited that Grandma's house had plenty of snow even though our home on the gravelly road hadn't been that "lucky" yet.  Sleds in the yard, a snowman and a snowball fight with Grandpa filled an afternoon of snow fun.





Barely a week later, snow arrived at our house too.  Not enough to delay school but plenty to enjoy.  Even shoveling is fun the first few snowfalls.




After a week of warmer weather (40s and 50s) though, nearly all the snow has melted.

Already looking forward to our next round of snow fun here on the gravelly road.
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