Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Week

This has been the first year in a few that we have been home "alone" for Christmas. I have to admit, I was not at all dreading it! I cancelled everything routine on the schedule for the whole week and planned a week-long staycation. It's been fabulous so far (except for a few sick kids... but what can you do.)

The big kids had a half-day Friday so we kicked off Christmas break that afternoon. Saturday night we drove to Philly to have dinner with a bunch of my extended family on my dad's side. It was so nice to catch up with relatives I haven't seen in months! And they have the best old family traditions-- a big family feast, reading the Christmas story, lighting real candles on the tree while listening to Silent Night sung in German by an Austrian opera singer, and of course, caroling. My uncle Fred plays the organ amazingly well and he leads us in singing all our favorites. For someone like me, who adores family & traditions & holiday magic, it is a night simply dripping with goodness.

The past week Dan and I have sat around talking and drinking coffee for several hours.

Hallie spent several hours over 3 days helping neighbor moms out with their babies.

Our boys shoveled our neighbors sidewalks and they & Hallie drove the ATVs all over our yard and woods for hours in the snow.

Olivia had a nasty cough and cracked herself up every time she got to tell someone she had the "coffees". She also watched Alvin & the Chipmunks on repeat. You can imagine how I feel about that. ha!

I cooked & baked a ton! Cookies, muffins, soups, you name it. Somehow it's so much more fun when we have no schedule and I can be in the kitchen when I feel like it, making what I feel like. haha!

I am currently reading 4 books (Swing Time, At First Sight, The Secret Keeper and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things) and I'd really like to finish at least one before the new year. haha. I've been reading a lot this week but really... is there ever enough reading time?!

We watched a bunch of movies this week. We all watched Arthur Christmas, Elf, The Polar Express, and What About Bob. Dan and I watched Sully with the older three. The boys and Dan & two friends watched The Magnificent Seven. The kids watched Storks (on Vid Angel-- before it got taken down last night! Ugh!) We usually watch maybe one movie a week, so this was quite the week for screen time around here. It didn't help that Olivia and Will were both pretty sick and low on energy going into the week, so no one wanted to do too much.

I'm a big NY's resolution girl, so I'll be reviewing my list from last year and making new ones soon... I guess I'll post about that next week. :) I think a grand total of two people read this blog, but... I hope everyone reading this has a blessed year ahead-- with grace to deal with our struggles and mercy for those in our lives who are struggling as well.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Saturday 7 (x2)

1. We had the best trip to Honduras and Guatemala last week! We got home Monday night around 12:30am and the week since then has basically been been me trying to get back on top of laundry, homeschooling, groceries, christmas prep, etc. etc. Crazy-ville... but totally worth it!

2. Thursday Dec. 8: (My sister Emily turns 28!) On the other side of the world, we drove to Philly the night before and stayed in a airport hotel before our 6am flight out to Atlanta that morning. We arrived in San Pedro Sula around 2pm, got through customs and rented a little truck and drove 1.5 hours to Tela, a town on the northern (Caribbean) coast of Honduras.

3. Friday: We spent all day at Telamar, a resort on the ocean. I think the kids loved the lack of restrictions on the waterslides the best of all! :) We did human trains down the slide, slid backwards, upside down and on our knees. We timed each other ...and had the best time!

4. Saturday: After packing up and heading out for SPS, we ended up getting caught in a deluge, so we stopped and bought a tarp to put over the suitcases in the back of the truck. We then drove the hour and a half back to SPS. We stopped at Kennet's parents' house and packed up Anna's fridge and washer, and then headed out for Copan.

5. It took us way longer than the usual 3.5 hours to get to Copan, thanks to the always-reliable rush hour traffic. *sigh* But we finally made it!

6. Sunday was our last day to do anything, so we packed it full: we drove with 27 people (in our 5-seater truck) to a rural mountain church where we passed out bags of school supplies and candy to the kids. Then we drove into Guatemala to some volcanic hot springs and on our way back, stopped at the ancient Mayan ruins in Copan Ruinas. They were fabulous. My first experience with ancient ruins did not disappoint!

7. Monday: We packed up, grabbed breakfast and hit the road for SPS by 8:30am. Anna and Kennet were continuing on to her home in San Juan in Guatemala, so Dan drove the 3.5 hours back to SPS with only my limited spanish skills for navigation. Thankfully we made it just fine! Hallie and Tristan rode the whole way back in the back of the truck, playing spies... old school style! ;) We flew back through ATL to PHL and then drove home from PHL... finally getting home late that night. The trip was way too fast but it was totally worth it. It was awesome to finally meet Anna's fiance Kennet and get to see Anna on her home turf. :) Kennet is a great guy and I can't wait to have him be part of our family! I'm so happy my sisters have (so far ;)) found fantastic people to love.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday 7 x2

1. Last week I didn't blog because we were traveling home from spending Thanksgiving in Kansas City. We have a family tradition of emailing around our favorite memories after a get-together, and this is what I wrote:

Running and playing games with everyone in the big field 
Singing our Thanksgiving hymns
Eating so. much. good. food. 
Talking with Shelley {my SIL} about what we’ve been reading lately
Going for several exercise walks with different family members
Seeing Daryl (my brother & sister in law's foster kiddo) fit seamlessly into the cousin time
Playing games with adults AND kids (4 on a couch, Egyptian, Mafia, Pictionary etc!) 
Meeting Cha's family (this is Dan's youngest sister, who recently remarried into step-kids)
The thoughtful and intellectually challenging conversations I shared with different people
Sitting around in the evening and laughing as the Block siblings and parents reminisced about times gone by

There's so much else that I didn't write about, but suffice it to say that I have so much to be grateful for. SO, so much. 

2. Lately I've been in Christmas scramble mode. I realized a few days after we got home from KC that since we would be leaving in 10 days for Honduras, I needed to get Anna's and Kennet's gifts squared away earlier than I usually do. Then I realized that my younger sisters would be leaving for Rwanda to see Emily & Shami before I would have enough time to mail all their gifts after we got home from seeing Anna... which meant I had an additional 7 people to purchase Christmas gifts for (and a few bday gifts as well!) and I'd need to get them all wrapped and packaged and sent to Florida before we head out. Yikes. Thankfully Amazon prime has not let me down yet and as long as everything arrives in one piece in FL, I'll be in good shape. 

3. Tonight is our annual community progressive dinner. I'm excited to see friends and neighbors I haven't seen much of since our lake days this summer! Dan got called to go to Pgh last night so he's gone all day today. Hopefully he makes it back in time for dinner! 

4. The sun is out today after a week of clouds and rain. I think I might take the kids for a hike even though the wind is whipping something fierce.  

5. We got our tree last Sunday and already have a few gifts wrapped under it. The kids LOVE Christmas season so much and it's fun to experience the magic with them. (Although I love it too... not gonna lie. ;))

6. Olivia officially turned 7 on Monday. She requested shrimp cocktail and mac n cheese for dinner and afterward we all told her what we love about her. She was beaming and adorable. (And I can't believe my BABY is seven.)

7. I met four friends I rarely see for dinner this week. We laughed and talked and cried and shared good stories and hard stories until the restaurant closed down. Good friends and laughter are such a gift.