Saturday, December 28, 2013

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

We all know that the lead-up to Christmas can be stressful.
But you know what

 I love it.

Not the stress.
I feel that too, when I let myself get off course.
But I love Christmas.
The whole season.

The baking, the decorating, the music, the parties...

I love warm, sparkly Christmas lights inviting people up onto the porch and in the door.

And even better?

It snowed!

We had beautiful trees outside and inside!

And a house full of people, several times.  Our "little" neighborhood get-together drew in nearly thirty, which made for a very crowded cozy room!

Just imagine the table absolutely covered with cookies, and surrounded with kids.
But I didn't take any pictures (fail) because I was too busy visiting (win!).

When it's so dark so much of the time I love the way the snow brightens things up...
so cheery!

I sat at the window with Christmas music playing, tea by my side, and wrapped presents.

We actually made it through all of our Advent devotions, even if that meant doubling up some nights to make up evenings we missed.  And I made room for all my nativities... I'll show you some of them :D

But my favorite nativity was this one, at our little chapel.

This nativity (below) is very sweet... except for the sheep.
Which we all think look a bit like slugs.

I love the shepherds' little fake beards,
and the angels' tinsel halos,
and the mismatched bathrobes.

And I love the way all the kids participate.

Two of mine were readers...

... and one played his guitar (over on the right, against the wall).

I love the warm, cozy evenings...

... and the bright snowy days!

 I love the eagerness we all have for Christmas to come!

I love singing carols with the boys every evening.
(We never sing enough of them at church, it seems.)

All the preparation, all the build-up...
I know it's just stress to many people.

But no... we're getting ready.
We're preparing room for Him.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Christmas Eve

Oooo, it's Christmas!


The Red Shirts.
(If this was a Star Trek episode, these people would be unnamed and... expendable.)

Kerry, Dave, Wyatt, Julie

The Bumble!

Best. Hat. Ever.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Joy To The Whirled

I had this great idea.  Instead of waiting until we were launched into the wonderful madness of December, I would write you all a letter… in November, full of all the things we’re thankful for.  Yah! Great idea!  Woo-hoo!

Except, um, apparently my great ideas don’t magically translate into reality without an input of effort.  I guess that’s the corollary to this year’s motto:
When you do stuff, stuff gets done. 

But I digress.)  So here we are, in mid-December, and the Christmas whirlwind has swept us up.  After a grueling three hours of shopping this morning (some Christmas, some ordinary) Gunnar announced that he was going to DIE if we had to go to one more store.  Which we did.  Then he announced that he would not speak to me until we got there.  That lasted less than ten seconds (when he started moaning dramatically and giggling.)  I’m happy to report that he did, indeed, survive the grocery store, by the grace of God and the free doughnut samples.  And since the shopping maul doesn’t exactly fill me with zesty jolliness either, I’ll be trolling Amazon for the rest of our gifts.

We DO have a lot to be thankful for.  Good family, good health, good grades, a good church, and good friends, to name a few.  Mid-morning cocoa breaks also rank pretty high (oh, the benefits of homeschooling!)  The boys are extra thankful to Grandpa and Grandma for the trip to Disneyland in May, and the annual Aunt Tami Camp (this year with cousins) including the fair, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge.   But wait, let me break it down a little,
boy by boy.

Gunnar (12) is thankful that he is finally old enough to join CAP (Civil Air Patrol) with his brothers, for every moment he gets to spend with his cousin Naomi, for his friends at church and in the neighborhood, for his once-a-week babysitting job, and for almost anything chocolate.

Tate (15) is thankful for hunting with Grandpa, better hearing with his cochlear implant, game nights at the chapel, three baby bunnies this summer (born the same day as the royal prince), and his favorite holiday of the year – July 4th.  (Hello… EXPLOSIVES!)

Wyatt (17) is thankful for super glue (no, he’s not sniffing it), his first “real” job working Thursday Night Motocross at the Hannegan Speedway, learning a Wonderful! New! Technique! for shining his boots, the rare days he can “sleep in” (until eight o’clock!), and for not breaking his neck attempting a back flip from the diving board the day before his solo.  (Solo?  More about that…)

The boys all continue to do well with homeschooling.  Can’t believe we’re into our seventh year.    If there was any question about their academic proficiency we can lay it to rest seeing how successfully Wyatt has transitioned to attending the high school as a part-time student (just inducted into the National Honor Society).  He’s a math whiz.  Tate loves and excels at history.  And Gunnar is still learning like a sponge absorbs water.  We try to do a lot of hands-on learning as well as book-work.

They’re also getting wonderful opportunities through their involvement with CAP.  Gunnar only joined this summer, so he’s just getting started, but he’s already earned his first promotion (Airman) and was thrilled to bring home his dress blues uniform last week.  Tate (Senior Master Sergeant) out-ranks Wyatt (Master Sergeant) at the moment, although Wyatt was chosen as First Sergeant, and has more authority.  

And if that confused you, welcome to my world.

 I cheer them on, help them study, drive them to and from their activities, and stand in awe of the young men they’re becoming.  Tate served for most of a week at the Arlington Fly-In this summer, and Wyatt won a scholarship to Desert Eagle Flight Encampment, where he was able to solo in a Cessna.  Yes, he really flew.  By himself.  

They get to do a lot of fun things, like volunteer as “victims” for local CERT classes, complete with moulage make-up (head injuries, compound fractures, bruises, impalings, etc.)  And then, to make it more fun (because what could be more fun than looking like you’re about to die?!) they went straight to youth-group, without changing.  (Don’t you wish you were hosting the group?)  With CAP, they also got to go to a Marksmanship Encampment.  Yes, 25+ young people camped out at a gun club, shooting real rifles with live ammunition, and real bows with pointy arrows.  Also, Wyatt and Tate have been trained and called out by Whatcom County Search and Rescue.

Kerry turned fifty this summer – half a century!  He continues to manage his own firm (KGArchitect), but with the continuing economic woes is exploring some new employment options.  And I’m holding down the fort at home, and hoping to continue doing so for a few more years, until all the boys are launched.  Which seems to be approaching all too rapidly!

Merry Christmas from all of us, to all of you, as we celebrate God’s gift to us!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Snow Day :D

For some reason I didn't sleep well last night.  (Was it a full moon?  Ask me how I know... eyes roll.)  Anyway, I woke up later than usual - about fifteen minutes before Wyatt leaves for the bus - oops!  Looked out the window, and...  SNOW!  And there was much rejoicing.  Especially since our school superintendent is, shall we say, a little bit twitchy about snow and canceled school!  Honestly, we have less than an inch and the roads around our house (very lightly traveled) are FINE.  But who cares - Wyatt is glad to be home.  Tate and Gunnar are already done with their school work, so hello Christmas Break!

Meanwhile, I have a bit of catching up to do!

Last Saturday we hosted the annual Great Scott Christmas Festivus.  My dad's side of the family (Scotts) all get together mid-December, and we take turns hosting.  It's a big pot-luck so no one has to do a ton of cooking, we don't do gifts, and everybody gets along.

I love it.  Lots of visiting, no pressure, and plenty of food :D

Gunnar was delighted to see his favorite cousin arrive, and she was just as taken with him.  When we was out of the room, Naomi would head for his picture.  Gun-ga!

My cousin's wife, and my aunt, who looks a lot like my grandma did :D

Grandma and Naomi... looking a little tired.  She's down to one nap a day, and they give it to her in the morning to accommodate her daycare schedule, so afternoons can be looooong for her.  But as dazed as she was, she behaved well, especially with all the tempting no-touch items scattered around!  There were plenty of us to distract her :D

My cousin's son is in the army, but stationed not too far away and able to join us for the day.  Who knows what my uncles were talking about, but the one on the left (my dad's brother) is in the black and white photo behind him.  That's my dad, Santa, and him!

And the group of us.  Well, most of us.  One of my aunts arrived later, and Kerry took the picture.  And quite a few couldn't make it this year - the family spreads out as we all get older.  But nice crowd, yah?  Fun day :D

Earlier this week the boys had a CAP Holiday Social and Awards Ceremony.  Before I get to the pictures I have to explain... they meet in the local National Guard building, which is largely made of cinder blocks, painted some institutional color (gray?) and has flourescent lighting.  For some reason, that wonderful combination causes most of the pictures to turn out... GREEN!  Trying to photo-shop the coloring to something approximating "normal" causes other strange effects, so... well... just go with it, okay?  Moving right along...

I'm so proud of all of our boys!  Gunnar hasn't been in long enough to receive any awards, but he's earned a promotion already and is on the right track.

Tate was recognized as having the Element of the Quarter.  (The Squadron is divided into Flights, which are divided into Elements, which have an Element leader and three or four cadets under that leader.)  Tate's element had the most points, which speaks well of both his leadership and his cadets' diligence.  They get points for all kinds of things - attendance, proper uniform, passing tests, earning promotions, etc.  Well done, Tate!

Wyatt was recognized twice - once for the scholarship he received for Desert Eagle (flight school) last summer (and his solo!), and then for his commitment to Search and Rescue Ground Team.  A visiting colonel (Rowe?) from our Wing came to present awards.  Well done, Wyatt!

It means a lot to us that Grandpa and Grandma Grasshopper are always on hand to support and cheer for the boys :D  

Don't they all look sharp?!

All the same, I'm glad I took these at home, in better lighting :D  The cadets were given the option of coming in semi-formal attire or wearing their Air Force Dress Blues.  Most chose their own clothes, but as Wyatt was part of a leadership hand-over ceremony he chose (wisely) to go in uniform.

Well.  Did I mention how proud I am of these guys?  Just a time or two?!  They looked and behaved as gentlemen all evening :D

And now that I've shared all that, I'm going to sit where I can see out the window (snow!)...

... turn on the Christmas music (It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...) sip my peppermint tea...

... and try to prepare the rest of our Christmas cards.  A little late?  Maybe.

And I have a bit of planning to do.  We decided, at the last minute, to host a little neighborhood Christmas party.  But it will probably be small, you know, because who can come the night before Christmas Eve?  Apparently about thirty of my neighbors.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, Thursday, December 19, 2013.

Outside my window...  cold again!  Well below freezing with snow in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow!  (Cue the boys, giddy with excitement!)

Hearing...  the furnace blowing, thank the Lord ;D

Pondering...  not so much posting lately, as we've been busy... busy with good things :D  Like Wyatt being inducted into the National Honor Society.  I'd say he's made a successful transition back to being a (PT) public school student. ;D

Praying...  fervently about a job Kerry has applied for (!), for my friend Joanna - recovering from malaria and cellulitis.  I'm tellin' ya, missionaries are tough :D, and for a joyful family Christmas... LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY!

Thankful...  I'm not frantically running around shopping, there are still a few cookies that boys haven't eaten (and time to make more), and for these...

... just look at them!  All duded up for the CAP Social / Awards Ceremony.  More about that later.  I'm SO proud of all of them ;D

Wearing...  blue jeans, warm socks, a white t-shirt, a long-sleeve shirt, a blue and green sweater, and warm shoes (in the house! oh no!)  Have to run out again soon...

Creating...  surprises ;D

Going...  back out, to pick up my dad (needs a ride while his truck is being worked on).  We've had to divide and conquer the errands today - Tate had a quick doctor's appointment early this morning, we ran a couple of errands, Kerry picked up Wyatt from school, and then I'll go out after my dad.

And I'll be wrapping gifts and addressing cards and listening to Christmas music.  And having cocoa :D

Looking forward to...  well, Christmas of course!

In the kitchen...  leftover stew and leftover chili... good individually, better mixed together.

In the learning rooms...  wrapping up the last loose ends and taking a nice break :D

Around the house...  well, come on in, and I'll show you... in another post.  Soon.

The Mother Load...  I'd told the kids "no stockings" this year, and then sold something and have a little chunk of money I'd like to spend on them... if I have time to get out WITHOUT them!  I'd like to make a few more cookies.  And if anyone is available, maybe have a neighborhood open house / social.  And finish the Christmas cards, and take cookies to some of our older neighbors, and get the boys to the Salvation Army on Saturday (CAP helps distribute Christmas gifts), and - just maybe - tidy up my office?  Nah...

Noticing that...  these boys I have are such fine young men.  *sigh*  Just little things, like Tate jumping ahead of me to hold the door at the doctor's office.

Something to remember for later...  over-baked ham, anyone?

Something fun to share...  they may be smart, but you can still fool them.  Like pretending to shop for another, when they one you're buying for is right with you, looking longingly at what you're buying ;D

A Bible verse...  still singing the Messiah in my head... Isaiah 40:5

And the glory of the Lord
shall be revealed,
and all flesh
shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord
has spoken.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  one more very short day of school for Wyatt, possibly friends over on Saturday, the kids' program at church on Sunday evening (ALL the kids, right up through high school, are participating), and then... CHRISTMAS :D

A peek into my world... one more!