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It’s Nearly Here…

It’s Nearly Here…

Setting up for Christmas is one of my favorite parts of the year!  I look forward to the day with great anticipation, and the kids do too.  We start with fall clean-up and listening to the first Christmas CD of the season.


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Then comes the nearly uncontrollable wiggly excitement as favorite holiday treasures emerge from their year-long hibernation.  Chaos reigns for a while with boxes everywhere, parents trying to be orderly, and kids eager to dive in.

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Eventually, though, everyone finds a good groove and the house is slowly transformed.  Some things have a special spot, but most of our decorations get put somewhere different each year.  Than’s creativity works overtime finding good ways to arrange the symbols that remind us of family, good times in the past, and the deep importance of Immanual-God with Us.

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Decorating the Christmas tree is the best time for family stories and sharing memories.  Even though some of the ornaments only get noticed when we’re hanging them up, it is still so good to remind ourselves of where we’ve come from and how God has worked.

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The finished product is a house rich and warm with love, light, and the anticipation of God’s presence with us not only now, but in eternity to come.

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Merry Thanksgiving!

Merry Thanksgiving!

Since we are about halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it seems appropriate to write about both at once!  This year that is particularly easy, since we were able to celebrate two holidays in one day with Than’s family.

(Editorial note: since I didn’t take any pictures that day, I am using these photos from our family art project instead.  Pretend this is one of those kid’s picture books where the words say one thing but the illustrations tell a different story…)
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We headed over to Than’s parents’ house Thanksgiving morning with a car full of gifts, food, and excited kids.  Fortunately it is a short drive!!  The Macy’s parade was in full swing and the stockings were already overflowing by the time Than’s brother and sister-in-law joined us, having made a much longer trek through the snow. All the cousins were sure happy to see each other!!  This year we had the exciting benefit of having more kids than adults, so there was lots going on everywhere.  A giant block house with giggling girls and stuffed animals inside, toy cars racing, delicious smells, talking grown-ups, and everything adding up to some joyous mayhem.
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Eventually lunch made it on the table with plenty of delicious food to go around.  We were thankful, to be sure!  Then clean-up, and finally time to open all the little treasures in the stockings.  Back to the dining room for dessert, then on to more Christmas with our family gift exchange.
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Holiday formalities finished, we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the gifts so thoughtfully given.  There were new games to be played, new toys to be tested, and new gloves to take out into the snowy backyard.  All in all it was a wonderfully full day shared with people we care about.

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Thanks, Baylor clan, for working together to create a Merry Thanksgiving!

Celebrating the Resurrection

Celebrating the Resurrection

Holy Week often seems more hurried than holy, even though each year I wish that it would somehow magically be different.  However, God is faithful to remind us of His great love and sacrifice, the gifts that make possible all of the joyful and necessary activities that fill our days.  Here are some Easter highlights….

The unexpected treat of decorating Easter eggs with our neighbor, invited in my my children when they were delivering hot cross buns.

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Bits and pieces of four different generations from both sides of our families, gathered at our house to share the afternoon.

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Cousins who get along well and enjoy each other thoroughly.  (No, Katya doesn’t have glasses yet, that is just a dress up pair that she was enjoying for the day!)

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A front-and-backyard Easter egg hunt that kept both kids and adults entertained.  Nathan even had the kindness to run some eggs across the street for the little girl who lives there!

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The delight of fun treats, large and small, hidden in eggs and given from loving family members.

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Not photographed but still important moments to reflect, serve, and rejoice at our church’s prayer walk, Good Friday meal, and stirring Easter service.

And my favorite, 21 people gathered together because of the miracle of God’s saving love for us.  As we read in 1 Peter 1: 3-4 “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading…”

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He is risen!

My Valentines

My Valentines

Since Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday, we got to celebrate extra this year!  I suppose technically we’ve been celebrating for almost a month now, since it was several weeks ago that Than surprised me with a night away at a beautiful spot in Estes Park.  It was fun to have our special time together, and I was glad we still had the 14th to be with the kids as well.

The tradition at school is that everyone can dress up in fancy clothes instead of wearing uniforms.  This is particularly popular with a certain daughter of mine…

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Both kids also enjoyed handing out Valentines to their classmates and came home with a wide variety of cards and treats from all their friends.

Since the actual Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday, and since we didn’t get out to see our neighbors at Christmas, we took the morning to go around with plates of Valentine’s treats.  I just love making cookie plates!!  It was a nice time to visit with the people we live near.

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Also that morning, my family surprised me with some thoughtfully chosen little gifts (my favorite kind, small little “this and that” things, purchased from my favorite store!) and some hand written Valentines.  Than is so good at helping the kids with that kind of thing, and I felt loved.

After we finished our home celebrations, we headed out for an adventure.  Since many of our favorite attractions were unusually crowded, our trip to the zoo morphed into a trip to the museum of nature and science, then turned into a trip to the botanic gardens, and finally ended up being a trip to the museum of miniatures, dolls, and toys.  It was fun for everyone to explore someplace new, and nice to find a spot that wasn’t crawling with hundreds of other people!

We ended the day with a special family dinner at home.  I am one happy Valentine!
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Christmas Events

Christmas Events

Here are some of the fun things we did together around Christmas time…

A family day at the North Pole amusement park:

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The Father-Daughter dance at school:

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A Mother-Son date while Father and Daughter were at the dance:

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A wise man and a sheep in the church Christmas pageant:

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Class parties on the last day of school before break, complete with this huge marshmallow snowman project:

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The annual cookie buffet at my yearly Christmas recitals for the music studio:

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And, believe it or not, that is just a sampling of all the great events that helped us celebrate the wonder of Advent, looking back to Christ’s first coming and forward to his second.  I love this season!!

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July

Thanks to a goodie box from St. Louis, my kids are all set to celebrate the USA in style!  I hope your Independence Day is equally as exciting, full of fun or fireworks or flags, but especially marked by an appreciation for the freedom we enjoy here in America.  No country is perfect, ours has plenty of problems, but I’m sure grateful to live here!

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He is Risen!

He is Risen!

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Has it only been just over a week since Easter?  Seems like a lot longer than that!  We enjoyed a joyous celebration, characterized by lots of the typical activities of the season–our Good Friday service and meal, special music at church (I even got to play in the orchestra!), bright dyed Easter eggs (3 dozen this year), a full table of family and new friends for dinner, egg hunt in the backyard, kids dressed up in nice clothes–so many ways to mark the importance of the resurrection day.  Here are the pictures:

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Katya and I hosted a Valentine-making party for some of our friends several weeks ago, and apparently she decorated herself as well as the cards!  It was fun to see a table full of little girls going to town with stickers and glue, and a good excuse to have a party while our boys were off at a church sleepover.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day at our house, we started with pink pancakes (thanks, Bonzo!).  Instead of wearing their normal uniforms, the kids were allowed to dress up in nice clothes for school.  (After lots of girly drama, we finally managed to make it out the door…)

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Both kids enjoyed their school parties, and I got to be in on the fun in kindergarten, supervising the “decorate your Valentine holder” project.  While they were at school, Than and I enjoyed time together for little house projects, lots of conversation, and lunch out.  The evening featured a Valentine sleepover for the kids and a trip to see Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” for mom and dad.  All in all, a very satisfactory way to celebrate all the different ways our family loves!

Catching Up-One More Christmas

Catching Up-One More Christmas

One more Christmas post, full of photos from our Christmas… and one more Christmas… and maybe one more…  We enjoy spreading out the presents and the people over several days, and this year was no exception.  

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Christmas Eve anticipation…

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The stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care, but Than DID have the main room of the basement completed in time for us to enjoy opening gifts down there on Christmas morning!

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Katya picked out Nathan’s present, just what he asked for–smart girl.

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Katya enjoyed testing out a lovely new box of dress up clothes.  She even ended up wearing several layers of glamorous outfits to our lunch with Than’s grandparents!  The seniors who live in their complex were quite impressed.

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Nathan got a new grown-up bike for Christmas.  I guess it is good we didn’t have a white Christmas so he could test it out right away.

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He was also a big fan of his Bey Blades, super spinning tops that whirl around and try to knock each other over.  He taught Aunt Lynne how to use them.

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Making gingerbread houses consumed much of the evening on the actual Christmas Day–fun for all involved!  Aunt Ann, Aunt Lynne, Gran B, Daddy, and Katya were the main architects with Nathan providing sugar sampling support, Mommy in charge of material procurement, and Poppy heading up the encouragement section.

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We enjoyed more Baylor festivities on New Year’s Day, with the cousins playing in full force.  Love it!

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My favorite part was watching the kids dancing and singing all over the living room to music from the electric keyboard.  Hilarious!!

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As always, there are plenty of wonderful Christmas season moments that escaped the camera.  My dad’s visit, Christmas Eve at church, so many thoughtful gifts, our family game night, the consumption of the gingerbread constructions, and many more that aren’t in my head at the moment.  I am grateful for all these good memories, and for the time to celebrate with joy and enthusiasm even amid the construction in the basement, the ever-busy nature of church work, and the reality that there always seems to be just one more thing to do.  Happy Christmas to all!

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Catching Up-Christmas Performances

Catching Up-Christmas Performances

Trying to avoid being a star-struck mommy who posts full-length videos of every performance my kids ever do, but there were some nice stage moments over the Christmas season.

Katya’s kindergarten class puts on a cute little holiday show–incidentally, the first performance on our new school’s stage!

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Nathan participated in the annual Baylor Music Studio play-in, performing Silent Night and participating enthusiastically in all the silly game-events that go with that evening:)

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The kids’ gingerbread house provided a nice centerpiece for our play-in refreshment table.

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Not quite a public performance, but Katya created this block “picture” on the floor and begged me to send the picture to her grandmas, so I will put it here in fulfillment of that request.

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Finally, my favorite performance by far, the annual children’s Christmas Pageant at church.

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Nathan played his Silent Night again as part of the prelude, and one of my violin students also performed her piece.

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Katya worked and worked to proudly say her line loud and clear: “And Mary knew these things were precious and pondered them in her heart.”

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Nathan said, “And Mary went up to the hill country to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also with child.  And when Elizabeth saw her, the baby inside Elizabeth leaped for joy.  And in a loud voice, Elizabeth said…”  He also sang a verse of “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night.”

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Than, of course, did his usual stellar job of being behind the scenes, directing lights and tech crew and all kinds of moving parts.  The story is always worth watching, familiar as it is, and we were honored to have so many great-grandparents able to attend, as well as grandparents and aunts.  Thanks, supportive family!

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