Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 24, 2010

Our church has several Christmas Eve services with the first one at 4:00 pm for the children. Robin, Emily and Kaylin did puppets for the service and they did a great job. Peter and Gaelle were so excited to see the puppets and Gaelle made sure to tell the kids sitting next to her that "Those are my sisters!"

Our family all together once again. So nice.

We came home after the service and had a party. Now it was just the 7 of us, but it was a party full of party food. We opted to stay put and it really was a nice time. This is my only picture, but take my word... it was fun.

Emily and Kaylin invited Peter and Gaelle to their room for a sleep-over and they all treated it as a real sleep-over...very exciting. So it was a perfect end to our day.

Flashback - Advent

We have a few advent traditions that we just can't miss. We have an advent countdown tree that I made several years ago. It has 25 heart pockets that are filled with candy. This year I filled the pockets with numbers and put the candy in a dish every night at supper. All of the kids enjoy this and Gaelle especially took great joy in remembering the candy every night.

We also have an advent wreath and we light the candles every Sunday leading up to Christmas. We read a scripture that goes along with the candle and this year we sang a verse from a carol that went along with the candle.

Several years ago I purchased the book "Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent" by Arnold Ytreeide. Unfortunately my 3 kids were too old for the story and we didn't even finish it. So I pulled it out this year for the youngest 2. It was a big hit and something we looked forward to each night. The story was a little intense for Gaelle so there were nights I heavily edited the story as I read.

At the end of every reading there is a brief reflection section. We usually read this and took a few minutes to discuss it. I was just hit so many times with the very issues Peter and Gaelle deal with as children who have experienced loss.

The first week we hit on the topic of fear. Jotham is in a scary situation and he calls out to God. God answers with "I will help you." A wonderful promise of the hope we find in Jesus and the message is not just for kids from hard places, but for all of us.

Family heritage is important to the Jews of Jesus' day and it's something that Peter and Gaelle will have to deal with their entire lives; their lack of knowledge of their biological heritage. The book repeatedly mentioned heritage and the pride and honour that comes from our family. Christmas is a time when we reflect on the past and all of our memories from the past and it's a time to celebrate family. It was a sharp reminder once again of all that Peter and Gaelle have lost. They are a part of our family, but they can't contribute to our Christmas memories.... not this year.

But "Jotham's Jouney" reminded us that as Christians, we have a rich heritage. We belong to the King of Kings. As Peter and Gaelle struggle to find their place in our family and in their world, I pray they remember the truth in our advent story. I pray that all of my children freely share in the riches of God's kingdom, even though there is an evil one who would like to sell us into slavery, full of doubt and lonliness and isolation.

I could go on and on with the powerful truths in this children's advent book, but I'll end with a verse from Isaiah 55:8-9 that I've been dwelling on during this past month.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

It's all about trust. Do my children trust me? Do I trust God?

This past year has been full of ups and downs.

Full of joy and tears.

I know that God has a perfect plan for our family and my goal this year is to completely trust God with my family even if it's not my way.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Traditions

For the past 4 Christmases, I've wondered and thought about this moment; 1 or 2 more stockings. In October 2007, we found out it would be 2 stockings. Every year I've held off making them wondering if this would be the year.

And 2010 was the year!!! 2 more stockings to add to our stairway. Yeah!!!!

For the past 8 years (I think) we've made gingerbread houses with a mold. Some years, we just decorate our own. Some years, we make kits for friends with kids. And some years, we host gingerbread house decorating parites.

This year I just made 2 houses and Emily and Kaylin helped Peter and Gaelle decorate them.

Of course, they didn't need much help. A little icing, a little candy, and a lot of creativity.

December Recaps

This past Christmas is the first time I've worked outside the home full time and it's also the first time we've had 5 kids for Christmas. So... some things just didn't get done this year. But here is a quick recap of some of our moments.

Peter was the first one to have his school Christmas concert. We don't always clue in to the stress these things have on the kids. So we were a little surprised at his reaction. He looks terrified up on stage. It didn't look as if he was having fun at all. But to be quite honest, his whole class seemed a little out of it. Nobody looked like they were having fun.

Next up was Gaelle. Needless to say, I was the nervous one this time because I didn't know what she would do up on stage. But she opened her mouth and made an atempt to sing, even though she didn't know half the words. Notice the 3 boys standing next to her. They're holding hands. Gaelle explained, "That's because Cole runs away." Problem solved.

The 3rd and final Christmas concert was our church musical. We kept Gaelle out of it this year, but expect her to be front and center next year. Peter had a speaking part and played Tommy the shopkeeper. We prepped him a little more for his nervous feelings and what that looks like. Good thing, because he was pretty rigid.

But as they always do, the play went off without a hitch and it was really kind of cute.

Only 4 of the kids were here to decorate the Christmas tree. Our tree is totally home made with all kinds of ornaments the kids have made throughout the years. So full of memories. So first thing in December we took Peter and Gaelle out to the store to choose their own ornament. They've been hanging in our living room ever since and they were the first ornaments on the tree.

It really is fun to see all of the old Christmas decorations and remember how they came to be. Like the giant scallop shell that Josh painted in St. Andrews.

Or the pom-poms that Kaylin decorated completely on her own... which always go on the tree. Unfortunately, Peter and Gaelle didn't come home with any school made Christmas tree ornaments. But we have another week off of school to remedy that.

Gaelle has had a pretty good attitude for most of the month. But there have been times when her angry face comes out. Today I asked her why she was talking like that. And she said, "Angry? Because it's fun!"

A new activity this year was community caroling. We met in a community park and just sang Christmas carols and songs to the group gathered. Our 2 oldest children were in a mood... a silly mood... and I thought we were going to get kicked out.

Peter was especially concerned and kept saying, "Guys... stop it. Please!!! What are you singing?"

But would they stop it? No... like all good older brothers and sisters, that just egged them on more. We did have fun tho. A lot of laughter, a lot of hot chocolate, and a lot of close calls with candles. Fun all around.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A new smile

Carol, here's another picture with a great big smile and TWO missing teeth.

Sledge hockey

There's a young man in our church who has to be the number 1 hockey fan. And that's saying something in Canada. He knows the local high school players and also has his favorite NHL team. He also has a physical disability but that doesn't stop him from playing his favorite sport. He plays sledge hockey.

Last Sunday we headed out to watch him play. There aren't enough players in our area to have a league with official games, so they just play pick up style games. Emily was interested because it's such great exercise and it really shows how much people with disabilities are capable of doing. It was amazing. A great family outing.