Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014

Last summer we bought a case of Stephenson maple syrup and somehow we finished the entire case this December. One of the families in our church also bought a case last summer and they blessed us with a jar for Christmas. Yeah. 

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how nothing stays the same. Everything is constantly changing. This Christmas was the first time Joshua and Emily weren't with us. Leading up to Christmas, this was very much on my mind. I knew we would all miss them very much (Certain behaviours from certain family members definitely indicated that we would miss them.) and I made an effort to send them special things that would let them know we would miss them. 

But I also was intentional in mixing things up for our family. So for  the first Christmas Eve ever, we got home from church and had Chinese food. Not only were we missing Josh and Emily, but Kaylin was working on Christmas Eve until 10 pm. 


We ordered our food ahead of time so we just had to pick it up on our way home. Then we picked out a Christmas movie and sat in the living room to watch it. Now I don't anticipate this will be a tradition for our family but it was different and was a great way to show the kids that as things change, we can still make memories and celebrate those special days in a new and fun way.

Christmas morning we kept to the same schedule. We got things going around 8:00 am and even with that we had to wake up Peter. 

First thing Robin read the Bible while we drank coffee or hot chocolate and ate the bubble bread. 

Every Christmas Robin wears his red socks so I guess some things never change.

Kaylin has been running regularly so she had a running theme this Christmas. 

Peter is constantly tapping on tables, chairs, or just about anything. So we got him a beat drum. He had no idea because he has not asked for a single thing for Christmas. But he was clearly pleased.

What Peter was most excited about and again, had no idea it was coming, was a drawing tablet that is hooked up to the computer. The 5 kids draw each other's names and just get a nice present for one of their siblings. This was Joshua's present for Peter and is his favourite present. 

The drawing tablet requires a huge learning curve so Peter spent a lot of the day trying to figure out how it all works. 

Gaëlle bought for Kaylin and knew that she was going to get henna for her. Then she also saw an elephant so had to pick that up also.

Gaëlle had an American Girl Doll Christmas last year and also had a bit of that again this year. Kaylin had Gaëlle this year and gave her an American Girl movie, doll hair extensions and the sweater she is wearing. She loved it all. 

Robin and I buy the kids each one main present and then fill their stocking. Believe it or not, it's not easy to buy a meaningful gift for the younger kids. They would love an iPad or iPhone but that's just not going to happen and they know it. But Gaëlle spends a lot of time listening to an audio series called "Jonathan Park". Our family has been given 2 of the series and she listens to them OVER and OVER again. So we downloaded the next 8 volumes of the series for her and burned them to CDs. So they are on our computer and on CDs for her. She spent most of the day on the couch or chair listening to the next adventure in Jonathan Parks and combing her American Girl dolls' hair. 

Gaëlle was so content with her new art supplies and Jonathan Park that Kaylin and I took care of our lunch. 

This may be the last time time in a while that the Christmas china dishes come out so we enjoyed them. 

Peter took a huge drumstick. 

Needless to say, he ate it all. 

It's always interesting to see how we handle change and disappointments. A lot of us can be defeated by those big moments because the reality doesn't always meet our expectations. We managed to Skype with Emily for an hour at the end of the day, and we texted with Joshua throughout the day. We were so thankful for those small connections to our adult children. 

I can honestly say, our Christmas was a beautiful day. The kids handled everything with smiles and good attitudes and gratitude. We spent time remembering our family in Edmonton, NJ, Massachusetts, and in Haiti. We talked about next Christmas and how we don't know exactly where we will be or who will be with us. I'm praying that the differences of this Christmas will comfort us all to know that God will be with us and we can make memories regardless of our circumstances. 

Kaylin went to work again at 4:00 pm and so the four of us went to the movies to see "Night at the Museum 3". Again this was something different and so fun for us all. And to make it even more fun.... we were the only ones in the theater. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Out and About

One thing that never changes around here; Peter spends a lot of time on his art. Last weekend he spent some money on art supplies from the art store downtown. He mainly draws with pencils so he got some more pencils but also some other tools. He also chose some pastels to play around with and some watercolours. So he is set for a while.

Gaëlle still loves being read to. She is enjoying The American Girl books so we are having fun going through all of the series. 

We are also enjoying all of the Christmas baking. I am not doing as much as I often do, but we are pacing things and getting in our favourites. These marshmallow treats are a favourite from our time in St Andrews. Karen brought them to a cookie swap and this has since become a regular Christmas treat.

It's hard to see but the girl with the cup on her head is one of Gaëlle's babysitters. She was Chip in a local high school production of Beauty and the Beast. We went last weekend to see that. They did a great job.

We picked up Kaylin yesterday at the bus. We're all happy to see her. Let the festivities begin. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

December Happenings

For many years, every day of December we give the kids one piece of candy. Sometimes we read an Advent story along with it. Sometimes we do the Jesse Tree. Sometimes it's just candy. But there's always candy. This year, I sewed up little bags and stamped designs or sewed some buttons on. Then I put candy inside and sent them to the girls. I'm not known for being early or on time with my gifts, but in this case, I managed to get them to the girls by December 1st.

Our church puts on a 2 day Christmas variety type of show called, "Christmas on the Hill". Robin is putting together a Black Light Hand song with the kids. It's going really well and they are all pleased with it. 

Peter is playing a shepherd in the final Nativity Scene.

Gaëlle is also singing with the children in Junior Church for one song and then all the participants come out for the final song. It's a lot of fun and is tonight and Sunday night. 

Both kids are spending a  lot of time with their drawing, colouring and all over crafting. It's a nice way to fill their time. It's a busy time of year, but we're trying to take the time to find joy in our every day world. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Highlights of our week

This was one of my birthday presents. Kaylin has one and I used it a bit over the summer. Well, the little green food processor went back to Moncton with her. So, Robin bought me my own for my birthday and guess who is using it the most? 

Robin has been cranking out the smoothies for himself and the kids. They are loving it. I have used it myself for making hummus. Such a great snack for all of us. 

I never did post this. On Remembrance Day we packed up the kids bikes and drove to a local path where the kids biked and Robin and I power walked. It was one of those perfect afternoons. The path goes through Bedford and so we managed to take a detour to get a snack. 

Robin puts together some great meals and lately we have discovered his Shepherd's Pie. On Tuesday I was taking it easy in the living room while he was getting supper ready. I can't even begin to tell you how good the house smelled. Then once we ate, it was super good. Such a cozy moment for me with a nice warm house, surrounded by family and ending with comfort food. 

Robin recently was presented with his 25 year service pin. I was able to go to this presentation which was one of the nice ones. It was not very long (Because let's be honest.... sometimes these can go on forever.) and there was a presentation for bravery for 4 officers which is not usually done. I enjoyed my afternoon and I think Robin did as well. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Time is flying

What we're reading now. Robin has been reading "The Good and Beautiful God" by James Bryan Smith. He is loving it and keeps saying, "Beth, you have to read this!" He finds it affirming as it focuses on God's grace in light of our insufficiency. The author mentions the works based faith of the past which borders on superstition. It's arrogance to think we can work our way into heaven. My mom gave me "Jesus Feminist" on the birthday celebration this past summer. Thanks mom. Emily suggested this book and I am really enjoying it. I also highly recommend it. Not in the sense that I'm ready to call myself a Jesus Feminist, but I just love the compassionate writing of Sarah Bessey. I love her approach to differences in the body of Christ. "The Ultimate Blessing" by Joanne Lyon still ranks as one of our all time favourites. It's on the nightstand as we are grappling with our response to the needs all around us. 

It was my birthday this week. It was strange to just have 4 of us at home, altho Josh joined us by Skype and Emily joined us by audio Skype. Somehow the iPad representing her isn't in the photo. My parents also called right at this moment but didn't stick around for the photo. Kaylin was working so didn't join us for the candle blowing. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such love and support. I really felt it this birthday. Thanks all.

On Friday we joined the celebration of the life of a wonderful husband, father and man of God. John Harris passed away this week in Moncton. Robin, Kaylin and I felt privileged to attend the funeral. It was amazing to see the impact he had on his community. He lived an ordinary life but in his faithfulness to God and his family, he made a huge difference. 

We also stopped in to see Snickers. 2 weeks ago she suffered paralysis of her back legs and amazingly has gotten better although it is still obvious that her back section doesn't quite work right. She was beyond overjoyed to see us.

Once she settled down, it was obvious who she was really happy to see. Robin has missed their walks and cuddles together also.

While we were there, Max, showed us how affectionate he is. Kaylin doesn't need to give any encouragement and Max is all over her trying to snuggle. It's kind of funny.

As part of Kaylin's nursing program, she has a project to plan and implement for her clinical. Her group needed a comfy chair and seeing as we will be selling all of our belongs this year, she asked for the LazyBoy chair. As we think about selling our "stuff" we say that we aren't attached to much. But  as Robin took apart this chair to donate to Kaylin's project, it became obvious that this was actually much tougher than he thought. Somehow, our stuff becomes important to us. As adults we should be able to move past this, but it is definitely a reminder that we will have to be wise and compassionate to the kids as we move through this transition.

Ending with a maple bacon doughnut. Robin and the kids went to a local Farmer's Market for lunch and brought back this doughnut. We all tried a bite. After all, bacon goes with everything. The taste was ok, but it was a bit strange. Not my favourite. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's orientation week


Robin and I had orientation week at Wesleyan HQ in Fishers, Indiana. The kids stayed with their grandparents in NJ. So, on Saturday, October 17, we drove all the way to NJ. 

We made a quick stop at LL Bean. 3 years ago I bought a backpack for Gaëlle and last year the zipper broke. We held onto it until we knew we were going to be passing through Maine. Sure enough, they gave us a credit for $35 and I bought another backpack. 

We flew out of Newark Airport on Sunday morning and headed to Indiana where it was #partyweek at Global Partners. We had a great week and were treated to treats ALL week. We stayed at a gorgeous Bed and Breakfast for missionaries, called Shunem House. As soon as we walked in the door and saw the treats in the kitchen, I made the decision to not have any candy. Somehow I managed to stay away and didn't have a single piece of candy while I was there. But we were treated so well and really felt spoiled.

There were 8 of us in orientation with a huge range of ages and skills and passions. It was fun to connect with them all. I now know what a physician's assistant is. The week was jam packed with training and Robin and I found it all beneficial and helpful. 

We flew back to NJ Friday night and found the pumpkins Peter and Gaëlle had carved that week. My parents kept the kids busy with all kinds of activities. They helped out at the library sale, went to exercise at the YMCA, ate out many times, went for a hike, and spent a day at the Liberty Science Center. 

They put together several puzzles. 

Both kids helped out with cooking during the week, but Gaëlle especially enjoyed her time in the kitchen.

The kids had a great time and I'm so thankful for all of the work my parents did to make their stay special. 

On Saturday we headed to Ephrata/Akron, Pennsylvania to visit Josh. It was so good to see him and we had great weather.

He took us for a tour of the MCC HQ in Akron. We were impressed with the village out back where they host groups and conferences. 

For lunch I told Josh I wanted the Lancaster type tourist experience. So, he took us to the largest buffet I have ever seen. Not that they food was more than other buffets, altho it probably was, but the building was huge. 

It was the Maple Shady Smorgasbord and we definitely enjoyed ourselves.

Gaëlle and I were amused by the squash for sale.

Josh showed us some of the sights in his area and we stopped in at place. He rents a room in a house in Ephrata. The owner is fixing it up a little bit at a time and it looks really nice. It was a super quick visit, only 4 hours, but I'm so glad we were finally able to see where Josh lives. 

Starbucks coffee is way too strong for Robin and myself. We were both amused by this shirt. Anyway, it was a great week but we are glad to be home and back in our routine.