Sunday, December 18, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!!

I can't believe it's been almost a whole year since we became a family of 6!  This year has had it's share of difficulties, as well as plenty of happy memories.  Some of you may already know, but for those of you that don't, when you add 2 new people to your family at the same time, life gets busier and some of the usual things you do get set aside so you can bond and keep up w/all the new responsibilities.  We didn't just add 2 new people, we added 2 people who have survived significant trauma.  Needless to say, a lot of things got set aside and we entered survival mode.  This is not a complaint or a plea for pity, it's our reality.  However, that being said, we have still been able to be 'us' - just in smaller and simpler ways.  When I write Christmas blog posts, I always like to celebrate what makes us 'us' and all the ways we did that in the past year.  This year, w/5 out of the 6 of us being in school (4 as students, 1 as a teacher), I thought a yearbook theme would be fitting!  And there is audience participation at the end, so if you make it to the end, we'd love to hear from you!

(Once again, we are not sending Christmas cards out in the traditional way - see the end of this post for more on that...We hope you enjoy this online version! If you regularly read my blog or see my Facebook posts, some of these stories will sound familiar...)


2016 Yearbook
(Yes, it's a made up name!  It's MY Christmas letter, I can do that.)



This year 2 of the kids participated in a summer strawberry shortcake eating contest!  I have some big eaters and trust me when I say, it was no surprise that the smallest member of our family won by a landslide!  I have 2 very pink Strawberry Fest T-shirts that my boys can grow into now =)  This year also marks the first year that we have purchased an all access pass to the local school sporting events.  At first I hesitated, but then I realized it would only take 3 trips to a football game for it to pay for itself!  We enjoyed a bunch of football games so far and hope to get to a basketball game soon.  We also took the opportunity to attend our college alma mater's Homecoming festivities, including the football game.  There was free food, mascots, carnival games and plenty of reminders how Momma has aged...(The campus has changed a lot/my dorm is gone, 'kids these days', head shaking and co-eds telling their friends to watch their language around the kids.)
Speaking of school spirit and being old.....This was also the year I (Mel) and Dave had a high school class reunion of a round, significant number.  While Dave did not attend his, I did attend mine.  There was a school tour (that place has also changed dramatically!), dinner and a photo booth.  It was so good to see 'old' friends and chat w/many new ones!  To me, that is one of the best parts about going to an event like this.  I can socialize w/people I never spent much time w/in HS and we have more in common now than we seemed to have back then.  New connections are made, old ones are strengthened and many hugs were given.  One thing that really struck me was the amazing example of some ladies from my class who served others in an insanely huge way.  They coordinated, planned, called, set up, served, cleaned and even found time to socialize w/us along the way!!  They probably did a bunch of other stuff we never knew about behind the scenes, too.  If you get a chance to attend a class reunion, I highly recommend it.  Thank the people who put it together for you and please know that no one cares what you look like, what your job is, or where you live.  Just go.  If you are the only one from your 'clique' in HS who is going and you think it'll be awkward, kick those thoughts to the curb.  Hold your head high and just go.  Call me if you need encouragement and then call me after to tell me how it went =)


Here at Bent Anchor we don't just watch sports, we also participate in them!  Once again Moses was a member of the boys' gymnastics team and this year he participated in a meet at a private club.  *insert low slow whistle*  That place was fancy!!  He had a lot of fun and there are 4 meets this season coming up in 2017!   There was also basketball camp for the oldest 2 boys this year and lots of sports happening in the yard!!  All the kids had gymnastics and swimming classes at the Y this past year and will continue to do so this session.



Lest you think all we do around here is sports, it should be noted that there are plenty of academic endeavors here!  This year we made it a mission to build bridges across the swampy areas of our 10 acres to make the ridges that run along the lake more accessible.  We are planning to make various trails around the property and continue to explore the woods.  Everyone loves being outside and jumping out of trees!  We've also taken the opportunity to help Dave's mom w/some trees and clearing out some of the area behind her house.  A day spent working outside is the best kind of day!  When the weather is bad, we know we can always go to the Y and use the racquetball courts.  When we go camping, you can usually find the kids swimming as soon as the pool opens!  We found some really nice campgrounds this summer.  In this collage of photos, there is a very special one on the top right hand corner.  The first week the boys came to live w/us, we made a family masterpiece.  Every one of us took a section of the paper and painted it to make a joint piece of art.  Although I was nervous (lots of little hands, paint, carpet under the table which I always hated but am living w/until we can financially replace!), it is one of the best memories I have.  Ever.  That piece of art looks messy and some people might wonder why it hangs on our wall.  It represents 6 people, only 3 of which share DNA, coming together as 1 family.  That, my friends, is worth hanging on the wall.  Every day I am reminded that God knit us together and all the legal documents in the world will only match what this painting says.  We are a family.

Oh my goodness - as I reviewed the photos from this past year, I loved seeing the projects and field trips my kids have done at their school!  Everyone is excited about learning and making great gains.  Moses has really been enjoying math and social studies, Colleen loves learning about planets, animals, robots and all things science.  Bert is reading!!  He's just in the beginning stages, so no chapter books yet, but there are lots of classics we are digging into.  He is great at money math!  Ernie is reading 'snap words' too, working on building relationships and making it through a full day of kindergarten.  All good stuff.


You know it wouldn't be a full year w/o some 'class trips'!!  We wander a lot, and this year was no exception.  As always, we try to find a good deal for spring break.  It was a little hard to wrap my brain around the thought of packing up 6 people and we wondered how the boys would do, especially since it was only 3 months since they had been w/us.  We are blessed beyond words to have family in FL and after a few quick messages and some phone calls, it was decided that we'd take the leap and try it!  Looking back, we must have been crazy...maybe we still are!!  As it turned out, the boys did GREAT on the flight, they took to my family (who doesn't?), and we ALL LOVED the warm weather!  We swam in the gulf, a hotel pool, and a community water park!  We're ready to do it again!

For us, summer means camping and there was plenty of that this year.  We started just across the border in IL.  If you like camping and exploring natural features, you should really check out Starved Rock State Park!  There were tons of water falls, lots of canyons, and hiking.  We put on our suits, our water shoes and went for it!  I have so many amazing photos, I could fill up a whole post about this place!!  Another one of our favorite spots is in TN, where some good friends live.  Nothing beats eating w/them, seeing some sweet rides at Cars and Coffee, swimming in their pool, going to their church and just BEING around them.  We did some exploring too - for all the times we have been there, we hadn't been to the Parthenon yet!  We checked it out this time - it was sort of funny though, b/c it was right when that whole Pokemon craze started.  There were all these people wandering around the park, looking down at their phone...it seemed sort of surreal, like seeing zombies or something!  We had a few good laughs, watching people walk into each other or stationary objects.  It was hard to leave our friends in TN - can't wait to go back in 2017!!  

Our 3rd big 'class trip' was out to the Black Hills, the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore!  Our family has been there a few times before, but the little boys hadn't!  It was fun climbing around w/them, hearing them shout out whenever they saw 'the presidents' and enjoying all the fun of camping!  The momma bear worried how the littles would sleep, how everyone would adjust to sharing the small space for a while, how we could fit all we were packing into the camper and such, but again - we were blessed w/no breakdowns, no illnesses or injuries and some sweet inexpensive fun!  It was hot and sweaty but we found plenty of swimming holes and rocks to climb!  Also, it was the first time we drove through the area w/a sunroof - a whole new way to look at the world!  (Yeah, it's the little things...)


We would share individual school pictures but not everyone has one!  Most of you know what we look like, anyway.  Since I can't resist another year book themed section, though, pretend this is the part where you see each one of our faces.
---Freshman class---
ERNIE - Voted most likely to become mayor, lawyer or judge.  "I meant what I said and I said what I meant." -- Dr. Seuss
BERT - Voted most likely to do back flips off of high platforms or use one of those stand up desks at work.  "Life requires movement." -- Aristotle
---Sophomore class---
COLLEEN - Voted most likely to build a robot that does her homework.  "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." -- Albert Einstein
---Junior class---
MOSES - Voted most likely to do something on a stage, maybe in a band, telling jokes, dancing or just performing in some way.  "All the world's a stage..." -- Shakespeare
---Senior class---
DAVE - Voted most likely to skip work to go boating.  "You're gonna need a bigger boat." -- from the movie Jaws
MELISSA - Voted most likely to be found in the woods, or daydreaming about her big ideas.  "The woods are lovely, dark and deep.  But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep." -- Robert Frost

What yearbook would be complete w/o a few blank pages in the back for your friends to sign and leave a message?  If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave us a comment =)  Sign our yearbook!  This year had it's ups and downs...through all of it, we felt the presence of the Lord in our lives.  We continue to press on, following the example He has laid out for us.  In 2017, we purpose to love our neighbors (and classmates and siblings, etc) as we've been loved, serving when and where we can, while we continue learning what it takes to make this family of 6 operate smoothly.  We pray your 2016 yearbook is filled w/many happy memories like ours!  Here's to an adventurous and healthy 2017!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!


We hope you enjoyed this green version of our Christmas card! (If you still wish to receive a paper copy, leave a comment.) There are lots of reasons we decided to do things differently this year (again!)...here's a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!
2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read them...you do recycle them eventually, don't you??
3) Save printing costs. See reason #1!
4) Save stress. Nothing to print, sign, stuff, address...
5) Expand our options! Now you can see a practically limitless amount of photos.
6) Our greeting to you is saved in cyber-space for posterity! Yes, we can be that vain sometimes!
7) It went so well the past years...we heard a lot of positive responses, and even some people who said they'd try it themselves. Welcome to the dark (green) side! (Sorry that was a goofy Star Wars joke...)

1 comment:

familydevotions4preschoolers said...

Stay cool! (Isn't that what everyone writes on the yearbook)
It was great to see you on your way back from SD