Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

"I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise 
shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; 
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, 
and let us exalt his name together!"
Psalm 34: 1-3

We pray that this letter finds you all well; and that you have been able to see God's hand at works in your lives this last year.

This year we celebrated 10 wonderful years in our home. We are very blessed to be where we are; both in our neighborhood and in our church family. James is continuing his job with the same company and is thankful every day for his job. He is still managing the Outdoor Advertising division and enjoys working there. Charlotte is kept busy with things in the home; along with the homeschooling of all 4 children now. She also enjoys teaching in the small co-op our family is a part of. She loves to cook and bake, and has enjoyed learning more about photography this last year.

Mr. Lego is 13 now and has really shot up this year in height. In fact he is now halfway between his mom and dad. He enjoys creating things with his Legos, reading and drawing. This year he has had more opportunity for leadership positions in 4-H which he enjoys as well. Bookworm is 11 and is growing taller too; but still has a few inches to go before she is taller then her mom. She enjoys reading, crocheting and knitting, and would attempt to try to do all three at the same time if she could. In school she enjoys math and writing and taking care of the rabbits. Dasher just turned 10. She enjoys playing with her cars, play dough and likes to read in school. She especially enjoys the craft projects we do with our co-op. Nutsy is now 5 and is learning her letters and numbers this year. She loves coloring and creating things on paper. 

The rabbits have multiplied, been sold, and are multiplying again. At one point we had 19 rabbits in our rabbitry; right now we have our 5 adults and 5 babies with more babies coming next week. These are all 'practice' litters for the fair next spring, so they will all be sold as pets. We have learned so much in 4-H this last year and are thankful for the opportunities it gave us to serve others as well as meet new friends. Our parakeet, Sunny, is doing great and wakes us up every morning with his cheerful chirps. 

We have enjoyed reading all the Christmas cards we have received this last month and seeing all the photos from our family and friends. They go onto our refrigerator where they are constant reminder of the wonderful people God has brought into our lives, and also a reminder for us to keep you all in prayer.

May God bless you in the coming year and may we all continue to see His providential hand in all things.

The Joyful Hearts Family

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: Of what to say in our annual family letter. I'll put it up on my blog later this week and then that will be all I am blogging or Facebooking until 2011. I'll miss reading all your blogs for a couple weeks, but I need the break.

What I'm reading: I don't have anything in the lineup right now....

What I'm listening to: Girlies talking in the kitchen; a ticking sound coming from somewhere.

What we're learning: We are on our winter break from formal schooling for the next two weeks. And it was very nice to have a more laid back morning today....I am still in my bathrobe. :-)

What I'm watching: Sometime this week my Sweetie and I will view our annual watching of Christmas Vacation. Also a dear friend is letting us borrow Elf, which we have never seen.

What's cooking: I am planning our Christmas Eve dinner, which is usually fun appetizers. Some new ones I am trying are Baked Brie and Mulled Wine in the crock pot.

What I'm buying: The only reason I have to go out to the store this week is for veggies and milk. Which is wonderful because every other store is probably crazy right now.

What I'm thankful for: All the rain we have been having. And there is more coming.....all this next week.

What I'm creating: I would like to make some cookies today or tomorrow with the girls; maybe Chocolate Chip and Apricot Crescents.

What I'm praying: For traveling mercies as many I know are traveling over the next couple weeks. And the roads are going to be a bit slippery.

What I'm planning: Later this morning we are heading to the food bank to help fill bags, then tomorrow we will be there to help pass them out. Then on Wednesday we are going to go caroling at the assisted living center, then a cookie party with friends that night. I love having these opportunities to serve others and am happy to see the kids so enthusiastic to participate.

What we did this last weekend: We had a really fun Christmas party last Friday night, then a pretty normal Saturday. Yesterday we were at church in the morning, then had some good friends over for lunch, then back for our evening service.

What I'm looking forward to: We will be seeing family, spending a day in San Francisco, spending another day up playing in the snow, having good times with our kids, and going to a New Years Eve party with friends. Lots of fun things ahead.

A picture to share:

~This is going all the way back to 2003....Mr Lego was 6, Bookworm was 4 and Dasher was just 3. Time flies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Birthday Girl

It has happened again; another birthday. And this time it is Dasher. She is now a big 10, which means I now have 3 children in double digits. Dasher is such a joy to us and I thought I would share more of her personality with you.

She loves to laugh. For being our munchkin girl, she has the deepest belly laugh in our family.

She also has the longest eyelashes of us all. With those eyes she is a great finder-of-lost-things; so much so, that when someone misplaces something we all turn to her to help find it.

She loves to have fun. Having an older brother and sister have given her a tougher personality; and here she is, right in the middle of a snowball fight.

She really loves animals so 4-H has been a good fit with her. And she is the one who will pick up almost any bug and carry it around for a while.

She brings a bright light of joy into our family. Many times she can find the humor in different daily situations and never fails to make me laugh.

She is also my crazy monkey girl. Seeing these kind of antics at the park is a normal thing with this child.

My sweet Dasher; I pray that you would continue to follow the Lord with all your heart, and that He would continue to lead you. I am so thankful for your smile, sweetness and hugs. Happy Birthday, my new 10 year old!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am a procrastinator. I have a photography assignment due today and for that particular shot I need sunlight. Well today it is foggy and it is supposed to rain the next couple days. :-(

What I'm reading: Still reading Faith Driven Family. Last week the girls all had dental appointments so I got a good chunk read during the two hours I spent in the waiting room.

What I'm listening to: Josh Groban singing O Holy Night. So beautiful.

What we're learning: This is our last week of formal schooling before taking off for two weeks. The two older children both have writing paragraphs due, while Dasher is doing narrations and copywork from Pippi Longstocking. In history we are studying St. Boniface, the Iconoclast Controversy, and Charles Martel.

What I'm watching: This last weekend my Sweetie and I watched The Caine Mutiny with Humphrey Bogart. It was a good one.

What's cooking: Tomorrow night I am planning to make Chicken Pad Thai with Peanut Sauce. Yum.

What I'm buying: I crossed off the last item off of my short Christmas list last week. Gifts are not big things for us; we only give one gift to each child and also to our immediate family. I also make some homemade gifts for friends. Maybe if I remember I'll write a post with my homemade gift ideas. I can't share right now because my dear friends read my blog....

What I'm thankful for: That I have a God who cares for the birds, who causes the wildflowers to be so beautiful and created intricate me. And seeing all these wonders causes me to not be anxious (at least to try not!) about the future.

What I'm creating: A fun day for Dasher this Wednesday because she is going to be turning 10 that day! We have our co-op Christmas party that day, then she has requested steak, peas, mashed potatoes and gravy for her birthday dinner. And cake, of course.

What I'm praying: For those around me in need; whether health needs, financial needs or spiritual needs.

What I'm planning: To address all 79 of our Christmas card envelopes tonight. I might need a serious wrist massage afterward. My back might be aching too.....

What we did this last weekend: We did things around the house and my Sweetie and I finished our Christmas shopping on Saturday. Then yesterday we heard an incredible sermon on not being anxious, then all the parents in our co-op got together for dinner. It was a fun party!

What I'm looking forward to: We have a Christmas party to attend this Friday that I am looking forward to, then on Saturday we are planning to go with friends to see some lights at our city park and zoo.

A picture to share:

 ~Piles of leaves were meant to be jumped into.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it seems like we are getting a lot of rain. It is really a good thing here in No. looks like it won't be a drought year.

What I'm reading: Still trying to get through Faith Driven Family. I did not get as much reading time in last week as I wanted.

What I'm listening to: Children chattering. I am watching 2 of my friend's children for the next couple weeks while she goes down to SoCal to pursue treatment for her cancer. They are the same age as two of my kiddos and so this is like one big party for them. I will break the news to them in the next hour that we do have to start school.....

What we're learning: In history we are learning about the epic of Beowulf, Wu Zetian of China, and Medieval Spain. I also just realized that the older children have not done any planning at all for their 4-H presentations. It needs to be 3-5 minutes long with visual aids and they need to be memorized and ready by February, so we need to get on it.

What I'm watching: The kids playing with the baby rabbits. Like all babies, I wish they stayed cute and little like this forever.

What's cooking: This week I am planning to make Beef and Barley Soup in my crockpot. I really, really love my crockpot, especially in the winter.

What I'm buying: I am finishing up my month of teaching about Spanish Expansion and Missions in our co-op this week. I decided to let the younger children try to make 'adobe' bricks with play-dough, so I need to go out and find some of it.

What I'm thankful for: A husband who is good at fixing things and will research how to repair stuff to save us repair-man bills. Thank you, my love.

What I'm creating: Christmas cookies. This Sunday, all the parents in our co-op are having a dinner together and a cookie exchange. So I am trying to decide between making Chocolate Pinwheels or Apricot Crescents. Whadya think?

What I'm praying: We have been so, so blessed this flu season so one in our family has gotten sick! I know it will come someday soon, and I am praying it is not during our time off between Christmas and New Year's.

What I'm planning: Fun things to do during our school break later this month. We are thinking a day up at the snow, maybe a day in San Francisco, a day to the zoo.....

What we did this last weekend: We did some work around the house on Saturday, then had really yummy Indian Spiced Lentils that night. Yesterday after church, Sunday school and our monthly fellowship meal, our family headed to the assisted living center to help with the service there and visit the residents.

What I'm looking forward to: The fun things ahead. Seeing our families around Christmas, another Christmas party at a friends house, caroling, and our annual New Year's Eve party with friends.

A picture to share:

~An outtake from our Annual Family Photo Shoot.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Apples, Snow and Trees

The day after Thanksgiving was a fun one. We headed up into the foothills near us to a place called Apple Hill. This is a really fun area where about 40 different apple farms sell everything and anything apple. It has become a yearly tradition for our family to head up there at least once or twice a year to get our apple fix. And we do have our favorite farms where we get different munchies.

First was Rainbow Orchards and their Apple Donuts.

Next was High Hill and fresh Apple Cider. This stuff tastes just like you are drinking an apple.

Then we went to Boa Vista for Caramel Apples. They even had Apple Wine tasting! Hmmm, it was a little too sweet for me, but they had a good Syrah that I liked.

Of course we had to buy some apples....

All along the way we had seen hints of snow under the trees so we headed up the hill just a little further until we saw this:

 We all jumped out and started to play in the white stuff.

This is what I saw when I got out of the car with my camera.

Sneaky girl. Go get your dad. My excuse is my expensive camera.

It didn't take long for the battle lines to get drawn....

Don't mess with my Sweetie.


Dasher was right in the middle of the fight too.

And if I saw this coming at me out of the corner of my eye, I would cover vital body parts too.

There's nothing like a face full of wet snow.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lego was off into the trees to plan another ambush.

There wasn't much of it, but plenty to have a snow fight.

Then we came back down the hill, driving right by all the U-Pick Tree Farms for $79.99, to Home Depot, where for $24.99 we got ourselves a winner.

Exactly 1 hour later, this was in our living room.

To me, Christmas is for my children, so I let them decorate everything, including the tree.

Now we are looking forward to caroling, hot chocolate, Christmas parties, warm fires and seeing family!