The year has flown by. I can’t believe it’s time to write another Christmas letter year in review. We are still in Virginia. Feb. 1 will be 3 years here and we fully expect to be moving on this Summer. No news yet on where those orders will take us. The Air Force likes to keep us guessing. We have certainly been blessed with a wonderful network of friends here in Hampton Roads and we will leave a part of our hearts here.
Here’s what we were up to this year:
We had unseasonably warm weather at the beginning of the year and did a lot of playing outside in January and February.
Syd learned to inline skate and soon realized she could use Boomer for extra power.
We spent time with our best little friends…
In Feb. we visited Wichita.
Brenna turned 5 and had a gymnastics party
She was also Baa Baa Black Sheep on Nursery Rhyme Day at school.
Daddy was busy at work but always found time to play with us!
In the Spring, I (Jill) turned 37!! Eek!
We had a lovely Easter with friends.
The girls played Spring Soccer.
And I played co-ed church league softball
(with me is Alex, our favorite babysitter!)
There were plenty of fun goings-on at school like cowboy day
And May the 4th be with you day
Summer came before you know it, and it was time for things like swimming lessons
A visit from good friends (the Walkers)
Lots of this:
A gymnastics show
And Syd’s Phenomenal Phoenix birthday party
Cory and I celebrated our 10th anniversary in June and decided to take the girls on a great vacation. We took a Disney Cruise from New York to the Bahamas, with one day at Castaway Cay and one day in Orlando at Disney World. It was a 7 night cruise and we had an absolute blast.
Cory took a trip to Minnesota to see his parents shortly after we got back from the cruise and we got ready for the girls to start school. Sydney began 1st grade and Brenna was excited for Kindergarten
And Gigi came to visit for 2 weeks!
I really enjoy volunteering at the girls’ school and am also involved in our MOPS group at a church here in town.
Our family is involved in a church plant that serves a neighborhood and local university in Newport News. I have been working with the children’s ministry and it has been fun being involved from the ground up.
Before we knew it, it was Thanksgiving. We celebrated with great friends.
Cory had a busy but nice year working for Air Combat Command staff. He has really enjoyed his time here. His childhood friend Mike visited us in October and they had a fun weekend in DC visiting some museums and taking in a Vikings/Redskins game.
I’m working on my children’s book and hope to publish it one of these days.
This will not be my author photo on the jacket:
The girls’ school participated in our local holiday parade this year.
And that about wraps up our year in pictures.
If you made it this far, we’d like to wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. May you know the love of Christ, the meaning of Christmas, and may that love transform your life and thus, the world.
Jill, Cory, Sydney and Brenna (and Boomer too.)
Sunday! I made it a whole week straight, blogging.
We went to church this morning. Our family is involved in a church plant in Newport News that ministers to the students of a local university and the neighborhood surrounding it. I lead the children’s ministry. It has been good getting back into my old career and fun to start from the ground up.
When I arrived this morning, some of the kids had already been there for a while. Some of their parents arrive early to help set up or serve on the hospitality team. All my bins and things are delivered to our classroom, and the kids know they are welcome to play before the service. Look what they had built with our awesome Citibloks and lots of Hotwheels!
I said it looked like DC traffic! We left it up to be admired until breakdown time after church.
We in Catalyst Kids spent our lesson time learning about how it is better to give than to receive. Did you know Jesus made a point of telling people that? See Acts 20:35. We talked about how the Wise Guys were the first ones to give gifts to Jesus, the real Star of Christmas. And the lesson involved a water balloon and a fake water balloon. And of course, I forgot to have my helper take pictures during the lesson. It was a slightly longer service than usual in Big Church, so we had time at the end to relax and hang out.
I made a super quick grocery run and we came home for lunch. EJ came over and ate with us and stayed the afternoon to play. Poor guy has about 20 relatives visiting for the funeral and I think he is done with everything and just wants some normalcy. We were glad to have him. I picked up the house while the kids played, cleaned the kitchen and put dinner in the crockpot (chicken, potatoes, carrots and some french herb packet. It was yummy!)
Then we all went outside so I could bag up all the leaves that I had raked in the backyard yesterday. Luckily, no wind overnight.
All in all, I had 16 bags (including yesterday’s from the front yard.) That’s a lot of leaves, people! I hope that’s my last major raking job for this year. We have very few leaves left on our trees and the same goes for our neighbors.
The weather was lovely (upper 60s) and the kids and Boomer all had a grand time playing hide and seek, building a (fake) campfire and a tent out of chairs and blankets.
Every once in a while, someone would call over for EJ and he was always happy to see the new arrivals, but 5 minutes later, he’d come running back to us. What a great opportunity to give! Our Sunday lesson in practice — amen.
It has been a lovely week, ya’ll. Don’t get used to this, but do look for our Christmas Letter (year in review) to be posted soon. The cards should go out this week! Merry Christmas!
It’s of Brenna and our friend EJ from next door. Many of you have prayed for him and his family this week and I hope you continue to do so. It’s hard to lose your dad anytime, but especially when you’re 7.
Sydney couldn’t go to sleep last night. She was crying and worrying about me dying. I had been waiting for that shoe to drop ever since we found out about our neighbor. My girl can seem pretty oblivious sometimes, but she’s pretty sensitive.
Syd and Brenna spent the morning with Cory at the Smithfield Christmas parade. I had a church meeting to go to — our church plant, which launched in August, is already needing to go to 2 services. That’s a pretty awesome “problem” to have, huh? Cory and the girls visited a few Smithfield shops to look at Christmas decorations, and met a friendly dog named Rudolph and his cat siblings at an art gallery. They had lunch and dessert at an ice cream parlor and skipped most of the parade in favor of playing in a sandy alley.
They came home in time to play outside with EJ and Boomer in the beautiful weather we were having, while I raked and bagged the front yard and raked the back. I ran out of energy and daylight at the 3 hour mark.
We had baths, leftovers for dinner and an extra long reading time before tucking the girls in. I’m in the middle of reviewing the 3rd week of our Stars of Christmas curriculum for tomorrow. And hoping to get to bed early myself. Good night to you!
Our day started out with a mini-breakdown over why we couldn’t take paper dragons to school and got better from there.
Kim, Emily and Bella came over after we all dropped off the biggest girls at school.
She brought me a chocolate peppermint shake from Chick-Fil-A, which I had to camouflage as such (which gave us both the giggles):
We had a fun visit and the girls made a hiding place under the coffee table we were using to block Emily from the Christmas tree. Emily was not having it.
Emily and Kim went home for a nap. Bella stayed to play. We had lunch and I took them to Kindergarten. Then I ran to Macy’s for a little Christmas party shopping for Cory. What do we think?
He has not approved nor disapproved as of yet.
I also ran to the Dollar Tree for more Gingerbread House supplies.
Boomer and I took a nice walk.
When we got back, I was once again reminded that I need to rake. Again.
At 2:30, I read to the 1st grade, then played a little Pictionary, and Head’s Up 7-Up while Mrs. E took a small group out to work in the hall. Here are Syd and Jonah packing up to go home after that…
We headed home to see what we could do with our dilapidated Gingerbread house that had been drying since yesterday. I skipped the gross icing and opted for Dollar Tree vanilla, which was much easier to spread.
The girls got the candy ready, eating as they did so.
The candy in the glass bowls was all that came with the kit. BOOOO!
They went to work:
Much better than the one on the box, in our opinions!
After that, they watched a Christmas movie on Netflix, while I relaxed and then made some dinner. Daddy was home in time to eat with us!
And we had a new Choose Your Own Adventure “Dragon Day” book to read at bedtime, then Syd read an Elephant and Piggie book. We are all tuckered out! Hope you had a great day too!
If you stop by, leave a comment so I know you were here!
It was a MOPS day and my turn to hang out with these cuties…
As you can see, we had our hands full, but it was a great day. Everyone was happy!
I had a little over an hour between when I got home from MOPS and when I needed to be a school to read to Brenna’s class. I had some lunch and watched DVRed X Factor. Still a Carly Rose Sonenclar fan, big time. That girl’s voice is a.maz.ing.
Then I went to Kindergarten. A few of the afternoon childcare kids joined us for a reading of The Best Christmas Pageant ever. Did you know it is now a picture book? They did a really good job with it.
After school, we went to work on our gingerbread house kit. They make it look so easy and cute on the box, but here is what happened.
This sucker better be standing in a rock-solid manner tomorrow.
Brenna gave up after about 5 minutes and chased Boomer around in the backyard with pool noodles. Don’t worry. She can’t catch him. And he loves the attention.
Next it was time for another round of SPELL THAT WORD (the only and best game show played while soaking in the bathtub.)
All done and all clean!
We had pizza for dinner. And look who was home!
I grossed him out by having some diced tomatoes as a side with my pizza.
Then we had the ever-lovely homework to do. Sydney has taken to doing her math under the bed. I don’t know why, but I don’t care because she does her work about 3 times faster under there, on average. Less distraction, maybe?
Here’s a little video of Brenna reading for your viewing pleasure.
Have I mentioned Boomer loves attention? Anytime you sit on the floor, he takes that as an indication that you plan on petting him. Continually. And without fail. Or there will be consequences.
The end. Okay, that only feels like my whole day, sometimes… here’s what else we did.
We started out our day with looking for Speedy Sparkles, who we found napping in a carriage in the playroom.
Then there was a little playing… (how cute Syd is in her uniform never gets old. And isn’t Brenna looking so much older lately?)
We took Syd to school and Brenna and I and her friend Susie who was hanging out with us this morning, went to the school assembly which was Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham in LATIN. Man, I love our school!
There was a little singing first.
Then we had some lunch.
and I took them to school and dropped off our carpet cleaner at the repair shop
Then I went back to the dentist to get molds made for my mouth guard. That wasn’t fun, but it was only a half an hour… so… I lived.
Next, I worked on downloading this week’s curriculum for the Stars of Christmas lessons that we are doing this month at Catalyst Church. I am really enjoying it and so are the kids…
And then I uploaded the photos for this post. Because this way I can actually hang out with the hubs tonight. He’s been working looooong days and hopefully he’ll be home at a regular time tonight. Joy to you and yours!
I’m baaa–aaack! Sadly, with no picture of myself taking Syd to school (carline) in my pajamas. Too bad for you. It was a cleaning day. It was time. Things had been neglected for a while and everything was starting to drive me crazy. Sometimes you just gotta put on some praise music and CLEAN.
I am having a love affair with this Mrs. Meyer’s Countertop Spray (seen here with Beyonce.) It smells like Basil — so yummy!
Here is half of my kitchen, cleaner than it’s been in quite some time:
I even mopped the floors!
I recommend putting the reason for the dirty floors in the backyard while you take care of the mopping.
In my case, it works. In your case, you might have CPS called on you, so be wise. Brenna was upstairs doing PBS kids and Starfall on the computer during this time. Boomer was giving me the full-on guilt.
Eventually I fed the child and took her to Kindergarten.
Here are the cute child and clean floors. And still-mad Boomer.
Did I mention it was like 74 degrees here today? Awesome. I had to wear flip flops. In December.
Note to self: get pedicure and vacuum van.
Then, sadly, I had to go to the dentist and get my teeth cleaned. The verdict: no cavities. But I am grinding my teeth in my sleep and have to get a thing to sleep with that will help me stop doing that. Or at least protect my teeth while I keep doing it.
I didn’t take my camera into the dentist. I think they might frown on that. But here is a picture of their sign — these Virginians are so witty with their signs.
Should I admit here that I went to Target again today because yesterday I forgot to get napkins and clorox wipes? Sigh. After that, it was 2 p.m. and I hadn’t even had lunch yet. So I got myself some yummy chipotle and went home to catch up on part of my DVRed The Voice.
Here’s a pic to show our Christmas tree and Boomer with his entertainment — watching the backyard through the window. From inside. That’s all the backyard means to him.
Then I took Boomer with me to get the girls in hopes that I could win him over again. It worked.
It was such a pretty day!
Someone was a little tired after Kindergarten.
But not too tired to play with friends. When we passed by Ms. Kim’s house, Maddie and Bella were out playing so we stopped by for a while.
Kim and I checked out the big girls’ report cards that came home today. Here’s Syd’s! We are proud of her!
S is for satisfactory. E for excellent and some of the subjects are graded.
We played for about an hour and then headed back home (around the corner.) When we pulled into our driveway, our little neighbor boy EJ came walking over. We rolled down the window and he said, “I have some bad news. My dad has died.” Oh my heart! Yesterday on his 7th birthday, EJ’s dad died. He had complications from surgery earlier last week. Besides EJ, they also have a 5th grade daughter. They are believers and know where their dad/husband is now, whole and well. But I can’t imagine the sadness that must fill their hearts right now. I’m not gonna lie, it was a pretty devastating thing to hear coming out of the mouth of a little boy the same age as my own kid. Hug your babies and your spouses, people. We are not promised tomorrow.
We had dinner and did homework and the kids went to bed by 7:30. Praying for a peaceful night’s sleep for the whole neighborhood. Your prayers for my neighbors are appreciated!
Once again, I have been guilted into participating in my friends’ yearly WITL. It’s probably a good thing, since I’ve been absolutely horrible about blogging of late. This is a recurring theme with me. But I digress…
Ahem. This morning, I got up, went downstairs, kissed the hubby and let the dog out. Then it was the normal lunch/snack packing (tough today as I had not been to the grocery store in a while.) prodding children to get dressed, rushing out the door to be on time for school…
Brenna was doing a little fashion sketching, which is her newest thing…
Syd and her new dragon book:
The girls had some cereal and we took Syd to school. Then Brenna and I came back home and walked Boomer. After that, Brenna charged me $1 to come to her “animal habitat museum”.
Here is the phone I had to use to hear about the museum.
Boomer got in for free: lucky dog.
Then B and I had to do a few errands. We went to the carwash first.
Someone liked the rainbow soap.
My car is about to turn over 60,000 miles. I’ve had it for 6 years as of October. That’s pretty good, right? It’s been a great vehicle.
Then we headed to the grocery store. No time for a commissary run today, unfortch.
Then Brenna ate lunch in the car while I drove home, left the car running, threw the cold stuff I had purchased into the fridge and freezer, called my cell phone to locate it somewhere within the house, etc.! UGH! I am so bad at keeping track of that thing. And then I took Brenna and Bella to school.
After that, I met the children’s leader from Next Level Church at Chick Fil A to plan the children’s portion of Catalyst Church and Next Level’s joint Christmas service on the 23rd. As it turned out, she was awesome and there wasn’t much to plan, as she had figured most of it out already. Score! Nice to meet her and chat.
Here is on the way to Chick Fil A:
It took me almost a whole year to get my bearings in Virginia because seriously, you can’t find a landmark in the distance to save your life. All you can see is trees!
And here’s a photo for you, Tanya: Your old stomping grounds! (She used to work here.)
Chick Fil A: I had the chicken salad sandwich for the first time and YUM.
Then I did a little shopping for the 1st grade Christmas party craft
And ran to Target for a few things… that I cannot divulge here, as it involved Christmas.
It was a beautiful day here today so we decided to take the girls to the playground.
This is our favorite playground. IT’s called Fort Fun.
Maddie and Bella
Syd and Brenna:
Emily Grace and me!
Fun Fact: Last year, Kim was very, very pregnant with this girl when I did my week in the life. Emily will be one year old next month! She likes the swing!
Small victory of the day: I was so proud of Syd. She took her dragon to the playground and it soon attracted a small crowd of little boys. She actually shared the dragon and they all took turns flying it around. Those of you who knew her in her earlier days will understand how big of a deal that was.
Flying the dragon from the top of the tower:
This is getting long. Are you bored yet? Back at home, we had Turkey Breast from the crockpot, sweet and sour mandarin orange salad and sour cream and chive potatoes from a box.
My dining companions (don’t they look pleased to be photographed?)
We hung our little advent book on the tree for the night. (Joseph)
Then it was homework time:
Daddy got home just in time to tuck them in. He’s got a super busy week of work. Here’s a bonus pic of him putting together Syd’s flying dragon from last night…
And then fishing it down from the shelf in the foyer a couple of minutes after he was finished putting it together.
And that, my friends, was our first post for A Week in the Life. Stay tuned! And I will try not to be so boring and long-winded the rest of the week. Maybe.
I am Sydney. I’m 7. I like what I like.
I don’t like plastic horses whose heads are always turned to the side. How are they supposed to see where they’re going? And their necks probably hurt. Then I can’t stop thinking about that.
I don’t like fashion dolls in fancy dresses. Where are they going in all these dresses? And why do they look the same? I don’t like to look the same as other people. If someone has the same shirt I do, I don’t want to wear it anymore.
I wear uniforms at school. That is okay because it’s a rule. I like rules, unless I don’t.
I like playing soccer. Until the ball hits me or too many people are yelling on the sidelines and then I am just done.
I don’t like baby dolls with their staring eyes and how they just lay there and look dead. Real babies are different. I like them. Except when they’re being loud. Or stinky.
I don’t like playing by myself. But I don’t like people telling me how to play. Those two things don’t go together. If I play with my friend, she always has her own ideas. And her ideas aren’t mine. This means trouble sometimes.
Sometimes I wake up and then I can’t go back to sleep. For a loooong time. The nights are sometimes super long. I don’t like long nights.
I do like unicorns and dragons and flying ponies and a bird called a phoenix. It is a fire bird and lives for a long time before it catches on fire and burns up. Then it comes to life again as a baby phoenix.
It’s hard to find phoenix toys. So sometimes I make my own.
I am a great artist. The best! I can make any kind of paper toy I want to. I can make the pony necks straight and their wings wide and their horns curved like seashells. I can choose my own colors and make a whole rainbow world of creatures.
I have an amazing memory. I remember everything I hear IF I’m interested in it. If not, then not so much. If not, then I probably never heard it in the first place. This can sometimes cause trouble at school.
I do like teachers who care about why I’m upset. It makes me feel like I’m not alone. And my problems are not so big as I think they are.
When I am tired or hungry or sad, that one thing fills me up. It is all I can think about. It spins in my head like a merry-go round going so fast, I can’t get off.
I have no patience for cranky people, loud noises (fire alarm bell, I’m looking at you!) or long car trips.
When I am upset, it seems like the end of the world.
When I am ready, I take a deep breath.
I wait a little longer.
I sit still.
I try again.
I change my attitude.
I try a bite.
I am a friend.
I figure it out.
I find a way to do it my way.
Everyday I’m changing. But I know I will always be Sydney, who likes what she likes. There is nobody quite like me.
And I do like that.
So we’re on the vulnerable to move list, as you know. That just means the powers that be (and you, Lord) are pondering where to put us, ignoring our wish list and keeping us in the dark until the last possible moment. We don’t know where we might go. Unless you mean anywhere. While we have absolutely loved Virginia, the state never appeared on any of our previous wish lists and was just as big a surprise to us as we have been to Virginia. HA!
It’s time now to wonder what the future holds. Will we head back home? Will we try something new? Will we spend a few years riding the metro to our children’s hearts content?… who knows? Only you, the one who created us and has your own plans and purposes. While it is sometimes fun to dream and plan, we know that Your plans are not always ours. We have never been disappointed when we have shown up some place you led us to. We have always found friends to support us, schools to teach us, communities to embrace us. We have not had a problem blooming anywhere yet. I hear it’s hard to bloom in North Dakota, though, Lord, so please keep that in mind. Also, you know my affinity for Target and how our tiny blossoms need a school that gets it. But I digress…
Than we would like to request living near some of these people:
Of course, those are in no particular order, Lord, and do not include pictures of those who would physically harm me for putting their pictures on the internet.