Friday, December 31, 2010

Winter Fun!

We have had a pretty exciting week around here!  Tuesday we attended the Winterhawks game, courtesy of the Harrison Family.  It was a great night and we were so grateful for the opportunity to get out and do something different.  Adam, Ben, and Julia, had a wonderful time with their friends.  I had fun watching them laugh and smile.  I can't explain it, but when my kids are happy these days, all is right with the world.  It warms my heart!  Thank you Tom, Jo Ann, and Lynsey!  We are grateful for your tremendous generosity in providing this opportunity for us.  It was so much fun!

I love this shot...we couldn't get anyone to cooperate!  My favorite is watching Jo Ann's son-in-law-to-be giving her rabbit ears.  He is one brave soul!

The boys' encounter with the "Rosebuds" -- Winterhawk cheerleaders/dancers
I don't think my boys know quite what to do with themselves! 


The girls chilling out, guzzling down the soda. 

After the game I headed home with my very packed van full of kids.  As we neared home it started to snow.  By the time we arrived at the house we already had a couple of inches accumulated on the ground.  It was midnight, but the kids were wired from all the fun and sugar that had during the evening.  The boys asked if they could go out and play in it.  Why not?  So, the boys headed outside and made snowmen and ran laps around the house.  Crazy kind of fun!

The next morning we had a great accumulation of really wet snow.  All the kids dashed outside after breakfast to play.  They had received toboggans last year for Christmas and this was the first chance they had to use them.  They were a huge hit and they worked great!  Thanks Grandpa and Grandma :)

On your mark!

Get set!

Go!

Sophie isn't quite so aggressive.  She finds it more fun to just sit in the sled.

I hate it when that happens to my eyelashes...

Hurley acquires his target....
(This dog is insane in the snow!)

Target destroyed! 

As much fun as the kids are having, the snow makes me a bit nervous.  The power went out last night just as my mom was starting to warm up some soup.  I am reluctant to hook up the generator -- another first that makes me nervous.  We muddled through with a camp burner and LOTS of candles.  The downside was that they were all scented jar candles.  By the end of the evening the house smelled horrible.  Something between bad cologne and a Hallmark store.  Ick.  We had a nice time sitting in front of the fire and visiting, though. Kind of quiet and relaxing (or boring...if you ask my kids). I managed to get the kids all settled in sleeping bags in front of the fire just as the power came back on.  Never fails! 

Tonight there is still snow on the ground and it is supposed to get really cold.  I was proud of myself.  I drained the water lines to barn this time without a hitch and got all the animals settled so they won't be miserable.  I managed to get everything buttoned up in less than 15 minutes this time.  Woo-hoo! Last time it took me two hours.  Ahhh...progress....

My house with Christmas lights for the first time ever. 
Thanks, Dad!

We are looking forward to spending New Year's Eve with family and friends this year.  2010 was challenging and, at times, devastating for us, but at the same time we would be remiss if we didn't admit that we have seen more blessings and been shown more love than we can ever remember.  God is good.  We can't deny that.

Thank you all for blessing us! 
With love and gratitude...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!


O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Loving this Christmas carol more than ever this year!  I am weary, but I do rejoice.  A new and glorious morn, indeed!
Merry Christmas from our home to yours --
With love and gratitude....

The Griffiths


Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Busy Week

This last week has been a stretch, but in the end it was quite fun.  Gifts to buy, parties to attend, Christmas programs, winter break, cookie baking, oh my!  We crammed this week full of activities.  I must admit I have stayed up much too late in the last ten days -- this one being no exception.  I am tired and so are the kids, but I wouldn't have changed a thing.  We are blessed to celebrate this wonderful season!

Not much to report.  I have been so occupied with all the activities to ponder anything too deeply.  That will probably come after the holidays are over and I can breathe again.  I have, however, been reminded constantly of God's abundant blessings in my life.  I am so grateful for our wonderful friends and family.  I am encouraged this season by all those that surround us that are loving us and cheering us on this Christmas.  Thank you all!

Some pictures of what made us smile this week.....

 An exciting new pet.  There is a good story here...I'll post about it later :)


A quiet Sunday with Amy and Emma making cookies

Adam bobbing for candy canes at his class party

 Julia sprinting during her stocking relay!

My sweet girl is all smiles at her Christmas performance

Uncle Tim showing us how to toss pizza dough. 

 The table set for 12 kids to frost cookies.  Nice and tidy.


Cookies waiting for frosting....


Maiya and Elizabeth dig in.


Julia and Macie having fun


All 12 kids in total motion!  Three moms trying to keep up :)
Not so tidy anymore!


Aerosol frosting...what could be better?


Mmmmm.....


Can we say sugar high?


Wilson sampling his work


Just makes you want to dig in.....Mmmm...mmmm....good!


A surprise visit from Santa! 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Milestones

This weekend was Christmas tree weekend.  I was anxious about how the tree hunt and decorating might go.  Marc loved Christmas and loved nothing more than finding the perfect (enormous) tree and decorating it.  He was Clark Griswold in real life.  So, as the weekend approached I was apprehensive about our emotions and more than that...the logistics of finding, setting up, and decorating the tree.

Saturday was beautiful.  We joined John and Sheila and their crew at our favorite Christmas tree farm.  I found the perfect tree in about two minutes; however, my children are genetically related to their father, and it took them a good half hour to find something suitable in their eyes.  John and Sheila were patient as my boys took on Marc's role of cutting the tree.  They are doing their best to be the men of the house.  They  took turns using the saw to cut it down.  A half hour later, we were able to shout "timber" in unison.  We found John and Sheila's tree in about a nano-second and then headed to our house for lunch.  After lunch, John and Sheila were kind enough to heave the tree into my living room and set it up in the stand.  I am so blessed by good friends!  I could have never done this on my own!  We would have had to settle for a much, much smaller tree if I had been on my own.  Having a large tree has always been a family tradition for us and the kids were very concerned that we would no longer be able to maintain the tradition without Dad.

Sunday we began the process of untwining and decorating the tree.  The mood was subdued for most of the morning.  There were a few delighted moments as they discovered favorite decorations and, of course, when we finally lit the tree the first time; however, on the whole, the day was pretty serious.  I felt that we were all going through the motions.  We knew what we had to do, but our heart wasn't in it.  It wasn't unpleasant, but it certainly wasn't the hyper, crazy fun that we have enjoyed in years past.  In my heart I knew that this would likely happen, but the reality really of it all struck me as the day progressed.

By bedtime we were all a wreck.  The kids had held it together as much as they could, but couldn't maintain any longer.  There were lots of tears, arguing, and tantrums.  The boys admitted that they weren't really looking forward to much about Christmas this year.  For them it's something to get through and it just isn't the same.

My inclination as their mom is to fix it for them.  I tried to rack my brain for things that would make this season, this Christmas, something positive and fun.  I even asked them what would make it better.  I was met with incredulous stares.  I knew the answer myself and felt foolish for even uttering the words.  I should know better.  Nothing can fix this.  There is no gift, no distraction,  that can make this Christmas as joyful as those past.  And, that's okay.  Tis the season for grieving.  I'm not trying to be clever there, it's just the truth.  We are in the grieving process and this year is likely to hold more tears and disappointment.  It's our first Christmas without Marc.  It's going to be hard.

The good news is I am confident that this grief will lead to something positive.  As I sit here in my office I am looking at the nativity scene on the piano.  That first Christmas gave us all hope.  The birth of a baby, that would grow to be a man, that would die for all of us to have life eternal.  Now there is something to think on!  So, as I sit here moping, I am reminded of all of God has done for us.  As hard as this time is for us, He gave us the most amazing gift: Hope.  And, maybe, that's how God will see us through this Christmas.  Maybe I don't have to think about how to fix any of this for kids...or myself.  Maybe...just maybe...a baby in manger is enough. 


We found it...finally!

All the kids working hard to cut down the tree...

Sophia helps John trim up the stump...

Martin making the job easier :)  What a good sport, John!

Sheila!  You are a tree hugger!
John and Sheila helping me get the monster in the stand.

The untwining process.  Yikes!
My big helper!

Finished!

With love and gratitude....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kindling

I came home today to a cold, damp house.  Given how much it had rained today and the chilly temperatures, I wasn't surprised.  It was the kind of dampness that the furnace wasn't going to lift.  Only a big fire in the fireplace was going to warm us up.  I went to the patio to discover the stack of wood low and the kindling box empty.  Panic set in.  The wood was easy.  I just had to bring some wheelbarrow loads over from the wood pile.  The kindling was a different story. 

This summer and fall the kids and I had been diligent about picking up the small branches and sticks in our forest.  The idea was that we want to keep up the area beneath the trees -- it looks so lovely since our big work party this past spring.  The bonus was that the small branches make great kindling for fires.  Over the months we accumulated quite a nice pile of branches, dried and stacked in the shed.  I had hoped that the pile would last us through the winter.  Not so much.  We burned through them pretty fast, especially last week with the freezing weather.  No more easy fire starter at my fingertips.  Nope.  I was actually going to have to...gulp...get out the axe and chop some wood into kindling.  Ugh.

Sophia and I tromped out to the wood shed in the pouring rain.  I surveyed the pile and found a piece of cedar.  Kindling had always been Marc's job, but I knew enough from watching him that cedar starts great fires and it's fairly easy to split.  Being a novice, I decided to start there.  Well, it's been a few years since I have slung an axe.  My first few attempts were pathetic.  Sophia was quick to tell me that I wasn't very good at it...and that she was cold...and that hot chocolate would taste really good....and that Daddy never did it that way.  So noted. Thanks.  I set my jaw and tried again...and again...and again.  Finally after about fifteen minutes I had a respectable pile of kindling.  I was drenched and filthy, but I was done and had managed to keep all my fingers.  Hooray!

We headed back inside and we lit a huge fire.  I have been admiring it all evening.  It seems silly, but stuff like this encourages me to no end.  No, it's not fun to face a chore that I'm not good at, but it sure feels great to push forward and get it done.  I'm not good at a lot of things.  I'm having to learn a lot of things way outside my comfort zone, but that's what God has put before me.  I may not be good at these things, but I'm learning. Every single day I have been met with something new and God has provided for me brilliantly.  Whether it's friends to help with financial advice, the ability to figure out how to fix a toilet,  or the the simple determination to pick up an axe and embarrass myself in front of a five year old.  Whatever the days have brought, He has been faithful.  I am so blessed.

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
Matthew 6:26