Thursday, December 28, 2017

Rachel at Christmas

I have not taken many pictures at all lately, partly because my kids are so independent that I no longer spend most of my time with them and partly because a certain 10 year old is avoiding my camera. We've had a good Christmas season,  but I don't have a lot of photographic proof. So I'm combining it all into one long Christmas themed post!

Early in December we gathered with church friends to make peppernuts for our church's annual cookie sale. Rachel is not the enthusiastic cook that her sister is, but she couldn't turn down the opportunity to hang out in the kitchen with friends.
The next week we gathered again with our church friends to go caroling. We caroled around the church neighborhood and at a local retirement community and had so much fun! Rachel was not excited about going, but afterward talked about what fun it had been.
Rae has been interesting to watch this Christmas. It is the first year that she no longer believes in Santa and she has asked so many questions about the details of our Christmas. How do you fill the stockings? Who writes the letters from Santa? Who eats the cookies for Santa? Oh, never mind, that would be Dad. Not believing has made her want to be a part of the whole process. For years, we did daily Good Deeds during December, small kindnesses done for others. As a family we decided not to do a Good Deeds list this year. But Rachel eagerly worked her way through an advent calendar full of acts of kindness she received at church. She bought gifts for everyone's stockings. (She gave me chocolate covered cranberries - yum!) She insisted on making gifts for us, firmly insisting that she knew what she wanted to make and that Granny could help her. She spent several afternoons with Granny working on her secret project. Christmas morning, her book loving family opened gifts of handmade bookmarks from Rachel. (Granny supplied pictures of her at work.)
It has been fun to watch Rachel, who is in the thick of eye rolling, moody Tweenhood, work so hard to make Christmas special for others. She is no longer a believer, but most definitely understands how to spread the magic of Christmas!

A few days before Christmas we invited over church friends who were in the midst of a family crisis. The two sets of sisters decorated cookies and giggled and hung out together all day. Rachel loved having company and all four girls enjoyed the day.

Rachel was a reluctant angel in the church Christmas pageant. She was not excited about singing or reading her lines or even her costume. But she did it. It makes me a little sad that my girls' church pageant days are at an end, but I still love watching all the younger kids telling the story of Jesus's birth.
We spent Christmas morning at home. Even if she didn't believe in Santa, Rachel was quite excited about Christmas and woke the house as early as allowed!
Rae has recently developed a passion for jigsaw puzzles (much to my delight!). She has worked her way through all the 500 and 1,000 piece puzzles in our game cabinet, with a little help from her mom. She opened two new puzzles Christmas morning and was determined to complete one that day. By 10:30 AM, it was finished!
We spent Christmas afternoon at Granny and Poppy's, eating far too much food, opening gifts, and hanging out with the Chicago cousins. Rachel's gifts included another puzzle and the game Battleship, which she talked her dad into playing.
We had a lot of fun!

The day after Christmas, Rachel wore her pajamas the entire day and spent her time working a puzzle and reading .
Yesterday we gathered with the other side of the family to celebrate Christmas and enjoy each other's company. We all loved watching the 21 and 14 month old great-granddaughters. They were afraid of all the strange adults, but happy to play with the big girls, much to Rae's delight!

Rachel was pleased with her gifts - books, the game Clue, and another puzzle. Aunt Maribeth had to check out her collection of new stuffed toys.
It's been a good Christmas and we are all enjoying the extra time to hang out together.

Katherine at Christmas

As my kids have gotten older and busier I have taken fewer pictures of them. This makes me a little sad, but I think my girls are relieved. In any case, pictures of our Christmas season are few so I'm combining the whole month into one long here's-what-we-did post.

Early in December, we met with church friends to make peppernuts for our church's annual Christmas cookie sale. We've done this for several years, so Katherine was an old hand at cutting dough.
These tasty little cookies are a LOT of work, but it's always fun to cook with a whole kitchen full of friends.

In the first part of the month we had a Christmas open house for all our neighbors. I was a whole new step for us, but one that excited me. Katherine helped me bake dozens of cookies - one batch a night for a week. We had all sorts of great conversations as we mixed and rolled and iced. And the open house was a rousing success!

Katherine continues to become more and more involved in music. During November, she was practicing music for school orchestra, Middle School Honors Orchestra, the local youth symphony, private violin lessons, and piano lessons, as well as playing in the church bell choir and singing in the church choir! This month there was one crazy week of concerts, including piano and violin recitals on the same night. Katherine played beautifully through it all.
And she has played piano, violin, and ukulele for hours during Christmas break. I'm always happy to hear music playing at home!

A couple of weeks ago, our dear friend Marvis died after a long illness. Four or five years ago when Katherine decided she was no longer sitting with us during church services, she moved to sit with an older couple, Jim and Marvis. Over the years they formed a deep friendship. Marvis was beloved by all the kids at church, but the bond between the two of them was particularly strong. Katherine has grieved deeply for her friend, talking about Marvis and playing out her heart on the piano. She has also been worrying about Jim, making him cards and looking for ways to reach out to him. Grief is always hard, but Marvis's death has been a wonderful reminder of how much Katherine loves and is loved in return.

Katherine decided to make cookies for her teachers at school. She doesn't say a lot about school, but she admitted that she really liked most of her teachers and wanted to do something for them. So, she baked and decorated sugar cookies for them.

Katherine got out of school two days before I did, so she came to my classroom the last afternoon before Christmas break. Both of my aides were gone and I was on my own, so I appreciated the help. And Katherine was terrific help. My students adored her (and asked her to read story after story) and she realized how cute my kiddos are. We made it through a preschool Christmas party together and had a good time.

A few days before Christmas we invited over church friends who were struggling through a family crisis. Katherine helped me bake yet another batch of sugar cookies to decorate with them. The two sets of sisters spent a day decorating and giggling and hanging out together. All four had a great time!
We spent Christmas morning at home, opening gifts and trying them out.
We went to Granny and Poppy's house for lunch and spent the rest of the day hanging out with Aunt Robie and Uncle Brandon and the Chicago cousins. I didn't take many pictures, but we had a lot of fun together.

Yesterday we gathered with the other side of the family to celebrate a belated Christmas and just spend time together. All of us had fun watching the three little great-granddaughters (ages 21 months and 14 months). They wanted nothing at all to do with the many strange adults, but were willing to play with the big girls.
We all had a good laugh over the failed attempts to get a group picture of the littlest girls!

Katherine joined in the ping pong competitions and played a round with Grandpa.
And then she hung out with Grandma for a while.
It's been a good Christmas. And we're all enjoying the long break. Katherine is making homemade chicken and noodles for supper. She just handed me a book that she got this week and has already finished and told me I need to read it because I'll love it. And I will. Because this kid knows what I like.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Rachel Is 10!

It has been a busy week at our house! Rachel turned 10 on Thanksgiving, an event she has anticipated for months. Since having your birthday on a holiday means you have to share the attention, we've celebrated for a whole week.

Last Friday, Rae had a couple of friends over for a birthday sleepover. She was SO excited! The girls ate pizza, made slime, decorated cupcakes, made popcorn, watched a movie, and slept less than the adults might have wished.
Rachel was thrilled with it all, but did take a long nap the next day.
We celebrated Rachel's birthday at home on Thursday morning with presents. Since it was Thanksgiving, there were also parades to watch on TV.
Thanksgiving dinner was spent with a big crowd of relatives (including four other 10 and almost 10 year olds). Rachel was happy to hang out with the cousins and Granny introduced all the kids to the silly and messy fun of Cut the Cake.
Today we celebrated Rachel's birthday with both sets of grandparents. Katherine spent the morning baking and decorating an Oreo cake for Rae.
Then it was time for telling 10 year old humor jokes and opening presents.

Lighting 10 birthday candles was a bigger project than expected, so Uncle Brian stepped in to help.
Happy Birthday!
We finished out the day by going to the movies. Mom even agreed to popcorn, which rarely happens. (Wonder was a great movie!)

I think we are done celebrating this birthday, but we continue to celebrate our Rachel who brings such joy and makes life such a grand adventure.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pumpkin Patch

Rachel and I went to the pumpkin patch with her class today.
I had originally thought that 4th grade seemed a bit old for a pumpkin patch field trip. But then I saw this pumpkin patch.
There were a thousand things to see and do and Rae and her friends were determined to try them all. For a few minutes, at least.

They climbed...
and paddled...
and went down all sorts of interesting slides...

and made a trip through the corn maze.
We took a break from the non-stop activity to ride a wagon out to the actual pumpkin patch.
Rachel chose an all white "Casper" pumpkin to take home.

This particular pumpkin patch grows all of it's own pumpkins, including entire fields of giant varieties!
After lunch, the kids headed back for more play time.

And we made a fourth or fifth trip to the "bouncy pillow", which is one of Rachel's absolute favorite things to do.

Rachel is growing up so fast. I know the days of field trips and pumpkin patches and run-around-crazy kid fun are numbered. I am grateful for today, for beautiful weather and a fun place to play and time spent with my girl.
May she never be too old for the pumpkin patch.

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way