Oh. Christmas!

Here we are, finishing up our first week at Still Water, and I figured it’s about time I do a bit of a Christmas Recap!
First of all, I need to confess that I did a terrible, horrible, no excuse it’s so bad, job of taking pictures of our actual Christmas Celebrations. But I did do a fairly good job of documenting some of the other fun stuff we did while we were with the kids. Here are some highlights:
Franklin Park Conservatory Aglow
Lara, Alexandra and I went early enough that we could (Okay, so that Alexandra could) enjoy the outside park area
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but stayed late enough to enjoy all of the inside sights, like Fairy villages
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and creative gingerbread houses
Camper Gingerbread Camper
and other fun activities.
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Finally it was back out to see the gardens all ‘Aglow”!
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It was a super fun (and quite beautiful) Girls Night Out!
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Friday was our joint Christmas with Lara and Toby’s family, and after the presents were opened, Gary and I took all the girls out for a shopping spree. As part of their Christmas gift they each got $50.00 to spend at the store of their choice (within reason!).
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We hit Target, Old Navy, Barnes and Noble, and finally Blick’s Art Supplies. These kids are really good shoppers, getting the most bang for their buck! It was a fun afternoon, navigating a shopping extravaganza with 5 girls aged 4 through (almost) 16!
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Girls – Happy. Grams and Pops – Exhausted!!
Generally each year we try to do an “all together” day, apart from the actual Christmas celebration. Both Toby and Lara have birthdays in close proximity to the holidays, so we try to combine a fun family activity along with birthday meal out. (I know, we’re crazy!) We’ve done indoor mini-golf, bowling, and trampolining in recent years. This year we decided to go the (pseudo) educational route and took advantage of The Big Explore in downtown Columbus. Many of the city’s excellent museums were free as was public transportation. Couldn’t pass up that Free thing!
Museums
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Bus Stops
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and bus rides (a first for lots of the crowd!).
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We had a great BBQ lunch and even enjoyed a couple minutes of an outdoor fire pit!
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All in all, it was a great day. We ended it with Jeni’s ice cream, who in celebration of the Big Explore was selling their ice cream for $.75/scoop. Now since the usual charge is $4.75/scoop, you can imagine that the lines were long. But Oh.So.Worth.It.
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(Somehow 12 of us had at least two scoops each (some had 3)) and our total bill was $14.00. It was a crazy good way to end our Big City Adventure!)
Games!
Oh, My! The games we played! Racko, Bananagrams, Battleship, Bingo, and any number of card games….
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There were even games to be played at our lunch spot while we waited for our BBQ in Columbus!
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Games, shopping, sightseeing, movies, – we even fit in some ice skating!
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Hugs and love and giggles and memories – another wonderful Christmas is in the books!
You know there are more pictures, right? Well, you can check them out HERE!
(Spoiler alert – there’s one of Gary sitting on Santa’s lap. You better check them out!)

My Introvert Gene is calling

Oh, My! I honestly didn’t believe that I had an introvert bone in my body!! But after a super busy and fun 6 weeks in Waco and then a wonderful two weeks with the rest of the family in Columbus (I promise I’ll share more about that soon!), my recessive introvert gene has risen to the surface and it’s saying things to me like
Alone
Quiet
Still
Breathe
Rest

We’re settling in for our first night’s rest at our January location (see Where Are We Now for more details!) and for the first time in a while we’ll be working alone. Oh, we’ve already met some sweet folks that will be working with us so we’re not ALONE alone, but by and large I’m really looking forward to a lovely, quiet, restful, month.

And since I haven’t even had the time to look through the pictures of our Columbus Christmas to share any of those, I’ll just leave you with a funky photo I took from the plane.

Love those city lights peeking up through the clouds!

Wishing you all the best in the coming year – good health, kind words, deep thoughts, and a fresh experience of God’s Grace!

Catching our breath

Before the next round of beautiful family chaos begins!!

We left Waco yesterday,
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and have Lizzie settled in for her own holiday (without folks).
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Today we’ve been busy packing and getting ready to leave the ol’ girl for almost 2 weeks. Still have a fair bit of that to do, but I figured I’d better get a wee bit of updating done before the next round of grandchildren!

What a great stay we had in Waco with Josiah and family!! Yes, we were super busy with pre-sale house projects, but we (well, me especially) managed to carve out some great grandboy time!
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On our last day I was able to join them in an impromptu visit to the Dallas Zoo!
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Love this shot of the family in the giant nest!
Because it was a last minute plan, Gary had to stay back to collect his tools and get things packed up for moving the RV. I so appreciated him shouldering that load so I could go!
Back on the house front – the shed is complete!
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Even the garden area is put back together. =)
The electric upgrade? Not so much. Everything is running, but that Pandora’s Box on the second floor will have to wait until we come back in February. And my grand painting plan? Nadda. Just still looking at those paint chips. The house will be empty when we return for weekends in February, so I’m hoping we can really make some headway with getting it ready to sell. We’re still on track for selling it to friends (they need to sell their house), so all our plans are moving forward.
We’re so thankful for the work we got done, but more thankful for the time we got to spend with our Waco family. Tomorrow we wake up early to hop on a jet plane and fly to Columbus to celebrate the rest of the holiday season with our Ohio families!
I bet you know what that means! It’s unlikely that there will be much activity in this corner of the internet, so let me take this opportunity to wish you a Christmas filled with hugs and kisses, and a New Year filled with blessing!

Changes

Anyone still there? Did you think I’d go from a post a day to almost nothing? It really wasn’t my intent, but life got pretty busy here and somehow this little blog kept getting put at the bottom of the pile. (Truth be told, it was busy towards the end of November too, but a commitment is a commitment and I was determined to finish strong. And then it seems I fell off the map!)

OK – things are busy here in Waco. We’ve decided to put our sweet Waco house on the market. I know – crazy, right???? There were a lot of factors, but the bottom line was the realization that at much as we love that house, we just aren’t ready to hang up the RV keys and settle in to a non-moving home.
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So our goals for our time in Waco became a bit more pressing. Since this would be our biggest opportunity to finish up the projects we’d started over the last year – like that shed and upgrading the electric service – we knew the clock ticking.
Here’s how we left the shed in the spring –
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As you can see – Gary’s made some great progress –
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Windows and doors in, trim almost completed, and really it’s just that upper access door to the ‘attic’ that will make it complete. He still needs to fix the garden area (the part in the front that looks like it could be a deck), but it’s really coming along nicely!
With the shed nearing completion, he moved to the electric upgrade.
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Ooooo – so fancy!! When it came time to install the new smoke detectors on the second floor, he ran into an unexpected glitch. One that will require a bit more work. And the first step of that “bit more work” involved being able to actually GET to the wiring in the attic. And that required getting all of the insulation out of the attic. So…..
Gary worked in the attic, feeding insulation down the access door
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while I smooshed it into giant contractor bags.
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Yes, I wore a mask and gloves. Gary even had a dust mask on!
It was an all day event, but by the end of the day –
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the attic was empty of insulation and deck was full of bags to drop down into the trailer to take to the dump!
(Have I ever mentioned that there’s this sweet second floor deck off one of the bedrooms. Check out this birds-eye view of the backyard- Untitled
Nice, right?)
This morning it was off to the landfill for us!
(Some unknown person dropped off a box spring and a recliner in the alley behind the house last week. Although it’s pretty rude to do that, the box spring was helpful in securing our jumbo bags. The recliner will have to wait until the next trip.)
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You know you’re doing house projects when the guy at the landfill recognizes you and offers to help you unload. Or when you think taking a picture of “The View from The Landfill” might be interesting.
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So much trash in this world!

My plan was to get the upstairs painted and all sparkly before we leave next week, but between the electric glitch (making a general mess of the second floor), Christmas sewing, being Gary’s helper, and baby holding (hey, that’s my job too!)
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I’ve pretty much made lots of plans and picked up paint chips.

But while the SAD news is that we’re selling the house, the GLAD news is that it looks like we’ll be selling it to a sweet family that we’ve been friends with since we’ve been coming to Waco! It’s just at a handshake stage at the moment, but we’re excited about the possibility! Everything still needs to be done, but if nothing else, maybe she can help me pick out those darn paint colors!

We’re going to miss this place, but if things go as I hope they do, we might just be able to enjoy a couple more nights like this in the future!
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Ahhhh……..

Sabbath Rest – O Come, O Come Emmanuel

An ancient advent hymn (12th century), translated in 1851, O Come, O Come Emmanuel has long been a favorite Christmas hymn of mine.  Here are ALL the verses, and an instrumental rendition by The Piano Guys.

1 O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

2 O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go. Refrain

3 O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain

4 O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave. Refrain

5 O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death’s abode. Refrain

6 O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light. Refrain

7 O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace. Refrain

Seeing the country……Serving our Lord!