Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflecting on Seventeen Years

1992 - 1993

So young. Having fun living in our tiny loft in an old pencil factory on the north side of Chicago, but starting to recognize God calling us to grow up.

1993 - 1994

A new adventure. Minneapolis. {Brrr!} Our first house.

1994 - 1995

First time parents... to a Siberian Husky puppy. Our first renovation project.

1995 - 1996

The best thing we ever did for our marriage -- both of us attend Bible Study Fellowship. The Word comes alive.

1996 - 1997

Baby bug hits. Move to our third Midwestern state.* Take the trip of a lifetime to Holland and Poland, because we might never get that opportunity again.

1997 - 1998

And Baby Anna makes three! But the baby bug persists.

1998 - 1999

Take our spiritual walk to the next level -- serving God -- we are both called to be BSF Children's Leaders. Baby Ryno makes four!

1999 - 2000

The year of paint and caulk.

2000 - 2001

Move to the Blue House. Baby bug hits again, but concerns about Ryno are strong.

2001 - 2002

Autism. Pregnancy. Welcome to our world, Baby Grace! In-home therapy begins. Welcome back to our world, Ryne!

2002 - 2003

Sacrifice and trust. Everyone thinks we're crazy as we move to Chicago to further help Ryne.

2003 - 2004

Confirmation! Ryne thrives, and God answers prayer in BIG ways!

2004 - 2005

The most difficult year. Marc moves back to the Blue House, commutes to Chicago on the weekends for six months. My mom and Marc's dad die two weeks apart. Life was a blur, but God's grace was more than sufficient.

2005 - 2006

{Exhale} Life starts to seem normal.

2006 - 2007

While taking a romantic walk on the beach, we decide to become homeschoolers.

2007 - 2008

Marc is out of work for four months, but after what we've been through, trusting God for this seems pretty easy.

2008 - 2009

How time flies! Life is crazy busy, but it's fun. We're not so young anymore, but our love is as strong as ever.

Happy Anniversary to us!

* I'm guessing in this age of stat counters, many of you know what state we live in. I still prefer to keep it mostly off this blog, along with our last name. : )

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rise, Come and See the King

I hope you all had a blessed Christmas! We had a wonderful day all snug in the blue house. My dad is in town, so the kids have been having fun with Grandpa. At the last minute we were able to invite the 'S' family over for dinner since the weather conditions were too bad for them to travel to their planned celebration. The kids had a ball, the grown-ups enjoyed chatting, and everyone joined in singing Happy Birthday to Marc and Jesus.

And now for the final video from our church Christmas program. Hopefully I'm not overdoing it with the videos, but I have several family members that visit the blog and like to see what the kids are doing. This video really gives a good glimpse into the life of our church. It is a small church, but because of our size we are a pretty close group. The Christmas program is not very flashy or choreographed, but it always seems to put me in the Christmas spirit -- the real Christmas spirit. And I just love the song the kids sang this year -- a traditional Polish carol called Rise, Come and See the King.

Grace is in the front row with the black dress, Ryne is in the middle (third from the left, red sweater) and Anna is mostly blocked by Ryne throughout the song. But this would be a good time to thank my brother-in-law, Dave, who manned two video cameras the whole night while I helped direct kids. He did a great job, and I wouldn't have survived the night without him since Marc was home sick.

Again, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Angels We Have Heard on High

Yesterday I was pouting that we were just getting rain instead of snow, but I guess I should have checked the forecast. It will definitely be a white Christmas. Sadly, our church even had to cancel the Christmas Eve service tonight. So I have a moment to post the third video from the Christmas program.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, I hope you've gained an appreciation for how special a kid Ryne is. He may have his challenges and quirks, but he brings joy to so many people. And it was such a joy to watch him perform. I laughed, cried, and sat in wonder. And prayed a quick "thank you" to God.

Here are a few things to notice as you watch the video:

  • His enthusiasm as he leaps into place at the piano.
  • Serious preparation -- he cracks his knuckles before he starts playing!
  • Some annoying woman whispering instructions at him. Me? Why would you think that?
  • Unbelievable -- For the first half of the piece, he plays perfectly while making faces at his little sister sitting in the front row!
  • A job well done. I won't spoil it, but clearly he enjoyed himself.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Holy Night

In the second video of the Christmas program series, Anna plays O Holy Night. I'm so proud of her determination with this piece. When she started with our new piano teacher last February, she could only play simple songs, one hand at a time. I don't play the piano, so I'm probably not the best judge, but I think she has progressed pretty quickly since then. It has been hard for her to find the time to practice this fall because of her swim schedule and a challenging year at school, and twice she even asked if she could quit. We were both a little worried when she still couldn't get through the second and third page the last week in November, but she stuck with it (thanks to some encouraging words from her instructor). She played it through 3-5 times a day until the performance and she got it! Because she worked so hard this month, she didn't seem to be too upset that she did end up having a problem on the last page in the performance. She knew that she had played it better a number of times, and chalked it up to nerves. Even so, it sounded lovely and I will never grow tired of hearing her play this song. I think it was a great learning experience for her. And now she seems more eager than ever about the piano. Today she was trying out several new songs, so it will be fun to see what the next year holds.

But as much as I love watching her play, I just can't get over how grown up she's looking. {sigh} I wish I could push the pause button on life like I can with the video. {double sigh}

Oh, and I'm sorry if you weren't able to watch the first video, but it should be fixed now. Thank you, Casey, for letting me know about the problem. I get a little freaked out about putting the kids on YouTube, so I thought making the videos private would help. But I didn't realize that meant they wouldn't work on the blog. I don't know why YouTube should bother me, since I have no problem posting all about our lives here. I think part of it is that people on YouTube leave horrible comments all time. Several times I've had to put a piece of paper over the comments while showing a video to my kids, because they were full of profanity and rudeness. So for these videos I just disabled the comments in YouTube. Okay, I'm getting way off topic now. I better go wrap some gifts. : )

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Come, Little Children

Sunday night was the big event, our church Christmas program. Oh, what a great night! Well, not for Marc who was sick and had to miss the whole thing. But seeing it on video is the next best thing, so over the next few days I'll be posting all the highlights. We'll start with Grace, who is just cute, cute, cute!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Collage

We finished off our day yesterday with a Christmas art project that turned out really cute. The project, originally from Artsonia, is described on a blog I just discovered yesterday, Kids Artists. This blog has some beautiful projects, targeted to 3rd - 5th graders. I loved the colors and patterns in the sample Christmas Tree Collages, but I especially liked the idea of putting music paper in the background.

Our kids are each playing a piano piece in our church's Christmas program this coming Sunday, so I thought it would be fun for them each to use their own music for their collage. I just made copies straight from their piano books, so you can even see handwritten notes, reminding the kids to count correctly at certain measures. I love little personal touches like that! In fact, I like the idea so much that next year I'd like to come up with a similar project. How fun it would be to have a cute collection of all the Christmas songs they learn over the years!

Ryne will be playing Angels We Have Heard on High.


Grace will be playing (and singing) O Come, Little Children.


Anna was at school when we made these, but she plans to make one next week. She will be playing O Holy Night.

Just a couple notes about the project:

The blogger behind Kids Artists is Dutch, so she refers to A4 size paper, which is about the same as 8.5" x 11". That was my education for the day -- I had no idea about the international paper standard that is used everywhere but the United States and Canada. : )

Also, Grace was able to manage the project nicely even though it is targeted toward older children. She had a harder time not making her drawing too detailed and needed some help cutting out the trees, but it did not take away from her enjoyment.

Happy Homeschooling!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why oh why must Christmas pictures be such torture?

Every year I try to save a little by taking our own Christmas card photo of the kids, and every year I wonder whether it is worth the headache. This morning Anna's school started two hours late due to the big winter storm that plowed through the Midwest, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity for a photo session. I spent 20 minutes getting them ready and 20 minutes taking pictures, only to find that none of the pictures saved, I think because the camera card was full (although in the past it has given a little signal when the card is full) -- ugh! By the time I figured this out, Anna was at school, so I figured we'd have to try again tomorrow. Turns out, the boiler at Anna's school broke, leaving them without heat, so I had the camera all ready when she returned home. The kids were not happy to have to sit through that again, and it showed in the pictures (oh, who am I kidding. . . the first set probably wasn't much better!). And now Anna is mad at me because she doesn't like the picture I chose. But it really was the best of the bunch. So she's either going to have live with it or sit through another photo session tomorrow. What do you think? Keep trying?


Oh, and this is only my second real digital scrapbooking project (last year's card was the first), so I'm not real sure what the protocol is, but I think I'm supposed to give credit to the designers whose products I used. I used the free kits, Seasonal Sampler and Holiday Magic, found at ShabbyPrincess, and the "joy" letters came from Katie Pertiet's Polar Escape Kit at Designer Digitals.

Update: LOL, Anna decided she didn't hate the picture enough to go through another sitting. Your sweet comments also helped! Since I can't send you each a card, I will keep our card at the top of the blog for December -- Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


We had a marvelous Thanksgiving! And a few adventures. The night before Thanksgiving we went to church, taking two different cars. Marc, who should have arrived early, still hadn't arrived half an hour into the service. And all I could think of was:

He hit a deer . . .
He hit a deer and is in a ditch somewhere . . .
He hit a deer . . .
But at least my house is clean if everyone has to come over to comfort me in my grief.
I promise that last part was just a little thought in the midst of my panic, but I will admit, it did cross my mind. {Shame on me!} I finally had to send my brother-in-law, Dave, out to call him, but Marc pulled in the church parking lot just as Dave called him. Turned out it was not a deer, but he was rear-ended on the expressway by a dad trying to deal with a toddler tantrum in the backseat. Everyone was fine, and the damage to both cars was minimal. So we had extra reason to be thankful!

That night, we went back to our house to celebrate Dave's birthday. I mention this because a neat thing happened as Dave was opening his presents. Ryne volunteered to read a card that my mother-in-law gave Dave. Dave has had a tough year, and the card reflected that. It was very sentimental and beautifully written, and Ryne got teary reading it and said, "That was a sad card." I've written about Ryne's soft side before, but it is still encouraging to see him develop these connections.


Thanksgiving day went smoothly and was such a blessing. Dave had two of his college-age kids there, in addition to our family of five and my mother-in-law. Marc gave a beautiful sermon devotion on thankfulness.



We then spent the rest of the week relaxing, having fun, and staying up way too late. Marc's mom left the Tuesday morning after Thanksgiving. I think we were all ready to get back into a normal routine, but it was not meant to be. I woke up with a horrible cold and Anna woke up with a 104-degree fever. And to top it off, Jessie, our old black lab, was having problems. She had peed on the rug in the kids room, and was sleeping in it. I finally realized it was because she couldn't get up. This is just the latest in a series of medical issues with this dog, so I fell to pieces, thinking this was the end. The piano teacher was scheduled to arrive in an hour and I had to go out to the garage to call her (to cancel) because I was bawling and I didn't want to upset the kids. I'll spare all the details, but Marc came home from work, we took her to the vet and it turned out to be another manageable problem, so it was not the end for Jessie. Marc made a joke that this dog must really be a cat, because she is getting really close to using up her nine lives.

So I spent the rest of the week being sick, only to discover that the world didn't stop while I was in bed. In fact, the Christmas season is in full swing and I'm not ready! Oh, we managed to have a little festive fun before I got sick.


But by this time last year I was already done with my Christmas cards. And homeschooling? Don't ask. I think, by default, we will now be schooling through the summer. But I'm not going to panic or try to squeeze too much into December. Ruthanne's article over at The Homeschool Post helped me put things into perspective. I do not want the busyness to detract from our celebrating of this beautiful season.

Mind you, that is not going to be easy because we are starting what is possibly the craziest thing Marc and I have attempted in our almost 17 years of marriage. We will be refinishing our basement so Anna can have her own bedroom. My dad is coming later this month to help us get started and we're planning on begging everyone we know for help, but I still expect this to be a year-long project. Marc and I have made a promise that no matter what happens, we are not going to take out our frustration on each other. We are just going to laugh. We've done enough home projects to know that things will go wrong. In fact, right now we're laughing because it looks like we're going to have to move the stairs. Ha, ha, ha . . . I can't stop laughing.

Whew! How's that for an update?