Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year in Review

Our 2015 Christmas Letter:

Dear Friends,

I can’t believe we are reaching the end of another year...where does the time go? In the story of our family, this year has been a year of chapters closing and new ones opening. It’s no secret that I would like to put a bookmark on the part of our story when the kids grow up but since that is not possible I have been trying to enjoy each page as it turns to a new one. 

This Spring, the chapter closed on one of Kiandra’s favourite parts of high school: musical season. Endless hours of rehearsal, cast bonding, and being on stage have been highlights for Kiandra. She didn't expect to be on the theatre stage again after high school but was called to fill in at the last minute for a show in the Fringe Festival this summer. She performed in 9 shows in 11 days and it was a great experience. Her positive musical experiences on the stage may have been the inspiration for Kaden when he auditioned for the first ever middle school musical at his school and was cast as “Charlie Brown” in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”. I think the production was more work than Kaden initially anticipated so this new chapter of Kaden’s musical experience might be a really short one... beginning and ending this year! Kezia closed (for now!) her on stage musical chapter as well this year as she decided to step back from the acting part of musical to assume a role back stage helping with crew. We will see if Kezia decides to rejoin the cast for her last high school musical next year or if she will stay with crew for her final musical experience.

Spring sports held an unexpected new beginning as Kaden decided to give up flag football, the sport he has played for the last 3 years, to join a ball hockey league. He loved the new challenge and I have a feeling next year that he will continue. With ball hockey in the Spring and ice hockey in the Fall and Winter, Kaden plays hockey year round now. Kezia continues to play soccer (indoor and outdoor) with the same group of girls and same coach that she’s had for many years. It has been so awesome to watch these girls develop in their skills and also in their friendship with each other. I am so happy for this ongoing chapter in Kezia's life.

June was really emotional for me as two really big chapters closed. Kiandra graduated from high school and Kaden had his middle school farewell from Grade 8 and finished his final year at the school where I teach. I kept thinking how fast these two chapters arrived. A few days later a new big chapter opened as Kezia started a summer babysitting job and then got her driver’s license to get to and from the job with the vehicle that the family provided. Kezia took on a few extra days of babysitting for her cousins on her days off and experienced her first summer of working full time hours. Kaden began a new chapter at our church being a Leader-In-Training for Adventurer’s Day camp and I think we were all surprised at how much he enjoyed it.

At the end of July we added some travel maps to our story as we took a long family road trip with stops in Chicago, Pennsylvania, Washington, New York, Niagara Falls, and Toronto. We traveled through thirteen states and two provinces and really enjoyed our trip. A few weeks later, Kiandra started working as a host at Smitty’s and so Conrad and I are especially thankful for the time we spent together as it will become increasingly difficult for us to have that much time all together. (Especially since Kezia started working at Smitty’s last week as well!)

In August, another significant chapter closed when we said good-bye to our cat Goliath. He had been a part of our family for the last 7 years but medical issues prompted us to put him down. He was terribly missed and it was only a few days until we added a new kitten named Princeton to our family. (Note to self: do not visit Petland when you are grieving the loss of your cat because there are plenty of new kittens ready and waiting to tempt you! True. Story.)

August was also a new chapter in vehicles as Conrad finally decided what he was going to purchase after months of research. He gave up driving the 2004 Safari van and is now the proud owner of a 2015 Honda Civic. It has many of the features that his van had been lacking such as better gas mileage and heat! August also brought the end of another chapter for Kiandra when she got her braces off. Even though she had really hoped to have them removed in time for grad, she was thrilled to finally have them off. Kezia is hoping to close the chapter on her mouth gear soon. She has worn some kind of retainer or braces for the last 6 years. Kaden joined the braces club in October. It's been an expensive chapter!

September held a whole new set of new beginnings. Kaden started high school at a school close to where I teach instead of the high school where all of the rest of us have gone. His decision has been a great one and his experience so far has confirmed this again and again. We also entered a new high school experience as Kaden made the volleyball team and had daily games and/or practices after school. I now had to wait at school for him to finish instead of the other way around when he always used to wait for me! Kezia started Grade 11 and has a bit of a lighter schedule this semester with a spare at the end of the day. She’s been enjoying coming home early, especially on Thursdays when she gets to hang with Conrad on his days off. Kiandra started taking three courses at the University of Manitoba. She found them overwhelming and is considering her options for the next semester. In September, Kiandra and her friend Kara started a new chapter at our church when they transitioned from youth group attenders to youth group leaders. They are small group leaders for Junior High girls and have been loving the experience of working together and planning activities for a great group of girls.

With all the chapters that have closed and opened, Conrad and I have enjoyed the ongoing predictability of our story. This year we celebrated 19 years of marriage. Conrad continues to work at the same appliance store. I started my 7th year of teaching Grade 1. We continue to learn new things as landlords but the lessons with our latest set of tenants has been less stressful than our first set. Conrad continues to play ball hockey once a week. He did have knee surgery in February that benched him for a few months but he has been playing regularly since it started up again in Fall.

Over this last year this verse has stood out for me from 1 Samuel 12:16:

Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!

As I reflect on the chapters that we have experienced in 2015 I know that God is working in all the things drawing to a close or new things that are just beginning. Our prayer for you and your family for 2016 is that you will feel God's hand leading you through whatever chapter you are in right now.

Merry Christmas from our family

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On the go...

Today's agenda included:

dropping Kaden off for a hockey game:

dropping Kezia off at a friend's house:

Getting a police check started for Kiandra:

Dropping Kiandra off at the mall to meet a friend:

Lunch with my cousin Lori (photo here)

Picking up Kiandra's completed police check:

Stopping at the school to pick up some late Christmas packages and to do a little January prep:

Taking Kaden to his last tournament game:

Watching their team win for a 5th place finish:

Learning that Kaden won player of the game:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Master Chef Cook Off!

My kids have awesome friends. Last week our house was home to a gingerbread house challenge and today it was a Master Chef cook off. The Seven Sisters went grocery shopping and then chose Pepperidge Farm cracker chips (in nacho cheese flavour) and Nibs as their mystery ingredients. They divided into 2 teams: Black and Blue and then the black team cooked downstairs:

and the blue team cooked upstairs:

When it was all finished, photos were taken (along with video - including interviews!)

Each team plated 8 servings: one for each sister and for the judge

The black team (creative talents of Jenna, Kezia, and Allie) created teriyaki chicken wraps (the chicken was breaded with tortilla cracker chips) and chocolate rasalicious cupcakes with a Nib garnish on vanilla icing.

The blue team (creative talents of Kiandra, Kara, Tori, and Heather) created Creamy Parmesan chicken (they also breaded the chicken with the cracker chips) and placed it on Toppables crackers. Their dessert was strawberry lemonade volcanos with a Nib centre.

Guest judge was Kaden (who was honoured to be chosen to eat their creations) and he awarded the top prize to the Black team who narrowly defeated the Blue team by 1 point.

Not only was this evening full of laughs and fun this kitchen was transformed from this:

to spotless! It was cleaner than when they started! My kids have awesome friends.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The things you do if your kids ask you

Kiandra and Kezia had a few 5 day gym passes to a local gym and they invited me to join them and their friend Kara for an early morning work out.

These girls were pretty pumped:

Kezia led us in a circuit work out that she learned in gym class. We spent some time in the hot tub and the sauna and then by 8:00 we were done and ready to get Kiandra to work for 8:30:

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Challenge Hockey Tournament

Two games today for Kaden's team and Kaden was sure he was going to be on the score sheet in game 1...

One goal, one assist, AND a penalty!

Final score was a 3-3 tie. The second game of the tournament he didn't manage to make it on to the score sheet.

Final score for the second game of the day was a 3-2 loss for Kaden's team.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boxing Day

We had an unexpected change of plans when our gathering with Conrad's family was postponed. Both girls worked in the morning and then when they got off work we had played some games. An old favourite that we haven't played in a long time: Killer Bunnies.

and our new game that we added this year: Ticket to Ride.

Friday, December 25, 2015

So this is Christmas...

Again, we chose to give our kids 4 gifts:

something they want
something they need
something to wear 
something to read

want: hockey stick
need: garbage mitts and hockey team toque

wear: underarmour and shorts
read: (and want because he asked for it) a new bible that he picked out with his name on the cover

want: wii (our wii died a few years ago and Kezia mourns its loss often so when Conrad saw that EB games had a clear out on refurbished ones he suggested that should be her "want")

need: jammies and housecoat
wear: blanket scarf and gift card for jeans
read: this devotion book and this book that Kezia had eyed in NY this summer that I wanted to be a surprise stocking stuffer but it was a bit too big

want: Fab Fit Fun box (still in transit)

need: new sheets and plug adapter
wear: blanket scarf and 2 tops and a pair of cubic zirconia earrings
read: this devotional for her and for her youth girls

got the standard leather gloves (I get them for him every year!) and slippers
socks, gum, some magic tricks
I bought him this that was delayed in the mail
and a fit bit
Kiandra bought him a sweater, floor hockey socks, and beef jerky
Kezia bought him rockets and gum
Kaden bought him Punch Out (one of Conrad's favourite nintendo games) for wii

I was totally spoiled by so many things on my wish list. Like the baking pan, the markers, jamberry nail wraps, and the kitchen aid shredder. I was thrilled to get spoiled by 12 days of Christmas gifts in the days leading up to Christmas. The girls surprised me some oils and vinegars and a pedicure gift certificate and even Kaden picked out some oils and vinegars:

One of the things that was kind of cool was that Kiandra and Kaden in particular kept commenting in the days leading up to Christmas how excited they were to give their gifts to others in our family because they knew how much their gifts would be appreciated.

Like this shirt the girls bought Kaden featuring some of the places we've visited as a family:

and this I (heart) my sister Starbucks card that Kaden bought Kiandra:

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