Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

                                                                                                                                Christmas 2014

Here we are again – in the midst of our favorite time of year -the season of magic, miracles and memories.   The days are flying by so quickly that we even entertained the idea of not writing a letter this year.   We changed our minds when we realized that the receiving of cards with news, letters and updated pictures of families was one of our favorite parts of the holiday.  So here you go – a recap of our year in paragraph form.

Spencer is officially a teenager.   We mostly see him sitting in front of the computer with a headset on playing Minecraft with his friends.  Gone are the days of hanging out at the movies or the mall, I guess.  He played inner city tennis over the summer and really enjoyed it.  He is still active in Boy Scouts and attended camp where he was away from us for a week.  He loved it!  Spencer is still following in his dad’s footsteps in the theatre.  He had an amazing time doing Willy Wonka last winter and has already started rehearsals for this February’s My Son Pinocchio.   He started cross country this fall and did surprisingly well for his first time ever really running.

Evan is ten years old and in his last year of elementary school.  How on Earth? He puts a lot of effort into his schoolwork and it shows – he consistently tests above grade level – especially in math.   Evan also played inner city tennis this summer and thinks he will try it again next year.   He just started up with Destination Imagination in hopes of going to the State finals this spring. (I think that has something to do with the arcade and pool at the hotel)  He will cross over to Boy Scouts in February and so far has intentions of sticking with it. 

Hailey is seven years old and in second grade.   She participated in cheerleading again this fall and had a good time.  Her favorite is the night game where she gets to cheer with the Varsity squad.   Hailey stepped out of her comfort zone a bit by taking part in the Footlights acting camp this summer through the civic theatre.  She had fun but is always a bit nervous to be onstage -though you wouldn’t think that for a minute if you saw her at home.  She is constantly singing and dancing around the house.   She is extremely quiet and shy at school but as soon as she is home – loud and a bundle of energy.  Hailey loves playing made up games with Evan, anything crafty or artsy (especially paint, glitter and glue) and the Disney Channel on Netflix.

Jen seems to be at school more than home these days.  She started a part time job as a lunch/recess monitor and loves being able to see the kids during the day and get the inside scoop.   If she is not there for lunch, she is tending to PTO vice president duties or working on some school event.   When the kids get home from school her real job begins.   Helping with homework and studying – she swears that second grade homework will be the end of her.

Trent is still teaching at Reeths-Puffer.  He directed a wildly successful Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last spring and is gearing up for Godspell in March.  He stays crazy busy with rehearsals, scouts, golf, soccer, building projects and visiting his favorite brew houses downtown.

We took a family vacation to Wisconsin this summer and spent some time with Jen’s sister’s family as well as visiting the Wisconsin Dells with them for a few days.  The kids had a blast in all the pool and waterslides.  Hailey was thrilled to get to go to Michigan’s Adventure for the first time this summer.  Our kids ride water slides like there is no tomorrow- but not one of them will dare a roller coaster for anything! 

We wish for you a holiday season and a new year filled with happiness, hope, health and most of all - love!

Trent, Jennifer, Spencer, Evan & Hailey

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve Afternoon

I really like snow around Christmas time, but I have to say there is something kind of nice about being able to go for a walk two days before Christmas in near fifty degree weather.  Maybe winter will bypass us all together and we can head right to spring?  

No message in this bottle - only some old water or maybe liquor.  Down by the rocks the kids spotted some Christmas cheer.

Evan was the only one brave enough to go after the balloons.  I thought for sure that was because he had aspirations to take them home with us.

But he didn't.  He just wanted to rearrange them a little bit.  Can you even believe that blue sky?  On December 23rd no less?

The water is really high.  It has eroded a ton of the beach.  There are pylons, old seawalls and "crab cages" and a whole lot of stuff exposed that we have never seen down there before.  The waves even unearthed a shipwreck.

It was a gorgeous day at the big lake.  Merry Christmas.  Happy New Year and c'mon Spring!

Monday, December 22, 2014


Hailey has gotten such a kick out of the antics of Springle our elf this year.  Now that the kids are old enough to know better than to touch him - he can hang out in low spaces and do some funny stuff.

I totally cracked up after the kids had left for school and I discovered that Hailey had answered Springle's plea to "be good" written in chocolate chips with her own "ok" spelled out in Cheerios. 

I love this time of year.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Up the chimne he rows!

Last week the little kids had their Christmas program.  It is Evan's final show for sure and depending on what next year brings in school decisions...maybe Hailey's as well.
Evan had a part as the partridge in a pear tree in the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Hailey and her friend had to recite a paragraph from The Night Before Christmas.  She was so nervous.  She was very worried about getting in front of the whole auditorium and speaking into a microphone.

She spent a lot of time reciting her lines and two days in a row I even found them written out - two seperate times.  This girl was not going to mess up her part!

Evan saying "caw" for his part in the Twelve Days.

When it was Hailey's turn she went up there and knocked it out of the park.  Evan had told us that in rehearsals he couldn't even hear her and he was ten feet away - so we didn't have high expectations. 

We could hear her loud and clear through the microphone and she knew every word.  We were so proud of her.

They always end the show by signing and singing "Let there be Peace on Earth" and they call the former multiage students up to join in.  It is very touching and all those little voices joined in song reminds you of what is important during this very busy season.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Make it and Bake it

Early last week in a driving storm of freezing rain, Hailey and I braved the weather to go the craft store.   They were predicting horrible weather for the next few days and hinting at school closings so I figured we needed something to do to keep us occupied during the storm. 
Needless to say, the news folk were exaggerating and we never got our Snowvember and my crafting items are still sitting on the dining room table in their bags.  They beckon me every day but I am still getting out Christmas decor and that seems to suck all the energy out of me by the end of the day.
Anyhoo - Hailey loves to craft.  While we were at the store she begged me to get something that she could work on.  The only problem was that she didn't know what she wanted to make.  Nothing sounded fun to her.  Well - nothing cheap sounded fun to her.  She couldn't understand why I wouldn't buy her some twenty plus dollars craft kits with Christmas and her birthday right around the corner.  She didn't want a canvas.  A paint by number picture looked too hard.  This was no good.  That was boring.  It seemed like no crafting would happen for her that night until I spotted the Make it and Bake its.  The nostalgia came flooding back.  My sister and I made a ton of these things!  Hailey was intrigued by the tiny looking crystals and the fact that the craft had to go in the oven.  She was sold.  She even picked one out for Evan.
Needless to say, they were a big hit.  They worked diligently on them for about an hour and then we put them in the oven to melt.  I took way too many pictures of a seemingly mundane event, but like I said - it just reminded me so much of my own childhood.

FYI - tweezers are a must with Make it and Bake its. 

They can't wait to go back to pick out their next one.  I am thinking Christmas stocking idea for sure!

Friday, November 28, 2014


It is unbelievable that Thanksgiving has already come and gone.  Here are a few of the least the few highlights I have photos of.

Hailey's "out of the backpack" Thanksgiving school work.

Hello my name is Bob and I will appreciate if you could not eat me or my cousins or any turkeys.  You can eat pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie and dessert pie.

Things she is thankful for:  house, military, the nice things that mom does, life, food, water, my clothes, cars, people, God -PS I love him, my brothers, bathrooms, I am thankful for my family. 

She does not excel in the spelling department by any means, but her list is pretty spot on. 

We made cupcakes to bring to my aunt's house.  They turned out super cute.  Thank you Pinterest for the pilgrim hat idea.  Who doesn't love a peanut butter cup on a fudge striped cookie?

We woke up on Thanksgiving morning inside of a snow globe.  It was absolutely beautiful outside.  It made taking photos of the kids a little challenging as the big ole' flakes kept on hitting them on their faces.

This turkey requested her picture taken by our turkey flag.

 It was a wonderful Thanksgiving for us.  We got to be together all day - relaxed and peaceful with our greatest blessings - each other.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Saturday at the 'Zoo

Hailey won our family tickets to the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo by participating in the summer reading program at the library.  Even though it was a "summer" reading program - they gave us the tickets about a month ago.  The tickets expired at the end of December and we were a little worried that we wouldn't get to use them unless we pulled the kids out of school for a day.  Our weekends just seem like they have been crazy busy this whole school year - with no end in sight.  Fortunately some stars aligned and we found ourselves last weekend with a free Saturday. 

I was pleasantly surprised when we got there.  I had no idea what to expect and figured it would be crazy busy on a Saturday.  It was a very nice museum and not very busy at all.  At times it felt like we had the run of the place.

Hailey and Evan loved playing in the kiddie area.

They had a few smallish rides at the Air Zoo.  Hailey went on the spinning hot air balloons about three times.  She and Evan rode the other air balloons a couple times as well.

Spencer didn't want to ride any of the rides so he just hung out on the bench and watched all teenage angsty.

One of the highlights of the museum was getting to see the SR-71 Blackbird.  My Uncle Norm was one of the engineers of this plane back in the 60's.  There were only two ever made  - one crashed so this is the only one left.

I am not a "plane" person, but it was very cool looking.  It almost looked like something that would fly in outer space.

Hailey insisted on a souvenir when we left.  She bought that winged tiger.  They called him Kitty Hawk - she renamed him Lightening.

We left the Air Zoo and headed to Bilbo's pizza to quell my twenty year craving for cheese sticks and dill dip.  It did not disappoint.  Though Evan was a bit disappointed because he was picturing Bilbo's to be a lot more Middle Earth than it was.  

After "linner" we drove over to the Western Michigan University campus so I could show the kids my old stomping grounds.  Being there brought back a lot of memories - but the campus has changed so much in twenty years it also all seemed new.  I know that probably makes no sense whatsoever.

Hailey in front of "Rapunzel's" tower.  I don't even remember what that tower really is.  I think maybe the old hospital.

The bench they are by has a WMU etched into the rock that you can't even really see because of the snow. 

The library was just a few years old back when I went there.

We walked through the student union and I had to laugh when I came around the corner and saw the phone station that I used many times back in the day.  Those were the dark ages - way before anyone had cell phones.  When was the last time you saw a pay phone? 

It was funny because it wasn't that cold out, but the campus was virtually empty on a Saturday late afternoon.  Maybe everyone was napping before they were headed out for the night.

As we headed back to the car, I had a total catch my breath moment.  Spencer and Trent were walking ahead of me and it hit me that in only five years we could be leaving him here (or any other college).  The twenty years that have gone by since WMU was my home passed by so quickly - the next five years will be gone in a blink.  Just a vivid reminder for me to soak up every minute I can with these kids before they are gone.