Thursday, December 24, 2009

First Love

Opal has fallen in love with Baby Jesus. Right now, it's just the little porcelain or plastic Baby Jesus' or ones she sees in our many nativity books. Everyday she looks up to our mantle and asks, "Baby Jesus? Baby Jesus". Which means she wants to kiss him. Then she says, "O a bed!" (Translation: Go to bed!) and puts him back in the manger.



Eben has a new love for books. When we first started reading with him he was anything but excited. More really, really scared. But he is now reading at a level 4 and it's given him so much confidence to know that he can read almost anything Mama and Dada can. He is currently reading The Pilgim's Progress of his own choosing and we can't be more proud of what a great reader we have.


Ok, a great, great little love story. However, I must admit, I didn't hear it from Eben himself. So please be careful with our tender hearted boy's first story of love.

On Sat. Dec. 19th, Eben had a 2 hour long rehearsal for Lake City Church's Christmas pageant. When we came back, he was beaming. The first thing he said was, "Mama, I met a new friend! You have to meet her!" So he introduced me to Hannah. That's about all I got of this story. He commented about her throughout the day, but I didn't really think anything of it. The rest of the story comes from Hannah's mom the next day during the pageant. She comes up to Peter and I and asks if we are Eben's parents. Then she tells us about how Hannah went on and on after the rehearsal about Eben. Hannah reports that they couldn't keep their eyes off each other. Eben told Hannah that he loved her and that she was the only woman for him and he'll never look at another woman. Then the cutest: He tells her to wear the same shoes the next day at the pageant, so he can find her. I was so shocked! They are so tiny!
So of course after they are done with their performance and are exiting out the sanctuary doors, I ask Eben if I could take a picture of him and his new friend. He says, "Oh yeah, sure!" and escorts her over to the Christmas tree with his arm around her back and then does that cute little couple pose seen above. During the next service, they perform again. Eben and Hannah stand next to each other the whole time and they hold hands throughout the entire last song. Ahhhh. Kindergarten love. Who knew we had such a romantic. Of course he is Peter's son.


The Christmas pageant was so wonderful and real. We loved it! Eben was in the choir and then Jasper and Kivi came out in little sheep hoods and sang Away In The Manger. They all did such a great job. Here's Jasper and Kivi's part:

video

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gingerbread

Our HFG girls came up with a great plan to decorate gingerbread houses together last year, and it went so well, we decided to to it again. In the past, Grandma has bought us gingerbread houses to decorate, or I've bought greatly discounted haunted houses left over from Halloween. This year because I'm so cheap, I couldn't bring myself to spend $8.99 on each house, so we made them ourselves. Eben and Kivi picked out a pattern from the internet. Eben chose a country store and Kivi wanted a barn. I went with a simple regular house pattern for Jasper and Opal. It ended up being a 3 day process!

Day 1: We made the gingerbread. It had to be refrigerated for hours.
Here's Jasper helping roll out the dough.


Then we cut out our pattern pieces and baked them.


Day 2: We cemented all our buildings together with royal icing. Later I found that just powered sugar and water work just as well.

Day 3: We all went to the Schocks house and decorated our houses with candy!! Opal really loved this. She successfully put 2 candies on her house. With about 30 candies she'd touch it to the house, then stick it in her mouth. So Grace helped her finish hers while she took a sugar nap.

All the big kids of our group (minus Cooper who was picking up his Daddy!) and their houses.


I grew up doing an advent calendar every year of my childhood since I can remember. It was shaped like a big Christmas tree and everyday my sister and I took turns putting on a different ornament. I looked forward to it every year - even through high school! I wanted one for my kids, but I wanted it to be Christ centered. I'd bought 18 foam nativity people, animals and stars for about 99 cents from Goodwill before Eben was born with the intention of turning them into my envisioned fabric nativity advent calendar. I finally got around to making it this December and I love it! I used 2 place-mats as the backgrounds and basically just glued the whole thing. I was going to sew it, but ended up liking the rough cut edge more.

Each day a different kid takes a turn putting a piece on the advent calendar and they love it -which makes me even more excited. They also take turns every day turning on the Christmas tree lights and unwrapping a Christmas book or movie.

On December 24th it will look like this. Hee hee hee!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Remembering

On Sunday, December 6th, the Lakewood officers and their families were allowed to view the caskets. We took the kids with us, because they had been asking a lot of questions about "Dada's friends". We were the only ones in the viewing room besides the honor guard. We explained who was under each flag to the kids. Peter later wished we had gotten a picture of the four caskets in the viewing room. It was sad, beautiful and surreal.
The attendants at the refreshment room were so excited to give the kids cookies and hot cocoa. I'm sure the only takers of sweets for the day. I could tell the kids were confused at how to eat a cookie without being overly happy and giddy. They knew this was a sad time for Dada, but they were being showered with treats. Afterward, we went to the police station for dinner. So many people have been so kind and donating food to the station non-stop. Then the kids went out front to the memorial that had been growing by the hour to give Mr. Greg, Miss Tina, Mr. Ronnie and Mr. Mark the pictures they had drawn for them.


Of all our kids, Kivi has definitely been the most affected. She asked questions non-stop about the shooting, the people involved, why everyone wants to show so much love, about the families, and all about Dada's friends. She could point to each officer and tell you who's who. I wrote down one little conversation because it was so cute:
Kivi: I hope all of those police officers are in heaven.
Mama: I hope so too. I hope they all knew Jesus.
Kivi: Mama, all police officers know Jesus!

December 8th: The Memorial Service

Our day started at 7:00am when we dropped the kids of at Auntie Tonya's. Then we headed back to the station and had breakfast with all the other officers and their spouses. The procession started when the hearses came and drove through the lines of saluting Lakewood officers. The family limos followed, then we got in our cars, lights flashing and followed.

Here is Peter's car going by the station about to drive under the giant flag.


The video I took as we started the procession going past the police station.
video

We were about the 15th Lakewood police car back from the family cars. I had no idea how affected I would be by this procession. I figured we would drive to the Tacoma Dome in a long line, park and go in. I was blown away by the amount of people who had come out in the freezing cold to show their love and support. Holding signs, holding flags, some saluting, some with their hands over their hearts, some crying. So many people. And we were going so slow that we were able to look them in the eye and nod to each other. A reciprocal thank you. The people I remember the most were a little girl with a sign bigger than herself that read, "HUGS" and a little Asian woman down on her knees, arms held high, holding a flag in each hand, tears streaming down her cheeks. I cried the entire drive.


The amount of people already at the Tacoma Dome was overwhelming as well. Everything was done with such precision, silence and an honoring slowness. Here the pallbearers are preparing to take the caskets out of the hearses. The families were escorted in. Then all the Lakewood officers and spouses went in. There were three rooms set up with refreshments. A room for the families, the Lakewood officers and the honor guard. And the Forza girls who had been in the coffee shop were there serving coffee to us. (If you look at the top of the buildings you can see snipers. They were everywhere.)

This picture is so beautiful. It's when the bagpipes are playing and coming down the isle. Peter and I are in the bottom right corner. Bagpipes stir something in you.


The whole service was done well. It started late, because the procession was so long, over 2,000 cars, and everyone in the procession wasn't even able to attend at the Tacoma Dome. They had to start the service even though the procession was still going. There were long pauses between speakers, which I appreciated, because it gave us more time to focus on the ones we were honoring that day. We had nowhere to go. This whole day was set aside for them. The most memorable speech for everyone, I'm sure, was Greg's kids. I was also amazed at how much Christ and His love, comfort, protection, and sacrifice was mentioned. I really wasn't expecting that at all. Lakewood's Chaplin, Alve, even gave a challenge to everyone there to find out more about Christ and accept Him into their lives!
It was a humbling, amazing experience that I was honored to be able to attend and hope to never have to again.
After the service, we joined the procession going back to the Lakewood station and then to the reception at Farrelli's in Dupont for all the Lakewood officers. Instead of going to a second reception at the casino,we headed home at 12:30am. A long day, a good day, a sad day, a day of honor and respect. A much needed way to remember and say goodbye.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

November 29th

On Sunday, after Peter and I had our morning devotions, we got a call from Stacey Wiley, a friend and Lakewood officer's wife, asking if Peter was working. I told her no that he had gotten it off and was right here. She said, "Well that's good, now we know it's not him." She said that four officers had just been shot at a coffee shop. She might have said "killed", but I only heard "shot". I assumed all would be well. They are officers. They have protective gear. They have guns. They've had training. They would be at the hospital. They would be fine.
We also assumed it was Tacoma officers, because it had happened in Tacoma. I've never seen Peter put on his uniform and get out the door so fast. Peter told me who had been murdered before I left for church. While I was at church, I realized that Tina had taken Peter's place at work that day. That was amazing and crazy and weird and horrible and wonderful.
This used to be Peter's squad. Tina and Peter had worked closely together when they did schools. She had given us her son, Marcus' clothes and toys for our boys. Eben wore Marcus' jacket to church that day. Peter met up with Greg weekly for coffee. He liked being with him because he was more than a cop. He was a great dad and hubby. He was real. He was a fun person. He was relatable. They shared stories about their families and life, not just cop talk. Mark had been to 4th of July and helped Peter put our dock in the lake. And Peter had bugged Ronnie non stop to come to basketball - a sport he loved. But taking his daughter to school was the highlight of his day and always came first. These "four officers" were his friends.
I'll never know just how affected Peter was by this. We didn't really see him for the next two weeks, except for family events we had already planned. He didn't eat during the day and after I fell asleep at night he would leave and go to the police station. He said he and all the other officers would just walk around like zombies. He said he felt "white, like nothing".
A lot of appreciated concerned calls came in that day and the week following, before the names were released and after. And though Peter didn't feel like talking or responding to anyone, the prayers and kind words were and are very helpful. Just knowing that our friends and family are there to support us, although we feel very minute in this whole ordeal, is a great comfort.


This is the board at the station that shows who's working. This is Nov. 29th's schedule. I know it doesn't look like much, but Peter wanted to remember seeing their numbers on the board.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Tree Hunting

On November 28, we, the Butts and the Metcalfes met at Hunter's Tree Farm to go cut down our Christmas trees! A tradition we've had for about 8 years now! The kids love feeding the goats, the tractor, the ride out to the trees in the wagon thingy, the hunt for the perfect tree, hot cocoa, and this year we even saw Santa.


Kivi and Bubs feeding the goats.


Our cute, small group of tree hunting friends.


Eben, Kivi, and Jasper "helping" Dada cut down the tree with sticks. We found the tree within 2 minutes, right off the main road, but we wondered around and Dada played hide and seek throughout the trees with the kids before cutting it down.


The kids were so funny! After Peter cut the tree down, they spent about 10 minutes working together to cover up the tree stump with dirt and branches so no one would find where we got our tree!


Us and our tree.


After we all went out to pizza for lunch, we came home, Dada set up the tree and the kids and Mama got busy decorating while Christmas music played.


Eben and Dada put the finishing star on the top.

I'm so glad that God gave us this fun family day when He did. If we had waited one day later... it would have been much different.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We Can Give Thanks!

Even in difficult times like these, we can give thanks. God is good. His love endures forever. And only in Him we can find comfort and strength.

The kids do tons of crafts everyday. It gets messy over here. And sometimes I feel guilty for how much "doesn't make it" into the kids files. (They have decided that a giraffe and a raccoon who live in the clouds in a big castle come at night and steal their artwork.) But we did some cute projects in November which adorned the mantle through the month.


Every year, the week prior to Thanksgiving, we all say what we are thankful for at dinner and we write it on a piece of paper to hang on the mantle:


Other mantle projects - pumpkin and egg carton turkeys:



For Thanksgiving we headed down to Oregon for a couple of days. The kids love Embassy Suites. We've done this 3 times now for Thanksgiving with the Johnson side. Their favorite things are swimming in the pool, watching TV, riding the elevators and walking around our floor - (All the kids do it on all the levels. It's funny to look up and see kids going around and around all over.) I made the mistake of letting them kick a beach ball around the 4th floor and it went over the railing and all the way down to the lobby - oops. It sounded like a good idea.

Here they are watching a morning TV show - a hotel luxury.


On Thanksgiving day we headed off to the Portland zoo! It was super cold and rainy, but we had a good time and the animals still wanted to see us.


Our favorite animals were the huge polar bears, (one gave us a lovely peeing show)

and the lions, who came right up to the glass. They were gorgeous and so big!


Here's our Thanksgiving meal. The kids sat around the coffee table. A lovely microwaved feast. Our table full of mashed potato and stuffing filled yogurt containers. Martha Stewart might have a heart attack, but we have a fun think outside the box family who's not ashamed to have free Shirley Temples and wine at the manager's special for dessert!