Pennsylvania, Part 1

We spent the week of Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania and had the best time.  Traveling with the kids is so much fun.  Not that it wasn’t fun when they were little, but it sure is simpler now that they’re older.  They can carry their own bags, follow signs in the airport, and generally are more flexible than they were years ago.  Part of why we waited to do this trip until now!  

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Lord was so gracious in many ways during our travels.  I took a combination of medications to ensure I wasn’t sick and I was so thankful they worked.  I was a bit loopy during our travel days but thankfully my travel buddy, James, had me covered.  The four of us paired up walking through the airport and sitting on the plane, and James made sure I was following him in the right direction and that I received a snack and drink since the flight attendants came around while I was sleeping.  He was great.  Thank you, son!  Anna’s Dramamine provided uneventful flights too.  So thankful!

We flew from Denver to Pittsburgh and then drove a couple hours to Johnstown, PA to stay with Kenny’s aunt and uncle, Barbie Ann and Ron.  It was a long day of travel and we were so thankful for their hospitality.  

The next day we introduced the kids to Johnstown – where Kenny’s grandparents lived, where his dad grew up, and where Kenny lived briefly around 2nd grade.  It was so fun watching him retell stories to the kids.  The history of where we’re from is so important and I love passing this down to the kids.  

We started the day by picking up Aunt Loretta.  Loretta is one of the most thoughtful people I know.  She has consistently sent us birthday cards, Christmas cards, Easter cards, Halloween cards, you name it.  She remembers the kids on every birthday sending a card and cash.  For years they’ve written thank you notes to Loretta and it was so wonderful they were finally able to meet her!  

We started the Johnstown tour by visiting St. Columba, the church where Kenny received his First Communion.  In fact, there’s a picture of Kenny on that day standing in this exact spot in the garden.  He also attended the private school connected to the church in 2nd grade.  

Next we visited Kenny’s grandparent’s old house.  He has such fond memories of living there and visiting over the years.  The train tracks are just past the back yard.  Kenny even showed the kids how he used to put pennies on the tracks in hopes the pennies would be flattened.  

Next stop was the Inclined Plane which unfortunately was not working right that day.  We waited around in hopes it would be fixed, but eventually had to leave.  We still took some pictures and bought a few souvenirs in the gift shop.  

Lunch was of course at Coney Island!

After lunch we stopped at the cemetery where Kenny’s grandparents and great grandparents are buried.  

We then said goodbye to Loretta and headed to see cousin Janice and her daughter, Dee Dee.  

Our last night in Johnstown the kids went out to collect eggs with Uncle Ron.  Because the rooster was in the coop, Ron gathered the eggs himself and spared the kids.  Oh well, at least they got to pet the hogs and say goodnight to them.  

The kids LOVED the two golden retrievers at the house; especially Anna. 

We also enjoyed spending a couple evenings with cousin Matthew and his fiancee Bri.  

That was just Day 1!  Whew!  We crammed quite a bit into our first day but really wanted to take advantage of the time to see family and show the kids some of the sights.  So thankful for the time in Johnstown!  

On our second day we started to make our way to Lancaster County where Kenny’s dad lives.  We took a couple detours on the way first.  One to Horseshoe Curve – an impressive train landmark. 

The second detour was to Gettysburg.  James just finished studying Gettysburg in school and the entire 5th grade memorized and recited Lincoln’s address.  We HAD to stop since we were so close.  If we had more time we could have spent an entire day there.  There is so much to see.  We found the location where Lincoln gave his address and the memorial to Lincoln and then went on our way.  


Christmas Time

December is a busy month no matter how you slice it.  We work hard to keep it simple and say no to some things, but there’s still math homework, spelling words, book reports, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping PLUS the fun of Christmas – gift buying, baking, Christmas parties at school, church concerts, etc.  All of these festive activities are things we want to do but certainly contributes to the craziness of the month.  

Christmas Hats and Caroling at school today!

I shopped locally for three gifts this year and the rest I bought online (which I LOVE).  While in Hobby Lobby last week I had a little extra time so decided to just wander the aisles and enjoy getting in the Christmas mood.  What I found, though, was brokenness.  This world is full of broken, hurting people who need Jesus.  Mamas yelling at their kids, angry customers waiting in line, broken ornaments here and there, scowls on faces, and mostly, people hurrying, hurrying everywhere.  I admit I often fall into doing all of these things too.  We’re human, we’re broken by sin, and while we strive to be holy, we’re simply not.  

That’s the whole point of Christmas.  We’re not holy and we’re never going to be without help.  Enter – Jesus as a baby in the manger.  God’s plan to save us is SO incredible and wild.  There are days I still can’t quite believe that He chose to do this for us.  

12 frozen bananas = 8 mini loaves for neighbors, 1 loaf for now, and 1 for the freezer

The other thing I noticed while at Hobby Lobby was this phrase: “Jesus Is The Reason For The Season”.  Printed on mugs, napkins, paper plates, wooden signs, you name it.  The more I walked the store and prayed for people, the more I longed for Jesus to return.  O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.  

As we enter this last week and a half before Christmas, my prayer is that as I finish all that needs done my heart and mind will be fixed on the One we celebrate.  I’ve allowed myself this last week to get sucked in, to focus on the to do list, to hurry, and to get stressed.  Oh Lord, calm my anxious heart and breathe new life into all I do. 

I’m headed to put on my Perry Como music, get a cup of tea, turn off all the lights except the Christmas tree, and take a deep breath.  

Our church’s Christmas concert last weekend – Glorious!

Anna is Eight!

On November 21st, our Anna-girl turned eight.  Amazing.  I really can’t believe she’s eight.  I know I say that on every birthday post for the kids, but it’s true!  The years really are flying by.  

Her birthday was a Thursday.  She requested donuts for her class treat so I took those in during snack time.  I love how our school celebrates birthdays.  It takes SO much time to celebrate every student’s birthday, every teacher’s birthday, every tutor’s birthday.  But I’m so glad they value each person this way.  The whole class sang Happy Birthday and then asked Anna some questions to get to know her better as she sat at the front of the class.  

That evening I made her favorite meal – Ziti and fresh fruit – and Anna opened our gifts to her.  

We had her party a few days later on Saturday.  We took our family, Anna’s best friend, Presley, and Aunt Lynn to see Frozen 2 in the theater.  Presley’s mom even bought the girls matching Frozen outfits to wear to the movie.  Then we headed back to the house for pizza and cake and ice cream – chocolate cake with coffee frosting and crushed Oreos on top with coffee ice cream on the side.  Anna LOVES the flavor of coffee.  She, of course, doesn’t drink coffee at eight years old, but she loves to have a sip of ours now and again.  She loves coffee flavored milk shakes and often orders coffee ice cream when we go out for ice cream.  

When we asked Anna if she felt “eight” now, she replied, “I don’t even feel seven yet!”  Too funny.  Maybe about the time she turns nine she’ll feel like she’s eight. 

In the past few months Anna has taught herself to blow bubbles with bubble gum.  She’s been trying for quite awhile.  We’d all sit down with bubble gum and Kenny and I would talk her through what she needed to do.  She was so determined so I just started buying bubble gum on a regular basis so she had the opportunity to practice.  And finally, it all clicked!  

In recent months Anna also has gotten into magic tricks.  Kenny loved magic tricks when he was young and when he found a box of old stuff in the basement, Anna wanted to learn right away.  She’s been practicing some tricks and we also got her a few new ones for her birthday.  The next time you see her, ask her to do a trick for you!  

Anna continues to enjoy ballet and dances all over the house.  After school she often changes into ballet slippers and dances.  Anna will dance to new pop music Dad introduced her to, to classical music I have on while cooking, or now to Christmas music.  Some of her favorite music to dance to is the Nutcracker.  She loves making up dance routines and we so enjoy seeing her creativity.  

Anna, we love you so much and look forward to all the coming year will bring for you!  Happy birthday, sweet girl!