Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve 2016

For years we dragged ourselves out of bed Christmas morning, after a full month of squadron parties, wing parties, chapel parties, special chapel services and Christmas exhausted it was hard to take much interest in the day.....what little energy we had seemed to go towards corralling the gift exchange.....we kept gradually tweaking our celebration until 2009 when we  moved the gift exchange to New Year's Eve - the 7th Day of Christmas. Suddenly, Christmas was about WORSHIP and celebrating Jesus. We have a birthday cake and share and it's wonderful.   We are able to give ourselves fully to worship and serving during the Advent season, no added shopping or stress. We also get to shop the clearance aisles for our gift exchange.

 In 2012 we added a few more elements to NYE - not only was it a gift exchange, but we began to brainstorm activities we could present hourly - this helped young children (and older parents) stay awake. LOL

It's 5 p.m. and all but Cory, who is working, have gathered. The first bag is opened and we are instructed to proceed to our tables for an hour of Bunco.

Gpa Paul  and Arielle

Bella's first Bunco game

This wis the first time many have played Bunco. It went well. It's fun to have enough for 3 or 4 tables with just us. LOL  Six p.m. and Nolan discovers plates, napkins and munchies in the bag. We move into the kitchen where everyone chose to either create a Yum Bowl or a Taco.

Yuuki waits hopefully for someone to DROP something

Gpa Paul being silly 
 Dinner is consumed, cleaned up and the 7 o'clock bag is opened. We are on to a Nintendo Snowboard single elimination competition. Cory showed up and grabbed dinner during this portion of the night.

Final Round

Jamin won - but wisely decided this would be a target on his back at A&M
He passed the prize off to Alex
  Eight o'clock's bag gave instructions for the first round of the Gherkin Gingerbread Competition. You can find more photos and such in this post.  While everyone feverishly works on gingerbread masterpieces....Gramps and I play with Bella.
Gpa and Bella
Right at 9:00 p.m. we move on to this year's family gift exchange. 
Love Jamin's gigantic cards from Gma Jan
Not because she's the youngest, or we think she's the cutest - but simply because she IS still the most expressive gift giver and receiver..... Stacia is excited to get a Rapunzel pillow from Lorri.
Nolan, Stacia, 2nd Cousin Lorri 
And a "FOLDING UMBRELLA" from Krista

Krista gave Michael this - and it's perfect! 
A man-size pocket knife
Ten o'clock brings round 2 of the Gingerbread Competition.

Eleven O' Clock and we  play an hour of Mafia.  Gpa Paul is happy to play with Bella. She is an amazing trooper!

BreZaak and Bella called it a night a bit early...but the rest of us are ready and waiting for the New Year after opening our 11:55 p.m. bag!

Another fun holiday in the rear view mirror.  Thanks to Krista for opening her home to our celebration, the motorhome would be a tad bit crowded for all of us at one time.

Happy New Year! 2016 has certainly had it's challenges...but in it all and through it all....God has proven good and faithful. 

2016 Gherkin Gingerbread Competition

As I've shared repeatedly, consider your choices of activities carefully, one never knows what will become a tradition.  New Year's Eve means hourly fun, a family gift exchange and in 2013 I threw in Gingerbread building. This was a lark as we hadn't gotten around to building our houses earlier in the season. I had purchased two thing I knew the activity was a competition and now we always have our annual  "Gherkin Gingerbread Competition,"  on New Year's Eve.  I'll write a New Year's Eve post, but some are waiting eagerly for THIS post....Note the chance for YOU to vote at the bottom of this post.

First, KUDOS to this year's team captains - Stacia and Nolan.  Planning ahead in an organized manner is a new feature of our competition. Each was provided the same gingerbread kit, spatulas, bowls, spoons, and $20 to shop for anything else they may want. In past years, I did the shopping and provided exactly the same items to both teams. This change allowed all a more active role in the creative process (and made my life easier). They chose a theme, created a shopping list, shopped and brought the admins of the competition (Michael and me) receipts. They were allowed one free item from home and other items from home were given a monetary value and subtracted from their $20.

This "Gingerbread Gherkin" is also new this year. The winners will get to host him for the year. They will take photos of his adventures, mail him to one another and I'll post him on the blog and on our Courageous Joy Facebook page. He'll rejoin us next New Year's Eve.

We added an element of Cutthroat Kitchen. Each team was given $9,000.00 in Monopoly money. In round one they bid on cute little Wilton elements to add. In round two they tossed a coin and blindly chose from two elements to add to their design.  One was a sparkly, silver deer head, the other was two big silver bells with ribbon and mistletoe. Both teams did a great job of incorporating the elements - we forgot to take photos of how hideous they were.

Brainstorming has already begun for new items and handicaps for next year. Possibly a fan blowing on the creation as they work.....

 They were also able to bid on either using or passing on the large gloves. Stacia won the bid to pass the gloves to the men. This turned out great as the ladies were still working on detail work and the men used them to work with the copious amount of "mud and cement" in their creation.

Here are some random shots of the competition. 
So it begins....

Working with the deer head
 The women created icy trees and MT Rainer from their deer head. The men stuffed all the fluffy stuff into the bells and created a much more massive tower for their construction site than originally possible. Great creativity on both sides.

You never know who will show up at these competitions. I was charmed by the creativity all evening.
Bride and Groom
PEOTUS - Donald J. Trump 

All done

Here are the finished projects, team descriptions and a poll for YOU to select 2016's winner.

Women - We have prepared a Gingerbread portrait of our year in review. It is placed in a campground with a quaint trailer. It also features a wedding cabin, with ice covered trees in the background., a dog park with two pugs, a Seahawk goal post with Mt Rainer in the back ground. Sledding is featured on MT Rainer. Our baby is content in her carriage and another member  is building an orphanage in Mexico. Our challenge item was a silver sparkly buck's head and antlers. Our team had $3,800.00 left.

Portrait of 2016

Wedding cabin with Bride & Groom and icy trees

Baby Carriage....note the dog park in the left corner
Campground with tens and trailer - Seahawks stadium to the right

Sour patch people building an orphanage and sledding on MT Rainer

Men - We have prepared a winter wonderland construction site under the supervision of our PEOTUS, Donald Trump and his minions.  In this scene we have successfully created several action scenes: the minions create mayhem around the construction site - including trouble in the honey pot, the realistic depiction of the table saw, pouring of concrete... We ask that you vote for us and make Christmas great again. Our challenge item was two big sparkly bells, ribbon and mistletoe. Our team had $8,000.00 left.  

Make Christmas Great Again 

Table saw 

Note lumber piles and pasta scaffolding

Complete with a porta potty....

Trump and Pence oversee the construction from their giant tower

My vote for winner in the Gingerbread Competition

Past year's competitions and winners:
2013 Competition - Men won with their Town square complete with a clock tower.

2014 Competition - Women won with their sweet Chapel; Men's Night Before Christmas disqualified them according to judge Michael.

2015 Competition - Women won with Mad Hatter's Tea Party over the Men's rendition of Santa's Village.

2016 - will the winner be "Portrait of  2016" or "Make Christmas Great Again" - go vote.

*Note: Michael and I do not miss out on the fun. We got to play with Bella for two solid hours last night! πŸ˜€πŸ˜πŸ˜€

We're Having Another Grandbaby

In the wedding, Christmas, New Year activity - I missed posting this blog, though I did mention it on Facebook!!!! It's be a long time in the making.  We visited OR in October and BreZaak asked us for dinner. We loved their fall decorations.

Did you catch it? I was the first to catch on - but then I saw the test results in the bathroom. πŸ˜‹Then we kept it silent. BreZaak wanted to wait a bit before sharing with anyone. They also decided to wait until after the wedding to share the news so that all focus would be on CoRielle.

 After CoRielle left the wedding reception - BreAnne told her grandparents!  
Bre and Gma Mary Jean 

Gpa Paul, Gma Jan and Bre

 In the photo above she had told Mom and Dad T they had let Bella open some Christmas gifts early. She showed them this picture. They told Pastor on the 18th and waited a few more days to share the news with Facebook  and all their friends.

Oh what fun awaits! 
 Yes, we are thrilled to announce (on the blog) that BreZaak are expecting their second child in June 2017. She is 15 weeks along, has seen a strong heartbeat and we are rejoicing in the goodness of our Heavenly Father.
This is still my favorite

Friday, December 30, 2016

Take Advantage of Us

A great thing about being in the same town as family is the opportunity to be more physically "present" in their lives.   Therapy, with it's evaluations and constant prodding can be daunting, but spending a few hours with Bella AFTER therapy makes for a great day.

We've told BreZaak to, "take advantage of us while we're here."  Today, we watched Bella, and they went on a date. Free childcare from people you know. Extra Bella time for Grandpa and Gemma.  For these grandparents, this seems to be the very definition of  the phrase, "win/win." πŸ’–

Without further ado, here's our Bella at 8 1/2 months! 
I'm gonna get your phone Gemma! 

Izaak attempted to barricade the entertainment center. Bella took great interest in the box of books. 

Gemma was SHOCKED when the sides to Bella's play pen collapsed. I'm pretty sure our kids would have enjoyed their playpen more if the sides collapsed, allowing for easy escape. In other new baby things....the diapers CHANGE COLORS!!!! How easy is that, no more groping and sniffing. 😌

A wise Gemma keeps things hopping. Of all the toys and games we played, Bella seemed to like the paper bag best! Proving once again, give a kid a stick and tin can and they'll be content. Hmmm....the lingering Burrito Boy smell may have had something to do with her interest in this bag. 

Grandpa was a bit worn out from therapy and med changes - he had a wonderful 2 1/2 hour nap....

He woke up just in time to play with Bella for 30 min and of course to pose for a darling photo. 

Bre reported we tired Bella out and she went to bed early and slept well. There you have it, Bella needs to have Grandparent time at least once a week to insure at least one early night a week. πŸ˜‰
Precious little one 
Gemma really must make it a habit to take the big camera when she goes out....the phone is just not quite the same.