A year's worth of pictures were condensed onto four pages for the traditional calendar my sisters-in-law and I create every year to give to our mother-in-law for Christmas.
Five batches of Dutch letters were made and given to friends and family throughout the month of December.
For the last Christmas program Harris and I will ever attend for one of our children at an elementary school, Keaton stole the show at the end with a very special performance.
Kelsey had her first high school Christmas choral concert with two of her friends.
Haley graduated early, so Vance and Steph's family came over for a surprise celebratory breakfast on the first day of Christmas break. She's so happy that she doesn't even have to set foot in a classroom again for eight months and can just enjoy some down time figuring out what God wants her to do next with her life!
Heath started a part-time job at Chick-fil-A, a Christian-based restaurant just five minutes from our house, which was an awesome answer to prayer. Notice the cow's hat: "Eat more chicken!"
We woke up to a winter wonderland on the morning of Christmas Eve, and it just kept snowing and snowing all day long!
It was the most perfect day for some quality family time!
After the candlelight service at church, we came home to celebrate Christmas with our family.
We decided Heath was one very blessed young man to be surrounded by so many women in his life, and, well, we are just pretty thankful to have him in our lives too!
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, stuffed mushrooms, Snicker apple salad, and ice cream dessert. Thankfully I had a lot of help throughout the day! It was good, and we were full!
Harris read the Christmas story, and then we slowly opened our gifts and enjoyed each other's company. For the last few years, the kids have decided to use some of their own money to purchase gifts too. It was music to our ears when they were sharing about how much more fun it is to give than to receive. Thank you, Jesus! That is parenting progress!
Over the years let's just say that Harris hasn't always been the best at coming up with a gift for me, but this year he totally made up for it and spoiled me rotten! Not only did he give me this Cricut Expression but he gave me his blessing to set aside time every Friday in 2011 for scrapbooking so that I can get caught up. He is a good man! The challenge will be if I can actually take him up on his generous offer and let other things slide a little. Somehow dishes, laundry, bookwork, etc., always have a way of staring me in the face, so it will be interesting to see how I handle the gift I've been given.
I'm so thankful for yet one more Christmas morning that a picture like this could be taken! They are such goofballs, and I love them all so very much! Having all four of them home yet is truly precious!
See, I told you he's a good man!
We headed to Oskaloosa to celebrate with my family on Christmas afternoon. Usually we take a picture with my parents and all the grandkids, but somehow they didn't end up in the picture but my brother Scott did instead.
Then we headed to the farm where we celebrated with Harris's family on Christmas night, and once again, we took the traditional family photos.
Here are all the Westerkamp grandchildren with Grandma Bonnie. It was our first Christmas without Grandpa Howard.
On Monday we got to help with taking inventory at Harris's dad's Suzuki dealership.
It was a family affair! Just imagine how many pieces and parts could possibly be in that one section of bins! Oh, the joy!
We arrived back home Tuesday at midnight, and on Wednesday afternoon Harris and I took off for Galena, Illinois. My gift to Harris this year was making reservations for a two-night getaway, and it was the most peaceful, relaxing, and rejuvenating thing I think we could have done. It was awesome to have some time to reflect on 2010 and then talk about our goals, plans, and dreams for 2011. We came home just in time to celebrate New Year's Eve, and then enjoyed two more absolutely precious days at home with our family.
Our Christmas break was priceless!
Going out to see a movie is something we typically never ever do, but we discovered a couple years ago how much fun it is to see "The Polar Express" in 3D, so that has become a family tradition over Christmas break. The kids were pretty sure we should keep it up, and in all honesty, Harris and I enjoy it just as much as they do!
Transitioning into 2011 has been a strange phenomenon for me. I keep thinking back to where we were when we started 2010. At that time there were three rather big things that we knew about going into the year: Haley would be going to Africa for two months, Harris's dad's health was failing, and Haley would enter her senior year as a swim captain, all three of which were a little scary.
This year it felt so different to me. We're going into 2011 without any real inclination of what may be coming our way for the year. Sure, we know of a few events on the calendar, but it has been kind of a weird feeling. Almost eerie . . . mysterious. I don't know why. God has proven Himself to be so faithful over and over again throughout 2010, and yet there were things that happened, Heath's seizures and tumor in particular, that obviously we didn't see coming at all, and it just makes me wonder what kinds of things we'll experience in 2011. It's also very exciting and so full of potential and possibilities! What kinds of miracles will we witness?
I have found myself just being very thankful for every normal day of life that goes by. I have found myself just trying to slow life down a bit and savor the moments. The first week of 2011 was actually really calm and peaceful, and I found that New Year's resolutions are much easier to keep when the calendar isn't filled to the max and when life is humming along smoothly.
But then life happens! Life throws us curveballs, good or bad, big or small, and it has a way of throwing us completely off our schedule! My first curveball for this year came to me in this form:
Who can possibly resist a phone call on a Friday afternoon from your sister saying, "I'm thinking of picking up the girls from school and heading your way for the weekend. Would that be okay?" Hello!!!
What was going to be a very rare and quiet weekend at home with absolutely nothing on the calendar turned into a major scrapbooking session for us and lots of giggles and grins in the cousin department! What a fun surprise!
She looks so innocent, doesn't she?!?
My second week of 2011 was quite different from the first. Some of those New Year's resolutions quickly fell by the wayside as life had a way of just taking over again. School is back in session, activities have all resumed, and things just need to get done!
This special occasion threw some curveballs into this week . . .
Happy birthday, Kelsey!!
Today has been particularly quiet and peaceful again, and it's given me the perfect chance to regroup. It's given me the chance to say, "Thank you, Lord, for all the good things you bring into our lives. Thank you for the hidden blessings that we don't see coming and that you lavish on us. Thank you for giving us the grace to get through the ugly things we don't see coming. Thank you for your presence in our lives, and thank you for life!"