In school my teachers taught me that in order to make a reader interested in what I have to say, I have to begin with something that STANDS OUT, an introductory paragraph that attracts and engages the attention of the audience! Usually, this includes a famous quote, a scary research statistic, or at least a dramatic story. This time around, as I began writing about our time in the States, I realized I have nothing dramatic, frightening, or even remotely interesting to share. For that, I am thankful.
Though dramatic tellings engage readers and make for a good story, they do not make for a good life. What I do have to share is what it’s like to be “home.” Our time in the States was amazing. We loved it! Here are some highlights:
In the first full day after arriving in the states, some of my family members picked us up from Uncle Jim and Aunt Lois’ house (They are amazing, and our kiddos love being hosted there). We loved seeing people, and it was extra special to see our youngest nephew who was a newborn during our last visit. He spent most of that day plopping into my lap whenever it was unoccupied. So cute!!
Andrew was able to arrange a “Stuck brothers” day. They spent time catching up and just enjoying one another.
I was able to also spend time with family and taught them a new game – Azul!!
The weekend before Christmas, we were able to spend time with Andrew’s grandparents and extended family. We don’t have many pictures of this time, but we walked away (as we always do) so inspired. Andrew’s grandparents have so much wisdom and love. We never cease to be touched by their generosity, life experiences, and continued deep love of each other and the Lord.
Though we only had snow for about three days of our time in the States, the kids enjoyed it thoroughly. Also Andrew and my dad took time to go out into the woods and make sure we had enough firewood for the rest of the winter. See the video here.
They were out as much as possible, until on Christmas Eve the fog came, and it melted away.
The fog on Christmas Eve lasted all day, and it was beautiful. I enjoyed taking time to go out with a camera and capture as much as I could. The picture above is the front of my parent’s house. The picture below is the path into the woods behind their house.
Christmas Eve night, we went to the service at our home church. The picture below is of one of our kid’s favorite spots in the church. It’s the stairway that leads to the sound room. They have always enjoyed going up and looking out over the heads of all the people.
After the service, we went to a light show with my family at the nearby state park. This link shows the fire tower with a light show. It was a good twenty minutes, and we really enjoyed it, even in the cold.
We returned to my parents’ house after the light show and had our traditional pajama gift before bed.
In the morning, we enjoyed Christmas with our family and my parents. As you can see, Avy was in love with her new ballerina clothes.
It was the year for Legos. All the kids received at least one Lego set. Thankfully, this toy never gets old, can be added to what we already have, and most importantly, Legos pack small. This was especially important because our kids received two BIG family gifts, which you can see here.
In the afternoon, we traveled to one of my sister’s houses and had a giant family Christmas. It was a LOT of fun. It had been years since we’d been physically present for Christmas. (Also, note, Avy is STILL wearing her new ballerina outfit.)
After Christmas, we had a lot of good family time. We had the kids’ cousins over for most of a week.
During that time, we had movie nights.
We built a shed for Grandpa.
And we had “homemade pizza” night in which each kid was given a ball of dough to pound out into a pizza, sauce, and toppings.
During our visit, our kiddos were able to enjoy Grandpa’s shop.
Grandpa helped those strong enough to wield hammers make their own S-hooks.
I also learned during this time in the States that my dad’s dad also had some artistic ability with metal, making designs like the one below.
During this trip, we were able to spend time with some of our friends. The picture below just happens to be one in which we actually took a picture during the process. With this couple, we began a game night on campus that still runs every week. Really, it’s just an excuse to get together, talk, and enjoy each other (oh! and eat ice cream). We were so thankful to be able to see them multiple times on this visit.
During our time, Avy became acquainted with my parents’ pets as shown in the picture below and in this video.
This last picture shows what it’s like to wait in the airport for hours until our last flight is ready. Our kiddos do well traveling, but stores like this make it easy.
I hope you enjoyed this reel of highlights. We could never take enough pictures or video to capture what it’s like to be with family and friends after so much time away. We love you, and we’ll see you again soon.