Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few fun hours ...

I had Wednesday off work, SO I asked if I could take Brendan downtown to the Grand Rapids Public Museum to see the whale exhibit and the Charlie Brown exhibit and just hang out down there for a few hours.

 We always have a ton of fun at the museum. This grandparent membership thing is really a deal.
 Brendan caught a few magnetic fish at this little play area ... and bowled a little bit too.
 The Charlie Brown exhibit was upstairs on the second floor. I think it was mostly for older children because it required a lot of reading of the comic strips framed nicely and hanging on the walls ...
 Brendan got to play Schroeder's piano ... 
I think our favorite part of the exhibit was Snoopy's dog house. It was just so perfect, and INSIDE there were two puppets: Snoopy AND Woodstock! 
 This little sweetie LOVES puppets ...
 He was quite taken with both of them!

 We went all the way to the 3rd floor to see the whale exhibit. There was a bunch of stuff to see and do--again, I think mostly for older children and adults. Also, I didn't like the science part of it because it assumed that everyone was an evolutionist--I'm not! But the exhibit was well put together and worth seeing. There was a GIANT heart model that kids could actually crawl inside--they claimed this model was LIFE-SIZED!!

 This was also the ONLY place in the entire whale exhibit where photography of any kind was allowed!
 Just a few more pictures ....

 I love the gift shop at almost any museum ... such fun and interesting toys to play with!

Naturally, we rode the carousel too! For some reason, Brendan wanted us to SIT on the chair part of the carousel instead of on the animals this time. That's okay--just a bit unusual--Brendan usually always picks the giraffe to ride.
After the museum, we went to Culver's for lunch so that Brendan could get a FREE scoop of his very favorite chocolate ice cream for dessert. YUM.

Christmas Day 2016

Christmas fell on a Sunday this year. I love it when it does that! Calvary Church has been going through its Grace Beyond building project and last Sunday (December 18) was our first Sunday back "home" to worship after spending the last eight months over at the field house at Calvin College. So Christmas day was our second Sunday back in our newly renovated, not-quite-finished building.

I picked Nana up and we went to church together. It was a "family" service, so all of the little children were IN the service and had a special message given to them too. Pastor's message was about Jesus becoming a human and what that meant--that laying aside of His glory and becoming one of us. Pastor also talked about what that transformation meant for Jesus for eternity. It was a very thought-provoking sermon. I loved singing the Christmas Carols, too, with nearly 3,000 people all back together at our church again.

After the service, Nana and I came over to my house and ate lunch together (I had it all nicely cooking in the crock pot). We visited for awhile and watched some of "Home Alone 2" (just because it is a funny movie), and then I took Nana back to her house and drove over to Dylan, Kelly, and Brendan's place where we celebrated Christmas. Shane was there too.

Weeks ago, I had asked what I could get Brendan for Christmas that would be SPECIAL. !! So Dylan and Kelly were kind enough to let me get Brendan his very own rainbow ukulele! 

 Brendan is very patient about opening presents. At one point, he had gotten most of the wrapping paper off and said with his sweet voice, "It's a box!"
 Ah, but INSIDE the box was this very pretty ukulele for our Little Fellow!
 Look at his little face! And Dylan's too! Priceless.

 Dylan tuned up the strings, attached the rainbow strap and made sure it fit inside the very cool carry case. Everything was Perfect! :)

 Brendan has had quite a Christmas this year! His grandma Julie and grandpa Pat sent him a Polar Express lionel train with sound effects galore, remote control and everything! Brendan is absolutely thrilled with it.

 Kelly's family called and Skyped with us for awhile too. 
We had a really nice afternoon just relaxing and watching Brendan's JOY. So thankful to be with family on this beautiful day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"Down From His Glory"

The designing of my Christmas card is a challenge every year. After it is finished and at the printers, I say to myself: NEXT year, I'm going to get this finished in October! But I never ever START working on it until the week of Thanksgiving--so you see how that doesn't work out very well.

I am thankful, though, for the process of making this card each year. Actually, it has become my Christmas. You see, I am an artist ... and I have ideas and visions and desires for what I want this card to look like and to communicate ... but I am a moody artist (at best). Anyway, here it is:

I LOVE the Christmas carols, old ones and new ones alike. "Down from His Glory" is not a traditional Christmas carol by any means. I have a file folder with lyrics from dozens of carols. I had included this one in my file a few years ago because the lyrics are SO perfectly the Gospel ... they just say everything. But since the song itself isn't really recognized as a "carol" (and the tune is sung to "O Solo Meo" ... not my favorite music by far), I had rather cast it aside as a card possibility.

Last April, the first weekend actually, we had quite a bunch of snow fall. I was on my way to work in the early morning, and driving down the little road that leads outside my house to Cannonsburg Road, I looked to the right and saw this scene ... the sun was on its way up for the day ... the snow was glistening, and the beauty of it just took my breath away. I am SO glad I had my camera, because I stopped the car, pulled over, stepped out, and snapped this picture. When I uploaded it later that day to my computer, I KNEW I would use it on this year's Christmas card. The lyrics to "Down From His Glory" matched this little scene so well, I decided to use it, traditional Christmas carol or NOT!

I did alter this photo on my Photoscape program and I loved the result. Two of the four pictures on the card are altered, the darker two are NOT edited, other than to clarify color. I mailed out nearly 70 of these cards to friends and family this year, as well as some of my neighbors. The only phrase I did not use from the song was this: "Born in a manger, to His own a stranger--a man of sorrow, tears and agony." Even though those are perfect Christmas lyrics, there is only so much room on a Christmas card and I wanted to be sure to include the verse: "What condescension, bringing us redemption ... " because that is the GOSPEL ... it IS Christmas! I hope and pray this card was a blessing to those who received it.

PS  The card was printed on bright white linen card stock and I was very happy with the result ... moody artist that I am!

A quiet Christmas Eve

It was kind of a slushy-weather Christmas Eve this year. I picked up the kiddos at 2:30 and we headed over here to celebrate the birthday of Jesus at The Beach House.
This little Nativity set (Fisher-Price) has gotten a lot of mileage around here. I had it under my tree for several weeks and, especially with the younger two grandchildren, had fun re-enacting the Christmas story adding several of our own animals around here to come and worship the baby Jesus. 
 We ate a little meal before opening our presents, but then we got right to it! Everyone pretty much knew what they were getting, since we had ordered it together on-line a few weeks prior.
 However, I did go to Dunham's and pick up some warm hats and gloves for the kids that they were not expecting. Matthew was very pleased with this face-mask knit hat with Christopher asking me why on earth I didn't get one for him! Actually, there was only one left in the store and for some reason, I just thought Matthew might like it best. Chris got a nice warm knit hat as well, but it was not a face mask.
 Sweet Kaity got a little lion (whom she named "BOY") with its very own back-pack. She had so much fun with it too.
 The boys, however, got quite a few complicated LEGO sets to assemble. They spent the next few hours ... assembling.

Kaity got a warm snow suit, gloves and hat so that she and I can go sledding on our Monday afternoons! She was very excited about it!
I wasn't able to snap any other pictures of Ems because she clearly did not want her picture taken, AND she was nicely playing with Kaity while the boys were LEGO building. She received a LEGO set too, but decided to build it at home in her cozy upstairs room. She also got some movies she had wanted and a little $$ (cash) to spend on her own.

I had intended to go to Calvary's Christmas Eve service, but ... by the time I returned the children home at 7:30 I was too tuckered out, so I went back home instead, put beautiful carols on my CD player and just soaked in Christmas beside my pretty Christmas tree.