As many of you know, Charae now calls Redding, California her home. In the month of September, she moved down to live with our grandparents and work as a teacher's aide at Liberty Christian School. This was a huge adjustment for our family, but we rested in the knowledge that it was what the Lord had for her.
Of course, soon after she left, Leisel and I scheduled a two week trip to California!
On a very blustery day, when the rain fell sleek against the paved roads, two girls headed for the train bound for California. Along with them, they brought two rather large bags that made it look more like a two month visit rather then two weeks :)
We had so much catching up to do within that time. We used each little moment filling each other in on recent news, shopping together, cooking together, and beating each other in competitive games of Aggravation.
Not long after we had arrived, Charae had to fill in for her teacher and teach the class all day...I got to tag along as her teacher's aide :)
The family finally arrived two weeks later and we were all reunited together again :)
As is tradition every Thanksgiving, when the turkey is cooking in the oven and the potatoes are sizzling on the stove, we all head out for a brisk walk on the Sacramento river walk trail.
Our little second cousin soon got overwhelmed with much sisterly attention and many hugs and kisses :)
Friday morning, we four girls ventured out to the bustling mall for our first Black Friday shopping.
The day that we left for home started the countdown till Charae could come up to Washington for Christmas!
When we got home, it was time to get into the Christmas spirit! Late Friday evening, the boys headed out to pick out the prettiest Christmas tree yet!
...and the long job of setting up the tree began: making sure that it was straight from all four angles and that it was safely in the stand. After setting and resetting the base of the tree, it was finally ready to be decorated.
Then the Christmas music began and all of the Christmas decorations came out...
Each person took to their posts and arrayed each room in all kinds of bows and ivy...
After the decorating was complete, Jonathon gathered around the table with the three littles for the erecting of the gingerbread house...
Of course they had to finish off the frosting somehow :P
Each year, we make our rounds to each of the older people who can no longer make it to church and sing carols to them. It is always a time of much blessing for everybody there!
At one of the homes, Jonathon met a WWII veteran!
This year, we hosted a Christmas party at our home as well...
Thursday was spent preparing four different kinds of soups, a torte, lemon bars, marbled cheesecake squares, and blonde brownies.
Annalise, Austin and Ania worked tirelessly on the Christmas program that they had been preparing for the last couple of weeks.
It turned out to be a wonderful time of fellowship with the Lord's people!
At 3:00 in the morning on Saturday, Charae headed to the Redding train station and started the long 14 hour ride to Washington.
Christmas morning arrived, and it felt like we had all became little kids again, anxiously waiting at the top of the stairs for mom and dad to call us all down...
Within an hour, the floor was littered with wrapping paper, intermixed with the many Christmas gifts.
We all waited in anticipation for the last gift to be opened...in a square box mom and dad uncovered the certificate that would send both of them to Victoria B.C. :)
You may not think that with as many of us as there are in our family that one person could make such a hole...but our family never feels complete again until everybody is back around the table together!
We are all together for the present and are enjoying every moment of it. It feels good to be able to set the table for 11 again! What a blessing to have our family once again complete!