Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Year in Review


I love New Year's Eve.  It is my favorite time of the year because I love endings and new beginnings.  A new year is full of hope, 365 days to come that are not known to us.

I think 2012 has been our most eventful year ever.  We started this year with a desire to move to Florida.  We spent quite a bit of time painting and fixing up our Canonsburg house before we put it on the market in April.

The kids cleaned the brush off the hillside behind the house.

The kitchen before the remodel

The kitchen after the remodel
Our house was on the market for four days before we signed a contract with the first people who looked at it.  We saw this as a confirmation from God that we were definitely following God's direction.

While we waited to move, we finished out our school year at our co-op in Washington, PA.  I taught on the Civil War to the 6th through 8th grade class, so in April our family went to Gettysburg, PA.  The kids had never been there before, and I wanted them to experience it before we moved.  We bought an audio tour of the battlefield and followed it along to all of the sites.  I was very pleased to learn that my kids enjoyed Gettysburg and learning about the history.

Peace Light Memorial

Little Round Top
Nate's depiction of death after Pickett's Charge
We went to Destination Unknown with the junior high youth group from our church in McMurray, PA - The Bible Chapel.

Performing in a skit in which I rubbed peanut butter in another leader's hair. Sorry it is blurry.

Students playing games on the court.

Finding M&Ms in whipped cream in the rain with only their mouths.
Jacob turned 14 in January.  Nate turned 12 in March, and Paige turned 11 in November. Paige performed in her dance recital on June 1st, and she found a new dance school in Jacksonville.  She, however, is sure she will never find a dance instructor quite like Miss Bethany.

Jake found a Lego Robotics League when we moved.  His team came in 2nd or 3rd in his first competition and gets to move on to Regionals in February.

Nate took part in a Lego Movie-Making camp this summer and took a video production class at co-op.  He is as much into his Legos as he ever was and received three sets for Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, my brother and his family and my parents came to our new house for Christmas week.  It seemed very strange to not have any snow or cold weather for Christmas Day.  My mom is having a hard time remembering it is New Year's Eve today because the weather is so nice.  :-)

On Halloween, we moved into a house we had built.  Before that, we spent five months in a rental just down the road.  

Our house in the final stages before closing.
Since being here, we have found a new co-op.  We are working on making new friends.  I know it'll take some time to make the kind of friends like we had in PA, but we're off to a good start.  We have found a wonderful church and joined a small group.

We have gone on field trips to local forts, an alligator farm, Disney, St. Augustine Old Jail, many different beaches, camping in the panhandle of Florida with friends, among other things.

We got a puppy 3-1/2 weeks ago.  She is a chocolate lab mix named Cocoa.  She is precious, and we are thankful to our friends, the Konrads, for giving her to us.

So, as eventful as 2012 was and how evident it was to us that God was at work in everything we did, I look forward to 2013.  It'll be a year with new goals and new adventures, and God will still be at work in our lives doing immeasurably more for us than we could ever imagine or deserve.

May you have a blessed new year as well!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Arthur Christmas: A Movie Review

The husband/dad was going out, so I was left to figure out what to do with the kids.  I had a Redbox code, so I told them we could get a movie.  Before venturing out, we looked online but didn't see anything.  Our next plan of attack was to view the available movies on demand on Directv.  Jacob saw Arthur Christmas and asked if we could watch that.  I mistakenly thought Arthur was Ernest from the "Ernest Goes To..." movies.  There was no way I was going to waste my time watching one of those movies.  When I explained to Jacob that I didn't like Arthur, he helped me to realize that it was Ernest I didn't like and should hold nothing against Arthur.  I told him that I did see that movie online at Redbox, so we went to pick it up.

I didn't hold out much hope for it beyond a goofy kid movie, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It is an animated film whose main character is Arthur Christmas.  He comes from a long line of Santa Clauses, though he was not in line himself since he was the younger brother.  After delivering all the packages on Christmas Eve and going to bed, the elves cleaned up the wrapping from their own Christmas party and found a toy that had not been delivered.  Since it didn't seem important to anybody that one child would be left without a toy, Arthur took it upon himself to enlist the aid of his GrandSanta to deliver the toy before sunrise Christmas morning.

I laughed throughout this movie.  It was very cute and had some very funny lines in it.  I was not bored once and did not feel it was a goofy kids' movie.  I even told my kids that we should buy it and watch it every Christmas.  I didn't watch it for any deep meaning, just the entertainment value.  It has a lot.

Perhaps there was an underlying message somewhere about how technology does or doesn't make things better as Santa is seen traveling in the S-1 at 45,000 miles per hour, but GrandSanta was able to save Christmas by traveling in his good old-fashioned sleigh with only one metal reindeer left at the end.  If there was, I missed it.  Perhaps there was some bizarre twist with aliens like in every movie Hollywood seems to ruin these days, but it was funny (there weren't really any aliens in this movie).  Perhaps there was some anti-aging sentiment since GrandSanta was seen as a relic like his sleigh, but I missed it.  There really wasn't.  It was all just funny.

I highly recommend this movie.  It is fun, and it is lighthearted.  Come on, if you can watch Elf over and over again every year at Christmas, there is no reason why Arthur Christmas can't be enjoyed in the same way.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What Were They Thinking?

I was at work yesterday when two college-age girls came into the store where I work.  They seemed just like any other customer who comes into the store to browse.  They spent some time looking at some silver necklaces we have and seemed to really like one that had a tree within a circle dangling from the chain.  They moved across the room to the wall on which a hundred other necklaces hung and continued to talk about the tree necklace.  Another customer came in asking for directions while these girls were at the necklace wall.  I noticed them leave a few minutes later.  I turned around to the display where the silver necklaces were and noticed that the tree necklace was not hanging there anymore.  There is no guarantee that these girls took the necklace since I did not see them do it, but I was not able to find it anywhere in the store.  (The rest of this post assumes culpability.)

I have not worked in retail before so have never had to experience being the victim of shoplifting.  It wasn't my necklace that was taken, but I felt violated somehow.  I was taken advantage of.  In an instant when I was helping someone else, a thief very quickly swiped something that caught their eye.  What is it that possesses someone to do such a thing?  Is there anything so completely necessary that a person feels they have to resort to such low measures?  I get the person who steals something to eat if they are starving, but I don't understand stealing a $24 necklace.  I suppose it is a sickness.  I know that they have sin in their hearts because we all do, but is there a gene missing in their DNA?  How are people born without a conscience?

It took me quite a while to get over the fact that this happened.  Now I am just angry and saddened that someone has to live with the sickness that afflicts them.  Thankfully I am a positive person for the most part and will continue to see the good in people before the bad.  To assume the worst of people would depress me.  I suppose I can pray for them and hope that they will somehow be convicted of what they have done and seek to make amends or at least to never do it again to someone else.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's All Fun and Games...

I was on thin ice on pay day when I set a mouse trap in my kitchen.  I was taking a risk with my life but did not have a clue.  I was the mastermind who thought it would be perfection to connect four traps together to catch the mouse, but I was sorry and needed an operation because in the dark I had to scrabble for the cheese that fell off and only found trouble when the traps snapped down on my fingers.

What's the common factor?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Songs Aren't Written by Floridians

My title is probably a sweeping generalization.  I haven't done the research to know for sure, but I don't think anybody who has ever lived in Florida has written a Christmas song, at least not a popular one they play on the radio 80,000 times between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.  I have been waiting for this time of the year since I moved here in June.  I wondered what it would feel like to not see snow during the winter.  I wondered what it would be like to not have 30-degree days on a regular basis.  Now that we are here and there is no snow and every other day is in the 70s, it seems a bit strange to be listening to Christmas music on the radio even though I know in my head that it really is the Christmas season.

Let's think about some of the Christmas songs we hear.  The obvious one would be "Let it Snow."  The song is about wanting the snow to fall so the two lovebirds would have an excuse to not have to go home.  If it were written in Florida the title might be something like, "Guess We Have to go Home Since it's Never Going to Snow."

How about "Frosty the Snowman?"  The closest we'll ever get to a snowman here is if we make a whole lot of shaved ice and roll it into a ball, but then "Frosty the Shaved Ice Man" doesn't really have the same ring to it.  "Sleigh Ride" has a line that reads "We're riding in a wonderland of snow."  It would be a wonder to see that much snow here to need a sleigh.

I suppose there is one song that could have been written by a Floridian - "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas."  It would have to be a dream.  Since the Christmas songs started on the radio the day after Thanksgiving, I have thought about how many songs talk about snow and how foreign a concept that is to those who live in warm climates.  Kids who have never seen snow really have no idea what it is like to be in that "wonderland."

I will agree that snow is pretty...if I'm inside and warm and don't have to go out in it.  I have decided I'd like snow more if it came when it was 70 degrees.  I won't miss having to scrape my windows.  I won't miss weeks on end of subfreezing temperatures.  I'll have to admit, though, that I'll miss the feeling of the Christmas season that snow brings, since that is what I grew up knowing.  It'll take some time to get used to Christmas lights on the palm trees and wearing shorts for family photos around the tree.

Here are some memories of a recent Pittsburgh winter...