Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Day 2012

What a relaxed Christmas Season we had this year, I avoided Pinterest like  the plague! The season was a quiet affair, much like it probably was when baby Jesus was born. John and I had a great time one evening  making our 6 batches of Almond Roca with his stirring contraption and soft Christmas music in the background. All our neighbors loved our kids special deliveries and the Fedex man just glowed from ear to ear when we gave him not one but two bags so he could share with his wife. We love our fedex man - even the dog has stopped barking at him!  Then the following evening we made two batches of Aunt Ethel's sugar cookies for the kids in John's class to decorate. John has a following now at school that make seasonal requests for "his" sugar cookies!

Our kids received 4 gifts from us this year: Something they wanted, something to wear, something to read and something they need. I had heard of this over the last few years as a way of slowing down gift giving and making Christmas more about the One who came instead of about the One who wants. It certainly made shopping quick and easy, there wasn't a lot of store walking and thanks to some great Kohl's deals it didn't cost us too much money, though Amazon seemed to keep calling my name! Here is what the kids received from Mommy & Daddy:

Something to Wear: Abby/Princess Dress  Gabe/New jeans  Drew/Sketcher shoes (1st year he has asked for a brand name ,,,, scary!

Something to Read: Abby/Christmas Zonderkid Book  Drew & Gabe/ Adventure Bibles

Something they need: Abby/ humidifier * totally practical gift!  Drew/Art kit   Gabe/Lego kit *little bit of a stretch but he needed it or I could sense arguing in my future as Gabe tried to "help" Drew with his set! 

Something they want (unwrapped and waiting on Christmas morning): Abby/ Doll House  Drew/Lego Kit   Gabe/Pirate ship from Imagine x

This Christmas it snowed, so the kids were ecstatic and quite excited to get out in the snow on Christmas evening! We had my father and mother and Nana all at our house for  Christmas, then my sister and her husband and kids arrived the following day. My dad made the Prime Rib and my mother made the rest of the meal. We had our friends the Tyson's over and also invited our neighbor over for dinner. The boys spent the whole day working on their Lego's. Drew's gift was a Lego City mine set with 728 pieces - I thought it would take him a few weeks to put together, but he focused and finished it in 24 hours. Wow! Gabe's  gift was a Pirate ship that he proudly shared with his brother.  He had mommy and daddy help him put his smaller Lego kit together and he spent a lot of time watching Drew put his kit together.  Abby received her first doll house - it is so cute! She loves to play with the baby dolls and put them to bed. She is surprisingly enjoying sleeping in the boys room while our company is still here. Her favorite place to sleep is Gabe's bed!  Gabe is happy to sleep on the floor for his sister - he is such a sweet and kind boy.

The kids loved reading our Season of Advent again this year and talking about the Adornaments that we hung on the Jesse Tree. Abby had fun learning the names of Jesus - the boys remembered them all from years past. They all had fun making up Christmas songs and singing Christmas carols. That was about it for our traditions. John had fun coming up with families to provide Christmas for, but we didn't really include the kids in that this year.

Nana bought them How to Train Your Dragon and Brave for Christmas so they have been movie a-holics for the last two days. I think they are finally tired to TV! They are also tired of tummy aches since they have been eating a lot of sugar. Sweet! Its funny to see them turn down ice cream or cookies. I did discover that Abby is the only one of the kids who likes Candy Canes - the boys think they are too "Spicy!" This morning Gabe grabbed some honey nut cheerios from a box John brought home from school, he grabbed them and exclaimed "I'm going to eat these cheerios with the high fructose corn syrup!" Oops, that boy sure listens!

John saved the Christmas card day -  two weeks before Christmas, he took all the kids after church and gave me the whole afternoon to write our Christmas letter. My Hero! I was able to write the letter and get them all mailed in just one afternoon!

The highlight of Christmas was the book I put together. I've been blogging for almost 8 years. I always hoped one day to publish a yearly book so my kids could look back on what their life was like as they get older. John has been bugging me to do that too, but I never found the time to put it all together. So, imagine my excitement when I Googled "blog to book" and found a company that pulls all the entries and creates a book! The whole process took me 45 minutes! So for Christmas John received a 229 page book that encompassed all of my 2011 blog posts. In the next year I'll get the rest done, but prior to 2007 I don't have pictures tagged in the blog since I'd copied the text from another blog company I used. I will need to go back sometime this year and add pictures. It is so much fun to see how the kids change from year to year.
Drew blessed us this year with his own piece of art - he painted us a turtle on a piece of canvas. He even wrapped it up with green painter tape and Christmas wrapping paper. For a fun twist, I took all three kids to the dollar tree and gave them 3.00 - they were to buy a gift for their siblings and daddy, It was so special to see the delight on their faces when the gift they bought were opened. The boys were really into it, Abby is coming along, but didn't quite grasp the excitement like the boys did. Gabe struggled the day we went shopping because he kept finding gifts for himself, but once Christmas came and he saw his gifts being opened, he was so proud of the thought he put into his gifts.

We hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Letter 2012

Christmas 2012             

Blessings from the Williams!
Life around our house is quite busy, the kids are growing too fast, we’ve entered the phase where all my kids think about is eating and I can’t keep enough Applesauce and Yogurt in the house. This past year has been full of laughter, work, family and joy. In just a few months its hard to believe John and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary – how did the time go by so fast?

John – He continues to teach Grades 6 – 8 Special Education for Fort Worth ISD. He actually just had one of his 10 students test out of his class – I told John is because of his excellent and fun teaching methods! He had a full year keeping up with our three rambunctious kids, supporting mommy as “substitute” teacher and even managed another trip to Vietnam this past summer. John enjoyed serving and teaching at the Special Education conference in Hanoi and then spend some time working with a special education teacher in her classroom – providing support and creative ideas to inspire her kids. He became the boys hero when he brought home a painting from Vietnam; “Starry Night” by Van Gogh – copied of course!  John also spent two weeks in Oregon with just the boys – sliding down sand dunes and camping out at his Dad’s property in Silverton and freaked out our Texas friends the White’s climbing Oneonta in the Gorge! The boys all enjoyed visiting with Grandma Patti before she left to teach in China for two years. We all miss her! John has a great group of guys from our church and enjoys “guys night in the garage” every Thursday night. He has even managed to get some neighbors to attend – who would not love beer and bible study and building things? John placed 2nd in the tactical league he attends every Wednesday night and has enjoyed honing his marksmanship! John 2013 goal is to finish our bed for the master bedroom – it has been one of his lifelong dreams since we met! He started on it about a month ago!
Melissa – Her favorite time of the year has arrived – chilly weather, Starbucks Holiday Drinks and lots of visiting family! She enjoyed her Precept Bible class again this year and spending time with her mom’s group. The highlight was attending her 5th Sally Clarkson conference in Los Colinas Texas. This year she went with her sweet friend Nicole and some friends from church. Much of her year was spent balancing work and home life as her company grew rapidly. She spent all the rest of her time keeping up with the kids schooling. Melissa and the boys did their first fun run in September – to raise money for safe houses in our area in the fight against human trafficking, At the run, Melissa realized that Drew might be a future track star, or at least she found a great outlet for all his energy – 2x around our block is almost one mile. So far, Drew can run a mile in 7 minutes, 45 seconds. The disciple of running and lack of energy is really helping with his spelling!

Active Drew - is almost 8 years old! He had big changes come his way in August, when he started a (UMS) University Model Christian School. He loves the social life of being in school three days per week and learning from other teachers besides mom and dad. He finally experienced a “real” classroom as he calls it – but still wishes he could ride a yellow school bus like everyone else!  Drew enjoys inventing elaborate creations out of Lego’s or Connects and molding dragons out of clay.

He is finally getting into drawing and painting! He is also in love with learning random animal facts off his favorite show “Wild Kratz.”  Drew enjoys going to church, singing worship songs and our babysitter Mrs. Kelly. He also enjoys special one on one time with his Nana who lives around the corner. He told me the other day “Nana is such a great teacher; she really helps me learn my spelling words.”  I do believe spelling words are my nemesis – I am quite glad to pass them off to Nana or the Sunday night sitters at church!  This year has been quite a change having due dates on homework, tests, grammar lessons and a teacher other than mom to say “sshh,” and “focus” When I asked him what he wants to do when he is older; he says an Animal Rescuer and maybe a teacher or an evangelist!

Mighty Gabe – was sad to see Drew head off to school three days a week. Gabe has risen to the occasion and has slowly grown up into quite a helpful little boy. His favorite phrase is “yes mama” and “you bet!”  With brother in school, that has provided mommy some special time with just Gabe and Abby.  Gabe’s favorite things include reading books, singing and making up songs, collecting treasures and swinging off his brother’s bunk bed rope. Gabe loves to make up jokes and see others laugh – typical middle child! He also loves play dates, trips to the park, Science Museum trips, and playing with his little sister. He loves the IPAD for schoolwork and watching PBS kids, though the IPAD recently went on sabbatical at Nana’s house because Mommy got tired of him asking for it every 10 minutes. Now my 84 year old Nana is enjoying this wonderfully simple technology!  
Gabe loves to make up stories and has lots of creativity, though he hates picking up the giant messes from said creativity. Gabe spent his 5th birthday with his family at Great Wolf Lodge – mainly because his mother dreads planning children’s parties. It ended up being the most relaxing and fun few days all year. The kids swam and ran all over the place and mommy and daddy enjoyed those giant water-slides. Gabe cannot wait to be 6, so he might be tall enough for those big slides too!

Joyful Abby - is going to be 3 years old! She lives up to her name “My Fathers Joy.” Abby takes great delight each evening when her daddy walks through that door. She is more durable than her  brothers are; masterfully fighting in daddy’s sword wars and pillow fights. She recently began speech therapy one day a week. Abby is hard to understand since he does not say many blends and leaves off the ending of most words. Her progress has been encouraging though; we are not having nearly as many temper tantrums! My little girl is growing up quickly – she loves to play with dolls and her kitchen set – but only when left to her own play. If her brothers are home, she has to do exactly what they are doing!  Abby’s favorite past time is searching for wipes and throwing them all over the room. She recently found some medicine paste for her bottom and had a great party wiping it all over her floor. Abby marches to her own drum – she smiles, laughs, and is not concerned with much – not even discipline seems to phase her. She is well known for having a giant melt down and then being able to stop instantly and put a smile on her face. That girl makes us all giggle with her antics!

May I bless you this day as I bless my children each night before bed:

“May the Lord Bless you and keep you, may the Lord let his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
         And give you peace.’
Numbers 6:24-28

Blessings,  John, Melissa. Drew, Gabe & Abby


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Inscriptions for Gabe: Gabe turns 5

Gabe turned 5 big ones last week! He was a mere 3 weeks early for his birth - now he is turning 5! My mind can not comprehend....

Gabe is out of the awkwardly hard two and three phase and  is in that blissful stage where he says exactly what is on his mind, there doesn't seems to be a filter. Which is why he informed me the other day that, “I would love to live at Mrs Kelly's house when you die." Seriously, I can't believe he said that, though I think Drew said a very similar thing to me when he was around 5. Lesson - Mrs Kelly is cool and they finally realize how cool of a sitter she is when they are 5, they then realize how boring mom is too. Note to self - learn how to fish and take kids to Crispy Cream more....

Out favorite Gabe phrase is "Noooo problem!" He is so obedient most of the time, always wanting to please and be the center of our joy. Gabe is a lover of life and that just blesses this momma's heart - he makes me smile incessantly and laugh out loud with his surprisingly complex jokes.

He loves playing with Lego's, making up stories and jokes.Gabe can actually crack some funny jokes. For example, last week a man was walking his large boxer past our house, warning to all neighbors, walking your dog by our home is an invitation for my children to talk and talk to you for as long as you will listen. Anyhow, Gabe was loving on the dog and informed his owner that he should be properly named "Step," the man looked a little confused and asked why? Gabe replied in good humor " because he likes to step on me!"

He and Drew love sharing a giant bunk bed and often end up in bed together. Gabe is always out withyin momentsand then Drew stays awake and creates masterpieces. Gabe loves waking up before Drew and playing with "said" masterpieces. That leads to some interesting breakfast conversations ..... if you get my drift!

Welcome to 5 Gabers! We love you so much and can't imagine life without your contagious smile!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Trying to Enjoy The Season

Christmas Shopping not done (not even a list made), cards not mailed or written, calendars not made - spending time today with sweet friends .... priceless! The advent lesson tonight was very priceless too - the story was of Moses and the ten commandments. Drew asked what adultery was and I said it was when two married people go to bed with someone they were not married to. He ask so seriously with hand motions and all "but what if the beds are really far apart... like this far. Is that still Adultery?" John deferred the question to me!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When Mommy Leaves.....

We'll I've discovered what the kids did while I was in the PNW - so far I've watched them make "tools" out of LEGO's which was very cute, then Gabe said that he wanted to take it on the show "Cool Tools." Then yesterday at breakfast Drew informed me that we can safely drink rattle snake blood - what? He replied, yes, I learned it on that "prep-per" show daddy likes. So the kids watched Cools Tools and Doomsday Preppars - really??? Good thing I'm not traveling again for quite a while!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Thankful List 2012

Psalm 95:1-6
"O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker." 

2012 was a blessed year; we thank the Lord for another year together with our children and extended family. We had many visitors and lots of fun! 

1. Drew was thankful for his school, church and family, he especially enjoyed visits from Papa Tractor and his Papa from Seattle. He enjoyed time with his Sister the beginning of the year while Gabe was at Preschool. Then in the Fall he started ACA and was not home quite so much. That was a hard transition for us all, but we made the most of it.
Drew is loving and compassionate. As his mommy I'm so grateful for his helpfulness and servants heart. I also am thankful for his creative mind that is always running and inventing and creating. I know our God is creative so its nice to see life a little clearer through the eyes of my son, he helps me to see God in a clearer light. 

2. We are thankful for our health. It is something we do not take for granted. When we think back to Abby's first month of life, it puts the frailty of life in perspective. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away - Blessed be the name of the Lord.

3. Gabe is thankful for his family, his friends, brother, sister and his fun daddy who is always teaching him new things. He loves his Daddy's blow gun and is blessed to have a daddy who shares his things and a Mommy who forgives the random misses that land in her wall.
4. Siblings - we are blessed to have three kids who love one another. They enjoying playing and singing and laughing. There are random scuffles, but for the most part they are inseparable. What a blessing as a mommy to know her children are practicing Christ-likeness daily within the family. I smile when Drew is quick to unbuckle his sister when we get out of the car, or when Gabe defers to Drew and lets him sit in the front bucket seat of the van. Abby loves to just be around her brothers and enjoys getting the Lego's or blankets for their forts.

5. One huge blessing happened in the Spring, John was able to take off two days and accompany Drew to camp. They boys went hiking, swimming, repelling, and horse back riding. This was a really fun time and Drew became great friends with a little boy Matthew from his class. The bigger blessing was when the following Fall, Matthew too  was enrolled at ACA and held back in 1st grade. God is so good, He had planned it all out ahead of us!

6. Sweet Abby - she is thankful to turn 3 soon! She is also in speech classes that have really assisted her in communicating better. She is such a blessing to our family and daily reminds me to enjoy the moments because they can quickly change to heartbreak. This little girl is a lover of life and all things fun! I am blessed by her energy and eagerness to please.

7. We are blessed to have consistent and stable jobs. Though I wish I  could say I wasn't as busy working this year, I am thankful that my job is consistent and that the growth they have experienced has allowed me to meet and serve some wonderful people. At a time when many are loosing their jobs, we offer up thanksgiving for income and provision beyond all we could have asked or thought.  John is blessed to enjoy serving his special ed kids and educate them to the best of his ability. He was heartbroken when one of his students parents passed away this winter. His job is hard, the there is way more politics than he would like, however, serving children that have little joy in their lives is right from the heart of Jesus. God provides all that is needed each day to serve and it is such a blessing to be right where God wants you to be. 

8. Generosity - I am thankful for a husband who thinks about others. He is always giving - to coworkers, our children, the homeless, random strangers. I love that our kids see this selfless giving and have caught it. John is such a great example for our kids and I feel blessed to be married to such a generous man!

9. Traditions  are hard to keep but lasting in the memories of children. I try and spend time each year recreating traditions year after year that bring our character and a renewed love for Jesus. I am blessed that God placed this desire in my heart, for my children have picked up on it and are learning so much about our Lord. They love our time of Advent and reading of the thanksgiving stories each Fall. They love not having chores on their Birthday and picking the food and games for their birthday. 

10. We are thankful for a great team at church - a group of friends who are genuine and honest. John is blessed with a mentor and godly man who speaks into his life each week and great guys who visit the garage every week. It is amazing how welcoming an open garage is to a quiet neighborhood.
11. Grandma Patti visited us this year and enjoyed some Texas sunshine! She came right before leaving for two years in China. We are blessed to have family that lead by example and serve not just in American but in other countries. John was blessed to go  back to Vietnam this Summer, he enjoyed speaking at the conference in Hanoi on special needs. It was so encouraging to see all the support and funds God raised to send him across the country. 

12. We count each of our blessings this year, there is so much to thank the Lord for! The one change that stands out the most to me is being so close to ACA and being able to financially afford this school. We have always felt called to non-traditional approaches to education. I just feel blessed to partner with a school that has our values and love for creative learning as well as a desire for parents to be actively involved in their children's education. Though the road has been hard and we've put a lot work into school this year, I  can see the rewards in heart and mind. We continue to pray for Drew's love for learning and a deep desire for his eyes to work better so reading comes more natural. In the interim we press on with a higher goal in mind which is character traits like perseverance, discipline and an understanding and compassionate heart.

May you have a blessed 2013 and remember to cherish each moment like it is your last.....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More Fall in Pictures

More Lego creations!
Gabe finished his little kick's soccer class this Fall

Abby - tired after a play date at Grandma Johnnies
Brothers: on the Fort Worth train touring the Trinity River
Abby learning how to defend herself.... or showing me her new shoes that a friend gave us?

Our milk company went out of business this past September, so I found a new farm in Bridgeport. The kids know more than enough about where our milk comes from, we happened upon milking time one evening and stayed an hour watching the process. The kids now want farms and cows and cute little goats! They need to hurry up, Bridgeport is a long way to drive!
Fun run time - Drew ran like a crazy man, he now gets out energy by running a mile and a half everyday (2x around the block). That kid is crazy fast and has endurance - I'm sure God has great things planned for all that energy!
Fun at Homestead Farms in October with cousins and Nana!
Aren't the "kids" so cute!
Fishing Fun!
More fun at the pumpkin patch with our cell group from church.
Staying up late watching the election results and coloring the "Red" and "Blue"
Three days at Great Wolf Lodge: celebrating Gabe's 5th birthday, John and I both needed a break from working so  this was quite the family treat! Added bonus - I didn't have to plan a party!

Birthday gifts wrapped in targets - guess who wrapped these?