Wednesday, December 31, 2014

El Redentor Has Two New Angels

Earlier this year we began taking turns bringing my dad to his church, El Redentor Lutheran. The service is in Spanish, and while we don't speak Spanish the people of the church are the kindest, most welcoming group. Our girls have enjoyed attending Sunday school with the other children and playing after the service out on the lawn. There is always food after church in the fellowship room and they had a big church picnic this summer as well. The church was a huge part of my dad's life before his brain tumor diagnosis and is even more important to him now. They are like a second family to him and have supported him and our family throughout his illness. They had a Christmas church service last Sunday which included a performance by the children of the nativity. The older girls narrated (in English) and everyone had a part.
Gemma and Lily were angels and Gemma also carried the star that shone above baby Jesus. She could not have been more serious carrying that shiny gold star.
Bella carried baby Jesus and delivered him to Mary. It was truly her broadway dream moment.
The performance was darling with all the classic Christmas carols.
The angels marched in a circle around the manger singing, it was the most darling thing ever.
After the stellar performance we gathered in the fellowship hall for a pot luck lunch and then....Santa came! I thought he had already left for vacation but it seems he made a lay over for one quick visit to church. His reindeer was a beautiful rescue dog named Luna.
He had a special gift for each child.
I think Santa was pretty tired and ready for a few weeks in Hawaii.
Mr. Lee got some great gifts too. His best friend Cira gave him a polo shirt. She has brought food every single Sunday for after church so that my Dad could enjoy it. She makes all his favorites and sends him home with left overs.
In case you need to see the angels in action. 
We have all had a chance to get to know Dad's church family as Eric takes him to church too and when Joel is in town he and his family do as well. We know all the words to the order of service in Spanish now. They pray for my dad's health every Sunday and he scoffs from his wheel chair because he does not think he is ill. There are very few things that he can get excited about enough to get out of bed and church, and jammin java are high on the list.

Holly Jolly Christmas 2014

Every year we prepare our Christmas card we realize how few family photos we have taken through the year. In an effort to remedy this we set up the tripod on Christmas eve before church to take a photo. The trial run with Alex and the girls went well.Side note-Alex has been growing a beard since Thanksgiving, calling it Decembeard. I like the way it looks but his Mum is not impressed.
Then add myself and the dog and the timer, things got pretty interesting. This is the best of the batch. It is the only proof I existed over Christmas since I was always the one behind the camera. We headed to Christmas Eve church at my grandma's church to meet up with family. It is the first Christmas without my Gram and it was nice to be at her church but hard all the same. 
We returned home after church to have supper and head to bed so Santa could come. We sprinkled reindeer food on the lawn from Gemma's preschool teacher. We left cookies and milk for Santa and tucked in for bed. The girls woke bright and early with Gemma going in to wake Lily and being told by her it was still night time and we wouldn't allow them to get up yet. It was about 6 am and although it was still dark we all dragged ourselves out of bed. We always start with stockings which hold enough goodies that we could probably just stop right there.
Santa's gifts were first up. Winston was quite pleased with is stocking. Let's see how long his toys last this year.
Gemma got her prized gift of Elsa light up shoes. She has hardly taken them off since that morning. They were a big hit and bring her much happiness.
Grampy knows his boy well. Alex was very pleased with his remote control helicopter.
Lily's wish list included a remote control car which she loves.
Granny and Grampy got the girls roller skates and they were thrilled. Charlie got some a few days earlier and they were so impressed they wished for some of their own.
The automatic birds Lily wanted nearly brought her to tears. I thought they would be annoying but they are actually really cute. They sing to each other and know tons of tunes.
Gemma's other dream was a singing Elsa watch which happened to come in a Frozen jewelry box. She has carried that thing around with all her best treasures in it for a week. Her treasures include tic tacs, gum, band aids, and lip gloss of course.
Once the gifts were demolished and the sun had risen we forced the young ones to have some breakfast before moving on to skating.
It was a steep learning curve but they are catching on quickly.
Safety first we have all the gear. The only part not protected that they seem to constantly fall on is their bum! Maybe we will strap couch cushions to them and let them go!
After a nice Christmas supper of Roast Beef, Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings we headed to Grandma Great's house to see the whole Peterson crew. It was quite a crowd and so good to see everyone. I know Grandma would be so proud and was there with us in spirit. 2014 was a difficult year for all our family but it was also full of so many memories.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Griswold's have nothing on this family

When was the last time the whole crew was in town for Christmas? Who knows? It was so good to have the Portland crew come down for a couple days before Christmas. Having the whole crew together was fun, and loud. Ben loves all his cousins. Charlie was kind enough to play him some music.
The other part of the crew was watching Frosty the snow man with Grandpa Lee. He was snoozing more than watching but he was up and about for the most part of the two days which is a record for him.
It was 75 degrees out and there may have been a little water play. It started with some innocent "stew" making which is Lily and Gemma's favorite past time at Goppy's house. After the stew was finished there was some bucket tossing and generally everyone got pretty wet and made a huge mess. Cleaning it up was half the fun though.
We spent the evening exchanging gifts for all the little ones. That was a huge hit. Baby Gwyn even seemed to have fun.

We gave Owen a money tree. I wonder how long it took him to disassemble and spend?
The gifts were soon demolished and after much fun we headed home to rest up for day two.
The next day we met up at Ben's house to check out his sweet tree house. 
Some day Gwyn will lay claim to the house I'm sure so Ben better enjoy his time now.
The audience was enjoying the warm weather and views of above.
We let Ben nap and headed to our house so Charlie could do some acrobatics on our trampoline. We wanted to take advantage of the beautiful evening light and get some pictures. Eric wasn't home from work yet so we had to make do without him.
Or maybe he showed up at the last minute, you be the judge.

Grandpa Lee, Goppy and all their babies. Gemma snuck a sneakie one with Grandpa's glasses.
That's a little better.
That night we loaded up in the McCluskey's 12 passenger van and drove around looking at Christmas lights. All the kiddies had cups of cocoa with marshmallows and whip cream. Joel brought up all the words to Christmas tunes on his phone and we had a giant sing along. My Dad rode up front with Eric driving. He had a great time and said the singing was his favorite part.We all enjoyed being together. Perhaps it will be a new tradition

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Star is Born

Gemma's preschool Christmas performance was bittersweet this year. It is the end of an era. There will be no more sweet little preschool shows since next year Gemma will head to a new school for transitional Kindergarden. She got all dressed up in her shiny red dress and shoes. It was a Christmas miracle in itself that she agreed to wear an appropriate outfit!
 See, perfect angel.
 Her program includes four year olds, three years, and the tiny two's. To say the parents go a little nutty with the paparazzi to get pictures is putting it mildly. I have more shots of parents heads, arms, and camera's than I do of Gemma.
 She did so well and sang to every song with all the motions. We have lots of little video clips too which are fun to watch.
 The grand finale they bring in the fours dressed in the nativity costumes and sing "Away in a manger."  It's maybe the cutest thing every. Gemma came marching in dressed as the STAR!!!
 It really suits her to be the star. She is one of a kind and shines bright for sure. She was so proud of herself. Her teachers all told us how much fun she is to have in class and how much spunky personality she has but that she is such a great kid and gets along so well with everyone. That's our Gemma.

Chorus Winter Concert

Lily enjoyed participating in Fall chorus this year which culminates in a big Holiday concert at her school and one at the mall. They sing a variety of holiday, Christmas, and Hanukkah songs. Our little performer takes her shows very seriously and does all the motions to each song.
Her cheering section included Goppy, Granny, Gems, Grampy, Dad and Mom.
Let the show begin. It was kindergarden and 1st grade. Let's just say the audience had a hard time holding back our laughter during the whole show. It was a parade of little boys interrupting the show to go to the bathroom. Once one kid got permission to go, it was all down hill from there.
Mr. LaGuardia was so enthusiastic and didn't seem to break a sweat. He manages the group of little wiggle worms with ease.
There are a lot of jazz hands involved.
They also finished off the week with a concert at the Mall for all the shoppers and families. It was really festive and fun to be outdoors. You gotta love California weather, it was probably in the 60's.
Our cheering section. Gemma is taking notes for when she is in Kinder chorus. Grandpa Lee was cozy by the fire and had a great time. He really enjoyed her show (even the Hanukkah songs) and said this is what Christmas is all about.
It was a smooth performance, they got their wiggles out at the school performance I guess. 
We earned a dinner out after the show to celebrate the beginning of Christmas break.