Sunday, November 29, 2015

White Thanksgiving?

Saturday, we celebrated Thanksgiving again with Aaron's mom.
No turkey made an appearance, but the soup was hot and delicious and perfect for the cold and rainy day outside.
While parts of the country were experiencing ice and snow from Winter Storm Cara, we were making our own snow inside.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving traditions in Memphis

We spent Thanksgiving in Memphis with Aaron's dad's side of the family.  Aaron's grandparents weren't able to attend, and we sorely missed them.  I loved watching my kids interact with their cousins, even when cleaning up the kitchen.

We learned a new game our first night there.  Googly Eyes sounds deceptively simple:  "Put on the vision-altering goggles and draw--no need to be an artist."

Katherine was amazing.  Her drawings looked like she was sketching without trying to look through "drunk goggles".  The rest of us were running our pencil off the paper and onto the white tablecloth in an attempt to draw. 

This Thanksgiving Day offered many opportunities for my kids to experience American culture.
Several times I heard one of them say something like, "Really?  This is normal for Thanksgiving?"
Yes, darlings of mine.  All of these foods so lovingly prepared under the direction of your grandmother are Thanksgiving traditions. 
Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with it's pop stars certainly gave my kids a cultural education.

Cheering on a full day of football games is a tradition they immediately embraced! 
Even if the Pittsburg Steelers weren't playing, Katherine still rooted for them by wearing her jersey we found stuck in the middle of Arkansas Razorback jerseys in Walmart.

The Thanksgiving tradition that my kids know and love the most is spending time with family.
Whether that's "blood" family or adopted family like last year,

family is one of the Lord's biggest blessings in our lives.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Over the River and Through the Wood...

to Grandfather's house we go.  Except for us it's Opa and Oma's house.  In Memphis.  So we really do have to cross the Mississippi River!  Happy Thanksgiving from our family.  We are super excited to be able to celebrate with our family as we count the Lord's many blessings in our lives.

We've visited the library and checked out a lot of new-to-us Thanksgiving books to help prepare us for the day of celebrating:
Thanksgiving is Here! by Diane Goode
Sharing the Bread:  An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller & Jill McElmurry
A Thanksgiving Turkey by Julian Scheer
Thanksgiving Wish by Michael J. Rosen
An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott

Thank You for Thanksgiving! by Dandi Daley Mackall
Fat Chance Thanksgiving by Patricia Lakin
Thanksgiving Stories and Poems edited by Caroline Feller Bauer

Let's Celebrate Thanksgiving by Peter and Connie Roop
Thanksgiving at Our House by P.K. Hallinan
Rivka's First Thanksgiving by Elsa Okon Rael
The Thanksgiving Bowl by Virginia Kroll

Thanksgiving Graces by Mark Kimball Moulton
The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli
For grownups:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Minneola, Kansas

Friday night, we pulled into our friends' driveway in windy Minneola, Kansas.  It didn't take long for everybody to be hugging necks, visiting, playing games, and making music together.


Saturday morning, we started getting ready for the houseful of company that was going to be coming and going all day long. 

For the guys, that meant playing football while the meat smoked in preparation for supper.

And the girls worked to get lunch ready for this hungry, sweet, rowdy crew.

This precious family has a load of chickens.  And those chickens' eggs singlehandedly support the Lavukaleve translation project.  Let me tell you, we pray for those chickens.

Those eggs pay for the gasoline that our translation team uses to get together.  The eggs pay for printing copies of whatever the team translates.  If money is there for anything those amazing Lavukal translators do, it's because chickens are laying eggs.  And the small boys who own the chickens are generously giving to support Bible translation on the other side of the world.

I don't know the last time we were able to get a picture with every member of both the Choate and the Conard families in it, but since we had some extra hands, we took the opportunity for everybody to be included in the photo.

After lunch, some of us went back to making music,
 some of us went back to cooking

sweet potato pies (three different recipes!),

and some of us went back to playing outside.

I'm so grateful that these kids treat us as if we really were part of their family.  They let us scoop them up and give them big hugs in a big, crazy, trusting kind of way which isn't common.  Especially considering we only see this sweet family only occasionally.  In fact, we hadn't seen Shawn since we left to go back to the Solomon Islands in 2013.

The supper guests began trickling in early enough to join in the football game.

The house was full of children.  Eighteen to be exact.  And ten adults, too.  It was loud, full of life, and lovely.

When the guests left, the remaining children snuggled down to read and get ready for bed.

Sunday morning, Minneola United Methodist Church invited us to share with them again.

They've been an encouragement to us during our time serving in the Solomon Islands,

and it's always fun to go back and see familiar faces and catch up with people.

After a potluck Thanksgiving lunch, Gayly took our family out for a photo shoot.  I think we could make a stand up comedy routine.  What a gift she gave us with her knowledge and camera and time and energy.

We finished the day by playing together.  What joy!

And these guys.  Involved daddies.  Loving husbands.  Running around the playground playing tag until everybody was out of breath and rosy cheeked.

The sun was creating its golden hour, when everybody shines with that beautiful light and life seems a little bit sweeter.

I can't imagine a more perfect way to end the day.

Except going home to drink hot chocolate and snuggle with the dog.


Eating broccoli two-fisted is high on the list of ways to end the perfect day, too.

As is snuggling with your buddy while she reads a book to you.

Monday morning (and real life) came too soon, and as we started to pull out of the driveway, the moms realized we never got that picture together.  The nice cameras were packed up, so a phone selfie helped us capture the friendship that we share.  We left feeling encouraged and loved, with hearts expanded and souls strengthened to do whatever God calls us to do.  Thank you, faithful friends.