Busy Ohio times!

It has been such a busy time here in Ohio, as it usually is when we travel. It feels like we go non-stop until we crash at nighttime. Today I even had to sneak in a small nap for a little while because I was so exhausted! The kiddos are having so much fun playing with new toys like Barbie, Legos, Magic kits, binoculars and more.

We have had 4 family Christmas get togethers between both of our families (2 for each), visited my Grandpa in the rehab center, had dinner with a good friend, gone shopping and more! We moved over to staying with my Grandma the day after Christmas so that we could help her while she’s alone and so we could have more space. Their basement is like living in the lap of luxery compared to our house!

We cannot believe how warm we are here in this well-insulated home with plush carpet and a fireplace:) It is seriously about 20 degrees warmer in here than at home. We may not want to go back….;)

We have a long list of things to do to help get ready for my Grandpa’s homecoming this week and some more family get togethers before we head home in a couple of days in the New Year.

I think it will be a special New Years for us this year, as we reflect on all of the growth and changes we have gone through this year and as we look forward to new things in this coming year!

The first big thing in the new year will be Ben’s trip to…Scotland!! Yea if you guessed it right! Ben is being flown to Scotland in a few weeks for a big interview and we are nervously and excitedly anticipating the trip and outcome! If it works out, there will be big changes for our family as we would move across the ocean for 3 years. Talk about the adventure of a lifetime!

If not, then we need to continue doing some serious praying, as we have no idea what the next steps will be to take. Please keep up in your prayers, for the interview and for our next season of life!

Happy New Year from Ohio!

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Christmas 2013

 Merry Christmas from the Thomas Family!!

Our cute trio last night on Christmas Eve;)

Getting ready on Christmas morning! The boys got cool Angry Birds sweatshirts from Grandma and they have barely taken them off so far;)

Christmas girl!

Cute cousins!!

Samuel so excited to open presents!

Sweet Grandma:)

This was little Evy’s year to get lots of presents! She’s going to be having a lot of fun from now on with all of her goodies!

Miss E!

Zakkai having fun:)

Samuel’s big present from Mugga, Papa, Grandma and us~a guitar!

Eliana already chillin’ out on the floor with her Dora backpack on and her new computer.

My beautiful Mama!

Uncle Tim playing Z’s new lego game with the boys!

Papa and Winston!

The house is filled with the aroma of all the food we are preparing to take over to 2nd Christmas (or 3rd for us so far!) This morning we feasted on Cinnamon rolls, eggs and fresh fruit and now I am smelling homemade pumpkin pie cooling, while the potatoes are in the oven. Soon, we’ll pack everyone up and head out to see the big family!

So thankful for a special Christmas Eve, centering our hearts on the True Gift of Christmas (Jesus!), a very light smattering of snow on the ground, a fun morning for our kiddos and the hugs and love of our families!

Merry Christmas!

Friends, Sickies and Fun!

We have had such a mix of weather here! First lots of snow and then some “warmer” temperatures that turned our beautiful snow to gray mush. Then rain and now a little snow again! As long as we get a little white on the ground for Christmas, I’ll be happy:)

I figured out a solution to taking Eliana and Baby C to school:) I’m not sure if it will work for the super cold days but they look awfully cute in there!!

Yesterday morning, we were invited to Baby C’s house to have Christmas breakfast with our good friends. It was such a great way to start out our day! We have been so blessed by their friendship and hope it will be a lifelong one!

After we hung out for awhile, we decided to drive over to the cute little zoo nearby since it was free! We found this handsome devil there. Okay, maybe “handsome” is a bit too strong of a word….Poor guy. Those teeth!

“And I have to live with him!”

It was such a nice little zoo with petting zoo animals, a fox, deer, racoons, bobcats and more. By the time we left, they flipped on the zoo lights. It was such a great day!

This poor little lady was absolutely exhausted. She begged all the way home to try on her new moby wrap for Baby Anna. How CUTE is that?? Baby C’s mommy made that for Eliana. She was actually thrilled to pieces to have it on until I left the room to get my phone and take a picture and then she melted down and begged to go to bed! (better picture of this coming soon!)

She was sound asleep by 4:45, even refusing to eat dinner. She cried out a few times through the night which was strange but it all makes sense now because she woke up and started throwing up around 5am and didn’t stop for almost 5 hours:( Poor little lady!!

That is a very hard sickness for a three year old to have. She absolutely hated throwing up and kept telling me she “was better” and had “no more frow ups” even while she was throwing up. She slept off and on this morning and was just miserable. And then all of the sudden at 10am, she sat up and said she felt better (for real this time!), smiled and got down and started walking around! She has held down a little sprite/gatorade mix (our specialty cocktail for times such as these) for about an hour and a half now and is watching Dora!

Now to pray the rest of us don’t get this because we’re supposed to be traveling tomorrow!!

Now for some fun news!

Ben is traveling here for an interview next month. Any guesses where it is??

 
 

Christmastime!

Finished your Christmas shopping yet? If you haven’t, avoid the stores at all costs!!! Eliana and I did a little last minute shopping on Monday and stood in really long lines. Apparently, I actually need to try to do my shopping early like all the smart people. I may actually do that one of these days….

Eliana is just loving winter and Christmas right now:) She loves to play in the snow and do fun activities inside. I really need to find some Christmas crafts to do with her before we leave next week! Zakkai pulled out these dried colored noodles a few days ago and Eliana decided he had a pretty good idea! She plays for a long time while I cook in the kitchen and then cleans it all up and puts it away! Pretty good deal, if you ask me:)

I promised E that we would walk to the library so yesterday we bundled up after a fresh snow fell and walked to the library. I did it in hopes that it would wear her out! Doesn’t she look so cute in her snow pants? They are so big on her because she inheirited my short legs~oops! I brought our red wagon for the ride home and she was looking pretty sleepy by then!

We picked out some good books at the library and then we stopped to color at the table where they always keep crayons and seasonal coloring pages. She wanted me to color, too, and kept saying, “Oh, Mama, that’s SO pretty! Good job.”

I made these cute little wallet/purses for my nieces in CO for Christmas! I got the pattern at a specialty sewing store in Oh over Thanksgiving and my niece specifically asked for one of these. I hope she likes it!

 
They have cute little pockets inside:) I made one for Eliana, too, and this morning she asked me to wrap it up like a present (just like her cousins’) and she went and stuck it under our little Charlie Brown tree:) Such a cutie!
 
The boys have Christmas parties at school tomorrow…or “holiday parties,” if I want to be politically correct. Which I don’t! It is a little irksome that they can have Halloween crafts up the wazoo, and tons of Hannukah activities but NO Christmas activities. Wouldn’t want to bring up the offensive baby Jesus in school. It’s so silly that every other holiday or religion is welcomed and eagerly celebrated but we can’t teach our kids in school the true meaning of the holiday called Christmas.
 
At least we can teach them at home! And that we do. But as I saw on a recent blog, which I really liked, we don’t need to teach our kids that Jesus is important only at Christmastime. We need to make Him important everyday. Love it!
 
The boys are counting down the days and very excited to celebrate with family and we are praying our Grandpa-Great will be home from rehab in time to celebrate with us!

Let It Snow!

 We woke up to a winter wonderland today! Everyone cheered when we looked outside and saw the beautiful white snow falling from the sky and we knew that we were in for some good snow play!

We bundled everyone up and had so much fun playing, digging, and building forts and towers! Eliana LOVES to play out in the snow:)

Zakkai built snow castles!

And Samuel and Daddy built a big snow fort out of a pile of snow pushed off from the street. Part of it was a little dirty but they were working hard on covering it with clean snow:)

And I may or may not have pelted them with snowballs while they were “working.” Hey, what’s playing in the snow without a little snowball fight?!

Happy Snow Day from Chicago!

Growing Pains!

We’ve been feeling a little Christmas-y over here this week and have been hanging lights, baking cookies, playing in the snow and listening to Christmas music!

Okay, who am I kidding? I am the one who has been hanging lights, baking cookies and listening to Christmas music! With Eliana, my little helper, of course:) We were busy out and about yesterday but a lot of the week we have been sticking close to home because it is just freezing outside!!

I was very thankful that our neighbor offered to drive the boys to school and home today (I take her son to/from every day and he comes to church with us!). I was worried about taking Eliana and Baby C out in this frigid weather so it was definitely a blessing. We stayed home and cleaned and baked Cranberry Orange Bread instead:)

As this year is quickly drawing to a close, we are finding ourselves thinking long and hard about what this last year has been for us. It wasn’t anything like what we thought or hoped it would be but yet in the end, it was exactly what we needed and asked for. A year of growth.

Yes, I think that is exactly what we should call this year; The Year of Growth. Growth tends to make you think of green plants sprouting, blooming, vibrancy and joy. But if we are being honest (which I like to be on my blog!), we would admit that growth actually is incredibly painful. Spiritual growth, anyways! It involves breaking, humbling, shearing away of hard parts of your heart so that the new life can burst through and begin to bloom. So you can begin to hear the Father’s quiet voice again.

That is exactly what is happening to us. I posted a couple months ago about what a difficult season this has been for us and it absolutely has been. Painful, crushing and sometimes hopeless. But God is beginning to answer all of our prayers over these past months and is filling us with new life and hope!

Do we have any answers to our problems or future yet? Nope! But we are sensing God moving and working and filling us up for what is to come. It feels exciting and scary all at the same time! Maybe our next year will be an adventure. Who knows?

All I know is that we are getting ready. Slowly, painfully, and hopefully getting ready. And we are starting by actually being thankful (mostly) for this past year and the pain it has brought. I’m sure we will feel the thankfulness even more as the freshness of the pain begins to heal and we are filled more and more with peace and hope.

Peace and hope are pretty powerful!

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philemon 1:3

Snow and Christmas!

 This weekend we went shopping to fill some boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We let the kiddos choose whether they wanted to do a boy or girl and they wanted to do both! We said a prayer over the Boy and the Girl before we went in. Last time we did this, Eliana was a babe and the boys were 4 and 6. It was hard for them, especially Z, to not have their eyes on all the toys and want them for themselves. We talked about it a lot and it was such a good learning lesson for them.

This year there was no complaining or “me, me me’s” at all, thankfully! They really got into it and really wanted to make the boxes special:) I went to wrap them yesterday morning after we packed them up (and oh, you should’ve seen Eliana helping to pack it all up! So cute!) and realized that all of my wrapping paper had been ruined in the flooding back in May. I forgot all about it! We sheepishly dropped off the wrapping-less boxes but were told it was no problem and they could wrap them for us.

If I could tell anyone anything about doing something like this, I would say: Give freely and with your whole heart. People who don’t have much and are in need don’t deserve less than you. They are not lesser human beings. When I was growing up and we went through our tough period after my dad left, we were struggling and didn’t have much food or any Christmas gifts and sometimes we would get food from the church pantry or gifts dropped off from the church. I will never forget opening a can of cornmeal and finding worms in it. Or the box of pistachio pudding (who eats that anyways??) that had been expired for over 3 years. Or the Christmas gifts that were nowhere near new and were falling apart or were cheaply made. It hurts when you are in that situation to even ask for help but it hurts more when you receive it and you realize that people think you are only good enough for their cast-offs….God asks us to treat others with Love and to consider them better than ourselves.

What better season to treat others this way!!

We found a couple packs of gel window cling-ons for the kiddos to have a little fun with! They each chose one and got their “own window” to decorate:)

Cheese! Eliana chose Santa and his reindeer and she definitely needed help because there were a few teeny tiny pieces. She loved it, though!

Samuel chose the snowman and Christmas tree. Getting a non-cheesy smile out of him is work, I tell you!

Haha, he has a great sense of humor!

Zakkai chose the snowflakes!

We got snow this weekend and Eliana was very excited to get outside and do some shoveling after we dropped the boys off at school. As soon as we got back, I got her all bundled up and out we went! We spent an hour outside shoveling. First I just took pictures of her cute self but then I picked up our shovel and got to work on the sidewalks. I do love shoveling!

Man, oh, man, this girl had fun!!! She did NOT want to go inside!

So happy!

Pretty snow!

Cheese! I kept saying, “Are you ready to go inside and get warm?” And she would say, “No!!” One of us was a little more productive with our shoveling but I won’t make you guess who:) I think I will let her out a little whenever there is snow so I can wear her out!!

Here is a little pic of our Charlie Brown tree;) We tossed up the idea of getting a real tree because I miss it so but there isn’t much time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and with traveling for both, we wouldn’t get enough time to enjoy our tree. I really hope we can get one next year!

Stay warm tonight!