Thursday, January 7, 2016

Christmas Break

We were so eager for Christmas break to arrive it is hard to believe it is over.  The homeschool kids actually started up this past Monday and Nicolas went back Wednesday.  Caleb doesn't fly out to return to Dordt until Monday the 11th.  I am thankful the return to routine has occurred gradually, or I would be one depressed momma.

Our Christmas break was absolutely lovely.  Of course, we had busy moments:  getting the Christmas letter written and envelopes addressed; attending the youth group Christmas party; buying gifts for aforesaid party and also for music teachers and other "specials" in our life; baking those traditional Christmas treats; practicing our instruments for the Christmas Eve string quartet [yes, I even blew the dust off my violin to play with Caleb (viola), Nicolas (cello) and another violinist in our church]; and for Russ, preparing extra sermons for the advent season.  But we also had wonderful quiet family moments: book-reading, puzzle-making, game-playing, movie-watching, no-schedule-for-the-day relaxing time.
This boy is eager to open his stocking gifts.

This is how the eldest wraps his gifts.  I hope he wasn't disappointed with the snowman paper on his.

Here are just a few of the highlights:

1.  Preparing our hearts for the season.  We read just the December portion of Nancy Guthrie's Dinner Table Devotional at meals as they were all advent based.  At family worship in the evenings we read daily readings for advent in John Piper's book The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.

2.  Worshiping in church as an entire family again.  Russ preached a series of advent sermons on the various visits in Luke;  the visit of Gabriel to Zechariah and then to Mary, the visit of Mary and Elizabeth, and finally, the most amazing visit of all, God Himself through the incarnation.  He also preached two wonderful New Year's sermons on Psalm 84 and 85.

3.  Attending the Selah Christmas concert as a family on the 19th.

4.  Spending time with the church family on Christmas Day (VanderWoude), New Years Eve (deJong) and with many families at church on the now Second Annual Game Day on Russ' birthday.  One of the church members even made ollie bollen at the church for all who came to play games.  I think that is definitely better than birthday cake!

Doesn't Anna just looked ticked at Seth?  Wonder what he did...

5.  Skyping the Bleeker family on New Year's Day. We miss celebrating Christmas with family and it was good to see those faces we love so much.  

And, I think the favorite of all:

6.  Enjoying God's wonderful creation and family time at a cabin on the Payette River in Garden Valley, ID which is just a little over an hour drive from our house.

A closer up and far away of the cabin we stayed in for two nights.

Seth waving from the loft.  A foosball table and master bedroom and bath were up there.

The cabin had a working VHS and a few classic movies.  Seth had been begging to watch the Star Wars series so we started him off with A New Hope...VHS style.  The other night we watched Back to the Future.

We had our family prime rib Christmas meal at the cabin since we were invited out on Christmas Day.  The cabin was stocked with five nice wine goblets for our sparkling cider and then we found two of the skull goblets to fill in the rest.  Seth was a little disturbed drinking the red grape sparkling cider out of this "cute" goblet.  I think his actual quote was something like, "This seems a little gross."

On Tuesday morning we visited the Terrace Lakes hot springs and enjoyed a relaxing swim.  Since it was so cold, the steam kept turning to snow which caused beautiful snowflakes to fall all around us the entire time we swam.

Because of the steam from the hot spring, this tree always has the frosted look that is so beautiful.

Seth and Lydia standing in the backyard of the cabin right on the banks of the Payette River

A fun swing under the porch.

A picture of the river taken from the upper deck of the cabin.

A beautiful day for a walk!
Russ and Anna

Even Zoe got to come along.  She loved sniffing out the deer!

We climbed a rather large hill and the picture below was the view from the top.  I have never been happier to have been the only one sucking air on the climb.  Anna did awesome and even climbed again the next day!  She was thrilled to be able to participate without feeling lightheaded and out of breath.

After visiting the hot springs on Tuesday we went for a little drive to look for elk.  We didn't have to look too hard.  We saw tons of wildlife.

We also found another hot spring along the river.  You can see the steam rising up from the pool and as the hot water ran into the river on the other side.