It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. -Mother Teresa

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Update 2016 - Nancy

No filter. No editing. Just Disney Magic!!!

Splashing in the clear water with the beautiful almost white beaches at Castaway Cay. 

Although not happy at all, I need to mention a major thing that happened in all of our lives this year: A fire at my in-laws Centennial Farm. (It never gets easier to see these pictures.) For Nancy, this farm is family. It will forever be a defining moment in her childhood. Like most tragic events, there was also beauty literally among the ashes. Friends, neighbors, and family showed up in full force. Another blessing was that just a few months previously we had cleaned out some of the storage areas, many family heirlooms were tucked in my attic and a special rocking chair was safe in a workshop being restored so all were spared! 
The girls and I met up with friends to attend a play at our old high school and eat dinner. It was fun to show them a piece of my history and remind Nancy that she had some history here too! Once Our Jessica and several of our youth were performing in the musical Grease on Nancy's birthday. They called her out of the audience and onto the stage to have the cast and audience sing her happy birthday! 

Jessica and I took the girls and some friends ice skating! 

Every spring we participate in a Presidents' Day event with our homeschool support group. This year our family chose President Truman so the girls did a short presentation about him and his presidency. In addition, Nancy prepared and served Mrs. Truman's recipe for macaroni and cheese prepared from a recipe card in Mrs. T's own handwriting.

Nancy is our family's resident selfie taker. She is attempting to get all of us and an entire lighthouse into this picture. In her defense in this particular case, there aren't exactly a lot of people hanging around a lighthouse on the shores of Lake Michigan while it is snowing so we had to take our own picture. 
As Stacey was just arriving home from the hospital, Nancy along with Nadia were heading out to their first semi-formal dance. 

Nancy and Nadia also attended camp at Little Galilee in Clinton, IL this summer. They really, really liked their counselor...It was Our Jessica! It was Nancy's first time doing a ropes course and she LOVED it! 

Nancy participated in the VFW's Annual 3 v 3 soccer tournament this year. 

Nancy was thrilled to be heading back to Catalyst Camp in Cedar Lake, IN. This year she brought her two older sisters and her great grandmother! (Okay, Grandma has a summer home in the same community. She didn't actually attend camp with the girls.) Last summer, Nancy attended camp all by herself. I think she is brave and really admire her willingness to try new things! 

This summer we played host for a few weeks to Inga from Latvia who was a chaperone for NHFC, the same hosting program we met Nadia and Stacey through. Inga is a very well-educated and well-traveled lady. I loved exposing my girls to strong women who are using their abilities and gifts to serve others! 

Right as school was starting the girls and I snuck away for a girls trip. At a homeschool conference earlier in the year, I had won tickets to a cave tour and a hotel room in Southern Indiana. My girls LOVE visiting caves and this was was very unique in that we had to see some of it by boat! Our theme for VBS this year was caves so the girls had just recently learned more details about caves, so they did a great job answering and asking questions. Speaking of VBS, Nancy led a group of Kindergarteners this year! 

Nan LOVED spending time in the water on our trip to South Carolina. The first few days, there were a lot of jelly fish, and although she was getting stung (mildly by really small jelly fish) , she kept playing! 

Even on vacation this girl has a soccer ball! 

Her face when her Dad tells here that this puppy is living at our house! 

Cooking and reading: two of Nan's favorite hobbies. 

Enjoying some archery with her friends. This might have something to do with her obsession with the Hunger Games books. 
Nancy is a year or more younger than almost everyone in her grade because she has a November birthday. Sometimes this has made her feel like she is a few steps behind (last one out of car seat, a year less experience as some sports, that sort of thing). So after years of feeling this way, but us trying to tell her that she was more than capable, she was completely validated on the soccer field! She worked hard during her free time practicing and training and you could tell. They fall season she was awarded Offensive MVP and Golden Boot (which means she scored the most goals of anyone on the team). I only think it fair to mention two of my other "daughters" received recognition for their hard work on the field: Chloe was rewarded Leadership and Abby Impact and Golden Glove (the most saves as Goal Keeper). 

While we were at Nadia's Oath Ceremony, we made a point to stop by the very point that Route 66 begins in Chicago. Just a few weeks later we would begin our road trip and make a point to travel the "Mother Road" as much as possible. 

Our Three-Week long Girls Road Trip included visiting the beach outside of LA with the Stonick Family. The glorious view of the Pacific Ocean!!! This year the girls will have been to the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, Lake Michigan, and the Gulf of Mexico...nothing like actually being there...seeing it with your own eyes and touching it to make geography class really sink in!  

Originally we had plans to head to Yosemite National Park but Nancy convinced me to reconsider and instead visit a different park. She was completely right: Pinnacles National Park was perfect with this crew plus Uncle Vic. Although that means Stacey and Nadia will not have (yet) been to Yosemite, which is without a doubt one of most beautiful and iconic parks, BUT honestly, it is a bit boring and always crowded...a lot of looking and walking and driving (plus a chunk of it is already closed by this time in November). Pinnacles on the other hand is less crowded and a ton more fun: bouldering, climbing, and caving...and less rules about staying on the path. It was a perfect weather day (notice the shorts...Yosemite would have involved coats!) and almost 2 hours closer to home...yep, Nan had fun leading this crew around one of her favorite parks! 

Ahh the Queen of the Selfie...This one not only shows Nan's perfected ducklips but also Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. It is located in Death Valley, another place Nan wanted to be sure she was able to share with her sisters. (Although due to rare flooding last fall some of the things she specifically wanted to show them like Scotty's Castle were closed.)  

Nancy woke up on her 13th Birthday in a Wigwam! We were heading home from our trip and had stopped along route 66 to spend the night in this retro landmark. I think she will always remember it...but I hope she forgets the shower. (It was bad.) 

Nancy continues her Piano Lessons with Mrs. Kibler. She is very good about practicing 40 minutes each day. In addition to is practicing her guitar herself without lessons. Yes, she would like lessons in that too but there is only so much money and time! 

The three oldest enjoy dressing up and dancing! In December were invited to attend a different kind of dance: this one included dance lessons! They learned to waltz and swing dance! I was so proud of them for stepping out of their comfort zones to attend with people they didn't know. It was the kind of dance where the boys had to formally ask the girls to dance each dance. Then they had to to make small talk with someone they had never met before! I would never have been brave enough to do this as a teenager! Please ask them about some of their conversations with the boys they danced with...hilarious! 

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