Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pickin' the Christmas Tree, Kentucky Style

When we lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota, we would typically go pick out our tree at a tree farm or go cut it down, usually while freezing our noses off, and enjoying a hot cup of chocolate afterward. Transporting it home always involved tying it to the roof of that van with twine and then getting sap all over your hands while trying to take it off the van and set it up. The whole process from start to finish (of just going getting the tree, picking it out, and bringing it home) would take at least three hours.

This year we got our tree Kentucky-style. We put a few of the kids in the wagon and then whole family including the dog walked to the end of the block where there is a flower/garden shop that had real trees.
We picked out the tree, paid for it, tied it to the wagon, and walked back down the block to our house with it on our Kentucky sled.


I brought it in and set it up in the stand and watered it and it was ready to be decorated. The whole process from start to finish this time took well under an hour. I think the temperature outside was around 45!
Photobucket The girls all decorated the tree while I went outside and hung lights on the house (I forgot to get a picture of that). Here we are in front of our beautiful tree!
Photobucket This year with the extra time, we were able to set up the "kids tree" and hang the lights on it as well!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

This year was the first year we hosted Thanksgiving celebration at our house. My sister, Karen, and her husband, Ricky, came up from Nashville, and my mom came down from Danville. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner together and as usual, a round of teasing each other!
Savannah had a great time setting the table and making it look beautiful!

Halloween Happenings

I know this is really late to be posting about Halloween, but if you've been reading for the last couple of days on this blog, you'll know I'm in catch up mode.

Before we went trick-or-treating on Saturday, Audrea and the girls went to a Reformation Party at Clifton Baptist. Here the girls are in the Dissenter's Jail. The theme of the party was John Knox and the Covenanters. Ironically, we had already been learning a little bit about the Covenanters from our readings through Jesus in Exodus.
Here they are dressed up in full costume:
The next day the younger girls kept the same costumes and Savannah dressed up as a "pioneer girl" and they all escorted Superman.
Of course, what would a troupe be without their dog in cape!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Tonight we will look at a few glimpses of the busy life of our toddlin' boy William.

Will turned 1 this year and celebrated with a decorations of dogs everywhere! (Notice the wall of coloring pages and drawings behind him in this picture.)
Will loves to work--especially cleaning. If he can get involved with whatever you're doing, he's happy!

Will is also our little builder. Here he is below after he and I went to Home Depot where they help kids do building projects once a month.
Will is also very strong and agile. Here he lives up to the name on his shirt--Lightning Mcqueen. Audrea frequently catches him up on top of the girls bunkbeds sometimes standing up and dancing to their music.
And speaking of music, he's a huge fan of anything musical (his tastes range from classical to rock, from hip hop to country, so basically anything daddy listens to!)
He has also picked up same love for books that his sisters have. Here he is with them and his Grandma Connie reading to him.
For the longest time he would do this silly little face shown below. He'd scrunch up his lips like so and breathe loudly in and out through his nose. Give it a try. I'm sure your friends will love it!
Finally, I leave you with my favorite picture of the year. Will and his best friend, Caleb, were playing in the bedroom after Will's bath when we caught him just like this. The picture was so hilarious we hosted a caption contest on facebook. The winning caption was "Tell me again... why do I have to be naked in order to escape?" The second place caption was "Uh dude, you're visible again."


This morning I want to introduce you to my darling Elayna. Elayna turned 4 this year as you can clearly see in the picture below.
Baby Sweet's happy grin is always such a warming sight! Here she is doing one of her favorite things: munching on snacks!
Here she is doing her most favorite thing: sleeping whilst sucking her thumb under her cuddly "tt-woobee-bubba" (as she calls it--she keeps adding new names that she likes).
Elayna can't decide who she likes to play with more: Will or Sabrina. She has been such a big helper with her brother but does tend to get into the most squabbles with him :)
Here's my little lovely one helping make these flowers look even more beautiful.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


This evening I want to show you our "little red"--Sabrina. Sabrina turned 6 this year and is also growing up way too fast!
You may have noticed Sabrina's length of hair in the picture above. She announced to us this year that she wanted to get her hair cut a little shorter. It was the first major cut she has ever had! It was down about two-thirds of her back, but 10 inches later it touches her shoulder.

Though she's not proud of them, notice the freckles that daddy passed on to her that are starting to pop up under her eyes:Sabrina has a darling little smirk (as shown below) that is designed to capture your heart. I will be a very busy dad fighting off the boys with this one!
I love this picture below where Audrea caught her in a natural moment having tons of fun on a hay ride:
Our little Bina has about 45 nicknames that we've given her including but not limited to hoppy, boppy, bina bop, hippity, hoppity, and on and on. One of her other nicknames is revealed here in this picture: floppy.
This was also the big year for her to part ways with her two front baby teeth.
The new ones did grow in quickly before Christmas!


For the next two days, I'm going to highlight our four beautiful blessings from God: our children. Today, I start with our oldest: Savannah. Savannah turned 9 this year and is too quickly growing up as you can see in this portrait below.

Savannah loves all things horses. Here she is riding Star at her uncle Rick's farm.
I'm not kidding when I say "loves" horses:
Savannah is also our avid outdoors person. She'll stay out all day if you let her. Here she is with her first catch of the day at our Elliott family reunion.
You'll also notice in these pictures a strange device she is wearing. We discovered this year that she has scoliosis and will have to wear this brace until she stops growing. I wrote a lot about this trial in our life earlier this year on this blog.

Savannah is also the leader of our little artists. Here she is below with a butterfly she painted on silk at an art camp at Sojourn Community Church this summer.

She also wanted you to see this large silk banner that she helped her class paint.

Savannah's accident was a big highlight of her life in November! If you hadn't heard, she fell off a diving board at our school's rec center pool and was taken to the hospital for stitches. Here she is being assessed by the medics.
Here's the Gurney Girl being rolled away!
Here she is being loaded into the ambulance.
And, praise the Lord, here she is with the only effects of the fall: 3 stitches in the chin.
All has healed up nicely and matches the little scar on my chin where I hurt it jumping off the stairs backwards at First Baptist. We've decided to start our own club. Not sure what to call it though: the chin club or the clutz club!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A New Addition to the Family

This September we welcomed a new addition to our family: Suzie Q (not necessarily after the Hostess treat or the Creedence song, however both apply well!). Suzie Q is considered a "designer dog" (pathetic, I know) and is a combination of 3 AKC breeds: Shih Tzu, Brussels Griffon, and a Toy Poodle. She weighed a little less than 2 pounds when we got her and now she is up to 5 pounds. She won't get much bigger than that. She isn't a "yipper" and she doesn't shed which makes her a pleasant dog to have around.
Audrea drove up to Chicago to meet her mom who had brought Suzie down from the Wisconsin Rapids area. Then Audrea brought her back to Danville where we (Paul, Elayna, and William) were waiting for them. She brought Suzie in, tucked in a box that was wrapped up like a present. In this picture below, Elayna had opened the box to discover the puppy and William was pointing and saying, "dog, dog" over and over.
The happy little puppy once freed from clutches of Elayna bounded into William's arms.
It's kind of silly, but Suzie is just like a baby in that she won't go to sleep unless she is being held by someone. Well, at least that's what she tries to pull off. If you ignore her for long enough, she'll try and find a blanket somewhere to curl up in.
One of the funny/bad things she does is find Will's pacifier's on the floor and picks up and walks around the house sucking on them (not chewing!). Here in this picture below we had caught her in the act.
Suzie is basically potty-trained now. It's been several weeks since she had an accident, but getting to that point took an unbelievable amount of patience (or the display of a lack of patience) on my part. We started working with her on the sit-stay-come commands right away. Now, unfortunately, she is obeying better than William!

Reuniting on the Farm

At the end of May we were able to spend over a week at our family reunion with Audrea's mom and dad and her brother, Jared, and his wife, Stephannie. It was such a wonderful time and at such a beautiful farm. Audrea's aunt and uncle who own the horse farm where I had my accident hosted the reunion.

It was great for our horse-loving girls (especially Savannah) because while we were there, at the farm around the corner, a foal was born and all the children were able to go and see it.

We were also able to spend some quality time with Jared and Stephannie. They currently live in the Phoenix area where Jared works at nuclear power plant. It's hard to be so far apart from these two...
One of the funny experiences was getting to see Audrea fire a gun for the first time in her life. I didn't get a decent picture of her actually firing it, but here she is getting the basics from her sharpshooter dad on how to hold and fire a shotgun. (For those of you interested, it was a 12-gauge.)