Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Week 2014!

We have had the joy of both set of grandparents with us this last week (not at the same time!) to celebrate Christmas!

It started with Zac's parents arriving last Sunday afternoon.  For part of our Christmas present they took us all to the Tech Museum in San Jose which was awesome!  We all had fun playing and building things there on Monday.  The rest of the week was full of games, walks, dinners, hanging out, the candlelight Christmas Eve service at our church, and of course Christmas day!
Bedtime reading with Grandpa.  He brought a neat book about the Wright brothers.
At the Tech Museum
Candlelight Christmas Eve service
Zac's parents left on Friday morning and three hours later my parents pulled up!  We had another Christmas day with lots of presents from the aunts and uncles back in Graham.  On Saturday we headed up to Felton to ride a steam train through the Redwoods!  It was beautiful and a bit chilly.  We also took them to church with us on Sunday and had a yummy sushi dinner before they said their goodbyes.
On the train!
Over the trestle
Some of God's beautiful creation.  I love the redwoods!
It was a wonderful week full of family!  We missed the aunties, uncles, and cousins this Christmas, but other than that it was perfect!

One of my favorite parts of this Christmas was our gift for Jesus.  Throughout the month we had a box sitting out in the kitchen.  Each of us was supposed to secretly put money in the box as the month went by and then on Christmas morning we counted it.  With the money we gave this year our family was able to buy emergency food and water, misquitoe nets, food for mothers and babies, and a clean water pump through Compassion International's gift catalog.  I'm really proud of how much the kids gave, they have such generous hearts!  I think Jesus liked our gift.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a fun New Year coming up on Thursday!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas!

May you know the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love of Jesus all year round.
~ The Vawter's

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Bethlehem

Many of you may remember, we made it our goal when we moved here to the city to get out, away from the masses of people every weekend.  We have been successful all but a few weekends - and this weekend we went to Bethlehem!  No really, we did.
The nativity - live!
This event has gone on for over 10 years and was very well done.  There was a TON of people - so that part of our weekend goal was not met, but the experience was really cool.  I loved seeing the animals, especially the camel carrying one of the wisemen!  The kids liked the angel (he actually rose up in the air above the shepherds) and the special effects.  They got to go around the marketplace and experience a number of things from the time Jesus lived, and we all had hot chocolate at the end.  To top it all off, Uncle Casey went with us!  He flew in tonight for a few days.
Keanan wrote his name on the census list
the Roman guard leader guy
The angel appearing to the shepherds
Some other events from this weekend include ballet class for Kyla, rock climbing for Zac and Keanan, and Kyla and I got to go see our second annual Nutcracker!  It was a great performance here in Santa Clara.  We also had some friends from college / WA over for dinner on Saturday night.
On our way to the Nutcracker!
Happy 3rd Sunday of Advent - JOY!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Christmas Tree!

On Saturday, after ballet for Kyla and play practice for Keanan, Zac borrowed the truck from work (totally ok to do) and we headed to the hills to cut down a Christmas tree!  This is our first time ever as a family cutting down a tree from a tree farm - we have always gone up by Mt. Rainier and cut a mountain tree.  The roads up to the farm were very crazy for Zac in the truck, especially the steep single lane parts.  Once there we had a lot of fun and met up with some other friends from Zac's work.
the truck was a bit over-kill for the two trees we were hauling!
Once we got the tree home the Hoffmann's came over for dinner and to help us decorate it!  It is now officially Christmas time in our house!  I love the simplicity of our decorations this year, and I can show it in three pictures. (not pictured is the advent calendar made by my mom)
Our finished tree!
Nativity and Advent candles - Baby Jesus does not come until Christmas day, and each morning the Wise Men are hiding somewhere new in the house (they are looking for Jesus!)
Stockings - all made by Grandma's
Another fun thing from this weekend was the kids Christmas play at church called "The Christmas Cross"!  They did such a great job and had been practicing their songs a ton.  Here's a short video of one of the songs they sang.  Kyla is on one side on the bottom riser, and Keanan is on the other side on the middle riser.
Ready for the Christmas play!
Happy 2nd Sunday of Advent - PEACE!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Thanksgiving in Washington!

We flew in to Washington bright and early Thanksgiving morning and celebrated the day with my side of the family at the Johnson's house.  It was such a fun day with lots of yummy food and family.  All 6 of the cousins were together and had a great time.  So great, in fact, that I forgot to take any pictures!
Uncle Brian took a picture of our feast!
On Friday we drove out to Yelm to visit with Auntie Jess and Uncle Casey and have some pony rides on Indy!
Afterwards, we all drove out to Mossyrock to stay the night with Zac's parents - and when we woke up there was snow!!
the kids made a snowman with Grandpa!
Saturday was spent having Thanksgiving number two with Zac's side of the family.  Great Buppa and Auntie Di also came up from Portland.  It was a good time of food, visiting, and games - I was horrible at poker this weekend!

On Sunday we drove to Elbe and met up with a bunch of our Yelm friends for a day of playing in the snow while they all hunted for Christmas trees.  It was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL day in the mountains.  Everyone had a ton of fun.
I really miss seeing this mountain
crazy kids
Our wonderful friends!
We spent the evening with all our friends having dinner at the Ireland's new house and visiting.  Keanan and his best bud, Wyatt went out for ice cream with their dads while the girls played at the house.  Afterwards, we drove to Graham to spend the night and the next two days at my parents.  Whew!  It's been a wonderful weekend!

God is so good - for that, I am thankful!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Lawerence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley

We had a fun weekend starting with Kyla's last day of ballet at the current studio - we are switching to a new studio with some friends after Thanksgiving.  In the afternoon we made the trek to Berkeley to visit the Lawerence Hall of Science.  It was so cool!  We could have spent a lot more time here.  Our ultimate goal was to see some different insects, since Kyla was on I for insect this last week.  They had an animal room with insects and lots of other cool animals.  Much to my dismay, both Keanan and Kyla HELD a tarantula!! The kids also made some cool creations in the ingunity lab.  Afterwards we had some yummy Thai food in downtown Berkeley.
Oh my gosh!!
Playing with some ferrofluid
climbing in some DNA

bonding some molecules
The view of the bay was amazing!  Can you see the Golden Gate bridge?
On Sunday our church had special guests from Liberia!  The music was so cool and the message inspiring.  We had an all church BBQ lunch afterward with some of the best chicken I have ever had, and then we all gathered around the ebola relief container to pray it off.  The ambulance we are sending in the container was there too!!  It's so awesome to be a part of the work God is doing on the other side of the world.

Here are some other pictures from the week:
Added this years turkey hands!
Keanan's catapult from his simple machines lesson this week
The kids sewed shepherds bags
We made a thankful garland and wrote things we are thankful for on the leaves
The kids painted insect rocks!
Next weekend we will be in Washington for Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Step Into My Shoes

What is enough?  Do you have enough?  Want to challenge your definition of enough?  We did!  Here is our journey complete with pictures!

Day 1: We are taking a 7 day journey through life with a family in Uganda.  Today we went to the market and based on the jobs we choose "bought" what we could afford for dinner.  We also braided some strips of Ugandan cloth into prayer bracelets for the week.  Everyone is excited for tomorrow!
Most of us could afford rice, beans and water for dinner
Except for could only afford water!
Day 2 of "Step Into My Shoes" led us to experience family life with our Ugandan host family.  We even enjoyed corn nuts as our snack today!  
our prayer bracelets
Day 3 of "Step Into My Shoes", we walked for our water!  We learned about how many people around the world have to walk long distances to get water, and in most cases it is dirty water.  So we taped off all but the most inconvenient source of water (outside spigot) in our house for the day.  This was very eye opening!  
no water in the house today!
this was our water source (it's outside)
Day 4:  We learned about how some Christians in Uganda attend church.  Such hope and joy!  

Day 5 in our "Step into My Shoes" journey:  Did you know that most families houses in Africa are no bigger than a 10 x  10 area?  That is about the size of our bedroom!  To experience how others live and sleep we are all sleeping in one room tonight!  
Day 6: We went to school with our Ugandan hosts!  We also talked about little ways we could show kindness to others tomorrow.  The kids and I will be bringing soup to our homeless friends at the park.

Day 7: We finished our "Step into My Shoes" journey tonight!  What a great week!  I think our family now has a better understanding of what it mean to live with enough.  True "enough" in life is found in Jesus!  We have so much more than we need, so the last activity was to collect these extra things to give away / sell to help those who don't have enough.  The picture is the start to our pile.  So proud of my kids!
I encourage you to check out this amazing FREE program.  Get into the true holiday spirit, Jesus is enough!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Weekend Adventures: A Waterfall Hike!

During school this week Kyla was on W for water - so we went on a beautiful fall hike to see some waterfalls this afternoon with our adventure friends, the Hoffman's.  Afterwards we had some yummy dinner in Morgan Hill.  A lovely day!
Here's some other fun things from the week:
We sent this picture to our favorite Veteran on Veteran's Day
We had a "bible foods" lunch one day this week - goat cheese, olives, figs, nuts, persimmon, and pomegranate 
One of the MANY lego creations that happen during the week
Dropping off supplies for the Liberia Ebola Response container - collected from our homeschool group
We are in the middle of our "Step Into My Shoes" journey, and it's been awesome!  You can follow updates on Google + and I'll also be posting on the blog about it when we finish on Wednesday.