2015 Year in Review

Christmas#1

2015 has been an amazing year.

As a family one of the greatest joys we’ve had this year has been joining the Launch Team for Hartford City Church.  This is a new church plant of the Evangelical Covenant Church, East Coast Conference.  Our mission is to glorify Jesus Christ and bless the city of Hartford.  The vision of the church is to participate in and experience God’s Beautiful Restoration in Hartford, CT (and beyond), Isaiah 61:1-4 is our seed verse.

Esther is in 3rd grade and doing great!  She loves her friends and is kind and caring.  She and Naomi are on the same indoor soccer team this Winter. Her favorite part of this year was taking our various trips to Old Sturbridge Village, with family and friends.

Naomi is in 1st grade and is also doing fabulously!  She is more quiet than Esther but just as sweet and kind.  She loves playing soccer with her friends from school and town.  Her favorite part of 2015 was having a play date with her friend Cam.

Matt has seen a busy year for work but he continues to grow in his position at Aetna and has a great team to work with.  He began brewing his first beer in January and made a few more batches over the year.  Ever the connoisseur, he was pleased with some and decidedly unpleased with others.  May brought knee surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon (it had ripped off his knee cap).  Matt’s surgery and recovery have been smooth and better than expected.  2016 will hold a return to running and golf for Matt, as both were put on hold during recovery.

Carey began 2015 by finishing her radiation treatment in January.  Over the summer she finished her Herceptin infusions and celebrated one year of having no evidence of cancer (aka remission).  There have been some setbacks this Fall with reconstruction, caused by an infection that brought a week at Hartford Hospital and removal of the implant used to reconstruct the right side (cancer side).  This means that 2016 will be the year in which Carey finishes reconstruction.  In the midst of the Fall’s challenges Carey began serving with MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) as a Ministry Coach, working to support and assist the MOPS groups across CT and into NY.  Carey experienced the support and friendships that come from MOPS groups and communities and is very excited to be beginning to give back to this organization.

We have certainly had our challenges this year, but we have seen God’s hand carrying us through each day and challenge.  As people seeking to follow Jesus we know that Life will always have challenges, they are what shape us and build our character as well as our hope.

Our prayer for 2016 is that God would continue to draw us close to Him, that He would give us the strength and grace to meet each new challenge.  Our world can seem so dark at times, whether it is the individual challenges we face or the broader global challenges facing humanity.  We pray that 2016 would be a year that brings Hope, that as we celebrate the birth of Christ we would be reminded of the Hope that He came to give us.  As we go into the new year may we love and care for those around us with strength, humility, and grace, just as Christ did.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love the Penneys

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Christmas Past

Can you believe that Christmas day has past already??  I am a believer in stretching the celebration out so I like to be Christmas-y for a while after (and of course before).  We don’t typically celebrate the Epiphany but that is another good way to stretch the holiday.

Our Christmas was fantastic!  We got our Littles two Bitty Babies (1 each) from American Girl.  I am very impressed with the overall quality and the speed of delivery.  This was the gift I was most excited to give.  And boy, oh boy, were they well received!  Our eldest likes baby dolls and we had planned on giving her a Bitty this Christmas, but our youngest likes baby dolls even more and while she is a little on the young side (at least officially) we decided to do one for each.  It was definitely the right decision.  In only one had received a Bitty we would be in treaty negotiations for a long time.

Here are pictures of the Littles opening their babes.  Catch that joy!!

We could not get the box open quickly enough for her. Thankfully we didn't need a sawzall to open the box.

She really realy wanted me to see this fantastic gift! "Mommy, kiss baby! Kiss baby!"

Santa, shopping and garbage

What do Santa, shopping and garbage have to do with each other?  Nothing, really but they all happen to be on my mind now.

As of a few hours ago we are completely done with Christmas shopping.  The Littles and I ventured into the mall for two reasons this morning.  1) To visit Santa and 2) to pick up a few remaining items.  The Littles loved waiting to see Santa almost as much as seeing him.  They bopped around and played with the tree and the little toys they had in the line area.  Then we walked into Santa’s “room” and the bopping slowed.  They knew this was their big moment… or they just thought it was odd that this guys was wearing a fuzzy red suit and he was asking them what they wanted him to bring to their house.  The looks in the picture pretty much say it all.  No tears but there’s certainly some bewilderment.  This was their first visit and, in my opinion, it went great.  We didn’t make a big deal about it, Matt wasn’t actually there, the Littles had fun and we have some cute photographic documentation.

Now to the garbage.  Why?  Why do I always find things to throw away on garbage day?  I should specify, after the truck comes by on garbage day.  And these are not just some pieces of mail or some packaging.  Why are there always things in my fridge that look fuzzy funky that I miss when I do the “garbage night sweep”?  How exactly do I miss the funk that is right in front of my face when I do the sweep?  Please tell that I am not alone in this.  There must be fellow funk-missers in the world.  Anyone?

Welcome to the tundra

Well, tundra might be an overstatement.  But we had family visiting us this weekend from Dubai so when compared to Dubai I’m pretty sure that our 23-34*F felt like they were in the tundra.

While my cousins were here we visited, ate yummy food and went to Boston.  We live about 1.5 hours out of the city and we had yet to take our Littles into Boston.  Matt and I have gone into the city since having the Littles, mostly for Red Sox games.  We both LOVE Boston, the history, the character, the sports teams, the culture, the museums, and so on.  I can’t think of a reason not to visit with the girls but for some reason they have never been.  Thankfully that has been amended.

We went to the Boston Children’s Museum, http://www.bostonkids.org/, all the littles had a fantastic time (my cousin has two of her own).  Then we went to, wait for it… La Famiglia Giorgio, only the best Italian restaurant in the North End,  http://www.lafamigliagiorgio.com/.  Really, if you frequent (or in-frequent) the North End check this restaurant out, they’re great.  We also walked through the New England Holocaust Memorial (breathtaking, http://www.nehm.org/) and Faneuil Hall (quintessential Boston).  We had a great time.

On their last night with us we had a big family supper.  That means, 8 adults and 7 kids (6 of which are under 4).  Again a great time was had by all.  Here are some pics of the festivities.

Fun in the bubble room

The shadow family and the butterflies

shadow family 2

Another shadow family and more butterflies

Walking around the North End

Kirsten & Martin at Boston's Christmas tree

The bouncing 3 year olds

More bouncing and giggles

All the Littles in one frame!!

Present wrapping

I’m toying (no pun intended) with the idea of just not wrapping presents this year. Not too seriously (but its not Christmas Eve yet) but I am a perpetual procrastinator and I have yet to wrap the presents. I’m torn since I love preparing the presents for delivery and caring for them (and in my mind showing care to the receiver) but I also know that it just gets tossed. Thoughts?

“Christmas Bells”

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Amen.

All dressed up and nowhere to go… but backwards

So would that make it “Somewhere to go but nothing to wear”?

Truthfully I have something to wear but not the thing that I want to wear.  Why is that?  I am selective in the clothing purchases and try to pick things that will have good uses, etc.  I have plenty of clothes.  So why do I feel as though I don’t?  Hmmm… Thats a topic for another post.

I have a Christmas party tonight.  A party with some of my lovely mom friends from the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group that I am part of.  The leadership team is having a “ball gown” party with a gift swap.  I have the gift, I have wrapped it in a lovely fashion (literally) and I just need to figure out how to wrap myself.  I’m a little short on ball gowns these days but I’m sure that there’s something hanging around that I can have some fun with.

With Christmas upon us here’s a wrapping tip that I learned from a friend.  Socks make wonderful little wrappings for wine bottles, small candles, pretty much anything that is less than 3″ in diameter.  Use a new pair of socks, take one and either put it in the toe of the other or use both on the bottle or jar.  Tweek it around a little, add a ribbon and there you have it, a fashionably wrapped gift.

Off I go to find some wrapping so I can go to the ball.  Where is my fairy godmother??  Or better yet, where did I leave my wedding dress??

 

UPDATE: I dug out a dress from my closet that I have used for weddings pre-kids.  It worked wonderfully!  Especially since the group was all women.  I need to do some sewing to it before I wear it again.  The soiree was wonderful and we all had a great time, now to find my pjs.