"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Yes, technically it's the day after, but still. Merry Christmas. 

How was yours?  Christmas here in Drosche Land was great.  With all the holiday hustle and bustle it did seem to come unusually fast this year though. I seems as though we were just in school preparing for the Christmas Break and now, here we are, one week into it and it's half gone already. But back to the post at hand.  Christmas. 

Our celebrations were the usual here. Last minute shopping, as always, on the 23rd. I love shopping right before Christmas anyway. All of the lights and decorations. All of the people hurriedly preparing for the big day. I just love it.  To me, it wouldn't be the same without this last minute shopping. Luckily we always seem to have something more to get so I don't think we will ever be in the position to avoid the stores so close to Christmas. At least I hope not. 

Christmas Eve involved decorating cookies with the cousins, always a fun time. Amy made some wicked good gingerbread this year and tweaked the recipe for some of the icing so Stella could enjoy it as well. Then it was off to church which is always fun and, of course, family tradition. We go to the family service at 4:00 which is good because we all have young kids so the later services aren't as suited for us. But I am looking forward to the day when a traditional service, complete with hymns and candles, is back on our level. After church it was back to Amy's Mom's house for out usual dinner of crackers and cheese, dips, and cookies. Dang!  I just realized I didn't get any eggnog this year. Not a single glass. Hmmmmm. Then we all opened the gifts with Amy's family. Tons of fun. I love watching the kids. Never ceases to entertain. Then it was back home to leave cookies for Santa and shuffle the kids off to bed so Amy and I could finish wrapping and Santa could make his visit. 

Side note: another year went by with the magic of Santa still intact for Jackson!  Score!  We shall see what next year brings, although I selfishly hope the truth remains hidden. 

Christmas morning came and the kids were excited to see that Santa had indeed stopped by our house. Whew, they'd been good afterall. Dodged a bullet or two there!  After opening our gifts we headed to my parents' house to celebrate with them.  There was more delicious food.  Both of our families opt for a snack-themed Christmas menu. This is fine by Amy and I. I mean, I love to graze all day long!  After lunch it was back home to spend the rest of the day on the couch as the kids began to play with every single thing they'd received. Well, nearly every single thing!  The rest of the day and night went peacefully and we had a great time. 

One of the most fun things about this Christmas is that Stella was actually of the age to understand everything. So, even though she's been through two Christmases, this was the first that she could truly interact with and enjoy. She loves to sing. All the time. Loudly. Most of the time it's "Let It Go" from Frozen. But this holiday season she would cycle through a medley that included "Jingle Bells", "In A Little Stable", and snippets of other tunes. She also loved to wish everyone a "Merry Christmas!"  It was adorable. She had a blast. 

So, here I sit. The day after Christmas. I may have mentioned this before, but it's always a little melancholy for me. The big day is over. You've been gearing up for about a month and then bam!  It's done. Decorations begin to come down. New gifts are put away. Everything returns to normal.  But that's a good thing I guess. Then we can continue to focus on the true meaning on Christmas and the gift He gave us all. 

So. Christmas 2014. I hope it was good for you. I was reminded of the many blessings He has given me. My beautiful wife, children, family, friends. It's been fun. Hopefully the remainder of the holiday break is as relaxing as today was. 

All is well, still in the Christmas spirit, in Drosche Land.  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Movin' On Up

No, not to the East side. And I'm never going back to apartment living, regardless of how deluxe it may be. Nope, I'm talking about a different kind of moving up.  As in grade levels at school. 

Starting in January, once school resumes, Amy will be moving up (the title all makes sense now huh?) to teach 4th Grade instead of 2nd Grade. I know. It's still a bit of a shock to us as well.

It all began much earlier this school year, with a bit of sad news. The 4th Grade teacher at Epiphany suddenly passed away. It was very sad and emotional for Amy and her coworkers. Since then there have been 2 substitutes working together in the class. Amy, always willing to help and looking for a challenge began to contemplate moving up to take over. We talked about it. We prayed about it. We decided it seemed like what He was calling her to do. Everything was working out for it as well. Amy had a Student Teacher this fall who was also the daughter of a family friend. She graduated last week and obviously is looking for a job. The plan was to have her take over in 2nd Grade while Amy moved up to 4th as the permanent teacher. 

It was approved and everything was put into place. That was all a little over a month ago. It seemed so far off, but now the time is here. Yesterday was the last day of school before Christmas Break and today we spent the day moving Amy from her old classroom into her new classroom. We worked hard and made a lot of progress. We will go back on Monday to finish everything up. Meanwhile, over the course of the past month she's been working on lesson planning, reading through curriculum, and preparing herself to teach 4th Grade.  She's been super busy and, of course nervous, but all is coming together and working well. 

It make me laugh though. This girl who, in college, was so sure she would only ever be an Early Childhood teacher. She disliked any fieldwork or experience in anything above Kindergarten. One of our dearest professors who taught several of our classes always refused to put her in lower grades, despite Amy's insistence that Early Childhood was the only thing for her.  Instead, Dr. Keiper insisted she be well-rounded and not closed off to anything. You'd never know what He has planned. Ha!  Turns out she was so right all along. If only she could see what was going on now!

4th Grade. They're tall. There's multiplication and essays. Cursive writing and hormones. Yikes!  I have to admire Amy because I would never be able to do this, nor would I want to. But not Amy. Nope. Not my Amy. She loves change. Loves a challenge. Thrives under pressure and strained circumstances. She's nervous and forever worried she's making the wrong decision, but I know she will be amazing!  I have such confidence in her, as do her coworkers, principal, and the current 3rd Grade parents who had her in 2nd Grade last year and are ecstatic to have her again next year!  Awesome. 

So, another adventure about to begin here for us. Well, for Amy really. But it's a good thing. A very good thing. And I can't  wait to see how it turns out.  I also now have a strong urge to watch The Jeffersons after writing this. Sadly I don't think it's on Netflix?  Hmmmmm. 

All is well, challenge accepted, in Drosche Land. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Yes Virginia

You know the rest of the quote. There is a Santa Claus.  

Yes, we celebrate with Santa here in Drosche Land. The birth of our Savior and the true meaning of the season is always present and foremost; but we do include Santa. And the ever controversial Elf on the Shelf. But more on the elf later. 

When you have kids, Santa is suddenly brought back into your life. Like an old friend. One you've lost touch with over the years but who suddenly returns. Bringing with them many fond memories and traditions. You spend the next few years of your parenting life keeping the magic of Santa alive and well for your children. Reading about him. Telling about him. Visiting him. Writing letters. Yes, probably using him to bribe your kids to stay quiet for just one single minute.  (Hey, no shame, we've all done it). Then one day the magic is gone, and with it the old friend has left again.  That day came for Braeden last year. I'm not quite sure how or when or what prompted it, but he confronted us. Asked us the truth. Amy and I, shocked as most parents are at first I'm sure, feigned ignorance. Yeah, that didn't last long. The kid is too smart for that. So we told him the truth. We also told him about the magic that is the belief. The magic that inspires the love and giving of the season that we already focus in with Jesus' birth. Christmas. The whole package. The whole shebang. And yes, that includes the slight little white lie of the jolly old man in the red suit.  It also includes giving not receiving, family, friends, peace, and joy. 

He listened. He digested. He understood. Remarkably no tears were shed. Instead, Amy and I presented him with the task of "helping" us to keep the magic alive for Jackson and Stella. He was now in on the worldwide yearly secret. He enjoyed this and went with it. But I'll be honest, a little part of me (ok, a big part of me) was sad. He lost some of the innocence of youth with the realization. By the next day he'd put two and two together and figured out the shams that were the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Again, I cried, inside and outside. Our little guy was growing up. The boy who'd brought Santa back into Drosche Land was now slowly leading him out. 

Christmas 2013 came and was great. Then it was over and everything was back to reality. The secret was kept and our alliance upheld over the next year as it was filled with lost teeth and Easter. Then December 2014 rolls around. The tree goes up and the decorations come out. Silently the three of us meet, exchanging sideways glances. The facade is put back up and we remind him of his duty to his little brother and sister. All is well with Christmas.  Letters to Santa are written.  Engelbert our elf returns and is up to his silly little hijinks again. Jackson and Stella are blissfully unaware of the fib that the majority of the house is now telling.

Luckily Jackson shows no signs of following in his brother's footsteps this year and I am pleased with that. Not only will be magic continue here in Drosche Land, but the stress of adding another member into our secret alliance has passed. Frankly, Jackson cannot keep a secret to save himself and I am determined that Stella hold on to the belief for as long as possible. She's the baby. The last chance to keep Santa coming around here every year. I figure I've got a good 5 years left right?  

Sadly though, I know the time will come. We will all know the truth. But I hope by then the magic can still stay for fun. For entertainment. For nostalgia. "Santa" will come each December 25th and we will all smiles knowingly.  Until, of course, one of these 3 decide to have a child of their own and we can once again welcome the old man back into our lives.  But for now, we'd better watch out, we'd better not cry, we'd better not pout.  He's on his way. 

All is well, believing, in Drosche Land.