Friday, December 24, 2010

Giving Thanks...

It is Christmas Eve- and quiet here as we sit in front of the wood stove and listen to Christmas music.  Our thoughts often drift to our family and friends tucked away in their homes across this big earth.  We are sending wishes out from our quiet.  Last year we pretty much alone too, but that was because we both had the flu and therefore spent most of our time stretched out on the couch, with either fever or chills, coughing, and generally feeling miserable.  This year we are thankful for health.

Christmas has become a time of reflection- in the season of reflection.  I do believe that often Christmas is as much about our past as our present.  It is in the familiar- the favorite songs, favorite decorations, familiar stories...  I'm not sure how many times these past couple of weeks we have looks at tree ornaments and talked about when we got them or who we got them from.

This Christmas Eve I'm reflecting on my many blessings. 

First- we have a new beautiful Grandson.  This new baby was born on November 17, 2010.  He arrived practically full grown at 10 pounds and 12 ounces and 22 inches long.  It was love at first sight.

And I have to tell you the absolute thrill when shortly after the arrival of our beautiful new boy, my beautiful boy from across this globe in Afghanistan called to tell me that my new grandson- his new son is to be named Weiler Kearns Kappel!  Life just doesn't get better than that!

Since Weiler was born just a little over week before our Thanksgiving, this year was a extra special celebration of those we love. Our house filled with family as first Amber and Evan, and then Brandy, Will and Mikayla, and finally Matthew and Sharon arrived from places far away to join our celebration.  And then as we celebrated our Thanksgiving, Sarah, Deseree, Anthony, Michael and Liz joined us, along with Marianne, Reeder, Hayes and Weiler, and Elizabeth (Marianne's sister) and Eden, plus friends Don and Mary Jo Peairs, and Linda Wise, Johanna and Annaka.  I think the total only came to 24 this year; it was a wonderful evening.

Though we did take some pictures (and borrowed some from Sarah- thank you, thank you Sarah!).  We were very busy- what with family all about and I might mention the COOKING!  Yes we did COOK!  Over the course of 4 days we cooked banana nut bread, pumpkin bread with nutella, spagetti- with meat and with mushrooms, deviled eggs, roasted vegetables with wild rice stuffing, cornbread stuffing with sausage and mushrooms, dressing with swiss chard and mushrooms, cranberry relish, apple/cranberry pecan salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, broccoli rice casserole, corn pudding, sweet potato casserole, gratin of fennel and tomato, pumpkin pie, apple/ginger/cranberry pie, chocolate fallen souffle cake, grandma's chocolate cake, chocolate ginger cookies, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, apple cake, brisket, squash and kale bread pudding, greens/beets with blue cheese walnut dressing, roasted potatoes, buckwheat pancakes, waffles, and of course THE TURKEY!  I get tired just thinking about all that cooking.
And we did have some help...

The boys love to help in the kitchen...

These two kept the floor clean...

Mikayla feasted on her daily fill of broccoli - her favorite...

Evan took care of pulling corks - he was busy...

We had so much COOKING going on that we had to send Don to the grill outside in the cold when we ran out of kitchen space.
But the best part is never the food.  No the best part is ALWAYS the family that gathers, the laughter, the conversation, the holding of babies!

Can you believe that even with all the food we cooked, we still went out to eat once?  And then to our favorite bar (maybe the only one we know) The Blind Lemon...

Mikayla got lots of Grandma time...

Mikayla posed just for the camera...

The girls and I even "snuck" off for a day of shopping at the outlet mall!

We finished the weekend with a baptism of our newest grandson.  Weiler Kearns was baptised on Sunday afternnoon on November 28, 2010. Amber was a very proud godmother!

We give thanks... We are blessed...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Today Is My Son's Birthday: He is 33 Years Old!

Today is my son's birthday.  He is 33 years old.  I remember 33 years ago today.  You just don't forget days like that.  The birth of a son. 

Today his children sleep upstairs.  Today his wife waits in the hospital for his third child to be born.

Today he is in somewhere in Helmand Province in Afganistan.  With his men.  With his Marines. 

Today I am proud of my son. 

Before this extraordinary day Clint came home for a visit before leaving.  And we did ordinary things.  Watched OU play UC.  Racked leaves.  Watched Reeder at her gymnastics class.  Ate together.  Found our pumpkins for Halloween.  Together.  Ordinary times. Together.

And now we wait.  For Clint's children to awaken.  For Clint's third baby to be born.  For Clint to return home. 

Our map is in the dining room.

Our Blue Star is on our door.

We wait.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Football Season in Ohio!

One of the really, really, really wonderful things about being back in Ohio is living so close to our niece Kelly and her beautiful family.  What joy they bring to our lives!  They live in the picturesque midwestern town of Bluffton about a 2 hour drive north from Cincinnati.  We look for excuses to visit!  One of our very favorite visits is in the fall when we join them for a high school football game!  Our very own "Friday Night Lights"!Now I need to brag a bit!  Our nephew-in-law is one of the coaches- so we're rather like "insiders" when we visit.  Even better, when we go to Bluffton for a game we always get to sit right on the 50 yard line right under the "press box".  They are the best seats in the house and they belong to Kelly and Pat, but we get to sit there.

But enough of the chatter- and off to the game! Of course there is the marching band!  And they are really, really good!

And huddles with the guys!

And here is Pat running off the field after a little "on field chat"!

And we all bundled up to stay warm!

And then on Saturday morning we were up early and off to volleyball with Darby! Well just maybe Don, Kelly, Lucas and me stopped off for coffee while Darby was warming up!  Nothing like the "Common Grounds" sitting at the corner of Main and Cherry streetes, just two blocks from Kelly & Pat's house.

And look at Darby play!

And of course her favorite fans!


Kelly took us on a tour of the Ricky Matter Strength and Fitness Center on the Bluffton campus.  Kelly directs the strength and endurance training for the young female athletes at Bluffton High School.  When Max and I were in high school no one would have ever thought that girls would be caught in a weight room improving their strength and endurance.  Weight rooms were in the basement where the wrestlers tried to sweat off that last few ounces so they could make weight for their next match.   But Bluffton has an absolutely wonderful fitness center built in honor of Ricky Matter, a young athlete who was tragically killed in a car wreck his freshman year.  The city rallied to his memory and built this fitness center and this year paid off the mortgage after only a few short years of fund raising.

"Morning After" the Friday night game!

But of course the best part is just always "hanging" with the family!  Always the best reason for a drive up north!

PS: Our grandniece Bailey started high school this year and is playing on the varsity girls basketball team.  We see many, many, many more trips north in our future!  Bailey is a real varsity prospect even though this is her freshman year.  She has worked hard all summer to recover from knee surgery and then to be the first of this year's team to complete a workout routine involving 20,000 shots in basketball.  She has great potential and desire, and that's what it takes to be great.  We are really looking forward to watching her develop over these next four years of high school basketball.  Our first game to see Bailey is coming up in early December.

Our girls!

The guys aren't so bad either, just busy and a little shy.