Monday, December 31, 2012


It's been a busy December for us. We've spent it baking cookies, doing Christmas shopping, and celebrating Christmas in a few different ways.

Our first real "Christmas" celebration was about two weeks before Christmas. One of the leading musicians at church had suggested a private Christmas music recital, and Mandy, of course, was invited to participate for a few different songs. About a week or so beforehand, it was suggested that Seth join in for a song at least, so he and Mandy spent some time practicing via duets. It was Seth's first public performance, and people loved it; several people asked when he will be joining the rest of the musicians on Sunday morning, but that won't happen for a while yet. Mandy also did very well on the pieces she did with the others. You can find a few of the videos on my facebook page.

On the Saturday before Christmas, we had our annual family get-together with Grandpa Mike. Our group was smaller this year because several members of Uncle Josh's family were sick. We enjoyed some lunch and talked. Mom and I had to leave early because we had to clean the church, but Dad, Seth, Mandy, and Ben stayed for a few more hours.

On Christmas Eve, we got together with Grandma Linda. Again, some of Uncle Josh's family was not present, though a few members did come. We enjoyed some dinner and then opened gifts. Then we played a new game, where you had to think of a word and then get people to guess what word it is based on what it rhymes with; some of the younger cousins proved to be very smart at this game. Afterwards, we drove home in a rather dense fog and, as is our Christmas Eve tradition, we were allowed to open one gift. Then we (which included Ben) sat down and watched a movie.

As is Mandy's tendency, she woke me up at 8:30 to open presents. Ben also came over, and there were gifts for him as well. We all got new clothes (my favorite are the various scarfs I got and also my arm warmers), and I also got three books (two of which are about Medieval culture, and I'm almost finished with the longer one). Other gifts included a new wallet, a game for the Wii, and some other practical stuff that we needed. After presents, then we had breakfast. We had our annual quiche, but this year we also added muffins (which included gluten-free ones since I could only eat half of the quiche- I'll explain why in a minute), bacon, and sausage. Then we spent the rest of the day chilling out, reading from our new books, playing Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit, and watching a movie.

The last real part of our break happened today (December 31st). I spent part of the day at the movie theater and then with some friends for a late lunch. Later in the afternoon, we (which again includes Ben) hung out with Uncle Josh's fam (they're finally feeling better) and had dinner. And now we're back at home enjoying a relaxing New Year's Eve. Tomorrow will be the last day of the break, and then it's back to our normal schedules.

Now, about the gluten-free thing. For about a month now, I've been avoiding foods with wheat and gluten with them because I am seeing if it has anything to do with my long-term sinus issues. Ever since July or so, I have had several issues like headaches, migraines, ear pain, and sinus pain. After three trips to three different doctors with no results, my mom suggested that I ignore wheat. Ever since then, I have been feeling a lot better; most of my symptoms have disappeared, and I've felt more energetic, among other things. So, ever since then, I have done my best to avoid wheat/ gluten. This, of course, is not always the easiest thing to do. Especially when we go out to eat because very few places sell good salads or even grilled chicken. Potlucks and eating at other people's houses has also been tricky, especially when I can largely only eat meat, vegetables, and fruit. Still, the results are worth it for me.

So, it's been a good year for us, and we've seen a lot of changes. We've seen Dad and Seth adjust to working for NCR. We've seen Mandy graduate high school and start courting Ben. We've seen quite a few people start courting (and in a few cases, get engaged). We've watched our family grow (and it will continue to do so next year). We've seen a lot of work done to the house (which we're still working on). We've seen Mandy get her first job and Seth being accepted back to NCR. I wonder what will happen next year.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


November has been a very hectic month for us. Every single weekend (i.e. Friday and Saturday) we have had something going on. The first weekend was the church's annual ladies' retreat, which Mom, Mandy, and I attended; we enjoyed ourselves there, as we always do. The next weekend was another church wedding; I raise my glass to Mom because she was on her feet for sixteen hours that day, helping prep and doing things in the kitchen, not to mention the cheesecakes she decorated and helped serve at the reception, and then because she and I cleaned up the disaster- zone of a church afterwards; she did an amazing job. Then the next weekend was the church's annual Thanksgiving dinner; I made a batch of delicious rolls, Mom did potatoes and stuffing, and Mandy made a cake; it was another lovely event that we all enjoyed, especially hearing the testimonies of other people on how good the Lord has been to them this year.

Last weekend was Thanksgiving, which we celebrated at Uncle Josh's house. This year was more special because we had Ben and his mom and then Sarah (Gabe's girlfriend) join us for the festivities. Ben, as I have said before, fits right in with the Cunninghams, and his mom seemed to really enjoy herself in our company; Sarah also fit in very well too. We enjoyed plates of delicious turkey, ham, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, different varieties of rolls, green bean casserole, and then various desserts. We stayed there for several hours. Mandy left to spend the night with Sarah, and Mom left in the late afternoon; so Dad, Uncle Josh, Ben, and I sat outside around the fire and talked for a little before the cold (and hunger) drove us back inside the house. It was a good Thanksgiving, and I have uploaded pictures from it on facebook.

We have exciting news about Seth. A few weeks ago, he learned that NCR was willing to bring him back on to work in another division at the same location where he had worked, so he went up there for an interview. They said they would hire him back on as a full-time employee with all the benefits, but for weeks they did not say anything. This week, they called Seth back and asked him to start next week, which is very good news.

As for renovating the house, I have yet to get pictures because we are not fully done. We have painted half of the living room and dining room a dark green (a color of which Mandy approves- she is our color stylist who tells us what color would look good), and Dad and Seth spent several long, painful hours on their hands and knees tearing up our old beige carpet and putting down pergo (it's sort of like hard wood, but it's not real wood). The pergo has been laid down, but we are still working on putting up the new baseboards and staining them. Next up, Dad has plans to re-do the floors of both the utility room and the kitchen (both of which will require some logistical maneuvering), but we probably won't do those until the spring or summer.

I have been looking into other options for either further schooling or certification. I have a couple of ideas, but I still need to discuss them and figure out which one would be best for me. Two weeks ago, Mandy and I went to a church family's home; while she looked after two of the kids while the mom and her oldest were out running errands, I helped tutor one of the children in her schoolwork. I have only done this once because of Thanksgiving and other things, but I am hoping to start back up again next week because I found myself enjoying it.