Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Here comes another one, just like the other one

Candace and her missing front tooth... same one Sarah lost a few days ago. Well, they were easily identifiable briefly anyway.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a joyous and blessed Christmas... from all of the Spears family here in Nebraska to your family, wherever you are!

Friday, December 23, 2011

All she wants for Christmas...

... is a visit from the Tooth Fairy. Well, probably not all she wants, but it will be a good start.

Sarah's new toothless smile!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

His first major award!

Thomas was the thrilled second place winner of the holiday art contest sponsored by our local newspaper, The Ashland Gazette. All of the students at St. Mary's preschool participated in the contest along with other local children. Below is part of the article featuring his explanation of the award winning art he is proudly displaying.

(photo, The Ashland Gazette, 12/22/2011)

"Thomas Spears, 5, was awarded second place in the younger group (ages 4 to 7) for his drawing of a “monkey Santa” and a Christmas tree, which were being blanketed by a colorful orange snow. His favorite animal is the monkey, he said, thus the unusual depiction of Santa Claus. The color of the snow, well that’s another matter.

Perhaps it was because Thomas experienced his first snow this winter. He was adopted from his native country of Ethiopia in July by Tom and Paula Spears of rural Ashland. Thomas thought the snow was “cold” but not too cold to keep him inside.
“I made a snowman,” he said with excitement. He also wanted to have a snowball fight, but unfortunately, there were no takers, according to his father.

Both second place winners were awarded a family meal deal from Breadeaux Pizza in Ashland."

(The Ashland Gazette, 12/22/2011)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Good-bye, Daddy

My daddy died on Wednesday, December 14, 2011. It was Thomas' birthday and I wanted to make sure he had his happy day. But my heart was broken. Today we said good-bye to Dad at his funeral Mass. I love my dad so much... I always thought I was his favorite child, but I rather suspect that my four siblings all thought that they were. He was that kind of a dad.

When I was in college, I was a co-op student at the General Motors division that my dad had worked at since he was an 18 year old college student himself. One semester, I worked in my dad's department, Transmission Service. Dad was the head of this department and had many employees. Once, we were all assembled in an auditorium for a presentation on some change in corporate policy. I remember the presenter gazing out over the large group assembled and turning to Dad and saying "Wow, Carl, this is a big group! Are these people all yours?" To which my father replied "Well, they're not mine, they just work for me. Except that one in the back, she belongs to me." Everyone looked at me and laughed... and I felt ridiculously proud.

My dad was highly respected and liked because he treated people the way he wanted to be treated. He was smart and he was wickedly funny. My kids bragged to their friends that their grandpa was the coolest and funniest grandpa around. Sometimes he was downright cranky. But we all always knew how much he loved us.

I am going to miss him so much for the rest of my life. I love you, Daddy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In God's time

Remember when I wrote this? I am now happy to report this.
Thanks, God.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thomas turns five!

Thomas had his first birthday as an American citizen today. He is officially five years old! He was very excited to take cupcakes to share at preschool, but even more excited for presents and birthday cake at home. We feel so lucky to have this wonderful little boy in our family!

Let the unwrapping begin!

Candace and Sarah were almost as excited as Thomas to get the presents opened.

Every gift was greeted with this display of genuine enthusiasm.

Thor... he loves it!

Thomas picked out this soccer cake with some help from Mommy.

After a pizza dinner, Thomas blew out his candles and we all enjoyed the delicious cake!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's basketball season!

My husband Tom and I grew up in Indiana. That's basketball country; particularly high school basketball. Remember the movie "Hoosiers"? Small town squad wins the big state championship against the big boys from Indianapolis in storied Hinkle Fieldhouse (at Butler University for those of you who like NCAA Cinderella stories)... at any rate, I digress. High school basketball is very popular in Indiana, and although it definitely takes a back seat to football here in Nebraska, we enjoyed taking the youngsters to view AGHS in one of their early season match-ups last week. Of course, we were also there to cheer on the World's Cutest Cheerleader as she cheered on the Bluejays.

Important disclaimer: Although Tom and I are both Hoosiers by birth, we are Boilermakers by choice. This is a critical distinction.

Bluejay fans

The boys in action

Cheerleaders in action...

...including our favorite one.


Dance team at half-time

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New snow and ho, ho, ho!

Finally, what Thomas has been waiting for since his first glimpse of snowflakes back in early November... snow that stuck, deep enough to play in! Even better, it fell on the very day of his first visit with that jolly old elf, Santa Claus himself!

Candace, Santa, Sarah and Thomas

Ready for some snowy fun!

Thomas wanted to throw snowballs at someone very badly!
Alas, no takers. Maybe next time, buddy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Joy in small things

Thomas spent the morning running errands with me yesterday. Our first stop was Mommy's orthopedist, where I got some cortisone shots in both shoulders... not my favorite thing. Thomas was a concerned observer after enduring six vaccinations himself a couple of weeks ago. We also went to the bank. The teller gave me some things for Thomas: a balloon, a sticker and a mini candy cane. When I gave them to Thomas, he said "All this for me?" He could hardly believe his good fortune. We also went to visit a friend who works at a gift shop. Thomas was enthralled with the Christmas "socks" on display. I explained that they were called stockings and that he would get one with his name on it to hang up for Santa to fill on Christmas Eve. When we got home, by the magic of the USPS, it was there! Thomas was so excited... we decorated the mantle right away.

I love how the small things make his face light up... a sticker and balloon, a stocking and a candy cane. I hope that his sweet appreciation for the small blessings will stay with him forever.

Thomas loves his stocking!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The holidays have begun!

We traveled to Indianapolis for Thanksgiving this year, our hometown and home of both sets of grandparents. In fact, my parents moved a couple of months ago, so they now live right around the corner from Tom's parents.  Although that seems like it would make visiting more convenient, this trip posed some new challenges. Firstly, although we have two large SUV's, you just can't fit eight people in an 8 passenger vehicle when there are three car seats involved. So we took two cars.  Secondly, we stayed in a nearby hotel, as our large family also overwhelms the small retirement community houses our parents live in.

We arrived in town Wednesday night and after quick hellos to the grandparents, settled down into our rooms at the hotel for some sleep.  Thanksgiving day was spent with the Spears family and Friday was at my sister Johanna's house with the Miles family.  Saturday we hit the road and were home again by dinner time.  It was sure nice to see everyone; the long drive for a short trip was worth it.
 Cousin Becky and boyfriend Rommel playing Yahtzee
with Candace and Thomas

 Kenneth, Emily and Anna with cousin Paul

 The Spears Family!

  Tom and his brother Andy... eyes on the football game.

 Sarah snuggling with cousin Libby.

 At the pool with my dear sister in law Linda.
  We're rarely photographed together since
we take all the pictures.

  Kenneth playing poker with cousins Noah and Dereck
and Uncle Colin while Candace and Grandpa observe.
 Kenneth explaining the fine points of the game to Candace.

 Candace reading with Aunt Johanna.

Thomas loves Anna!

Swimming with cousins Samantha and Allie and friend Hannah,
daughter of our college friend Elaine and her husband Chris.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dance, dance, dance

This past week we had parents' viewing night at the twins' dance class. They have limited space for spectators, so we only get to watch occasionally. The studio is in a church basement and is thus a little dark, so it's hard to get pictures, but here are a few that are at least viewable of Candace and Sarah strutting their stuff. I was impressed how much better they have gotten since last year; Miss Mollie is a good teacher.

Stretching and listening to Miss Mollie's instructions.

A blurry ballet shot of Candace.

Tap class

Sarah practicing buffaloes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011