Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gymnastics redux

My last post about Spears family gymnastics was written in January of 2009.  With both the big girls no longer competing and my last day of coaching behind me, I thought we were done.  Competitive gymnastics is a huge time sucker, and although we all missed it terribly it was also a relief and a necessity with the arrival of three new littles during the next two years.

But then, Gabby Douglas happened.  And Candace and Sarah went gaga for gymnastics.  So, here we go.  A couple of weeks ago, they had a Holiday Showcase at their gym... an opportunity for the rec kids to show their parents what they have learned.  I thought the twins did pretty well.  Not sure if competition is in their future or not... coach Paula is cringing a little over some of that form, but as a mommy I was pretty proud.  :)

Disclaimer:  I have no idea which twin is which in most of these pictures.

Sarah stretching

More stretching

Sarah (top) and Candace waiting to start.

Marching to first event... Sarah left, Candace right.

 On the big beam

 Cartwheel on the low beam.

 Cartwheel on the floor.



 Finished!  Candace blocking Sarah's face...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holly jolly Christmas 2012

Ho, ho littles at the O'Connor family party.

Chicken dance with the O'Connor cousins.

 My cousin Crystal modeling her new
 white elephant inspired look.

Emily plays Santa on Christmas morning.

Grandma Miles and Percy joined us for Christmas this year.

 Thomas loves opening presents!

Sarah and Candace love their new Nooks!

Sometimes ninjas and various Lego dudes
 visit one of our nativity scenes.

  Our beautiful children... plus Bobby dog.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

O Holy Night

Blessings to all and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sharing the wealth of the season

In 2011, Americans gave over $298 billion to support charitable organizations and causes.  While these organizations receive donations through-out the year, on average 41% of the money contributed comes in the final weeks of the year.  (Statistics courtesy of Charity Navigator)  If you are one of the many families looking for a special place to make a holiday donation, I have some suggestions of favorite charities that I encourage you to learn more about and support.

Because Every Mother Matters - Sada's House

If you have read my blog before, you have probably read about Because Every Mother Matters and the great work they do sponsoring impoverished mothers in Dessie, Ethiopia.  Another major project that BEMM has undertaken is Sada's House.  This home is a temporary haven for girls and young women who are the victims of human trafficking in Dessie, Ethiopia.  There are currently five girls ranging in age from 9 to 16 at the home.  Here they are fed, educated and loved as they are given a safe place to heal.  Ultimately, the plan is for them to be placed with foster mothers from the sponsorship program so that they can grow up in a loving family environment.

Even in Ethiopia, running a household is expensive.  Sada's House needs funding to remain open and provide hope and safety for our girls.  You can find Because Every Mother Matters on the web (click here) and on Facebook to contribute to this worthy cause.  Every dollar makes a difference.

Freedom a la Cart

You can help victims of sex trafficking right here in the United States too.  Freedom a la Cart employs survivors of sex trafficking and helps other victims through the profits of its mobile food and catering business in Columbus, Ohio.  They have big plans: to open a full-scale restaurant with future franchises to spread their message and rescue and restoration efforts across the country... big dreams that need some money to make them a reality.  You can read more about this great group and donate here.

Doma International - Hidota Health Center

One of the first big projects undertaken by BEMM was to partner with Doma to raise $15,000 needed to begin construction on a health clinic for women and children in Bora, Ethiopia.  The health clinic is almost complete now.  The clinic provides medical services to women and children in a remote area of Ethiopia that is not readily accessible by vehicles.  You can read about my husband Tom's recent trip with Doma to celebrate the grand opening of the Hidota clinic here.  Now that the clinic is up and running, there are weekly expenses to keep project going.  Doma is looking for families and individuals to become "care holders".  Each care holder sponsors the clinic for one week of operations... $840 as an annual gift or $70 per month.  Your picture will be displayed at the clinic during your sponsored week so that the people served by the clinic can know a little about their caring partners in the United States... pretty neat.  :)  You can watch a video about the care center and learn more about donating by clicking on this link.  You can also click on the Doma logo in the left column to learn more about this great group.

I hope you have been encouraged to include one or all of these worthy causes in your charitable giving this holiday season!

Happy Christmahanukwanzaka to all!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Six years old!

Thomas said it was his best birthday ever... 
Happy sixth birthday, Feyissa Thomas!

Making a wish.

Serenaded with the birthday song by friends and family!

The twins and friend Sienna are spectators
 as Thomas opens his gifts.

Thomas and his new shield from sister Emily.

 Avengers Legos from brother Kenneth.

Thomas and neighbor friends Sienna and Kaiser.

 Best buddies.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A hole in my heart

One year ago today, my Daddy left this world for a better one.  I think about him every single day.  My dad was a wonderful father, a loving grandpa and an outstanding human being.  I know he's in a better place... but I miss him so much in this one.

I love you, Daddy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Tis the season

We have enjoyed many fun and festive Christmas activities this week! I'm having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year as the anniversary of my dad's death draws near, but seeing Christmas through the eyes of children is always a mood brightener.

First up on the holiday festivities agenda was the school Christmas program.

The littles posing in their grand Christmas finery.

Kindergarten performance... Thomas is the blurry brown boy.

The twins were conveniently placed right next to each other... usually not the case!

This past week, Anna's oldest friend Abbey hatched a plan to collect toys for needy children in our area.  The Ashland Hometown Christmas weekend seemed like the perfect time to set up a booth.  We are so proud to have such a special girl like Abbey as part of our family... well, she's not, but she is.  If you know what I mean.  :)

Anna and Abbey got these matching Santa hats when they were about seven and eight years old.

Next up on our agenda, visiting Santa Claus.  In Ashland, Santa comes to town in a horse drawn sleigh led by a beautiful draft horse.  Sleigh comes complete with wheels for more functionality.

Santa's ride.

The littles posing together for Mom and Dad. 

Candace is giving her wishes some serious thought as Santa and Mrs. Claus patiently wait.

 Sarah takes her turn with the jolly old elf.  She is somewhat of a skeptic.

 Thomas, on the other hand, is all enthusiasm!

Checking out Santa's sleigh!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Adoption summit

My friend Jen Stutzman and her husband, Jake, are hosting an Adoption Summit at their house in January.  If you live in the Omaha or Lincoln areas, you might like to attend.  Click on the link below for more information... Tom and I will be there and we would love to see you there too!

447 Summit 

Monday, December 3, 2012


I had surgery on my shoulder on Friday, and in my long weekend of sleeping and recovering, I forgot to light our advent wreath at dinner Sunday night.  It was a wonderfully delicious dinner delivered by the Altar Society ladies at our church.  At any rate, Thomas and I were home alone this evening and we lit the wreath before our own meal.  Thomas actually enjoyed it more than this picture suggests... after all, fire is involved.

This Advent, I hope you will be the light of the world for your family and someone in need.