Goodbye 2011!

My favorite part of my first Christmas with children was Advent. Meaning, the whole month of anticipation and the opportunity to teach the kids about what God did for us when He sent Jesus to reconcile creation to Creator. I managed to finish all my felt figures for the advent calendar, not always on time, but never more than a day or two behind. The kids loved pulling each one out of the pocket and wondering what would come next! That was our morning activity throughout the month. In the evenings we read from the beautiful Advent Jesse Tree book that our dear friend gave us, and we added a symbol to our Jesse tree (a branch in a pitcher on the table). We filled up a wall in the kitchen with Christmas cards, including many from new friends who adopted our kids’ friends from the same orphanage. The children LOVED checking the mail throughout December and seeing all the friends and relatives. And we also took some time to think about making and giving gifts to friends and neighbors in the spirit of the season.

Christmas eve was classic, with my husband and dad building the new spring rocking horse and putting together Eliana’s toy kitchen. Both of these are particular hits. My mom and I were busy stuffing stockings (I had just finished sewing on the letters to their names two days before), and wrapping last-minute items. I have a few fun photos of these activities and Christmas morning that I’ll post soon.

I got a very special gift on Christmas day when, after breakfast was over and every gift was opened, I got to go skiing for a few hours with just my Dad. Brought back so many memories of childhood Christmas mornings, more often than not spent skiing at various mountains in the west. And oh, the freedom of skiing unfettered by everyone else’s needs! My favorite Christmas gift this year, thanks Dad!

In many ways the Christmas season flew by, and here we are, having just rung in the new year last night! 2011 was a roller-coaster of a year for us, filled with deep pain, unbridled joy and every emotion in between. And it wore me out, so I’m excited about the fresh slate of a brand new year. I wonder what it will bring?

In emptying older photos from my iphone recently I came across a few highlights from the year:

The morning after we arrived home from Ethiopia, Alex models his American Flag sweater from Grammy, in his new house.

Melkam on that same morning...

Imagine the audio that should accompany this photo and you've got Ellie's personality in a nutshell. Also, she's contemplating putting both fist-fuls of sand in her mouth...

Success at the dentist with Melkam...a parenting triumph!

The boys love Home Depot kids craft projects with Daddy on Saturdays. They know the schedule...this coming Saturday is some sort of piggy bank they don't want to miss.

Alex the pirate at school on Halloween with his friend Mazlow (er...MJ). Happy!

A memorable trail run in November: Five little boys on bicycles, two little girls in a jogging stroller, two dogs, and three mommas who hauled all these beings and their stuff to Dover just to go for a run!

Tomorrow’s post is inspired by my friend Dakota over at who suggested we both tackle the topic of going from childlessness to an instant family through adoption. Not sure I’ve quite collected my thoughts on that one, but I’ll give it a go!

Happy New Year everyone! And may your 2012 have more joys than sorrows, more victories than defeats, and lots of opportunity to grow through the tough stuff.

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