Saturday, January 4, 2014

December blur

December passed in a blur that started with multiple dentist appointments and a round of the flu and bronchitis.

December 5 was GCA Parent Night.  The parents gathered to meet the new principal (I am THRILLED with that particular decision) and watch the students give presentations.  The high school classes did wonderful putting on some skits, and I think we will be hearing random break-outs of "Dear Liza, dear Liza" for months to come.  Katelyn's class in particular put on a skit about the story of Joseph and I don't think that I've ever seen a better portrayal of the baker ;)

December 17 came before I knew it and we headed to Mesa for Pieceful Solution's Winter Performance.  It was an absolutely awesome experience.  Every class performed at least one song or skit.  It was so interesting for me to see the different degrees of autism.  It made a big impact on me.

Tyler's homeroom class performed a skit, pretending that it was their 30th class reunion and they were reminiscing about school.  It was funny to hear their "remember whens".  Tyler spoke loudly and clearly and they all did a great job. 

Then, his music class performed an African drum beat exhibition.  They all sat on the floor in a line, each with a percussion instrument of some kind (some where of a homemade variety).  Mr Ryan, the music teacher, would start out a rhythm.  They had to copy the rhythm, then, when given the signal, they would pass their instrument to the right and start again.  It was very good!

The entire high school class came together to sing "It's Winter Break and we want to go home!"  So fun.  I recorded it on my phone and when we need a laugh we pull it out and listen again.

Finally, the whole school took the stage to present "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"  Awesome!

Mr Ryan, the genius music teacher.  This man is awesome with these kids.

Two nights later, GCA presented their Christmas program.  Jason's Kindergarten class dressed up like barn animals and sang a song about donkey feet.  Jason was an adorable cow.  (imagine a picture here)

The high school put on a short play.  Katelyn was part of the choir again this year.  I am always so impressed by how much practice goes into learning all the songs and how well these kids sing.

Suddenly it was Friday, the 20th at noon and we were on Christmas break for two weeks!  I am so blessed that I am able to take the entire two weeks off and I only had to use 12 hours of vacation time since the college is already closed from Christmas to New Years.

Our Christmas decorations didn't go up until the Saturday before Christmas due to the sickness, but, honestly, I kinda liked it that way.  After about a week, I was already tired of them, lol.

We had a nice Monday and Tuesday getting the house ready for Christmas, going to the library, playing games and just being.  Tuesday night, Christmas Eve, we ordered pizza for dinner (a rare treat in our house) and made chocolate-covered pretzels.  While the pretzels hardened in the fridge, we drove around looking at Christmas lights.  We went to some new places and found an awesome neighborhood that we will definitely be going back to in years to come.

Then it was back home for our pretzel treats, then to bed.  Hurry, kids, I have presents to put out!  We always put the presents out Christmas Eve so that the kids wake up and walk out to presents.

This year was awesome because we received an unexpected check in the mail less than a week before Christmas.  We would not have been able to buy any presents otherwise.  But, because of the blessing, we were able to buy our older kids bikes.  Neither one had a bike nor could ride one (not for lack of having and trying when they were younger; the process just never clicked for them, one because of fear, the other due to autism)  We felt like they were finally ready to try again (larger spurred by Jason's ability, I'm sure) and were so thankful that we were able to surprise them on Christmas morning.

Tyler immediately climbed on his new bike and rode it.  Just like that.  This was so huge because it can be very difficult for autistic children to have the coordination to ride a bike.  When we tried when he was younger he could never master it.  This time, though, it came so easy for him.  He was proud :)

Katelyn took a little longer and I'll let her tell the whole story if she wants to.  But, she eventually got it and they have been enjoying the greater freedom.  Jim and I are enjoying the peace and quiet, lol, and the exercise and fresh air that they are getting.

Our Christmas plans included going to my dad's house for brunch, so for our early breakfast I made these cute Christmas snowmen out of powdered donuts that I saw on pinterest.  The kids loved it as that's definitely a once a year thing.

We headed to my dad's and enjoyed the mid-day with my dad and step-mom.

Mid-afternoon we came home and tidied up the house because my mom was coming in-at 10 o'clock!  Crazy, huh?  That was the cheapest flight she could get, so I spent my Christmas night at the airport :)

Thursday my brother and sister-in-law drove in and we all spent the next couple of days together.  It was a fun time of eating, presents, Balderdash and Logo Quiz.  I'm so thankful that they made the trip again this year.

My mom flew home on Monday and we thought we were in for a nice relaxing week.  Surprise, surprise, Tuesday my husband decided that he wanted to take the family to Conqueror's Conference, which started Wednesday night and went thru Friday night.  So, instead of relaxing, we made a quick hotel reservation (Hotwire rocks!), packed and headed out at noon on Wednesday to make the looooonng drive to Tucson.  The drive is two hours, but the little ones acted like it was longer than going to West Coast!  Fiiiiinnnally we made it to our hotel (Sheraton, awesome!  They let us upgrade our room for only $15 more AND allowed us to keep our room on check-out day until 2, an extra two hours)

Conqueror's Conference overall was a wonderful experience for us.  We saw some old friends, made some new ones.  I got to meet a blog reader, Jen Lord (Hi, Jen!) and introduced myself to a lot of other people who's names escape me.  Lots of people from Nevada, lol.

I was very proud of Katelyn.  There were not a lot of Glendale people there for the whole conference, so she had to make new friends.  She did great.  She decided to join the mass choir and sang both nights.  Then, she would just walk up to people and introduce herself.  Some times she struck out, but other times she made some good friends.  I'm really proud of her.

The preaching was awesome.  Wednesday night Bishop Abbot preached and it was so impacting.  A Godly man sharing a testimony about wasting his life at Bible College.  He actually read some entries from his yearbook that told the story of a rough young man.  I look at Bro Abbott today and it's hard to believe that he was ever anything except a Godly man.  I think his testimony was a help to a lot of young people.

The morning services were taught by Bro Jesse Star from North Dakota.  He was so powerful.  I enjoyed the messages, even if I did have to hear "But I don't like cherries!" the whole time he preached.

Thursday night Bro Conner preached.  He told it straight and I really appreciated it.  I think that was only the second time I had heard him.

Friday night Pastor Garrett preached.  I knew from experience watching him Wednesday and Thursday that he had a heavy burden.  He preached about guarding your fellowship.  He said some hard things that needed to be said and I pray that the impact reaches far and wide and that the difference is seen in the years to come.  The altar service was so powerful and I got to pray with someone that I've been praying for recently.  So awesome.

We are so glad that we went to Conqueror's Conference and I believe we will be going often in the future.

So, that's been the last month.  Next week is our week of prayer and fasting.  Then revival and a new year.

In conclusion, the last night of Conqueror's Conference, Sis Conner and Sis Cleveland sang "Peace Speaker".  It's an old song, but I felt like it was a perfect song to end 2013.

It was such a lovely day
the sun was shining bright
The gentle wind was blowing my way
Not a storm cloud insight

Then suddenly without warning
Storm's sourrounded my life
But even in the storm
I could feel the calm
and here's the reason why

I know the Peacespeaker
I know Him by name
I know the Peacespeaker
He controls the winds and waves
When He says, "Peace! Be still!"
They have to obey
I'm glad I know the Peacespeaker
Yes, I know Him by name

There's never been another man
with the power of this friend
By simply saying, "Peace! Be still!"
He can calm the strongest wind
That's why I'll never worry when storm clouds come my way
I know that He is near to drive away my fear's, and I just smile and say

(back to chorus)

Peace, peace, wonderful peace.
Coming down from the Father above.