Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Holland Year in Review 2009

January - Their first snow!

February - Our 4th child and 1st daughter

March - Aaron gets glasses

April - we moved off campus to a much bigger home with lots of space in the kitchen!!!

May - Martin turns 7!

June - settling into our new home and enjoying the summer!

July - The 4th of July in Pennsylvania

August - Martin begins 2nd grade and Aaron starts Kindergarten!

September - lots and lots of fun field trips in Virginia

October - Jonathan turns 3 years old!

November - spent 3 weeks in Virginia and got hooked on board games!

December - Aaron turned 5!! We started our celebration of Advent using our advent banner.
But, most importantly. . .
We counted our blessings. . .and we are abundantly blessed!
May your 2010 be fully of many blessings!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Deer for dinner

Rich went deer hunting for the first time and shot a buck. He went with a friend that we've gone to church with here in NC for many years, Don Albright. As you can see, his first trip was successful! Rich also took some pictures of the internal damage that the bullet did, but I'll spare you that. It will suffice to tell you that it was a quick, "clean" kill. The deer dropped right in its tracks.

They took the deer back to Don's house where he taught Rich how to dress it. Once they finished that job, they packed the deer "parts" in a cooler filled with ice (where it stayed for about a week). Next came the butchering of the deer, which was done in my kitchen. In the sink are a front leg (left side of the sink) and a rear leg (right side of the sink).

Rich prepares to butcher. (The back straps and tenderloins are in the baggies in this picture.)

He prepares cuts of meat for the freezer.

Butterfly steaks

stir fry
The first taste. YUM!

We have a freezer full of healthy, organic meat touched only once by human hands. We are excited that Rich was able to shoot his first deer. We are thankful to Don for letting Rich tag along on the hunt and learn from him. Rich is thankful his wife wants him to go hunting. (He rather enjoys it!) He loved the hunt - and didn't even mind cutting out the guts. He even said that he would rather gut a deer than a fish. He didn't love butchering it, though. He says that after several hours, the smell of raw meat really begins to take its toll. It took him many hours(spread out over a couple of days) to get it all done. I think he wants that to be my job - but I am certain that is just not possible!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jonathan's first tie

Jonathan wanted to wear a tie to church like his big brothers. I shot this video of him after he put on his big boy tie.

P.S. The tie never made it to church. He started tugging on it 5 minutes after I shot the video.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh, what a mess I can make!

Thankfully - they hadn't been folded yet - or I might have not thought it was so cute.

I have found that it is a lot harder to keep up with this girl than it was with any of my boys. She's nosier, busier, and quite industrious. She doesn't nap very well either, so my days are long and busy.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Couple Pictures of our Advent Banner

Here is a picture of the banner about half-way through the month
Here is the banner almost completed. We have just one more reading to do later this evening, and we will add our final craft. The craft will go in the very center of the banner. The final craft will be a cross.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thank you - Pupup and Nanny!!

The boys loved the gifts that you sent for them!!
They have been playing with them non-stop for two days now!

They love their new hats, gloves, and scarves! They've been wearing them for the past two days!

Rosalie had a great time opening her very first present!

And she REALLY loved the adorable penguin that you sent for her. She's been giving it lots of hugs! She won't keep the hat on though, so I'll have to get a picture of that later.

Here the boys are the day after opening - still wearing them!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rosalie dancing

Rosalie loves music! Here is a video that I got of Rosalie enjoying listening to some music. It's a couple minutes long - might be a bit long for non-family members - understandably, though, I could watch it all day!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


We are celebrating advent this year and each day we read a passage of scripture that points us to our need for a Savior. When we first decided that this tradition of the advent banner was something we needed to do - we had no idea how the children would respond. They have really enjoyed it. I set up a very simple and small craft for them each to do that only takes about 5 minutes. Then we sit down together in the living room while Rich reads the passage of Scripture to us. Then when he's finished reading, he asks questions to the children, clarifies anything that needs clarifying, and we pin their craft to the banner. I only have one place for each day's craft, so I pin all 3 of the sheets onto the banner, but only one of them is actually visible. (we take turns on that - Martin does a great job of keeping track of all that - he lets me know each night whose craft gets to be on top)

I love how this activity really helps focus the children on our need for a Savior. I love how we are spending time throughout each and every day talking about preparing our crafts and the anticipation of what we'll be reading that night. What a joy it has been to watch the children embrace this activity and enjoy it so much.

I have struggled with how awkward this time of year has become. I have spent years trying to figure out how we fit in to all of it. We don't put up a tree, we don't adorn our house in greens and reds, and we don't do santa claus - none of the commercial/secular traditions of our culture. I began searching for ways that we could make our own traditions for our family. Everything I did seemed like a disingenuous attempt at turning something secular into something sacred.
So, my next thought was just to ignore the whole thing completely. Afterall, Jesus wasn't actually born on December 25th, anyway. That didn't work out so well either. I have a deep desire to celebrate the greatest Gift God could have given. I hope and pray that I am faithful to do that year around, though. (not just in December)
The passages we are reading not only point to the coming of Jesus, but also point to our desperate need for a Savior. Celebrating our Savior's birth misses the point, unless we acknowledge the purpose for which He came: to rescue us from sin. I know for certain that there is nothing that I can do to make Christmas "special". No amount of decorating can make it anymore special. Christmas is about our Savior. What can I possibly add to that to make it any better? For the first time in a long time, I finally rest in knowing that I don't have to do anything. It's already been done. . . and it is worth celebrating just as it is.
So, I am certain that the activity of the advent readings and banner is a perfect fit for our family. I am thankful for others who have blogged about this very topic and gave me the idea to try this with our family. I am thankful for my husband who started me on this journey 12 years ago with a few thought provoking questions.
Pictures of our advent banner are here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I just want to touch it!

Rosalie loved the fall decorations that my mom had out at her house. She especially loved this very fancy jack-o-lantern!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Aaron is 5!!

Where does the time go? It was just yesterday that I walked through my front door with a brand new baby hearing my 2 1/2 year old shouting, "Baby Aaron is here, Baby Aaron is here!" Today my sweet Aaron, or Aar Bear, as we have always called him is 5!! We are so blessed to be Aaron's parents. Aaron has been a joy from the time he was old enough to smile His smiles are downright contagious. We love our Aaron so very much. He has been making us laugh since before he could talk. Here is a walk down memory lane of Aaron from birth to now!

2 days old

First picture with big brother

Almost 1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

4 years old

5 years old

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


We have a climber. I really wish I had a picture to share - but I'll just try to describe it.

Rosalie has become quite the little explorer. She feels perfectly comfortable traveling from room to room when she gets bored in one place or another. While I was working in the kitchen earlier today, I heard her hollering up the stairs - when it finally hit me what I was hearing - I ran to the stairs, and saw that she had made it up the first 3 steps and was going for the 4th.

She was very proud of her accomplishment and wanted VERY much to keep practicing.

I need to go shopping for a baby gate.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rosalie is 10 months old!

I left my camera in Virginia. I won't get it back until next week when my parents come to visit for Aaron's birthday. I feel lost without my camera. So, I have to use a picture of Rosalie from a couple weeks ago - it will have to do.

Rosalie is 10 months old now!! She is crawling all over the place! She is cruising along the furniture, and is impressively steady on her feet. All 3 of my boys were about 14 months old when they started walking. I am predicting that she may walk earlier. There really is no predicting that. I actually predicted that Aaron would walk at about 12 months - wrong about that! I think I probably predicted that Jonathan would walk early - wrong about that too. I obviously am not very good at predicting. So, we'll just have to wait and see!

Rosalie is back to sleeping all night again. I hesitate to say that - we all know that could change at any moment. So, for now, she is sleeping all night. Her wake time is 5:30 AM - but I am NOT complaining! I'll take it! She takes two naps each day - about 30 minutes each. I often wish she'd nap long enough for me to get more done with the two older for school - but for now 30 minutes it is.

We sure do love our sweet girl!! I'll have to post a picture of her with her pony next week when I get my camera back.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy December!

We are traveling home today. We've been visiting in Virginia for over 3 weeks now. We had a great time visiting. My parents have been enormously patient with the chaos that a family of 6 brings to their household. (well, it was only 5 of us most of the time, but Rich did join us last week)
Today we are beginning our celebration of advent. (which officially began this past Sunday) I'll be posting a picture of our Advent banner once it is completed. My mom is helping me make it, and I still have some finishing touches before I will be ready to post the picture.
The whole idea of the advent banner and the scripture readings that go with it - is to focus on Jesus and the prophesies throughout scripture of the coming Messiah. Each day we will study a passage from scripture and then work on some sort of craft to go with the Scripture reading. Once we are done with the craft, we are going to place it on the banner. Eventually, it is my plan to make a permanent craft/object to go with each reading to place on our banner. I don't have time to pull all of that together this year. So, this year, we are going to be doing coloring sheets and other temporary type of crafts to place in each square.
We are excited to begin this tradition in our family - and I will post updates throughout the month as we begin to fill up our banner.