Friday, December 31, 2010

Tsunami 2010

On December 27th (yep...two days after Christmas), Rob and I took eight of our youth from church to the Tsunami student conference in Long Beach. This is the third year that we have done this trip, and sadly, I have to say this wasn't my favorite. The main reason why this year ranked third in three is because Rob and I were deathly ill. Okay, maybe we weren't nearing death's door, but we sure were miserable, and that coupled with no sleep made for an exhausting three days.

There were some highlights, though. The speakers were entertaining and brought up some good food for thought, hitting in the theme "Love Does"; the weather was unbelievable the first two days; and we had a great time visiting the Aquarium and 2nd Street in Long Beach. And as usual, the students were awesome and really enjoyed the speakers and classes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Little Christmas

After our Christmas Eve service on Friday night, Robby and I decided to come home and have our own Christmas time together instead of cramming it in Christmas morning. It was great. We got into our jammies, made ourselves some hot tea, and did stockings and presents together. Although we have for the past few years decided not to do big presents, Robby broke that rule entirely this year and gave me a scrapbook and beautiful wood chopping block. (My kitchen is pretty glammed out right now with its new chopping block, stand mixer, and baking dishes from the Feely's.) What did he get? Well a toy of course! I gave him this duck shooting game that he had seen and filled his stockings with fun little trinkets, including the most darling Pez dispenser ever.

Feely Christmas 2010

We were blessed once again to be able to have Nathan, as well as Jeff and Deb, here with us for Christmas. The three of them came December 22nd and stayed through Christmas Eve, so we had some quality time with them, most of which revolved around eating delicious food and playing with Nathan :)

Thursday evening, we had a birthday celebration for Robby (Dec 21st), Jeff (Jan 2nd), and Nathan, whose birthday isn't for another two months but got to join in on the fun with his dad and uncle.

Trains are what it's all about in this two-year-old's world, so we spent much time building tracks and pushing our little trains around. Robby made the coolest tracks, although Nathan found it just as fun to break them all up as it was to use them.
Busy as he was, Nathan did let Debbie show him his new book.
Present time!
Our gift to Nathan: a little green "Percy" train
At this point, Nathan found it funny to make fish faces instead of smiles.
Family dinner
Although Christmas day was a little quiet without Nathan, Deb, and Jeff, we still had a wonderful time together.

Vander Kooi Christmas 2010

It's so sad. Christmas is over. Every year, we look forward to the wonderful season of Christmas, and before we even know it, it passes right by. We can't really complain, though; this was a beautiful Christmas full of the many blessings God has given us.

For two days straight (and more), we spent every waking moment with either Robby's side or my side. Mornings began at his parents' house, then afternoons were at my parents' house. We had a great time giving and getting gifts (once again, Rob and I are juts way too spoiled), talking, playing games, and, of course, eating. The food was just amazing this year, from tomato-crab bisque to prime rib to pumpkin parfaits. How am I going to return to regular ole cooking now?
Camille and Chelsea, home for the holidays
The VK family, plus extras
Mom, busy in the kitchen
Hooray! A stand mixer!
My present to Car: a nice piece of bling
Robby's present to Chels: a handy leather travel wallet
The must-have shot of Robby as he enjoyed his chocolate parfait.
Cheers!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Photo by Jeff Feely

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy 29th, Robby!

Yesterday we celebrated Rob's 29th birthday with a whole day of fun. We actually began the celebration the night before with my family, making him a nice steak dinner and gifting him with new shirts, candy, and Taco Bell dollars. For lunch, we headed over to Henry Salazar's where we met his parents and grandma and all enjoyed tasty chips and salsa and Henry's best lunch combos.
Our dinner last night was the big splurge, though. Last Christmas, Jeff had given Robby and me a gift card to Fleming's, and we'd been saving it for a special occasion. We had an amazing steak dinner with a yummy baked potato and unbelievable creamed corn on the side. Seriously, I would have been content if the creamed corn had been my whole meal.

We had a surprise waiting for us when we got to the restaurant: Kara and Jonathan had been coerced by our parents to meet us there and celebrate with us! The four of us had a great time catching up and enjoying the amazing food.

To top it off, Rob received a complimentary lava cake that we thoroughly enjoyed. Yum!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Little Christmas Carol

Yesterday's service was an exciting one for me because the children at church performed in the mini-musical I wrote. It is called A Little Christmas Carol and tells the story of Carol, a Scrooge-like character who has forgotten what Christmas is really about. As Carol goes to sleep that night, she is greeted by three different sets of visitors (we didn't call them ghosts...that may have been misunderstood by the kids!) who help her remember the true meaning of Christmas. Shepherds, angels, and wisemen appear to Carol, and by the end, she recognizes that Christmas is about Christ's birth and nothing else.

I wrote five songs and used Garageband on my Mac to record them. They actually turned out great, and, unless I told them, people didn't know it was not a purchased production. Since October, the kids have been learning the songs, hand motions, and lines. Courtney (my co-leader of Kids Praise) and I were very busy, but we were absolutely thrilled with how it all turned out. I couldn't have asked for a better performance!

Our prayer all along has been that the children and their performance would minister to their families and our church, and yesterday was the beginning of that answered prayer. It is amazing what children's voices will do to the hearts of all men!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ugly Sweater Bowling

Last night we took our youth group bowling, but there was a catch: we all had to wear hideous Christmas sweaters. Neither Rob nor I have ours anymore. We once had these awesome sweaters that won us first prize at a similar contest in college, but sadly, in one of my purging weekends, I threw them out. I had to make Rob's, but it turned out good and ugly. Notice the jingle bells and bows. I borrowed mine from Rob's grandma, and it actually looked kind of cute, although the red-green combo is one to avoid.

Maybe this should have been our Christmas card this year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Still holding on

Most of our leaves have fallen, but we still are enjoying a lovely burst of red and yellow color in our backyard. We were especially thrilled with our maple which fried too early last year leaving us with bare branches from summer on. This year we have been loving its bright green bark and red leaves. So pretty.

Date Night

Last night Rob and I were able to have a little date night together. We're out together a lot - out to church events, parties, weddings, you name it. But it's a rare and special thing to have no reason to go out except that we want to be with each other. We chose my favorite restaurant, Fugazzi's, and had a fun time splurging on dinner since we had a gift certificate. We shared the "Intimate Dinner for Two" and both had bread, appetizers, salad, steak complete with pasta and veggies on the side, and dessert. What else can I say except YUM!

After dinner, we drove around and looked at Christmas lights, one of our favorite things to do. We stumbled across one of those light shows where a house is all decked out with tons of lights and they flash and sparkle to the beat of Christmas songs that you tune into on your radio. If you're in Visalia, I'd recommend checking it out. Pick up some Starbuck's and drive on over to the neighborhood just north of Demaree and Goshen, on the west side. You'll see it. "Shows" begin on the hour from 6 to 9 and last about fifteen minutes. We're going to try to go again since we got there a bit late.

It was a great night and gave us the energy to handle another week of Christmas craze.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Apron

One day as my mom and I were shopping, we saw an adorable apron in Pier 1. It didn't look too difficult to make, so I tucked the idea away and brought it back out in time to make one for my mom's birthday last month. It really is a pretty simple project and would be a wonderful hostess or Christmas gift.

*Once again, I started writing this out and found that it is hard to explain! But then I was so far into it, I just had to finish. If you really want better explanation, e-mail me or let me know in the comments. Or better yet, come over, and we can make one together!

You need:

-large rectangle of white material 18x24 inches
-six different fabric pieces for ruffles, each 5x40
-three fabric pieces in same print for band and ties
-6x24 inches for band
-6x24 inches for ties (two of these)
  • Cut out your rectangle to be the size you want it. Mine was about 24x18 inches. Hem the edges all around. (Folding and ironing first really helps.)
  • Once you know the size of your base fabric, then you can cut out your ruffles. You can decide how many ruffles you want. To know the size of the ruffle strips, take the width of your rectangle fabric (mine was 18 inches) and divide by the number of ruffles you want, then add two inches for a seam and overlap allowance. I had six ruffles, so the width of each was five inches. For the length of the ruffle, I about doubled the length of the rectangle. This is the part that will be scrunched, so you can use less or more length depending on how ruffly you want it to be. My length was 40 inches.
  • On your large rectangle, mark with a pencil two inches from the top. This is where your band will go and where your top ruffle will be sewn. From that point, make a mark every 3 inches.
  • Hem three sides of each ruffle, leaving the top open. Fold and iron the top.
  • To make the ruffle, use your sewing machine to create a long, loose stitch across the top of the fabric. (Adjust the stitch length and tension to do this.) Pull on one of the threads to create a ruffle about 25 inches long.
  • I found it easiest to sew the ruffles as I made them. Staring at the bottom, pin the ruffle in place. The bottom ruffle should hang over the bottom of the rectangle. Also, make sure the ruffle is wide enough to hide any of the white rectangle. Sew directly onto the rectangle.
  • Continue creating ruffles and sewing until you get to the top one. There should be a couple of inches left above it.
  • To make the band: Fold and iron the edges 1/4 inch. Fold the width in half, so you have a 2.5 inch band that is still about 24 inches long. This will go over the top of the rectangle, covering the top ruffle. Pin in place and sew a bottom stitch, but leave the sides open.
  • Take your other two pieces of fabric, which are for the ties. For each, fold them in half so that right sides are facing each other and the width is now 3 inches. Sew around, leaving one end open to turn right side out. On the other end, sew at an angle. (This is the end of the tie.) Do this for each and turn right side out. Once they are right side out, you can sew the open edge. You will put this inside of the open edge of the band and sew. *You can make your ties look nicer by tapering them, but that'll require a little more effort. This way worked just fine.