Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just like old times

One of the greatest things about Christmas is it is often a time when friends you haven't seen in awhile travel back home. It had been about two years since we last saw Chelsea Boyd, and although we've kept up through email, blogs, and Facebook, it was awesome to actually get to spend some time together. Chels and Steph have been friends since elementary school, and I joined them in high school where we decided to go to Biola together and room together in a triple. (Just thinking of that brings about a thousand memories flooding back to me.) We were pretty much inseparable during our four years at Biola, getting to have one of the greatest living experiences ever our senior year with the three of us and my sister Chelsea sharing a great apartment. And Chelsea (and perhaps Steph, too) likes to take credit for getting Robby and me together, since they were friends before I came along. Needless to say, we have all been a big part of each other's lives.

This picture was taken the last time the three of us were all together. This is in my old apartment in Whittier in 2007.
Since my college years were pre-digital camera years for me, I only have Biola pictures on my computer that I have taken the time to scan. (One of these days I'm going to do some more.) This was our sophomore year on a weekend trip with our dorm. I believe this was the trip that included tents collapsing in the middle of the night due to wind and rain.
If I had a chance to visit a past part of my life for a day, one of those early college days would definitely be in the running, especially one that included Robby hanging out with the three of us. Would you girls agree?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Day at the Feely House

We made it to Robby's parents house by 8:30 on Christmas Day, and we were busy until we left around 7:00. The morning began with the fantastic Feely tradition of Debbie's homemade cinnamon rolls. We thoroughly enjoyed them, especially Nathan (nephew), who managed to cram nearly a whole one into his tiny mouth. Before stockings, we sang a few Christmas carols (Nathan kindly assisted me on the piano) and read the Christmas story. It was a lovely start to our day.

Nathan's and my "duet"
The best stocking gifts ever...punching balloons! Only the boys in the family got them, but we all enjoyed watching Nathan hit them up in the air.
More stocking surprisesNathan sits with Uncle Robby, ready to open presents!It was truly a wonderful Christmas, and it was so special all of us being together.

Merry merry Christmas to all!

Christmas Eve at the VK House

It has always been the Vander Kooi tradition to celebrate Christmas with the family on Christmas Eve. This year, we were fortunately able to keep the tradition going, even though it gets harder and harder each year to make it work. Almost all of the VK side made it, and we had an absolutely wonderful time spending all of Christmas Eve together, the highlight of which was getting able to go to our Christmas Eve service together. We took up two rows with just our family alone!

Robby and I smile big...what's not to be happy about on Christmas?
Chelsea sits pretty even after having her wisdom teeth out just a few days before! Impressive!

Camille and Ali - the "littlest" girls we had there

Jonathon and Kara enjoy a tasty appetizer.

Mom and Beebs (as we affectionately call her) snuggle up on the cozy chair.

Grandma and Aunt Sue

Enjoying the delicious food

Ready to play Greed! (We are not nearly as nice as the youth group kids.)

Opening presents:

It was a wonderful time with family, and, as Robby reminded me earlier that day, what makes it so incredible is that every person in my family knows Christ. There is nothing more I could want.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy 28 Years of Life

On Monday, December 21st, Rob celebrated his 28th birthday. However, in good birthday style, the celebrating really began the night before with some friends. There's nothing like a good, old-fashioned 36 hour birthday.

The party began at 6:00, and here I am at 5:30, just finishing up some things. I underestimated how much time it would all take, but thankfully my littlest sisters were here to help me out! Things turned out very lovely and tasty.

Chelsea came early to be the good sister and tell me that everything looked great and smelled delicious. Carly and Camille joined her a bit later to eat and hang out awhile before heading off. They came bearing gifts: the new Wii Mario World game that was quite a hit.This is our 7th birthday we've celebrated together as a couple, starting with the big 21. We have come a long way from that point! A few of the guys hang out on the couch, recouperating after an energetic game.Make a wish! The next morning, Robby got to open his present from me: a sharp new blazer. He said he was hoping for something cool from me to wear. (See it in action below.)
Lunch with his mom, dad, and grandma at Henry Salazar's - yum!
Make another wish!Happy Birthday!! To many, many, many more!

Party #2

On Friday night, the youth at our church celebrated Christmas, as well as the end of school for 2009, at our house for their Christmas party. We had a full house - about 20 of us, including the leaders, made it out for the night.

A few happy faces, all ready to start the funPlaying "Catch Phrase" - the new favorite game (well, new to us)The least greedy "Greed" game I have ever witnessed! They all were pretty content with the gifts they opened. The only item that created greedy eyes was the Reindeer Pez.
Sitting around enjoying the food

After the youth group left, the adult leaders (me, Robby, Josh, and Jessica) continued the party with "Twilight." (Don't go crazy on me...Jessica hadn't seen it yet and had just finished the books. It was a necessary event.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Please have snow and mistletoe and presents under the tree...

Party #1

As usual, our Christmas season is filled with lots of Christmas parties. The first was this past Monday, when our Bible study group came together to eat, play games, and watch Elf. We had a great time, and we recognize how much our little group has grown together.

Jessica and I get some yummy food. Pizza is a holiday tradition, right?
Steven and Jerome show their merry side.
And Josh and Jessica humor me with a nice pose.
To many more!

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

Thank you, Debbie, for making our adorable stockings. Calla already has a cute little mouse filling hers. Thankfully she hasn't jumped up to get it...yet.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trying my hand at a few things

While Kelly was visiting, I decided to take advantage of her cooking skills to help me try out some new recipes. Debbie and Jerry gave me part of my Christmas present early, and I was so thrilled with the bakeware and baking tools they gave me. (Debbie knew I would probably want to use them before Christmas to make some Christmas goodies.)

The first thing we decided to try was a hard candy. I received a great candy thermometer and was excited to give it a go. It actually didn't turn out that bad, although I dumped half of the peppermint oil into the liquid on accident. We added red food coloring, poured it onto a baking sheet, and broke the pieces once it cooled. It was actually a neat experiment, just seeing how it all works. We learned a few lessons though, so next time it should go smoother.

The red peppermint candy all pretty in a jar
Wish I could take credit for all three of these candies, but only the middle was our creation. Still, it looks pretty up on my shelf.
The other recipe I wanted to try was a lemony lemon bar. (It really is called that.) Because of the recent freeze, I was worried my lemons were going to dry out soon, so I picked the 6 lemons off of my little dwarf Meyer lemon tree and went at it. Kelly really ended up doing more of the lemon bars, as I had to leave halfway for a short school event, but I'm the one who got to keep and enjoy them. They turned out delicious - so bright and refreshing.
I was able to use about 1/2 of the things Debbie gave me, so I'll have to do some more baking to try out the rest.

Christmas Tradition

It has become a tradition for the Feely's and deGrassie's to spend a night celebrating Christmas together. Although December was quickly becoming full with parties and events, we were able to find a common weekend to spend together. John, Kelly, and Anna came up Friday evening and stayed until Saturday.

Our group picture - a little dark, but the only one we got
We went to Henry Salazar's for dinner, and JK said it was their first time out for Mexican food since the baby! Way overdue!!
Anna is so sweet and precious, and waited patiently at the restaurant while we all ate.
Robby and John - Christmas card! Kelly and me - Kelly is wearing the new necklace I gave her for Christmas.
Already a very merry Christmas.