Top 12 in 2012

These are listed in chronological order, as I would have a hard time choosing one favorite.

One–Bible Gateway reading plan app: I found this on-line, I think from the blog Preschoolers and Peace. Though I didn’t make it completely through the Bible this year, I came close. The app is free and there are a number of plans to choose from. It felt good to have structure to my reading time.

Two–“Unto the Least of These:” A play written about the life of George Mueller and performed at the Stained Glass Theatre in Ozark. The director wrote the play and patiently instructed our three oldest children, who did not have any prior acting experience.
This was an exhausting experience in a way, but the story couldn’t be beat. We fell in love with missionary biographies when Adam was in kindergarten, beginning with George Mueller. We read it again (for the third or fourth time) in late 2011 and thought this would be a great play to do and it was. The children would enjoy performing again the next time a biography comes along.

Three–Memorial Day Bash: This was gathering of church friends. We were inside, outside, talked, played and enjoyed bbq chicken legs and sides, with watermelon for dessert. The tally was 25, which included our crew.
I have a tendency to need a paper bag for my entertaining preparations. I have hyperventilation issues. This would be the main reason we don’t entertain often, after my organization issues, that is. But…in the end, I am always glad we did it. Though I don’t appreciate my husband reminding me of this while I am in the midst of one of my “episodes!”

Four–Good Morning Girls Bible Studies: I completed three in 2012–Proverbs 31 in the summer, Colossians in the fall and an Advent study. I am in a small group of homeschoolers that keep in touch via e-mails. I had really missed being involved in a concentrated study and this has been such a blessing.

Five–Kyle’s new job: In June, after 19 years of writing software for a security company, he made the plunge into working from home remotely. He found the time to update his resume and search for jobs, while attending one of the children’s numerous play practices.

Six–Ellis Family Reunion: Held every two years, this is the first I had attended in six years. I did have really good excuses–Four years ago, I was a few weeks away from Paul’s arrival. Dad came all the way here to get the older three so they could represent our family. Two years ago, Adam brought home camp crud and we had the rare occurrence of all being in respiratory/sinus/fevery distress at once. Not fun.
So this year, I made it. My dad’s three sisters were all there and his brother’s widow, plus their children. Two of my dad’s cousins and a cousin-in-law came also. I’m glad we went. My grandmother has been gone for 12 years and we don’t get together often and I enjoyed visiting and catching up.

Seven–Kohout mini-Family Reunion: I hadn’t seen two of my Chicago cousins in eight or so years, and one of their children graduated from high school and invited my parents to his party. My mom was sick and couldn’t make it that weekend, and I had been talking about a trip to Chicago, as it had been 10 years since our last visit. Voila!!! A trip in the making!!
We stayed at Mom and Dad’s on Friday night, they took us to see The Lion King, performed at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, which was quite a spectacular event, even taking into account the odd story. Then those brave souls got back into our van for the trip to the Chicago suburbs!
Mom and I packed food and the children did well, as usual, with the trip.
On Sunday, we met my mom’s brother, sister-in-law and their three daughters at a beautiful park, Catigny. We spent the whole day there and had a great time. My uncle said his three-girl event staff would take care of everything and my cousin e-mailed to confirm this. I told her not to worry, that I would bring food for us, since we are gluten and sugar-free. She quickly replied that I had been over-ruled. I have never had an outing post-diabetes and celiac, that was so relaxing and stress-free. With the exception of some gluteny bread for the masses, EVERYTHING was gluten-free.
My uncle did the shopping for the sandwich supplies and bought Luke a loaf of delicious Udi’s bread. My cousins all brought the sides and dessert and it was perfect. They learned the art of entertaining from their mother, who had just arrived home two days before from spending almost a week visiting her brother, then attending his funeral in Arkansas.
Needless to say, I was floored and blessed.
On Monday, we went downtown to the Museum of Science and Industry, and there were fun things to see and do for all ages. We went back to the hotel in the suburbs, then Kyle took the oldest three BACK downtown (crazy man!) to see the lights, go to the top of the Hancock Building and have Chicago deep-dish pizza. They also visited Chik-fil-A and the Ghirardelli store.
The trip home on Tuesday would have been good, except for the driver’s issues. Well, maybe his wife had some too. My poor parents. They think (or know) that we are kooks. I like to have a plan, call it an itinerary, if you like. My other half likes to wing it. These two very different modes sometimes complement each other and sometimes not. This was a not. Fortunately it was pretty short-lived and only involved a bathroom break. Argh!


The Kohout clan, sans the St. Louis crew. (Used without permission from my extended family!)

Eight–Business trip to Glen Allen (Richmond) Virginia: Kyle had a meet-up with his co-workers and the younger five and I tagged along for a field trip/vacation. (Adam was on a birthday trip with Grandma and Grandpa to the Grand Canyon that had been scheduled for many months.)
Daddy worked and we played! We found a beautiful county park and visited twice. I locked myself out of the van (first time in forever!!), fortunately with cell-phone in hand and a nice AAA driver quickly saved us. The children weren’t really fazed, since we were able to continue to play until we saw him coming!
The highlight for the children was when I braved the five-hour round trip to take them to Virginia Beach, subversively stowing swimming suits in the van. They had never played in “open” ocean before, only the gulf. And…The Blue Angels flew over several times for us! Pretty amazing!


Storming the beach!!

Nine–Family vacation to Grayton Beach: For our third trip to this area, we were blessed to find a vrbo house that was reasonably priced. Our first trip in 2007, was to a state park cabin, then we outgrew it and tent-camped the next trip, 2010.
This time, Kyle went all-out and rented a very pretty home that had a washer and dryer, which was a sanity saver. There was lots of room to spread out, a beautiful master bedroom, complete with a master bath!!! (I don’t have one irl!)
We did this trip the first full week of October and had such a nice time. The first time with no diapers!


Adam and his mother on the beach.

Ten–Watching episodes of This Old House and America’s Test Kitchen on the iMac. These are my favorite PBS shows and are truly educational. TOH is available free on their website. ATK was, but doesn’t seem to be this season. We haven’t had “real” t.v. since we moved here in 2004. It has been reserved for a travel treat, but I have become disillusioned with HGTV and The Food Network and we didn’t even turn on the television in Florida, though we had six to choose from! Every.single.bedroom, plus the family and living rooms! Incredible!

Eleven–Patricia St. John books: We ordered the deluxe (sounds really fancy!) package for school from My Father’s World this year and three of her books were included.
Not being ones to be tied to a rigid schedule, (ahem!) we finished them all before we were supposed to have completed the first! Even the older boys listened in, so we knew they were winners.
We ordered five more of her chapter books, two early-type readers and two picture books from Amazon for Christmas.

Twelve–Christmas Caroling and Fellowship: Another church get-together, this was the second year of hosting this event. The evening consisted of singing at the home of one of our favorite friends and 90-something fire cracker that doesn’t get out as much as she used to. Then, walking and caroling around a nursing facility near our home, and finally, eating, visiting, playing games and singing more around the piano. There were 23 this time.
I thought I did better with the prep and wouldn’t need my paper bag. But I did at the very beginning of the party, when the realization that I wasn’t quite ready and had a houseful of people standing around awkwardly hit me. Hosting something after being at church most of the day, then caroling is an area I need to work on. (That organization thing again.) Egg nog watered down with almond milk saved the day!

Bonus–Baking: This is an on-going activity, but this year I had a lot of fun with new-to-me flours–coconut and almond. I made our tried and true mini-dark chocolate cupcakes and coconut macaroons numerous times, as well as several cheesecakes for birthdays. I tested new brownie recipes, and made lots and lots of muffins, some new, some not.

Well, that’s it for my quirky, kooky list! Maybe one of these days I’ll figure out how to put links in!

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