Wednesday, December 30, 2009

9 lessons learned in 2009

1. God is safe; people are not. (See this post for explanation.) "Safe" by Natalie Grant

2. God shows His amazing grace in many ways, one of which is setting people free from the chains of darkness. "Amazing Grace" by Chris Tomlin

3. God is the one with whom I can share every detail of life, good and bad. "Untitled Hymn" by Chris Rice

4. God is still God no matter what happens in this life. "You're Still God" by Margaret Becker

5. God blesses and also allows difficulties. I will praise Him no matter what He sends. "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" by Tree 63

6. No matter what happens, God's still good! So it's ALL good! "It's All Good" by Joy Williams

7. Every morning starts a new day with new chances to do things right. "Brand New Day" by Sarah Kelly

8. I need to slow down to notice and appreciate the little things that bring smiles. "Ain't Nothin' Like" by Brad Paisley

9. I will NEVER give up hope that God sees where I am and will work everything out exactly how HE wants it! "My Hope is You" by Third Day

Overall, the main lesson that I've learned in 2009 is that the focus of every part of life MUST be God or else nothing will work out well.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I've decided to save the "lessons of 2009" and "expectations/hopes for 2010" for New Year's Eve because I'm SWAMPED with Christmas excitement right now!

Christmas morning, we go to Jason's parents' house to open gifts and have brunch. This year, Seth and Gavin accidentally had matching jammies :-)

Gavin sweetly takes a LOT of "love" from his cousins:

Luke got a shaving kit and had to try it out immediately:

Makenzie got some cute new clothes:

After brunch, we all go back to our own houses to bake, play, and nap. Then we go back to the grandparents' house for dinner. And this year, we had a concert in between dinner and dessert.

Luke played a "song" on his new guitar (wearing his new shirt and hat).

Makenzie played "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" on her recorder.

Joel played "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" on his trumpet.

Makayla sang along :-)

After we had eaten as much as we could, Pop Pop revved up the train. Gavin and Seth LOVED watching the train zoom around the tracks!

We hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas, too!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve and lesson #2

We have our family gift exchange on Christmas Eve. I'm a MEAN mom and make everyone stay in bed until 8 a.m., eat breakfast, clean up the dishes, and then FINALLY open gifts. With my ocd tendencies, though, everyone should be glad I don't make everyone shower and change first, too (like I did before 8 a.m.). Anyway, everyone was very pleased with all the gifts we gave each other :-) One of the gifts was guitars and "learn to play the guitar" material for all five of us (Jason's not really interested, so he received other types of gifts). Joel has had a guitar since Darryl and Amanda's wedding years ago, and I've had one that Andrea (my nephew's mom) gave me years ago. But we've never taken the time to figure out how to really play them. I'm determined now to learn and for the kids to learn, too :-) We'll see how that goes, huh?

Seth got two pairs of new pajamas. This is the pair he's wearing today: John Deere :-) He's watching Joel's new airplane fly all over the living room. I was surprised how much attention Seth gave to each gift, his own and everyone else's, too.

Now we're all enjoying our gifts until it's time to go to the Christmas Eve service at church. The boys are all wearing their suits again, so surely there will be more pictures :-)


Lesson #2 of 9 lessons I learned in 2009: God shows His amazing grace in many ways. One of those ways, as the song by Chris Tomlin so perfectly expresses, is to free people from the chains of darkness. That song has been a beautiful reminder to me this year of this truth!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas presents #1

New Christmas clothes from Grammy Ruth and Poppy Dale:

New Christmas jammies from Dad:

Joel's pose is an effort to imitate the "Thinker" statue on "Night at the Museum II" which we watched tonight (surprise pre-Christmas gift that I've been keeping secret for weeks) :-)

sledding & lesson #1

We went sledding yesterday, but I have NO pictures of the event because I was sledding, too! It was FUN!!!!! We went to Moose Hill which has a wide open, long, not-too-steep hill plus a couple side hills. I'm not brave enough for the side hills, but Jason and the kids tried them. Seth hiked up the hill once, but then had to be carried or pulled up the rest of the time. He LOVED sledding down the hill and laughed his carefree, lovin' life laugh that makes everyone around him laugh with him. Two of Jason's friends and their kids met us there. It's SO much fun to watch little kids having fun :-) One of the friends, luckily, had a rope in his car. He attached it to Seth's and my sled so that I could pull Seth up the hill more easily. THANKS DARRIN! That made the day MUCH more fun for me since I really was having trouble carrying Seth and the sled up the hill.


I decided that I would make a list of 9 lessons I've learned in 2009, all 9 corresponding to 9 of my favorite songs that I found this year. And then I also made a list of 10 things that I expect/hope for 2010. Today starts the countdown to the end of 2009, so I'll share lesson #1: God is safe; people are not. I know that sounds terribly negative and paranoid, but that's not how I mean it to be. All people crave companionship with other human beings, and that craving can become an obsession if not satisfied. We all want to know that there's at least one person who loves us, likes us, accepts us, enjoys spending time with us, understands us, and is very glad to know us. The problem comes when we depend too heavily on that need being met and base all our ideas of happiness on it. People are not perfect; we constantly let other people down, disappoint someone, even hurt people. So people can be trusted to a point, understanding that we're all human and we all make mistakes. God, though, IS perfect and NEVER lets us down, NEVER disappoints, and NEVER hurts us. He's the One to depend on for all aspects of life, happiness, and the meeting of needs. He is SAFE!

Monday, December 21, 2009

they're fixed!

The pipes are all fixed!!!!! Thank God, Jason, and Deric Hart (a former student of ours and now part of One Stop Services)! Here's the whole story: Our downstairs bathroom has slowly gotten more and more water damage since we moved here over five years ago. We decided that it was time to look into getting it fixed, so Jason cut out part of the downstairs bathroom wall Saturday to see what the problem was. He could see the general area of the leak, but it looked to be in a part of the pipe covered by seemingly important pieces of wood. He called around for advice to make sure his ideas for fixing were correct, and then made a plan. He would saw the pipe between the upstairs and downstairs toilets and then pull out the leaking portion and replace it, making his experience working with a plumber in Virginia incredibly worthwhile. So he sawed and then pulled . . . and pulled . . . and pulled . . . and realized that this vertical pipe must have a horizontal connection somewhere. He found the connection and knew that he'd need additional supplies to continue fixing the problem. Now here's where I started losing track of time. I think the next step was that all the hardware stores were closed, so he wouldn't be able to get that additional part until the next morning. He would instead hook up a temporary pipe so that all of the things requiring water and drains to function would be usable except the upstairs toilet. We could live without one toilet for one night, so he set out to do the temporary fix. Just as he was about five minutes from being finished, the two-inch pipe slipped out of his grasp and slid about four feet down inside the three-inch pipe. With no way of getting that little guy out of there, he had to give up for the night. We were left with only the downstairs toilet (for "liquid business" ONLY since the smaller pipe was stuck down in the sewage drain) and sink. At a reasonable hour this morning, Jason called the Harts and asked for some help. Deric came and got the small pipe out and then stayed to finish reconnecting all the pipes. So now we have holes in the walls, but working indoor plumbing :-) The downstairs bathroom has to be remodeled anyway because of all the water damage to the wall and floor, so we're leaving the hole in the wall until we decide to move ahead with the rest of the work. We'll put a nice poster or something over the hole so that curious children don't try to climb in there and explore, though. I've always taken indoor plumbing for granted, but today I appreciate it completely! Oh, and the cause of the leak? Whoever nailed up the drywall nailed it right into the pipe. Brilliant, huh?!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Pageant and plumbing

Last night, we went to the Christmas Pageant at church. First, though, we took another family Christmas picture:

Right before the pageant started, the kids went around to different Christmas characters and got their pictures taken:

I think Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was Seth's favorite :-)

I watched the pageant on a little tv in the nursery. We only had two babies, and one of them left after about an hour. We had three ladies watching one child (who slept for at least a half-hour). The kids LOVED the pageant, of course -- all the lights, music, flying angels :-)

Tonight is not quite so exciting. We have a plumbing problem that has mold/mildew-i-fied our downstairs bathroom. Jason cut holes in the walls where he thought the leak was and started trying to fix the problem. It turned out to be a little more difficult than he'd expected because the vertical pipe that he needed to replace was connected to a horizontal pipe connected to the upstairs toilet. Six people with one working bathroom is NOT the best situation, but the hardware stores are closed until 6 a.m. tomorrow :-(

This is a picture of inside our bathroom wall. Thrilling, I know!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Seth the snowbaby

Even though the temperature is somewhere around zero, Seth and I played outside in the snow for a little while today. Seth LOVES to be outside no matter what the temperature is!

two exciting events!

Today has started out to be a GREAT DAY!!!!! And I've only been awake for four of the 19 hours that I'm awake :-) Some friends from church bought a new tv and decided they didn't need their old one, so they gave it to us! It's HUGE!!!! The tv in our living room/dining room/kitchen area was small, so this one is WAY better! Now Steve and Blue are almost the same size as Seth :-) THANK YOU SO MUCH SMITH FAMILY!!!!!!

Seth likes it :-)
(I'm pretty sure the same family gave us the shirt Seth's wearing in this picture, too :-)

This gift isn't from today, but I keep forgetting to share a picture of the clock that Jason and Luke got me a few weeks ago. It plays a little Christmas song every hour (unless I turn all the lights off -- it has a light sensor and doesn't chime in the dark. such a great idea!).

Here's another exciting part of the day: Makenzie FINALLY changed her earrings! I made us matching snowflake earrings, and she actually let me put them in this morning! WITHOUT WHINING OR CRYING!!

I decided a few minutes ago as I was looking at my pair of earrings that we also need matching snowflake necklaces, so Seth and I will be going back to the bead store a little later :-)

Today is the last day of school for this year :-) I'm looking forward to seeing my kids for more than 45 minutes in the morning and a couple hours in the evening. Hopefully, they'll behave nicely and make this two weeks fun (I know -- don't hold my breath for that to happen, but I'm still going to hope!).

This morning I got the bright idea to make a list of nine songs that show nine lessons I've learned in 2009 and another list of ten songs that show what I'm expecting/hoping for 2010. I'm going to share one each day starting Wednesday, December 23. I would love for other bloggers to join me in this little project :-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

snow and Christmas concert

We got SO MUCH snow this week! I had shoveled all the snow off the deck, but it piled back up:

And it just kept on snowing for days:

My windshield wipers seem to be relatively worthless, so driving around the past few days has been a little difficult ("risky" or "dangerous" would be a lot more honest, I guess).

This morning was the kids' Christmas Concert. Luke was the only little choral kid with a Santa hat on. He didn't care (or didn't notice).

These poor kids had to wait for quite a long time for all the instrumental musicians to do their part before it was their turn to sing. Believe it or not, Luke BEHAVED! He just sat on the stage in his Santa hat.

Some of the band kids wore Santa hats, so for a couple songs, Luke wasn't the only one. Joel is the trumpet player with the Santa hat next to the light pole. He played very nicely as far as I could tell.

Makenzie played with the recorder class (they played VERY well today!), and she had a speaking part during the choral section of the program. In this picture, Makenzie is in the front, bottom, middle wearing a dress with black on top and white on the bottom. She looked beautiful, of course :-)

Seth behaved pretty well through the whole thing:

I've had MANY comments lately about how badly Seth needs a haircut. I always explain (politely, I hope) that we're growing his hair out to donate to Locks of Love to help make wigs for children who have no hair because of things like leukemia. That usually makes people look past the "hippie-ish-ness" of Seth's current "do." I still get a few "looks" even after the explanation. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that one of the cooks at City Diner once donated his hair to Locks of Love, too. Very impressive in my opinion! And speaking of City Diner, I told "our waitress" yesterday that next week the whole crew will be coming in for lunch. She said she'd be sure to be there and that I needed to be sure to sit at one of her tables. She has obviously never met the whole family and doesn't know what she's getting into! I am REALLY looking forward to that adventure (we rarely go out to eat with all four kids -- there's a good reason for that!) :-)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

shopping day

Seth and I went SHOPPING today (no pictures because I was either driving, shopping, or doing laundry all day). The older three kids were at school, of course, all day. Then after school, they went to their grandparents' house to help decorate the Christmas tree and eat pizza. So Seth and I had from 8 a.m. until at least 6 p.m. to do whatever we wanted. I decided that today might be my only chance to get all my errands run with only one child, so we went. I think we completed eleven errands (if you count McDonald's, the coffee shop, and Boston's Pizza as "errands") and did four and a half loads of laundry (the last load of the day usually ends up staying in the dryer until the next day). I got Seth's Christmas gifts (I didn't hold them in front of him and say "look, here's what you're getting" but I didn't really have to hide them, either. He was pretty oblivious to what we were doing.), some things for myself (like more magnetic notepads for my daily lists on the fridge), and some stocking stuffer gifts for the kids (LOVE the $1 aisles at Michael's!!!!). Seth was INCREDIBLY good company today (he was in his stroller or a cart in every store to ensure that I could make that statement). I liked going to places with carts best so that Seth and I could look at each other and talk. He's SO very cute and funny!

So now I'm pretty tired out and thinking I REALLY don't feel like walking on the treadmill, but I must because I ate at McDonalds and Boston's today AND had two lattes! I'm pretty positive I went WAY over 2000 calories today!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Seth knows his own mind

Mom: "Seth, don't you want to go watch your movie while I finish up on the computer?"
Seth: "No."
Mom: "Don't you like Mickey Mouse?"
Seth: "No."
Mom: "Do you like Blue's Clues?"
Seth: "Yes."
Mom: "Do you like Franklin?"
Seth: "Yes."
Mom: "Do you like Mickey Mouse?"
Seth: "NO!"

I asked him several different times, and the answer was always the same. He knew what I was asking, and he knew what his opinion was. Do you KNOW how exciting it is to see a developmentally delayed child KNOW what he thinks and be able to express it clearly????!!!!!!! And it wasn't choices held up in front of him (like "do you want the movie that i'm holding in my right hand or the one in my left hand?"). I was giving him choices with just words. The movies were in the other room. I took this kind of milestone for granted with my other three children. Without my even noticing, they developed their opinions, the ability to express them, and the ability to understand concepts that aren't right in front of them. Every single tiny step with Seth is worthy of celebration!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Seth picked out a Blue's Clues video from the library today, so I put it on as soon as we got home from school today. When I came to check on him, this is what I found:

I LOVE it when my kids get along!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

cute pictures

i really am obsessed with!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

one of those days

Wednesday is generally my favorite day of the week because I get to do some pretty fun things: NOT hurry to get out the door because our first appointment isn't until 10:45 a.m., Seth's occupational therapy during which I am now able to sit in the waiting area and read (but even if Seth decides that he needs me to go with him, it's fun and I like chatting with the therapist -- so either way it's a great time), lunch at City Diner, ASL class, plenty of time to get dinner ready, deaf church. The day isn't over, but so far it has just been "one of those days" -- not the "Dear God, why did I even get out of bed today" kind of days, though, so I'm THANKFUL!!!! It's the kind of day in which nothing really goes WRONG, but nothing really goes RIGHT, either. And here comes my OCD-ish-ness about lists to make everything complete and neat:
1. kids weren't BAD at getting ready this morning, but were a little slow and not following directions
2. my watch band was too big, so I tried to fix it by putting on a new clasp. I hurt myself under my thumbnail -- just a little bit, though, not to the point of blood or band-aids. AND it didn't even work -- it was still too big, so I had to take it all apart and rig it up in such a way that I'm not quite sure how I'm going to get the thing off tonight. but at least my watch matches the rest of my jewelry.
3. OT went well -- Seth cooperated mostly, I got to read a whole chapter, his therapist was able to perform the standardized yearly evaluation. The negative of this is that I caught the tail end of the evaluation. While I try my very best to focus on what Seth CAN do and how he HAS improved, those evaluations point out SO VERY MANY things that other four-year-olds can do, but Seth can't. And that makes me a little sad -- not crying or stomach-ache sad, just a little bit sad.
4. "Our waitress" wasn't at City Diner today. Her shift apparently ends at noon :-( I guess that means she normally stays late just for us. So the food was still GREAT, of course, but we missed the fun we always have with "our waitress."
5. I got a phone call after lunch that BOTH boys were sent to the office today for excessive talking. It could've been much worse -- they could've been caught cheating or fighting or being disrespectful. So it's not like I was angry or really upset, but still -- they got sent to the office to talk to the principal because they refused to keep their mouths shut.
6. I got in the very slowest line at Walmart. It was supposed to be the "speedy 12 items or less" line, but apparently I'm the only one who read that sign. I stood in line for about 15 minutes to buy one thing. It didn't really matter, though, since there was no ASL class today (which was a double positive since I got to wear jeans today, which I'm not supposed to do if I'm going to class).
7. Dinner was just ok. I thought cheese/potato/broccoli/chicken soup with some added broccoli sounded yummy (and easy). It was acceptable and definitely easy. But it was just ok, not delicious. I'm glad to not be hungry, though -- and dessert (Butterfinger ice cream) WAS delicious.

All that is close to complaining, but yet I'm saying (and meaning it) that I'm VERY thankful that today was an ok day instead of a bad day!!!!

one book, two movies

Today I finished reading The Lost Hours by Karen White. The story was GREAT, even though the writing style didn't keep me staying up all night reading. The main idea of the story was that many people have more "to them" than we might think. Piper thought that her grandmother was nice, but boring with not a bit of passion or excitement to her at all. She finds out after her grandmother dies, though, that she was mistaken. Her grandmother, Annabelle, had quite an exciting past with her two best friends, Josie and Lillian. Annabelle, although wanting very badly to become a doctor, kept putting off going to medical school in order to help Josie and Lillian with their problems. Josie could sing beautifully and needed to be sent to New York where she'd have a chance to launch a singing career, something impossible for her in the segregated south. Lillian had fallen in love with and secretly married a black man who was later killed for his work to get black people to go vote and for marrying a white woman. It takes all 300+ pages to get all this information, though. Two quotes were repeated throughout the book, and they are important thoughts to remember: "Be patient and strong; someday this pain will be useful to you." and "Where there is life, there is hope."

I also watched two incredible movies this week: August Rush and My Left Foot. The first one is about a boy in an orphanage, his incredible musical skill, and finding his parents. The second is about Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy in Ireland. No one thought that he could do anything or even think anything, but he proved them wrong! Both movies were incredibly touching!

Monday, December 7, 2009

some Christmas pictures

I most definitely not a professional photographer in any way, but I do love taking pictures of my beautiful children. And now that I've found, I'm also loving putting those pictures in creative backgrounds. Here's my Christmas set so far:

The pictures look a little fuzzy on here to me, but they look pretty good in the actual prints that I got. I need to find a better backdrop for us, though. We didn't realize that the giant Christmas tree in the church lobby was going to be surrounded by bags, boxes, and toys. By the time we got there, it was too late to change the plan because four little kids only have so much patience with picture taking. It was a good first try, though -- a nice practice for the real deal.

The Hofacker Family 2008