Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrated with some new friends and without some key family this year. JoDee was in Virginia preparing to be commissioned for permanent assignment with the International Mission Board.We are excited to see her fulfilling the calling on her life, but missed her today!
The table looked beautiful thanks to Grammy and the kids and we had so much GREAT food. The usual turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry butter and rolls, cranberry jello mold. We made thankfulness rolls from a magazine article. Each person filled out a slip of paper with what they were thankful for and we buttered the strips and rolled them up into crescent rolls. Then, at dinner, we pulled out the strip and had fun trying to guess who wrote what. Great in theory, but pulling out the strips wasn't easy and destroyed the crescent roll and one person at half the strip because she forgot about the paper! Probably won't do that again, but it was fun and new. For dessert, we had pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate cake, lemon bars and key lime bars and homemade vanilla whipped cream.
I didn't do a very good job of photo documenting the day, but did talk the kids into going outside for a few pics since they were all dressed up...you can tell they were thrilled!
Thinking of those who couldn't be with us today. We love you lots!
August 11th was Riley's big day! I feel sorry for him because his day was a bit overshadowed by our annual church event Easter in August where we were volunteering all day. He rolled with it and decided for his birthday he would rather travel 1 1/2 hours to the closest Texas Roadhouse as a family to celebrate. So the next day, after church, we went to Wesley Chapel for lunch. We ate our weight in rolls and all had a great time. Our waiter had Riley convinced that they didn't have any birthday rituals after I asked about embarrassing saddle rides and birthday announcements to the entire restaurant...and the rest of us were convinced too until...
He got up fairly quickly and sat in the saddle, I was worried he would just refuse, much like he did when he was three years old at his preschool Christmas program (one of my favorite memories of him when he was little--seems like so long ago that he was "little"!!) when he was supposed to wear antlers and jingle a bell as he sang. He took the antlers off three times before the teacher finally gave up and didn't make him put them back on. He sat and stared out into the crowd as his classmates belted out the adorable songs they worked weeks to learn. We laughed so hard and thought we might be getting a glimpse of his personality.
Turns out we were right! He is not a go with the crowd kind of guy unless he agrees with what the crowd is doing. He has his own idea of what is cool and his parents can't change his mind either! He LOVES shoes and loves the Nike website where you can design your own cleats, basketball shoes, or any athletic shoes. He asks to go to Ross almost every week because they have inexpensive name brand shoes and get in new shipments every week. Further, he is now in a size 13 and they always have a lot of selection since its not a popular size. He also loves any sport, playing football, basketball and soccer this year. He enjoys working out and playing basketball or swimming at the community center in our neighborhood and was very consistent in doing that even by himself this summer. His hard work has paid off for football this fall. He was named a captain of his team even though he is one of the youngest kids on the team. He is playing defensive end and tight end. Its been difficult for him to learn to catch the ball while getting hit (he has been the one to deliver the hits in the past!) and even more difficult to watch from the stands. I never knew they don't have a rule like in the NFL for the "defenseless receiver". He has been hit brutally a couple times already while stretching up for a catch.
Now for Riley's statistics: Height: 6'1" (>99%ile) Weight: 152 (96%ile). What he wants to be when he grows up: professional basketball or football player, policeman. Loves listening to music (Skillet, Lecrae), quoting Bill Cosby and competing. He makes me laugh. He has managed to learn to juggle a demanding sports schedule with his school work (with some reminders) and is consistently on the honor roll.
You changed everything when you came into our lives. You are the exact opposite of your older brother and keep us on our toes constantly. You are a precious gift from God and bring so much laughter to our family. We are so proud of your dedication and determination and willingness to work hard. You are a positive role model for your siblings and teammates. Keep up the good work! God has a plan for your life and we pray that you seek that path with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!
Time marches on and is no respecter of my intentions! I am embarrassed that it has taken me so long to get this posted! Holden turned 11 recently and had a low key party with a couple friends at the pool and wanted an Olympic ring birthday cake to acknowledge the start of this year's games on the same day as his birthday. He has decided he wants to be an Olympic athlete and is now trying to decide what event he will compete in. I already burst his bubble by telling him that many athletes have trained since preschool, but so far he is not put off. Got to love his optimism!
Holden is our very special youngest boy who is very smart (nearly straight A's every year), and to whom most things come easily. He rode a bike without training wheels before he turned 4! Having two big brothers has always motivated him! He thinks the point of most activities is to have fun, including the van ride to school (about three miles from our house). He loves to play any game and is a fierce competitor. He loves chess and I quit playing with him years ago because he could beat me so quickly and decisively! Too bad that isn't an Olympic sport! I think if ping pong is then chess should be too...but I digress! He is currently playing basketball and football. After faithfully attending conditioning all summer long, he has earned a starting spot on the offensive line of his football team (he is proud to play the same position as Michael Ohr--The Blind Side movie). We were fairly surprised because its only his second season and he is the youngest boy on his team. He is playing with some kids who have played for 7 years and are 13 years old! He tries very hard and is fairly...ahem...bulky and strong, so those are all in his favor! Its pretty amazing what they go through at practices and games in the heat and with the sun beating down on them! They have all earned my respect as I sit in the shade and drip with sweat!
I think I posted on FB about his latest statistics, but here they are again for posterity: Height: 5'0" (81%ile)
Weight: 112 (93%ile). What he wants to be when he grows up? Still trying to decide between Air Force Pilot and Dermatologist. He was just baptized recently and is in 5th grade. He loves video games (of course!), legos, swimming, playing any board game or card game and eats almost anything I put in front of him.
My favorite memory of something cute Holden said was the topic of conversation today at lunch and I thought many of you might enjoy it too. I was VERY pregnant with Alayna and he was almost three years old. We were chatting with Darryl and Kathy Lindley at church one Sunday and I was standing directly across from Darryl with Holden in between us just about belly button height at the time. He was looking at my belly, then Darryl's belly back and forth and I could see the wheels turning, but I wasn't fast enough to stop what came out of his mouth. He gently laid his hand on Darryl's belly and asked, "That yours baby?" I was mortified for a split second before Darryl threw his head back and laughed out loud.
You are such a special blessing to our family! I know God has lots of plans for your life. We are so glad God chose us to be your parents and are looking forward to watching you grow into the man He wants you to be!
All six of us went to Adventure Island recently with the kids' school. The big boys had a great time and enjoyed some freedom to hang out with their friends while we stayed close to the youngest and had a great time watching Alayna enjoy the rides and slides for the first time. Several of her good friends were there too and she thoroughly enjoyed the day as we all did. We were sitting together at the table after dinner reflecting on the day. She told me it was on the list of her favorite days included with our swim with the manatees last year for her birthday and also our Disney cruise for Gabe's 13th birthday. I was impressed she remembered either! Then she asked me what my favorite day was. I thought for just a few seconds, days like my wedding day (AWESOME day), graduation days (there were three!), landing a job, the birth of my children all flooded into my mind.
My mind settled on the day of her birth. Not because I love her any more than my boys, Lord knows that is impossible! I think its my favorite because of the anticipation it accompanied, followed by the most unbelievable words..."You got your girl." Those four words I will never forget. My doctor, after catching the baby turned her toward her dad and allowed him to make the announcement by asking, "What have you got Dad?" I hadn't dared hoped for a girl after so many boys. Seems the track record was rather proven. After two heartbreaking miscarriages, I was so delighted to carry this baby to term that I truly was ecstatic to be having a fourth, the sex didn't matter. But, there were a few moments when I would let my mind wander to the thoughts of my reaction if in fact we did discover she was a girl on the day of her birth. I thought I might scream and rejoice very loudly, and then would push those thoughts from my mind.
Deciding to be surprised this last time was so much part of the fun of that day. I cried several times that day: on the way to the hospital, while I was in labor (we can probably blame that on the hormones and PAIN!) just to know that the anticipation was coming to a close and we were finally going to have an end to the mystery! I actually thought I was keeping the anticipation alive so I could at least buy a couple girl outfits for the "just in case its a girl" as I truly thought those were the only girly things I would purchasing for a daughter of my own. I just didn't want to spend even one single second feeling the tiniest bit disappointed if the baby was a boy.
Turns out, I was speechless and unable to make a sound at the time Paul spoke those words. We recently watched the video of her birth and verified that. Frankly, she was making enough noise for the two of us! Since that day, she has brought so much joy and diversity to our house! While you can imagine, with three big brothers, she isn't always the girliest girl (asked for a batman cake for her 4th birthday), but she loves to color, draw, twirl and TALK! She has never been interested in baby dolls, but swaddles and cares tenderly for her stuffties as she calls them. She has such a tender heart and is growing tall and willowy. She seems to love sports like her brothers too and is looking very much forward to starting volleyball and continuing basketball. Now the anticipation continues as we wait out see what plans God has for our special, precious gift.
We love you and are so blessed to be your parents! We are proud of the young lady you are growing up to be. We pray you continue to search for God's will in your life and allow Him to guide your every step!
All our love,
Mom and Dad
Alayna found this patch of flowers as we were waiting at a park.She enjoyed picking them without knowing I was snapping pictures like crazy! Love that girl!
Wow, this is going to be the toughest year to review because I just blinked and it sped by! Can anyone else relate?? I am not sure if this happens because we are so busy with all the kids are involved in, working so hard, or getting old...surely not the latter!!
The kids are growing like crazy and keeping us busy with their sports involvement. We sort of knew this would be coming, but were not prepared for how crazy our schedules would be. We were thrilled to be at nearly every game our kids were playing in and love watching them. We both agree its easier to be the one out there on the field or floor than the parent in the stands!! We have bleacher shaped bottoms and have sweated and scorched, and even froze in the stands these past few months! It is great for family togetherness too! We are grateful for our church and church family for the growth in all of our relationships with The Father this year. Alayna was baptized this summer and we have joined a small group that meets in a family's home and have been amazed at how God has used this group to bless us and allow us to bless others as well. We have developed some very real intimacy and some life long friendships to be sure!
December marked one year at my current job in Pulmonary Medicine. It has been a lot of hours, but I love what I do and the people I work with. JoDee and Mom have been able to fill in the gaps between Paul's and my schedules to make sure the kids are safe and doing their homework and have a ride to a game or practice or someone to pick them up. I have NO idea what we would do without them! It is such a joy to have some of our family here and the kids benefit the most, I think! JoDee has been teaching in Alayna's class since October and has been offered a position for the rest of the year too, part time. What an answer to prayers!
Gabriel graduated from 8th grade in the spring and started 9th grade this fall. I am so THRILLED that we can have all four of the kids at the same school. They watch out for each other and keep tabs on each other so I get all the scoop! These are some of his classmates:
At the graduation ceremony, Gabe was awarded the Colossians award for character. I was very happy to see that he behaves himself so well at school! He has always been very respectful to his teachers and an excellent, diligent student. He is really finding out that hard work pays off. So many of you know how this young man has struggled with anything related to schoolwork, but he now has learned to be self motivated, needs no reminders to get his work done and always does his very best. I hope he will find out the same on the basketball court since he doesn't get to see much playing time as a freshman on the varsity team!
As you can see by the pictures and if you got to run into him at church in Iowa this summer, Gabe has really sprouted up over the past year. He grew over 5 inches last year and has already grown an inch since fall. He now is nearly 6'2" though our picture above makes him look closer to Paul's height, he is not quite there yet. And as you can see below, he suffered the first official broken bone in the Prachar household this fall. The reason I say "official" is that Riley broke a toe in the spring, but didn't require any casting.
He broke his thumb (at the growth plate) playing basketball over his lunch break at school just before the season technically began. We had to make several trips to the orthopedic office for follow up x-rays to make sure it was healing correctly and Gabe had the black cast that no one could sign! It was waterproof so he could shower or even swim with it. Pretty cool. The coolest thing that came out of it though was looking at his x-rays. You could easily see that the growth plates were all wide open. This is predictive of him still having quite a bit of growing to do! We will see how that turns out! I have to say its quite disconcerting when your children tower over you. I am not sure who is more happy to find out that he finally outweighs me!
Riley turned 12 recently and started 6th grade this fall (middle school, yikes!). He had his own growth spurt over the past year and also grew 5 inches. In our last Christmas card, the two of us were about nose to nose, but he blew past me in no time. Wow, this came way too quickly! He has totally fallen in love with football and also plays basketball to stay in shape for football! He had an amazing football season on the starting offense and defense. We were quite surprised at that since he is just in his second year playing. He was also chosen as one of the captains of his team, quite an honor for one of the youngest players. He was moved around near the end of the season and started playing some tight end (moving from offensive guard), which I have always hoped he would get a chance at. He never did get a pass thrown his way (they only ran about 3 passing plays per game!), but it was fun to watch! He still prefers to play defense and had some great backfield stops this year and also recovered an on-sides kick (we went wild in the stands and totally embarrassed him!)
His team went to the playoffs (after winning a nerve racking tie-breaker), but lost in the first round. They elected to play in a bowl game in Tampa for teams who lose in the first round and ended up winning that game, so went out on a win. Basketball is not quite as much fun for him, but he is really starting to improve. He qualified to go to the city wide free throw competition after winning his age group at school and when no one showed up to compete with him, he moved on to districts where he missed winning by one free throw. It was exciting! He is doing well in school in spite of all the extra curriculars we have going on. A great lesson to learn so early in life, I think! Most of you know he is planning/working toward/hoping to get to go to Australia this summer with People to People Ambassador Programs. He has to raise all the funds, so we'll see if he can get it done! So far, so its slow but plodding forward! (Thanks for your generous donations, and for purchasing the Pizza Hut cards he is selling!)
Holden turned 10 this summer and started 4th grade in the fall. He is dying for a growth spurt like his brothers had!! All too soon, I am sure! He also played football this fall and his team won a conference championship, moving on to regional playoffs for the first time in five years. He played left guard on the offensive line and some defense as well. He had a tackle the first time he was put in on defense and we were happy to embarrass him from the stands too! He is an excellent student and LOVES to read and play learning games on the computer. He expresses a lot of interest in my job and loves to play with a few apps that I have on my phone for anatomy and other medical stuff. But he also still says he wants to be a pilot (I decorated is nursery in airplanes all those years ago and it seems to have stuck!) He is playing basketball at the YMCA currently and it looks like all those years watching his brothers and dad playing/coaching have paid off. He seems to know right what to do and has good court sense.
Alayna turned 7 last May and started 2nd grade this fall. She longs to do all the things her big brothers do, and like all "babies" gets frustrated by her lot in life! She was a great sport attending all of her brothers' football games and basketball games and has been desperate to play a sport herself. She attended volleyball camp over the summer and LOVES it, but is too young for any teams yet. So, she is playing basketball at the YMCA too. She plays on a co-ed team and is loving it. It is HILARIOUS to watch at this age, and I have so much respect for the coaches who are starting right into man-to-man defense and fast breaking already! They are trying to catch on, but it really looks a lot like 9-on-1 out there most of the time! She loves school (don't all girls her age?!), especially since her Aunty was her teacher most of the year. She LOVES spelling and actually went to the regional spelling bee as her grade's representative last spring. Lately, she spells whatever she is trying to tell me, which I guess is great practice. She is always asking how to spell something! She continues to be more interested in animals than babies, and I am encouraging her to be a Veterinarian, though she thinks she wants to be an artist and cheerleader when she grows up! She loves watching the cheerleaders at the boys' games and has learned quite a few of their cheers. I remember being exactly the same way when I was her age! She also loves to read and has been quite dedicated to reading her Bible regularly. We do it together when she has a lot of trouble--like when she was in all the "begats" in the Old Testament :o) Her version (NIrV) didn't actually use the word "begat", thankfully, but all those names are downright difficult, even for adults! She loved her birthday trip to swim with the Manatees! I did manage to blog about that!
I was able to take a half day off and accompany her class on a site seeing boat tour of the bay near us with Alayna's class at the end of the year in the spring. It was a gorgeous day for that activity!
Paul and I celebrated our 18th anniversary in June this year. The kids made us breakfast in bed to commemorate that and Father's Day (I think someone put them up to it!) We had French toast and toast!
And we celebrated Paul's birthday by making Alayna's glow in the dark sidewalk chalk and announcing his birthday to all our neighbors on the newly paved blacktop in front of our driveway!
JoDee and I celebrated our birthday together again! So fun to have her around to commiserate! We met for lunch with Mom at the tea room downtown and wore these glasses. Everyone loved them and gave us birthday wishes! We even wore them on our long walk down the street to the ice cream store! They brought smiles to a lot of faces! We had fun acting like we didn't know what was so funny! You can't read it in the picture, but the balloons on our shades read "Happy Birthday".
Our visitors are slowing down lately, but we enjoyed seeing some familiar Iowa faces when our friends the Anderson's came to visit with their kids. Riley and Jake were in class together at Heritage. Jen is a great friend!
Probably the highlight of Paul's year was this:
A friend from our small group loves to fish and has his own boat and took Paul for his dream fishing trip this spring. They went about 20 miles off shore to find the big fish and Paul pulled in several fish this size. He is holding an Amber Jack. I can't remember seeing him as excited as he was after that trip!
And I can't believe I didn't blog about this:
Several couples from our church wanted to renew wedding vows at the beach, so we got together and did it one very sunny day in April:
Our pastor officiated what was like a wedding but not as we reflected on the past and our continued commitment. It was a gorgeous day at the beach and there was a beautiful flower girl too!
The whole group:
I wanted to wear my wedding dress for this day, but the other "bride" who was going to wear hers had to back out at the last minute, after I ripped the sleeves off my dress and had it hemmed (its a pretty dress that way now!) I think I would have still suffocated in it that day!! Oh well, we'll have to do it again...maybe at our 50th anniversary!
So that is all I can remember of our blur of a year, just trying to keep up with the kids and all of our work responsibilities and church activities. Each year, I vow to keep better track of what goes on with this blogging, but its been so difficult! I am so exhausted in the evening that I can't even fathom some computer time after the kids go to bed! I can't even keep my eyes open at that point! I did go to Las Vegas last month (that deserves its own blog for sure!) with my running partner/friend Kristin since Paul couldn't go. I went for a medical conference. Look for more on that later!
We pray your year has brought you closer to The One who is mighty to save. Please know if you are still reading this blog that I care about you and pray diligently for you. You are special in our lives. We love you!