Photos courtesy of Ryan Prouty

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Year in Review 2011

 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!
Cop humor...
 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:
 Getting crazy:

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!