Unbelievable that the last blog was the middle of October! Life is SUCH a RUSH! I'll post pics later but let you know through journaling - we had the MOST AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL trip home to Utah for Thanksgiving. After leaving our PA home at 3 am (after pretty much no sleep) we drove to Baltimore. Due to traffic troubles we made it just in time to hurry through the airport and board the plane. We landed to a WONDERFUL HOFFMAN family welcome in SLC, hugged and loved everyone and enjoyed the amazing feast Mom Hoffman prepared, then loaded in again for the long trek to Canada! (12 hr. drive - we made it as far as our exhausted selves could that night, found a motel, and finished the trip up in the morning.) Once we arrived at Grandma's (Grandma Great to the children!)the pain of travel was immediately worth it! What an incredibly priceless weekend we enjoyed with our precious Grandma!! It was a TREASURE to be with her. She LOVED the children with hugs, loves, naming each of them immediately (how many great grandma's could do that - without most their sight!?), spoiled them with the candy bowl on the counter, their favorite sugar cereals, and all the attention a grandma can give. I loved perusing pictures of gorgeous Grandma and Grandpa young and at the beginning of it all, and filling the children in on stories. Grandma reminded them of the intense, incomprehendable now, work of tagging and preparing Christmas trees in the cold northern winter of B.C. for shipping all over the north. She also reminded us, in her voice as quiet as a whisper now, of some of the greatest miracles and testimonies she has experienced to KNOW GOD LIVES and sent us THE SAVIOR. Our two days with Grandma filled us up with joy! We couldn't believe, when we arose early to leave Monday morning, that she was getting on her little jacket to follow us outside, down the ramp, with the walker, to the car. We'd seen the neighbors cats being blown off their porch that morning. But like the Grandma I know, full of love stronger than wind (or stroke, or a bad heart, or cancer)she HAD to come - she wanted to see the kids smashed in with all that luggage in the back seat ;)! I couldn't help but cry in great gratitude for that tiny woman, wind whipping all around her, as we backed out of the driveway with the kids yelling "I LOVE YOU, GRANDMA!" out the windows. We made the drive back in one full day; I could not BELIEVE how good the children were. Really, REALLY good. WOW. I had kind of expected WWIII to break out in the backseat, being smashed in and traveling so long. I didn't have to climb into the back seat one time! (That's what four older, helpful children will do for you when you have 4 younger ones on a long trip!) We spent a very fun night and day with Heather and family in Perry - loved the new addition to their home, BABY DAVIS!! (we loved the cool new basement too, Heath). How we wished we had even longer. We drove to Hoffman's and LOVED a FULL and FANTASTIC Thanksgiving with EVERYONE!!! (well, except the family missionaries). Talking about missionaries, two of the most FORTUNATE happenings occured right after we left: Karie's miracle baby girl arrived!! and Mom and Dad Hoffman received their mission call to OUR MISSION!!!!!!!! How AMAZING is THAT!?! We are incredibly grateful for this TENDER MERCY. After a special Sunday meal and FHE with all the Hoffmans we headed to Springville to spend a night and day with my brother, Spenc and his sweet Steph and Maylee (Hope Lindsey soon to come!). They showed us Romania, and we toured the castles of Europe (via computer pics from their 3 months there last year! LOVED IT!) and Isaac got his first tour of BYU campus. Thanks for the really FUN time Spenc and Steph - loved being with you! We stopped and saw temple square lights coming home and couldn't stop marveling over seeing seven temples lit up in the valley as we drove from Provo to Bountiful that night. How tremendously remarkable. The whole trip was full, fast and FANTASTIC!!!!!! What a JOY!
Upon arriving home we landed just in time for the girls (Anna, Emily,and Mikela's)orchestra concert - I will never get over the school symphony here - really tremendous. The girls love the opportunity to also play together in chamber orchestra which meets twice a week before school (all 3); then piano recital and Knights music (Isaac) singing at Loyalsock lighting ceremony; then we packed and hit the road again, this time just 3 hrs down it to Kari's for new Baby's blessing. I couldn't resist the temptation of staying with Mom and all 3 of my sisters there for a few days. Needless to say, nearly a month later, I just barely unpacked the suitcases as Christmas was in full force upon my return. And I am glad to say I am LOVING IT! We are rejoicing in time with friends here and the GATHERING of the SEASON!
I HOPE YOU ARE LOVING IT TOO! MERRY CHRISTMAS