Everything Changes

Ohio is what our kids know and remember. We moved here almost 12 years ago. Hannah was entering first grade and Emily was still a preschooler when we came to Ohio.  Hannah remembers some of her life in Alabama, but Emily not as much.  Hubby and I have now spent over half our married life in Ohio.  In ministry life being at a church for 12 years is a long time.  Not many last as long as we have at one church.  God has blessed us more than we deserve.

In the past 12 years many things have happened. We have gone through some tough times. The good outweighs the bad by far. We have gotten to travel to places we never thought we would have been able to see. We added a third girl to our family 5 years ago. All three of our girls we baptized here at our church in Ohio. We have truly enjoyed being apart of a welcoming church, community, and homeschool family. All of these have been nothing but supportive.

Today is a bittersweet day.  Hubby will resign from our church. Our family will be moving to Nacogdoches, TX. We will not all move together. Hubby’s last day is March 5th.  He will move first. We will stay behind to finish out the school year.  We will put an exclamation on our 12 years here with Hannah’s graduation and Emily’s Sweet 16 party. This has not been an easy decision. Hubby and I have talked through so many scenarios and consumed a lot of chips and guacamole.  God has walked with us through this. He has clearly marked our steps. We are excited about what God has in store for our family. We will truly miss Ohio except for the bitter cold weather. I am wondering though – is there a Texas for Dummies book? Anyone need a nice 4bedroom 2 1/2 bath home with an awesome craft room?

A New Hobby

Over the Christmas holidays and during Rae’s surgery and recovery, I picked up a new hobby. I know I didn’t need another one, but I wanted something I could easily take with me to places while I wait.  I enjoy other things such as sewing, cooking, zentangling, adult coloring books, and working on my photography.  I have wanted to learn how to crochet, and I have dabbled in knitting.  I was never very successful, but I have made several wash clothes and one knitted scarf. During my hubby’s sabbatical a couple of years ago I tried crocheting again, but I learned it is hard for me to just read a pattern and understand. Hannah tried to show me, but she is right handed and I’m left handed.  Thanks to Pinterest and Google I found videos for left handed crochet – It has been life-changing (and very helpful)! Ravelry.com has also been fun to see all the patterns.

The reason I turned to crocheting was because of Rae.  Her head has to be partially shaved because of her surgery, and I wanted to  make her some hats and headbands.  I thought it would be fun, and more personalized for her.  I found patterns that would be cute, fun, and easy to make.  I had no idea that there were S hooks – it’s a very large hook that allows the work to go fast.  I found the best pattern that only takes about an hour make.  I cannot tell you how many I have made in the last few weeks. You can see many of my projects on my Instagram feed.  Needless to say, we probably don’t need anymore for a while.  I am now trying different things – flowers, bows, and scarves.  Maybe one day I will try a blanket. Right now, I am just trying not to buy all the yarn.  Big sales at the craft store is not making it easy.

one of my first hats

crochet flowers

Feliz Navidad 2016

Our family would like to wish you the very merriest of Christmas. God has blessed us more than we deserved. It has been an interesting year for the Dear family.  We have traveled across the South a couple of times to see family and to have a little vacation time.  We entered our 12th year of homeschooling this school year. The older girls split their time between homeschool classes, classes at the local high school, and college classes for Hannah.  I am thankful that Hannah can drive herself to her classes.

Here are a few highlights from our family this year:

Noel is in his 11th year as senior pastor of FBC Heath. God is blessing our church and looking forward to the new year. He is also half way through having is doctorate degree from Southern Seminary.  I am very proud of how far he has come in his education, and we can’t wait to see him walk across that stage one day.

Hannah is a senior in high school this year.  She was co-captain of Granville High School girls tennis team and also earned her varsity letter playing first doubles. She is still excelling academically having been inducted to Cum Laude Society at GHS as well.  She is busy with her all of her classes and as well as working on all her college applications. She is excited to be accepted into one of her college choices – University of South Carolina. Hannah is still active in her musical pursuits of piano, flute(where she made district honors band), piccolo, marimba ensemble, jazz band, homeschool band, and steel drums.  Another activity Hannah is pursuing is journalism. She is the new editor of the school paper, and has had several articles published on their website as well as in print form.  One big this she has coming up is the Ohio Distinguished Young Woman scholarship competition in February.  She is representing Licking County and is very excited for this opportunity. It is just hard to believe we will be planning her graduation party soon.

Emily is a sophomore.  She just recently got her driving permit and will beginning to drive – watch out! She is keeping us busy with all of her bands.  She still loves playing her trumpet and is becoming quite accomplished with it.  She is currently playing in two bands – Granville High School Symphonic band (3rd chair) and homeschool band(1st chair). As if these two were not enough, she is in the jazz band for both Granville and the homeschool jazz band. Like Hannah she is in the steel drum band as well too.  As a result of her love for music she has been accepted into two honor bands this year – Ohio University and Cedarville University.  Currently she is working diligently on her trumpet solo she is taking to solo & ensemble this January.   In addition to all the music, she is also on the GHS girls tennis team this year as well.  She got a lot of playing time this year in singles and doubles and earned her varsity letter as well.  She would also like it to be noted that she did challenge up to and make 2nd chair in band, but because of a minor technicality she is still at 3rd. She is happy at 3rd though. One other exciting thing Emily was part of this year was spending 6 weeks of her summer with the IMB’s Endeavor program serving in Southern Mexico.  She really loved her time there serving God and ministering to the local people. She is hoping to go back this next year.

Rae is still making great strides in her reading and math.  She still works with a reading specialist and math tutor. She may complain about having to go, but she looks forward to Fridays with her friends there. She has really developed a love for science and looks forward to her little science co-op.  She is also enjoying her art co-op with Ms. Lynd and Ms. Krumm.  She is quite the artist and loves to draw manga characters.  This school year she was able to start beginner band.  Rae is learning the clarinet and is doing really well.  She has had a challenging year medically with the increase of her seizures.  This month she had epilepsy surgery to help reduce or eliminate her seizures. Everything went well, and we are happy to be home recovering.  We are thankful for how well everything went and praise God for it.  It will be at least 6 months before we will begin knowing how effective the surgery was.  That had to be the scariest day with any of our children. She went back around 7:30 am and we saw her at 6:00pm.

I have had quite a busy year between homeschooling, photography, and doing the farmer’s market.  HER Baking Co or also know as “cinnamon roll lady” had another great season at our local farmer’s market with many repeat and new customers.  I was blessed to have several weeks where I sold out.  I am teaching art again to our teens in our homeschool group. It has been a great year with a smaller group where we have been able to focus on making art as well as art and music appreciation.  Like my girls, I am still involved in our homeschool band playing the clarinet as well as our adult steel drum band, Pandamonium.  We are all looking forward to going to Virginia Beach in May to an international competition. I am still accompanying different people and choirs as well as still playing on the praise band at church.

This year we have learned to trust God more, and that He is bigger than anything we can ever imagine.  We praise Him for all things great and small.  He is truly a Good, Good Father.  We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and that you experience the joy of this season and seek Christ more in the coming new year.  

Rae Update

Here on World Adoption Day I thought I could give you a little update on the little.  This summer we spent a week in the hospital to see if Rae would be a candidate for epilepsy surgery. This was scary because, how do you decided to allow your child to have brain surgery. In addition, to the stay in the hospital, there were many scans and testing.  As the doctor called it – “million dollar testing”.  After all the testing was done, we had to wait for results.

All of Rae’s info for testing was presented before a room of doctors to see if she could have the surgery. There were so many questions. Would we? Would we not? How do you make that decision if it was left to us?

We chose to seek the one who could best help us make the decision – GOD! We put our faith in Him. My prayer was that the decision would be black or white – yes or no – simple.  God has gotten us through all the ups and downs of all of Rae’s needs – why would He not be here for this decision.

It was time to meet with the doctors to see what their recommendations where. God came thru – after meeting with her doctor the decision –  as hard as it was – it was basically made for us. We said yes to the surgery.  Are we happy our daughter has to have surgery, no, but it is the best for her.  Is she happy, no, but she knows it will either eliminate or greatly reduce her seizures.  The surgery is to help save her brain function and to improve her memory.  As she has gotten older, her seizures have increased in amount and frequency.  As we discovered, each seizure was actually doing damage to her already damaged brain.

The surgery will be done at Nationwide Children’s Hospital next month.  We are nervous, but we have so placed our faith in Christ. Whatever happen, He is sovereign and will get us through it all. Our prayer is that God will be glorified through this.

15 States in 10 Days

It is the beginning of our weird summer.  Last summer we had ALOT of together time being on sabbatical, but this year – not so much.  Almost 2 weeks ago we started out on our road trip adventure.  Our goal was to see all of the parents, get Hannah to Baltimore for her flight home, and Emily to New York to meet her mission team. We were pretty crazy to attempt this, but we did. Our first stop was Mississippi to see my mom. There I was able to get a few a Hannah’s senior (YIKES) pics done on the campus of Miss. State. We also were able to get some good MS BBQ and fried catfish from one of my favorite college restaurants – Little Dooey’s. We also drove down to my hometown and showed the girls where hubby and I met and got married. I also visited the cemetery where my dad is buried. It was a nice to relieve the memories.

Our next stop was Alabama – we were on our way to visit hubby’s mom and Jim.  One exciting thing was having dinner with a friend in Birmingham.We had a great time with her and her daughter.  While there we decided to do something cultural – see the Vulcan! After our visit, we headed on to Anniston. We got to have good time with Rita and Jim visiting and talking with them. We also got to see the chickens and goats. We hoped to see hubby’s sister, but it just didn’t work out on this trip.

Up next was traveling through Georgia to get to South Carolina to have lunch with hubby’s dad. That was a nice visit as well with some good BBQ again.

Next up we gave the girls some options because the next location to be at was Baltimore/DC. We didn’t have a large amount of time so we had to choose one thing we wanted to do in the DC area – they chose the National Zoo. It is a great little zoo, and we got to see pandas! Our time in the DC area was the last time we would be together till July. It was a fun day, but also a little sad at the same time.

The next day we had to put Hannah on a plane back home so she could get ready for Buckeye Girls State. Her event and Emily’s events overlapped with each other, so we had to work it all out.  After leaving her there to fly home, we headed on to NYC.

With our now family of four we picked a few things we wanted to do.  The girls and I went to see Matilda on Broadway. It was so fun to see the show and watch the girls laugh. Sunday was a beautiful day in the city. We headed to out The Met Museum.  It was truly the coolest thing.  So much to see in so little time, or we lost track of time as well as got lost in there. If you are ever in NYC – to the The Met. Also, if you are looking for the best cheesecake, go to the Two Red Hens Bakery – YUM!

After being on the road for just over a week it was time to leave Emily. We left her with her team there, and the little one became an only child for the rest of the week. Just her and her mom and dad for entire week.  Our next stop – Hershey! Who doesn’t love chocolate. It was a nice trip with the little one touring the Hershey Story, making a chocolate bar, and drinking chocolate from around the world.  Although, the little one’s favorite thing may have been getting her bookshelf/table for her Legos from IKEA.

So this trip we went through – Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and back to Ohio – wow what a trip.

My home

my home

Southern BBQ at Little Dooey's

Lunch at Little Dooey’s

Hannah at the Chapel of Memories

senior pictures at Chapel of Memories at MSU

the Vulcan

At the Vulcan or Moon over Homewood

 

Weekend Wrap-up

Thank you to all who have left comments on our Facebook page over the last couple of days.  It is easier to see them if you can comment here on the blog.  Hubby gets to see them before I do since his computer is the only access to our Facebook account I have.

We have been going in multiple directions over the last few days.  Thursday was the last match of the tennis season as well as senior night.  Hannah did a great job of getting it all organized, and the parent appreciated all they did for the seniors to have a fun night.   It has hard to believe the regular season is over. The next time all of the girls get together, Hannah will be a senior on the team.  All the girls did a great job this year, and best of luck for those headed to districts.

Friday, I was busy in the morning getting cinnamon rolls ready for the market, and then we finished getting the house ready for teen night.  We were excited to be hosting Bunco this month. There were about 32 people at our home Friday night.  Everyone had a great time hanging out and ringing the cowbell.  Hubby managed not to have to ring it.

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the Cowbell!

Saturday was a fun day for hubby and I. Someone gifted up tickets to the OSU game that afternoon.  I had the girls take over for me toward the end of the market so we could head over to Columbus.  We were not able to get there in time for the skull session, but we did walk around and see some of the tailgaters.  We had great seats for the game, and enjoyed watching the pregame festivities.  The game was fun, but we did prefer wanting to watch a game at either Miss. State or Auburn. Oh and by the way – HAIL STATE!! We did not watch the game because we didn’t want to ruin our fun day together.

Yesterday after our worship service I came home and did a little laundry catch-up.  I had gotten a little behind, and someone needed some clothing for some reason.  We did enjoy the afternoon, and hubby and I were excited to have a little more time to enjoy another date night.

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love hanging with hubby on our date afternoon

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view from our seats at the game

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Did you do anything fun?

 

Weber Spices

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I am not sure if you have seen these at your local store or not, but if you have try them.  I saw them several months ago and decided to give them a try.  We have been a big fan of the Weber grills in the past, and thought they would be great. Guess what – they are.  We have tried them on every cut of beef, chicken, and pork. I also put them on veggies.

My favorite one is the roasted garlic and herb.  I put them on grilled or oven-roasted veggies. It gives them a great flavor without and overpowering the taste of the veggie. These spice blends truly enhance the food.  I have been using the chipotle seasoning when I make kale chips.  Its the perfect spice for this snack. There are so many different flavor seasonings – the options are endless.

I am not getting paid to do this, but these are so good – go out and get one or two and try them.

 

How many veggies?

 

We have been trying to eat a little healthier around the Dear family.  Thanks to my bartering with vendors at farmers market, we have been able to get some great fresh veggies at little or no cost.  It has been really friendly to the budget line item. The girls are sometimes scared of what veggies I may be bring home, except for the little one – she loves it.  We have able to try new vegetables like – kale, spaghetti squash, and eggplant.  I have enjoyed trying these and thinking of what I can do with them, or try to hide.

I do get questions when it comes time for dinner – what veggies are in here this time? They have tried everything I have put before them.  One thing I am rather happy to discover is “cauliflower rice”.  I really like it much better in my chicken fried rice.  Fried rice is a family favorite and I wanted to make it healthier because I cannot eat rice.  I found how to make “rice” using cauliflower. To me, I cannot really taste much difference, and I prefer it this way.

I did talk with one of the vendors about her mushroom logs.  I eat mushrooms as almost every meal.  I love them! She grows her own mushrooms and sells them at the market.  In the spring she inoculates the logs for a new crop.  She also told me that you can come out and help and earn your own log for free – SOLD!! I see a homeschool field trip next year.

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Chicken Fried “Rice”

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fresh green bean that i roasted one night

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kale chips! where have you been all my life

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fresh veggies ready to cook up

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shrimp and veggies

Our Family Pictures

This weekend I asked for the thing my family most fears and dreads – family pictures (insert eye rolls).  I only gave them a 2 hour heads up to get ready to head off any push back.  Most of the our family pictures we have taken over the years have been me setting up the tripod and one of us setting the timer and then running into the picture.  It often takes too long and the girls complain for too long.  We have only had a professional take family pictures a couple of times over the years.  So, I don’t have many family pics with all of in the same picture or ones I had to set up.  I have been begging for professional pictures for years.

We needed to have a new pictures taken for our church, and so I asked a friend who takes pictures on the side and I have worked with do them for us.  She was great and worked with our crazy schedule.  I couldn’t wait to see what she shot, and thankfully for our family didn’t take too long.  Looking thru them, it does make me a little sad to see how grown my girls look. We finally have good pictures for our Christmas cards(if i can get them done!).

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I think we look pretty good.

 

Bakery Noelle

Emily has been following in my steps of baking.  She is becoming a very good baker. She and her friend had started a small cupcake company a couple of years ago and did very well for young tweens.  I love that I can turn her loose in the kitchen and she will come out with delicious goodies and a messy kitchen. She is great at following recipes and loves finding new things to try.

Last year she started making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and selling them at the farmer’s market with me.  She was making her own spending money.  These same cookies also helped pay for her steel drum trip to Virginia Beach. This summer she decided she wanted to keep making the cookies and to keep selling them.

While we were on sabbatical she decided she wanted to branch out and start making different types of oatmeal cookies. In addition to this, she wanted her own spot at the market.  We talked to the market master, and she now fills a spot where someone doesn’t come.

All of this leads to a little craziness in the kitchen on Thursday and Fridays. After all the baking is done on Friday’s, my kitchen is covering in cinnamon roll icing and oatmeal.

I am proud of her for wanting to earn her own money. She is learning to save some it too.  Her big thing she is saving for now is the GHS band trip to the Peach Bowl.  If you would like to try her cookies, come find her at the market on Saturdays.  She always has her Chocolate Chip Oatmeal and Simply Oatmeal.  Other flavors she has sometimes are Oatmeal Deluxe (cranberries, pecans, and yogurt) and she is figuring out her oatmeal raisin recipe.

Come see Bakery Noelle.

if you want some cookies - look for the polka-dot tablecloth

if you want some cookies – look for the polka-dot tablecloth