Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry 2016!

Christmas Family Photo
If socks don't say Christmas, then I really don't know what else does. Don't get offended, I know that's not the real meaning of Christmas. Eggnog is pretty important too. I can't remember a year that my girls didn't receive fuzzy socks from someone and this year I got in on the fun too. I'm the yellow stripes. Christmas with the extended Raabes came early this year but as you can deduce from the photo above, getting a family picture isn't always the easiest of tasks. We have one couple who comes late. We have one couple who leaves early. And then this year we had two sickies in the group. The purple socks represent Emma. But while everyone was there, it was a great day!

My sweet fam!
(add-on comment: looking at this picture just about makes my heart burst open with joy.)

And this is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas Eve service each year...singing "Silent Night" as everyone in the sanctuary passes the light. With 2000 lit candles in one room, it didn't look so dark anymore, but isn't that exactly the point? As we share the light of Jesus with just one or two people and they do the same, soon the darkness of the world is thwarted.

Peace . Love . Joy
If we each could focus on these three words, I believe significant change could happen in our own lives, families, cities, countries and even this world. My peace comes from God the Father who loved me so much that he sent his son, Jesus from Heaven to Earth that I might experience great joy through him. So as I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year I am also praying that you will experience the Peace, Love & Joy that can only come from our Savior.

Until next year....

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Concerts 1, 2, 3

Concert #1
Liv has really taken to music. Our baby tried a lot of different activities but has found her sweet spot behind a sheet of music. This year she enjoys going to school early on Wednesday mornings to rehearse with her R2 choir, a group comprised of 150 4th and 5th graders. Why pick just one instrument when you can play two? Liv started viola last year, thanks to some of the district orchestra teachers volunteering their time to teach 4th grade strings after the program (4th grade only) was cut due to budget shortages. This year the district exposes the students to the love of band instruments where she picked up my flute. What a natural! (note: she does practice a lot) Monday night we were blessed with all 3 ensembles.

 What a lucky girl to have three grandparents at her Winter Fine Arts Concert!
Mrs Whiz and Papa photo bombers!
Concert #2
Tuesday night was Emma's chance to shine with her cello. I try to take pictures of her playing but they never turn out very good. I'm so impressed with the natural ability this young lady has. I love listening to her play.
The grands with Emma

Aw, my beautiful senior cellist
Concert #3
For our final concert of the week was tonight. Bundled up in our warmest coats, gloves and scarves we made it from the parking lot into the auditorium, all except our soccer player who was in shorts. No worry it was only 17 degrees outside!! For the first time in 4 years this christmas concert was NOT a two hour event, the new directors kept it just as special as before all in just 65 minutes. The picture below was taken during the Hallelujah Chorus in which all 300 choir students are on stage along with alum and the chamber orchestra. Thank you Mr B and Mr Young for creating an event that honors the true meaning of Christmas. Glory to God in the Highest!

It wasn't until we were waiting in the lobby that it hit me...this is my last high school christmas concert (for a few years). Oh, Emma it's going to be so strange to have you leave home. We raise them to have wings and pray that they will never forget their roots.

Combined choirs plus alum and chamber orchestra
Tomorrow night we have an overnight guest, mostly because the roads are suppose to be very bad. Then Saturday and Sunday we are back at the soccer recruiting events, thankfully in town.

I'm not sure when I will get back on here. 
Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

National League

Last week I traveled to North Carolina with Reagan and her U16 soccer team for the first half of her National League games, later this month we finish the league in Florida. This league is a huge deal for the EGA club and members of the accepted teams. The club directors like it because it puts their brand on the map. The players like it because these events are major recruiting opportunities for colleges of all sizes as well as the US National system. Each age division has 32 teams and each team played four games, all great opponents. 
*Southern California (T 1-1)
*Northern California (W 2-0)
*Pennsylvaina (T 1-1)
*Tennessee (W 2-0)
By my calculations, currently out of the 32 teams we are in 5th place. Hopefully we will go to Florida, win all of our games and score a few more goals to have a better goal differential. Regardless, the team played exceptionally well and I'm so proud of them. 
Below are some snapshots from our five day trip.
my travel crew at the airport

So excited to see Reeva in NC
Reagan and Reeva have been friends since 3rd grade. It was a sad day last year when her family moved 1200 miles away. Our soccer team misses her skills but Reagan misses her friendship more than anything! Praying for Reeva as she heals from her recent ACL surgery.

my blondie in the white jersey
Reags in the maroon jersey receiving the ball

EGA Maroon 01 and coaches
quick trip to Duke before we flew home

This is what happens when an expensive hotel has a crappy dryer. Yep, I did that and now I get to replace 2 custom jerseys. Not good times!!! And guess what? The hotel did next to nothing to compensate me. Frustration!!!!!!
A highlight of the trip was seeing these two women. I'm so thankful that Karen and Regina drove 3 hours, with their dog, to see us. It's hard to say when we will see them again, maybe Reagan will go to school in NC and we will have the opportunity to see them more often. ;)

Soccer isn't just a game for Reagan. It's a journey to help her discover what she is made of. We are proud of the young lady that Reagan is growing into as she continues to play the game she loves. It's true, watching Reags succeed on the field gives me a high but I pray this game teaches her about hard work, team work, loyalty and leadership to mention a few. Maybe if she continues to push herself and grow as a soccer player it will also pay for her education one day. Reagan has very high goals for herself. Thus far in her young life, when she sets a goal, she does not stop until she has conquered it. Reags, keep plugging away. We hope to see you playing with the National team one day. 
Love ya girl!

Eleven Years in a Blink of an Eye

Happy Birthday to this sweet baby girl!
Here we are again at the beginning of December and I don't have a party planned for this girl. I have no doubt as my children sit around in years to come and talk about the weird things their parents did one of the things that will come up is my inability to have Olivia's birthday parties on time. Next year... maybe I will have it before Thanksgiving.

Livie, you bring us such great joy. We love your positive outlook and natural tendency to see the good in any situation. (That is unless your class has to miss recess, then we've got a real mess on our hands!) Your laugh makes us laugh. Your love for music is taking you to new and exciting places. Your independent thinking makes us proud. You are a great help in the kitchen. Babe, be you because it's a the person God created you to be. We love you bunches!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Daddy's Hands

There are no words to express the emotion I feel as I look at this picture. One day dad won't be around and I don't want to miss the opportunity to enjoy him now. To be honest, most visits are hard and I have to focus on one little thing as a blessing. This particular day dad was the worst he has been in a long time. There are bad days and good (or less bad) days. If I can be vulnerable here, sometimes I wonder why God hasn't taken dad home to be with him. This thought takes me back to Isaiah 55:9 where we read this...

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways 
higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Maybe God has a plan and knows alittle more than I do so it's my choice to listen for the blessings God has for me each time I see dad. My prayer for dad is that he is comfortable, experiencing joy and his caregivers are doing an excellent job.

There's a country song by Martina McBride titled "Daddy's Hands." Although I can not quote the lyrics, as I think about the song it brings me joy. The song talks about how daddy's hands can be soft and gentle when needed but they are also strong and tough in order to provide and even disciple. Oh yes, I have all those memories of my daddy.

Dad, I love you.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten 
Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, 
but have everlasting life.    John 3:16

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What happened to November??

H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y   C H R I S
Early this month my all time favorite husband celebrated another year of life. Other than his gray hair, this guy looks so much younger than me. Well, he IS younger but only by a year. So unfair!
This guy is one heck of a hard worker and great provider, even on his special day he worked until 8pm. We still managed to dine together at Hiro 88 with sushi later in the week. 

Dinner at home and homemade chocolate cake with homemade chocolate frosting. This picture is a perfect representation of our family. Oh there can be tough times but we like to laugh!
Happy 43rd year of life to the love of my life! You are a great man, love you!

Fall in Nebraska is synonymous with HUSKER FOOTBALL GAMES. We have been so blessed to have 2 seats to share with Chris' parents. This year Chris, Emma and Reagan all had at least one chance to attend a Husker football game. Look at the smile on Emma's face! It warms my heart to see her enjoying time with her papa.    G O   B I G   R E D ! ! ! 

Love this Lady!
Tami and I met over ten years ago on the soccer sidelines of Grand Island. As one of my go-to girls, we occasionally create the opportunity to meet up in small town Seward, NE for lunch. Seeing her really fills my cup, I wish we could do it more often. Tami works full time. Her husband works more than full time. They have 3 very active children, go to church, workout and still make an effort to be a friend. WARNING: stepping up on my soapbox... I am so worn out by people using the "I'm too busy!" excuse.  That's hogwash! (a term from my childhood) We make time for what is important to us. Don't get me wrong, I do the same thing. Today I was too busy to wash the dishes or do the laundry but I did do some cooking, some shopping and even checked facebook two times. So I was busy but I picked what was important at that moment. When a friend never has time to call, text or stop by, it's a choice. When it goes on for years, it's a statement. Whew! Where did all that come from? Apparently I really needed to get that out. Now stepping off the soapbox. 

Hanging with her uncles at the KC college showcase

Yesterday this sweetheart came home from school with the coveted "Roadrunner with Character" yard sign. I'm so proud of Liv. I hope and pray my girls will all grow up to be little ladies of good character. Being an excellent student, athlete or musician is wonderful but means little to me without Jesus taking up residency in your heart. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. I believe when you do that, He changes you.

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The Lord has blessed me with great family, friends and circumstances that allow me to grow and flourish. It can be easy to fall into the pit of "poor me". Today I chose to remember what I have to be thankful for.

H  A  P  P  Y    T  H  A  N  K  S  G  I  V  I  N  G

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This & That in October

Olivia is part of a city wide singing group called Sing Omaha. This is not an audition group however there is tuition and weekly rehearsals. Olivia says it's pretty "hard core" but she loves it.
Here is a small group of musicians singing the Star Spangled Banner at Werner Park. 

Emma's final fall choir concert. Here she is with the varsity choir. 
New director...New guidelines...New sound
She's loving choir her senior year!
I wish I could get more pictures but they exit the stage in their robes, hang them up and come out in their dress clothes. Watching Emma perform on stage nearly brings tears to my eyes.

State cup is an exciting time when Reagan gets to play against local teams and sometimes even good friends. Here she is with Alexa and Ashley right after a hard fought battle on the field. EGA played 5 games over 3 weekends and had only one goal scored against them. Reagan scored in 4 of 5 games and our team won the state title for the 3rd year in a row. #ThreePeat #Champions #NebraskasBest

Reagan with her best friend Emma. What kind of dorks request a picture of themselves holding hands on the field during the game? Oh my! Actually, these silly girls make me smile.

Chris and I participated in a pumpkin carving contest. We did not come in first or second place which only awarded bragging rights among friends but we were still very proud of our creation.
We utilized 2 pumpkins, toothpicks for the scary teeth and a bottle for the nose.

Pumpkin carving at home.

The only Halloween picture I took. What's wrong with me?
Reagan and friends were fruit. Olivia trick or treated with big sis Em and then joined a friend from another neighborhood. In her words, she was a masquerade. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Magnum Birthday

Magnum? That's what Chris called it, don't love it but he's the author in the family. He's also the witty one so maybe I should accept his title as good. Yes, I turned 44, as in Magnum 44. I don't mind the number of years, each one of those years has helped shape me into the woman I am today. So why wouldn't we celebrate...all month long? 

Starting October 1st I begin reminding my family, "it's my birthday month!" I don't really get any special treatment but I sure try. Finally a few days before the big day, I do kick it into gear. Since I am the one who is behind the camera typically, there are very few pictures from my birthday celebration. We have one more birthday celebration this Friday night so one more chance for a family picture.

Below are some of the hightlights of my birthday week(s)!

Chris and I had a late night chips and salsa date.
You may be able to see Trump's red tie on the television in the back ground. We tried to avoid the nastiness of our childish presidential candidates. No such luck!

VIP party pre-opening of the Container Store
I have been so excited for the Container Store coming to Omaha. The grand opening was my birthday weekend. Thanks to my friend Mary who is well connected, we got in to the party. This event was hysterical. [Band, Bar, Amazing Food, Dance Floor and Browsing but NO PURCHASING] I was in my happy place and my husband was thrilled to know my credit card did not see the light of day.

Laurie introduced me the "Growler" of my fav brew
Sharing my birthday celebration with Lexi
On the DAY of my birth we had a late breakfast at my favorite little hometown spot then soccer and finally dinner at Carrabbas. Spending time with my family makes me so happy! After all this my favorite moment was reading notes from my girls. What a blessing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Spooky Orchestral Outing

Vala's Pumpkin Patch is a big deal in Omaha. Back in 1988 the Vala family opened a little pumpkin patch (I am assuming) to off set their income as farmers. Fast forward almost 30 years, that little patch of land with a few fall activities has turned into an amusement park of sorts. I love fall and pumpkin patches but this place is way too commercialized for my liking, not to mention the $18 entry fee is ridiculous! None the less, if we can find discount or free tickets, we partake. 

Last night the Millard elementary orchestra students performed a couple scary pieces. Liv and I enjoyed a little extra time at the patch, sharing stories, hot cider and a popcorn ball. One on one time with any of my girls is always very special.