Slowly but surely I’m catching up on our history here.  Very motivated by this book my sister-in-law whipped up for me (here…and I really shouldn’t say “whipped” because I’m sure it wasn’t all that quick of a job…).  I already wrote a bunch about November here and there, but here are the “little things” I don’t want to let fall through my memory cracks.

We started November like this:

And rounded it up like this:

And there was lots of goodness and light and stress and fret and worry and wonder all wrapped up in between.
Max went from working for a couple months in the mission office:

 …and then got transferred back down to the southern part of Taiwan with a new companion:

And although he missed the close proximity with his Mission President and all the elders in that area, he was so excited to get back out teaching full-time every day he could hardly stand it.
(I’m pretty sure that’s not really where he “knocks” to talk to people, but I gotta give him an A+ for the pretty Chinese flaire:)
Elle explored more of the beauty Hawaii has to offer and fell head-over-heels even more in love with that place…
(Can you even believe that gorgeousness?  And that looks a little scary Elle…)
She ended one semester and started another one, and worked her little heart out resulting in all A’s.  GO ELLE!
(More about Elle’s Hawaii adventures in November back HERE.)
And she came to be with us for Thanksgiving to wrap up the month.
Grace cheered up a storm:
Claire ran a hundred miles around random soccer fields:
And Lucy?  Well, she worked her tail off writing her special book…
…and turning her bedroom into a Lego universe.
But let’s get to the overall things:
We made our traditional Thanksgiving tree (back HERE)…

 …and sent one to Max (who got it a little late, but still looks pretty happy about it…):

We sent some “thankful turkey hands” to his Mission President and his wife as well and thought it was so sweet that they sent us a picture as well 🙂

Love those two SO much!

Our missionary chart got a little more filled in…

Held Evening in Excellence for church:

(more about that back HERE)

It was mis-match day at school…and least I sure HOPED it really was when I dropped off this girl in all her mis-matched glory:

(And it really was, thank Heavens!)

Grace and I accidentally kind of opposite-matched for our lunch date:

Our dear, sweet friends got baptized.

It was kind of a crazy weekend so I went to set up for a little refreshment gathering after the baptism a day early.

…and then headed to sleep over at the zoo with this girl of mine on her zoology-club field-trip sleep-over:

(Lots of emotions that night, but loved being with that good girl…more HERE.)
We snuck out a little early to get home in time for this extra special event:

(Which I wrote all about back HERE talking about “fullness” and the amazing feeling this day brought.)

I got random pics from Elle and from her friends too…

Lucy bided her time on the sideline of the few soccer games I was able to cajole her into accompanying me to…

It helped to have a friend at this one 🙂

Dave had a friend too 🙂

These girls are getting pretty bonded.  Love them together.

In November we worked hard on trying to furnish our living room to get ready for Thanksgiving.

It went from this:

To this…

To this right before Thanksgiving:

More about how we transformed that living room (still not done, but closer) over HERE.

We finally got our painting we fell in love with in Bali framed. In order to do a float frame I had to paint the edges (since they’d show a little).  Scary business.
But it turned out just how we love it:

We had a game night with friends to celebrate a birthday:

We tried to memorize quotes:

Claire wrapped up her school soccer and had a little informal ceremony to commemorate that ending at school, complete with a little certificate:

(More about her school team soccer back HERE, but her club is still going strong…)

My friend who we met in China and have remained friends ever since (she and her family moved here shortly after we got home), was getting ready to move back East so I tried to soak her up a little before she left 🙁

Elle went to all kinds of surf competitions and met a bunch of the big surfers there.

I got this text from the place where I work out and it really hit me:

I gotta remember that!
We live in an area where there is a new neighborhood getting built out very quickly and very close-by.  This means our ward congregation is growing rapidly.  Our neighbors had the grand idea to go together to visit each new family and bring them a loaf of bread.  We separated visiting the 28 families (at that time, now, in January I think we’re up to 40!) into two different weeks and we loved getting to know them.
We invited them to a little dessert open-house in our cul-de-sac before the holidays hit.  This is the only picture I got:

But I love it because it symbolizes a lot of great people and a lot of love we feel for all of them…and they just keep coming!

We read the Aviator’s Wife for book club:

(lots of thoughts on that back HERE)
Grace sweet-talked her friends into going on an adventure to watch the sun rise at the lake:
They were pretty excited about that.
Love all the pictures we get from Max each week.

He always looks so happy.

And I love this group of his friends moms who I get together with occasionally while all our boys are gone serving missions spread all over the world:
(They are the mothers of some of Max’s very best friends.)
A little birthday visit to our neighbor’s “baby” who just turned two:

She was born right before we returned from China.  Makes me marvel that we’ve been home that long!

We sat in shock watching the election:

How in the world did that happen?  I’m still wondering that.

Dave and I were happy to be leaving all of it the next day on a little trip:

We got this quote en route which really hit home:

Such a good one.

We got to be spoiled in such a beautiful spot:

Eating beautiful food:

(That was a salad with roasted pistachios and arugula and feta cheese along with watermelon…oh boy, I still dream of that thing!)

And even better friends:

Meanwhile soccer kept on going…

…and it’s not leaving any time soon…

And I’m pretty sure that it’s a rule that you sometimes have to get treats after the games.

We tried some new techniques with scripture study:

(How we tried to switch it up back HERE.)

My brother moved into a new home.  He was pretty over-the-moon about it and we were pretty happy for him too.  This is when we brought him a little house-warming gift and got a little tour of the new place:

Loved watching the “super moon.”

I stole that pic. from my sis-in-law…hope that’s ok Annie, love it!

The girls and I watched it snuggled up on a chair in our back yard.

These cousins had a sleepover with their Nana…and a big breakfast to wrap it up:

The Turkey Trot Team had lots of prep for the big day:

Love these friends who find pretty great stuff to do:

Temple with the young women in our congregation…

…those two had sporting practices so we came a little late.

We had “the flood” which was quite a fiasco:

Lucy was pleased as punch about the whole deal as you can see…

Ha!  Fans always cheer people up right?

(more about that flood and what my girls taught me in the midst of the chaos back HERE)

Lucy doesn’t ever let me leave the bathtub while it’s filling now…even if there’s just an inch of water in it.

After the flood Claire and I figured hey, why go to school when you can go together to help pack food for BrainFood:

It was a great date I hope we remember for a long time for a lot of reasons.
Lucy did a great drawing for desert animals.
It’s hiking season prime-time around here.

These ladies and I hiked up one side of a mountain and down the other, then up and back all over again.

It was awesome.

My brother is always helping with something or other…

…love him so.

This is usually our position when we FaceTime with Elle at night before we go to sleep:

Our friends’ boys got baptized a couple weeks after they did.

Their dad got to baptize them and it was so beautiful.

So much joy filled us all up that day.

I loved this project Lucy was working on:

Visited old friends who are remodeling a house.

Miss and love them so much!

I taught art masterpiece.

We did self-portraits modeled after Van Gogh’s portraits.

I really adored what these little artists came up with.

So did they.  They were so proud to show them off.

Then the Thanksgiving gathering began.

Elle arrived from Hawaii, and semi surprised some of her sisters…

(Not quite like the “big surprise” last time back HERE.)

After almost a year of prep, we finally changed this wall:

To this one:

…that we love so much. 
(More about that wall and how we did it back HERE.)
At this point, there was a LOT of Turkey Trot prep work being done.

Even Claire was preparing:

I had to steam this sucker to get it in working condition for the next day:

Then it was on to the real deal:

(Lots more about that Turkey Trot back HERE.)

We had not one, but TWO new baby cousins born the day before Thanksgiving.  My brother had his NUMBER SIX (three boys and three girls…and we met her in back at the end of THIS post).

But the day after thanksgiving we got to meet Dave’s sister’s sweetie-pie baby boy which brings them up to FOUR BOYS.

Oh boy, we are lucky to have sweet baby cousins to snuggle up.  We had to go meet little Thomas directly after the Turkey Trot before he got too far out of that little fresh-from-heaven newborn minute.

(I already included that pic. in all the pre-Thanksgiving prep work back HERE, but had to post it again because hey, we don’t get many babies around here these days!)

Then it was off to finish Thanksgiving dinner prep…

…and soak up this crowd to give thanks:
One big thing I gave thanks for that day was having these four reunited:

Love those four girls of mine.

More Thanksgiving wrap-up stuff back HERE.

We had one last adult gathering at my in-laws before the visitors started taking off:

(Loved having Dave’s cousin and his wife here with us through all the crazy Thanksgiving stuff.)

Claire steals babies at church any chance she can get:

Dave had a birthday.

The two of us got to spend the whole day together with no other distractions which seems to be hard to come by these days.  It was pretty awesome I have to say.

We celebrated with the girls by going out to dinner after waiting forever for Claire to get done with soccer…

We FaceTimed with Elle while we waited for our food.

Then came home for cake and ice cream:

Love that man up there.

Lots of stress went around getting this Christmas package ready for Max.

It’s hard to figure out what in the world to send to a missionary that will uplift and be useful, but I think we did ok with that thing.

It felt pretty great to drop it off at the post office I must say!

This pic. is from December, but it’s good to see how happy he was that he got the tree and all the other stuff in that little Christmas box:
Another pic. from Elle.

Lucy bought this little horse necklace with the babysitter while Dave and I were out of town and she wore it practically every day since, without fail:

She puts it in a little special spot on her nightstand every night, just so.

That girl sure likes routine I tell you!

I had lunch with this friend (the one who was baptized at the beginning of the month) and she was just glowing.  Some of the stories she told me over lunch were just so beautiful, one in particular made me tear up.

So grateful for what the gospel has brought to her and her family.  And so grateful that she shares that with me.  And so grateful for how it strengthens my gratitude even more for this church we get to be a part of.
We wrapped up the month with our Young Women fund raiser to raise money for girls’ camp this summer.  
We sold caramel apple kits that people could give away for Christmas gifts.

These girls were busy as could be assembling all the kits.

And Lucy was pleased as punch that she got to be there in the thick of things.

We pulled off putting together hundreds of kits in record time.

I feel so lucky I get to work with all these wonderful girls!

(and the leaders too!)

The sister missionaries came and gave us a message to wrap things up.

And let’s wrap this wing-dinger of a post up with Max…

…looks like he’s teaching a little class at church.

And he doesn’t look too sad about that service.

Love it.

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    1. Sure Tracie, what would you like to know? My friend was the one who organized this whole deal (she's our girls' camp director), and worked so hard on it. So grateful for her! She ordered all the supplies and had a few other leaders help make the caramel dip, then everyone helped assemble. The girls were each in charge of selling a number of them, and our ward bought a lot. They were perfect Christmas gifts.

    2. Thanks for sharing the info on the kits. Do you mind sharing how much they sold for? I am always on the lookout for fundraising ideas for various groups that I work with.

  1. Amazed by how much you accomplished in a month! Your family is very blessed, and it's clear that you give back as much as you can.

    I have an observation/question about lovely Elle who is clearly working hard and growing hard in Hawaii. While BYU Hawaii is known as a multi-cultural community, it seems that most of Elle's (pictured) circle tends to be white. Has she had the opportunity to get to know a diverse circle of friends there, or has she found that ethnic communities don't mix much socially? I'd be interested to know more about that aspect of her experience.

    1. I'm interested to know more about that too! 🙂 I've asked her the same thing. She has joined the Tongan Club and has met lots of culturally diverse people in her classes who she loves, but she's taking a while to branch out much further than that. I hope she does!

  2. Your family is so busy, but you do such great things for your community! You prob hate questions like this, but where did you get your dark couches in your family room (where you watched the election)? Exactly what I'm looking for since they fit your tall family so well!

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