delightful flurry

CHRISTMAS 2011, Yakima, WA

SO. MUCH. FUN. We haven’t had two weeks of solid family time in years. Actually, make that, Never. This Christmas was the perfect opportunity for our family to have some real time together. Here are a few highlights:


SLEDDING…lots of sledding


ZOO LIGHTS…Point Defiance Zoo

SEATTLE SCIENCE CENTER…worth every penny



CHRISTMAS EVE…program and pajamas

1. two treasured visits with Jes
2. a birthday party for six of the 14 grandkids (where are those pics?)
3. a visit to great-grandma and great-grandpa’s in Tacoma
4. four-wheeler rides
5. lunch and shopping with my favorite high school buddies
6. and last, but certainly not least, playing Santa to a family with eight children, whose dad lost his job two month previously. Adam even dressed up in a Santa suit for the occasion.

The whole Penning tribe pitched in so that we could not only provide Christmas dinner and presents for the children, but also, extra groceries, clothing, toys, books, gift cards for the parents, and new outfits for each child. For such a large family, it took the entire back of our Suburban and Papa Penning’s truck to carry it all. It was the sweetest and best highlight of the entire two weeks…watching our whole family work toward a common goal that reached past our differences and divisions, as we focused on something greater than ourselves….something that really matters.

As the four older girl cousins were helping me finish wrapping the gifts the day of the delivery I asked what their favorite part of planning for the family had been. Brooklynn said, “I am most excited to see the girls’ closets fill up with the clothes and things like I have.” The others chimed in saying they were sure the kids we had bought for didn’t have as much in their closets as we did and they were glad to share what they had so that someone else’s closet could be just as full. It made this mommy/auntie very proud of all our Tweens!

My other favorite moment was when Annie came in the living room with her brand new black leather church shoes and asked if she could give them to the three year old little girls (the family has twin girls). How could I refuse such a sweet and simple request. We wrapped up a couple of special things and Annie hand delivered them to the girls’ bed for them to open when they woke up. I think that will be one of Annie’s first real memories as she grows up, which makes me smile. I hope I can be more like that in my everyday living and doing.

Christmas was REALLY good this year! Christmas cards might not be sent out yet. My body may feel broken from the 17 hour drive. And my phone is lost somewhere between here and Ogden, but it was all worth it. And we’re home safe, looking anxiously into 2012. :)

santa, you are good!


I’m not sure how he did it, but Santa was able to fill stockings and drop off his gifts with all seven kids snuggled under the tree. :)


Adam was the best Daddy Santa ever. He put trains and cars and bikes together while I filled stockings and arranged everything just perfectly. Luckily, I had everything already wrapped, which allowed us to enjoy those magical Christmas Eve hours without totally stressing. It was “the best Christmas ever!”


Things I want to remember:

1. Brian was Santa’s helper…he did great helping pass out the presents.

2. We treated the kids to a matinee of Narnia complete with popcorn and soda. (thanks, great-grandma and great-grandpa Penning)

3. I finally got my Bosch…FINALLY!

4. The excitement of seven ninos as they woke up Christmas morning.

Christmas is contagious in a house with seven happy kids. I sometimes stop and close my eyes and just take it all in because I know that these moments won’t last forever.

just like old times


Lovin’ the new foster rules for our family. We can actually go out now! This date reminded me of our double date just before picking up four little strangers in Bogota, Colombia. Good to know we still have it in us. :)

Check out Jaime’s post for the full scoop.



one week till christmas

Juan’s School Program:

He was a Kwaanza Candle with  a speaking part. Actually, if you ask him to recite his part he’ll recite the entire program. Just ask his tias. :) He’s our never ending chatterbox right now.



Making our goodies:

Oh, the pressure! The Penning’s traditional applesauce bread in our new Bosch. And the McCracken’s traditional peanut butter popcorn.



Gift of Lights:

Complete with Reindeer Hats and a stop at Winchell’s.


Shopping is done. Gifts are wrapped. Groceries anxiously sit on the counter. Tonight we begin turkey and pie preparations. Tomorrow night is Christmas Eve Dinner. We are so blessed.

Is it possible that time can slow down a little these next few days. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

two weeks till christmas

Everything is bigger this year.  Imagine? :)

Bigger family. Bigger shopping list. Bigger rolls of wrapping paper.  And it is so fun. Raising seven is just like raising four…just bigger. Right?

The best part of this particular season is continuing to go and do, even with the larger number. There is so much wonder in the little ones. It has been neat to add their joy to the ninos’. Last week we…

Trimmed the tree:


Enjoyed a Christmas concert at UNLV:


Viewed the Live Nativity (so glad it’s back):



Attended Zoe and Miranda’s Christmas Programs:



i heart felt too

Felt. Felt. Felt. That is what I am up to these days. I don’t have a cool picture of felt like Jaime, but I did buy 28 yards of it. At half off, I walked out of the store only spending $60. Why felt you ask? We are making felt playhouses for Christmas. See Here

I don’t sew, but my girlfriends do. They are determined to teach me. So far, I have kept myself busy with cutting, stuffing, and pinning the pieces. Jaime and Jena have helped me with the sewing. Adam also sews so we borrowed a machine from a wonderfully generous someone. We are excited to finish the project together for the kids.

My kids are a little too big, and our space is a little too small, to make use of our kitchen table. So I came up with the idea of making panels that will hook onto the kids’ bunkbeds. Two for the girls and two for the boys. My panel themes are: Cupcakery, Grocery Store, Stargate, and Buried Treasure. The ninos are great at imaginative play, and playing together in general. So this is the perfect gift. They can pretend to walk through the stargate–ready to conquer another world one day, and then go shopping pastries and tea at the cupcakery the next. So Cool. I am planning a beauty parlor for Nikki’s birthday in February. So many ideas. So little time. I will definitely post pictures of the finished project.

The best part about this project is that I have been super productive while spending wonderfully abnormal amounts of time with my girlfriends the past few weeks. We could quite possibly never stop crafting for that reason alone.