Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Christmas Letter

The year of 2010 was yet another wonderful year for the Buhl family! I’ll recap some of our high-lights in this officially unofficial Christmas letter! Never mind the fact that Christmas has already come and gone...

While the majority of the year consisted of just the four of us, we had the opportunity not once, but twice, to open our home to foster kids. In February we fostered a 3 week-old baby, baby Smith, for 10 days while his adoptive family finalized some paper work so they could take him home. In June we welcomed a pregnant 15 year-old girl, Abby into our home. She spent nearly 2 months with us before she returned home. On the 1st of December, she welcomed her son, Wesley into the world! Mom and baby are both doing well. The most ironic part of our having provided foster care for 4 kids in the last year and a half is that while we are certified, we’ve never actually been on an active list to receive foster kids. Apparently God’s plans are different than ours!

After a year of transition, Rob officially became the Lead Pastor at North Albany Community Church at the beginning of 2010. He started working at NACC in 2002 as the Youth Pastor, and then took an Associate Pastor position in 2006. We have very much enjoyed being part of such a wonderful church family and we are hopeful that we will be able to call Albany home for a very long time!

This was a big year for Rob. Last Christmas I gave him the gift of a half-marathon. He trained for several months and ran the Vernonia half-marathon in April. Despite the snow, wind and rain he finished in less than two hours! I asked him if he wanted me to give him the gift of a full-marathon for Christmas this year. He respectfully declined.

I have continued to enjoy working part-time as the Children’s Ministry Director at NACC, as I have done since 2006. The end of 2010, however, will mark the end of my time officially serving in this capacity. I am excitedly looking forward to primarily being a stay-at-home mom, and to serving Rob more fully as his responsibilities are far greater in his new role.

My high-light for the year was a 10 day “Mommycation” to New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania where I got to spend some time with SaraJane, a friend of mine from college. Rob did a wonderful job being both mommy and daddy while I visited Amish country, toured Ground Zero, enjoyed a breath-taking view from the Empire State Building, and enjoyed many other New York City sites. On that trip I also got to meet Mike Huckabee, and attend a taping of the Huckabee Show. It was definitely a trip to remember, and a much needed time of rest and relaxation for me!

One of my other high-lights for the year was getting to meet a blogger, cook, author and photographer that I have learned a great deal from. I got to meet The Pioneer Woman at a book signing this Spring!

Leeann turned 7 years old this summer. She continues to be a compassionate, sensitive, helpful, sweet, caring little girl. She loves Tinker Bell, Polly Pockets and all things purple!

Leeann opened up her own seasonal coffee shop this summer. During the four days her coffee shop was open this year she earned enough money to purchase her very own Nintendo DSi XL! We are very proud of her hard work, diligence, saving, and patience. And we are grateful to all of her generous patrons who helped us teach her some very valuable lessons and life skills!

Leeann started first grade at a new school this year. She got an opportunity to be part of a dual immersion program, which is a pilot program in our district. She spends every other day learning all of her school subjects entirely in Spanish. If she continues to do well in this program she should be testing at or above grade level in English and Spanish by the time she completes 5th grade. She’s doing well so far. We are very impressed by how much Spanish she has picked up in just a few short months!

Titus turned 5 a few short weeks ago, and he’s nothing short of an absolute character! He is such a funny kid—a party waiting for a place to happen! He is constantly laughing, chattering, smiling and making new friends. He loves all things Lego and Starwars. And for obvious reasons he has a special place in his heart for anything Lego Starwars!

The high-light of his year was fighting Darth Vader at the Jedi Training Academy during our recent trip to Disneyland. I think it’s pretty safe to say that our trip to Disneyland was probably the high-light of the year for our family! We enjoyed 5 days at the Happiest Place on Earth at the beginning of December. This year, our 17 year-old niece, KayLee, got to join us. We enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with her, and we also thoroughly enjoyed getting to build a whole host of great family memories!

An overview of 2010 wouldn’t be complete without a nod to our becoming debt free. We turned a corner in our finances that we will never round again. Fourteen months after we set out to attack our debt with a vengeance we freed ourselves (due to God’s incredible provision) from $25,000 dollars in medical bills and student loans. We are committed to living our lives debt free and to being good stewards of what God has trusted us with, regardless of how much, or how little.

The feeling of freedom we felt getting out from underneath the burden of our debt is surpassed only by the feeling of freedom we feel by being free from our sins thanks to the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the one who took our sins upon himself so that we can live for eternity in the presence of God. I can’t think of a greater gift this Christmas, or a greater reason to celebrate during this season and every season!

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas!


p.s. You can keep up with us all year long on this blog This is where we post family memories. It's essentially an on-line scrap book that we get to share with our friends and family.
If you are interested, you can also visit my other blog Real Life Pastor's Wife This is where I post non-family related things such as musings, commentary, recipes, hair-styles and such.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Eve To Remember!

Something interesting happens when you end up unexpectedly spending your Christmas vacation in a hotel.

You slow down. Or at least I did! Not by choice, but by force.

Yesterday we were well on our way to visit Rob’s family in the Seattle area for Christmas when Titus started throwing up in the car. At first we chalked it up to motion sickness because this seems to be happening quite often lately. We didn’t want to turn around and drive three hours back home only to find out that it was another bought of car-sickness.

But, just in case it wasn’t, we didn’t want to ‘bless’ Rob’s family with whatever it is that he has, so we decided to just go ahead and get a hotel and wait it out, hoping that we’d end up getting to see his family for Christmas after all.

So, we settled into a nice little hotel overlooking a golf course and enjoyed a quiet evening, just the four of us. The kids built a fort that they slept in and Rob and I spent the evening watching The Princess Bride (which, I confess, I’d never seen).

As much as I was really looking forward to seeing family, it was strangely nice to slow down and breathe a little. It, in some ways, is nicer than being at home because at home I have a never ending list of projects to do, and I’d want to bake and cook a nice Christmas dinner. Here, at the hotel, I have nothing to do other than hang out with my family. I am a little bummed that I’m missing out on yummy Christmas food though!

Rob and Leeann went over to his sister Shelly’s tonight to enjoy a Christmas Eve celebration with his family. Titus and I are enjoying a dinner of saltine crackers and an episode of Winnie the Pooh.

Titus is really, really bummed that he doesn’t get to play with his cousins. We were already scheduled to have an exceptionally short trip since Rob has to be back to preach on Sunday. But now, he’ll be lucky if he gets to see them for just a few short hours tomorrow. I am hopeful we’ll get to join them tomorrow since it’s been almost 10 hours since he last threw up and he’s actually kept quite a bit of food down today.

It’s really hard explaining to a kiddo that they’re still contagious even if they feel better. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve had to try to explain to him why we can’t go to Aunt Shelly’s tonight.

This will undoubtedly go down as a Christmas Eve to remember!

The fort the kids made to sleep in.

I, personally, would have chosen the comfy bed, but apparently, this is what memories are made of!

Since Titus and I are chilling at the hotel by ourselves on Christmas Eve, we decided to make a date of the 6 pm fresh cookie time!

Yummm, cookies! And Starwars talk.

And silliness. And apple cider!

And this was him slyly asking, "May I have another one?"

With a look like that I said, of course you can have another one, after all, it's Christmas! Here's to hoping that decision doesn't come back to haunt me!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Disneyland! 12/13 & 12/14

Our final day came and went so quickly! We got to Disneyland around 7:30 and headed straight to the Matterhorn when the gates opened at 8:00. We got right on then headed over to Small World where we got right on as well (there had been probably an hour + line all day the day before). We got off Small World at 8:30 and headed to the Princess Fantasy Fair where we waited only a few minutes to see three delightful princesses!

I loved seeing how much he grew next the Soarin' Over California height stick, so I decided to take this one against the Indiana Jones requirements. We'll see how long it takes him to get there!

We decided to catch the Jedi Training Academy one last time. Really, the show doesn't change but the kids can't get enough of it! Leeann was chosen to train again, much to Titus's dismay. After they said they had all of the Padawan's they needed Titus turned around and buried his head into my shoulder and tried not to cry.

 We got lucky and saw both Woody and Jessie together!

On our way back to the hotel Leeann squealed from the back seat that Titus had licked her. When I asked him why he licked her he just said, "Because she was right next to me!"

Daily Recap:

Small World
Fantasy Fair
Pirates of the Caribbean
Haunted Mansion
Splash Mountain
Tiana's Jazz Show
Thunder Mountain Railroad
Indiana Jones (Rob, KayLee and Leeann)
Indiana Jones (Rob and KayLee)
Jungle Cruise (Robyn and Titus)
Tarzan's Treehouse
Billy Hill and the Hillbillies
Tom Sawyer's Island--Pirates Lair
Jedi Training Academy
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

The Drive Home

 The drive home was pretty long, boring and relatively uneventful.

We left at 5:15 in the morning. Unfortunately it took us an hour and fifteen minutes to go those first 31 miles. What's even more unfortunate is that the stop and go traffic made Titus throw up in the backseat. What is fortunate however, is the fact that I grabbed a couple of hotel plastic cups that I was able to give to Titus before he lost the banana I'd just given him to tide him over until we stopped for breakfast.

Ironically we stopped at the same place for lunch (Quizznos) that we had stopped for dinner on the way down. And we stopped at the same place for dinner (In & Out) that we'd stopped at for lunch on the way down. At the exact same locations even!

Some how the drive seems so much longer when you are driving away from Disneyland than when you're driving toward it!

We got home about midnight and were greeted by a house that was just over 50 degrees inside and a broken furnace. We left all of our stuff on the floor and we all crawled into our warm beds as quickly as can be. Lucky for us we have a lot of really warm blankets handy that were made by Rob's Grandma. I think we may have used every one of them that night!

And, no need to worry, we got the furnace repaired by the next evening. I am incredibly grateful for living in a home with heat!

I can't believe our time there is already over. It was such a great trip, and such a relaxing time for all of us. It was great to build family memories, and to get to spend some quality time with our sweet niece!

I'm so ready to go back already!

Disneyland 12/12

Ultimately we'd love to visit Disneyland once a year. But at the very least we will (hopefully) be back in 2012 when Cars Land opens at California Adventures.

These are a few of my favorite toys!

Thunder Mountain Railroad!

This is Terrance. He's Tinkerbell's friend.

I had quite a headache and I really wanted ice cream. I wanted ice cream badly enough to wait in a really really long line to get it. Titus and Rob waited patiently for us!

Titus and Leeann shared a caramel apple. Some how after a few minutes there was only apple!

We have pictures at this statue from every trip we've been on.

What a goof ball!

I was trying to mimic the statue and ended up cover Chip's eyes. Or was it Dale? We may never know!

This is a special spot for our family.

This is Snow White's Wishing Well.

We were lucky enough to see both Minnie and Mickey together when we got off of Space Mountain!

I wish the background was a little better, but regardless of the background we got a whole big family picture with Mickey AND Minnie, and no one looks entirely goofy!

We ended that night at ElecTRONica. It was basically a big ole block party.

Leeann and I hula hooped for a while. She was really good at it!

We ended the night with a really, really, really yummy bag of hot Kettle Corn. It was sooooo delicious!

Then we decided to ride the mono rail around the park and we ended up seeing our old neighbors in Downtown Disney! They recently moved down to Southern California. How crazy was that?

Daily Recap::

Blue Sky Cellar
Tower of Terror (Robyn, Titus and KayLee)
Monster's Inc. (Rob and Leeann)
Soarin Over California
River Belle Terrace (Lunch)
Thunder Mountain Railroad
Pixie Hallow
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
Ice Cream at Gibson's
Flag Retreat Ceremony
Snow White's Wishing Well
Fantasy Fair
Disney Railroad
Mono Rail

14 rides/shows/attractions
4 Characters (Terrance, Tinkerbelle, Mickey and Minnie)