Saturday, December 24, 2011

joyeux noel

It's Christmas Eve and I am at peace. At ease. In the comfort & joy of our home. It's quiet. Just the 4 of us.  Kelly's mom will join us this afternoon. We are enjoying fresh baked scones & quiche. A pound cake is baking in the oven.

We didn't make the trek to Colorado or Florida this year, which means that we are without our extended family. I wish we together this year, but we are blessed with Natchitoches friends who we love dearly. The kids are filled with anticipation of what they'll find under the Christmas tree tomorrow morning.

The advent candles are on the dining room table, wax dripping down the lavender candlesticks. We are not a family of ritual, but we have participated in celebrating advent during the month of December. We read scripture, light the candles and listen to worship songs that speak of the coming King.

We dream of fried turkey to be enjoyed tomorrow and gumbo this evening. Not to mention the baking pound cake. We've been enjoying egg nog, Shirley Temples, apple cider, hot chocolate and of course, coffee with good cream.

The youngest Spanns will open one gift this evening - which just happens to be pajamas & slippers - they same gift they've received on every single Christmas Eve of their existence. Either they forget and really don't know what is inside the wrapping paper each year, or they just know happy it makes me when they are thrilled to open them each year.

We will visit with friends tomorrow and throughout the next few days. We will continue to exchange gifts, enjoy treats & good drinks and laugh & play. We will celebrate the greatest gift of all. The one who was sent to save us from our wretchedness. Who does so, without making us feel wretched.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 16, 2011

this little blog of mine

This blog was born in August of 2006. Claire was 5 years old and ready to start Kindergarten. Nolan was 3 and obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. Kelly was teaching & coaching and I stayed at home. We lived in Mayer, Minnesota and were ready to embark on a new journey - a move, new jobs, a new life.

Fast forward 5 years, 1200 miles and 341 blog posts: Claire is 10 and in the thick of 5th grade, Nolan is 8 and his obsession is now Star Wars, Kelly is still teaching & coaching (although in a whole new way) and I am working.

We lived the adventure - an in-state move, a temporary out-of-state move, and a long-distance, all the way down south move. We've embraced a new way of life, and truly love where He's taken us.

I like to go back and read posts from years gone by and re-live our journey. This blog has served as a scrapbook, preserving memories. It's been a place for friends and family to keep up with us. It has been a place to reflect and to vent.

Here are few of my favorite posts (in no particular order):

I am a C, I am a C-H, Nevermind... (where I get all deep & stuff)
Psycho (A recap of a 2 days when Kelly was coaching in Kansas City)
Whatever (I need to read this again - as a reminder!)
Backyard Photo Shoot (just because they make me smile)
The Great Room (Because I am still a blog-lover)
Claire Can Cook (It took her a long time to be able to laugh about this)
$3.06 (the best money I ever spent)
A Conversation (boys are funny, even if they're gross)
It's Gonna Be... (another Nolan story)
Family Love (they were so little and cute!)

I have not posted in a while, because I needed to step back. I am a blog-reader myself, and have a list of favorites that I check into regularly. I started to feel like my blog wasn't good enough, funny enough, spiritual enough, crafty enough. I found myself posting the same things here as I did on Facebook, it became old.

But I missed it. So I'm back. I still don't know what it will look like - I'm still figuring it out. But hope you'll still join me for the ride!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What Is?

Claire & I had a little adventure recently. Let me start at the beginning. Claire's all-time fav TV show is Jeopardy!.

Did you know that the official title is spelled with an exclamation mark at the end? So, while I'm excited that it's her favorite show, and I admit that I over-use the beloved excitement mark (that's what Nolan used to call it waaay back in 1st grade), I am just typing it as I see it, people.

Thanks to the miracle that is DVR, she hasn't missed an episode in a year and a half. She's dedicated. So when they advertised that you could take an online test to star on Jeopardy! Kids Week, she knew she couldn't miss it. We registered online and waited a week or two to log in and take the test. It was on a Wednesday at 7pm in November. There happened to be a dozen or so high school football players at our house that evening, but it didn't deter her.

She logged on, took the test and did well (I watched). She missed a few, mostly the pop culture questions.(Should a 10 year old know who Usher is? I'm glad she missed that one.) We were told that if she passed and was selected, we'd find out some time during the next year. If she wasn't selected, we'd never hear back. Duh.

So, imagine my surprise when a week later I received an email stating that not only had she passed, but that she had been selected for an in-person interview, test and mock Jeopardy! game. We would have to travel to Houston for the in-person process. I confirmed our appointment and we counted down the days. Claire's teachers gave her encouragement, support and all kind of books and games she could use to study.

If you know Claire, she is the Cliff Claven of the Spann Fam. She is very smart, but also has the ability to retain trivial (and important) information in that beautiful little head of hers like nobody's business. So she read and studied, but these were things she does for fun anyway. Yes, we tell her that she a nerd, a title she wears proudly.

On November 18th, Claire & I drove to Houston and stayed with the beloved Mrs. Nowalk, Claire's 3rd grade teacher and now friend, enjoyed a lovely dinner out, a trip to Target and went to bed, filled with excitement. Yes, it is thrilling when I get to go to Target!

The next morning we headed to IHOP and ate a ginormous breakfast. Afterwards we headed to the Westin in downtown Houston. We shopped the Galleria a bit and was early for her appointment. When we arrived, we learned the following:

- Over 8,000 kids took the online test, 200 were selected for an in-person interview
- Interviews were taking place that same day in 5 different cities, across the United States, with 40 kids in each city
- Claire's group has 18 kids, 5 were girls and Claire was the youngest of the group

We filled out paperwork, had their photos taken and the kids were taken next door for the process. They were interviewed in a casual, group setting. They were asked how they would spend the money if they won, what they wanted to be when they grew up, that sort of thing. They took a 30 question, written exam, and had 8 seconds to answer each question. Claire said she knew all but 3. They played a mock Jeopardy! game and Claire won her round! They didn't keep a total score, but she said she answered most of the questions - correctly, I might add.

Before we left I got a bit of advice from a teacher at our school, who's husband was on the show a couple of years ago: Have lots of energy! Be outgoing! Have a big personality!

When Claire was done, she and the other kids rejoined their parents. Immediately Claire said, "I think they're going to pick me, I did well and had lots of personality. The other kids... well, they were kind of dull." I love that girl.

So, we wait. We will find out in February if Claire is one of the 15 10-12 year olds selected out of 200 to be on the show. Don't worry, I'll keep you posted!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention... the week before we left, Claire had 6 (yes six!) teeth pulled and had braces put on. Yeah, I probably should have rescheduled that appointment.

 waiting to go in

 big breakfast - her braces were hurting

 outside the Houston Galleria Westin

where it all happened!