reedettes

Merry Christmas 2011 from the Reedette Family

Posted on: December 11, 2011

Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all, and prayers for a wonderful 2012 to your family and friends!

Katyana (12), Sydney (11), Santa Claus (ageless) and Ethan (10) - Photo taken 12-3-2011.

Our 2011 has been a rough year overall for our household; for each good moment, we are very grateful; for each life, we are beyond blessed. I know that “joy follows suffering” and that “life follows death.” But there sure is a lot of pain during the “following” phase.

Our 2011 year looking back.

January

Katyana’s 12th Birthday… she’s growing up so quickly! She wanted a violin for Christmas/Birthday so with her Christmas/birthday money from Nana and Papa and me AND my fortieth birthday money, Katyana was able to get a beautiful violin! She takes lessons weekly and has many opportunities to play. She studied violin when she was younger and knew she wanted to play again. I was very willing to make this part of my special birthday. I also figured that if she ever gave it up, I’d learn to play!

Katyana's 12th Birthday

Mommy, Katyana, and our (former) part-time family member, Mary!

Katyana, you ARE loved!

We actually had a bit of snow in January this year so the kids,well mostly Ethan, took advantage of playing in the little snow that fell.

Ethan and one of his closest friends, Zoe.

Ethan's Snowman.

February

I turned 40. I’m officially old. It was a very bittersweet birthday. A good friend (Mary’s mom – Mary is in the picture above with Katyana and me) threw me a “surprise” party but changes were happening all around so quickly that two of my close friends were unable to attend and one close friend who did attend, moved to California six weeks later. One of my friends, Heather, moved to Abu Dhabi in January (her son was one of Ethan’s best friends) and my other dear sister-friend was dying and she was unable to attend. I was SO blessed by those who did attend (some who have been my “village”) and I am SO grateful for the friendships. One friend who attended has known me for YEARS dating back to my teenage years. Thanks Adrienne for my party. It meant SO much to me and I cannot believe we don’t have any pictures.

The girls both had a wonderful opportunity to speak publicly for “Thinking Day” for Girl Scouts. There were over two hundred in attendance and I was SO proud of them!

Sydney publicly speaking at Thinking Day.

Katyana publicly speaking at Thinking Day - Feb. 2011.

March

I hated this month so much. During 2010, I had driven my dear sister-friend, Jennifer, to Nashville twice a week for clinical trials. She had been diagnosed Stage IV Metastatic Triple Negative Chemo-Resistant Breast Cancer in the summer of 2009. I’ve written Part One of this journey and you can read part of that journey by clicking here. Part Two will come eventually.  Our last trip to Nashville was December 2010. My dear friend died on 3-29-2011. I’m so thankful that I was able to tell her goodbye in the hospital and that my priest, Father Stephen, could be with me. I sure wish she was still here. Please keep her girls and her husband in your prayers, for as deep as my grief, their grief is deeper.

Jennifer with her girls, Zoe and Grace. Memory Eternal, Jennifer.

April

Grief swallowed me. I functioned but without a lot of recollection. I have allowed myself to grieve and allowed my children to grieve but for awhile, I couldn’t talk without crying. It was rough (and still can be).

All three children performed in Sound Company show choir’s “Tell Me a Story” Spring Performance and my mom was able to attend. It was a MOST DELIGHTFUL show. I have no idea where the pictures are or if I even took any (this concert was a week after Jennifer’s death). I DO know they sang two of my favorite songs; the first written by Terry Silver-Alford called “Tell Me a Story” and “Music Can Make Your Life Complete” by Lucas Richman. The scenery was amazing and the background, sides, and foreground were decorated in ALL balloon designs by our amazing local multi-talented Elaine Graham. We are so blessed by such talented people in our lives. I learned how to tie HUGE balloons together to make cool flower designs!

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Concert with Special Guests, Sound Company Children's Choir.

Easter/Pascha is my most favorite time of year. Being in the middle of such deep grief and then experiencing Holy week and an Orthodox Pascha was SO good for my soul.

O day of resurrection! Let us beam with God’s own pride! Let everyone embrace in joy! Let us warmly greet those we meet and treat them all like brothers, even those who hate us! Let all the earth resound with this song: Christ is risen from the dead, conquering death by death, and on those in the grave bestowing life!

Easter/Pascha 2011.

After a long stretch of being quite ill in 2010 and many tests and procedures, Sydney’s Rheumatologist and Primary Care Physician diagnosed her with Lupus/Connective Muscle Disease/Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in April. Specifically, we don’t know exclusively the exact nature of her disease but she falls under the three aforementioned diagnoses. The biggest complication in her chronic illness is her exposure to the sun. She is so affected and her time in the sun has to be minimized (and protected with sun block and clothes) or she gets ill and weak. Thankfully, her diet and environment play a part in this disease and can be somewhat controlled.  But please remember Sydney in your prayers. She still dances and sings with joy. Her Rheumatologist commended Sydney on her strength and encouraged her to continue  dancing unless it becomes too painful.

My beautiful gypsy dancer!

May

Sydney turned eleven-years-old on May 2nd. I cannot believe how quickly my kids are growing up! Sydney also got braces two weeks later which was, for her, like being thrown into adolescence.

Sydney turned eleven!

Sydney, age 11.

Katyana and Grammy delightfully experienced a special day of their life during May. Joni Eareckson Tada came to Knoxville for a Joni and Friends conference. My grandmother has long admired Joni and introduced me to her story when I was in elementary school. Joni was one of my childhood heroes. Katyana has a big heart for those with disabilities (as she herself relates and is overcoming) and we both volunteered together at the conference. It was so wonderful to spend this time with my oldest daughter. My grandmother, Katyana, and I were very blessed to attend a banquet (thanks to a dear friend) at which Joni spoke. At the end of the evening, both Katyana and grandmother met Joni. My grandmother beamed for days!

Grammy (Elizabeth Dyk, Katyana, and Joni Eareckson Tada talking about Montana!).

Katyana and I met so many amazing people at the conference. Katyana was able to attend a few workshops where she was very blessed. Joni Eareckson Tada also spoke at the conference. Afterwards, there was a meet and greet ice cream sundae social. Katyana was very worried that Joni wouldn’t get to enjoy an ice cream sundae so she made her one and gave it to her (a very grateful Joni). Joni also autographed a book for Katyana and posed for pictures. Katyana was so pleased to meet Joni for a second time and Joni was SO gracious.

Joni Eareckson Tada (with her assistant) signing a book for Katyana.

The Studio Arts Spring Dance Performance is every May. Sydney and Ethan performed at the beautiful Tennessee Theatre.

Our beautiful Tennessee Theatre.

This performance was most likely Ethan’s last performance with Studio Arts (another bittersweet moment). Katyana quit dance the previous fall so she didn’t perform and it my first time to attend without my dear friend, Jennifer, beside me with whom to whisper. I cried nearly the entire performance. Both Ethan and Sydney did a great job and both also performed with their young classes they helped teach during the year which was their highlight of the evening. They both love helping with the very young classes.

May was a long month but not just for me. The ten-year-old daughter of my friends (I worked with them in California and we all live in Knoxville now) was diagnosed with AML Leukemia and their lives forever changed. Katyana cut her hair (pictures) for Locks of Love to show support for Anna. And with happy tears, I report that Anna had a successful bone marrow transplant and has been cancer-free for +75 days!!! Anna and her mom arrive back home in Knoxville on December 14th after a lengthy stay in Nashville for treatment. Praise God for His healing! Please continue to pray for Anna as she continues to heal from the Bone Marrow Transplant.

Anna Martin... an encouragement to all!

Katyana also had her violin recital in May. This month was LONG!!! I forgot to bring my camera to her recital but I think this picture rocks!

Katyana playing her violin! Photo by Dani Rose.

At the end of April, we took in an abandoned dog, Rocky. We adored him.

Rocky, my first experience with a pit bull and it was GREAT!!! We loved Rocky!

Our WONDERFUL dog named Moose. My friend, Jennifer (whom died) had given Moose to my family because he wasn't happy in their family. Moose is SO kind, LOYAL, protective, and happy!

Taking in that dog led me to also foster a mother cat with her orphaned five kittens. We had an animal hospital in our home for nearly two months. We are thankfully back to just one dog, Moose, and one guinea pig, Simon. I discovered I am a better foster parent to children than I am to animals.

June

We took our first out-of-state vacation in 18-months. It was a  new record for the Reedettes not traveling (taking Jennifer to Nashville and back consumed so much time and resources – but worth every second). We visited my brother, Kevin,  Amy, my five-year-old niece and my eight-year-old nephew. The kids loved their cousin time. I forgot a charger for my camera so my phone had to suffice for a poor-quality picture.

Ethan (9), Nathan (8), Sydney (11), Bethany (5) and Katyana (12) at the CARS II Premiere.

Ethan found a new passion… making breakfast for the four of us and guests when they come. He developed a gluten-free waffle recipe that he makes with his specialty omelets. He also loves his Star Wars cooking gear!

Ethan mixing the batter for his gluten-free waffles.

Ethan serving his waffles with powdered sugar for a treat and omelettes.

July

Thanks to the wonderful support of our church and our sister-churches, all three children were able to attend summer church camp for an entire week at Camp St. Thekla. I was a worried mom for a week but the kids did great and cannot wait to go again! Next year, I will use my time better and worry less. Sydney did well at camp, but as she was outside a lot, came home sick and took about two weeks to recover. We are still learning how the sun affects her and what we can do to decrease side effects.

Ethan in his cabin with his counselor.

Sydney and her camp counselors.

Katyana and one of her camp counselors.

The kids also enjoyed our neighborhood summer pool. Sydney had to go in the evenings when the pool was shaded. Ethan practically lived at the pool he’s such a fish. Everyone made new friends and had a good time. We have some GREAT water volleyball memories from Gulfwood Pool that will last a lifetime.

August

My brother, Kevin, and his family spent a week in the Smoky Mountains and we were so blessed to spend one day with them at the Wilderness at the Smokies for a fun-filled day at an INDOOR water park (the best option for Sydney). Later that week, they came down to spend the day with us in Knoxville and it overlapped with a conference my other brother, Kyle, attended in Knoxville. So, I had a day with both brothers!!! The recorded visit in pictures is here (click on link).

Ethan, Nathan, Katyana, Bethany, and Sydney at Wilderness at the Smokies.

My smart, handsome, and delightful nephew Nathan with Simon the guinea pig!

School resumed (we are still homeschooling). I have found that a Toys R Us catalog provides enough material to cover addition, subtraction, borrowing, division, multiplication, and grouping. We do utilized approved curriculum but it sure is fun to deviate!!!

September

All three kids attended an overnight retreat with the members of the Sound Company Children’s Choir at a beautiful camp an hour west of Knoxville. It was a wonderful weekend and another weekend I realized my kids are growing up and don’t need me as much (no one told me MOTHERS had growing pains). Sound Company has provided so many delightful opportunities for my children. Being part of a such a great organization is a huge blessing.

Sydney also left for a weekend camping trip with American Heritage Girls. We learned a lot while she was at summer camp so she did well on her weekend outing.  We had a plan and she stuck to it and didn’t have any side effects from the sun!  Due to some values conflicts, we left Girl Scouts earlier in the spring and found an amazing troop with the American Heritage Girls. They even have a sibling group so Ethan loves meeting days when he gets to hang out with the other boys of whom I’m in charge. The troop consists of all age groups and is a home school group. The troop has blessed all of us in so many ways! Several friends from long ago are also in this troop, so the girls have really been happy to reconnected with old friends while making new friends.

AHG uniforms... Katyana, Ethan (okay, not really the uniform but it is so appropriated) and Sydney.

October

October was another May. It seems like SO much happened. Sydney and Ethan both performed in the amazing  Take It Home Tennessee show that was an area-wide fundraiser. It felt more like an off-Broadway variety show. It was fantastic and displayed many talented folks! The show reflected the history of music in Tennessee. I learned so much while being entertained!

Take It Home Tennessee - Sound Company Children's Choir Juniors singing "16 Chickens".

Sydney (middle - second to left) and Ethan (middle right).

My parents came to visit the second week of October. Katyana performed with the Sound Company ETC group and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra  in Music, Music Everywhere. Another delightful show.

Awesome Katyana (front row left)... the amazing Lucas Richman, Maestro... and Katy Wolfe Zahn, vocalist and Sound Company Children's Choir ETC/SENIOR director.

Katyana singing a sweet lullaby.

Ethan enjoyed playing soccer again this fall. However, he has informed me that he is old enough and tough enough to begin playing tackle football in the fall 2012. So, perhaps this was Ethan’s last soccer season. Sigh. I cannot believe I will not have a child playing MY sport.

Ethan!

While my parents were both here, we visited the Oakes Farm where we had some festive FALL FUN including a corn maze race. The corn maze is huge and I miscalculated the timing. We had teams… Katyana and my mom, Sydney and my dad, and Ethan and me. However, dusk was short and it became dark quickly. For two teams (my mom’s and mine), it was about finding our way OUT of the maze before terror set in. My dad and Sydney were much more creative and competitive! And this corn maze isn’t simple… it is three miles without taking wrong turns!

Tennessee is the PLACE for FALL Fun!!!

Katyana (age 12) and Sydney (age 11).

Katyana driving a pedal tractor - pedaling will be her only mode of transportation for a while.

Sydney racing in a barrel... good ol' fashion fun is the best!

Ethan atop a bridge IN the corn maze looking for our next clue before we panicked about finding our way OUT.

The Oakes Farm Corn Maze is HUGE... and FUN when it doesn't suddenly get dark without lights!

Ethan turned double digits on 17 October 2011. Until mid-January 2012, my children are ages 10, 11, and 12 with me being 40. It seems crazy somehow!

Ethan's GLUTEN FREE castle cake.

Ethan blowing out his candles.

Ethan laughing when he realized the candles kept re-lighting. Even Grammy was laughing! We've never done re-lighting candles before.

Sydney's sweet card for her brother! I love the way she attempts to spell when she is in a hurry!

As with many days this year, Ethan’s birthday was bittersweet. The beloved wife of his Godfather from church “fell asleep” on his birthday. Ethan, working out his grief in his Ethan-way, made this Lego rose for her that he will place at her grave.

Memory Eternal Mrs. Peggy. We love and miss you.

Brief pause. Grief hurts so deeply.

Tears wiped.

Ethan suffered from Sleep Apnea since placement with me and continues to suffer and sleep apnea may be causal to his stunted growth. So… Ethan had his tonsils removed a week after his birthday (NOT FUN). A bit later, we all came down with the flu. Ethan then developed Pneumonia. Ethan was home-bound for nearly a month. We are thankfully healthy now and we will see if Ethan’s growth changes.

Only the girls participated in Halloween this year since Ethan was miserable from his tonsillectomy. They are growing up and attended their first dinner party. Without me. Sigh.  Again, no one warned me about motherhood growing pains. And, since I was caring for Ethan, I neglected pictures. A friend took this adorable picture of Katyana in front of our beautiful tree!

Katyana dressed as a mad hatter for Halloween.

Ethan hugging his bucket full of candy the girls brought back for him since he was feeling too poorly to go trick or treating. NICE sisters!

November

BEFORE we all caught the flu, we were able to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday with her!

Grammy (Elizabeth Dyk) is 92!

Pay CLOSE attention to her shirt. Grammy will have a dozen great-grandchildren "kisses" in February!

We spent several weeks of the month recovering from illnesses. We escaped to a hotel after being home-bound for nearly a month. We recovered much more quickly and our spirits greatly improved. We were given four free tickets to attend a local screening of Arthur Christmas. I think God knew we needed the comedy relief. It was a wonderful heart-warming pre-holiday treat. I highly recommend this movie and am SO thankful for the tickets and our gift of previewing the movie. The timing was PERFECT.

For Sydney’s birthday in May, she requested money in lieu of gifts for either a Mommy-Daughter retreat OR for tickets for an Amy Grant concert. Several years ago she found my Amy Grant cassette tapes and CD’s from the 80′s and has adored her. Well, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith came together for the first time in 22 years for the 2 Friends Tour. So, on November 20th, Sydney received her birthday gift and it was more than either of us EVER expected. It’s a post of its own and you can read it by clicking here.

Mommy and Sydney getting ready for the Amy Grant sound check.

Sydney and Amy Grant... Sydney upon meeting Amy Grant... “She was way more happy and joyful and loving and caring than I ever thought she would be. It felt like I was the only one she cared about but that she could also care about everyone else, too.”

We had a delightful Thanksgiving. We were all healthy and my grandmother and friends came over to celebrate! Click Here for pictures of that great day!

All the kids drew cute hand turkeys that we will save for next year. I love this one. My Sydney child has had SO much to overcome. Yes, there are errors but she is writing forward and I can understand her words. I am so proud of her.

Since Thanksgiving, we’ve been having FUN!

Downtown Knoxville's Celebrate the Lights. This was the closest Ethan said he was getting to Santa Claus.

Sydney, Santa, and Katyana. Sydney asked for a horse, of course! Katyana asked for a frog!

Adorable Katyana on ice skates at Market Square's Holidays on Ice.

My beautiful dancer on ice skates... she's getting better each year!

Ethan has always been a natural ice skater since he was two years old!

December

We’ve had SO many opportunities already to celebrate the holiday season!

Grammy's annual Christmas Dinner Celebration at Arbor Terrace Assisted Living Center (Sydney couldn't attend due to dance).

Katyana and Sydney having fun at a park after a Mother-Daughter Christmas Tea Party for the American Heritage Girls.

Sydney with her young friend, Faith, as they walk to the van to attend a Nutcracker Breakfast. I love this picture!

St. Nicholas Day morning... goodies and advent calendars. Simon the elf also comes to visit!

Katyana, Ethan, and Sydney on St. Nicholas Day.

Here is a link to my favorite all time Christmas Show from Dollywood 2011. Dollywood season passes were a Christmas blessing this year. I long for this show every year… it speaks to my heart about family and the Christ child and what anticipation that must have been. My favorite part is at 24:24. Click on the title for the link. Dollywood’s 2011 “Christmas in the Smokies.

Reflections about 2011

It’s been years since I’ve been so happy to see the end of a year. Looking back over the year has brought up so much pain. But it has also has shown me how blessed we are even amidst loss. I’m so thankful for the friendships I have even though I grieve the many losses. God has held us through this journey. Now in reflection, I see how God has brought old friendships back and has made them strong. I see how He has placed new friends who SHINE so brightly in our path and in our lives. God DOES answer prayer and heals as reflected in the life of our ten-year-old friend, Anna. God has led us to groups that encourage us and give us strength. In HIM, there IS hope. My heart is SO grateful this Christmas season. We have so much.

I also realized that as exciting as it was for both Sydney and Katyana to meet their childhood heroes, I met my childhood heroes as well. Fame really doesn’t mean much to me now so it took me some time to catch on but if I had known as a child or teen that my children would both personally have conversations with Joni Eareckson Tada and Amy Grant, I would have been in disbelief. My children have found such Godly role models whom surpassed BOTH their expectations when personally introduced. I am so grateful. Ethan and I had a funny conversation about his heroes. Here’s that conversation.

Katyana met her hero, Joni Eareckson Tada, in May 2011. Sydney met her hero, Amy Grant, in November 2011. I asked Ethan whom he’d like to meet. He thought and thought. I asked “Troy Polamalu?” He thought some more and said, “He’d be too expensive to meet. I’d like to meet the Lego Creation Team! They are my other favorite heroes.”

A new adventure awaits us in 2012. I will talk of that journey later. Until then, I will leave you with the lyrics of my favorite Christmas song this Christmas (every year a different one means something significant – this one means SO much to me this year and I am DOUBLE blessed because the kids will be singing this song in the upcoming Clayton Holiday Concert) 2012.

Candlelight Carol

How do you capture
The wind on the water?
How do you count all the stars in the sky?
How can you measure
The love of a mother
Or how can you write down
A baby’s first cry?

Candlelight, angel light
Firelight and star glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn.
Gloria, Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing
The Christ child is born.

Shepherds and wise men
Will kneel and adore him
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep.
Nations proclaim him
Their Lord and their Saviour
But Mary will hold him
And sing him to sleep.

Candlelight, angel light
Firelight and star glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn.
Gloria, Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing
The Christ child is born.

Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger
Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay.
Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation
A child with his mother
That first Christmas Day.

Candlelight, angel light
Firelight and star glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn.
Gloria, Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing
The Christ child is born.
Angels are singing
The Christ child is born. 

Music and lyrics by the English choral composer and conductor John Rutter.

Picture by Patti Harris Googe. Sound Company Children's Choir (Katyana, Sydney, and Ethan) singing "Candlelight Carol" by John Rutter with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM US!

Merry Christmas from Ethan, age 10 yrs.

Merry Christmas from Sydney, age 11 1/2 yrs.

Merry Christmas from Katyana, age 12 years and 11 months (yes, age 13 is RIGHT around the corner).

MERRY CHRISTMAS from Katyana, Sydney, Santa, Ethan, and me (not pictured).

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