meet our new cousin

We are so happy to announce that Emma, Blake, and Lauren have a new cousin! Meet little Candace Hofen! We’re told that underneath the hat is a full head of hair. She was born the day after Christmas in Nagpur, India. I was hoping she could wait one more day so we could share a birthday, but she just couldn’t wait anymore. She was ready to enter the world! She and Mommy are doing well, along with Daddy (Brent’s brother Brad) and big sister Cassia. Praise the Lord for this new precious life!
It will be a little while before we get to see you face to face, but we already have you close to our hearts. We know that God has a great plan for you. Welcome to the family, Candace!

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December birthdays

What to you do when you have a birthday in December and your family is crazy busy with holiday parties and shopping and gifting and planning and wrapping and packing and traveling and a hundred other things? What is a birthday kid to do?
This year, right in the middle of a holiday road trip halfway across the country, we took a timeout. A birthday timeout. It was the perfect way for us to say to our December birthdays, Blake and Lauren, “You are very special to us, no matter what else is happening.” So somewhere between Oregon and Oklahoma, we found a great spot to take a timeout and put all of our focus on spending time with the kids.
On the second day of the road trip, we arrived in Denver and spent the afternoon and evening walking around the downtown area, visiting the German market, eating yummy food, riding the carousel, and best of all, ICE SKATING! How fun is that?
Blake is now 11 years old. He still wants to climb and jump on everything and could play with Legos all day long. But if you can get him to be still for just a little bit, you might be surprised to find a remarkably well-spoken young man.
Lauren turned 9 years old. She dances everywhere! She sings constantly! And is never lacking an opinion, ever. Or a willingness to share it, ever. But one really fun thing about Lauren is that sometimes she likes to surprise her family members with breakfast in bed. When this happens, I know we must be doing something right! Love it!
Happy birthday to our precious December babies, Blake and Lauren. No matter what, the both of you and your sister Emma will always be more important to us than anything else going on in the world.

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the performing arts

The Hofen house has been busy this last month or so with a lot of rehearsals and performances, some big and some small.  As many of you know, Mr. Superman and I have had our fair share of performances on one stage or another through the years.  And I hate to disappoint, but there won’t be any pictures of that stuff today!  Sorry.

But now we’re in a new phase where we get to be the proud parents in the audience and watch our kids have their turn at taking the stage and participating in productions.  The first was “Journey Through the 1700’s” with Central Oregon History Performers.  This has been an annual thing for us for quite a few years now, but this time all three kids got to be a part of it.  There was a lot of singing, dancing, acting, narrating, costumes, and everything else that comes along with it.

Our kids have loved this group and welcome the opportunity to take on whatever roles they are given.  During the performance, one of the directors took some time out to thank all the parents for working with their children to learn their lines and practice their music.  At this point, I leaned over to Brent and whispered, “I don’t think I’ve even spent five minutes working with our kids on any of this stuff!  Most of the lines I’m hearing them say tonight, I’ve never even heard before!”    We laughed a little and just realized that sometimes you just have to point your kids in the right direction and say, “Go for it, kid,”  and then let them handle the rest.

Here are some pictures from that show.  The costumes are a mix of skits about different events in the 1700’s.  So you’ll see Scotland, Native America, and a variety of other places represented.

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The other performance in our family was a totally different style.  Lauren has been a part of her very first ballet class this fall.  It’s the best set up ever:  the class is taught by two lovely young ladies and it meets in their home.  Lauren gets lots of attention and instruction in a wonderful and nurturing atmosphere.  She’s loving it!  For Christmas, they did a dance for family and friends to a piece from “The Nutcracker.”  So cute!

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It will be awhile before we have anymore productions at our house.  But we feel that this has been a rewarding season of the performing arts for the kiddos.  And for the parents, a very rewarding season of being audience members.  We’re very good at giving applause!

advent calendar

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We are in the midst of another exciting and busy Christmas season at the Hofen house.  There are “parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow.”  Like so many others, there are so many things to do and people to see and places to go during this “most wonderful time of the year.”  But even in the midst of the busy schedule, we are still trying to maintain some simple and meaningful traditions in our home.  And one of those traditions is to keep an advent calendar.  In the past, I’ve just gone to the store and picked up some of those flat, rectangle-shaped calendars that have the little doors that flip open to reveal a little piece of chocolate every day.  I just love those things!  But for some reason, I’m feeling adventurous this year and decided to switch it up a little bit.  (I blame it all on Pinterest!)

Here is our recipe for this year’s advent calendar:  small cardboard boxes that look like cute little milk cartons when they get assembled, ribbon for decoration, and last but not least, chocolate (or whatever fun treat you want to put inside each box).

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Step 1:  Assemble the boxes.  I used Recollections brand from Michaels that came boxed in a set of 24, which turns out to be the perfect number for our calendar.

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Step 2:  Fill the boxes.  I put four Lindor truffles in each box, one for each kiddo and one extra for Superman.  If I didn’t put one in there for him, he might just steal (ahem, I mean borrow) from the kids, so it’s easier if I just give him one too.  Please tell me I’m not the only mom who has to deal with this issue!

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Step 3:  Add ribbon.  Our house is filled with touches of tartan this year.  (Again, I blame Pinterest!)  So this little ribbon gives a little holiday touch that matches the rest of the house, but it’s still simple and easy.  I probably could have gone for the gusto and made labels with the numbers 1-24 to mark the days, but I was trying to keep it user-friendly.  My oldest, Emma, marked numbers on the bottom of each box, just so we can  keep track of  which box to open each day.  But you wouldn’t have to do that step if you don’t want.  Also, I didn’t want to permanently attach anything to the boxes so I could still use them for other years and other seasons.

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Enjoy!  It’s not complicated, it’s not super fancy, but it’s fun and helps our family keep up a Christmas tradition that my kids look forward to every year.  Hopefully you’re December is off to a great start.  I’m sure that “they’ll be much mistletoeing, and hearts will be glowing as loved ones are near.”  Don’t get too busy.  Take some time to savor “the most wonderful time of the year.”  Now I’m off to go find Superman and start some mistletoeing!

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