Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

We're in San Juan Capistrano, counting down till New Year's. The younger kids, (Nicky, Tori and Joshie) are in bed. Lizzie hanging out with the adults, trying to keep her eyes open!

What a great year 2008 was! We were truly blessed. We've become more settled in the Ranchos, (we're making fantastic friends out here!) we're trying to keep our sanity raising three very busy kids, (how do people handle more? although my mom tells me that after three, it's no big deal!) and are totally looking forward to what God has in store for us in 2009. Can it get any better? God has been so good to us in 2008!

Anyway, here's to a fabulous 2009, Happy New Year to all our friends and family! We love you all!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A True Christmas Miracle

We had the usual Christmas chaos this year. Lots of parties, family and friends visiting. Everything we enjoy about Christmas.

Every year we have a Christmas brunch, usually very small, our family my mom and dad and the Sciocchettis, (this year the Regiers were able to join us) followed by a much larger and louder Christmas (late) lunch. (apx 30ish peeps)

This year we celebrated the end of my mom's Hep-C treatment at our brunch. (She received her last shot this week.) We are all thrilled to be done with this treatment. It has been an extremely difficult year for my mom. The treatment completely wipes her out. She's lost weight, hair, and lots of sleep.

But we celebrate that fact that so far, the treatment seems to be working. The virus count has been knocked down to 'undetectable'. She will have a liver biopsy in six months to determine if further treatment is necessary. Of course, we're praying that it won't be!

What a great way to celebrate Christmas! Here's to a GREAT New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Joshie!

On Monday Joshua Tucker turned 2! This year has flown by.

Joshua is ALLL boy. Some of his favorite things are climbing (anything, anywhere, any time), he particularly likes climbing up dressers and cabinets. He loves balls and cars of all shapes and sizes, Christmas lights, milk and meat. He's not much of a carbs or veggie eater...bring on the meat and he's a happy camper!

His athletic skills continue to amaze us! Catching balls, throwing (full speed), hitting and kicking balls, he is incredible.

He's still not talking much, but his therapist isn't too concerned. His favorite words are: lights, ball, car, airplane, lala (for lizzie) and toto (tori). He is also learning to make different noises, he is hilarious!

We are so blessed by him.

We love you Joshua Tucker!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht

Growing up in my small Mennonite Brethren church we had a tradition that all of the children looked forward to every year. After the Children's Christmas Program, all of the kids would receive 'Toot' bags. These Toot bags were small brown bags filled with an orange, nuts, a candy cane and a small assortment of candy.

Another tradition the same night was singing Silent Night in German. When I was a kid, our church was probably at least 80% German with many of the grandparents still speaking Low German – mine included! This is a very fond memory of mine, the entire congregation singing in German, a capella. Beautiful!

Here's a little history on Silent Night. The world's most popular Christmas carol was first sung in Austria on Christmas Eve 1818. The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863). The words came from the pen of pastor Joseph Franz Mohr (1792-1848). The song was almost lost forever after its first performance in a church in Oberndorf (near Salzburg) to Gruber's guitar accompaniment.

The first known performance of "Stille Nacht" in the United States took place near New York City's Trinity Church. In 1839 the Rainer family singers of Austria included the German version of "Stille Nacht" in their repertoire during an appearance at the Alexander Hamilton Monument near the church, some 24 years before an English version of the carol would be published.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day!

A year ago today we celebrated Joshua's official adoption. Wow, how time flies.

Joshua has changed so much this past year! He continues to delight and amaze us.

We are so blessed that God chose us to raise this little boy. We can't imagine life without him.

Thank you Lord, for the gift that is Joshua Tucker!














Friday, December 5, 2008

Another day in the office

Today we enjoyed the annual Carol Sing at FPU. Incredible! Handbells, brass, Crosswind, little children singing "Feliz Navidad". It was excellent!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pfferneuse Night!

Every year, my dad's extended family gets together between Thanksgiving and Christmas to make pfferneuse (also known as peppernuts). This tradition is probably close to 50 years old now.

We usually have approximately 30 people show up (aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, dog, etc.) and everyone lends a hand. It starts with my uncle Bill and his son Greg making the dough. From there it gets passed to the rolling people, to the cutting teams, to the stacking people, to the oven. Wow, it's quite a process! We have a couple of different recipes (peanut butter! yum!) we use.

We always miss the family members that can't make it, but it is a great family tradition.

I have some photos...a little blurry. They were taken from my phone.

Joshua and Uncle Kerry hard at work rolling.
Family working together.

Tori and Nana cutting the dough.
Lizzie and mommy taking a break!

Lizzie stacking...or sneaking a peppernut?
Tori on the way home...wiped out!
Exhausted babies!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gratefulness

It's a little late, but we have much to be thankful for in Alveyland.

1. We serve a merciful, forgiving Savior
2. We are all healthy
3. Three incredibly smart and cute children
4. We have fabulous extended families
5. Tons of friends
6. Very supportive church family
7. Good jobs
8. Low gas prices!
9. Two new friends this year - Micah and Macey
10. Kev's ability to go to school
11. My mom's fight against Hep-C

There is lots more, but that's a quick wrap-up. We are grateful for YOU!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another first!

Joshua continues to amaze us. Last night for dinner I cut up some ham pieces for him. While I was working with the girls, he started sneezing. I turned to check on him, and on the next sneeze a piece of ham came flying out of his nose! Unbelievable! I checked to make sure there was nothing else up there (that I could see) and continued with the girls' dinners. For dessert, we enjoyed frozen blueberries. Again, guess what got shoved up his nose? This time, he couldn't sneeze it out so mommy had to retrieve it with tweezers. Fun times.

The girls have never done anything like this. Boys really are different, huh?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Merry (Early) Christmas

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

This Halloween kept us very busy, 2 church harvest parties, 1 costume party, a parade and a classroom party. Yup, we got a lot of use out of this year's costumes!
Clark Kent and Spiderman and their cheesey smiles
Having fun at the Harvest Party
Spidey needs a break!

Our very own Go-Go Girl!

A close-up of Bat Girl

The Super Family
Go-Go Girl, Super Girl, Bat Girl, Clark Kent and Spider Man

The Super kids at a pumpkin patch

Cruella Devil, Super Girl and Pinky from Grease
meet up at a costume party.

Bat Girl showing off some muscles.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is it over yet?

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Soccer Sisters

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Simple definition of Prop 8

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Have Our Attention, Lord

A prayer by Max Lucado - October 2008

Our friends lost their house
The co-worker lost her job
The couple next door lost their retirement
It seems that everyone is losing their footing

This scares us. This bailout with billions.
These rumblings of depression.
These headlines: ominous, thunderous -
“Going Broke!” “Going Down!” “Going Under!” “What's Next?”

What is next?

We’re listening. And we’re admitting: You were right.

You told us this would happen.
You shot straight about loving stuff and worshipping money.
Greed will break your heart, You warned.
Money will love you and leave you.
Don’t put your hope in riches that are so uncertain.

You were right. Money is a fickle lover and we just got dumped.

We were wrong to spend what we didn’t have.
Wrong to neglect prayer and ignore the poor.
Wrong to think we ever earned a dime. We didn’t. You gave it. And now, tell us Father, are You taking it?

We’re listening. And we’re praying.
Could you make something good out of this mess?

Of course You can. You always have.
You led slaves out of slavery,
Built temples out of ruins,
Turned stormy waves into a glassy pond and water into sweet wine.
This disorder awaits your order. So do we.

Through Christ,
Amen

God will always give what is right to His people who cry to Him night and day, and He will not be slow to answer them.
(Luke 18:7 NCV)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Day in the Life of Joshua

My sister Lori is studying for her early childhood credential. For one of her classes, she needed to observe a child in Joshua's age range. So, here is her observation.

My husband has volunteered to supervise the kids so I can strictly observe, so I find my seat in the background and let the show begin.

We have a flower border with little rocks in it, which always attract Josh first thing. He begins throwing them all over until Uncle Paul places a bucket within range so the rocks won’t land in the grass. With his little sandals on, Josh carefully walks onto the rocks and picks up more so he can throw them. He suddenly spots his sisters kicking a soccer ball, so he quickly runs up to the ball and kicks it, which makes them yell “Joshie!” So he takes off to the big gas barbecue grill and plays with the knobs. Somehow he gets a knob off and tosses it down as soon as Uncle Paul says “Joshua!” Seeing a basketball on the sidewalk, he points to it and says “ba.” He grabs the ball with both hands and attempts to dribble with it, or at least he throws it down, it bounces up, he slaps it with his hands, the ball bounces down then up, and he repeats. Suddenly he spies his reflection in the sliding glass door and starts to laugh. He grabs the ball again, throws it up, it lands on his head, and he laughs again.

The ball rolls to the flower garden, where he chases it only to find marigolds as tall as he is. He manages to pluck a flower, then throws it, then laughs. He runs to get the ball again, sees my daughter Kristina standing inside the sliding door and offers the ball to her. She shakes her head no, so he drops the ball where he stands.

Joshua soon sees Uncle Paul picking weeds along the border, so he joins in, bending down, trying to pull the grass out and throw into the bucket he had previously. This lasts for a few times, and moves on to the nearby tomato plants. He finds a green tomato, picks it off and bites into it. He actually breaks the skin, but immediately spits it out. Yet he continues to hold onto the green tomato and goes back to pulling weeds with Uncle Paul again. Then he decides to throw the tomato near the basketball, which does not land very near. So he goes to the basketball and throws that near the tomato, but the basketball just rolls on past.

Uncle Paul turns on the water so the kids can cool off. This instantly attracts Josh’s attention, so he grabs the end of the hose, takes a drink and attempts to water the flowers and grass. Then he sticks his finger in the hose, and discovers that water will squirt all over him, to which he cracks himself up and giggles with deep belly laughs. This goes on for about a minute and gets completely drenched. His sister, Tori, takes the hose and squirts him, which elicits more belly laughs. Joshua wants the hose back now, all the while waving his hands and making squealing noises at Tori. She gives it back to him, but then decides that since she is older and bigger, she should have the hose anyway, which makes Josh furious, and screams louder and holds tighter. Finally Uncle Paul steps in and says “no!” The hose is then thrown down so that the water end is hidden in the grass. This makes Josh extremely curious because he sees the hose, but where’s the water? He points to the hose end, grunts and looks to each face present while trying to make someone understand that there is no water coming out. For clarification purposes, the hose is spiral and therefore landed in such a way that the water end was perpendicular to the ground, and as a result looked as if no water were coming out. Josh would not stop until someone showed him the water end, although it surprised me that he didn’t pick it up himself.

After a while, Josh’s clothes are off and Uncle Paul sits him in a chair to dry him off with a towel. This lasts for about ten seconds, until Josh spies Kristina’s Jamba Juice cup. Shrieking, pointing, grunting and voraciously hand-signing “please” and “more,” he climbs down and proceeds to sip through the straw about 5 or 6 times. Out of the blue, he realizes the noisy wind chimes that have been blowing all afternoon. He points and squeals, then sees a broom, which he runs to, picks up, and begins to sweep the air.

Josh spots more rocks in the border, picks up a handful and throws it. Then he finds those that landed on the sidewalk and kicks them back into the border. Now he bends over, picks up another handful, only this time he places them onto the sidewalk instead of throwing them so he can kick them again into the rock border.

“Joshua, do you want to eat?” Kristina asks. He shakes his head no and grunts. He is busy watching Uncle Paul on the ladder, no doubt figuring out how he can get up there, too.
Once inside the house for dinner, he climbs onto his booster seat. He is given a babyish spoon and tries to feed himself beefy mac and applesauce, which he is pretty good at, despite the small spoon he was given. Josh drinks milk boisterously from his sippy cup. He takes a few more bites, then tries to get down. Kristina puts the spoon back into his hand, and he goes after more. Soon he tires of the baby spoon and reverts to his other hand to pick up more pieces, while still holding the spoon in the other. He goes back and forth between spoon and hand until Uncle Paul ends up helping him finish his meal. After a few more messy minutes, he refuses more bites and utilizes his “all done” hand sign, and makes noises until Uncle Paul helps him down.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's Soccer Season!

Life is a little nuttier at the Alvey household (is that possible?). Soccer practice four nights a week and two - three games on Saturdays.

The girls are having a great time, though and learning lots and lots!

That's Tori's team above...she's number 5!

More photos to come.

I'll post a schedule soon for aunties and uncles to check out. The games are great fun to watch.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sacramento in pictures

On Wednesday of last week, we had a break in the afternoon while the assessment staff evaluated our profiles. We took advantage of the time and took the kids to Old Town Sacramento. We visited Candy Heaven, a costume shop, rode a water taxi, and ended the evening at Joe's Crab Shack, which is right on the water. The kids and Sarah (our nanny!) had a great time. It was the first time that Lizzie and Sarah cracked their own crabs. Joe's is a very fun place where the waiters take time out to dance together for a little entertainment (something akin to doing the Hustle).

It was a fabulous, relaxing time during a very exhausting week. Thank you Karl for helping to make it happen!










Bonus picture, Josh just found these boots in the closet and thought they were perfect for a little baseball practice. By the way, this little stinker can hit a pitch thrown to him...amazing!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Church Planter's Assessment Center

Kevin and I just got back from a four day church planter's assessment center. It is hosted by the Growing Healthy Churches Network which seeks to support church planters and leaders for the work God has for them (Acts 13:1-2). One of their key support strategies is the assessing system. They strive to help leaders discover if the lead position in a church plant is a good fit for their next step of ministry.

Wow! What a process! Prior to leaving we took two personality profiles, and the StrengthFinders assessment.

We joined with seven other couples from around the nation to walk through intensive evaluation. Kev had to give a 10 minute sermon for our launch Sunday, 10 minutes on our vision and values, after which he and I were questioned by GHC staffers.

Another project consisted of joining with the other couples to create and pitch to potential investors the concept of a 'mock' launch in West Phoenix. We had to research demography, staffing needs, create vision and values, then present to the investors everything we'd learned and created in 15 minutes. Here's the catch all 14 of us had to have a speaking part...you do the math!

There are three potential outcomes of the assessment, 1. recommended, 2. conditional recommend and 3. not recommended. Kevin and I were being assessed as campus pastors, and were affirmed and recommend to move full-steam ahead!

It was a very exciting, and exhausting experience. But we truly loved every minute of it and are very grateful for the experience. I believe this assessment is a tremendous tool.

Click on the title of this post, or contact me directly if you'd like more info.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Baptism revisted...

As promised...

video

Monday, September 15, 2008

Church in a bar?

Yesterday, our church (Flipside) started three new venues. We have two 'regular' services at Liberty H.S. (9:30 and 11 a.m.). We launched a softer venue (10 a.m.) at our activity center (Kev is the campus pastor there,) a service at the Lucky 13 bar (noon) at Ashlan and 99 in Fresno and another service on Sunday evenings at 5 p.m. (again at our activity center. )

The goal is to make the Ranchos a difficult place to get to hell 'from'.

Here is a link from a news piece that ran last night about our church in a bar
.

I guess the idea of a church in a bar is radical for some. We figure that these are the places where Jesus would be. So, we want to be there to.


Monday, September 8, 2008

They believed and were baptized

Wow, what a day! For about a year now, Lizzie has been asking to be baptized. We wanted to wait for a couple of reasons.

  1. We wanted to make sure that she fully understood what baptism is (a symbol) and what baptism isn't (does not guarantee salvation).
  2. We wanted her to be of an age that she will remember this day.
  3. We wanted her decision to be based on her desire, not because a friend was doing it
Well, yesterday was that day. She can fully explain the meaning of baptism, just ask her. In our church, we don't do baptism classes. Our pastor sits down with those that want to be baptized (just prior to going into the pool) to talk with them and ask them if they've accepted Jesus as their Savior. In the Bible, over and over in the New Testament when it talks about baptism it says, 'they believed and were baptized.' Not, they believed, took classes, they were a certain age and the pastor said it was okay to be baptized. Nope, that's not it at all. Sometimes, in this day and age, I think we make a big deal out of stuff that really should be simple. They believed and were baptized. (pretty sure there is a sermon in there...) A beautiful picture.

Also, at our church, not only are we able to be in the water with her, but WE baptized her. It was a very sweet and special time. Again, no where in the Bible does it say that you have to be baptized by your pastor. Karl was with us, because we asked him to be.

It was an awesome day. Lizzie was delighted, thrilled, ecstatic, elated...well, you get the picture. We are blessed with a mature, sweet, incredible daughter. Thank you Jesus!
"I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth."
III Peter 1:4

I'll post pictures and video soon!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mud Monkey

My girls never did anything like this...truly boys are different than girls!




Friday, August 22, 2008

A new chapter

We found out Wednesday night that Kevin has been accepted as a student at the MB Biblical Seminary to begin his master's program in marriage and family therapy! Wow, very cool. They let very few 'non-degreed' students in, particularly in this program.

This really ramps up his studies. Classes will be much more intense with schedules very sporadic (lots of weekend and evening classes). It will take a lot of communication between us to keep things running smoothly.

Classes start Monday, which brings me to a new prayer request; financial aid. Seminary is much more expensive than community college. Please pray that scholarships and grants will come through, we are really trying to avoid loans.

Congratulations Kevin!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Happy Anniversary...to us!

Today Kevin and I celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Wow, what a ride! God has been good and has blessed us and kept us even through our blindness.

Kevin and I met in September of 1987 and have been together ever since. We are grateful for each other, our children and a God that lavishes and teaches forgiveness. We look forward to a lifetime of learning more about each other and what God will teach us through our marriage.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Day at Bass Lake

One of my biggest concerns moving to the Ranchos was knowing that we wouldn't be seeing some friends nearly as often as when we lived 'in town'. Well, God has taken that concern and has blessed us with new friends.

We spent last Saturday at Bass Lake with some of these new friends. Michelle and Daryn Sassano and their boys, Michael and Brandon, Karl and Shellie Roth and their boys, Kaleb and Wyatt and John and Michele Stephens and their boys, Trevor, Logan and Carson. See a trend her with the boys? Yup, my girls were the only girl (kids) there. We had 10 kids (under the age of 11) and 8 adults on one boat.

We had an amazing day! Karl and Shellie own a large (obviously) boat in which we cruised the lake and pulled the kids around on an inflatable raft. It was fun, relaxing and a great day. Thanks guys!

The tube crew...
Lizzie and Carson
Tori and Miss Shellie
Lizzie, Carson and Brandon
Sand Monkey
Mommie, Tori and Lizzie
Captain Karl and his co-captain

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cheers to the Olympics

Kev and I both have always thought we could be olympians...

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First Day of School

Today Lizzie started the third grade! Yup, summer is over in the Ranchos...the new academic year has begun.

Lizzie was very excited to start school and was thrilled to find that she has just the teacher she was hoping for... Mrs. Hernandez! Her best friend Destyne is in her class also.

Tori and Josh signed up today for preschool and will be starting next week when Kevin starts school.


Lizzie and Mrs Hernandez

Already to go!

Monday, August 11, 2008

San Juan Capistrano

We recently visited my sister Leslie and her family (Uncle Marc and Nicky) at their home in San Juan Capistrano. We had so much fun!

On Friday, we went to Laguna Nigel and spent the day on the beach. The kids had a great time! It was Joshua's first trip to the ocean and he wasn't intimated one bit! He loved playing in the waves, but his favorite thing to do was eating sand. (yes, he pooped a sand castle the next day!)

The next day we spent swimming at Leslie and Marc's club. My nephew Matthew and his girlfriend Rachel joined us for awhile as they were 'in the area' also. The kids had a great time playing with 'big' cousin Mattie and Rachel. Tori really took off in the pool. She ditched her swimmie (floatie) suit and became a fish. It was cool to watch her.

We've really enjoyed my summer three-day weekends. We've tried to fit a lot into a short amount of time.

Unfortunately, all the pix I have are from the beach, oh well!






Lizzie, Tori and cousin Nicky.