March 31, 2014

The first month of 2014

January began on a good foot, literally. I was able to exercise outside every day including brisk jogs around our yard. Of course when it was snowy, I pulled little siblings around in sleds. Until they discovered how fun it was to sled down into our recently dug pond area! There was one lovely day. Sunny, blue, silent and very cold. Although I had no incentive to sled into the pond, I found plenty to do to keep toasty warm. Elodie came out and immediately began furiously bouncing around on the pogo stick. Before going inside I jogged until more than breathless. Dropping down in the snow I stared in delight at the spotless blue sky...what peace...

On the 3rd of Jan. Mum had to go to the optometrist. While she was gone we got started on the delightful art of pysanki! (painted eggs Ukrainian style!) We were studying Russia/Ukraine in the winter, and it we always love incorporating crafts and traditional food with our studies.
At first I was antsy, as I always am with crafts. (too many options...too little moving around) But five minutes in, and I was hooked. I gave my goose egg attention worthy of a masterpiece. Not saying it turned out as such. But it was so fun.

We all caught this unusual fever during the second week of January.
Yet they were some of my best memories of the year so far! We were all together in the living room with the fire blazing, the sunshine pouring in through the windows and the icing-like snow sparkling outside. We played board games and read and watched The Sound of Music, drank tea and consumed healthy snacks. :) Convalescing is such fun.
I finally read a book I bought last year: Journey Through the Night by Anne DeVries. LOVED it! It was the perfect book for convalescing since it was ''like a movie''! And a World War II one at that- my favorite. (especially when sick- don't ask me why. Actually, you can since I know why.)

I have NO more pics from January! Shocked? I am . 

March 27, 2014 review

I cannot say whether 2013 was unusually short or long. 
Profound thought, I know.
But truly, I am satisfied with the year God gave us! The surprise blessings were bountiful...what with the pleasing weather year-round, the weddings, parties, births, and family times. Plus our travels in Canada was in fact, a most unusual year! 
And yet it wasn't overwhelmed by festive occurrences; when I glance over my calendar I see many days of regular routine. I can't think of any big happenings in store for 2014...but only time will tell. 

My goal  in this post is to simply highlight the NEW, unexpected happenings of 2013...I have a love for good surprises. 
Just think: we start the year with no idea what will happen in it! And then God gives us so many wonderful times with family and friends. (note: I am not avoiding the truth that oftentimes God gives us hard times. And lessons. There are always plenty of those. And I definitely do not believe that a person is less blessed by God when He gives them trials
on the contrary...I'd rather have trials and draw closer to God than easy times and not know Him better...)
These are the photographed, big, social surprise blessings of the year:
(I realize I cannot begin to chronicle the unseen, personal lessons and blessings God gave me throughout the year)

-Brought a Moroccan tea party to the Burnses' house for a ladies evening together

-Redid our dining room floor and walls...the result:

we danced instead of playing paintball at the paintball event:

-Helped make food and serve it at Sara and Owen's wedding in Canada

-attended Sara and Owen's wedding

-visited the thousand islands area in Ontario Canada

-Met Melissa and Jordan

-and Mrs. Thomas

-Spent an entire day shopping with friends, and did the thing this business-like shopper never before allowed herself to do at a thrifstore: 
wasted time adorning ourselves with crazy clothes we'd never buy! Except in my case, I DID buy this Indian outfit. NO criticisms allowed. It was ON SALE. for 5 dollars. And I love  wearing it :)

-Darcie's shower

moved a MASSIVE pile of (FREE! gotta love it.) mulch from the front driveway to the back gardens

spent 4th of July with friends in Forest Park ( Forest Park with friends)

-attended Jeremy and Darcie's wedding

went blueberrying with friends (Bridges and Heads)

-went to the Wong's home

-Jeremy and Darcie's dance reception

-Paddleboating at Forest Park

-Digging our pond with a ''digger thing''


...and swimming again! (ahhh!!! :))

- attending Kate and Mark's wedding

-Party at the Martins'

-Harvest dance

-Thanksgiving with Burns

-listening to Paul Washer for the first (and second and third....) time
-We began going to RCA!
-hearing of the courtship of several dear friends

...of course, every birthday's THEME and exactly what happens on the birthday is a pleasant surprise....but that would make this post extremely LONG.

So I will end this pleasant post of memories.
I am SO GRATEFUL to GOD for granting us these times.
He didn't have to. 
He doesn't have to.
Yet He did.
He continues to.

March 19, 2014

December 2013

Early in December, some dear friends joined us for a free historic dance at the Old Courthouse in St. Louis. I was so happy we could do this.

Old Courthouse St Louis MO
aerial view

how do you like Sam's new wheels?

The second weekend in December found us attending an International ball with several friends.
It was difficult to choose what costumes to wear; we have so many folk dance costumes.
Nikola and Jessie: Bangladesh and Spain
Sara, Nikola and Jessie

sisters- love these girls!

Marilyn (seated) came from Michigan to join in on the fun. Trust a costume designer to come up with the perfect blend of traditional and fashionable.

watching dance demonstrations from the comfort of the floor

Elodie donned Nikola's Serbian outfit. I wanted to wear mine (from a different region of Serbia) but since I've already worn it to 3 balls I decided to give one of my less popular outfits a chance. :)
''you dare take my photograph?""

Irish Washerwoman

some folkses

I love being with these girls! Isn't it great how we are able to do things as families? Imagine not being friends with people 10 years younger than yourself. That would be awful.
representing the Beyond the Mask team! A group of unique individuals and friends
Oh, Marilyn! 
I love that costume.

Of course Marilyn couldn't resist the lovely piano...

Only a couple days after the dance, we went to the Burnses home for an annual tradition: cookie-making for the season. It's really just an excuse to talk for hours but we call it ''cookie-making day'' anyway. 
   And then we close the evening with dancing. This was the best dancing time so far. 
We mastered Laura's Waltz. And I mean mastered. Now each of us has sufficient knowledge to walk anyone through it! I finally even know the gentleman's part. 
We were too excited to remember to film, but here is Andrew's version of that beautiful dance:

folding napkins
the boys took some of their valuable time to be with us a bit.
highlight: meeting the newest granddaughter!!! Eve Burns
So beautiful.

Also in December: A Civil War ball at the Old Courthouse!
Nikola polka-ing with Papa

Thank you so much, Wong family for coming with us to this event!

That same day, we went to a small going-away party for a friend. Of course we had a bit of dancing

This year we went to St. Charles by ourselves. (as you may have assumed, we usually go with friends.) We always have a lot of fun walking around together. Sometimes too much fun....?
''like the ceiling can't hold us!" jk. ;)

Sam and I were waiting in my favourite alley for the rest of the family who were in the delightful shop of ice creams and other poisons. Papa, for some reason had gotten left behind and we were supposed to be waiting for him. As it turned out, he walked right past our alley. But that was because we were slightly distracted. And that is besides the point.

   Sam climbed the walls between the ice cream shop and the shop next door. The first time, he nearly made it to facebook (or whatever is popular right now) fame because a random group of young people stopped in awe.
 But the very girl who hastily scrambled for her i-phone (or whatever people use nowadays) to snap a picture couldn't help first screaming (and I mean scream) ''Oh my! Spiderman!'' And of course that jostled spiderman and he came down speedily. (not dangerously: Belleys never do anything dangerously. Just quickly)

I love this hawk! He enjoys keeping around our place on account of the chickens. Future feasts, he hopes.
This is awkward, but this time, our family did our New Years Eve celebration on December 30th. The Chinese food (boughten and homemade. Homemade is way better by the way ;)), movies....
Only we didn't shout ''Happy New Year'' at midnight. I assure you. 

One person (Katia or Laura-Lise?) grabbed some Oriental garb so the rest of us felt obliged to follow suit.
   We watched The Ugly Dachshund and once the little ones were in bed, the rest of us (so many now! As in 9 of us!) watched the ''big movie''...Battle of the Bulge.
   The cast wasn't phenomenal (to Belleys at least), but it was a good representation
(I hope. I haven't studied it yet) of the battle and made me want to study it further.
   Speaking of actors, we were tickled that our ''favourite'' actor John MacArthur showed up in the movie.
Inside joke.
But I will explain. We never liked him in Swiss Family Robinson. And yet he is in so many Disney movies as well as all sorts of random films we have watched. Kind of our fate.
 It's just one of those family jokes.
In this film, there was an odd mixture of MacArthur, Fonda and Bronson. Hm. But it's the story that was interesting.

Umm....I must explain that we do stockings on Jan. 1st every year. And so this time we did them Dec. 31st. Makes sense? 
That's alright. I don't think it was supposed to.

morning smiles :)
New Years Eve night, we went to a lovely dance some friends hosted. It was the first time we'd danced the old year away and the New Year in!
We ended 2013 with Duke of Kent's Waltz and then had prayer time for about 10 minutes. 
Can you guess what the first dance of 2014 was? Laura's Waltz! Splendid.

Speaking of Laura...this isn't Laura's Waltz (rather Hull's Victory) but I love this one of Mr.and Mrs. H.

We did all our favourite dances: Hole in the Wall, Hull's Victory, Barbarini's Tambourine, Bare Necessities, etc.
Our family got to get re-acquainted with the Ascher family, who we were great friends with over 14 years ago! It's so neat updating friendships like that! :)
Bare Necessities