I’ve always had a reverence for playing in pretend. Honestly, I get a sensation out of playing pretend with kids that is really hard to describe. It’s kind of like a cross between goose-bumps and a “hum”/vibration feeling I get in my neck, and the top of my head, when I’m really bought in to playing pretend with kids. It’s one of my favorite sensations in all of life.
At any rate… I’m sure you can tell where this is going. I get lots of great opportunities for playing in make-believe with two very imaginative girls.
Tonight’s was particularly cute. Abbey heard me discussing my diet/nutrition goals I made for the year, and I noticed she started listening really intently. After she heard a few of the challenges I was having (getting “hangry”, headaches, old habits, etc…), she started asking really pointed questions… as if she was a nutritionist, diagnosing and trouble-shooting with me: “how often does this happen?” “Mmm-hmm”… “and what have you tried so far?”, “mm-hmmm…, of course”. This continues for some 5-8 minutes. Sure enough, my “prescription” is above.
Merry Christmas! And happy end-of-the-decade! And welcome to the 2020’s! (It sounds exciting, doesn’t it?). Before we tell you a little about us, we want to make sure we tell you: love and peace to all of you out there! We miss you, and hope to connect with you again soon!
As we think about I suppose us parents never get tired of saying something to the effect of “what a full year!”, but there you go. Synchronizing our family schedule – balancing adventure and new experiences with familiar, consistent routines – is a constant effort to create as much meaningful time with each other and those closest to us. A few highlights (see the slideshow below for pictures with captions explaining the significance for the year):
West Coast Road Trip: In July, we took the first of what we hope will be many road trips, and visited some of the most beautiful places on the West Coast (Oregon Coast, Redwoods, San Francisco, Yosemite, and Crater Lake). It was great to spend such concentrated time together, and we loved exploreingthe outdoors.
Job Change: After 8 years with the Edge Foundation, Tim felt like it was time for something a little different. He now works as the Development Officer for World Relief, Seattle, a non-profit organization that helps refugees to settle and thrive in the U.S.
Hawaii Spring Break Trip with the Impola Family: We spent a wonderful week in Hawaii with Cynthia’s family – with parents, siblings, spouses and our kids, we totalled 30!
Wednesdays after school with Oma & Opa: One of the highlights of the girls’ week is being picked up by Tim’s parents after school on Wednesdays. Among other things, Abigail (4th grade) loves sewing with Oma and Evelyn (1st grade) likes to work on reading and math with Opa.
Finishing the Foster Care Process: This year, we finally completed the process that will license us as foster parents. We plan to take it slow, initially just providing respite care for already placed kids but will see where the process takes us. If the opportunity presents itself, we are open to adopting someday.
In closing the year, and the decade, we think about what Mother Teresa once said about Christmas:
Merry Christmas, loved ones! See you in the New Decade!!
Well, the holidays are officially here. And though the Kniffin Family has always enjoyed each other’s presence, there was a general consensus this weekend that the kids are getting to an age where they both need less supervision, and add a good deal to the social dynamic of the group.
That’s exciting in and of itself. It also bodes well for the future.
This past Sunday, Evelyn was dedicated to the Lord during the service at Rainier Avenue Church. It is a bit embarrassing to me that she wasn’t dedicated until the age of seven (as you can see from the picture, everyone else being dedicated with her was under the age of two) since our entire lives are centered around our Christian faith but as I’ve reflected on it, I think a couple of factors have played a part. 1) Tim and I disagree about infant vs. believer’s baptism – our only major theological difference, I think – so we ended up just completely putting off the decision about whether to have her baptized or dedicated and 2) We moved when she was a baby and weren’t sure whether to have her dedicated in the church we had been going to for several years or in the church we knew we would become a part of.
In any case, it is an important occasion and good to publicly declare that Evelyn is the Lord’s and that we intend to raise her to know and love Him. We are also thankful for the family of believers around us who will influence and guide her as she grows.
I really feel that that holiday season, when you have kids in ours’ age range, begins around Halloween. You can just feel the energy being the same, and the excitement of decorations, lights, and the shortening day giving a similar feel to the season. Plus, who doesn’t like having a longer Holiday Season? 🙂
But however you gauge it, it began in earnest this weekend, with two special Christmas events for the 3 Kniffin families. It was very special to spend quality time with the family.
For the kiddos, we went to a performance of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which was quite good. I wondered, going into it, how you make a 20 minute tv show into a 90 minute play. The answer: good dancing, and a sing along at the end. We followed the performance by going to a local video arcade, which the kids are really beginning to love.
For the adults (picture above), we went to a “Sacred Sounds of the Season,” performed by the Seattle Pacific University musical ensemble. 2500 attendees came to Seattle’s Benaroya Hall (for non-Seattle-ites, this is our main venue for operas & orchestras).
Ras & Maas came to visit this weekend, and we visited Uncle Dan & Aunt Vicki’s cabin on Orcas Island (thanks, as always, Dan & Vicki!!!) Friends are important; maybe one of the most important things. CS Lewis’ quote rings as true now as when I first read it in college:
“friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life. If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say, ‘sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends.’ “
These two men beside me are my best friends since high school. Without going through the long list, it’s safe to say that we’ve been through a lot together. And, when Ras commented that at “25-year friendship feels different than a 10-year one”, it hit me in a whole new way. Sure, it’s obvious in one respect. But the real special thing it made me focus on is how we’ve been through many “cycles” of life (different schools, ‘just starting out’, first job, dating, just married, first kid, moving homes, tragedy, etc.). It’s the cycles that have this interesting mix of the old and the new, the familiar and the surprising. And that’s a real treasure.
As drove home from the airport, I thanked God for this great weekend. Here’s what I found myself thanking Him for:
Remembering me: they remind you of who you used to be: this could be good, bad, or neutral, but people who’ve known you a long time have the ability to take you back in time and remember the rhythms of your personality when you were much younger. You find yourself laughing about things you forgot about, or reacting to things in ways you no longer do.
‘Familiar Patterns‘: because good friends often share a lot with you (eg, personality, humor, outlook, convictions), they remind you that even though life changes a lot, there is also an underlying similarity that doesn’t change.
Convictions: I’m often thinking something like, ‘if _______ can do ________, then I should be able to do that too!’ It takes a friend who you started off with to convict you in this way.
Sharing pains: the struggles we have can take on a new light when shared amongst people who truly care.
Prayer: and, because of all of the above, their prayer means a lot more to you.