Merry Christmas, Everyone!
This has been a fun year for the Collins family. We still live in Seaside and love it here so much. It’s just far enough away from friends and family to make those visits even more special, but not so far that we feel isolated. A trip into town is just 75 miles, and that has become just a blink for us.
Chris commutes to the National Weather Service in Portland 3 – 6 days a week, depending on his schedule, and doesn’t mind the drive. We love visiting the local library weekly and he’s found many books on tape for the car.
In February, Cannon turned 2, and we did a simple celebration at my dad’s house with ice cream sundaes and lots of pictures (of course).
In March, we went back to Disneyland to celebrate Chris’ 35th birthday – just Chris, Flannery and I – and it was so much fun. We figured out a great system for our gluten free issues; bringing our own food, preparing it at the motel, and taking it into the park worked out great. Melissa kept Cannon for us, as she did the year prior, when we took Flannery for her 8th birthday.
Flannery turned 9 in May and we hosted a huge party with all of her classmates entitled, “Rain or Shine, Flannery’s Nine.” We had pizza and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Chris had intended on demonstrating the tornado machine, but some of the kids were so rowdy, he called it off. They had enjoyed it so much when he came to their class for their weather segment in science. Well, it was a learning experience, to say the least!
Also in May, we gathered at Cannon Beach Conference Center for our annual retreat with Chris’ mom and husband. This has been a tradition since Chris was an infant. We used to meet together every September, during Labor Day weekend, but Leon and Jennifer felt such a call to minister at the annual “X-Fest” in the gorge, we moved it to Memorial Day weekend. Years ago, Kevin and Linda, Leon & Jennifer and I all had performances at TOM Fest during Labor Day and we moved it to the July 4th conference that year. No matter when we meet, our time together is so sweet.
July was the Relay for Life, where I am co-director of a team called Good Grief along with Laurie Wakefield. Laurie is a 5 year cancer survivor. As you may recall, I was her “chemo-buddy” during her fight with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We have such a love for those afflicted and touched by cancer and we feel we have to give back. So, all year, we raise money for our team and in July, turn it into Relay for Life and The American Cancer Society to help with research and that one day we will find a cure.
In September, Flannery transferred from Cannon Beach Elementary to Seaside Elementary. Cannon Beach didn’t have the funding they needed this year, so they had to cut the boundary exception students. Flannery has adjusted very well and met a new BFF, Cori. They are attached at the hip and love being together. And, BONUS, her parents are fantastic. Whew! Her mom scrapbooks. Talk about divine intervention. I thought I’d be a scrapbooking hermit here forever!
We found a church! We attend North Coast Family Fellowship, pastored by Glen Maiden, here in Seaside. It reminds me of New Heights in Vancouver; groups for everyone, Bible teaching and upbeat worship music. The preaching is relevant to today, and he doesn’t mince words. Love it. Flannery attends their Wednesday night AWANA program, and I am currently in a women’s group on Thursday mornings, going through a Beth Moore study on the patriarchs. It’s a rich time for me. It feels good to be ministered to by a group of women.
A couple days before Thanksgiving, we had some snow at the beach and we all went outside to experience it. It was very cold and we huddled together near the garage to watch it in the street light. Without realizing it, Chris opened the garage and I saw a Honda emblem. I began to scream. Flannery began to scream. Cannon looked concerned but also started to scream as we realized that daddy had brought home a Honda Odyssey. And, it was black, Cannon’s favorite color! We’d been shopping for a minivan for a few months. We decided we needed one to make our trips to Disneyland more comfortable. Chris surprised us a month before when he made us annual pass holders. We’re able to make the trip so inexpensive with our own food and a no-name hotel; it ends up being a really affordable vacation that we all love.
So…the day after Thanksgiving, we took our maiden voyage to Disneyland, this time with Cannon! He loved it. It was just as easy with him as it was without…during his nap every day, I pushed him through the park and sipped my coffee while Flannery and Chris hit some heavy rides…then when he woke, Chris took him while Flannery and I played. It worked out great. Oh! And this was my first trip wearing the ShapeUps. My feet were a little sore at the end of the day, but not in a way where I couldn’t walk, like my experience the last 2 trips. And after the pedometer read 28,000 steps in one day, I realized the ShapeUps were a great investment.
Well, Christmas is upon us and I hope you are able to reflect on all of the many blessings in your life as this year comes to a close. Peace, joy and clarity to all of you!
XOXO – Erin (for the Collins Family) & Chris, Flannery & Cannon