Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Two Thousand and Thirteen

Last year, I rounded out the year with memories. Looking back at those, I feel like it was such a long time ago! It helped me realize what all was a part of that year, and how blessed every single day is. And so, here 'goes again...

It is the last day of 2013.
Image from here
These things were significant and meaningful...

I was accepted to Moody.

I got my driver's license.

I passed maturita, and actually finished my time at BMA. This was a huge milestone, and a point that sent me on to the next chapter of life.

My brother Caleb proposed to Haley Chase, and she said YES.

I graduated from high-school, saying goodbye to my class that I'd been with for four years.

Dad took me to Switzerland, and Rome for the first time.

Ukraine. Those memories still come back to me. Also, first time on a sleeper train - now that was an interesting experience!

I finally climbed Lysa hora for the second time. Painful at times, yes, but worth it for the views!

I left home. Hard, but good. Hard doesn't always mean bad. That doesn't make it easier though.

I moved across the ocean... to my "passport country". The beginning of college.

I learned a whole new system, experienced a whole new city, and started getting used to a whole different kind of life. I'm still in the process of that "getting used to", but I'm a lot farther than when I started!

Lots of new friends. (Like my floor, and "brother" floor)

A memorable trip to the West Coast.

I got to see my brothers almost every day, and Lara and Haley as often as I could.

I finished my very first semester at Moody.

A special Patty family reunion.

That brings me up to date. To right here, sitting at the dining room table in Cousin Carol's house, about to bring a pot of soup over to have dinner with Grandpa and Nana. We don't have any special plans for tonight to celebrate the New Year, except for being together. No fireworks (literally...but pun also intended), but it's still where I'm supposed to be. Getting to chat by the fire with my grandparents is definitely a unique and special experience for New Years.

This year was a full year. I think these next years will be just as rich -- challenging, but worth it.

"Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance."
- Psalm 66:8-18

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." 
- Hebrews 12:11 

I will trust the Lord with His hand of guidance and testing. May 2014 be a year of refining and growth!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Life in color

One of the treats of being here is that I get to watch the sun set every single evening. No skyscrapers obscuring my view for a few weeks. I get to see a clear view out to the mountains, with pink, purple and orange colors stroked across the sky.

Tonight I glanced out the window, and saw this. I couldn't resist going out on the porch to enjoy it! Mom followed, and we both marveled at the glorious sight.

This is truly refreshing, and I am thankful for beauty

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Eyes Have It

It all started when the light hit someone's eyes in the perfect way as we sat in the kitchen after a satisfying lunch. We then started comparing colors, trying to figure out who was most similar, and if we looked like family even just by our eye color. Mom said I should take pictures of Kendra and Becca's eyes, and it went on from there. It was too fun to compare everyone's eyes!

You can definitely see the resemblance, especially within the immediate families.

(Click on photo to see larger version)

From left to right, numbered 1-23 (not including green squares).

1 + 2 + 9 + 11 + 20 + 22 = The Dick Patty family.

3 + 5 + 10 + 12 + 19 + 20 = The Schroeder family.

12 + 13 + 17 = The Cain family. 

6 + 7 + 18 + 21 +22 = The Dave Patty family. 

7 + 8 = The Tyler Patty family.

4 + 11 + 14 + 15 + 16 + 23 = The Josh Patty family.

Now a family tree would be nice to make more sense of this, right? Ah well. Hopefully it's not too confusing! And if it is, try to figure out who belongs together without the numbers!

We're all family though, after all. I'm curious if you can tell just by the eyes!

Saturday, December 28, 2013


How to capture these past couple of days in words?

They were simply splendid.

Driving up to Breckenridge yesterday was so sweet. We soaked in the sunshine as we made our way up to the mountains. We strolled around the city, window-shopped, the guys played broomball in the snow, and we watched the sun set on our way home. That's definitely one of the best ways for my "tank to get refilled", as we say. Spending a day with my family outside? Just what I needed.

Today was much more laid-back, in the nicest way. We hung around our cousins' house, cooked together, and told stories. Sometimes there is no need for any "activity" or planned event when it comes to family. Just being together is enough. There never seemed to be a lack of things to say, and smiles abounded, even with some people still sick. They were troopers though, the whole time, and never once complained about their coughs and colds.

Here's a glimpse into what it has been like around here. Feel free to only look at a couple photos, or click through all of them! They remind me of joy. They tell me of the glory of God's Creation - both through nature, and His people.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Four and more

Today was a good day spent mostly with these lovelies, my cousins.

The whole Patty family drove up to the mountains today for adventures, quality time, mountain air, and stunning views. We spent hours in the car to get to Breckenridge, Colorado, but we didn't mind one bit because it meant we had more time together. It was all worth it too when we reached our destination. There's nothing like mountains to refresh the soul!

Once I go through all my photos, I'll be sure to add a few more, but until then, it is enough to say that today, I am reminded of how precious family is.

Tomorrow is our last day of the "official" family reunion. I'm soaking in as much as I can!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Patty Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Patty's!

We've been in Denver for a few days, and are soaking in the warm sunshine, fresh crisp air, evergreens, and family. The house we're staying at Cousin Carol's is just down the road from my grandparents' and cousins' houses. This is the neighborhood where Dad grew up. It's a short walk over to both houses, and so fun to be close together like that.

We all went over to our cousins' this afternoon for Christmas dinner. Lara and I were quite excited about the homemade candied pecans that we were bringing for a salad to put on the Patty family dinner table.

Don't worry, we did actually manage to bring most of them over to the house... even after nibbling at them beforehand! Good thing the walk wasn't long, or there would have been less pecans at the end!

Dad told us stories on the way over to dinner. He told us about the places where he used to have friends, where he played, what he loved, and what adventures he had. In the picture above he is remembering a particularly fond place - the tree where he built his treehouse. That tree was struck by lighting years later, and only the remnants of Dad's childhood treehouse can be found there today. Nonetheless, the stories and legends remain.

 I am thankful for a day like today: full of joy, of hope, of Good News, of fellowship, and yes, of good food!

(Please pray for the Patty family! We are all so happy to be together, but are also experiencing a pretty bad bout of sickness. Fevers, coughs, sniffles, and sore throats are spreading to multiple family members. We have a family reunion planned for this week, so pray that everyone is well to soak in this unique and special week of being together in one place! It's not often that we get everyone together from three different countries.) 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Memory gifts

The best kinds of gifts are the ones that make memories, and create stories.

The other day I was talking with my Dad's cousin, and she was telling us about a thrilling job of "cliff diving" in a extremely unique restaurant in Denver. It was hard work, and she didn't get payed much. (Plus, it was just a weird job!) But when we asked her if she got payed much, she answered: "Only in stories!"

I feel the same way about gifts sometimes. The ones that come with stories are actually more valuable than the money you spent on them.

Thus, these cheap  special ornaments from Target Santa's Workshop were found today while Mom and I were doing some last-minute grocery shopping. It made this day memorable in a fun little way!

Dad: He loves Croatia. Ocean in Croatia = whale ornament (even though there probably are no whales in Croatia). 

Caleb: He's getting married in Colorado in May 2014. Moose in Colorado = reindeer ornament.

Tyler: Has a fondness for gnomes. Mom remembers. Fondness = gnome ornament.

Lara: Tyler and Lara make such a lovely pair, and we are so blessed for that. On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Tyler + Lara = 2 Turtledoves!

Claire: Well, this is Brad. What does the fox say? Old-fashioned and handsome = Brad the Fox ornament.

Mom: I helped pick out Mom's ornament with her. She has a collection of snowmen at home (instead of Santas). Collection = snowman ornament.

And in this spirit the day continued.

We enjoyed the most wonderful of evenings with the whole Patty family -- telling stories, singing carols, praying together, drinking wassail, eating cookies and chocolate, reading the true Christmas story of Jesus' birth, and giggling and awwing all the time as we exchanged gifts.

Most of all, we are remembering Christ's birth today. He is the reason for our joy and peace. Without Him, there would be no celebration, and no salvation.

Tomorrow, it's all about Him. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Cousin is Married!!

I am proud to announce that Jacob Cain and my cousin Kerith Schroeder were married on Sunday evening!

It was such a blessing to have all the family present for this wedding. What a celebration!

Not only did I have the privilege of watching this wedding through the eyes of "family", but I also got to see it through the lens of a camera. Tyler and I were assistant photographers, and we had so much fun. Here are just a few of the details from the wedding.

One from Tyler...

I worked with wider lenses the whole time, and Tyler focused in on expressions and people shots. Tyler, I think we made a good team! You make it look effortless. It's easy working together!

Kerith and Jake - CONGRATS!!! We're all so excited to have another addition to the family. Your wedding was one of the best I've ever been to!