Family in Iowa || December Recap

December found us at home, running to and fro and trying to take full advantage of our last month in IOWA before leaving on our annual three month tour, the beginning of January. 
The month included field work, farm work, hotel work, company, parties, music practice, and much more! Here's a taste!

We got the month started off right with a big party celebrating Denver's seventeenth birthday!

His dinner of choice---grilled pork chops, garlic potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, and mom's famous salad, along with cake + homemade ice cream for dessert. Potatoes + sweet potatoes were from our garden, and pork chops from our hogs. Yes please.

Some brother has good taste in gifts. =)
Allison + Liz, on their weekly outing of errands, violin lessons, + sister mentoring time.
Then, we had the Live Animal Christmas Play happen. We always have lots of friends/family that come in for that, and often out-of-state company that stays afterwards. This year we had company from Canada, Mexico, and the USA. After the LACP is over it is kind of "crash time" for our family, so we all came home that night and enjoyed staying up late and relaxing  (and eating!) with friends.
Denver continues to work hard anywhere and everywhere to improve his various skills. The current challenge amongst him and several of his friends is to see who can stay upright, upside down, the longest. =)
Mitchell preparing to put away a load of hay.
Brother/sister coffee + checkers date. In a large family, one-on-one connecting still happens-it just takes a little more effort and scheduling when there are so many to go around. We always have wonderful times!
December means Christmas, and Christmas means gift baskets! We love giving gifts, and Allison + mom enjoyed doing gifts baskets + cooking projects for various employees and clients from Dad + the boys' businesses. Above, a few baskets ready to go out to a few of the guys' main clients from the fall.
Rebecca left these notes for the rest of us girls on Christmas morning. Bless her heart!
We older ones love singing in special music groups with the other young people in our singles' group at church. Here we were performing an acapella arrangement of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" for a Sunday night service.
December brought more moments like this one above, than I can count! After the Christmas play was over, we plunged into family music practice, preparing for our upcoming album.
Short road trips = reading + naps in the backseat for whoever isn't driving. =)

At it again...working on a peppy bluegrass number.
Carson, in his element. His hands are pretty much always stained with grease + oil. He loves it!
A few of us went one night and helped some friends of ours who were moving and working on their new house. Here we have a few happy brothers, hard at work.
And then we had Elizabeth's party around the middle of the month. Her birthday party is always such fun, because not only is her love language gifts, but she is also about the easiest person in the family to shop for because she loves SO MANY THINGS. 
Birthday dessert!
Gifts, wrappings, and laughter galore.
Happy girl! And now we have another teenager in the family! 
These girls got to visit and we had the greatest time in the world with them.
This girl (on the left) co-led the retreats in Mexico with Allison, last fall, and was Allison's right hand woman in planning/preparing/running the retreats. It was such a treat to have her visit us in Iowa for a week!
Good times. =)
Chilly winter day work projects at the hotel! We hire friends + family to work as much as possible!
Another highlight of the month was getting to babysit these three little gems 
while their parents were on a couple's getaway.
Snuggles, one in each arm.
Stories with all the extras...=)
Such fun times with babies in the house!
Love this!

Getting ready to do a new cd/new pictures and head out on tour means...drumroll...new outfits!

I spent a day on the town with my favorite co-stylists (Denver + Liz) selecting classy apparel for the band. We stopped for our weekly Costco run as while and grabbed lunch there. Costco pizza is the best...and Denver followed true Bontrager genes by figuring out that it was much cheaper to buy one whole pizza than two slices apiece. =)

                      Bags full of treasures like these made this shopper girl's heart happy. =)

Late night work projects with Carson and these friends

Oh, and did we mention music practice? =)

The last three weeks of December, we also were privileged to have a friend of ours in our home, while he was recovering from an injury he sustained during the Christmas play. Our schoolroom/library was turned into a little "patient room" for him, complete with pills, salves, and other special healing properties. =) It was a great experience to our family to be able to help a friend in need, in this way, and we were all very blessed by our time with him in our home.
We love our monthly get togethers with our extended Bontrager family!
Little cousin's paint party in the kitchen...

Double date with the parents and our pastor + pastor's wife
Some hunting days are more successful than others. On this one, Taylor got one deer....

...and Carson got two!
Not bad for a morning in the woods. =) 
A successful hunt means sausage + jerky are coming up next! 
Here we have Carson in the middle of the production.


"The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord. 
All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. 
Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established."
Proverbs 16:1-3


Christmas Day Festivities 2016

Saturday evening (after our Christmas Eve Celebration) we set the tables again for round two-Christmas Day!
We had a full table, full couches, and a full island in the kitchen! Around thirty people crowded into our home to celebrate Christmas and it was wonderful.
Sister selfie before heading out the door for our Sunday morning Christmas service at our church!
We had an incredible service to start out the day and returned home to the smells of ham + turkey + all food Christmas!
Christmas decor
Pretty platter of pineapples, ready for chunky, juicy ham slices to be laid inside.
The Ham Carving Co.
The kitchen was all flurry as many people scurried around bringing out all kinds of delectable foods.
Part of the spread
We have found that buffet lines work best when we have such a large crowd in attendance.
Hungry guys, packing it away...
The lovely line up of desserts...
Our celebration continued into the evening. Most of the guests left but a few "hard core" stayed late for more fun. =) Here we have a group of us riveted to the classic "Ben Hur".

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, there was a rousing game of "how well do you know each other" going on with a very lively set of the rest of the people. =) Sorry, no pictures of that-but it was great fun!

Many memories were made, and it was definitely a beautiful Christmas Day 2016.

 "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, 
and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 
To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, 
even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ 
with all His saints."
1 Thessalonians 3:12+13