Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Family Letter 2013

I'm sorry I wasn't able to get Christmas cards out this year. I just couldn't make it happen with all the physical trials I have had. Thank you so much to all of you who sent cards and messages to stay in touch. What a blessing to have friends all over the world!

2013 has been a good year for us. Even through the hardships with illnesses, we have so much for which to be thankful.

Tom continues to work as a field engineer for a medical instrument company, traveling each week, but enjoying what he does. He is blessed with a kind boss he has found much favor with and nice coworkers for the most part. His time at home is filled with spending time with the boys and me, keeping up with house jobs, helping at church and inevitably fixing someone's electronic gadget! I don't even know how to convey how appreciative I am of my husband. I couldn't ask for a more caring and patient man with whom to share this life.

I am still homeschooling the boys, as well as hosting the women's and young adult's groups for our church bimonthly. I have a precious group of homeschooling moms I get together with monthly and still enjoy relationships with the young women God brought to live with us at different times. Loving on and helping others is my passion, and I am so blessed that Tom enables me to do that by providing for our family and giving me the gift of time. It has been hard to slow down and say no to things as I get to the bottom of some strange symptoms I have been enduring. So far the docs think I may have PTSD and I have a low vitamin D level. After Christmas we will know more, but at least for now, the new medication is helping me sleep for the first time in weeks.

Garrison is a sophomore at 15 and was inducted to the Homeschool National Honors Society back in the fall. He is taking some classes at a local cottage school this year. It's been quite an adjustment in time management for him. One block of classes he has is worth several credits and has been pretty intense and consuming, but he has persevered and done well. It will prepare him nicely for college load in a couple of years! He just received his first PSAT scores and thankfully handled the results well, as he has a tendency to be very hard on himself, even if, by everyone else's standards, he had done well. He has been driving with his permit, and wow, do you realize what a control freak you are when your kid gets to drive you around! Thank heaven for my dad who can give Garrison the patience he needs in this learning process. Garrison continues to play bass guitar for the music team at church and just received his brown belt in mixed martial arts. Garrison enjoys hanging  out with friends and playing sports, music, and video games. He is still very much our compassionate boy who wants to help and will, no-doubt, be a leader and world-changer.

Alexander has had a bit of a tough year. We are still working to get to the bottom of what has caused scarring on his right eye. His left eye is trying to take over and therefore causing the right eye to give up and become lazy. He still deals with a lot of environmental allergies and was just found to have scoliosis. We are awaiting the x-rays to find out if he will have to wear a brace on his rapidly growing body. Alex is 12 and in the 7th grade. He is about 1 inch shorter than Garrison's 5ft 10in height! He is the child I have to tackle if I want his affection, though he was my cuddliest baby! He is going through a lonely time in life right now, desperately wanting a good friend who lives close by. School isn't particularly interesting to Alex despite my efforts to help him find a love for learning. Math frustrates him a great deal, but thankfully writing comes easily...completely opposite of his brothers! He is still our joker who has crazy boldness. He preached his first actual sermon this year and it was really impressive. Alex enjoys being with people...definitely our social bug. He will play around with sports, but usually ends up clowning around and frustrating Garrison to no end! Some things never change I guess! Alex has recently told his dad that he might like to learn to play the guitar so we'll see what happens with that. The trumpet did not become his love that's for sure! Alex just earned his red belt in mixed martial arts. I think he has dealt with so many physical issues that he is just tired right now and often appears apathetic, but I'm happy to see our funloving boy still peek out. I believe whatever Alex goes on to do, he will bring smiles to others for sure.

Trey looks like he has grown inches just in the last week! There is an ongoing bet in the house about which brother will be tallest, and I'm thinking Trey will end up the winner! I can tell he is about to hit the major growth spurt and if it goes as his brothers' did, a year and a half from now, when he is 12, will show him looking down on both of them. He is a thick boy and all the picking on him that Alex has done is going to come back to haunt Alex! :-) Trey is his daddy made over. He walks like him, hangs his head like him, gestures like him, thinks like him... He loves to try to troubleshoot and fix things and asks a million questions a day it feels like. He is charming and quick-witted with a wink and grin to flip for. He is a fast thinker and always a step ahead. Recently, Alex met me at the door as I came home to tell me he had diagnosed Trey with ADHD because Trey had all the symptoms on the Internet! Trey stood behind Alex asserting, "I do Mom! I really do!" Then Alex asked if I could get Trey some medication so he would stop annoying him! I still don't know if he believes me that there is no medicine for that. There is never a dull moment with our Dynamic Duo! Schoolwork is easy for Trey. Life is easy for Trey. He rolls along with a terrific attitude and everything rolls off of him. He will be a fixer of people's problems with a brain that moves a mile a minute outside the box! Trey is also doing 7th grade like Alex, just earned his red belt as well, and is just learning to play the drums.

What a fun time of life we are in with our sons! Before we know it, they will be leaving our home. We are so thankful that our family ties are strong and rebellion seems to be far from them. All the boys show fruit of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and respectable integrity. They have a drive to help others and are very excited at the prospect of adopting a little sister...or two or three or more brothers. We will keep you updated on that! :-) Above all, while achievement is noteworthy and exciting, we most appreciate the men of character and true love we see these boys becoming.

Speaking of boys, we've added another one to our household. In August, my 26-year-old nephew moved in with us. He was trying to get back on his feet after losing his job. He has done so well and it has been a joy to have him with us. He has always been more like my little brother than my nephew. I hated moving away from him so this time together has been sweet!

Since many of you ask about the people who have lived with us over the years, I will update on them as well:

Heather-moved back to the states from Cambodia and married Adam in October! He seems to be a wonderful man and they are residing in Georgia for now. She was a beautiful bride and the wedding was a joy to attend. She is currently working on her Master's in social work.

Laura-fulfilled a long-time dream of moving to New York City last year! She pressed through the lonely times and endured a rough boss and now is working for a sweet family. She gets to use the German she learned in college to help the baby become bilingual and even took a class at NYU on editing!

Saunnie-moved back to the states from Guatemala last summer and accepted a teaching position. She is learning the ups and downs of education systems and yearning to touch young lives.

Andrea-finished her degrees in education and cultural studies last spring, spent the summer studying abroad in Spain, and then accepted a teaching position this fall. She also heads-up an after school program and enjoys blogging about helpful tips and beauty products.

Hannah (17), Matthew (15), and Gracie(12)-are doing okay. They still have hard times and handle things in all different ways. Deena is doing a great job trying to hold things together and be all her kids need her to be.

So that's an update on our crew! We hope you have all enjoyed a blessed Christmas season and that 2014 is filled with peace and joy for you and yours.

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