Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Christmas Letter

I generally like to include a letter with our Christmas card, but alas, this year, it did not appear to be "in the cards." Instead we included the address of this blog on the face of our picture cards, figuring that this might be the best way to communicate what is and has been happening with our family. And it is probably the most thorough, just take that sidebar back to the beginning of 2008 and work your way forward!

If I had to be honest, I let my schedule move towards overload and saw a short cut. I will tell you, "4 kids under the age of 7, of course I'm a busy mom." True as this is, in my mind, it is still an excuse and /or reason. If you happen to be a busy person too and don't want to read all of my posts from the last year, never fear, I'll give you the cliff notes here instead. and bonus: I don't have to shrink my font to a 8.5 pt size to make it fit on my cute Christmas themed paper.

As I read the annual letter from other friends, especially the one from my Uncle Bob, I realized how much I enjoyed hearing others recounting the past year. And I wanted to recounting it for myself as well, and so here, I will share it with you.

Greetings of the Season of Christ, the Lord of Creation - Heaven and Earth!

I hope that this Christmas has found you to be well. It is hard to believe that 2008 in more or less already in the books. As would be expected, our family rarely slows down.

Last winter we began to adjust to life as a slightly larger family. Maggy was growing and we were in the throws of infancy once again. But it was a different type of baby-life than we had seen before. Albeit, every child, with their own personality will affect a family differently, but Maggy seemed to come in with joyful exclamation marks! Something about having her with us brought us a joy and contentment. She has probably been our most difficult baby, especially in terms of sleeping, but the joy and smiles help to strengthen us for those moments.

The end of January brought us to one of the most challenging and difficult decisions in our marriage. We left our church home after almost 10 years. As it is with most difficulties, we were forced to grown and change. We truly felt the Holy Spirit guiding us to this decision and through the process of finding a new church home. Ultimately He used this time to draw us closer to Him. We tried several other local churches and was impressed to find some wonderful teachers and communities. We prayerfully decided that Westport Church would be a place worth investing ourselves and our time in. Since then we have jumped right in, made a ton of new friends and started leading a weekly community group. We still occasionally find our hearts torn at how the decision has tested and challenged old friendships, but we continue to trust that the Lord will bring all things right in time.

This spring, Noah played T-ball and Shane helped to coach. The rest of us made every effort to get out to those fields 1-2 times a week, despite typical Oregon spring weather (which is generally anything BUT typical). After several heat waves in May, we put up a
great big pool
in our
*itty-bitty-tiny* back yard.

All of the kids have become quite fish like, with Noah and Hannah swimming confidently under the water from one side to the other.

Shane continues to work for Ensequence, testing their interactive software on various TV and internet platforms. This was his 3 year on the MLB Mosaic project which was nominated for an Emmy! Although the MLB project required quite a bit of overtime, he was often able to work from home.

As summer rolled in, I attempted to make our small property produce a garden. Unfortunately the combination of less than ideal landscape and an unusually cool Oregon summer, it was less than productive, but the experience was, never the less a great lesson, for both me and the kids! We purchased our very first tent trailer off of craigslist, just in time for a wonderful camping trip with some folks from Westport Church.

The first week of August was spent in the North East, visiting my family. A crazy, "Dedrick-style" itinerary swept us from RI to NH, NH to Western NY State, from Western NY to CT and back again through RI, in barely a week. It was fabulous catching up with Aunts and Uncles, but everyone's favorite part was visiting Canadaiguia. My brother's son, Jack, celebrated his 1st birthday. He's just a doll and we loved getting to visit Bob and his wife Mandy too! Next time, we will likely opt to parachute into Dad's back yard and sit there. We drove over 1000 miles in 6 days!

As September rolled in we attempted to establish a firm homeschool schedule that would make our family roll on like a well oiled machine. And whereas that exact and strict schedule fizzled within a few weeks, it did help to establish more of what would work for the Vertner School. While still a work in progress, I think we are coming closer to deciding on a holistic method of learning with a few subject-specific curriculums supplimenting. It feels very natural and every experience we have is an opportunity for learning. I also prefer to keep our family together as much as possible, doing things together. Individual interests are important and will be given the opportunity to grow, but we will all be companions for each other, even in that.

Noah is a very strategic thinker and does very well with Math and Science. He loves games. He is drawn towards audio books, and should be reading proficently on his own in the next few months. I am hopeful that the two combined will give him a love to read and a love to learn. He lost 4 teeth this year, all in the front, making consumption of corn on the cob quite humorous.

Hannah is eager to learn and eager to please. Although she is only 4, most days she would like to get right into the middle of our school work. We will start the reading program with Hannah in the next few months. She is often found quietly coloring or doodling in a corner and seems to have a real gift of artistic creativity. She is also a fantastic sister, a little mommy, and is everyone's play buddy.

Zak is a sharp kid who is anxious to do what the big kids do. He is very content to create spaceships and airplanes out of legos all day long. He's funny and oh, so love-able. He is a fluent speaker now and amazes us as grown up sounding thoughts and statements come from his mouth. Even since he was a baby, he's been a strong communicator and still knows how to use the "grins and eyebrows" speak.

Maggy has been a great help with school, as she is content to sit with her own pile of books on the floor near the kitchen table and keep herself entertained while I work with the older kids. Now that she is walking, she can follow the other kids around easier and finds much delight in doing so.

We spent much of October and November learning about the Powatan Indians, Pocohontas and the Jamestown Colony. In late November we picked up and started learning about Ancient Egypt. I am personally learning right along with the kids and finding things that I don't remember learning, or don't remember being so exciting when a student myself.

Family additions for this year are as follows: 3 new tree frogs - Homer, Bart and Lisa, a plycochotumus fish(unnamed) and a 11 month old black lab mix named Dex. The frogs came to us from Grandma and Grandpa's house in Dallas, Oregon. Dex joined us in the beginning of November after being rescued by a friend of a friend. We couldn't hope for a better dog. She loves staying where ever we are but is crate trained; she is so gentle with the kids, especially Maggy; entertains the whole family when she plays with her toys, and has the perfect mix of energy and downtime. We really love her.

I still find time to scrapbook and sew occasionally. I love to create things in the kitchen, which is a hobby I get to indulge because it generally means the family is fed at the same time. Shane enjoys World of Warcraft several nights a week, an online game where he gets to connect with friends and strategize against other players and computer controlled challenges.

This Christmas was marked by the intense snow storm that hit our area 10 days before Christmas. Generally the Portland area closes down with any sort of below freezing weather, but it also generally only lasts 1-2 days. Many in our neighborhood have been homebound, ourselves included, since that first storm, as the roads were quite messy and not being plowed. We were very thankful to have Liz and Chris make it here on December 22, although it was not an easy trip because of the weather. Dad made it in on December 25 with much less difficulty.

We certainly feel that God has blessed us, but not of any doing of our own. We praise Him first for the gift that he gave in Jesus, showing us what it means to really give of ourselves.

Thank you for stopping in to see us and Merry CHRISTmas to you.

1 comment:

  1. So good to hear about your year! Sounds busy!


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