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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas...a bit early

I debated about whether to do this, but this way people will get my Christmas letter on time :-). I'm still sending the hard copy and a photo, but I figured this way all the locals can read the letter too.

Merry Christmas!
Here’s our Christmas letter to share with all the world wide web-or at least those who read my blog :-). I always start with family member updates, so here goes:
My husband has, for the past few years, been working part time for a civil engineering firm called BESH, and working the other part of his time seeing private computer clients. That arrangement has been tweaked slightly, since BESH’s business has tapered off with the recession. They provide us with health insurance (that’s HUGE), but can’t afford to pay the hubs beyond that right now, so God has used this as an opportunity to grow his private computer business again. He stays quite busy and is really a Jack (and master) of all trades when it comes to computers. He has recently designed a web site for a local woman running for Congress, and also is helping a hospital integrate some local labs onto their new software. It amazes me the things he can do. He stays busy in his “free time” serving on the leadership team at our church and tackling all the projects an old house has to offer (like currently having to rewire half the house since it keeps trying to burn down on us). His website is Check it out!
Scott is 12 ½. Can you believe that? At 5’ 3” and growing more each day, he’s definitely not our little 4lb 5oz scrawny baby anymore! He continues to play piano, and is really quite good. I love to hear him play, although he can chose the WORST, most chaotic moments to practice. Kids! Scott also took up sailing this year, and it suits him quite well. I had a chance to go out and watch his first regatta, and it is utterly amazing to me to see what these kids can do. A friend from church is the coach for the intermediate class, and his son (who is one of Scott’s best friends) is in the class, so it’s a wonderful situation. As a family, we decided to sit this year out of scouts, but he achieved his Second Class rank before we stopped, and has earned several merit badges including riflery and, of course, sailing. He is very social-he’s never met a stranger, and he has a heart of gold…when he’s not mercilessly tormenting one of his siblings. He still has struggles academically and emotionally due to being so small at birth, but we work every day to overcome them.
Mimi is 10, and still just as petite as ever. This past year she cut off her gorgeous long curls for a second time to donate to Locks of Love, so her hair is currently shoulder length and always looks like a mop, but people still comment on how beautiful her hair is. She is ENDLESSLY creative. It can be exhausting just to listen to all her ideas, but she doesn’t let her stick-in-the-mud mother squelch her creativity, and I applaud her determination. Mimi is also hopelessly messy (must go hand in hand with creativity), so don’t try to walk in her room, but we love her anyway. This year she got her heart’s desire, and we got her a hammered dulcimer. She has a book and DVD to learn to play it, and there is a teacher locally, so we may pursue that in the coming year. Mimi is one of those girls who has a TON of friends, and she is a good friend to everyone. She’s not a gossip, and doesn’t get into the cattiness that girls this age can start doing. She has several really good close friends, and frequently the sound of young girl giggles fills our house.
TJ is 8, and he’s such a joy. He is my compliant child. He just does what you ask him to do with a happy heart. He is also a total goof ball, and his latest thing is to dance in a style very reminiscent of Schroder from the Peanuts whenever music is playing. He’s one of those physical humor kids who loves to fall down just to make people laugh. He just lost both his front teeth in time for Christmas, but he has changed the words to the song to, “Something I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” because, as he says, that’s not ALL he wants for Christmas. Very insightful for an 8 year old. TJ is also taking a break from Scouts this year, but may play soccer in January (one of the perks of living in FL-year round sports).
Sari is 4 ½. She still is the perfect completion to our family. She makes us laugh, and has a special, but unique, relationship with each of her siblings. Sari is immensely artistic too. She LOVES to color, or paint, or draw, or cut, or glue, or anything artsy and messy at the same time. Sari and my nephew Bam Bam both started Pre-K this fall (yes, we still homeschool, but my tax dollars pay for the pre-K for 3 hours a day, and it gives me a quieter work environment for the older kids for a few hours each morning). I could not love her school more. They are fabulous. She LOVES going, and it has helped her get over a rough patch of separation anxiety she was going through. It’s fun to watch Sari and Bam Bam. There’s 3 months between them, and they get along just like siblings. That they get to go to school together is just icing on the cake.
And then there’s me. Wow! Have I had a crazy year or two. I continue singing with United in Praise ( and serving on the midweek service worship team at church. I also help in the Children’s ministry filling different needs as they come up. I was running our Ladies’ ministry until a few months ago when I handed that over to a dear friend. What a relief! I continue to lead our “little homeschool group” which has grown to over 225 families. Not so little anymore! I tried to hand the leadership over to someone else, but no one has stepped up, so I’m still doing it. Last year and this year I have served as a member of the TOS Crew-a board of product reviewers for The Old Schoolhouse magazine (probably the largest homeschool magazine in the country). I receive about 75 homeschool products a year, have 6-8 weeks to review them, and then write a review on my blog and link it to a homepage that lists my reviews along with the other members of the Crew. We’ve had the chance to check out some great stuff, and God has used it to bless us with hundreds of dollars in curriculum we otherwise would not be able to afford. But the biggest news for me this year is that my photography, which has always been a passion and hobby, has really taken off as a business. For a year or so now I have helped the hubs out with photos for his website clients. Then earlier this year I was asked to come on board a local magazine as Staff Photographer. I am in constant amazement of what God is doing with this! I’ve also done a lot of photography for our church and its new website ( and because of all this; I stepped out in faith and started Snapshots of Grace Photography. My website is still under construction, but my blog (with sample pictures) is . Since officially starting Snapshots of Grace, I have had about 3 photo shoots a week. I am humbled to use this gift God has given me to provide affordable photography to people. I still can’t believe I am getting paid to do something I love.
Our family was blessed last year with a generous monetary gift for Christmas, and we used it to get Disney passes for the first time, so we have gone to Disney a lot this year. It’s great to have that freedom with homeschooling. We took our annual trip to New York to see family this year (my cousin Daniel graduated from High School while we were there). This year we drove, and hit Washington D.C. on the way up. Eric flew home, and the kids and I meandered home and saw many friends, family, and sights along the way. We can’t wait for next summer’s trip. Back on the home front, we have become quite the Noah’s ark. We started with the bunny, and then the dog, but this year we had two stray cats adopt us…and have kittens at our house. 7 kittens later (they all have homes as does one of the mamas) we ended up keeping the other mama as an indoor cat. Plus, we have acquired 3 outdoor strays who now call our yard home. Add in three goldfish…Oh, and the indoor cat escaped 2 months ago when she was in heat, so one week before Christmas we had another kitten born. It’s like a small zoo around here, especially when we add in the four far less hairy, but equally zany kids, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I hope God has blessed you as richly as He blesses us. His grace is sufficient, and His provision is exactly enough to meet our needs (and is teaching us how many things we thought were needs are really wants). May 2010 be wonderful for us all!
One Blessed Mamma and her blessings
Plus Riley the dog, Thumper the bunny, Abby the indoor cat (and Noelle her kitten), Skitter, Bobbin, and Mittens, the outdoor kitty crew, and the three goldfish…and a partridge in a pear tree :-).
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Melissa said...

Great letter - thanks!

Tiffany said...

I love Christmas letters! Thanks for sharing. Where were the pictures taken? I love that last one.

Sonya said...

Great fun has been had by you & your family! Trials, tribulations, yet the joy that shines through is what I see (& Hear, mostly). I'm thankful that you are really enjoying & making ends meet in your business, and your mans, too. My prayer for your family this year is for God's continued provision & for your obedience to His call.

oneblessedmamma said...

The last picture is in Wooten Park. They have a new train depot there. Who knew?

Randi Sue said...

Thanks for sharing!

Debbie said...

love the letter and the picture at Wooten!! GREAT!!

Penny said...

LOVE the pictures. The one by the train tracks -- I'm gushing over it! Wish I could come to you and have you take our pics!

Merry Christmas!

Kristen H said...

Great letter. I noticed that my family is the same pattern as yours just a year behind. I have an 11 year old son, a 9 year old daughter, a 7 year old son, and a 3 year old daughter.