Thursday, December 11, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

(Once again, we are not sending Christmas cards out in the traditional way - see the end of this post for more on that...We hope you enjoy this online version! If you regularly read my blog, some of these stories will sound familiar, but if you don't, feel free to click the links and read some of the old posts!)
The year 2008 has been a wild ride for our family! As we sit here trying to think of a unique theme or creative 'schtick' to present a list of stuff that happened, we can't help but notice that one thing comes to mind...through all the tough stuff, we know God is with us (Deut 31:6)! you remember those books called "Where's Waldo"? A couple of times we found ourselves asking, "Where's God?" So we are going to write this letter from that angle...Sometimes it will be easy to see God in the situation and other times, not so much. Be assured that we will include an answer key at the end! Here we go...
- In May, we visited Dave's father's grave with his Mom, sister-in-law and our kids to mark the 1 year anniversary of his passing. It was a nice time of prayer and stories...but it was hard too.
- Over Spring Break, we visited 'the guitar museum', as Moses is now calling it. The Discovery World Museum has an exhibit honoring Les Paul and Mo fell in love. We now have a membership and no matter how many times we go, it never gets old! We also received a zoo mebership as a gift and have been enjoying many trips there too - still can't pick a favorite animal, though!
- In June, my brother got married! The weekend turned into a mini-vacation...Dave's Mom came w/us to help w/Mo and we all checked into our REALLY NICE HOTEL on Friday night! We had a jacuzzi suite and felt like movie stars! Saturday morning we went to the guitar museum and Sunday after the wedding we hit the butterfly exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. There was a terrible storm the night of the wedding, but inside the reception everyone was having a good time. It was a little weird for me to see some of my brother's childhood friends, all grown up w/careers and families too =) Couldn't help feeling old!
- The week before the 4th of July, Dave was playing softball and broke his ankle running into 1st base. The experience was pretty well documented on this was hard on us, for so many reasons! First of all, it was a BAD break - Dave ended up needing screws put in. It still bothers him and it will probably never be the same. Also, it was summer - as a teacher, Dave felt like this was sucking the life out of everything fun and active he was hoping to do in his 3 months off! Not to mention the fact that he had just been re-assigned to a new school (more on that in a minute) and how could he move books, supplies and furniture when he couldn't stand w/o help?? It also meant limited swimming, especially over the family reunion =( Oh I'm sure we could go on...
- At the end of the school year, Dave found out he would be re-assigned. He used to teach ELL in the middle school, but starting in Sept he would be considered a traveling teacher. Mornings in the bilingual PreK classroom and afternoons at the high school teaching ELL Math. We talked so much about Dave's fears of not being good enough in Spanish, not having any PreK experience and not wanting to change everything!! He finally had his curriculum set up and things were running smoothly. His best friend was his partner in the ELL dept and they worked so well together! Then there was the broken ankle and the thought of teaching in a school w/only 2 other males in the building! (Do you know how many times people said, "Hey the Men's room will always be empty!") Anyway - it was a huge inconvenience. Why did he get moved? Well, he was the only one in the district w/a bilingual PreK license. In a way, he felt punished for having gotten an extra certification! There was a lot of "No fair!" type comments said around our house...yes, we held a few pity parties after Mo went to bed!
- Well, despite all this, Moses has been doing really well...I think we can say he was officially potty trained sometime this past Spring! He has started memorizing Bible verses (like the one above from Deuteronomy, Isaiah 9:6a, Psalm 30:11-12 and Hebrews 11:1). We've been reading some verses to celebrate this time of Advent. He's been sleeping upstairs in a big boy bed and when he gets up before us, he gets his stool and sets the table! It's fun to walk into the kitchen and find all these kiddie plates, bowls, cups and silverware set out for us =) He was so excited to make a 'responstibilities' poster w/us and amazingly he takes pride in doing the things listed! We tried the preschool thing for a while but for various reasons he just wasn't ready...either way, he is growing into this smart, fun and independent kid!
- In early September, my (Mel's) Mom was riding her bike when it seems she was in some sort of accident. She fell, and was found bleeding from the head and unconscious. She sustained 2 traumatic brain's a really long story, and you can read a lot about it or just contact me if you want to know more. I was scared I would lose my Mom! As I write this she is at home, she's practically made a full recovery and we still don't know what happened. We may never know why she fell off her bike or why her helmet wasn't sufficient protection. Needless to say, we tried to get to the hospital to be w/her a lot and I know that probably didn't help the situation w/Mo in preschool. We were dealing w/a broken leg, a new teaching assignment, a kid who cried in preschool and then when we felt we had so much to complain about, we realized we were just all happy to be alive and together! I can't tell you how much I cried in the month of September, but I can tell you it was probably enough to fill an ocean, or at least Lake Michigan!
- The latest change around here is our newest addition to the family - our first foster son! We are so spoiled/blessed to have this wonderfully easy 15 month old for our first placement! He makes us laugh, he is the most loved little brother in town and he has started saying a few's a fun time! An amazing part of all this is to see how Mo handles it...seeing him slip into the role as big brother is cool. He always introduces his brother to everyone and is learning to trade toys when he wants something his brother has. I feel like I could talk about this part of our year forever - you all prayed for us and supported us as we prepared for this journey, so thank you and again, if you want to know more, please let us know!

So did you spot Him? Were you able to see God in all of this? Need a few hints? For starters, I think I can safely say that Dave's Mom has really felt the presence of God in the absence of her husband, John. She has been attending a Grief Share group and has been doing so well, she has been asked to lead the group at least once so far! She has done an extensive amount of traveling in the past year - Jerusalem, Spain, Hawai' should see her pictures! We have been praising Him that she is doing so well...would you believe that God is also at the guitar museum? We get such joy out of seeing Mo enjoy all things musical and having a hands-on museum like that w/in a short driving distance really makes for a great family date. The mini-vacation we had during the weekend of my brother's wedding was so refreshing! I think God knew what was coming (doesn't He always?) and gave us that weekend full of good memories as a special treat! Why wasn't God at the softball game? He was! Despite all our complaining, can you imagine if that happened during the winter?? At least Dave had time off and could take it easy and heal! That's God's plan, not ours. After the pity parties, we took out the proverbial trash and realized it wasn't so bad. As for the job change - Dave still misses his middle school co-workers, but he actually likes the little kids! The ladies in the early learning center have been soooo helpful and the 2 schools are across the parking lot from each other! There is a lot of prep work but how can you complain about doing crafts and singing? (Ok that's not all he does but those are some things he likes!) Praise God that the situation we fretted about so much turned out so well...One of the best things about having kids (IMHO) is that you get to see their personality develop. God has plans for our son...will it be music? Will it be teaching? Teaching music? Only He knows! Never did we call out to God as much as we did in the days after my Mom's accident...through it all He was there. We felt His presence in the family and friends who came along side of us and prayed for us. My Mom has made this incredible recovery from a serious injury and that is nothing short of a miracle! Finally, we have been feeling like God answered our prayer for more's been so long that we started to feel like He wasn't listening or we just weren't supposed to have kids. We always hear about foster kids needing placements but...anyway, we feel like our journey has been so long already, but now we feel like we're finally in the fast lane =)

Throughout this year we have been looking to God to provide us comfort, security, joy and peace. As we celebrate the day He came to Earth as one of us, we reflect on all the blessings and gifts He has given us; more importantly, how He came to save us from our sins. We also remember that He will never leave us or forsake us! I'm sure your year has had ups and downs like ours, so I hope you can hold tight to those verses from the book of Deuteronomy, as we do. We pray that the holidays will be filled with gatherings with your loved ones, safe travels and meaningful gifts...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

With love from our family to yours!

We hope you enjoyed this green version of our Christmas card! (If you still wish to receive a paper copy, leave a comment.) There are lots of reasons we decided to do things differently this year (again!)'s a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!
2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read do recycle them, don't you??
3) Save printing costs. See reason #1!
4) Save stress. Nothing to print, sign, stuff, address...
5) Expand our options! Now you can see a practically limitless amount of photos.
6) Our greeting to you is saved in cyber-space for posterity! Yes, we can be that vain sometimes!
7) It went so well last year...we heard a lot of positive responses, and even some people who said they'd try it themselves. Welcome to the dark (green) side! (Sorry that was a goofy Star Wars joke...)
Enjoy a slideshow of some of our favorite pics from the year!


SamFields said...

I do love your new way of Christmas Greeting. This is and will be the direction of the future. In fact, Mo will be asking some day, "Mom, Did you ever send out Christmas Greetings in the mail?"

-The Fields Family, (where we all are happy, weathly and wise)

preschooldevotions said...

I agree, its been a challenging year for us to but we've seen God is middle of it all. Love the pictures. Can't wait to Ayden.

Joyce said...

Merry Christmas, Melissa!!

Abby said...

Merry Christmas, you guys! It was really fun to watch all your pictures. Looking forward to seeing you over Christmas!