Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The ABCs of 2011

(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...I also wanted to let you know that there are not a lot of photos here, but if you click the links that are in blue, you will be taken to other posts I have written over the year and I promise there are more photos there!)  And now...

The ABCs of 2011

A - ADOPTION!  On January 14, 2011, our adoption of one precious little girl became final.  It was the best late Christmas present anyone could ask for!  WORTH THE WAIT.
B - Baptism.  In June I (Melissa) was water baptized.  I had been baptized as in infant and really felt that I was at a point in my faith where I wanted to do it again.  Many thanks to our family and friends who celebrated both the adoption and baptism with us.
C - Chickens.  Again this year Dave bought some eggs to hatch in his 4 year old classroom.  Only 3 hatched =(  But since it was such a small number, he asked if we could keep them.  He built this awesome coop and run with scrap wood and we enjoyed watching the feathered fluff balls grow into chickens!
Now we are 6!
D - Dewey and Curly Sue.  In early November, 2 new foster children joined us.
E - Eternal life.  Almost a year after the death of my paternal grandfather, my maternal grandfather passed away in February.  Then in July my paternal grandmother also passed away.  These losses meant I no longer have any grandparents on this Earth.  Grief may give us a heavy heart, but the knowledge that these people are born to eternal life is a true comfort.
F - Framily.  That's 'friends-like-family' smooshed together.  This year a lot has happened in our framily - adoptions, loss of loved ones, purchases of homes, and shared celebrations.  We are so blessed to be able to take mini-vacations w/framily, stay up late talking, and just share our daily lives with them.
G - Gymnastics.  Moses has been LOVING boys' gymnastics!  They get to use the pommel horses, bars, rings, etc.  I don't even know what all those things are called!  It's a great outlet for him and he does his best to keep up with some of the older boys in the class.  We're still working on cartwheels!  It's funny, I never thought about teaching someone to do one...I guess I thought they just watched someone else and picked it up!  Thanks to Coach Evan, I now know a technique to teach that fun skill! Colleen is also enjoying gymnastics, and of course she especially loves wearing a leotard w/a tutu!  Soon both Colleen and Curly Sue will be in the same class and Mo will continue on in the boys' class.
H - Harvested.  This year's garden was a little different than those of the past, but I did harvest a lot of pumpkins!  I learned a few lessons along the way again and hope to use them to my advantage for next year.  I feel very blessed to be able to grow some things for our family to eat and also blessed to harvest things like apples from others' trees.
I - Infants.  We had 2 foster care infants over the course of the year.  Both were only here a short time, but it was a treat to have babies that were days old in the house!  But it also kind of 'schooled' us...how quickly we have forgotten about getting up multiple times in the night and taking lots of supplies everywhere we go...
J - JESUS brings us great JOY!!!!  Most of my readers here already know that my family and I love Jesus.  To us, Christmas is a sweet time of celebration.  We are reminded that ever since the first sin that Adam and Eve committed, we are all in need of a Savior.  That God himself would come down to the Earth in the form of man, to be born in a simple manger, is the greatest gift!
K - KINDERGARTEN!  Moses started all day bilingual kindergarten this year!!  It has been interesting, to say the least, and there may be another future post about all that, but the best part is hearing our boy pick up Spanish words and phrases, watching him cruise through the sight words, and seeing the joy on his face when he talks about his 'specials' - gym, music, art and recess!
L - Lake.  We still love living by the lake!  Dave is considering the Polar Plunge again this year...
M - Math.  This year Dave started teaching ELL Math.  I know, I know, he was doing some of that before...but in the high school he did some 'center math' previously.  He taught the students with little to no English basic math concepts.  In the past he also facilitated what they call Tutorial, or a guided study hall.  No more!  This year, due to a mainstream teacher's retirement, he was able to begin teaching ELL Algebra.  It is nice because before there were 2 teachers (one mainstream leading and one ELL helping) while now there is only one.  He can go as slow or fast as the class needs.  It's a nice change.
N - Niece or Nephew?  Soon my brother and his wife will be having a baby!!!  We are ecstatic for them and can't wait to see if it's a boy or a girl.  The kids haven't quite gotten it that a new cousin is coming, but I'm sure once she or he arrives, they will love cuddling that baby.  They already beg to buy stuff for him or her all the time!  I think that baby will be spoiled.  (Edited to add - it's a boy!!!)
O - Opportunity.  I didn't have an O!!  So I'm going to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our family and friends who have prayed for us, helped us, supported us, laughed and cried with us this year.  We love you!!!
P - Purple Book.  We took a class at church, using the Purple Book as a study guide to the Bible.  It was really awesome!  I have done other Bible studies before but really didn't get into them.  This one was life-changing for me.
Q - Question - Is this the longest Christmas letter so far??  Maybe...but we're almost there!
R - Running/Reading.  There are 2 for this letter!  First of all, I resurrected the old me, the me who used to run in college and made a slow come back.  I was determined this year to get in shape and complete a 5K in less than 30 minutes.  I came close.  It didn't happen.  But I am not giving up that goal.  I plan to continue to press on and enjoy running, indoors or out!  As for reading, I am yet again bragging on my sweet son Moses.  With the exception of a few Hooked on Phonics sessions, he pretty much taught himself to read.  Obviously, he has 2 teachers for parents.  English/language teachers to boot!  But we didn't do much besides the ordinary.  On our August trip to the northern/midwestern states, he sat with a bag full of books and just keep reading them out loud.  When he didn't know a word, he'd spell it and ask us what it was.  We'd tell him and much like us when we were little, once he learned it, he didn't forget it.  I don't know how many hours he did that in the back of the van, but it was a lot!  It really is amazing the way God designs the brain to pick those things up...
Mt. Rushmore
S - South Dakota.  Our summer trip included other states, but this was the one we spent the most time in.  There is so much to say about it!!!  We enjoyed the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, other National Parks, Sturgis, the mountains and the YMCA of the Rockies.  We fed donkeys, had a coyote run through the area while cooking dinner over the campfire and climbed the Black Hills.  We saw motorcycle after motorcycle and sweat buckets while climbing one of the Rocky mountains.  We laughed a lot and visited Storybook Gardens twice.  We would love to go back...especially to the YMCA of the Rockies.
T - Texas.  We spent spring break in Texas w/Dave's mom.  We visited some good framily, some cousins and the Gulf.  We were quiet at the JFK memorial, in awe at the Alamo and loud in the Gulf waters!  We saw stadiums, flowers and plants, more missions, the Riverwalk...we were blessed by one of our pastors to stay in a timeshare.  We got to swim and relax and visit.  We went to bilingual church! We will never forget..."Si Dios te satisface, DALE PALMAS - (clap clap clap!)"
U - Ulysses S. Grant.  He was one of the presidents we learned when we did our flashcards!  As we were planning our South Dakota trip, we knew we would be seeing Mt. Rushmore.  Then I was *cleaning* the drawers by the phone and found this box of flashcards...so I thought I'd pick a few and Mo and I would learn (or re-learn) their names and one fact about what they were known for.  It went well!  I think we learned about 20 of the presidents' faces and facts.  It was funny because I couldn't help reference the presidents who were on our money.  Mo kept asking to see the bigger bills....and I'd say, "Get a job kid!"
V - Van.  It has been approximately one year driving our new 8-seater van!  We have learned a lot in this one year...we really like the 8th seat.  We love the electric door!  Despite having an electric door, the drivers' seat is not electric.  It takes 13 pumps to boost the seat up!  (For those of you that don't know, Dave is almost a foot taller than me, so every time a new driver gets in, the seat gets adjusted.)  Having a back row that drops down for storage is pretty sweet too.  All these new features!  We also learned that red is a very popular color for mini-vans!  And red vans that are the same make and model as ours are also popular!  Once I couldn't figure out why my door wouldn't unlock...wrong van!!!  Luckily no one saw me =)
W - Working with wood.  This year Dave built a chicken coop and a tree fort. There was a lot of sawing, drilling and hammering going on!  It was great to see Mo following him around with his own toolbelt and toolbox.  The kids all are helping measure and everyone wants to be a 'gopher'.  "Go get me a screw.  Go get me the drill.  Go get me a glass of water."  I am really proud of my smart husband for pretty much designing and building these things!  There's a little engineering in his DNA after all.
X - No X-Rays this year.  Maybe you remember the summer of '08?  So glad we didn't have any X-rays this year!!!
Y - YMCA.  This year was the first year we got a membership.  We have been taking advantage of the classes, the workout machines and the pool.  It feels so good to be active!  Some nights when everyone seems a little stir crazy, we go to the racquetball court and let the kids loose with a baggie full of bouncy balls!  They're much less painful than a racquetball and they bounce all crazy!  Everyone chases the little balls and giggles...best free activity...
Z - Zee End.  =)  Much love from our family to yours!

Merry Christmas!
May God bless you in the New Year!
Love, Melissa, Dave, Moses, Colleen, 
Curly Sue and Dewey

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!)...here's a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!

2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read them...you do recycle them eventually, 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 the past years...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...)


Brent Homer said...

wow - I read all 26 letters!

familydevotions4preschoolers said...

Loved the letter! Happy 2012!

Amish/English said...

Love the letter! Blessings and enjoy the New Year!!!

dreamingBIGdreams said...

Love this idea and next year I'm totally doing this. I am not lieing when I tell you that the other day I handed someone a card I found on my desk under lots of stuff from 2010. Now the Christmas cards are stuffed and addressed but still on my desk and it's Jan 3! I'm hoping to get them in the mail before MLK day!