Dear Family and Friends,
We truly hope this letter finds you well and happy. As for our family, wow, what a year of BIG changes! Big changes come in small packages sometimes. Shortly after celebrating my 40th birthday, we welcomed our “surprise” baby into the world. Rina Grace was our biggest baby, weighing in at 7 lbs, 6 oz and 20 in long. Even though it has been over 7 months since she joined our family, amidst the crying, teething and baby-proofing, Josiah and Hailey are thrilled to have the baby sister they never stopped praying for. Even though she broke the mold by having brown hair instead of red, she is proving to be quite a feisty little thing that will help her keep up with her red-headed siblings. She is already speed-crawling and pulling herself up on things. Michael and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in June and were able to go on a weekend camping trip to the Mt. Hood National Forest with just Rina. It was lovely to explore our old stomping grounds.
Michael had a busy year full of changes and adventure. He went to White Sands, NM for Annual Training, then Hawaii for special training mission. He just got back from working on equipment in the Balkans for three weeks. In July he became a Warrant Officer. We are so proud of him! Because of his increase in rank, his job station changed bur praise the Lord, we didn't have to move even though his commute has changed. He got his T-Bucket up and running and is saving for new tires. He has a blast taking the kids for “dates” in it. He also enjoyed his first year as a novice beekeeper.
I’m still homeschooling both Hailey and Josiah. I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for 7 years already. Time sure flies! I feel so privileged to be able teach my kids and see the fruits of my labor start to take place. Josiah and Hailey are happy to be homeschooled and as long as we feel the Lord is calling us, we will continue to do so. Life is definitely busier now that the kids are older and I’m running them around to all their activities. Rina is just along for the ride! We’re especially grateful to have found a few families in the Pendleton area to do the unit study called “The Prairie Primer” with us this year. It is based around the “Little House on the Prairie” books. It is the second time we’ve done this study and the kids continue to enjoy it.
Josiah is 12 years old and in 6th grade and is an avid reader. He joined Boy Scouts this year and is now working towards his “Tenderfoot” rank. Boy Scouts is a good fit for him and he loves the campouts and activities. He picked up a bugle at a yard sale last year and is teaching himself how to play the role call, “Taps”, etc. He is both the “Scribe” and “Bugler” for his troop. He also participates in our local homeschool group’s sports program once a week. He thoroughly enjoyed his first year of beekeeping and sold a lot of honey this year. He can’t wait to gain more hives. He is an entrepreneur in the making!
Hailey is 8 years old and in 3rd grade. Our main focus is getting her to read on her own this year. She has shown great improvement since we started the school year. She joined gymnastics this year and is enjoying both the challenge and the freedom of movement that comes with it. She is working hard on paying attention and listening to her coach so she can get on a team. She also loves beekeeping and had a thriving hive this year. Unfortunately her hive died in the first cold snap we had, so Michael will be looking to capture some swarms next spring to replace her hive and gain two others. Hailey is thrilled to be a big sister and both kids have been a huge help to me with Rina. Rina is like having a live doll in the house.
We slowly keep making improvements on the homestead and our vintage double-wide trailer. Michael re-painted both sheds, built a lean-to to cover the wood and continues to work on insulating and wiring his shop. We are working on painting the inside of our trailer to brighten it up and we are slowing replacing the old carpet with laminate flooring. We’ve really focused on getting the noxious weeds under control on our property and have slowly started fencing. No garden this year as I was having a baby during planting time. We tried chickens but a local fox got every last one of them. Maybe next year we’ll try again. Despite catastrophic engine problems on both our older vehicles within two weeks of each other, God got us through this year as a result of us following Dave Ramsey’s suggested emergency fund plan. He provided absolutely everything we needed for Rina’s arrival thanks to the generosity of family and friends. We continue to see His faithfulness in our lives year after year, even when things don’t go the way we planned. May you recognize His faithfulness to you and your family this coming New Year. May we all stop, ponder and count our blessings from 2015, knowing that God is for us so who can be against us?!!! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!
Love in Christ,
Michael, Jackie, Josiah, Hailey and Rina
Working together to check the hives.
Michael getting sworn in as a Warrant Officer.
Family picture taken after Rina's baby dedications ceremony.
Family picture taken by a WWII display on Veterans Day.