This is our Christmas letter, for those of you who don't get it..... or who won't get it until after Christmas, because I was so late getting them out.
With just a few days left until Christmas, I (Rachel) can’t believe I haven’t even started this letter. It just seems like things keep popping up! (As if the excuse of having two boys isn’t enough!) Case in point, right now, we are in the middle of a “home improvement project” that has become way more complicated than it was supposed to. (Nothing is ever simple around here.) Original project: take the leaking faucet off the kitchen sink, put on a new faucet. Well, in that process, something happened with the hot water line, so we didn’t have hot water to the kitchen after the new faucet was in. So Paul decided it was time to replace the old water lines to the kitchen. In crawling under the house, he found that there was virtually no insulation whatsoever under the north end of our house (no wonder our pipes freeze!). So by the time it’s all over, we will have not only a new faucet, but also new lines to the kitchen sink, new lines to the bathroom sink (in fixing one thing, we broke something else), and lots of new insulation under the kitchen and back porch.
It has been an eventful year. Some things are the same: Paul is still working at AGC (11 years). I still stay home with the boys. I still did baby-sitting one or two days a week, although it was a lot more sporadic than last year. We still are on the praise team at church. We still live outside of Ottawa, and we still drive the same cars and have the same pets. We still did a garden, and it still did poorly (too much rain!) - although my fall re-plants did great.
If I could choose a theme for the year, it would be God’s provision. We had so many unexpected expenses this year, with doctors bills, hospital bills, dentist bills, funeral travel, home project emergencies, car repairs, and other things. It seemed like when we needed the money, we got it just in time, whether through Paul having overtime at work, or me babysitting. I am so grateful that God has done this, and that we can go into the new year with all of our bills paid. (I’m also looking forward to actually having some room to breathe on the next paycheck!)
Paul lost two grandparents this year. In January, Paul’s grandmother (Doug’s mom) passed away. In August, his grandfather (Janice’s dad) passed away during a surgery. Both were well into their 80s, and had lived full lives, but still will be missed. We traveled to Colorado for his grandmother’s funeral during the coldest week of the year, and then to Medicine Lodge during the hottest month of the year.
My own grandfather had a major stroke in May following knee replacement surgery. He again proved his stubbornness in recovery, and was back home within 2 months. We are so proud of his progress, as he is almost back to normal, only occasionally having trouble with his speech.
Besides the aforementioned house project, we also had to replace our outdoor cellar entrance this summer. All the rain, plus constant freezing and thawing all last winter, had caused one rock wall of the entryway to cave in. We had to wait until September for it to be dry enough to start the project, but now our new entrance looks SO nice, and is so much better at keeping any drafts (not to mention critters!) out.
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve had a chunk of doctor and hospital bills this year. In April, Jacob had a surgery to find/retrieve an undescended testicle. (There is an upped cancer risk if everything is not in it’s proper place.) The full name of the surgery was 1st Stage Laparoscopic Right Fowler Stevens Orchiopexy. Despite the long name, it’s a fairly minor surgery. However, since he had to be anesthetized, and he was only 6 months old, it was kind of worrisome for us as parents. He had no problems at all, and was back to business, trying to crawl that evening.
Both boys had emergency room visits in June, one day apart. They contracted The Stomach Bug From Hell. Nathan threw up every 10 minutes for 6 hours, so after consulting with his doctor, I took him to the emergency room. He received an IV of fluids and anti-nausea medicine, and was a total champ about the whole procedure. The following day, Jacob started with the same thing. He wasn’t getting sick as often, but after not having a wet diaper in 9 hours, the doctor thought he should go in for fluids as well. But the emergency room doctor was nervous to do an IV on Jacob because he was so young. They gave him an anti-nausea pill, which pretty well controlled his throwing up, but it took him a week to get fully re-hydrated (which you tell by the amount of wet diapers). Paul also got the Dread Disease - on Father’s Day. My birthday was two days later, and by then, all I wanted was to NOT have to see any more poop or puke. Then Jacob got thrush (basically a yeast infection in his mouth) due to his weakened immune system, which took a month and several trips to the doctor’s office to finally cure, with antibiotics and home remedies.
We thoroughly enjoy having two boys. They make us smile and laugh so much. They have just started playing well together and wrestling. But it is crazy here some days. Nathan had just grown out of the phase where he had to pull every toy out, and then Jacob grew into it…. I had a blissful two or three months when the house actually looked presentable most days. But now, that’s just a dream. I’ve decided that trying to clean house while they are awake is like trying to bail water from the Titanic with a teacup, so most days I don’t even try. I wait until they are asleep, or a day that Paul is off to distract them while I get stuff done.
Nathan turned 3 in September. We are constantly impressed by his vocabulary and his ability to use it - until he gets upset, when he reverts to tears and whining/yelling. He is fully potty trained now - he has been sleeping in underpants for a couple months now, and it has probably been a month since his last wet night. He loves his wooden train tracks, the sand pile, and “Daddy’s tractors.” (Daddy has all the fun tracked tractors, 16-row planters, and big combines with 16 row-headers that Nathan isn‘t quite old enough to respect on his own.) He loves when we go to my parents to help work cattle, and acts out sorting cattle when he finds a stick (“Get down there!”). And COMBINES! Nathan managed to hitch a ride 8 separate times with different farmers during the harvest this fall (always with Daddy or Mommy and sometimes brother also). He still points out the fields he “helped combine.” Nathan is Mr. Eagle Eyes - he is constantly pointing out things outside and from the back seat that we hadn’t noticed. In September, he started Cubbies, the preschool part of the Awana program at our church, and is doing well in memorizing his verse every week.
Even though I was more experienced as a Mommy when Jacob was born, I was still exhausted all the time. He didn’t start taking naps until he was 5 months old. He’d take little 20 minute naps here and there, but otherwise was not happy unless he was in my arms. And of course, his naps didn’t coincide with his brother’s at first! (No wonder I got nothing done!) He started sitting at 6 months and crawling shortly after. He started pulling himself up to stand at 7 months, and then immediately started climbing…..everything! He has crashed so many time off so many different places; you think he’d learn. Jacob took his first step at 10 months, and was walking on his own by the time he was 11 months. He turned 1 in October while we were in Colorado visiting Paul’s grandpa. He said his first real word a couple weeks ago - hot. He does say Mamamamama and Da (which may or may not actually mean Mom and Dad). He doesn’t talk, but babbles and “sings” a lot, and “talks” to us with lots of uh, ah, and eh’s. Jacob loves the dog and cat, and gets excited when he sees any animal. He likes his toys, but I think he prefers dragging anything and everything he can get his hands on out of the kitchen. He also has a habit of putting everything in his mouth, which I really hope he outgrows soon.
Other significant celebrations were Paul’s 30th birthday in July - which we celebrated with balloons, a “Happy Birthday, Daddy!” poster decorated by Nathan, and a huge cookie-cake - and our 6th anniversary in March - which we celebrated with a blizzard, a sick child, Paul working, and me getting my car stuck in a snow drift. Lovely times, both. We got to go to Silver Dollar City with Paul’s family, the first weekend of May during SDC‘s 50th anniversary celebration. We took a trip to Colorado in October to see Paul’s grandfather, arriving just in time to see the first snow in the mountains. Nathan still talks about everything he saw on the trip. On our way home, we stopped to see my sister, Carlsie, in Ness City (Western Kansas). The first weekend of December was our church’s annual Bethlehem production - we had new roles this year: I organized meals for 100 volunteers each night (with fill-in roles in the stable and marketplace), Paul was a “wise guy” (instead of a Roman Soldier), and the boys were adorable Bethlehemites.
That is our year in a nutshell. We hope every one is doing well and that God has blessed you as much as He has us. We look forward to what He is going to do in the coming year!
Paul, Rachel, Nathan, & Jacob
The photo uploader is being stupid. I've tried twice to upload photos to this, and it sat an loaded all night, and never finished, and the next time, it said it uploaded them, but they aren't here (obviously). I'll try to upload Christmas pictures of the boys sometime today.