I hope the holiday season finds you well. We are busy, but doing well ourselves. It has been a while since we have put one of these update letters together. Sorry if it seems a little impersonal, but we wanted to get something out to everyone, and this is the best way to do it. Rest assured, that even though we did not pull our finest calligraphy set and send out embossed cards, the Christmas Wishes we send are just a sincere. Well, things have changed here, and since I bet you’ve been saying, "I wonder what they’re up to?" I will get right to it.
I guess our biggest change was that we finally purchased our first house a year ago. It is a four bedroom colonial with a nice yard for the kids to play. (By the way, there are still just 4 of them. Back to that later.) In addition to the six of us, Marie’s parent live in a separated portion of the house. They have bedroom, livingroom, bathroom and eventually a kitchenette. (Jeff has been doing a lot of the renovations himself and it takes time.) We live in the remainder of the house which has 4 bedrooms, livingroom, diningroom, kitchen, and a full basement. Jeff’s favorite part is the workshop the previous owner built in part of the basement. The rest of the basement is finished and is a nice playroom for the kids.
Oh yes, the kids. Well, as I said before, there are still just 4 of them.
Heather just turned 13 and is in the 7th grade and yes, fashion now matters. She had two big parties to announce her arrival as a teenager. One was with family and the other involved a slumber party with 9 of her friends. Heather is doing very well in school, which is probably due to her love of reading. She spends a good portion of every day sitting curled up with a book. Recently she has shown a renewed interest in basketball.
Cassie will be 12 in February and is in the 6th grade. She also loves to read and last year she got involved in competitive Color Guard. She really enjoys this and is back into it again this year. As for boyfriends, remember who their father is. It will be a while before the dating thing starts. Cassie has been on crutches for the last 6 weeks, but is about off them by now. The doctor thinks she may have strained her Growth Plate, but appears to be doing well now. She will continue with physical therapy for about a month to strengthen her knee so that hopefully we do not have to go through this again.
Kirk will be 7 in January. He is doing very well in school. Since Kindergarten he has been receiving Speech and Physical therapy for some speech and fine motor skill problems, but that has not slowed him down. He has progressed well and it has not caused him much difficulty in school. Kirk’s theory of life is that we are here to make friends, and Kirk is a master of this ability.
Alec will also be 7 in January. (It works that way with twins.) Alec is our "Energizer Bunny". I have never seen anyone with as much spring in their step as he has. (Although, at the end of the day, he has bee known to practically fall asleep standing up.) Both of the boys have been involved in soccer the past two years, but Alec is the one who really enjoys it. Alec is our "can do" kid. He just watches something being done (anything from carpeting to cooking) and then jumps in and gives it a try. He always amazes us with what he can learn/do.
As you may know, Marie was diagnosed Bi-Polar (Manic/Depressive) a year ago. Compounding this, she was in a car accident last spring. All together she spent about 3½ months in the hospital this past year. The good news is that she is doing great now. The Bi-Polar is under control and we just have to deal with the physical effects of her accident. Currently she is still on crutches with a brace that is designed to take some of the weight off of her ankle. The worst case scenarios that the doctors prepared us for have not come to pass. We are just going to have to wait a little bit longer for her ankle to heal so that she can get back to walking and being the busy mother she likes to be.
Jeff works for Aetna now. As you may have heard, Aetna bought Prudential’s healthcare company a year ago, so he now works for the competition. He is not trilled, but it is a job and he’ll keep it for now and see how this new company works out. Home ownership has brought some new challenges for him. In the past year, he replaced the dishwasher, water heater and the boiler. He also built a full bath, carpeted the whole house and did some landscaping. It is handy to have him around to do these things. The money we have saved has gone to good use. From the boiler alone he justified a new snow blower, and oh yea, a beer or two.
We did make one addition into our family this past winter. A Sheltie (looks like a miniature Collie) named Gabby. (Of course Jeff has assigned a few other names to her over the past few months.) Marie always wanted one, and it seemed like as good a time to get one. She has been a great companion to Marie and plays well with the kids. We have really come to enjoy her. (She just needs to be careful to stay off of Jeff’s pillow at bedtime.)
2000 will be a year we will remember for a long time. The most important thing is that we grew through it all and are really looking forward to 2001. But first we have plans for a nice quite family Christmas. We missed that last year and getting that back seems like the best way to start off the new millennium.
We hope to start adding some updates/pictures to our page on our web page and encourage you to check from time to time to see what we are up to. (Just give us another month or two to get our page updated.) Please send us something back, we’d love to know what you are up to as well. (And don’t forget to drop a note to Al thanking him for the Internet.)
Thank you for your prayers over the past year. They helped when we needed it. Now we pray that you have a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!