Merry Christmas

nativity

Dear friends and family,

Disclaimer: Yes, I am being cheap this year, and sending my letter – without a card – via Facebook, blog, and e-mail. Thank you to all of you who I have received actual cards from in the mail; I love getting them. I’m just not very good at sending them. :)

I just reread last year’s Christmas letter, and the first thought that ran through my head was, “What a difference a year makes!” Last year, we had just moved into Mom and Dad’s house, and our lives had been completely turned upside down. Now, a year later, we feel completely settled in. There have been few hiccups and conflicts, which I find absolutely amazing when you consider that we have integrated two households into one. And our family has three teenagers – and one almost-teenager – in it! We have instituted a new tradition: Sunday Family Movie Nights. We take turns picking the movie, and everyone watches it. Thanks to Mom, the kids have been exposed to classics like Ben Hur, Spartacus, and White Christmas. Of course, the male-to-female ratio being what it is, Mom has sat through a lot of science fiction, fantasy, superhero, action-y type movies – especially since my tastes run in that direction, too.

Kevin is working! In late January, he was hired by Medstar Cabulance. He drives a wheelchair-equipped van, transporting people to and from their medical appointments. The story of how he got the job is convoluted and funny – now – but too long to share. Most of his clients are dialysis patients, so he has a fairly regular schedule. It has increased throughout the year, and now he is working six days a week, an average of 11 to 12 hours a day! We are hoping that they will hire another driver in the New Year who will take a day or two – hopefully Saturdays! – so that he can have a more normal schedule, and maybe an actual two-day weekend. After 14 years in the IT field, he never imagined doing this kind of work, especially dealing with people possibly bleeding out in his van, or cleaning up after incontinent patients, but, other than the hours – and poop – he enjoys it. It pays half what he was making, and doesn’t have benefits, but it covers the bills, and so we are happy. And, while dealing with this new living situation and new job, Kevin has stayed nicotine-free for over a year now, after more than 20 years of tobacco use! I am very proud of him.

I continue to homeschool the boys, and am amazed at how much more free time I have with three students instead of four. I have started leading worship once a month at our new church, which we love. We have made so many wonderful friends there. In August, after eight years, Mom retired from pastoring. When she made the announcement in the spring, we were a little nervous about who we would get, but we are enjoying the new pastor and his family very much. Pastor Dale and Patti have a daughter, Dahlia, who fits right in with the youth, and who has become a good friend to my boys. Other than worship, I have also gotten involved with Royal Family Kids Camp, a ministry Dad has headed up for a few years. We put on a one-week summer camp for foster kids in June. Right now, we are doing a lot of organizing and fund-raising, and then I hope to be involved in the camp in June, either with drama or puppets. I could go on and on about the amazing stories that come out of this camp, and how much it means to these kids to spend a week away from the stress that is their lives, simply being loved and celebrated. Of course, I continue to spend a lot of my free time reading, and find that I love the fact that shared housework and cooking duties means more time for my book obsession. :) The other change is that I am currently 45 pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of 2013, thanks to Weight Watchers. I still have a way to go, but am already feeling better physically, and am determined to keep on the course.

Another of my 2013 highlights has been Facebook. I know it sounds horrible to list a social media outlet as something I’m grateful for, but there you have it. In a year that has had many ups and downs, my friends on Facebook have helped brighten each and every day. I have especially loved getting back in touch with old friends. Tobi, Joe, and Chaz: one of these days I will have the money and opportunity (hopefully at the same time!) to make a trip back to Skagit Valley and visit with all of you. If we could get Cliff to visit his old stomping grounds at the same time, all the better.

If I had to choose which one of us has experienced the most changes this year, it would have to be Natalie. Last night, we celebrated her 17th birthday. Since last year’s letter, she has gotten her driver’s license, gotten her first job, and started college classes! She is working at a local drug and variety store about fifteen hours a week, and her boss is kind enough to work around her class schedule. She started classes at the Colville branch of Spokane Falls Community College in September, and will graduate in 2015 with both her high school diploma and her Associate of Science degree in Business. The other big change is that she has a steady boyfriend named James. We love him, and he fits right in with the rest of us crazy Kitzmillers.

Noah is 15, and a freshman in high school. He seems to be enjoying school more this year, and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I found a freshman literature course called Literary Lessons Through Lord of the Rings. He and I are reading the complete Tolkien work, as well as learning about the author, and reading the works that influenced him, like Beowulf, The Odyssey, and the Norse sagas. He has gotten very involved with his YouTube channel, and has become a leader at the local youth group. He still loves to play games, both computer and role-playing, as well as draw and play his guitar. He has a girlfriend named Meghan, and it’s fun having another girl hanging around the house. Mom, Natalie, and I don’t feel so outnumbered! Meghan is a total sweetie, and I adore her.

Jonathan is 14, and the past few months have made it clear that Noah is not the only one who is popular with the young ladies. He is currently keeping his options open. :) He has matured and changed so much this year, and is definitely a young man. Both he and Noah are taller than me; I love having people around who can help me reach those top shelves! He still doesn’t like school much, although he perseveres and gets decent grades. He loves people and especially enjoys hanging out with his friends at youth night. He has a terrific singing voice, and one of these days, I am going to talk him into singing on the worship team with me!

Josiah is 12, and he is my homebody. He likes hanging out with his friends at home, and goes to youth night occasionally, although the loud, noisy group gets to be a bit much. He loves to talk on the phone and Skype with his cousin – and best friend – Peter, who lives in Everett. Peter has created a role-playing game they play via Skype, and I love hearing Josiah’s belly laugh come down the stairs when he is talking to Peter. He loves to play Minecraft, and he and Papa just finished making a life-size Minecraft chest out in the woodshop. Although he will be a teenager next year, he still crawls on my lap and snuggles in the evening. I will be very sad when that comes to an end.

Who knows what 2014 will bring?! We are hoping for more regular hours for Kevin, so he has more time at home with the family. I am considering going back to work part-time, as I could work half-days and still easily homeschool the boys. I wish I could make money from home, reading and blogging about books, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

We are expecting Marni and Hans and Peter and Andrew on Christmas Eve (Josiah is counting the days). It will be hard not to have Andrea and Debra and their families with us, but it will be nice to have at least some of the family together. I hope this letter finds all of you happy and healthy and ready to celebrate Christmas with the people in your lives.

Merry Christmas!

Kevin, Carrie, Natalie, Noah, Jonathan, and Josiah

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6 Responses to Merry Christmas

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Beth Hoffman says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Carrie!

  3. Anna says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, too!
    Have a wonderful year! (Filled with books, of course =D).

  4. Kailana says:

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Sheila (Book JOurney)
    Twitter: bookjourney
    says:

    What a great letter! Sounds like your year has been a wonderful one! What a blessing! Merry Christmas Carrie!

  6. Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks
    says:

    Merry Christmas!