Hello, friends and family!
I am so proud of myself for actually sitting down to write this letter before Christmas has come and gone – especially when I consider that I didn’t even do a Christmas letter last year. 2015 has brought many big changes to our household, and I can’t wait to tell you all about them.
Most of you already know about the biggest change – our household consists of one less person than it did last year, while our family is one member larger. On December 12th, Natalie became Mrs. Ben Gronewold. She met Ben during the summer of 2014, and we knew almost instantly that he was going to be a permanent part of our family. He is everything we could have asked for in a son-in-law: a man who puts God first, who treats our daughter with love and respect, who is a hard worker, and who is a genuinely kind and nice person. In case you couldn’t tell, we love him! The wedding was absolutely beautiful (pics will go up on Facebook soon), in spite of some hiccups like stomach flu, a church electrical breaker tripping, and the lady who was doing the bouquets falling and breaking her hip. It was memorable and lovely and the newlyweds couldn’t be happier. My brother-in-law Hans performed the wedding ceremony, which was made even more special by the fact that it was his first wedding as a licensed Presbyterian minister, and Natalie was the flower girl in his and Marni’s wedding! The other best thing about the wedding was that all three of my sisters were able to come. The four of us hadn’t been in the same place for five years! It was a whirlwind visit, but so wonderful to see them all.
Another big change is that I have gone back to working outside the home for the first time in eighteen years. In April, our church’s office manager and bookkeeper retired, and I took over her position. It is only twelve hours a week, which is perfect, because I am still homeschooling the younger two boys. I love my job – the variety keeps it interesting. It is a bit lonely at the moment, however, because our pastor, Dale, moved back to California in October. We miss him and his family very much, and are anxiously waiting for the conference to send us a new pastor. Dale was a fun boss – we enjoyed reminiscing about our pasts as drama geeks; I’m hoping the next pastor will be easy to get used to!
Kevin is still working for Medstar Cabulance. He has been working lots of hours the past few months, as one of the other drivers was let go. He’s hoping to get back to a more normal, 40-hour week sometime very soon. He gets frustrated with the politics and bureaucracy in management, but truly enjoys his patients. The other news from him is that, after nineteen years in remission, his Crohn’s disease is back. After a trip to the ER in May, lots of lab work, a CT scan and an MRI, we are now closely acquainted with a new gastroenterologist and have a plan for treatment. The plan includes regular IV infusions of an immunosuppressant drug. As we begin this new process, we would greatly appreciate prayers for the medication to work with a minimum of side effects.
Aside from becoming a married woman, Natalie also became a high school and college graduate in 2015. She graduated from Spokane Community College in June with her high school diploma and an Associate of Applied Sciences Degree in General Business. She missed the graduation ceremony because she was volunteering at Royal Family Kids Camp, but we threw her an impromptu ceremony at camp that night, complete with a borrowed cap and gown and a recording of Pomp and Circumstance. She is currently working toward a second AAS degree at SCC, this one in Pharmacy Tech. She will complete that in December of next year. Her husband, Ben, is working on a pre-engineering transfer degree at Spokane Falls Community College. They are still living in Chewelah, as they both work part time in town and Natalie’s classes are online. Ben is commuting for his classes. As you can imagine, full-time college and part-time work make for busy, busy lives!
Noah is a junior, and has started Running Start through Spokane Community College, working toward his high school diploma as well as an AA General Transfer Degree. He has a 3.8 gpa after his first quarter of classes. He also works part time at Zips here in town, and saved enough to buy his first car, a Dodge Intrepid. He hangs out with friends, plays his guitar, works on his YouTube channels, and games in his spare time. He is also the resident expert on all things Tolkien-esque. He is currently single, but hoping that doesn’t last very long!
Jonathan is a sophomore, and is now the tallest one in the family, looking down on everyone. He is working toward his high school diploma through an accredited, correspondence course high school program. He is NOT interested in Running Start, and wants to finish school as soon as possible and get out into the real world. His current plans are to become a police officer. He would like to just start at entry level as soon as he’s out of high school, but his mother is pushing toward an AAS degree in Criminal Justice first. We’ll see who wins out. He has started singing on the worship team at church, and has a wonderful, deep bass sound. When not doing schoolwork, listening to music, or playing video games, you can find him absorbed in works of zombie fiction. He doesn’t have a part-time job yet, but is hoping to work toward that in 2016.
Josiah is in 8th grade, and must have grown six inches in the past year! He is almost as tall as Noah, and loves looking down on his older sister, who is only 5’2”. He is still homeschooled, and will be through his sophomore year, when the plan is to do Running Start. He had his heart set on becoming a pilot until he discovered this year that his color-blindness disqualifies him. Not sure what his backup plan will be, but in the meantime I am trying to keep him from growing up too fast – my baby! (He loves it when I call him that.) He is still our most introverted family member, but loves to break out his wry sense of humor around the family. His favorite thing to do is play and talk online with his cousin, Peter. Peter stayed with us for two weeks this summer, and the boys had so much fun together. If only Marni and Hans lived closer!
Mom and Dad are still doing well. Mom is enjoying retirement, staying busy with church activities – and helping administrate things until the new pastor comes. Dad works almost as hard in his retirement as he did when he worked full time – Royal Family Kids Camp, working as the church custodian, and lots of other projects around town. We are still so blessed to share their home. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but we all still love each other, so what more could I ask for? Plus, Dad and I get to indulge our Jeopardy addiction together.
Well, this has been long – that’s what happens when you skip a year, I guess! As you can see, we have much to be grateful for in 2015. I hope this letter finds you all happy and healthy and surrounded by loved ones for the Christmas season. Thank you for being a part of my life, whether in person or in your encouragement and friendship online. I love you all!