Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What A Good Year!

It's the last day of the year 2008, so that makes it a good day to post some reflections on what made it a good year. This post will also double as a kind of "Family Christmas Letter" sent kind of late.

Eli turned one in March and is a regular tormentor of his older brothers. He is a very happy boy, though he is fighting through some ear infections and a persistent cough. When he's not showing off his Kung Fu Panda moves, and when he's not sitting on his brothers heads, Eli is usually playing his many plush puppies or flipping through book after book. Eli is talking a lot, running a lot more, and loves to laugh and roughhouse with his daddy. During the summer he was a big fan of the lake, swimming (well more like bobbing in the water...), getting very dirty in the sandpile, and going for boatrides with the family.

Isaac turned three in January and is turning into a very mischevious boy. When it's warm outside, he's a big fan of riding his sister's bike, dumping sand in the yard, and playing soccer in the backyard. Isaac also like to swing real high, water the huckleberries, eat the raspberries, and go for long walks in the woods. He's been in speech therapy since late 2007, and Isaac is doing great. He's really blossoming with his verbal expressions, instructions to his parents on what he wants us to do, and in lodging complaints against his siblings - pretty much Eli, but once in awhile against Emma too! We wrestle a lot, read lots of books, play with trains and trucks, and watch too many cartoons! Preschool has been plenty of fun for Isaac, he was a little shy for the first few weeks, but now he's chatting away with the teachers and even other students. He loves his teachers, loves the playtime there, loves the projects, and especially snacktime.

Levi turned three in January and is always coming up with something silly to do. Without much prompting he'll make a funny face, make a funny noise, or make a funny pose. All with a big cheesy grin. Levi likes to show off how fast he can run through the house, how high he can jump in the air, and how long he can tumble on the floor. He also likes it when I grab him, put him in a headlock, roll around with him and throw him in the air. Levi really likes to ride Emma's bike up and down the sidewalk, he likes to help plant flowers in the spring, enjoys our walks in the woods and around the neighborhood, and he definitely likes to play in the sandbox. Levi loves going to his speech class and preschool, he loves the activities, and loves his teachers. He likes to show us the projects he brings home, but we usually have to pry out of him what they did during the day. "So, what'd you do today in speech??" "Nothing." Tara and I kind of thought this kind of conversation didn't start till middle school.

Levi and Isaac play together a lot. Their imaginations are really blossoming, and they do pretend play all the time with their cars, their plush animals, their tool benches, their train sets, and with dress up clothes. Sometimes they let Eli play with them, but he usually busts in on whatever they are doing and makes them mad. Emma joins in their play a lot, and she usually tries to take over what they are doing with her great ideas- and sometimes they let her...but not for too long! Everybody, though, loves it when Papa Ger and Grandma Rozer come over twice a week, or when Shirley and Faye come over twice a week to be with them while the parents head off to work. Everybody also loves to travel to Grandma Karen's home for a special evening, or head up to Papa Jim and Naomi's. We're thankful for the family we have who help make life good.

Emma turned five and is blossoming and amazing us everyday. Kindergarten is a dream come true for her! She loves her teacher, has made some great friends, has a great time doing all the activities, she really likes going all day so that she can eat lunch at school with her friends. In December she was part of a drama class, and had fun reading and rereading her poems for the class, and she did a good job doing her presentation. I'm constantly amazed at how well she can read. She really likes to read Fancy Nancy books, Bad Kitty, anything about princesses, and her Highlights magazines. When Emma's not reading she's either watching cartoons, playing dress up with her brothers (either getting them into their doggie costumes, or getting them into her extra princess dresses...), wanting to play on the computer, or else wanting to go outside and play with the neighbors. Emma's a big fan of riding her own bike whenever Isaac and Levi will let her!  When we're not swinging in the backyard, we're usually rolling down the hill in the frontyard, going for walks in the neighborhood, or on very special days, going to the school playground!

Tara is a third grade teacher at Whispering Meadows, job sharing the position so that she can be home in the mornings and teach in the afternoons.  It's a great situation for which we're constantly thankful.  When Tara's not doing teaching stuff (like grading papers, doing lesson plans, bulletin boards, etc.) she's doing her Creative Memories stuff.  She hosted some all-day crops at the church this year, which are always lots of fun with family and friends.  Of course, like most scrapbookers, she never gets enough time, and is constantly hoping to catch up.  Her latest craze is running (even she is amazed!) and ran in in her first "race" this fall in the Fort 4 Fitness in September.  Tara also teaches Kids Sunday School at Anchor, is part of a MOPS group at Emmanuel, attends a Twins/Multiples group, and goes out to coffee with me every Wednesday.  She also volunteers in Emma's classroom, helps with some leadership stuff at Anchor, and spends lots of time emailing her friends and reading their blogs (and their status updates on my Facebook site!). Most of all, Tara loves reading stories with the kids, doing crafts with them, going to the lake during the summer, teaching Emma how to scrapbook, giving baths, and all the other stuff that goes along with being a great mom.

I, Tim, am still leading and teaching Anchor Community Church - we just celebrated our ten year anniversary in October!  It's been quite an amazing decade - huge learning curves, lots of friendships made, and many, many God-moments.  Through Anchor, I've helped build a network of neighborhood churches - we're in our fourth year of working together to serve our community.  Very neat stuff.  With Anchor it's also been very rewarding to see so many people get involved in service projects, in caring for each other, and growing in their faith. Another highlight of the year was my graduation (a Masters of Divinity degree) from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in May!  It was so much fun to have so much family come up for the weekend in Chicago - especially since so many of them had a hand in helping me and Tara get through school.  Now that I'm done with school, I definitely feel more relaxed, I feel like I have more time for the family, and I even lost some weight - now that I'm not munching Cheetos and slurping milkshakes to stay awake on those long drives home.   I've had fun volunteering in Emma's classroom, I had fun volunteering for a Habitat House build with our church and three other Presbyterian churches in town, and it was fun volunteering to do some landscaping for some neighbors on 3rd Street.  It was fun to help coach Emma's soccer team this spring and fall (I was the assistant to the assistant...), to go on field trips with her, to join Levi and Isaac at preschool for special events, and have Fridays off to do laundry and play with the boys.

As you know, Christmas letters never fully capture all that happened in a year, but hopefully they capture how thankful we are for all the good that has happened.  We're thankful to you, our friends, to our family, to our church, and to God for 2008 - and we're looking forward to a great 2009.

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