Dear friends and family,
Most of you already know about the thrilling adventures we’ve had this past year. We enjoyed our visits, phone calls and Facebook encounters with you along the way. No matter how big or small our daily adventures were, we made certain that “Family” was the main focus. Now both in our thirties, we see what many of you already know… life comes at you fast and leaves just as quickly. So it’s what you do in-between that counts.
The year 2009 started off slowly, getting back into the swing of things with home schooling our children. Tom went back to work at the Monticello Nuclear Plant building some rather complicated scaffolding inside. He worked long shifts, and sometimes it seemed he’d leave before we were up and fall asleep shortly after arriving home. It was hard on us, but boy were we excited to see him walk through that door! So when we got word that he was getting laid off unexpectedly in May, we decided to thank God for the break – however long it may be. It lasted 5 months, but we enjoyed every minute of it. Prayer is a constant for us, but additionally we’ve continued to trust in God’s Will and rely on the charity of others. It made the stress fade a little. Thankfully Tom is back to work at Xcel Energy in Becker. Ever driven by that coal plant? He works in those clouds near the ground, rebuilding the cooling towers.
Life with four children keeps us on our toes. For entertainment and education, we took a field trip to the Science Museum of MN. The kids enjoyed seeing the Grand Canyon up close at the Omnitheatre. Jonathan stirred in Melissa’s belly while Sabrina clenched onto Tom’s. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin welcomed us with chilly weather in June – but it sure beat the floods of last year. That’s where Tom discovered his love for golfing and Mikayla was just tall enough to ride the water slide alone. Back at home we’ve built many blanket forts, read many stories and endured piano concerts in our living room.
Being thrifty can mean finding a deal or making your own. Tom setup a nice work area for Melissa’s sewing and crafts in a little nook of their bedroom. She loves sewing dresses, dolls, curtains, blankets, gifts, etc from bargain fabric. This area has also become Fix-it Central for all those well-loved toys and books! The wait was over and it only cost $5 from a local sand pit… Stanley was thrilled when he got to go get the softest sand ever for his sandbox on his birthday! And lucky for us, local homeschoolers gather every autumn to play Soccer for free. We even watched Mikayla kick up some snow in her new shin guards and snowsuit– nothing could stop them from playing. Keeping the kids active comes in many ways such as running around the stairwell, playing outside, going to open gym, and challenging each other on the Wii Fit. Since Tom was home during the summer, he took it as an opportunity to get the landscaping and painting done himself, as well as help some other farmers, including his dad. Speaking of being thrifty… anyone else take advantage of refinancing at these amazingly low rates?
We need the deals because we’re not such a little family anymore. Even though compared to many of our friends we only have a “starter family,” four children seem to be our max for now. Last fall, through the inspiration of wanting to become more open to life, we got pregnant with Jonathan – born July 15th. He’s such a joy, and the other children have really taken to him. He was born a few weeks earlier than his due date, our 4th c-section. Right after he was born we kissed and he was whisked away to the NICU due to fluid around his lungs, but thankfully recovered in two days. We will never forget the kindness of the nurses and the abundance of prayers from all of you that week. We pray for all who are and who have been in the NICU, what an experience. He’s become our “little stinker” and now a healthy 5 month old, he’s ready to explore. Kudos to Melissa for her record breaking breastfeeding, where the other three only lasted a max of 2 months – Jonathan is still a “boob man.”
While “Family” is our focus or theme, “Our Faith” is the background music. Our Catholic faith is integrated into everything we do, including our home education curriculum and time with family and friends. Seton Home Study has provided an enriching lesson plan for Mikayla who is 7 and in 2nd grade. Stanley is 5 in Kindergarten and Sabrina is 2 in Preschool. Mikayla is preparing to make her First Reconciliation in Jan 2010 and First Communion in April. While Melissa reads daily to the kids, Mikayla has decided to pick up chapter books on her own, such as “Little Women.” Melissa recommends “Devotional Stories for Little Folks” to be read daily to your K-3rd graders. It is teaching our children valuable lessons in proper behavior in a delightful way. Stanley is still adjusting to being told what to do and how to do it, but he recently learned to write his name and is giving into the process. Sabrina joins in on family prayers, arts, music and the kids are including her in their lessons. Mikayla is such a helper, she’s taken on new chores and helps keep the little ones busy and in line. They all participated in the annual Catholic Day Camp, and Mikayla loves meeting her friends monthly at Schoenstatt Girls Club. Melissa decided to continue in her women’s book club, saying she’s never enjoyed reading so much. She recommends mothers read “Courageous Love” and “The Domestic Church: Room by Room.”
“What was I thinking?!” Melissa says that a lot, but adjusting to caring for a family of six hasn’t been easy. “What the heck?!” That would be Tom’s line, which has been reiterated by little Sabrina on several occasions. We are amazed at all we’ve been able to do, but we owe it all to God’s unending Graces! We could never do this on our own. While we browse through the 2000 photos we’ve taken this year, they can’t compare to the joy in our hearts and minds. These simple moments that we’ll remember forever. While a regular paycheck would be nice, the things we got this year we can take to heaven someday – and that’s the real payoff. For now, we’ll take our paychecks in Eskimo kisses and handmade cards.
Wishing you all a Grace-filled Christmas
Tom, Melissa, Mikayla, Stanley, Sabrina and Jonathan