Most of this is a rehash of why I haven't sent a Christmas card since 2008 - seriously - 8 years? So if you've kept up with me and the kids, you will already know all of it. Also, I've written this in the middle of two nights while more asleep than awake, so I hope it sounds alright.
Dear Friends and Family,
Christmas Letter 2016.
The last real letter and Christmas cards that I can remember mailing out to family and friends was way back in 2008. I’m not even sure I remember that far back. The kids were 13, 11, and 3. Although, it appears I at least posted an update after the hearing in 2013? during the Christmas season
The same day that Kendra turned 14, we found out that were were once again pregnant. On Mother’s Day, we lost my mother. It was very sudden. She just passed out, and by the next day, she was gone. LaRue Kirstin was born October 14, 2009. And the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, after her 6 week check up, we were hit by an 18 wheeler from behind while turning onto our little oil road going home. We spent Thanksgiving in the hospital with Rue under sedation for seizures from a bad head injury. We would later take them to court, and we won, but the settlement was a pitiful amount.
But you can see why I missed that year. Tim was out of work most of that time, reffing and insurance work brought in enough to keep us fed and the electricity running. I don’t remember 2010 much, although I got an “extra” niece and nephew in March - not twins. But both of my best friends had their babies a weekish apart. My nephew was born with Downs Syndrome. Christmas came and went, and March 2011 came along, and Tim had a massive heart attack. The weeks that followed, we watched his health sliding farther and farther down, he was very sick. We nearly lost him in August when he caught a stomach bug, and dehydrated, the medicine they had him on shut down his kidneys. It was scary. But after the doctors removed him from a few of the meds, suddenly he started improving, enough to ref the volleyball and basket ball seasons that year. Finally, in March 2012, Tim went back to work at McDonald’s, and he’s been there ever since.
Sometime around then, my Dad started dating a nice “young” lady who was a widow. They are actually close in age. Eventually they married and my Dad moved in with her, that had to of been the summer of 2011, because my BFF and her family moved into my Dad’s house just before Christmas while their trailer was moved, and stayed until May, when we started to prepare for my Aunt to move in that October 2012, just in time for LaRue’s third birthday. My how time flies.
In 2010, Kendra joined NaNoWriMo and punched out her first novel. She began ignoring schoolwork, and churning out a massive quantity of writing on a daily basis. She published her first book on Amazon.com under the name “Kendra E. Ardnek” and titled “Sew, It’s a Quest.” A quirky little fairy tale novel aimed at middle school ages, but it was well loved by her cousins as well, no matter the ages. She also was writing plays for Church and family get togethers. She only had 2 years of High school to finish in 2011, but she didn’t pay much attention to it.
But all of these changes and emergencies, and I’m only giving the really “exciting ones”, made it difficult to get out a letter. Of course there was the Christmas we ended up at trial for the wreck … it was not a fun Christmas in 2013. I don’t think we even managed a tree that year.
March of 2015, I realized my Best friend was struggling to keep up with her two special needs kids as well as her two similar aged of Joel and Rue. She had been the one driving the day of the wreck, and had been knocked out on impact. It was a small thing to offer to “catch her kids up” for the year. And so I pulled out all of their lessons, and realized they were more than “a bit behind” and I would need more than a “few weeks” to get it done. And so I kept them for school for Sun night - Wed night or Thurs night until June. Joel and LaRue started Awana about the same time. When I started school back up in early August 2015, I had 6 full time students, and thankfully my Aunt’s part time help. The school year ended June of 2016, and both Kendra and Vannan graduated from High School. When Kendra realized that Vannan was going to graduate before she did, she crammed her last 8 classes into 12 weeks and finished with a flourish. So this year, we are running 5 sessions of school, each one 7 weeks long. The kids spend 3 weeks with me for 4 days a week, go home for a week (and a 3 day weekend) and then back with me for 3 weeks. Then we have a 1-2 week break before running the next 7 weeks. We just finished our 2nd session before Thanksgiving, and are having a 6 week winter Christmas vacation.
Kendra turned 21 in Feb. And is the proud publisher of 8 novels. She has a pretty good sized fan following, and her books are getting pretty good ratings. Most of the negative has to do with her “too real” characters, magic in a Christian novel, or that it is a Christian novel. Some of her earliest have editing issues. But overall, she really is a good author. She is toying with a degree in Marketing or English. But is in no real hurry. She works at McDonald’s, though she quits for the winter or summer. She has author pages on Amazon and Goodreads. Her blog is https://knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com
Vannan turned 19 in July. She actually graduated right on time, due to the fact that she is dyslexic, and it took 5 years to get her all the way through 3rd/4th/5th. And suddenly she took off and never looked back. She also volunteered at Windridge, where she learned how to work with special needs kids using horses. She loves it. But one day she fainted over backwards, striking her head on the cement below. She’s struggled since then with sensory issues. She dabbles in writing, painting, drawing, piano, violin, writing songs, poetry, photography, and blogging. She LOVES animals, in spite of her asthma. She’s a go getter. She has two blogs, which she sometimes writes on … singingmiownsong.blogspot.com and http://makingmeaservant.blogspot.com/ What her big sister has in IQ, she has in gumption and tenacity. She’s ideas in motion. She’s not sure what direction she wants to go in, so is exploring various avenues before dedicating herself to one direction.
Joel turned 11 in June. He’s a mild mannered and thoughtful boy, more interested in computers, math, and science than he is in sports. He loves taking care of his sisters and cousins, and in general is a cuddly guy always ready to give out hugs and help. He’s working his way through 6th grade, although he’s doing 8th grade math online. Tim got him a Vivofit 2 for his birthday, because people were telling us he was too sedentary. Imagine our surprise when he consistently topped 10,000 steps every day. Tim took us running/walking during the summer, and he was able to handle 3K runs. But when school started in August, he was sick off and on during the first week of school - I mean, don’t get out of bed or eat type of sick, and didn’t do well on that race. He lost a lot of his momentum. Hopefully, come Spring, we can start going to the track to run/walk and start building up our numbers again.
LaRue just turned 7 in October. And in spite of her rocky start, she’s tackled school with a fiery determination. She is a lot like me, full of deep thoughts and dry, odd humor. She is as shy and withdrawn as Joel is enthusiastically expressive. At church, she has no problem bouncing around hugging and shaking hands. And oddly enough, she’s always felt at home at the public library too. But otherwise, she is usually straight faced and withdrawn. Joel is her best and biggest rock, and without him, she kind of wilts. As she has aged, she has added new “rocks” to her collection. But still, if you met her, she would stare at you without any expression on her face, as she clung to me or one of her “rocks”. Unless you find one of her magic buttons, like LaLaLoopsy or Barbie princesses or school, and then she will animate and suddenly be your best friend and talk your head off. We find her delightful.
That’s about it. So, Merry Christmas 2016, and maybe I’ll get more cards out next year, and maybe even on time!
Tim and Rachel, Kendra, Vannan, Joel, and LaRue