Monday, July 24, 2017

Christmas Letter 2016

Ummm ... really ... I should post these things when I write them ... shouldn't I?  I think I was ironing out dates, then discovered I had posted a Christmas update a few years ago .... so if you keep up with us, this is just a 7 year update all in a very short letter.

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 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

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 … and   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 

Friday, April 21, 2017


I posted this to FB last night - feeling rather overwhelmed.   And I had so many people comment and tell me it meant something to them ... so I decided to post it over here as well.

Grief has a way of sneaking up on you. Much of the time I keep my feelings hidden. It's not something I talk about, and not something I express well. And not even something I know how to express as sympathy to others.
My mom died 8 years ago - on Mother's Day - does anyone remember? I was almost halfway through my pregnancy with LaRue. Mother's Day ... it's coming up fast. I try to ignore it, maybe the feelings will go away. I'm not overly fond of mother's day. But I try to be strong for the rest of the family.
April 8 was her birthday. She would have been 69. This year, about the same time. Tim Roden's SIL lost her mother. My heart broke. I was fighting all of these feelings. And her mom was a pretty awesome lady that I had met and talked to many times. I tried hard, but didn't make it the funeral.
Wednesday night, as we were getting the kids to bed quite late after Awana, my uncle called. My mother's mother - my grandmother - Mamaw, had just died. We weren't surprised, as she's been slowly slipping away from us for a decade. But this time there will be no miracle that will bring her back. She's gone. I meant to take the family to see her after Easter, but Tim has off this Sunday as well, so since we were already well out of town, we promised week.
It's all too much.
Family are arriving. The viewing is Friday night. The funeral Saturday afternoon after an already planned and eventful morning. I'll see faces again that I haven't seen in years. Hugs and "I love you's" and promises that we'll all do better at keeping in touch. But after a few weeks, we'll all start to forget again. Life gets busy again. Papaw and those closest to her, it will be hard. Wanting to check on her and remember she's actually totally ok ... just not with us.
How thankful I've been for FB, finding so many relatives and friends. Staying in touch, even if all I do is Like or Love the picture of a baby, a trophy, a new hair cut, colored hair, running, and so much more. I remember you. I pray for you. I remember that I love you and that you are important to me and hope you feel the same way about my posts and pictures.
How many times I picked up the phone to call and ask my mom a question, or went to her house expecting to see her, or wanting to have information that is now totally lost, because nobody wrote it down.
So they'll all come in town. We'll kiss and hug and cry. Then go home and nearly forget, for grief to hit at strange moments like a wave on a beach. Until it is someone close to you and suddenly it's like being hit by a wall of water and you don't know if you will ever find your feet. But you do. And even so the waves hit less hard as time passes .... until someone else close to you dies. And you remember how much you miss them all.
But there is the promise of Salvation and Eternal Life in heaven. I don't know how people survive without God's promises in the Bible. We will be reunited, but only with others that believed.
Grief. You never know when it's going to hit, turn you over, and befuddle you. But God is still there to catch you and keep you from drowning.
Please keep our family in your prayers at this time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Tim turned out fine ... though the tests were mostly only on his heart.

They did blood tests, but many other possibilities for the severe pain were ignored because they did not involve his heart.

The hot water tank was fixed thanks to Jay and Steve.

We brought Vannan home after talking to the sheriff.   She's been gone so long that her body revolted with the cats around and her asthma.   We bought her an air purifier ... and she is doing much better now.   She almost never leaves the house still.

We had a major leak under the bathroom sink.

Steve helped fix that as well ... along with the leak in the toilet flapper.

We went to the Windridge Open house ... where Tim did the silent auction and managed to win a night in a hotel for two.   And a steam cleaner.

Overall, things are pretty good.

Keep us in your prayers.  

Vannan is seeking an online college that does not cost an arm and a leg.   She wants to go into some field with special needs children, perhaps the program at Windridge.   She is volunteering again - but has to start at the very bottom and work her way up again.   Unfortunately, she is not as strong as she was before.  

She would LOVE to work at a ranch over the summer - especially if she could go north.   She has visions of grandure, and she would like to know if her body could handle it if she pursued a career with horses involved.

Meanwhile, Kendra is searching for an online degree in Marketing, which again doesn't cost her future.   She has started her own business helping young Indie authors meet up with people who can help them, and offering services to build up a joint readership among the group.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tim Heart Problems ... Six Year Repeat

For those who don't know what is going on ... and there isn't much to tell right now.

About this time 3 years ago, Tim was actually pretty healthy, since he wasn't working - there wasn't much variety in our diet and yet we ate a lot of rice and beans and whatever we were given.  We had to be careful with our food.  Tim was doing good at staying away from Mt. Dew and Dr. Pepper and junk food, and he wasn't bringing them home.

He started working at McDonald's again.  We were out of retirement money, and none of his job leads had done much more than nibble.  For a while, he stayed pretty good at eating right - even though he was slipping away from his diet.

Then he went to Hamburger University October 2015.  You have to sign a contract to go since they pay for it, but now things were more stressful at work.  At the same time he was trying to do reffing seasons, with limited success.  And he had that contract.   He started wandering off his diet more often, and even though we got Fitbit's and Garmins to try to improve my health, and he began doing limited running and miles of walking, he was also eating a lot of sugars, junk foods, and sodas.  And gained a lot of weight, especially in his stomach.  He's still under contract, but is still paid hourly.  

Their were a lot of things going on that were stressful.

And then FB started putting up memories of Tim's heart attack - exactly 6 years ago.   It was weird to see them again.  We were thankful things were better now.

Monday morning (the 5th), he woke with chest pains, and finally woke me and my Aunt drove him down to the hospital.  They admitted him, but don't think he had a heart attack.  And he's had a bunch of tests.   But they haven't sent him home.  Tomorrow morning at some time, they'll run him through a heart cath ... he doesn't now how extensive, it will depend on what they find.  Afterwards he has to be really still for hours.

Prayers are appreciated.  

Friday, June 17, 2016

You are Invited to Kendra and Vannan's Graduation

Just Realized this failed to publish .... so while the event has already happened ....
I thought you might like to see what we did and a bit about their graduation.

Our church will be having a Potluck dinner after morning church on May
22 to celebrate all of the kids graduating in our church this year.

Two of those will be Kendra and Vannan.

Since they are the only 2 home schooled, the church has generously
offered to let them have a little graduation ceremony to receive their
diplomas after the meal.

You are invited to attend, both the meal and the graduation. May 22
after the morning service. The meal will probably start around 12:30
(no - you don't have to bring anything as you are not a church member),
and I don't know what time we get get to the awards part, but it will
most likely be after the 1:00 hour.

Kendra is graduating with 39 credits and a 3.3 GPA. She has 7
published books with quite a dedicated fan club and many glowing reviews
on Amazon and Goodreads. She hosts a fairly popular blog, and at least
2 other blogs, along with editing books for other indi-authors. She
works part time at McDonalds. She has a DoTerra business. She also has
her own registered business called "Giraffe Crafts". She is considering
a degree in English, but will be taking some online courses this year in
History, Literature, Accounting, and Bible. She hopes somebody will
teach her (and Vannan) how to drive - to give her more freedom for
school and work. (She is fully insured).

Vannan is graduating with 34 credits and a 3.4 GPA. She volunteers at
Windridge (horse therapy for special needs kids). She plans to do their
education courses there to learn to be a therapy provider. She is
considering Christian Therapy and Counseling specializing in special
needs children as she pursues her future. She is currently planning to
take a variety of courses via the internet to help solidify areas she
feels she needs to pursue before putting out money for courses. She
also spends time practicing violin, piano, and singing. She has
discovered a talent for art, and participates on a website for young
artists. She also hosts 2 blogs and dabbles in writing songs and
stories. She is currently researching the topic of "Secular and
Christian Strong Women".

PS. I am aware that many of you live too far away, or have very busy
schedules and will not be able to attend. We thought you would like to
know of this milestone in the girls lives. Hugs to you all!

PSS.  Pictures ... someday!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Joel's Newton Shirt

Vannan designed it ...

And Aunt Cindy made it for Joel ...

It's a play on Newton's Laws of Motion.

And if it is clean ... he's got it on!

Flowers for Ruezy

Little girls still braid flowers through their hair.
This was taken the Sunday before she broke her arm.


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