Oregon weather is so weird! Yesterday it poured down rain and the snow was quickly melting-we can see grass now!! What a change from a week ago. Yesterday the grater (snow plow) finally came through our neighborhood.......by that point we could already see pavement, so I'm not sure how necessary a plow was. It would have been nice if they could have come earlier. Yesterday was the first day in a while that I could get out of my driveway! What a difference it is between living here and Spokane! Life here kinda just stops when it snows! But finally things are getting back to normal and people are coming out of hibernation! I'm thinking that in about nine months we are going to see quite a few babies!! :) On another note, yesterday was Bill and my 13th anniversary! I cant believe it's been 13 years! It's been great though. Bill and I have grown together as a couple over the last few years and I LOVE being married to him. He is such a great husband and dad and I am looking forward to the many years to come. Bill is on vacation this week and the boys are loving having him home. We havent really gone anywhere over the last couple of weeks (besides me going to work) and it's been so nice to stay home. I'm becoming a home body! It helps that I live in St.Helens and there is not much to do here and I dont like driving into Portland too much.
Today is my 8th day on the job. I am loving my new job but by the end of the days my brain gets so fried!! There is so much I have to learn and am thankful for the 8 or so months of training I'll be getting. Anyway, thought I'd do a quick update.......hope you all have a great New Year!
It's 11:45 Christmas morning and we are all just enjoying being home and together. As I am writing right now, I'm looking out the window watching the snow. It's so rare that Oregon is having a white Christmas but I am loving it! Bill and Elliot are putting together Elliot's new Indiana Jones lego set. Brady is playing NFL Madden on the Wii and Riley, is going back and forth from doing whatever it is he's doing. He's such a busy busy kid. My mom is playing solitare and I am on the computer......such a nice relaxing day. Last night we had our Christmas Eve candle light service at church and went to my moms for a nice dinner and played Pictionary. We went home around 7:30 and Elliot, who still believes in Santa (Yes, we do the Santa thing) ran up to bed with his boots on! Ive never seen him so excited to sleep, but the poor kid could not get to sleep! Then Elliot and Riley were up at 2am hoping to open presents-but quickly got sent back to bed. Funny kids. I remember the anticipation of Christmas morning when I was there age. This morning the kids were able to open presents from Santa. (thanks mom!) Bill made a wonderful breakfast for us all of Crepes, bacon and sausage. This afternoon, our good friends Aaron and Lisa will be coming over with their 4 boys for dinner and games. (if the roads are drivable) I hope you are all having a wonderful, relaxing day with your families and friends! Merry Christmas!
Ok...well I was going to send out Christmas pictures this year, but since it is already 6 days away from Christmas, I thought I'd cheat a little and do a Christmas letter online this year.
This year has been a year of change and growth for all of us. It's been by far one of the most memorable years we have had. Like others, we've experienced a lot of hardship, but with that came some major victories and we've felt and seen God's faithfulness and love throughout the year. God is good and our hearts are thankful.
I thought I could start out with Elliot. He turned 6 in February! I can't believe our "baby" is already 6!! He started 1st grade in September and is attending a local Charter school here in St.Helens. He is doing so well and at his parent teacher conferences his teacher called him a "teachers dream". Oh my, how nice it was to hear that! Elliot loves playing with his neighborhood friends and his brothers. He looks up to Brady and Riley and wants so badly to do what they get to do. Ever since he's been a baby, he's always been more interested in playing with the big boys! I'm not ready for him to be a big boy yet. I cannot believe how fast time has gone by! In my eyes Elliot should only be about 3 years old. This year, Elliot is going to play baseball and he is counting down the days till he can play football. He has to be going into 3rd grade to play, but it's so hard for him to wait!
Now on to Riley. He is such a joy and melts my heart. Riley is 10 years old and in the 5th grade at the same Charter school Elliot attends. He is our "social butterfly" and is very outgoing. He says that he is the class clown....which scared us both at first but after talking with his teacher, it's ok and he know when to stop the goofiness. Riley loves anything to do with history and knows all about all the past wars. He is like a sponge when it comes to learning about most things. Riley also likes Science and loves doing his own experiments. He has such a kind and compassionate heart and loves Jesus. Riley wanted so badly to play football this year, but because of him only having one kidney, his doctor wouldn't sign the medical release form for him to play. That broke his heart, but he was still able to have a position on Brady's team this year. He was the water boy, which fits perfectly for him because he likes to help people. He even got a jersey and was able to be in the team picture! Right now, with the snow, Riley spends most of his days outside with his friends. We have a hill behind our house that he and his friends go sledding on.
Brady is growing up and becoming a young man. He will turn 12 this month. It's hard to believe that in one year, we will have a TEENAGER!! He has changed so much in every way. Last spring he got braces put on and it's amazing how much even his facial features have changed. When he got his school pictures it was so fun to compare all his school pictures to see the change. Wow! Brady is 12 going on 16 I think. He is maturing so much and is fun to talk to-like a little adult. He is in the 6th grade and goes to Columbia City School-which is a public school here that only 6th graders go to. It's a great program that they have here! This spring he will be able to go to "Outdoor School". Brady is very much into sports. We started off the year with baseball and Brady made the All Star team and had a lot of fun. Then, in August football started. Football is by far, our most favorite sport! Brady was able to play in a lot more positions this year and learned so much! Unfortunately, his team did not win one game, but the boys still had a ton of fun and it seemed like they all learned a lot and made some new friends. Brady can't wait till next August when training starts again.
Since we are talking football, that leads us to Bill. Bill was one of the assistant coaches this year again. I think one of the reasons we love football so much is because it brings us together as a family. Especially Bill and Brady. It's something that bonds them together-the love they both share for the game! Bill is a great coach and loves getting the kids excited to play. Bill is still working for Blumenthal Uniforms and loves it. He isnt traveling as much as he was because he is now serving more local departments. He is such a hard worker and even though the boys and I don't say it enough, we appreciate his hard work and sacrifice for our family so much. He is also leading the 4th-6th grade class at our church. The kids seem to really like his class-he makes it so fun for them to learn about Jesus. Bill and I have been seeing a financial counselor that has been certified through Dave Ramsey. If you've known us long enough, you've known that finances are our biggest area of stress. Last fall, after years of trying to do things in our own strength and wisdom (or lack there of) prayerfully, we found this counselor. He's more of a mediator and an accountability partner for us. He's there to "hold our hand" and guide us through the process of getting out of debt. We try to meet with him a couple of times a month to go over our finances and what our next step of action is. On the weeks we dont see him, Bill and I are meeting to discuss how our finances are going. It forces us to go out together too. Even if it's just at our local Starbucks and only 1 hour or so long, we are getting out on a "date"! Besides meeting with our counselor, we are also reading Dave Ramsey's books together and watching his DVDs. Even the kids are getting into it! Since we are on the Dave Ramsey plan this year, we aren't doing Christmas gifts for anyone, including the kids. We've talked to the kids about it and they understand.....well, as much as kids can understand such things. Plus they've got a few sets of grandparents that will be able to provide some presents for them, so it won't be that bad....anyway, Brady was watching one of the Dave Ramsey videos that we hadnt watched yet, and found the idea of giving away certificates to each other. For example, we did our family Christmas this last Tuesday with my parents since my dad wouldn't be home for Christmas this year. So, instead of us buying gifts for them, we gave them gifts of service. Brady offered to help them with their yard this year and help my mom by cleaning out her fridge when she needed it. Sometimes I think gifts of service or time mean just as much if not more than something bought at a store. The kids had fun making up the certificates and figuring out what they wanted to do....they are going to do them for each other as well. It will be interesting to see what they come up with!!
As I write this, I am sitting at my desk for the last time. Until today, I worked for the Oregon Department of Human Services. I start a new job tomorrow for Columbia County 911 as a dispatcher! I have mixed emotions because I am very sad to leave the friends I have made here but oh so excited to be a 911 dispatcher!! It's going to be an intense, stressfull job but I feel like I'm up to the challenge and also feel like this is what God is leading me to do. I will have a completely different schedule too-it will be Saturday through Tuesday from 2:00pm to midnight. After some thought, I think this just might be the perfect schedule and Im very excited about it. It brings me home more during the week with the boys, which is what I have been feeling needs to happen. I still get to go to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights with my family. I'm very nervous to start this job because of the intensity of the job, and I am praying that I can catch on quickly. I am so thankful for the friends that I work with now and am planning on keeping in touch with them on a regular basis. Also this year, I finally became an Aunt!! My brother Derek and his wife Lisa had a beautiful baby girl named Lilli! We were able to go to Las Vegas to visit them in April. She is such a sweetheart and I wish I could see her more. But I do get to have my "baby fixes" at church. A couple of times a month I get to be in the nursery holding the babies! I love that so much and I'm thankful that I will be able to continue this even with my new schedule. Speaking of church, we are still at the same church we started at when we first moved here. We all love it and God has blessed us with a wonderful core group of friends.
We hope this "letter" finds you and your family well. Merry Christmas!
I haven't posted in a while so I thought I'd better play catch up here now! It's been a busy couple of weeks. Lets see.......Thanksgiving was great! We went up to LaCenter Wa (just about an hour from here) The food was all good and the company even better. The kids love going there...they usually take their BB guns and go into the woods to hunt for some rabbit. (they still have yet to get one) Brady has been sick all week. His asthma has been acting up all week and has run a fever, so he's been home from school and now has piles of homework to catch up on!! Oh well, hopefully there wont be too many flare ups in the future. He missed over 20 days of school last year because of his asthma. I'm hoping and praying that this year will be different. This is his first flare up since February when he started getting allergy shots. I had my third and final interview with Columbia 911 Communications on Wednesday this week. It went great and they offered me the job. I had to take a physical today.....hearing, vision tests etc. I passed and my official start date is the 20th. I will have a new schedule of Saturday-Tuesdays 2:00pm-midnight. I'm kinda excited about this schedule. I think it's actually going to work out really well. I get to be home more on the weekdays with the kids and even get to go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays. And even more....I will be making more money per month, which will also help us with our Dave Ramsey plan. Which by the way is going great! We still have a very long road ahead of us but at least now, we can see the light at the end! We met with our financial counselor on Thursday. I'm so thankful we have that accountability! Not only for helping us keep on track but also to encourage us in how far we come. I have a feeling that we will have some "down" times, but having a third party involved will help us get through those times. We've decorated our house for Christmas minus the tree...we should be getting that in the next couple of weeks or so. It's weird here though. I'm still trying to get used to Christmas with no snow-but only rain. Last year, it snowed a little but not a whole lot to make it feel "Christmassy" (is that a word?) It's funny, when it does snow, the kids' schools will be on 2 hour late start or even canceled!! The kids dont mind it one bit, but it seems so silly to me. Riley and Elliot had their Christmas (er, I mean Holiday concert) tonight. I think they sang 3 Christmas (agh, I mean holiday) songs but mostly songs like "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" or "Lean on Me" etc. On a side note, I really miss hearing "Merry Christmas" when I go to the store.....not "Happy Holidays". Anyway, so I guess that's it for now. Only 20 days till Christmas and I'm sure these next 3 weeks will go by so quickly. If I dont update before then, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!