Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Letter 2008

Common Sense News 2008
**Restore ** Renew ** Reconnect**

A quick recap of 2007 and the Case of the Missing Christmas Letter. 2007 was a Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Year. The loss of loved ones, through death and circumstance, the aging of those we care about most, grief, job stress, and general life sucked every last bit of Christmas Spirit from Jen and as such the annual Christmas letter stayed unwritten. The passage of time and the grace of God has brought healing and restoration. And she writes again.

So here we are again – Christmas 2008- that crazy, frantic, amazing time of the year that springs smiles onto the faces of most children and gray hairs onto the heads of their parents!
And I too am back after a hiatus of writing our Christmas notes; older, wiser, slightly more jaded but still aware that we are infinitely blessed with all we have been given.

Much has changed in the two years since we last wrote. The boys returned to school, Jen returned to work, at an actual paying-out of the house-have a boss and a dress code job and we are 6 again with nary an extra in sight. Much has changed and yet much has stayed the same.

THE FOUR: Let’s catch you up on the Boyzzzz (see how cool we have gotten in our old age?)

Gregory. Now at almost 14, 5 feet 7, 155 pounds, an eating, sleeping, body checking, high school loving, hockey machine. Hockey IS Greg’s life as he plays for both a AA Bantam Rep Team and for his Hockey Academy. Greg is good. Too good, according to his mom who hates (and fears!) the circling scouts while dad laughs.

Although he is one of the best hockey players his age in our city, he is far more importantly growing and maturing into an Honorable and Godly Young Man. This July, Greg and Jen decided the time was right for him to return to his birth place and reconnect with loved ones. It was an enormous event in his life and I was very happy to have had the chance to see first hand where our boys get their beautiful smiles, amazing talents and open hearts. He and I returned home wiser and more secure because of our visit, with no regrets of time spent with family who loves our sons as we do.

Eric, now 12 is almost as tall as mom and growing a whole lot faster than she is! He’s in Grade 7 and making the “A” HONOR ROLL! Eric is playing on the AA PeeWee Rep Hockey team and loving the challenge. Eric is a defenseman and enjoys the chance to play a more physical game.
For Eric who hates change, the transition to school was more challenging, yet eased, by the fact that Jen works in his classroom as the Teacher’s Aide. It is no surprise to us that our smiley, lively son has many, many friends! Eric works very, very hard and is being rewarded with great grades and a well deserved reputation as being a really great kid!

Tanner, now 11, made the jump this year from home school into Gr. 6 French Immersion and loves it! He too plays hockey, always as a goalie in the city league. Tanner has truly thrived attending his own school, with his own friends, and his own routine. His maturity is continually growing and his decision making skills are blossoming. He is most excited for the cross country trip he will make “sans les parents” with his class to Quebec in May, 2009. He is still as sweet, kind and gentle as always. Far taller than most kids his age, we hope one day he starts to gain some weight so we don’t have to tie him down anymore during wind storms!

Caden, our 7 year old second grader is everything a mother of 3 other too cool and too big for their own good sons could wish for – A child still thrilled to snuggle, hug, kiss and tell his mommy that she is the most wonderful woman in the world and he loves her more than ANYTHING! Ok, so Caden might be a bit on the spoiled side, but who could resist such beguile? Certainly not this mama!

Caden plays hockey, but without the same passion his older brothers possess, and as such is making plans for a future sport career in luge, karate, swimming, and then maybe hockey again when he is “all grown up and 10 or 11”.

Shelby and Jen. Oy, what a busy time it’s been! We survived in almost one piece, excluding that nasty not-so-little motorcycle hits cow-Shel debones his leg; gets an ambulance ride then an infection & emergency surgery incident in August. He’s still limping, still swollen and still using that Handicap Parking Pass and really grateful that he still has two legs! Shel is now in his 4th year attempting to sell commodities like lumber and drywall, for all that non-existent construction you might be aware of taking place around North America. He also has an up-to-date resume. Tough economic times all around.

Jen has survived. Noteworthy considering these last two years, for many reasons, were two of the most difficult years of her life; slightly battered, far less naïve and a whole lot tougher. Or so she keeps telling herself. Really she is just an older, grayer, and wiser version of Jen. Crushed but not broken. Going back to work after 11 years home with the boys has been wonderful. Her new job is school hours, school days and with her sons. God is good.

Jen’s Note: In the evenings after all I do is done for the day, I try to take the time to really SEE my family and remember that they are so worth every sacrifice I make, big and small.

Greg, my man-child, with his crazy sense of humor and snarky, wise cracking comments. When we hug, my head now rests on his shoulder.
Eric, my son with a ready smile, heart on his sleeve and always so full of passion. We stand toe to toe and eye to eye as my boy becomes a man, and still he demands his parents to be wise and strong.

Sweet Tanner, often quiet with his nose in a book is really a chatterbox waiting for the chance to catch your ear; a living dichotomy of a child who could have been an introvert but has allowed himself to be stretched by our craziness into a sport loving, out going, self confident child.

Caden’s passion for family time is unmatched even by my own. Still, at heart, my baby boy but only in brief, stolen moments that I realize will disappear all too soon.
And I write, finding my voice by putting the pieces of my heart out there for all to see. Life’s a journey with many seasons of pain but God is faithful and we are blessed. And this time to reconnect, renew and restore our relationships with you is truly a gift.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! Love Jen, Shel, & boys

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