Dear loved ones,
Warm wishes to you all from sunny Cloverdale. We hope that this letter finds you all safe and warm and enjoying some Christmas cheer. We have already had a huge dump of snow but it all melted within a few days, except for the misshapen remnants of our snowmen. The girls enjoyed the white stuff with John while they could and even Maggie got outside and played with them for awhile.
Our biggest change this year was moving from our little townhouse in South Surrey to a “real” house in Cloverdale. It is a big change in size, neighbourhood, and yardwork but we’ve settled in and feel quite at home here. The main reason for moving was to have a bit more room and we chose Cloverdale so that we could walk to school, which Emma will be starting next year. The next biggest change is that we are expecting our third baby next year. With the Lord’s blessing, the girls will welcome a little brother or sister in June and John and Maggie will be officially outnumbered.
Emma is in her second year of preschool and Gym & Swim, both of which she really looks forward to each week. As always, she is incredibly inquisitive about everything – instead of bedtime stories whispered in the dark, she loves to hear about the “systems” of the body and how things are made. She is currently enamoured of Barbie and Ken, especially after seeing Toy Story 3D in the theatre. Her Pooh Bear is looking like a well-loved piece of tattered fabric and she likes to sleep with all of her stuffed animals in her bed.
Caelyn got her first haircut this year which may have actually caused her to lose weight. She is still as petite as ever, barely topping 25 pounds. However, she has just entered the defiance of toddlerhood which sometimes makes up for her size. She is still the snuggler of the family and has turned into quite a little jokester. She sings (loudly) all the time and like her sister has become a real chatterbox. She is in a 1 hour pre-preschool at the Y called Toddler Time and has decided she wants to become a Josie (teacher) when she grows up.
Maggie continues to sing with the Laudate choir in Langley and volunteers at church in the nursery as well as for Vacation Bible School but has retired from the Communal Lunch Committee. She has spent the first 3 months of her pregnancy sleeping as much as possible, which leaves little time for scrapbooking. However, she finally got all her digital photographs organized, edited, and backed up. Next step – photobooks! Maggie also loves to experiment in the kitchen and has made some excellent food lately (as well as a few not-so-excellent experiments). Because she tends to make things just once or twice, John is often left wondering if he is ever going to get to have it again…
John is now the Sales Manager at ITB and a big change in workload came with the title change. He still tries to get home on time as much as possible, and takes as much time off as he is able to make up for some late hours. He played soccer for the Celtics again this year (and lost) and is also playing volleyball again this fall (and is losing). John retired from all of his church responsibilities as his terms all ended at the same time. We’re working at starting a new Bible Study with some friends from church and have been enjoying Focus on the Family’s “The Truth Project” together.
In January we had a fun ski trip in Whistler with John’s family (Hooray for no bed bugs this time!) February brought the Olympics and even though we weren’t really into it, we got excited once the torch relay ran down our street. We had to get up at 5:30 on a freezing morning to watch the relay pass in the dark, but it got us into the Olympic spirit; we even went to a hockey game. The end of February saw us in Victoria for a Weekend to Remember marriage conference at the Empress Hotel – we highly recommend the conference, and celebrating Canada’s gold medal hockey win was a bonus!
May brought us the biggest trip we’ve ever taken together; a 28-day road trip across Canada driving a prisoner transport from Surrey to be delivered in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The trip involved 10 provinces, 8 legislative buildings, over two dozen cities, many hotels and restaurants, a few family visits, never-ending rocks and trees and water, two ferries, and Canada’s longest bridge. And about a thousand pictures…
Two weeks after we got home we moved into our new house and we still have pictures to hang. We enjoyed the Northwest Washington Fair where we took the girls to an outdoor Casting Crowns concert (which is now their favourite band). We did go back to Whistler in the summer for John’s parents 35th anniversary, and then camping at Cultus Lake with some friends. John and Maggie took a much needed couple-only trip to Bellingham and Fairhaven for our anniversary in September, and then took the girls to Kelowna for some beautifully sunny days and a Mission Hill Winery tour in early November. In the beginning of December we went to San Diego for some sun and fun at LegoLand and SeaWorld before nestling in for a cozy Christmas in our new house. We even got a real tree this year – it’s incredibly big and full. It’s also incredibly crooked. It looks like it grew out of the side of a mountain. So hopefully it doesn’t fall over as we had to prop the stand up with 2×4’s to make it appear straight.
We have felt the unending love of our Lord and Saviour this year as we have been showered with blessings, but He also been brought us through some personal struggles. Life, they say, is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Sometimes we complain that we have to put life on hold or sacrifice ourselves to do something or serve someone else. But that’s assuming that our lives are our own. Sometimes it takes a struggle to realize that life is indeed what happens everyday, all the time, regardless of your plans. There is no “getting back to normal”. There is always just a new normal, which may not be what you were expecting, but is always what the Lord has planned for you.
May you be transformed by the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and may you experience peace, comfort, and much joy this Christmas. We wish you much love for 2011!
Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world – stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death – and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas. – Henry Van Dyke