Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015 (Dec 14-Jun 15)

Every year, there is this pressure to summarize the events of the past 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days...into bullet points, fit it onto just one page, and print this out for all of our closest friends and family to know the important events in our lives.  How does one do that?  Personally, I always feel as if I am leaving HUGE parts of our lives on the cutting-room floor...those pieces are important, but not news-worthy, apparently.

This year, there have been a LOT of changes, and I really hate leaving out parts that are important.  So, I'm going to do things a bit differently.  I'm going to summarize by month, starting with last December, and moving forward, ending with the current December...and it probably will NOT fit on one page.  Ready?  It's been quite a ride!

Packing it up!
Last December saw movers come to our house in Virginia Beach and pack up all of our belongings (well, most of them...we apparently left a few! Hope the new owners enjoy the steam cleaner and yard tools!).  There was also the drama that ensued when Jon refused to leave in the middle of his Senior year, and instead moved in with a family from the school to finish the school year.  Then we packed the rest of everyone (2 adults, 4 children, 1 Shih tzu, a Harley Davidson, and clothes) into our two vehicles (or on the trailer behind my truck, in the case of the Harley), and drove to Massachusetts.  In the middle of a nor'easter.  We arrived on December
Unpacking in MA
10th, and our household goods arrived the next day (11th)...and Frances arrived the day after that (12th).  Two days later, we visited our new church for the first time, and were HOOKED.  The rest of the month included a musical in Boston, sight-seeing along the Minute Man trail, admiring the girth of the squirrels in the neighborhood, and LOTS and LOTS of unpacking...also, getting the kids into school, getting the dog registered on base, getting the cars registered and tagged and insured in MA, Jason reporting to work, decorating for
Paul Revere capture site
Christmas (minimal!), and experiencing the first of what would turn out to be a VERY snowy winter.

We rang in the New Year very quietly, at home, by going to bed early.  We were EXHAUSTED.  It wasn't long before the snow started.  Justin
got snow for his birthday.  Before long, there was a LOT more.  We had *JUST* moved from Virginia Beach...the largest resort city in the world, where we had lived for SEVEN years.  We had TWO pairs of snow for Jason and one for me.  The kids had LONG-since outgrown theirs.  To say we were unprepared for snow was to vastly understate the situation in which we found ourselves.  We shared those boots...mostly mine, since Jason's were lace-up boots, and fit no-one else.  The kids' coats were woefully
inadequate.  We had no snow equipment.  We got into town after most of the winter gear was already sold out.  And then the blizzard warnings started.... Fortunately, Frances had flown back to South Carolina to finish her Junior year at Columbia International University before the weather got bad.  The weekend of January 24-25 saw our first
Leah's art for the Chorus t-shirts
blizzard.  We were able to find ONE snow shovel, and we learned how amazing our new neighbors were...especially the one with the snow blower!!  Over the next while, we entertained ourselves with coloring, and Legos, and lots of snow-watching.

We also celebrated Justin's 15th birthday in January, with dinner and a cake.  Happy 15th birthday, Justin!!


February was marked by a snowstorm EVERY SINGLE weekend, and the kids being off of school EVERY SINGLE Monday, for the WHOLE month.  It was quite an introduction to winter in New England!!

We spent a lot of quiet time as a family, coloring and playing with Legos, and cooking, and baking, and watching the Super Bowl.  It was a challenge to maintain our New Years' resolutions of a healthier diet with all of the extra time and yummy food!

Jason and I got to go out and celebrate my birthday and Valentine's day with dinner, and a trip to a sporting good store to find some BOOTS!!  Warm and dry....and my toes were HAPPY!!  (He also sent me beautiful flowers!  He did good!)

The rest of February ushered in MORE SNOW.  The pictures I have marked, from February 12th, noted that we were about at the 70-inch mark.  After being in Virginia for 7 years, and seeing less than 12 inches of snow each year, this was a *bit* overwhelming to all of us.

MARCH, 2015

In March, Justin was in the school's Spring Musical, Shrek the Musical.  Leah was involved with something through school, called Project Explore.  She was able to make weekly trips to the vocational high school, and do metal working, some dentistry, baking, computer programing, and accounting.

March also ushered in the first band concert for Heather and Justin at their high school, where the two of them make up about 5% of the whole band.  They played well, and Mom and Dad got to experience an atmosphere that was VERY different from other schools our children have attended.

We celebrated Leah's birthday with a party that included some wonderful new friends, some of whom have already moved, which makes all of us sad.  Happy 13th Birthday, Leah!!

APRIL, 2015

April was a month of settling-in.  The weather was getting nicer, the snow was starting to melt, and I (Laura) was getting the house in a more-livable condition.  There were fewer boxes sitting around, and the kids were busy with school and new-found friends and activities.

The middle school had Spirit Week, and one of those days was Throwback Thursday, with an emphasis on the 70s and 80s.  I was able to dig out some leg warmers, and the two youngest had fun!

We also celebrated Jon's 19th birthday long-distance...we sure miss him, A LOT!!  He was (is) still in Virginia Beach, finishing his senior year in high school, buying a car, and working two jobs.

Jason celebrated his birthday at the beginning of the month, and Jon's birthday at the end of the month rounded out our six months of family "birthday season".

MAY, 2015
May was a month of proms. Heather went to two different proms, at two different schools, and Jon went to prom in Virginia.

Heather's boyfriend was a Senior at a neighboring high school, and he invited Heather to go with him.

Heather's Junior Prom also happened in May, and she went with a group of friends, and had a fabulous time!

Jon took a friend who had to drop out of school due to having Lyme disease...we are so proud of his giving nature and loyalty to friends!

JUNE, 2015
In June, Jason and I traveled to Virginia for Jon's high school graduation.  I also did CPR/First Aid training in preparation for working at summer camp.  Everyone else finished up their school years, and Frances went to Georgia to start her summer internship working with refugees outside of Atlanta.

Heather's friend from Virginia visited, and they went to Six Flags, and got Batman capes.    I think Chewy wore it well!!

The next week, we were on the road again, headed to South Carolina for the week of July 4th.

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