Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

Dear family & friends,

Shallow confession: I didn’t send out a Christmas letter last year, mostly because we didn’t have a family picture that I was excited to send with it.  Which is too bad, because I would love to have been able to tell you about the highlights of our year; Josh starting college at BYU-I, Rachel and Jenna getting to be on the varsity winter guard team at the local high school, and all of us getting stuck overnight in the Denver airport on our way to our beach week in North Carolina.  But alas, I didn’t, and so you will never know.
But this year there is a picture!  And it is good!  So good, in fact, that I am motivated to repent of my old slacker Christmas letter ways and actually send this one out…Before Christmas!  Who knows—stranger things have happened.
2015 has been an surprising and wonderful year.  For the two or three of you who haven’t heard our amazing news, in February Cindy Lynn’s husband Mahon was unexpectedly laid off, and in March he got job near us.  In September they bought a house 10 minutes away from us.  It is one of the best things that has ever happened to our family and we are still delighted every time we see them.  
The runner up in the list of best happenings of 2015 was our trip to the beach.  The waves were rough this year but the conversations were great, the games were fun, the food was delicious, and no one had to sleep in any airports.  Other fun experiences this year included babysitting Kate for a week while Cindy Lynn and Mahon went to Maui, a trip to Utah for the girls to get their wisdom teeth out in April (it really is cheaper, people), finding out the next week that Jared needed his out too, and having Russ’s dad come visit for a week.
Russ ends this year as he began it.  Slaying the dragon that is Intel every day to provide for the family, and working with the 14 & 15 year old scouts at church.  We will not comment more on either of these other than to say that he deserves every bit of down time he gets.  He went with Jared on a terrific high adventure trip to the San Juan Islands where he sadly didn’t see any orcas but did get to ignore the rest of life for several days.
My year has been filled with adventures: weekends with friends, driving to Utah alone to meet Russ for a marriage conference, surviving girl’s camp, growing lots of flowers, canning endless jars of beans, and battling to keep slugs out of our house.  (I am cautiously hopeful that we have finally won that battle.)  When Guy came to visit I enjoyed taking him hiking and to the coast.
Cindy Lynn and Mahon have spent most of their year trying to survive moving twice and keeping up with 2.5 year old Kate who is super.  (Super adorable, super verbal, super stubborn, and occasionally super cranky.) Mahon is working at Nike and everyone has appreciated his access to the Nike store.  Our feet thank him.  Cindy Lynn is trying to find an agent for a novel she has recently finished, taking care of Kate and their new home, and trying to stay healthy.  She’s just finished a course of IVs which the CF clinic here let her do entirely at home—what a blessing.
Jason is halfway through his first senior year at BYU but will have another year before he graduates in chemistry.  He’s working in a lab on campus and also TAing for a chemistry class.  He stopped singing in the Men’s Chorus last year because he was too busy but now has joined the ballroom dance team because he had too much free time.  In the rest of his spare time he likes to go rock climbing.

Josh is halfway through his second year at BYU Idaho.  After working a telephone survey job much of last year he took a full time job this semester in a potato factory.  He decided that full time job + full time school was too much for him, but he did enjoy getting to drive a fork lift.  He is off track winter semester and looking forward to living at home again for a few months, although Jared has not yet committed to sharing the bedroom and the closet again.
Rachel, Jenna, and Jared are having a bunch of new experiences this year, starting with full time public school for their first year of high school.  Initially I was very sad to have our homeschooling end, but they are having a great experience and I’m enjoying having time to play with Kate, hang out with Cindy Lynn, sew, and even quilt a little.  They were all in the marching band this fall and it was fun to see the show develop.  The girls were in the color guard and worked with rifles and sabers, and Jared marched with his sax.  As they learned the new show the girls had such bad bruises on their arms that Rachel got called into the assistant principle’s office to be sure that everything was ok at home.  Russ & I had the dubious pleasure of getting to run the concession stands at the football games, and our feet, back, and legs were glad when the season was over.  Now we have started teaching all of them to drive, although the logistics of figuring out how to get three kids each 100 hours of driving experience is mind boggling.  
Rachel is enjoying the high school experience.  Every day she tells me that she hates her classes and her teachers and that high school is boring, but I think that secretly she loves it all.  She especially likes seminary (though not so much reading the entire Old Testament) and her color guard class.  She and Jenna have just started the winterguard season and they will be traveling in the spring to the World Championships.
Jenna took a bold step a few months ago and went from long hair to a pixie cut and it’s so cute.  Jenna isn’t quite as excited about going to public school as her siblings are but she’s having some good experiences. She also likes seminary and enjoys working with the excellent choir director.  She’s looking forward to having an art class next semester.
Jared resents the fact that he is always mentioned last in these letters.  (From the other room he says “True dat.”) Jared was never so happy as when the marching band season ended (he hated it) and the wrestling season began. (He loves it.) Sadly for him he’s having to do fundraising for wrestling and for next spring’s lacrosse season at the same time; if you’re interested, wreaths are $25 and raffle tickets are $10.   ;)
It goes without saying that it has been a highlight of our year any time we have seen any of you.  Living closer to Utah and getting to see family more often is a delight, visiting North Carolina this summer was wonderful, and we tell people here that one of the benefits of having lived near Duke is that our Duke friends now live all over.  If you are ever in the area we’d love to see you.  

We hope that each of you has a joyous Christmas season, filled with the things that make it meaningful for you.  We are so grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with so many of you as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

With love,
Russ, Cindy, Jason, Josh, Rachel, Jenna, Jared, Cindy Lynn, Mahon, and Kate the Great

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