So, out of feelings of guilt for not sending any Christmas cards this year, here is what I would have said in a Christmas letter:
Dearest loved ones,
I pray that 2011 was good to you. We've been busy with life. The kids are growing like weeds (fast and sometimes annoying).
John turned 10 in August. We celebrated with a fun camp out sleepover with a dozen of his friends. The highlight of the night for the boys was watching Star Wars on a projector screen. The highlight for Chris and me was forcing them to go on a midnight walk at 1 in the morning. Hahaha.
Sarah turned 8 a week or so ago. We celebrated with a dance party sleepover with a dozen of her friends. (Are you sensing a theme? Me too. The theme is that I am out of my mind!)
Bethany turned 5 in July. We celebrated by having a playdate swim afternoon at our house with a handful of her friends (thought I was going to say a dozen, didn't you?). Then the families of all the friends came over and we wrapped it all up with a cook-out.
Chris ended his 2 years of unemployment by accepting a job at our church working in the Buildings and Grounds department. Working in maintenance for a non-profit doesn't do much toward paying the bills and is rough on the body, but we have health insurance for the two of us and he gets to work for a good friend. Despite the positives, the prayer is that 2012 will bring a change of occupation.
I cut back my paid work hours to focus on the kids when Chris went back to work full-time. I still handle administrative stuff for our children's ministry team at church as well as coordinating our Awana program. I get to do a lot of my work at home and still get to serve with some awesome people.
As a family, we continue to homeschool all three children. Generally speaking, we all enjoy doing school this way. I'm still feeling my way through everything. I figure that I'll get it together about the time they all graduate from high school. The kids would say that their favorite parts are that they get to sleep in and take lots of field trips. One of my favorite things is watching them answer the inevitable questions about how they like school and their teacher from unsuspecting but well-meaning adults trying to make conversation. John likes to say, "I like school, but my teacher is really mean."
As to other things, John and Chris are in their last months as cub scouts. Bethany, Sarah and I are enjoying girl scouts together. All three kids played soccer this fall with wonderful coaches (that weren't Chris & me - wahoo!). And we took a 6 month hiatus from Tae Kwon Do but plan to have the kids start back up in January. And thanks to an introduction by some fun friends (and a fantastically amazing homeschool week discount) we discovered the awesomeness that is the Great Wolf Lodge (twice!)
On a very serious level, we are so grateful and humbled by our friends and family who continue to carry us through this very stressful financial time in our lives. So many of you have prayed for us and encouraged us. And some of you have even given us tangible love in the form of anonymous (and sometimes not anonymous) gifts. In fact, none of the wrapped presents under our Christmas tree would be there without an incredibly generous anonymous gift that appeared in my mailbox at church (and the non-wrapped scooter that appeared on our porch). It is our fervent prayer that God would richly bless you in ways we cannot begin to imagine.
Blessed by you,