Not much school took place in December... for obvious reasons. We did finish Johnny Tremain. I also had Melanie read Carry on Mr. Bowditch and Chris read The Sign of the Beaver. They will be completing literature guides from Progeny Press over the next few weeks. Other than that, we just spent time together as a family.
Cassie was able to come home a little early from SUU because all her finals were just essays she had to submit and the only test she had in class was also done early. Ali came home about a week later. It was great having my girls home for an entire month! We had a great time with them. They just left to go back to school today :( But, they'll be back in a couple weeks for Cassie's 19th birthday.
Jonathan finished his two months at the Mission Training Center (MTC) on December 16 and was able to call during his layovers. We loved talking to him! They had problems with their plane in Atlanta and he was able to talk to us while there for over an hour. Obviously he arrived late to Belgium, but he was excited to finally get there and meet his Mission President, President Brubaker. Jon said both President and Sister Brubaker are awesome and super cool. He said he knows he will be learning a lot from them and is excited to have such great people to assist and mentor him.
Jonathan with President and Sister Brubaker the night he arrived in Belgium.
Besides when they travel to their mission, LDS missionaries are only allowed to call home on Christmas and Mother's Day and talk for about 40 minutes... so we were able to talk to Jonathan again on Christmas. He also calls his mother in Austria, so we only spoke to him for about 20 minutes. He is currently serving in Zwolle, Nederland and struggling a bit with the language, but loving every minute of his time there. We receive an email from him each Monday and get to hear all about his awesome experiences.
Christmas was great! We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with our kids and invited some of my in-laws, as well. My husband's brother, Alex, who just returned from Afghanistan and Allen's other brother Phil, his wife and two little boys. Santa brought everyone new PJ's and an ornament and then we read the Christmas story in Luke. We also read Santa Claus is Coming to Town to the little boys.
Christmas day, after we open up our gifts, we travel to Las Vegas and spend it with members of my family. This year was really special because it was my parents 50th wedding anniversary. All 8 of my siblings and their children came to celebrate both events. The only members of the family that weren't there were Jon and another nephew who is serving a mission in Hartford, Connecticut.
Here we are all on Christmas day! We had 3 new babies girls all born within a few weeks of each other. The youngest grand baby in this photo is only 6 days old! It was wonderful having everyone there! My parents were so excited. We hadn't all been together in about 7 years.
Here's my little family with my parents...
All my sibs and my parents...
Christmas night we spent at my parents. We had a nice dinner and exchanged gifts. My parents wanted a photo of them with all 9 kids and this was their favorite... it was a good time! I'm dead center in the photo... sixth from the top and bottom.
On December 28, things weren't so good. Our youngest, Christian, was attacked by one of our rottweilers. He had to have about 25 stitches in his arm, back, and hip. He's recovering well and the stitches will be coming out tomorrow. It was a scary thing for him, but he said he isn't afraid of the dogs. We did get rid of the dog that attacked him though. We sold him to another breeder who knows what happened and was fine with it. I won't be showing photos... let's just say it wasn't pretty. He was very brave and will no doubt be a stronger and more compassionate person because of it.
New Year's Eve we had our traditional party. We had about 30 people attend and about half of them stayed the entire weekend. It was nice, but I have to admit, I was ready for everyone to go home by the end of the weekend. It had been quite an exhausting week with Christmas and Christian's injuries.
I'm excited for this new year. My husband and I are committed to exercising more and eating better. We have both already lost 6 pounds each. Not bad! My personal goal is to run a couple 5k's by the end of the year.
We will also have another missionary leaving sometime this year. Our oldest daughter, Ali, has decided to serve a mission and will be starting her mission papers this month. We are so humbled by her choice to serve to Lord. Young women in our church are not obligated to serve, but she feels strongly that this is what the Lord wants her to do. We are very proud of her!