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Merry Christmas

December 26, 2012

2012_card_test3

 

Dear Family & Friends,

2012 started off slowly in the Ballard household, but it didn’t take long for that to change.  This year, our major project was to completely re-do the girls’ bedroom.  What was intended to be a short project, with Andrew building a new set of triple bunk beds, turned into much more than we expected.  After more sanding than Andrew would care to recall, the beds were eventually finished and the girls love them. Before they could fully set everything up, though, we had to repair some drywall and finish painting.  After several weeks of searching, we finally found coordinating bedding they could all agree upon and everything was completed.  We plan to tackle the boys’ room next year and hope lessons learned this year will make that process go much more smoothly.

The kids are all showing more interest in doing outdoor activities (including camping), so we decided to spend the summer making sure that Michele wasn’t the only good swimmer in the family.  In addition to pool passes for the whole family, this was our first year of official lessons.  The three older kids completed a two-week beginner course at the local pool and then another two-week class at the University.  Christopher and Erin moved into a higher level fairly quickly and Sean was able to get a better grasp on the basics with the extra instruction.  We hope for them to continue classes again next summer and to start Kelsie since she’ll be old enough.

Each of the kids grew by leaps and bounds over the last year.  We start each school year by marking their height on the wall, and the five oldest kids each grew 4 inches!  Christopher’s last official measurement was 5’ 6”, but we are both noticing that our 11-year-old boy has nearly caught us in height and continues to gain quickly…and his 10-year-old sister isn’t all that far behind.  Our home school now includes a 6th grader, a 5th grader, a 3rd grader, and one in Pre-K.  Michaela and Liam also like to join in, but they usually get to be each other’s buddy during school time and are learning to play well together.

In September, Michele and three of the kids submitted entries in the annual local festival.  Michele entered a close-up photograph of a spider.  Sean entered a very colorful dragon poster in the marker category and received a Participant ribbon.  Erin entered a beautiful latch hook rug (she worked on completing it right down to the last minute), earning her an Honorable Mention. Christopher entered two different Lego displays and dragon poster as well.  He won two first place and a third place ribbon, but was most excited to learn the first place ribbons came with a $5 prize as well.  Everyone is already planning what they will do next year, and even the younger girls are hoping to get in on the fun.

The months of October and November were a whirlwind.  During some of the most beautiful October weather we’ve had, we spent three days “camping” at Blackwater Falls State Park.  Most people wouldn’t really call staying in a beautiful cabin with all the amenities of home “camping”, but Michele says it is the kind she can get used to! We were able to enjoy a wonderful visit there with Andrew’s Grandma Ruth, Great-Aunt Louise, and Great-Uncle Ellsworth, and several members of the extended family.  It was a great reunion for the siblings, now almost all in their 90s.  Shortly after that trip, friends from Florida came to visit and enjoy the end of the autumn foliage.  It was so much fun for the kids to have friends close to their age to pal around with for a few days!

The end of October brought a stark weather contrast, as we received nearly a foot of snow courtesy of Hurricane Sandy. The heavy snow downed a lot of trees and we were without power for a week. It was an excellent time to do some traveling, so Andrew flew to a SQL Server users’ conference in Seattle, Washington, while Michele and the kids went to North Carolina for a week.

Our daily lives continue to include work for Andrew and homeschooling for Michele and the kids.  We completed our first semester of co-op and the two older girls (along with Michele) are participating in American Heritage Girls.  Erin loves earning new badges, and we love that it is a wonderful organization that teaches the girls to honor God, encourages service, and supports family.  Michele continues to enjoy decorating cakes and has had the opportunity to help the older girls in the AHG troop with their cake decorating badge work.

The boys keep busy collecting everything they find and building something new out of it.  Christopher and Sean have developed a love for all things robotic and Liam is following in their footsteps.  Andrew recently introduced them to the ‘80s television show “MacGyver” and opened up a whole new world of “science.”  (We use that term loosely.) 😉

As another year draws to a close, we again hope this letter finds all of you healthy and happy. As always, we deeply appreciate your love and prayers throughout the year. We have much to be thankful for: our friends and family, our health and home, and blessings too numerous to count. It is our hope that you, too, have opened your arms to God’s love this year and that each of you will celebrate this season in the knowledge of His loving grace, manifested in that little newborn baby so many years ago.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

The Ballard Family

Andrew, Michele, Christopher, Erin, Sean, Kelsie, Michaela, & Liam

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jennifer permalink
    December 27, 2012 12:44 am

    Thank you for the Chrisfmas letter. Love the picutres!! 🙂

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