Archive for the ‘ Updates ’ Category

Update Letter – August 2016

Dear Friends and Family,August 2016



It’s been much too long (over a year!) since I last wrote an update letter! For this, I apologize.
Let’s see—what’s happened since June 2015? My inlaws got a new puppy (who is now pretty much full grown, of course, but still relatively small, as he’s a Yorkie) which they named Max.
max-nate(Max when they got him – he’s full grown now!)

In July 2015, I finally cut bangs back into my hair after three years of growing them out. I definitely prefer how I look with bangs, I discovered!

Mid-July 2015, Bobby, Timmy, Nate and I went to a Doctor Who convention (fans of the science fiction series Doctor Who) in Madison, AL, and enjoyed that experience.

I got to visit with my friend Nicole, who moved to the area from Washington State around 2012 and moved back this year, a few times last summer.

In August 2015, Timmy started his first year and Bobby started his last year at Northeast Alabama Community College. Timmy took general classes last fall because he had not yet decided what he wanted to study.
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In September 2015, Robby turned 49. We went and watched War Room, and it is an EXCELLENT movie. (We later purchased the DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital.) Also, Nate and I entered the Jackson County Fair (I entered a baby blanket I crocheted and he entered two of his sculptures) and all three won blue ribbons!

We also traveled to South Carolina to celebrate Rachel’s 21st birthday. We went a couple weeks early, because she had plans with her friends for the actual day, and we had time/money available at that time. We had a really good time with her and my parents and my brother’s family.

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Later in the month, I bought bricks to make a new fire pit in the back yard, and also a few paving stones for an area at the house-end of the driveway where it drops off into grass. Also, Robby’s dad began a small outbuilding near the back of the house for use and storage. The boys helped him quite a bit.

In October 2015, Timmy turned 19, and also got his official driver’s license. It’s been very nice to have another independent driver in the family, even if he rarely goes anywhere alone.

In November 2015, we discovered that our oven element had given up the ghost – right before Thanksgiving, no less. So, we ordered a new one from Amazon, and (thanks to Prime) had it the next day (Tuesday of Thanksgiving week!) and were able to cook dinner!

Also in November 2015, John Luke turned 10!

December was our usual busy holiday season, and I can’t remember anything in particular that stands out.

In January, Nate turned 16! That still seems a little surreal. We got him a cell phone. (He also got his driving permit!)
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Also, Robby’s shed was finished, and we started putting stuff in it. It’s very nice and matches the house.

Bobby officially received his AAS in Computer Science in the mail.

In February, I turned 45!

In March, I got my remaining three top teeth pulled and added to my partial, resulting in, essentially, a full denture without the palate piece. I prefer it that way, for now, but will likely need to get a “real” denture sometime in the future. I’m not in any rush!

Also in March, Sarah turned 7!

In April, Bobby turned 23—I can hardly believe my oldest is “mid-20s” already! Time sure does keep moving. In May, he participated in the college graduation ceremony—the first graduation for him in which he dressed in cap and gown and walked across a stage.
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In May, I got some contact paper and covered up my kitchen wall between the cabinet and the countertop. Instead of dirty white, it is now black floral pattern on a white background. I like it a lot better!

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In June, we took a trip to Ocean Springs, MS. It was a “working vacation” – Robby did some work for a pharmacy there and we visited the beach and some other neighborhood locations, including a laundromat to rewash some clothes that had been brought that hadn’t had time to dry before packing and had soured. At the laundromat, Nate struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was also doing laundry, and it turned out that he had participated in the Spartan Race (a popular obstacle course race that is televised). Nate expressed interest and the man gave Nate his participation bracelet “to keep you inspired.” It was very neat! We were in Ocean Springs Monday through Wednesday.

On Thursday and Friday, Timmy & I took John Luke and Sarah to VBS at Madison Baptist Church.

Saturday of that same week, we once again attended Con Kasterborous, the Doctor Who fan’s convention. This year, we took our friends’ boys with us, as well. We met Frazer Hines & Colin Baker, and also talked to Caitlyn Blackwood—all of whom were part of the Doctor Who TV Show. It was pretty fun. We saw people we see every year, and met a few new people, too!

That was a very busy week!

In July, Timmy buzzed off his fluffy almost-afro and ended up looking like a totally different person!
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Also in July, my inlaws found a pogo stick somewhere and bought it for John Luke & Sarah. They love it! And it’s good exercise!

We also had a very nice visit the weekend before Independence Day with my parents, Rachel, and her friend Laura. They didn’t get to stay long, but we enjoyed having them here!
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Mid-July, I tried my hand at homemade cream puffs, from choux pastry and a filling recipe from the internet. They turned out delicious!

We noticed a plant had sprung up in our “garden planter” (which we set up for strawberries, but none of the plants we put in survived) that appeared to be some sort of squash. Interested, we kept watering and watching, and got a nice sized pumpkin from it! We are hoping for more, but even if we only get the one, it is a great blessing!

My sister-in-law Cathy and her family came to visit toward the end of July, and we very much enjoyed spending time with them. The kids loved being with their cousins for a few days, and we hope we can get together again sooner next time!

The weekend after they left, my sister-in-law Renee and her husband came into town. She spoke at our church’s Mother/Daughter Banquet and he preached Sunday and Wednesday for our “Homecoming” celebration. It was a nice visit, but seemed a lot too short!

We also added another pet—an adorable female kitten who Nate named Juliet. It took her and Scout about a week to get used to each other, but now they play together and get along wonderfully! She is cuddly and purry and we are loving having her!

At the beginning of August, Timmy bought a car! It’s a 1991 Pontiac Bonneville that needs some work, but runs and should get him to college and back. He’s pretty excited about having his own wheels!
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Robby & I celebrated our 25th Anniversary this year! The church had a little party for us with cake and ice cream on Sunday after church, and on Tuesday (our anniversary), we took a little trip to Chattanooga and had a nice time.

This week, Robby & I decided to try something called “The Potato Hack” – in which one eats only potatoes and drinks only coffee, tea, or water for 3-5 days. We heard about it originally in an interview with Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, who lost a lot of weight, and started with two weeks of this. From Monday until Wednesday, I followed it strictly, but today (Thursday) I ate a slice of turkey on my potato at lunch (still lean meat—and no butter, sour cream, or cheese). I hope it will kickstart some weight loss!

Also, sometime recently, Shakalaka (an indoor trampoline park about an hour away) was replacing the foam in their foam pits and offered the old pieces to anyone who wanted to pick them up, so we went and got a carload of them. The kids have them in the boys’ room and they build with them and spread them out and jump in them and just generally have a great time!

Huntsville also recently got an indoor go-kart place, which Bobby and Timmy have both tried out (and Bobby has already been a second time). We plan to use it as incentive to encourage Nate and John Luke to get their schoolwork done in a timely manner this year. Hopefully it will be effective!

Well, this has gotten pretty long, so I’d better quit. Hope you are doing well!

June 2015 Update Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Since it is already the sixth month, and I’m horribly behind on update letters, I’ll just cover this year so far.

In January, Nate turned 15. He is currently about 6’2” – which is the same as his paternal grandfather. Everyone in our house has to look UP at him!

In February, I turned 44 – love the symmetry of that! Also, we got 10” of snow! The kids were very excited about it, and it lasted a couple days, so they got to really enjoy it! The nice thing about the south is that it didn’t stay on the roads at all, really; by 10am they were easy to drive on, if not completely clear.

In March, Sarah Ruth turned six, making her old enough to sit in a regular car seat, which made her very happy! She still uses the built-in car seat in my car, but isn’t legally required to. It’s hard to believe it’s been six years already! She’s a little princess.

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And with that birthday, for the first time in almost 22 years, we have nobody under 6 in the house. It’s different!

Also in March, we discovered Khan Academy – an internet-based learning system that teaches math, primarily, and has courses also in art, science, and history. I decided that it might be fun to learn Geometry (I never took it in high school) and signed up. When I got to where it was confusing me more often than not, I got the idea to start at the very beginning and see how fast I could get through the elementary math. I got through the K-2 in an hour, the 3rd grade in another hour, 4th grade took a couple days, 5th grade took about a week, 6th grade another week or so, 7th grade took about a month, and I’m still working on 8th grade – I didn’t realize how much math I’d forgotten (or never bothered to learn, as my focus in school was more on words). I’m really enjoying learning, though!

In April, Bobby turned 22. He also was awarded a scholarship to the University of Alabama, Huntsville, which he will be using Fall 2016. He finished his second consecutive semester at Northeast Alabama Community College with a 4.0, making his cumulative GPA 3.813 so far. He’s taking summer classes in order to be where he wants to be before transferring to UAH.

In May, Timmy graduated from high school! He’s the third to graduate from our homeschool, and we have three to go. He intends to take some classes at NACC in the fall. We were delighted to have Rachel and my parents in attendance for Timmy’s graduation, and took the opportunity to get a family picture.

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Speaking of classes, Rachel has decided she would like to become a Deaf Interpreter, and is looking into taking classes this fall, as well. 🙂

Also, in May, I won a gift card at a local branch of our bank. I rarely win things, so that was fun! And, Robby’s parents invested in a new-to-them vehicle, and agreed to sell us their ‘old’ one. I put old in quotes because it is newer than any of our other vehicles! We are very thankful they were willing to do that.

On Memorial Day, our church held a cookout, and it was a lot of fun! The kids did big bubbles, the adults (and some of the bigger kids) played horseshoes, and there were a couple balls for the kids to kick around or play catch with, too. There was a lot of good food, and we had a great turnout! It started at 10:00AM, but we were a bit late. On the way there, we passed an RV by the side of the road. We stopped to see if they needed help. Turned out, they had a flat tire. Robby called around and found that nobody was open – it was Memorial Day, after all! So he, Bobby, and Nate stayed to help the guy change his tire while I took the younger kids on to church (Timmy was already there).

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We went to two other graduation celebrations this last month. A lot of my friends’ children are getting into graduating age now! Funny how that happens, isn’t it? One of them was held at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. We had never been, except at Christmas to drive through and see the lights, so we had no idea how neat a place it really is! I was able to purchase a membership using money I got for some writing I do online, and we fully intend to make good use of it while it lasts!

Also, Nate has a sort of summer job, taking care of the weed-eating of the lawn of a friend at church who is unable to tend to it himself. We take him over there every other week so he can trim the edges and corners. He enjoys the work, and likes getting a little pocket money occasionally. He is using some of it to maintain a prepaid cell phone, which he enjoys using mainly to text Rachel.

We were given a little rectangular pool (the 4-foot by 6-foot, 18” deep kind) that is set up in the driveway, and the kids enjoy playing in it when it’s hot out.

John Luke is the only one I haven’t really mentioned. He has mostly finished 3rd grade (he’s just finishing up the math). He’s a good helper around the house and likes to cook.

Sam – the redbone coonhound – is now about eight years old. He’s a very good dog, and is starting to get white around the muzzle. He gets annoyed at the cat (oh, in case you hadn’t heard, we got a cat late last year) when he tries to play with him. We got the cat (Scout) when he was about five months old, and he is just over a year now. We have really enjoyed having a cat again, even though he isn’t the hunter we’d hoped he’d be.

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Robby’s sister, who is a graphic designer by trade, created an ad for us this week that we plan to put up in the store windows of some of our customers. Hopefully, this will help to increase our business and allow us to pay off debt and get our bills ahead a little.

All in all, it’s been a very nice year so far. God is good, and we are blessed!

I hope that you are blessed, as well.

July Update Letter 2013

Dear Friends & Family, July 15, 2013

It’s been four and a half months since my last update letter (sorry!). A lot has happened in that time!

MARCH

In March, my oldest daughter became my second graduate. We had a full ceremony followed by a reception for her. She gave a speech, which she also did in American Sign Language for our Deaf friends that attended. We are very proud of her, as she overcame a lot of difficulties to reach this milestone.

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At the end of March, Sarah turned 4! She was very excited about it, too. She loves to tell people she’s four.

APRIL

April began with Bobby’s birthday – he is now 20! Our first to be out of his teens.

Me, counted to 20 with Sarah: “That’s how old Bobby is today.”
Bobby: “I’m old.”
Sarah: “REALLY old!”

MAY

For Mother’s Day, Bobby spent several hours deep-cleaning in the living room and kitchen. That boy knows what his mom likes!

At the end of May, my mom & Dusty came to visit and to pick up Rachel, who was going to stay with her and help in her church’s VBS. My mom & Dusty went out of town on vacation with her brother for two weeks, so Rae was there to feed the pets and watch the house. She decided she likes it there and plans to stay indefinitely. We miss her!

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JUNE

In June, we got the delightful news that Rachel accepted Christ as her Saviour! We were thrilled to hear it! There is no greater joy to a parent’s heart than to know that the children will be spending eternity in Heaven.

The first weekend in June, Bobby & I attended a science-fiction show convention in Huntsville (primarily Doctor Who, if you have heard of it). He dressed as one of the characters. It was a lot of fun! We got to meet one of the actresses for the show.

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Also in June, Timmy began taking piano lessons. He is doing very well so far.

JULY

We were able to take a trip to South Carolina over Independence Day weekend, and were able to spend a couple of days there with Rachel. It was very nice! We got to visit with my brother & his family while we were there. We also stopped by our campsite in Dahlonega, briefly, but it rained all week, so we chose not to try to camp.

We switched our cell phones to Verizon from AT&T, but kept the same numbers, so if you have our numbers, don’t worry! They’re the same.

Robby’s sister & her husband are here visiting (here in Scottsboro, not here at my house) as I type this. It is great to get to see them and spend some time with Renee & Joey. He is preaching at our church while they’re here, and they have also done some special music and Renee taught in children’s church.

Speaking of special music, Bobby surprised everyone Sunday night. Timmy arranged to sing a special (“Sweet Beulah Land“), and was joined on stage by Bobby and the violin he has been teaching himself to play for the last few months.

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Summer here has been quite mild so far, only getting into the 90s rather than the hundreds being suffered in other areas, and we are thankful for that! I hope that you are doing well. God bless you!

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February 2013 Update Letter

Dear Friends & Family,

February has been a fairly mild month, weather-wise, here. I know you might not have had weather as nice as we experienced, but I hope you did!

Early this month, Rachel took the ACT test. She got her scores on the 25th, with a score that is solidly average. I’m very proud of her, as she has overcome some serious health issues to reach this point. As you will see (or perhaps have seen), she will be graduating on March 16, 2013, with a nice ceremony and reception at the church.

Bobby got a letter this month inviting him to join Mu Alpha Theta, a national honors math club. He hasn’t decided for sure, but I’m encouraging him to go ahead and join.

My brother started several new blogs, in order to separate his writing by genre. He included me as a contributor to a couple, but I haven’t contributed much, yet.

I turned 42 this month. Robby got me a new dresser made of real wood, which is a great blessing! He bought it unfinished and his dad stained it for us. It looks very nice! Also, the church threw me a very nice birthday party after church the Sunday before my birthday. It was very sweet!

I was also able to get three more bad teeth out of my mouth, and now have them added to my partial plate. It is a blessing to have teeth that don’t hurt, even if they are fake!

We were able to get a family membership to Sci-Quest again, this month, which will allow us to visit as often as we like for the next year. This is a hands-on science museum that we enjoy; plus, we have homeschooling friends who also have a membership, so it will be nice to be able to spend more time with them, also.

And, I finally took down the Christmas decorations. I guess it was about time, huh!?

May God bless you!

January 2013 Update Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope you are well. I am hoping to do better with keeping up with updates this year, so I’m hurrying to do this one before January is over!

December was pretty nice. The Christmas parade on the first Monday of December actually saw some reasonably warm weather, for the first time since we moved here in 1998. Usually, we get freezing weather starting the day of or the day before the parade.

We went to a birthday party for a friend’s son on the 2nd Saturday, and then the following Tuesday, we attended a special memorial service that the funeral home hosted for those who lost a loved one in 2012. While it was a beautiful service, I hope that it will be many years before I “qualify“ to be invited to another one.

We took pictures so I could make a Christmas card (which is enclosed—sorry I didn’t get it to you sooner!!)

I made peanut butter fudge and divinity, which everyone enjoyed. I used the recipes Robby’s grandmother gave me.

We visited with a friend, who wasn’t home when we arrived. The interlude when we were waiting provided us with this adorable photo of Sarah:

Sarah, waiting

Rachel had a Christmas tree in her room this year—a small 3 or 4 foot tall tree. She and Sarah decorated it together. I believe it was the first time Sarah decorated a tree, since we have had a tiny 2-foot tree on the piano that more or less stays decorated for about as long as she has been alive.

Rachel's tree

On Christmas Eve, we had dinner at Robby’s parents’ house, as we do every year. After eating, his dad read the Christmas story from Luke. After that, we opened presents, then fellowshipped for a while.

Bobby & Mammaw

On Christmas morning, we opened family stuff at home. John Luke was quite pleased with his police set and “Perry the Platypus“ pajamas. (It’s a character from a cartoon.)

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After Christmas, Robby’s oldest sister, her husband, and two of their children came to visit. It was really great to see them!

And then, the new year arrived! We started out the year with a visit with some good friends. We played games and generally had a pleasant time. We have already planned to visit again, though we haven’t set a date (yet!).

In the second week of January, Timmy finally got his permit (“learner’s license“ here in Alabama). He hasn’t driven much, yet, but is excited about learning how.

Nathaniel turned 13—another teen in the house! He got a guinea pig for his birthday, which he named Frodo.

Bobby is taking a full load this semester, including a drawing class (at which he excels already) and a programming class. Most of his classes are Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes, but one of them is Tuesday-Thursday, and one is online (no on-campus class meetings).

Rachel now has 12 of her paintings for sale at a consignment art shop. It would be very nice if her paintings sell. She will be graduating this spring, but isn’t sure yet what she plans to do after that.

Robby is doing pretty well, in general, and is keeping quite busy these days, which is a good thing! I am also keeping busy with computer work as well as housework and children, but it’s a good busy! My health has improved a lot, but my eyes are still not great, but it may be that I just need a new prescription for glasses. I’ll find out in March.

I hope this letter finds you healthy and happy, and may God bless you!

October Update Letter

Dear Friends,

Sorry I have not updated in so long! A lot has been going on. My last letter was sent the end of January. I definitely did not intend to wait until October to send another one!

At the time of the January letter, I had just found out I was pregnant with what would have been our seventh living child, following two miscarriages last summer. The pregnancy went along uneventfully through the spring and summer, with our 20-week ultrasound showing a healthy girl, who we named Hannah Grace. We were eagerly anticipating her arrival around the end of September. However, as most of you already know, we instead ran into some complications resulting in a stillbirth August 26, four weeks before Hannah’s due date. We had her funeral on the 28th, and I ended up back in 9/1 with eclampsia for a week, followed by another stay the end of September for blood clots in both legs and both lungs. I am now recovering, with most of the issues resolved. I still have an issue with my eyes and possibly a pinched nerve in my neck that I am praying will resolve over the next few weeks, though I’ve been told it can take up to a year.

The children weathered the time without mom (and without dad, to some degree, since he was with me) pretty well. Bobby pretty much took over the business and Rachel ran the household, and both did wonderfully.

Other things that have happened since the last letter include:

In February, I turned 41.
In March, Sarah turned 3.
In April, Bobby turned 19.
In June, Bobby graduated from high school officially.
In September, Robby turned 46 (while I was in ICU… what a birthday!) and Rachel turned 18. We had an ice skating party for her in between my hospital stays— I am so glad we were able to do that!

Rachel has also seen amazing improvement in her health since May. We are pleased with her progress.

Additionally, Sarah has shown interest in John Luke’s schoolwork (he is in 2nd grade), so I tried doing “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” with her — and so far, she is doing wonderfully with it! We are only on the 4th lesson, but she is having no problem doing the sounds of the letters. The two littles may BOTH be reading by the end of this school year!

Oh, and another side effect of being in the hospital half of eight weeks, and unwell the other half — I have lost over 40 pounds. I intend to continue to eat right and get exercise, in hopes of losing about 60 more. So far, so good!

I hope you are doing well. Thank you for being patient with me and my lack of communication over most of this year.