Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas 2014

Dear Friends & Family,
We are closing in on the 2nd year of being in our new house and land. I am still just as deliriously happy today as the first day we moved in. Every single day I am smiling and giggling and asking the kids, “Aren’t you SO happy to be living here?!” – just so I can hear their answer…….again…….and again. That question might get old one day but NOT YET.
I have never in my life imagined that I could have so much. I guess that keeping my expectations low can be a real blessingJ Seriously though, this was another amazing year that is unique to our family. We don’t have sports stats to share with you or how amazing the kids are doing in school. We have haunted trails, air soft wars, parties, a Gaga Ball pit, and Tee-Pee stories. My kids are going to have the greatest childhood memories that I hope will continue when they move on to build their own families.
Nick, 21, returned from Basic Training and his AIT in May and does his weekend drills just a few miles away. He works with landscaping while he finishes up his Associates Degree at Longview College. During his free time, he plays volleyball and soccer. He volunteers as a Catholic youth leader in North Kansas City and has found a home with the young adult Catholics in the Kansas diocese.  He still does not know what God is calling him to do but he’s at least decided that he wants to learn more about his faith, go on as many retreats as financially possible, and work with teenagers in the church. As long as he gets to heaven, he can pick tulips for the rest of his life. I don’t care!
Mary Kate, 20, was finally at the top of the waiting list for a waiver that would allow her to attend a program for adults with special needs. She now attends Developing Potential – a very nice program that keeps her busy with art, field trips, cooking, exercise, life skills and continue her education with reading and writing. She is photographed with all of her Special Olympics medals that she’s earned in the last 12 years.  She is still just as kind and loving as ever. She's perfectly happy to pick tulips for the rest of her life AND she is going straight to heaven. See? There's my proof that I don't care!
Samantha, 15, got her drivers permit this year. Since I don’t have too many positive experiences to share with you about that, let’s jump to something else. She has blossomed into a beautiful young lady. She spends entirely too much time studying because she wants her work to be perfect. When she wants to read or study quietly, she drives the 4 wheeler up to her “throne” that overlooks hundreds of acres of rolling hills and trees. I take everyone that still has use of their 2 legs up to see it. This was carved out by our awesome neighbor and even has her named carved/burnt into it - just in case there is any question:)
Max, 14, is still the outdoorsman. Everything he gets for his birthday or Christmas
has to do with his adventures outside. He has been making YouTube videos with his new GoPro that he will be posting for the world to see very soon. He played Charlie in Marvin’s Room that was put on by Calvary Bible College and will be entertaining us all in Mary Poppins this spring. Max may hate doing his homework but he can tolerate it if we are outside, on the porch, or in the Tee-Pee. Our neighbor also built the tee-pee that he furnished and decorated with nature’s resources and Indian artifacts.  Two or three days a week, you will find us in there reading History as Max builds a fire.

Theresa is 12 years old. God has positioned her just perfectly in the line of children. She negotiates, settles disputes, and compromises. She is best friends with the older kids and younger kids because she can identify and adjust to their likes and dislikes.  Sometimes I forget how young she is. I am ready and comfortable to share and talk to her like an adult – like she is already my best friend. She is the child that fills in the gaps.
Benjamin, 9, is still a rambunctious boy that drives the family crazy. This is his first year homeschooling. I SO wanted him to do one more year at our local public school but he was feeling left out of the family. I couldn’t let him feel that loneliness any more, even if it meant losing the freedom I had when he was in school.  Self-control, good sportsmanship, being a good friend, patience, solving disputes non-violently – these are all virtues we have been working on all year.  He could scale buildings, fly, fight, conquer a small country, and become one of our greatest saints with his God-given gifts if he would just channel his aggressive personality & character in that direction.  Parents of many children have a reputation of slacking off in their duties with the younger kids. Ben brings us back to reality. He is our “shot in the arm” for parenting.

Josie, 7, is still my cute little red-head. She LOVES attention. When I notice her in a new outfit or hairdo, or call her by some silly nickname, she smiles and giggles. I broke my rule about putting the younger kids in public school to learn their reading and writing. I couldn’t bear seeing her cute little cheeks and oversized backpack walking away from me every morning – hence, she is home with me.  She is an excellent student and is reading and writing like a pro. For her 7th birthday, Roy took her out to shoot her first guns. She even made her own bullets.

Matthew, 4, is everyone’s favorite little boy. He isn’t scared of anything and wants to participate in every activity that his brothers and sisters are doing. Rarely will you see one of the kids on a 4-wheeler without him.  He has his own bed but has never slept in it. He sleeps wherever he wants – the toy box, my laundry basket, the closet, with a sibling, the trampoline, etc.  He has to be with the action – ok, there’s no action in my laundry basket but rest assured, the action is close by!
Andrew just turned one and has started walking. Oh my does this kid get attention! Everyone loves this little guy. We chase him, tickle him, play, love and squeeze on him all day long.  I have his playpen outside in the driveway. Whenever it is over 55degrees, I stick him in there so he can enjoy the wind and chickens. This kid will have the greatest memories!
Roy has been working his tail off all year. He is building and fixing something every single day. He loves it though. He has, long ago, completely died to himself and just serves his family. Our happiness is his greatest reward. He doesn’t need to be on the ATVs, in the treehouse, the tee-pee or the gaga ball pit. He only needs to know that we are in there and that brings him his joy. He took Samantha and Max on a mission trip to Guatemala this summer to build stoves, chicken coops and pig pens for families.

I am having a crazy busy homeschool year. I jumped from homeschooling 3 kids to homeschooling 5. You can quadruple that number since Ben is one of them! I jumped from teaching 2 classes at our co-op to teaching 4 with Trigonometry & Geometry as one of the grueling subjects. I have added a mobile toddler and 3 days of traveling to and from Mary Kate’s new school. I am tired.  Following the example of my husband, I receive my greatest reward when I see the love and happiness from my kids – as long as I don’t sit still and start feeling sorry for myself. Every day, I get to do 2 of my favorite chores – take the eggs out of the chicken coop & burn trash. Yes, I LOVE burning stuff! Thanks to having such a large family, we get overloaded with burnable trash twice a day. I love the smell of a good fire and anything else that is unique to living on land.
Roy and I are in our 7th year teaching a chastity class for teenagers every week for 2 hours – all school year. We LOVE it and can’t imagine ever giving this up. We started facilitating a retreat for engaged couples that average 4-5 retreats a year. We love teaching anyone and everyone who will listen about God’s plan for our bodies in the single, religious, or married life.
I pray you had a great 2014 and an even better 2015!!
                                                                             Love, The Christy’s –
                                                                             Roy & Katy
                                                                             Nick, Mary Kate, Samantha
                                                                             Max, Theresa, Benjamin,
                                                                             Josie, Matthew, & Andrew
Some of our favorite pictures!!
The best investment we ever made -- a Gaga Ball Pit! Right in our own back yard!
Samantha gets a kiss from a special needs girl in Guatemala
My kids are around special needs children & adults all the time anyway. There were no new experiences on this visit.
Ben made his first Holy Communion this year and promptly began serving with Max a week later. He sits still for this!
Our amazing waterslide in the Summer/Suicide Hill in the Winter
They meet for the first time in 5 months!!
It SO wouldn't be right to leave out the neighbor. (Yes, he's married:)