my christmas letter

This past Christmas was a festive and busy time spent with family and friends. Sabrina (my sister), Briar (my sister-in-law), my Mom and I started out the new year with a relaxing day at one of the spas in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was also able to do quite a bit of scrapbooking when my Creative Memories consultant hosted her annual “Jumpstart January” weekend. I got a lot of pages done. Sabrina also returned to Winnipeg, MB in January and then traveled to Guatemala with her team (she’s a team leader for CMU’s Outtatown Discipleship School).

February had an academic focus with many assignments due before reading week and many tests and midterms after reading week. We celebrated the 30th birthday of my brother, Wes, in style at “the Barns” (our nursery barns) which had been cleaned and decorated before being filled with friends and family and food. Later in the month, my brother, Gary, and my parents went to Paraguay, South America for a few weeks to visit friends and family.

March brought with it the opportunity to participate in Gateway’s winter VBS. We traveled to the Avalanche Ranch where kids had “a wild ride through God’s word”. The kids had a great time meeting the different creatures who reminded us that: God is real, God is with us, God is strong, God is awesome, and God is in charge. I was really excited that I could bring Kaityn along this year.

In April, my friend, Vittoria, got married. I am so excited and happy for her. It was a beautiful ceremony and a fun reception. The only thing that put a damper on the day for me was the fact that I had to write one of my exams that day.

This spring and summer I took a couple of courses at Brock. Although it made life a little busier, it was all for a good cause because they were necessary to my program. Sabrina also came home for the spring and summer.

This year, as part of one of my courses, I had a placement in the Grade 1/2 class at Col. John Butler School. I absolutely loved every minute of it and hated to see the end of the school year in June. On June 28, we celebrated my nephew’s first birthday! Rowan quite enjoyed the “Thomas” party, but didn’t seem too sure about the icing on his cake. He is such a little boy and curious about everything.

In July we had planned another “girls’ nite” (Briar, Sabrina, Mom and me) and we bought tickets to see “Shakespeare in the Vineyard” (an annual, outdoor event at Henry of Pelham Winery in St. Catharines). This year’s production was “A Winter’s Tale”. We got poured on, so we went to the Keg for coffee and dessert. Despite the uncooperative weather, we had a great time.

This summer I also had the opportunity to tutor some kids. It was a challenge to come up with fun and interesting things to do (lots of Dr. Seuss!), but I really enjoyed it.

September came and Sabrina left for Winnipeg again. Berlin started preschool and Kaityn moved up to Sr. Kindergarten. KidsWay, Gateway’s Sunday School program, also began in September. This year we’ve combined the Sr. Kindergarten and the Grade One classes together so I’ve got a rather large group of energetic kids. My semester at Brock started and I was given a new placement. This year I am helping out with the Rainbow B.R.I.D.G.E. program. This is an alternative education program for kids that are at risk of dropping out. I was really nervous about it because I am used to working with younger kids (these are Grade Eights), but I genuinely love it and look forward to going each week. Berlin, my niece, turned three on September 10 and we celebrated with a “Diego” party. She loves warm and fuzzy things, it doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s warm and fuzzy she loves it.

Harvest time arrived with its whirl of machinery. The grapes came off without any hitches and then began the waiting for the cold weather so that the ice wine grapes could be picked too. To celebrate her 30th birthday, Briar went to visit some good friends in Burundi, Africa. She had an amazing time.

On November 28, Kaityn, my niece, turned five. She had a “Swimming Princess” party (a pool party with a Disney Princesses theme). She loves reading (and is very good at it) and gives great big bear hugs (grrrr!).

The beginning of December has been a bit busy and stressful as I am in the midst of writing exams. But exams will be done soon. Christmas programs at church, family gatherings and getting together with friends will round out the month. In the midst of all the usual hubbub of the holidays, I hope this holiday season has found you with peace and joy. Take the time to reflect on the Reason for this wonderful season. Wishing you a blessed Christmas and hoping that you’ll experience God’s unending love, amazing joy, and perfect peace throughout the coming year.

With much love and many prayers,