Recently I came across a list of the “top 10 words of 2007.” One of those words was: apathetic. That about sums up how I’ve felt every time I’ve considered starting on this holiday epistle. Irregardless of writer’s block, it’s got to be done, so… on with the big things.
When we moved to Bethel Camp 8 and 1/3 years ago, we moved into the 2nd floor apartment over the camp dining hall. It wasn’t a bad setup; we were happy there. And the guests who traipsed through our hallway to get to their bedrooms were more worried about the invasion of our privacy than we were. But this summer, with Miller Hall sitting empty, we decided it was time for a change – and a more defined sense of home. As soon as camp was finished for the summer, our family made the great migration from Briarhopper Hall to Miller Hall 80 yards away.
We love living in a building that is entirely defined as our home. I have a front door! And a yard! (That may not make much sense if you’ve never visited…) Carrying in groceries becomes a breeze when you no longer have to pack them up two flights of stairs. And finally, finally my home smells like my home. Thanks to my incredible husband who moved a woodstove into the basement and keeps it burning for me.
We’ve acquired a small farm since last year at this time. In our last holiday letter, I believe I mentioned each of our rabbits by name (due to the creativity involved in the naming process.) Since then, there have been too many rabbits to count, much less to think of names for. Judah and Wesley had quite the rabbit business going for awhile – there were at least 30 at one point, but now we’re finally down to about 5. It’s time to move on to bigger game. Also, we found out that the majority of the family isn’t interested in eating rabbit meat. (Wesley, surprisingly, has turned out to be the wild meat eater in the bunch.)
In addition to paying the rising grocery prices to feed our family of six, we purchase cat food, dog food, rabbit food, corn (for Roger’s 5 Katahdin sheep) and…. the duck mostly manages to fend for herself. There’s been talk about a horse in our future, and more serious conversation about a milk cow. Especially after Roger was offered one “on loan” if he wants to catch one that’s been running free (i.e. wild) up on the strip mine. But exactly how much adventure is a gallon of milk worth?
Enough about the animal kingdom and on to the little twinkles in our eyes. Only they’re not so little anymore.
Judah turned 9 this fall. (All our kids are odd this year. But next year… they’ll get even.) He’s been doing great in 3rd grade, and has even started piano lessons – and been very faithful with his practicing. I guess that’s something I’ve waited for since the day that child was born. We don’t expect our children to be musical wonders – we just want them to love it. Another dream I have is for each of them to be book lovers, so I’ve really enjoyed seeing and hearing Judah read chapter books this year.
He’s his daddy’s right-hand man, whether it’s riding along on the church bus to pick up kids on Wednesday evenings, carrying in firewood, or going along to help the neighbors break their new horse. And when he’s in the right mood, he can really help take the stress out of getting supper on the table. He’s going to be quite the cook before long. At least…. grilled cheese shows real potential, right?
Wesley blew out 7 candles on his birthday cake this September, and knowing Wesley… they were blown out with great gusto. Wesley has been showing signs this year of becoming a responsible person – something that I’ve always hoped might happen, as it’s a trait that his older brother seemed to develop at about 6 weeks of age. That’s one thing about being a parent – we realize that we love our children for their differences. Judah and Wesley balance each other out with their different points of strengths and weaknesses.
Wesley is just as vibrant (and almost as curly) as ever, but his passionate dislike of people touching his hair is starting to wane, and he’s starting to lose his pickiness at the dinner table. He’s been an understanding 1st grader – he’s done an amazing job of consciously being a friend to some new boys in his class when they didn’t know anyone yet. And I’m still surprised when I hear that boy read out loud. Maybe I still expect him to be that 3-year-old kid who would happily sit and listen to stories for hours. Now he wants books that he can read himself.
Malin… our 5-year-old princess. A year ago, she and I were dealing with tempers, bad attitudes and major pouting issues. (Hers – not mine. My pouting is usually more subtle.) The good news is – we are now on the other side of that. This isn’t your typical yearly review kind of bragging, is it? But it’s a big step towards her becoming the woman that we dream of having raised. As a parent, it’s satisfying to realize that you’ve helped your child overcome what could become a serious personality flaw.
She’s doing some homeschool this year, (and loves to announce this to anyone who asks) with plans to be in 1st grade at Riverside Christian School with her brothers in the fall. (Judah wants us to make sure you know that she will not be in the same grade as them; just at the same school). She’s also quite dexterous – she can tie shoes, wrap presents, make her bed and blow bubbles with gum, and she’s been begging to learn to knit. Her daddy is finishing up a loft bed for her in the small room she shares with her sister. She asked me one night, “Why did Daddy have to build a new bed? Why can’t I always share a bed with Avery?”
Avery, 3, is still our little sweetie. She made the decision (for which I’m extravagantly grateful) to bypass the terrible twos and leave us with happy, snuggly memories of raising our last 2-year-old. For the first 3 years of her life, she’s been compliant, affectionate, considerate and polite. To add to that, she’s just an all-around fun kid. She loves to fold washcloths and does a pretty good job at it – now she’s moving on to dish towels. When it’s time for everyone to clean up the house in the evening, she runs to the kitchen and says she’ll help wash dishes. It’s always nice to think that playing in water and scrubbing a plate or two is actually helpful – never mind that you’re just trying to get out of the real job at hand.
We’re thankful for Avery’s good health. When she was born with a hole in her heart and a too-narrow spot in her aorta, her cardiologist told us that she’d most likely have to have surgery when she turned 3. I know many of you have prayed for her – thank you. When we took her for her twice-a-year appointment with her cardiologist in April, we went expecting to set up a date for surgery. Instead we were told, “Everything looks great! We’ll see you in a year, and we’re not going to worry about that surgery.” We’re thankful for a doctor who believes that the Lord creates bodies that can heal as they develop.
This year has been more family-filled than usual for me. I got to see almost all of my nearly 200 closest family members – at our Hunsberger reunion in April and our Moyer reunion in September. On top of all that, my cousin Wendy moved to Bethel Camp in April, along with (thankfully) her husband Shaun and their sweet daughter Lily. Wendy, being my 3rd cousin, is the closest thing I’ll ever have to a real sister. Oh, and she’s also my 1st cousin. And if that confuses you… our children are not only 2nd cousins, but 4th cousins as well. Malin and Avery really love spending time with their 2nd/4th cousin Lily. I’ve appreciated that Avery has gotten a taste of what it’s like to be a big sister, and I love to see Lily’s excitement when she catches a glimpse of one of my children.
I’m sure there are many more things I could write, and I probably will, just not here. If you google ten4ruthie, you may find them. Until next year…
Roger & Ruthie,
Judah, Wesley, Malin & Avery
Ooh, what I liar I am. Next year never did come for the annual Voth family Christmas letter. Oh well…..