Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hi, all. It's been awhile since I posted, as I've been finding it more fun to play with Nala than to write about her. Today, I'm usurping the Nala blog to do a Christmas letter and, hopefully, provide an update on the activities of this branch of the family.

Life is still as busy as ever for Norm and I, even though the last child flew the coop almost 2.5 years ago now. Norm has been on the elder board at church for the past couple of years and in 2010 will serve his second year as chair. We never could have guessed this would happen, but the Lord has been in the timing. He continues to work at MMHI, though visions of retirement are starting to dance in his head. He also continues to enjoy hunting, especially for geese and deer. This year wasn't the best, as he only got one goose and no deer. Both of his hunting buddies got deer, though, and were very gracious to share with us. Norm has also taken up smoking as a hobby. No - NOT that kind of smoking! ;-) The kind that involves a smoker, various kinds of meat, and lots of time! So far he has smoked venison, goose, beef (including jerky), salmon, chicken, pork, and catfish. This is one hobby of his that I get to enjoy the outcome of!

I celebrated 16 years of state employment this year, and am enjoying my current position as the administrative assistant for the Director the ROTC programs here at the University. Besides working, I've continued in my church activities as co-chair of the Hospitality Team at church (we organize the regular Fellowship luncheons), leading Moms Group, and coordinating our churchs big Memorial Day festival, "Oak Fest." In between, I hang out with my sweet little pooch, Nala. She has been a tremendous blessing to me in ways I could not have foreseen. She is the best exercise partner I could imagine. These days I get in two 20 minutes every single day - no questions asked. I have to admit I like it way better than I would a gym membership, and on top of that, I have company when Norm is off hunting.

Jaime graduated from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Phoenix in October 2008, and we thought things were okay with her job situation, but in February of this year the economy caught up with her and she was laid off. By July it became apparent that coming back to WI and working at her grandparents bakery would be a good idea until something else came along. Well, she's still working at the bakery, and we're enjoying have her so close at hand after 10 years of having her off in the nether regions of the country, but it looks like something else has come along. The contracting firm she worked for after completing her military tour has offered her the option of going to Afghanistan at the end of March. We're praying something better comes along!

This has been a big year for Josh, as he married the love of his life, Shelly. The date was set for August, but they got impatient and decided to make it legal in June, but still have the ceremony and reception in August. Whatever - they are now married. Pastor said at the August wedding that they were tying a double knot! Mom and Dad have decided that in the future each kid only gets ONE wedding!

You may recall that immediately following his high-school graduation Jason moved to Phoenix, ostensibly to help Jaime pay the rent so she could finish up her schooling. He found work there as a security guard and helped pay the rent, but as soon as her schooling was finished, he came back to Madison. A year and half away helped put the importance of family in perspective for him. He applied for a job at Mendota and has been working there since March, and shares an apartment with a friend that is just 2 blocks away from Mom and Dad's house.

Thus ends this condensed version of the family update. Hope all of you are well, and we rejoice with many answered prayers. Niece, Gwen, has completed her radiation therapy for breast cancer and is now cancer-free and is a happy newlywed to Brian, who has been special to her for a long time. Congratulations to you both. Great nephew, Travis and his wife, Emily have a new baby that was born quite early, and is now home and doing well with his Mom and Dad. Thanks to Facebook, we're able to keep up with these things a bit better. Great niece, Christine and her husband, Jason have two precious boys, Noah and Eli. Eli is only 17 months old, and has health issues that need much prayer. Looks like he will need a trachea replacement in the near future. Please keep them in your prayers.

From our family to yours, we wish you a very blessed Christmas & New Years season! Norm and Donna

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's been a cold winter here in Wisconsin, so I HAD to take pity on her and get her a coat and some boots. She wasn't real crazy about the boots, but it beats snow between her toes!

Princess of the Mountain

Playing "Princess of the Mountain" with a classmate from her "Puppy Socialization" class.

As I mentioned, Nala graduated from "Puppy Socialization"

Nala and Asia playing

Being a puppy, Nala has tons of energy. Being well past the puppy stage, Asia, our other dog is just a little less energetic, so we didn't think it was a good idea to just let Nala go when her and Asia are both hanging out with us. Hence, the leash. This is the first time Asia initiated playing with Nala. (They play together all the time now!)

As expected...

...adding a puppy to my life has made it busier than ever, but in a delightful way. Nala has inserted herself in our lives without aplomb and made herself at home. She has finished her puppy socialization class at Pet Smart and graduated. The instructor called her the "social butterfly, " so you can imagine that she enjoys being around people and other dogs. It's been so cold that she hadn't been anywhere for a couple of weeks besides her short "duty" walk. Then Sunday I took her to a meeting, and she was so excited to see other people! I think she had cabin fever. Poor thing! We are both looking forward to warmer weather!