We're still here!

Well the Chrismtas letter made it as far as the desktop this year...We are alive and well!
We have now been in Iowa a whole year and have adjusted back to our roots (and the weather)!
The seasons are beautiful and we are looking forward to this Christmas Season and snow.

We are still working on the house (slowly).  We now have all functioning bathrooms,  90% of the interior painted and the retaining wall rebuilt.  In August we went on a week “camping” trip (we stayed at a KOA with a water park and pizza place) at Mt Rushmore.  On our way home we camped in Badlands National Park and were lucky to catch the annual astronomy symposium and toured the missile silo bunker.  The stars were beautiful, as was the weather and no cell phone service.

Over the summer had a community garden plot at the local park.  We met lots of people and carried hundreds of gallons of water by bucket because of the drought.  In the end had a productive garden (and good looking arms).  We did several one-night camping trips in and around Cedar Rapids. Emmaly & Jared did their annual canoe trip on Turkey River in NE Iowa... at the end of of drought...we ended up walking next to our canoe for three hours, but enjoyed some kid-free time.  

Jared continues to work at Rockwell-Collins under the government division.  Last spring he spent a several weeks (months?) in Virginia for work.  We are happy to have him back in Iowa again.  In March Jared was called as a Bishop at church, it flipped our lives upside down for the first few months, but we have learned to prioritize and enjoy serving the people in Cedar Rapids.  In what little free time he has Jared enjoys spending time with the youth at church and at home with the kids.

Emmaly is finding a bit of new freedom with only one at home.  She started working at the local YMCA this fall teaching a youth fit class.  They gave her a room full of preteens and a whistle, what more could a woman ask for?  She also became a trainer for the LIVESTRONG cancer rehabilitation program through the Y and is excited to see it launch this winter.   Em ran her first sprint triathlon this summer and lived to see the finish line.

Erin (8):
Erin was baptized on her eighth birthday in November and we enjoyed the day with lots of family and friends.  She is active in Girl Scouts, is on the Junior Skippers jump rope team and loves the second grade! Last spring she ran track through the “Y” and long jumped 9’4” leading the women's division.  She loves to dance and sing and enjoys reading.

Eliza (5):
Eliza started all day kindergarten this fall and also loves it!  I hear that she is perfectly behaved at school.  Eliza was in gymnastic last spring and played t-ball over the summer.  She kept with the boys pretty well.  Eliza enjoys harassing her little brother and drawing.

Isaac (3):
Ike is into trucks and planes. He joined Mighty Mites at the “Y” and has enjoyed getting to know other kids his age.  His favorite thing to do is go to Aldi’s grocery store.  He is VERY talkative and is an entertaining little guy.

We wish you all the best during this Christmas Season.  May your find great blessings in your life as you celebrate and reflect on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!