Christmas Letter – 2015
Dear Family and Friends,
Other than it’s getting harder to hear with background noise, my body seems to be healthy as a horse. Darell claims that he tells me things that I can’t recall, I argue that he never told me those things, I think it’s his memory, he thinks it’s mine. Maybe, it’s a little of both or the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be.
I’m still involved with the Regis Catholic Schools Auction, Polka Dot Powerhouse, Western WI Christian Writer’s Guild and Women of the Valley. Please like my Lessons for Tomorrow facebook page as I will be posting some of my legacy writings. I have challenged myself to write one article a month that will be published in the EC Journal.
Rebecca student taught in Costa Rica for ten weeks and in Green Bay for ten weeks. Her blog, Adventures from Student Teaching Abroad can be found at https://livelearnleaplessons.wordpress.com. She graduated magna cum laude in May from St. Norbert in DePere with a Bachelor of Arts in Education with certificates in Early Childhood Education and English as a Second Language. This summer she taught Art in Madison and lived with her cousin Isaac and his wife Sonya. This fall she accepted a full time position team teaching Kindergarten at Sherman Elementary. Nana and I both attended Kindergarten at Sherman. She’s living at home and spends her evenings cutting and pasting. Only a teacher would have a laminating machine on their Christmas list.
Rachel is a junior at the University of MN – Twin Cities studying Bioproducts Engineering. In the past few months, the University of Iowa has sent her a birthday and Happy Thanksgiving greeting, maybe they’re still hoping that she’ll switch schools. She did so well in her Microeconomics class that the Economics Department sent her a letter trying to persuade her to change her major. This summer she was a food technologies intern at Fiberstar Bio Ingredient Technologies, Inc. in Eau Claire. She also spent a week in California being a baby whisperer. In her spare time (when she is not practicing organic chemistry reactions or doing Transport problems), Rachel enjoys exploring the wonders of nature, baking delicious treats for her boyfriend Adam to feast upon, and watching thrilling motion pictures, such as Despicable Me and Frozen.
Sarah is a Senior this year, trying to decide what college she’ll be attending next fall. She would like to own a bakery someday so she is looking at pursuing a degree in Business Administration. This year she opted to run Cross Country instead of playing Volleyball. In the Spring she’ll play Softball. She is also in Forensics. She works two jobs, doing office work on Saturday mornings and catering on the weekends. She’s very much like her Nana as she’s creative, likes to bake, loves shopping and clothes, and has Reynaud Syndrome in her hands. She’s a good cook and likes to try out new recipes that she finds on Pinterest. I like it when her boyfriend Andrew comes over for supper and she’s cooking. I know that stuffed shells or whatever fancy dish she’s making will be tastier than the one dish wonder that I would make. She divided her Christmas list into Big Spender ($50 – $250), Just a 20 or Two ($20 – $50), and Average Gift for an Average Girl ($1 – $20). She always keeps us laughing.
During Spring Break, in March, the family & Nic (Bec’s Boyfriend) ventured to Costa Rica to meet up with Rebecca. The San Jose airport had been closed the two days prior to our arriving due to a nearby volcano erupting. Thankfully our flight wasn’t cancelled. Upon landing in San Jose we picked up our 12 passenger mini-van, that looked more like a short bus, we nicknamed Ferdinand. Our first stop was Sarapiqui, where we stayed at Breakfast with the Toucans & Monkeys. We did spot one Toucan and heard the Capuchin monkeys at night but didn’t see any on the property, only their droppings. Rachel was the first to find dysentery, in a country where you’re not allowed to flush their one-ply toilet paper and the bathrooms aren’t completely private. In Sarapiqui we walked around Volcan Paos. Us, gringos, must walk fast because the Tican Spanish sign said that takes approximately 60 minutes to walk around the park. It took us less than 15 minutes, which included taking lots of pictures and videoing our Velociraptor walk. We toured Las Paz where we saw beautiful waterfalls and toured an animal sanctuary where one can hold Toucans, butterflies and get defecated on by a rather large turkey, ask Darell to tell you the whole story.
Our second stop was Monteverde. Don’t ever travel in Costa Rica without a GPS, it’s worth every penny! There are very few street signs, dangerous one lane bridges, and speed bumps in front of the schools on the main highways. There was lovely ding ding about every thirty seconds warning us of our impending doom. The roads are not like home, they’re worse than Ohio backroads, just enough room to get a car and bicycle through, not a tandem banana truck, moped carrying a family of five and a mini-bus named Ferdinand. One lane bridge etiquette in Costa Rica, two honks, floor it and the first one to the middle wins. The only time we managed to go above 15 miles per hour. In Monteverdi we went on a hanging bridge zip-line tour on a very windy day. Costa Rican safety requires one to wear footwear while zip-lining, which might include a pair of flip-flops secured with electrical tape. Our last stop was Puerto Viejo where we stayed at the Jungle House walking distance from the beach. They say that it’s good luck to have a spider guard your house, but five spiders the size of your hand was a little nerve racking. The morning sunrises made it all worth it.
Mail, straight smooth wide roads, furnaces, air conditioners, lawn mowers, big box stores and hot water are non-existent in Costa Rica. Weed-wackers, monkeys, sloths and crazy drivers on motorcycles are abundant. So many things we take for granted living in the United States. During the week we survived on a duffle bag full of raisins, cashews, pistachios, almonds, wheat thins, trail mix, tuna (Friday’s during Lent), peanut butter (Rachel’s go to), and our handy dandy water filters.
Darell and I went home to Ohio in July. Before we left we considered it a vacation, upon returning we deemed it as a work week. It was miserably hot, in the high 90’s with lots of humidity, and Grandpa Bob didn’t put in the window air conditioner. Thankfully Aimee made homemade ice cream to cool us all down. Darell and his brother Scott replaced the bathroom floor, subfloor, toilet, and painted the metal roof. They could have easily have been candidates for the rednecks ‘There I fixed it…’ They tried to keep COOL by putting a fan on the roof and wearing straw hats along with water soaked towels around their necks. They tried to keep SAFE by putting a ladder on the roof that was secured by borrowed rope from the neighbor that was attached to the back of the truck hopefully preventing any broken necks if they were to fall. Ask to see the picture next time you are in town; it was quite the sight.
Darell is working on his business plan as he would like to own a food truck. He has more time now that our fleet of cars has gotten a little newer so he has fewer repairs. Only three of the four vehicles are ten years or older. He invested in a Wolf Ridge professional grade log splitter, it’s actually a wood processor that lightens his load and speeds up the process of splitting and stacking – splitting logs into 4 or 6 pieces rather than one at a time. It’s pretty spiffy.
It is our prayer that the hectic pace of your life this Christmas will slow down enough that you can see God in the details of the season. Reminders of His presence are all around you. You’ll enjoy Christmas all the more when Christ is at the center of your celebration.
Have a blessed Christmas,