Dear Friends and Family,
Here is our yearly family synopsis:
2008 was a year of travel for us. We visited Disneyworld for the first time for a long weekend in January, which was a fun but tiring trip. In April we went back to Florida for spring break, staying on North Captiva Island, a tiny island that doesn't allow any vehicles, where we rested and rejuvenated on the beach. In June we went to Telluride, Colorado, where we rented a house with our dear friends the XXXXX's and spent a week taking advantage of the hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and scenery in the area.
D., 16, played basketball last winter and ran track in the spring. The biggest event for him during the past year by far was getting his driver's license in June, which enabled him to work this summer for Daryl's company and to begin dating. During the summer he also went on a volunteer service trip with the National Relief Network, organized by our church, to Parkersburg, Iowa to do post tornado cleanup and on a hiking trip with friends to the top of Mt. Whitney in CA (the tallest mountain in the continental United States). This fall he was a starting outside linebacker on the varsity football team, making 67 tackles during the season, earning his varsity letter and all-conference honorable mention.
J., 14, ran track again last spring. She also volunteered for the National Relief Network service trip to Iowa last summer. She attended marching band and cross country camps last summer as well, which prepared her to run on the cross country team and march in the marching band this fall. The first semester of her freshman year of high school was a busy one! In September J. received the sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic Church, which was a proud moment for all of us.
L., now 13, (we have 3 teens now!) continues to play soccer, his first love, and played football this fall and basketball in the early winter as well. He has also continued playing the clarinet. Ever the social butterfly, he is now beginning to get phone calls from girls and receive invitations to coed get togethers. He began middle school this fall and is really enjoying it.
I., 11, continues to play both clarinet and piano. She enjoys arts and crafts and ceramics as well. Always a fashionista, she spends a lot of time "shopping" on the internet and selecting just the right outfit to wear to school the next day.
T., 8, has found her niche with a horseback trail riding group. She loves the riding and has made some new friends in the group as well. She is in the 3rd grade now and really blossoming. T. experienced the sacrament of First Eucharist in April
K., 5, began Kindergarten this fall. He is attending a private program run by the preschool that A. attends. We were able to select the days he attends so that the two of them could spend more time together than would have been possible if he had attended the daily afternoon kindergarten he was assigned at the public school and A. attended preschool 3 mornings a week. They are the best of friends (and, at times, worst of enemies!) so this was important for us. He also enjoys a smaller class size in the private school. He is extremely curious and clever, and loves to learn. Learning to read is opening up a whole new world for him.
A., 4, is somewhat shy and had a hard time adjusting to the new preschool at first, but is really enjoying it now. Not to be left behind by K., she knows all of the letters and most of their sounds. She loves to draw and write and can write anything if you help her spell it.
M., 1, is sometimes known as Babyzilla. He is extremely active and rambunctious, and prefers making messes and getting into things around the house to playing with toys. He is by far our busiest toddler, as well as our largest, weighing in at 29 lbs. and measuring 33" tall at a year old.
All of the kids continue to do very well in school, working hard and enjoying academic success.
Daryl completed his year of sabbatical at the University at the end of August, and is back to a full teaching and research load. He continues to direct a research center at Michigan. He also continues on as CEO of his company, which is doing well, having formed a partnership with a large corporation during the past year and grown in revenue and people.
Paula had the most difficult year of any family member. In June she developed an autoimmune illness called dermatomyositis, which is characterized by a variety of rashes and skin disorders and muscle weakness. The cause of the illness is unknown, although there are many theories implicating parasites, bacteria, viruses and intense sun exposure, any of which might trigger the immune system to begin overreacting and attacking the body. Initially she had a lot of fatigue, hand numbness, tingling and swelling, and joint pain, as well as muscle weakness in her shoulders and hips. These symptoms made it difficult to do simple tasks like opening bottles and jars, doing buttons, zippers and snaps, etc. It has also been very difficult to lift and care for M., since he is so heavy to lift in and out of the carseat, highchair and stroller, and resists every diaper and clothing change. She was lucky to be diagnosed quickly, and began taking steroids to control the symptoms and was treated with a somewhat experimental drug called Humira from Aug.-Nov. while slowly tapering the steroids. The hope was that the Humira would put the disease into remission, but as the steroid dose got lower the symptoms returned and lab results confirmed that the disease was still active. This week she begins a new treatment, IV immunoglobulin, which has more proven success (90%) with dermatomyositis. The disadvantage to this treatment is that it takes 4-5 hours to receive an IV infusion of the medication, which she will receive weekly for the first month, and hopefully less frequently as time goes on, while tapering the steroids once again. She plans to use the time spent receiving the treatments to 1) address these cards! 2) read and 3) catch up on photo albums. If you think of it, please pray that the new treatment is successful!
We hope that 2008 was a good year for all of you, and send you our wishes for a happy and healthy 2009!
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