Dear friends and family,
We hope that 2009 was a good year for all of you, as it was for us. Here are some highlights:
D. (17) is finishing his senior year of high school. He played his final season of varsity football, and then turned his attention to college applications. Thus far, he has applied to the University of Michigan and the University of Arizona. He has been admitted to the University of Michigan and awarded a modest scholarship. He plans to also apply to Stanford, Case Western, and Carnegie Mellon. D. was elected president of the National Honor Society, which is a very active service group at Dexter High School, and he now spends many mornings getting up extra early to attend NHS meetings before school.
J. (15) continues to run, and competed on the cross country team again this fall. She did well, improving her times significantly from last year. She continues to play the flute and march in the marching band. Jasmine works hard at her studies and does well in school. She is also involved in the church youth group, and last summer she went on another National Relief Network service trip. In addition, she began dating this fall. She wins the award as our busiest family member!
L. (14) continues to be a multisport athlete, participating in football and soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and track in the spring. He trained to become a soccer referee last summer and is now able to earn some spending money refereeing younger teams' games. He is also an excellent student, and has a constant flow of visiting friends and invitations.
I. (12) began middle school this fall, where she is doing very well. She played volleyball this fall for the first time and really enjoyed it. She plans to play basketball this winter. She continues to play the piano and also has a VERY busy social life.
T. (9) is now in the 4th grade. She is an extremely avid reader. She also participates in a horseback trail riding group where she is learning riding skills and how to care for horses while having a great time going on long rides to fun destinations.
K. (6) began 1st grade this year, and has begun to read! He played soccer for the first time last summer, with his Dad as coach. He continues to be an extremely friendly and inquisitive child.
A. (5) is completing her final year of preschool. She has really blossomed there, becoming more confident and less shy. She took karate lessons this fall and was a natural at it. She knows all of the letters and their sounds, and can read and write many words on her own.
M. (2) is a boy of few words, literally. He has not really begun to talk, but has a "vocabulary" consisting of 3-4 words and many sounds and gestures, which enable him to communicate quite well, and of course he understands everything we say. He continues to be really large for his age (Nickname: Clifford) and to love motorized vehicles more than anything. He calls them all "vroom vrooms" and has been known to stroll through a parking lot patting each car on the hood while sighing "vroom vroom."
Paula has had an excellent year. She began IV immunoglobulin treatments at the beginning of the year, which have kept her dermatomyositis in check. It is not in remission yet, so she continues to get a treatment once a month, but she has been able to wean almost completely off the steroids and her rheumatologist assures her that the disease will eventually go into remission. For now, she is feeling excellent and enjoying her good health.
Daryl continues to work very hard in his dual roles as a Professor at the University of Michigan and the CEO of his company, Neuronexus Technologies. He is also the lead 'sports fan' and went to many games and meets through the year to watch the kids compete. Daryl stays busy around our old/new house, with its myriad landscaping and handyman projects.
The major home project we completed last year was finishing our basement. We converted it from a dim, dusty room with a pool table and foosball table surrounded by cardboard boxes to a well lit, brightly painted teen hangout/kids playroom/exercise area. We built storage closets and bookcases, installed a drop ceiling, lighting and drywall, painted the walls and covered the concrete floor with a combination of carpet and paint. Once it was complete, we allowed the kids to pool their money and buy a Wii, our first and only video game system.
We need the finished basement, because any time that school is not in session, our household slides into nonstop party mode. With the older kids, the party gets started around 9pm when they seem to come alive, and it goes into the night, generally past the time that Daryl and Paula call it a day. The younger kids begin playing early in the morning and it goes on all day from room to room. This year we hosted a Halloween party in which each kid had unlimited invitations for their friends. This resulted in a crowd of 60-70 guests, roving bands of kids of different ages and a traffic jam in our driveway.
This past year we took two family trips. Over spring break we drove to Asheville, NC, where we visited Daryl's brother and sister-in-law, saw the local sights and did some hiking. Then we traveled on to Myrtle Beach, SC, where we enjoyed a few days on the ocean. This past summer we went on a family vacation to Northport, MI, where we spent a week on the beach of Lake Michigan, which was very relaxing. Unfortunately, during both beach vacations we had unseasonably cold air and water temperatures. Luckily, we had invested in the wetsuits you see in the photograph.
Our family made an important decision this year. We have decided to adopt 2 children from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We began the process in August, and at this point are awaiting approval from the United States immigration department, which we anticipate receiving in early January, and awaiting referrals of specific children from our adoption agency. We have requested a 2 year old boy and an infant girl. The most current estimate is that we will probably be able to travel to get our children in Feb. or March 2010. Daryl, D. and J. will be making the trip, which will take about one week. We are all extremely excited and it is very hard to be patient!
We wish all of you a happy and healthy 2010 filled with many blessings!
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