While this year has been as busy as ever, it’s also been a difficult one for us. On November 16, Katie’s dad, Terry, lost his fight with pancreatic cancer. We were so fortunate to have had almost 21 months with him since he received his diagnosis, most of which he was relatively healthy. We were able to spend many evenings with him over the last month or so and Katie and Sarah helped care for him in his final days. We are mourning the loss of a very special man that we love dearly, but we are comforted knowing he is no longer in pain, is cancer free, and we will see him again someday.
It’s difficult to transition from sharing news like that to sharing what else our family has been up to this year, but we’ve found grief is like that – an awkward balance between continuing with our daily routines and activities while dealing with the emotions that seem to overwhelm us at the most random of times.
Sarah finished out the spring with her preschool co-op and after extensive research and attendance at a homeschool convention, Katie and Sarah started the adventure of “officially” homeschooling as Sarah began Kindergarten in August. She loves science this year – marine biology (on a kindergarten level, of course) and we’re learning about our country, community helpers, and what life is like for children in different parts of the world. We’re part of a homeschool group that has park days, co-op classes (Sarah will be in her first musical in March and is learning to play the recorder), field trips, and a great group of families to help us on this journey.
Sarah has continued dancing, performing in a “Toy Story” themed recital in June, dressed as one of her favorite Disney characters, Jessie, and danced a ballet number to “Here Comes Suzy Snowflake” in her Christmas recital. She is now one of the oldest dancers in her class and we’re eager for her to move up the “big girl” dance classes in another year or so.
This May, Sarah earned her Awana Cubbies Honeycomb Book Award. That means she memorized about 20 more Bible verses this year! She also built her Grand Prix car with Grandpa and John in January – a “My Little Pony” car she designed. She moved up to the Sparks-K group this fall and is almost half-way through her book already! Katie has continued volunteering, now with the 5th and 6th grade girls this fall.
We didn’t take a big family trip this year, but did spend a week in San Diego in July. We visited the USS Midway as a family and while John attended a work conference, Katie and Sarah watched the seals and sea lions on the beaches in La Jolla, learned about Cabrillo while earning Sarah’s first National Parks Junior Ranger Badge at the Cabrillo National Monument, and went on Sarah’s first trip to Sea World (her favorite were the dolphins). We ended up with annual passes to Sea World and have already returned once.
During spring soccer season, Sarah participated in the UK Academy program through our local region and worked on developing her skills. This fall, she was a very valuable member of the Fiery Pink Unicorns, which Katie coached (Katie also joined the Regional Board as the Team Parent & Yearbook Coordinator). Sarah’s still aggressive, attacks the ball, and is quick, but she’s also developed into a great defensive player this year. We’re still deciding if we will play spring soccer this year since we started with a running team in preparation for running track this spring! After running all four runDisney Kids Races this year, she’s excited for competitive races.
Another new and exciting activity we joined this year is American Heritage Girls. It’s similar to Girl Scouts (earn badges through character & skill development), but with a more faith-focused approach. Sarah is a Pathfinder this year and is working on earning her Fanny Crosby and Joining Awards that she can wear on her vest next year. There are three Pathfinders girls and it’s been so sweet to watch their friendship develop over these few months. We really enjoy this program and Sarah is VERY excited for the Mother-Daughter camping trip this spring (it will be her first!).
We, once again, renewed our passes to Disneyland in September, though with all of our other activities and life circumstances, we haven’t gone as much as we did last year. But when we do go, it’s that much more exciting! Sarah is finally 42” tall, which means she is able to ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds (she loves them!), though her favorite is still Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Sarah’s 5th birthday was in March and we celebrated with an Ariel party at Grammie’s house and our annual trip to Disneyland. This year we ate lunch with the princesses at Ariel’s Grotto after she had a “make-over” at Anna & Elsa’s Boutique in Downtown Disney. We ended our evening watching the Main Street Electrical Parade, something she really enjoyed, despite it’s lack of technology. She told us at the end of the day that it was the “best birthday ever.”
In additional to shuttling Sarah to her various activities and lesson planning for school, Katie continues to serve on the local MOMS Club board, this year as the Treasurer. She also took on the role of “Big Sister” to five local chapters, a volunteer position with the International organization.
John was officially hired on direct with his company in February and he enjoys being able to work on projects that have allowed him to expand his skills. He recently completed a facilities aerial photography project and has also been working most of the year architecting a geographic information system (GIS) system for Operations. This summer he had the opportunity to attend the ESRI GIS conference in San Diego and attended many workshops. The whole family enjoyed the company picnic at the Santa Barbara Zoo in September.
We are thankful for each one of you and the love you have shown to our family, especially these last few months. We pray that you have a wonderful 2018!
John, Katie & Sarah