Merry Christmas to all of our friends and Family this Holiday Season!
I am taking advantage of Modern Technology this year, and doing my Christmas letter via blog!
Let me start with WOW!!!It's Christmas already??? I cannot believe how quickly the year has gone! I know, everybody says that this time of year, but I understand now!
It has been quite the year adjusting and readjusting for us. James' Family was here back in March/April for Cherry Blossoms. It was good to have them come to the new house and take to see the sights of DC. James' Uncle and his wife also came for day while the Holschen's were here. Kiddos sure enjoyed having Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles here visiting. We saw lots of sights!
My Mother has been here twice since we moved, and we saw her again in NC. However only one of those visits were to see us. The other two were to bury her parents. It has been a rough year to say the least for the Gregg Family. Yet their memories and lessons live within our hearts and minds, and I am thankful that my children were able to see them and Ethan meet his name sake. My brother Cody also came to stay with us over the summer to help us with the children while James and I worked full-time. I know it was really hard work taking them swimming in the pool! James also was able to take him to King's Dominion as a "thanks" for babysitting for most the summer. He was a great help! So we have had our share of visits from family over the year.
The end of Spring marked our end of stay at Ad Fontes, and we then had decided to home school through Classical Conversations. It is a great program, but I quickly learned I am not a teacher, nor called to have my children home all day with me; despite how much I love them. It's because I love them that I will send them away! They are doing wonderful at OBE here in Lake Ridge , and they couldn't be happier, nor could we! The staff there are doing an amazing job with them and bringing out each of their personalities and strengths. It is very well run and have the utmost respect for them. It looks like James might even get into a program as well for gifted students too. which is very exciting! We always knew he was "gifted" (hehe) but it's nice to know someone else noticed his talents and will be able to help cultivate it. Megan and Ethan are doing great, they both repeated, but we don't refer to it that way. More of way to build a stronger foundation for their future education. They both have made buddies in their classes and seem to be doing fine. They are improving and maturing much better I feel this year. It has been a blessing having them enrolled at OBE.
Other than school, they are doing great. James is nearly as tall as I am, and the other two aren't far behind. Not sure if I'm ready for that! Each are growing into their own persons and its such a joy to seem them mature and see how they view things. James always has a joke or smile, then followed by some fact he know that turns into a conversation for hours. He is always studying dinosaurs, reading books (often 100+p a day), always building something new out of nothing daily. He is talented in many ways and has the world in his hands. Megan, oh boy, is me and my sister Megan mixed with a twist of James(hubby). I have no idea what I'm going to do with her, but she always keeps me on my toes and is fearless. I love that about her! She will do any sport of stunt as good or better than any boy, and has no sense of fear. I hope that she never looses it! She is her own person, struggling with some confidence, but ultimately the mother hen always taking care of her brothers and Daddy. She will be a great leader one day. She grows more beautiful daily both inwardly and out. Ethan, my Ethan. He is growing faster and more independent by the day. Something we prayed for and now wishing it wouldn't be so. My little man is growing and is loving school and his friends. He loves riding the bus and getting lunch at school. He is the first to come running to my arms and holds my hand all the way home telling me everything he did that day. Usually nothing about his work, but everything about lunch, teachers, and whatever happened on the bus. I ask did you learn anything? "No, not really." I just laugh, and am amazed at how lunch is so more fun than class work! I wish he didn't have to grow so quickly, but am thrilled that he is becoming so independent. We have all but decided that they are the only ones we will have, so it is bittersweet to so my baby grow, but I know it's all part of our journey; just hope he never out grows giving me a hugs and kisses!
I worked this summer at Target and met some really great people from walks of life. I witnessed how management change can affect people from the top all the way down to the janitor. For better or worse, it happens, and that even though Managers have it all figured out, many times, it is often hard to implement things gracefully despite how much they try. Working nights most of the time until the August, then I switched to early mornings. When I lost Cody, I know I was done, and that was also the time we started preparing for homeschooling. I worked with great people, from all races and cultures. I will always love some of them deeply and from time to time stop and say hey to the few still left at the store.
I also began ELI at NOVA this semester. It's an online program from the Community Colleges here. It is really good, and I have some amazing teachers! I would highly recommend this if you are a disciplined person. I have learned that however, this learning style isn't for me. When Papa passed this fall, and then switching the kiddos schooling around, I got very far behind and am desperately trying to finish before the semester's end. I will be able to get it done, just wouldn't recommend doing it all at once as I am! I am however enjoying what I am soaking in and has already proved useful in my life. I am looking forward to next semester and being classes and pursuing my dream of working in a studio with bands and recording artists! LeAnn thanks so much for inspiring me and believing in me! The last several years have been growing ones for me and family. I am finding the person that was shoved away for sooo many years. For years, I tried being the "godly wife" everyone said I should be, and put my children, husband, and church first. I changed everything about me, and became miserable. When I finally started becoming into myself again, it was freeing, uplifting, exciting, and scary all at the same time. I cannot thank enough, the first few professors I had at Eastern encouraging me to do what I love, to think for myself, and begin to let me dream for the first time in years. I'm not saying the last ten years of my life were horrible or miserable, or that I would through it all away; however I would not let people bully me into what was "right" or allow myself to be changed. I know what is best for me and my family, and that we're happiest when I'm a part-time mom/wife. I am glad it didn't take me any longer, for my children's sake. However, with that the last few years, It was struggle to learn the balance between freedom and family. I never planned on getting married or having a family, I wanted a career. For years I felt trapped, now that James and I have grown, I no longer feel that way, but swung too far on the scale. To the point of selfishness. I did what I "had to" for the kiddos, and wasn't even thrilled to married anymore. It wasn't because a lack of god in my life, it was because I was trying to figure-out just who I was. I got married so young, before I knew anything about life. However, coming up in February, James and I will be married 10 yrs.; before I'm 30! It seems that in many ways we have already spent a lifetime together, yet still are just now growing up. I was blessed to be with him. Not all guys are good like him. However we both resented the other and struggled for years to find a balance to our lives. When we began to plan next year, we went from renewing vow, to talks of separation, to back to let's make this work. All in a day I might add. What it came down to was us being truly honest for the first time in years about different things and how it effects our family. what I realized was that I was being very selfish in so many areas; and so was he. We realized that yes our lives didn't turn-out quite as we imagined or have done the things with our friends we wish we would've, (I think he might have went GREEK guys if we were honest before(: ); but in it all we saw three little people who didn't ask to be shoved into the middle of all of our drama. They are gifted and talented, and I am so blessed to have them in our lives. They are the only ones who have loved us despite us, and have always been the ones to give us hugs, and kisses, and pictures. We are looking forward to the best years of our lives ahead. Working together as a family, instead of five different people living in the same dorm. These people called children inspire me to be better, to show you can an education no matter how late you start, and that even though it's rough sometimes, some things are worth working hard for. I see myself working in a studio one day and my kiddos jamming out with me, and writing my political articles on the side "just for fun". I have learned this yer that growing sometimes hurts, but is never bad. Life is cycle, and we have different cycles of our lives and as I look forward to the next change, I will enjoy this lesson and stage with pride and joy.
James is doing well in Law School, but has been floating as of late. I think we romanticized our lives here before we moved; and when we did move it was totally different that what we thought it would be. The Law Center is amazing, and there is a great group of diverse and talented peole there. All with their own strengths and insights. He has been floating too in work; still serving, and men struggle with their pride so much in this area. I know, I'm not guy, and I don't get it; but working things out this last week or so, I am excited about the new year. He is an incredibility smart man, and I think he will enjoy school much more now that we're on the same page. He is nearly half way done, and I think now that we know what to expect, it will be so much more!
He also has after many years of questioning, studying, and seeking answers, has decided that the Faith that he held is no longer for him. He is Agnostic at best, but now atheist. It took a lot of research and self-examining, but came to this decision on his own. I won't go into all the details, (you are welcomed to email him), but if you truly know my husband, it wasn't something he up and did over night. He pulled away years before we left home. It is often said in our religion that those who leave "god or the church" are not happy, and will be chased by god. I cannot say that is so. He has never been more at peace. It also has made him a better father, and husband. It's also very freeing and enlightening. Because he thinks freely now, we are now able to discuss things openly and honestly. Once I made peace with it myself, of course. I don't know where I am on the subject, however, I have no problem with what he needs to do. It has not changed him into a horrible person; he is not wife beater, abusive to our children, or a blk/wht only kind of man. I am saying this, as I know some who read this will laugh, cry, or shake their heads. I am so proud that he has the back bone enough to stand up for his beliefs or lack of it. I know far too many people who had the same questions, and disagreements, but didn't want to make waves, or preferred to be completely accepted in their circle. I say this, how sad. Our understanding of people have become so much more clear and loving. When you are brainwashed into such a small section of people and never open up your curtains to see outside to your neighbors; I think you are the ones we should shake our heads at. The world isn't as horrible as painted, and is truly an amazing time to be living in. Anything is possible! Who knows, there may even be a Stargate! But if you are a true friend, you will praise him for being honest and still be a friend. I promise that we are not raising demons, or plotting away to end the "Christian" faith. But I will not blindly follow anyone ever again, and allow myself or family to ever be subjected to an altered view of the world or the many people in it. So I stand by James and am grateful for his willingness to be honest when so many won't. I will not allow Anyone to speak ill of him to me or my children ever again. We are still sons and daughters, and fathers and mothers.
I know the last several postings have been rather dark toned, and some of this letter as well. However, I have never been so excited and energized to begin a new year! We are looking forward to being back in Spokane this summer for my sisters graduation, My girlfriend's wedding, and my first Triathlon! I begin training in January and look forward to living a healthier life with my family. My children saw a picture o me pregnant with Ethan and said "Mommy you're so skinny, you look fun!" That struck a chord. My children have seen me overweight all their lives. I am looking forward to being able to run crazy with in the future and even out last them hiking! I miss the outdoors, and look forward to cycling , hiking, and swimming again! Life is short, why not enjoy it while you can! If you don't have your health, it is often said you don't have anything. I agree, while you may have your family, and true friends who love anyways; it is pretty true; being overweight limits so much what you can do and causes so many problems. I am looking forward to being a healthy weight again, and enjoying so many things that I have missed with my kiddos! James too is finally on board and we both are excited to see the people we once were!
Life is good for us. We have had our ups and downs, we have adjusted, we will press on! Our family is growing together more and more, and our children who always love us, are liking us once again! Even Stryder.
I know it is not the flowery message would hope for, but I am an honest person. one who wears her heart on her sleeves. What you see with us is what you get. I consider all of my friends bffs, and will not put on airs. (Even though I have expensive tastes:) talk about ironic!) We are passionate people who love deeply, and are naive to all around us. It is my hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and everyone will have a blessed New Year! We look forward to all that new year will bring, and hope to see many of you in the upcoming year!
James, Leslie, James, Megan, Ethan, and Stryder
ps, here is our list on our Fridge for the New Year of areas to work; I hope it's useful to you, as well as funny! we are all human and have much need of improvement! Isn;t amazing that the areas we struggle with are so basic, things I was taught and should be teaching my childern. Feel free to cut, paste, and edit as needed for you!
HOLSCHEN’S RULES of GUIDENCE
1. No Bitching on each other!
2. Must treat each other Civilly: with Respect, Honor, and with Kindness.
3. No Public fighting, slamming of doors, throwing of items, walking away to sulk & hide, and no pushing of each other’s buttons.
4. No name calling that is harmful to another person’s feelings.
5. Always Kiss Me Goodnight before Bed!
1. No Fast Food for Six Months!
2. No Soda; exception only for Daddy: only one per day of class.
3. No Meals after Six p.m.; no mindless snacking.
4. Cut back on Sweet Tea intake; must drink 64 oz. water daily.
1. Kiddo’s homework must be completed by 4:30p.m.
2. 2-3 hours Daily on Homework.
3. No FB or Any Social Networking until Homework is completed.
4. Cultivate Friendships!!!
1. No Mindless Computer/TV time.
2. No TV until all Homework & Chores for the day is completed and time outside of TV is spent w/Kiddos!
1. Budget Meetings Weekly.
2. Family Meeting Weekly.
3. Date Night/Day every 2 weeks.