Happy New Year everyone!! I hope your year was special, fun, relaxing, and meaningful for you.
2012 was a fast-paced year for us.
Let's back up a little. In May of 2011, Will and I (Jena) celebrated their 20 year anniversary by going on a memorable Mediterranean cruise. The twelve days spent touring Italy, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, and a few Greek Isles were action packed and relaxing at the same time.
In the fall of 2011, Emily had the privilege of attending the sweetest little Christian school for first grade. While applying for the school, I (accidentally) landed a part-time English teaching position. Juggling junior high English students, my own kids, a Hallstrom study-skills class, pilates teaching and a part time wire management gig was just a disaster waiting to happen. Let's just say this: at the time of this writing, all of the aforementioned activities have ceased except for pilates teaching.
Ah! There's nothing like a crazy year to make you appreciate what you really wanted to do all along--be a stay at home mommy!
During that year, Joanna was very busy applying for scholarships, being in Model UN, drama, robotics, Gavel Club, photography, and getting top grades in her classes for her senior year of high school. Even though she was offered a sizable scholarship to the Art Institute in Chicago, she has opted to try a method of schooling called "College Plus" and not pursue a degree in photography at the Art Institute.
Joanna's debut solo European travel commenced a few weeks after finishing high school. At the age of 17, we put her on the bus at the Clocktower in Rockford and the next thing we knew she was in London. She spent a few weeks in London and Paris with friends and then with the Institute of Photographic Studies on their PhotoEx program. You can read her blog, if you want to know more about IPS or College Plus. jowithitsporfolio.blogspot.com . I should mention that Jo has photographed her first wedding. I guess you could say it was an "inside job" since I was the matchmaker for the darling couple.
Jamie is a junior at Michigan Tech University way up north in Houghton, MI--about two hours from where Grandma and Grandpa Parlato live. Jamie is making his way up the ranks as a cadet, finishing his basic training this summer with his ROTC program. I'm so glad we don't have to salute him every time we see him coming around the corner. But perhaps some of the younger students have to? He loves all the military stuff as well as his computer science major.
Hudson is a junior in high school this year. He is really enjoying his friends, activities, and music. Hudson is still very serious about his cello studies and has even taken on teaching his very first student.
He plays in Measure 5, the Cello Choir, and the summer Rock Valley College Festival Orchestra, as well as even one performance at the Coronado where he actually got paid! He has surprised us all and really taken an interest in drama and performing. He had the lead male role in a hilarious play called: Justice or Mercy, written and directed by a homeschool mom at Hallstrom. His summer included going to a summer camp in the U.P. called Superior Strings Alliance. Both he and Than really enjoyed their time with friends playing music. And for the past couple of years any combination of kids can be found in a (homespun) movie production with their best Wisconsin buddies--the Morell family. There's plenty of lights, tinsel and fanfare as they unveil each production with a red carpet "premiere" performance, complete with formal attire and awards.
Nathanael goes by several different names, depending on what hat he wears. If he is home, he is "Than"-- he's just always been. But if he's at the chapel, they refer to him as "Nate" and now that he plays basketball, he is "Nathan" on the court. Yes, it is true. Our fourth child is the first one to every play an organized sport in highschool. Even though it is his first year (9th grade), he tries hard and even gets a shot once in a while. We are having a blast going to games and watching him develop. Nathanael was also in the fall play, plays cello in the Vivaldi orchestra and takes some pretty advanced classes at Hallstrom (our homeschool co-op). He will often be Joanna's "back up" for her photography gigs, since he has his own camera. In short, Nathanael does everything everyone else does in the family AND basketball.
Emily is 8 and being homeschooled this year for second grade. Her favorite day of the week is Tuesday where she can be with friends and take classes. She is reading well and drawing even better. She loves all things Dr. Suess. She absolutely loves swimming at the pool. And she loves the climbing wall and ballet class. Let's not forget art! Even so, I feel like I can not find enough for her to do each day. I think she really misses her little school, which (unfortunately) closed just a few weeks before the year started. She has a lot of "social energy" which is something the older kids did not appear to have when they were eight years old.
Will is still working at Hamilton Sundstrand which is now referred to as United Technologies Aerospace Systems.. it just rolls off your tongue. With so many unemployed and struggling, I can honestly say that his job is a blessing to our family in more ways than one. He did some traveling this past year with work-- all of the locations escape me at the moment, except for Ireland. Oh, I am still kicking myself for not going with him to Ireland.
He is also enjoying his graduate studies at Moody in Chicago. I should probably ask him what he is majoring in, but whatever it is, it has made him a more attentive husband and father, as well as an in-tune Bible teacher/ mentor. He and his friend co-lead a home Bible study, which has been a huge encouragement to our family and others.
I spend my days managing the busy home and trying to keep meals going. One accomplishment this year has been passing my pilates certification through Physical Mind Institute--a two year process. So, now I can teach mat pilates as well as the pilates equipment (reformer, etc.). I still do occasional professional organizing at Will's workplace as they need it. This past summer, I was able to hire a team of workers to help me finish a big job. There were five students--two of which were my own kids. Finally! I get paid to boss around my kids (and their friends)!! But seriously, the 900 desks in electric systems were quite an undertaking, and they would often work late into the night, pushing each other to do better. I hear Jamie would buy everyone a candybar to push them to work another hour or two. I think Jamie is a slave driver, like his mother.
On a sadder note, I lost both of my paternal grandparents this past year. Grandma Mary in June, and Grandpa Al in November. They had both lived good, long lives and will be missed. My Dad is doing well, all things considered. I am sure he misses his mother, whom he had a very close relationship with. They would often get together and have dinner on Tuesday nights at her apartment. She cooked! I hope I can cook when I'm 94. Both of my parents (Terry and Judy) are in good health. My Mom keeps busy with her exercise classes, her quilting clubs, mentoring of younger teachers, a school board and leading Bible studies. My Dad loves his membership to the 24 hour gym, his trips moose hunting in Newfoundland, his precious deer camp, "the Bear's Den" and helping out with whatever his friends need. Right now, my parents are on a month long cruise on the Amazon. Last I heard they were catching piranhas. What do you do with them? You through them back in, I guess. LOL.
Will's parents (Jon and Marilyn) are also in good health and enjoying some traveling. They sold their precious Minnesota cottage but continue to stay connected with family in Minnesota. We were privileged to see them on their summer voyage west. They continue to stay young and have a sparkly attitude about life. They are very involved with healing process in Connecticut. Will's mother is a Stephen's minister, and she was able to be there to help with the hurting families in that horrible massacre in NewTown.
I'd like to close with this thought.
When Will spoke to his mother about the Connecticut incident, her advice was something along the lines of this. There are enough teddybears in NewTown. If you want to help, do something kind for someone in your own community. Reach out. Be a friend in your own space.
A good reminder. Love starts at home and emanates outward. With Christ at the center of our lives, then our families, and then our communities, we will prevent more disasters than sending another teddybear to an unknown community. I just realized that there are neighbors that moved into our neighborhood this fall, and I never went over once to meet them. So, this weekend, Emily is going to make her cupcakes, and we will walk across the street.
So, in Christ's love, we wish you another year of kindness, both given and shown.