it's been a while since i've written a christmas letter (yes, i know it's past christmas and into a new year already). i think the last one i wrote was when football was 2. yikes! we normally send out a card and family picture - and if you're lucky, and we like you, there might be a few hand-written words on the back, such as: "we had a great year; busy. lots of changes. hope you and your family are healthy and look forward to seeing you soon. God bless you and keep you safe." (pithy, huh?) this year, nada. no letter, no picture, no card. it was kind of the christmas-that-wasn't. i thought i'd recap the year here instead.
it's been a busy year. lots of changes.
my dad's condition is the most notable change. it has been a roller coaster ride (and not the fun kind either). the beginning of the year was difficult and we prepared for the worst. he rallied and gave us a couple of good months that we made the most of. his health deteriorated slowly but steadily and he started home hospice in late september/early october. the day before thanksgiving, he ended up in the hospital because the pain was so intense and could not be controlled with the morphine or other drugs. it was a very somber holiday. two weeks later, we were all called home; it was time to say good-bye... but dad rallied again and he was still with us at christmas-time. we weren't sure he was going to make it that long, so we were pleased to have him with us. thank you, gracious, merciful God! we have been blessed with so much extra time with him.
we spent countless hours making memories with dad. we went up to spend time with him and mom, and when able, they came down to visit us. oh, the many, many hours we spent riding in the car! :) we took dad up to pikes peak and on the coors brewing tour. we went to 'hart ranch' over the summer and the new spearfish water park. dad went to a denver broncos game. dad and notme made birdhouses together. dad and mom celebrated another anniversary. it was a year packed full of love. one of the most wonderful things happened in the fall. dad accepted Jesus as his personal savior! it made me so happy; it is something i have been praying for.
mom is holding up as well as can be expected. she is so strong and does what has to be done without complaining. i admire her for that (and many other things). she and dad have some great and wonderful friends. they have been so helpful and supportive. what a blessing they are! i am so thankful for these ladies and men; they enriched our family so much last year. hospice has also been amazing. truly, these people are gifted with compassion. the comfort they give to dad and to us is indescribable. it is touching to know so many people care about my family and are there for my mom and dad. mom's sister and brothers (and their spouses) came out to visit at thanksgiving. it was great having everyone together and i know mom appreciated the time with them.
when not taking care of my dad, you could find me volunteering eight hours a week at the boys' school last year, which was fun and fulfilling. i participated in some great bible studies last year and read a lot of books (on a side note, the review site is doing well). i also started a new hobby. i began the 'couch to 5k' program in late june. it is a running program designed to get you from a couch potato to running 3.1 miles in 9 weeks. it took me much longer than 9 weeks, but imagine me. a. runner. it boggles the mind. :) i ran 2 5ks last year - one for breast cancer and one for prostate cancer. in 2008 i learned to knit, so i am happy to report a 2009 hobby that is a little less geeky. [what? i said 'little'.] another highlight of my year was attending a ton of baseball games at coors field with my family. i met my sports idol, seth smith, and got his autograph. upon meeting me, he fell a little bit in love with me (it's hard not too). i'm taken, so i had to break his heart. he took it well and we remain friends. great guy. ...okay, that only happened in my imagination, but still. it *could* happen. oh, and i really did meet him and get his autograph.
bfp had a stressful year at work. the westminster job ended (that job was a story in itself - ask him to tell you some time) and the economic downturn finally hit his company in the fall. bfp kept his job, but had several agonizing decisions to make. it was hard to watch the company, and him, struggle. luckily, both are doing much better now and bfp enjoys the challenges his job provides. thank you Lord, for this season of reforming and rebuilding. bfp spent some time 'up the hill' playing poker in blackhawk. he really enjoys that (especially when he wins) and he's a pretty lucky guy. :) my brother and bfp went deer hunting together last year. they both brought home our supper. he also went fishing with his brother and dad in mobridge, so we had a freezer full of fresh walleye. on top of his food-providing skills, he really enjoyed grilling and cooking for us. i think i am pretty lucky too.
the boys are getting so mature. football is a second-grader and artist is in first. they both love school, and report card time is a happy time in our house. one day, football and i got in an argument about him wearing his coat to school. he came home in a bad mood and said 'i hate it when you are always right, mom'. (lol. this one knows the way to my heart.) over summer break we had lots of adventures including horseback-riding, camping and 'water world', but both of them were excited for school to start back up in august. they were enrolled in art lessons, which artist just loved. that kid has some *talent*, but boy, do we go thru paper. :) we joined boy scouts last year and they love it. as you can see, they keep us busy. i keep a blog about the humorous things they say over at http://fromfrogtoprince.blogspot.com/ if you want to follow along in our sometimes-funny family journey. we had a new addition to our family last year. cocoa, a chocolate labradoodle, joined us in december. she is so sweet. she loves going for walks and playing fetch with her ball. she brings lots of joy to this family.
of course, our year is not complete without a car accident or two. bfp's vehicle was side-swiped and mine was backed into while parked. it is a running joke in the family. we'll see which one is next this year. bets, anyone?
speaking of cars, we did some traveling last year, taking the boys up into the mountains, over into nebraska, to the south dakota state fair, and off exploring the black hills. i went to arizona for a girls trip and paul went to vegas for a guys vacation. we spent some time in lovely casper for my younger brother's open heart valve replacement. (how awesome is God's timing? what other 25-year-old would have been able to have 3 months off work to spend time with his dying father?) he is back at work now [yay paycheck!] and feeling great. even though it sometimes felt like it, we weren't always gone; we stayed at home a bit too. we worked on those pesky house projects, fixing the balcony, doing minor cosmetic repairs, painting and some light landscaping. we planted blueberry and raspberry bushes, lilacs and cherry trees. we even had a couple of great nights spent with friends. the 'casa de wagner' bed and breakfast was as busy as ever on our weekends 'off'. one of these days, oprah is going to discover us (and how awesome at hosting we are) and then it's going to be really hard to make a reservation. :) until that time, here is your open invitation for 2010.
that was our 2009 in a nutshell. we hope you and your family are healthy and we look forward to seeing you soon. God bless you and keep you safe.
me, bfp, football, artist and cocoa