Dear Ones ~ December 2019
Another year has gone by and my goodness, where did the time go? (I HAD to do it-- a Christmas letter really can’t seem to start any other way, amIright?!) Well, I’ll tell you where! It went toward the making, care and keeping of the precious souls in this house, my earthly treasures. 1,095 meals (but let’s be real- there were plenty of snacking and desserts too). Multiply that number exponentially for the amount of dishes washed. It disappeared in thousands of miles driving down the road and hours of audiobooks. It was spent on hundreds of diaper changes (and that has only been since September!) On the reading of good books. On the scattering, sorting, playing and tidying up of toys countless times a day. On hours upon hours of music playing and singing and movie watching. On planting, weeding and then woefully neglecting a swamp garden. To the creating, growing and then birthing of a womb baby. To the kissing of boo-boo’s and the mediating of arguments. To sin, forgiveness and growing in grace. To the milking of cows and keeping of chickens and hunting of deer and making of cheese ( and copious amounts of ice cream). It has disappeared while educating our masses and entertaining friends and family. Guess what was gloriously NOT a part of 2019? Broken bones. Considering the last two Christmas letters have been lamenting bones broken, I consider that is a major accomplishment. That fact alone made 2019 a good year!
Before we step over the threshold into a brand spankin’ new decade, let me get you caught up on the more interesting tidbits of 2019…the people!
First~ we have a new Newman! Moses Matthew was born on September 3rd, just 5 hours shy of sharing Corynn and Judah’s birthday! What are the chances?! He really screwed up the birthday dates as the childrens’ birthdays are 2, 2 , 2, 26, 22 and now…3. But with a squishy face like his, he is easy to forgive. He looks like Judah’s baby twin and I’d swear it WAS Judah if there weren’t 9 years between them. It took two days to name the poor child because we weren’t sure we were brave enough to use such an awesome name- but I am so glad we did. Not only does the name suit him but it is remarkably fun to say and easy to include in little songs- which we have a penchant for making. This is a good thing because Moses loves songs and we love singing to him. He is the most serious baby I have ever known, you really have to work hard to get a grin out of him…but when he does, oh boy, is it worth the wait! While he may not smile very often, he was born with his eyes wide open and has been busily observing ever since. I feel certain he must be an absolute genius. 😉 Moses is so good to me- he lets me snuggle and kiss and sniff him WHENEVER I want, which happens pretty often since they just happen to be some of my most favorite things to do in the world. He is very generous, self-sacrificially giving of himself, allowing himself to be smooched and hauled around by his doting siblings and Papa too. It must surely be exhausting to be kissed as much as he is, but he takes it like a champ.
Ineke celebrates her 4th birthday next week but she’s been asking every day if it is her birthday ever since the first snow (and that was before Thanksgiving). She told me it MUST be her birthday because it SNOWS on her birthday. (duh, Mama!) Of all the children, I think she resembles most who I was as a child. She’s sweet with a whole lot of firecracker. Her half-moon squinty-eyed grin can break down the highest walls of even the grumpiest curmudgeon and she gives it freely to anyone and everyone who makes eye contact. If she is perturbed, though, everyone will know exactly how she feels about THAT. She’ll snuggle into laps with stories or speed across the yard in races. She loves to wear frilly dresses and sparkly jewelry (she got her ears pierced this year!) but heads to the barn with Papa every chance she can get and can hold her own with her brothers. She has the best bed head in the world and looks like one of the trolls in Jan Brett’s books. She astounds me all the time by telling me things she remembers when she was two. She is very articulate and speaks like a little grown up for the most part but still charms us with those endearing little childisms that are so common with four year olds. The most recent one came a few days ago when she complained ‘Mama, I have a headache in my belly” . I would strongly recommend, if it can at all be managed, that EVERYONE have an almost-four year old in their lives.
Judah is 9 years old this year and is always in the middle of all the action. He loves pretty much anything Andrew or Papa love, so he can often be found tagging along with one of them or talking about what they find interesting. Though quite a few years younger than Andrew, he fits into all Andrew’s hand-me-downs without me needing to pack it away for a year or two. I just slide in on down to Judah’s shelf. He is all boy and loves fighting, wrestling, hunting, camping, tools, weapons and military stuff. He wears camo any chance he can. He loves to build things and tinker around in the barn and often comes rushing in to proudly display one of his latest wood projects. Despite the obvious country boy, Judah has some gentry in him as well. He loves to get dressed up for church in suitcoat and vest, he loves to top his look with a nice hat and he sings like a Tabernacle Choir boy. I don’t think he knows just how happy it makes me to watch and hear him sing. One of his favorite cd’s to listen and sing along to is Jamie Soles- who we had the privilege to host at our house last year! Judah, too, was a help on Papa’s Timberframe project - but after his broken arm last year, I have to say, I was pleased to see his feet planted mostly on the GROUND while doing so!
Adele’ is 11 this year. She is in that wonderful stage of childhood where she can flutter between ‘big kid’ and ‘little kid’ on a whim, which is a rare and fleeting treasure. I have discovered with baby Moses just how much of a natural mother she can be- one time Moses exploded in THE MOST DISGUSTING diaper explosion I have ever seen and she just cheerfully cooed at him while she pulled his slimy body from the wreckage. (Yep. A poo story in a Christmas letter. I did just do that.) His crying doesn’t put her off either and she can make him calm when others become frazzled. She isn’t too old or too proud to play with Ineke and littler cousins and friends (which makes her one of TheCoolPeople) but she really doesn’t need a soul to be happy as a lark. She gets spoiled by a particular neighbor (you know who you are!) and has even gone on lunch dates with her. None of my other children have ever been given LUNCH DATES by neighbors, so Adele is a particularly lucky one! She hasn’t outgrown wearing pretty dresses every day, she enjoys reading books and writing letters and I just discovered that she can knit faster than I do!
Andrew, 13, must have nibbled on some of Alice’s magic Wonderland ‘shrooms, because this year he grew and changed so much that it is getting harder and harder to find any ‘boy’ left in him. Until, of course, he starts wrestling with Judah or goofing off with Corynn. Then I think, “Yep- there’s the little guy!” He is stretching and growing, not just in limb, but in strength and maturity too. He is a reliable help, especially when Matt is out of town (and even when he isn’t sometimes!), in milking the cow, mucking manure or getting her in the pasture when she’s being ornery. This is a HUGE burden lifted off of my shoulders and I am so thankful to have his help! He helped with Papa’s Timberframe shed and built his own deer blind in the off moments. Speaking of deer- (and if you are ever around him for any length of time, you know you WILL be) Andrew is just as interested in deer as ever. One of his favorite things to do is grab my camera and head for the hills after his schoolwork is done to see what wildlife he can find. He has captured so much wildlife on camera! He waited anxiously for deer season to come and shot an 8 point the second time he went out. He butchered the deer himself and in fact, we just had venison stew last night for supper! He is already talking about shed hunting (that is, finding antlers that fall off in winter) though I don’t know where we will put more- he has quite a collection already. He started writing articles about wildlife in his own widely circulated Game Report News- and by widely circulated, I mean, to family and friends. 😊 It’s a great newsletter though and very well done! He’s had many compliments on it (and not just from me.) ha!
Corynn may have just turned 16 this year, but she’s always been sweet. I can now officially say, in all confidence, that raising teenagers doesn’t have to evoke feelings of terror and dread in the hearts of parents. In fact, I think a lot of teenagers get a bad rap these days! She is pure delight to have around and the only feelings of dread I have toward her is that each passing day is one day sooner to her becoming an adult and leaving us. She is an avid reader and is just a few books shy of her goal of reading 200 books this year- she will have undoubtedly reached that goal before the year is up. Her favorite books from this year: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (non-fiction) and The Count of Monte Cristo (fiction). Even more impressive~ she has challenged herself to participate in a Bible Reading Challenge that will get her through the entire Bible in a year. It’s a big chunk of reading (six chapters a day?! Whaaaat?) but she hasn’t missed a day! When she isn’t reading, she is often doing artsy things like sketching or painting. Every year she gets better and better at her art and it amazes me to see her creations. She’s even made some money at it. Corynn is incredibly helpful to me in so many ways, not the least of which being taking care of children when I have needed to go to countless doctors’ appointments. She is thoughtful and considerate of my needs and feelings, in particular, and she can read my face and body language like a book (even when I’d rather her not.) She is anxious to get her permit so she can get behind the wheel, which I am dreading for the aforementioned reason, but I can’t avoid it forever. Or CAN I?!?
Matt now has more clothing with a DAIRYONE logo on them than any other clothing on his shelves which is a testament to how many years he has been working there and what most of his year is spent doing! His work sends him away from home quite often- travelling hours by car or by plane to get the job done- and we pretty much hate having him gone. But every time he gets back home we rejoice at another gift the Lord has given us in his safe return…and those are gifts I do not take for granted. Matt made the girls so happy this year by gutting and renovating their bedroom... a much needed endeavor. New insulation to keep warm, new floors that don’t hide treasures in their cracks (or stub toes) , more than a single outlet to plug into, an overhead light to brighten the nights and bookshelves that line the ceiling full of books that brighten their lives. PURE LUXURY. He is a talented Mister and he blesses our lives with the fruit of his hands. If you want to know what he is REALLY proud of though, it is not the girls’ room! This year, Matt began to realize a longtime dream of his to build a Timberframe structure just behind where the old Middle Barn once stood. He’s like a kid in a candy store, that man, when he has a chisel in his hand. It has been so fun watching him work alongside his Dad, brothers and sons on this project- when I look at the Timberframe shed years from now, I will remember the sight of those three generations of Newmans all working alongside one another. The fun will continue for a bit longer too~ the frame and roof were completed *almost* before the first snow fell in 2019 and the sides will go up in 2020. His skillful hands faithfully build businesses and barns, but his truest and most lasting achievement is the faithful building up of the souls here. Matt is a good man and God was GOOD in giving him to us.
As for me- I’ve been struggling with some mysterious and painful health issues for several months that are making me feel (and walk) more like a Grandma than the youthful sprite I really am. 😉 I am grateful that I have a nursing baby who gives me a great excuse to sit down and snuggle as much as possible since I often don’t feel like doing much else-even though there is always plenty to do! It’s been a great trial for me but isn’t it funny that it takes having poor health to realize the wonderful blessing of good health- and how much it is overlooked and underappreciated when one has it? It’s nice to have eyes that see once again.
And that’s a wrap on us! As always, you can keep up to date more often than once a year by visiting the blog: www.zeahrenaissance.blogspot.com
May we all celebrate the good and perfect gift of the Christ Child this Christmas. He didn’t stay in the heavens but put on flesh and swam in womb water in order to save the world. JOY!!! Our King came not in order to be served but to serve, to pour himself out and give Himself up. May we all be cheerful imitators of Him in this, as we step into 2020!
A very Merry Christmas to you all!
Love, Us Newmans
PS. You lucky folks get the corrected message. In the *actual* letter, I wrote The Count of Monte CRISCO. It must have been all the baking I was doing. ;-) It was also dated December 2020. Apparently, being older and fatter is on my mind. ha!