December 23, 2013

Our 2013 Holiday Greeting & Year in Review

I know they get a mixed / bad rap, but I've written a Christmas letter almost all of our years as a family.  And I enjoy it.  I've saved a copy of each one & always planned to gather them up & put them in an album for our table at Christmastime.  They are a reflection & recording of our years as a family. 
I try to be as true & simple as possible, limiting myself to just one (single-sided) page.. which can be a challenge with a family of seven, but it helps me to pare down & only highlight the most memorable points of our year.   

That said, here is our 2013 holiday greeting & year in review:  

Winter solstice is upon us and I’m in a tight race this year with Old St. Nick!
I hope the season finds you with a happy heart.

2013 has been another fast flying trip around the sun for our household. I keep thinking that surely these have got to be the busiest years of our lives.

Mason & Eric enjoyed many successes this year.
Mason was awarded Honorable Mention to the Great Northern / Northern Lakes All Conference Team in football, basketball, and baseball as a Freshman.
Eric’s broken collarbone made a rough-but-solid recovery early in the year.  He returned strong for baseball season, becoming varsity team MVP & selected to the All Conference Baseball Team.
As sophomores this fall, they both finished the football season healthy & made the All Conference Football team together. A proud achievement while doing what they love.
They had many hunting successes at home this fall, as well as during a trip to the Texas Hill Country with us in March. Summer was spent furthering their work experience on the job with Dad when possible.
A big milestone - These two earned their driver’s licenses after turning 16 last month. (So far so good on winter roads!)   School is going well & they’re starting to think some about options for their futures.

Johnathan, Lilly, & Beau are enjoying all that is Childhood.
Together they love building Legos, riding bikes, & building forts. They splashed in the water all summer & are reveling in winters’ snow.

Johnathan turned 11 in November, a 5th grader this year. Ever the investigative, layed back kid, his favorite activities are grouse hunting, Legos, & campfires. He, too, got to go to work with Dad some this summer. Currently Johnathan is reading the Little House books (to my delight!)
He eats almost as much as his big brothers during dinner now. It’s astounding.

Lilly, 9, is in 4th grade. We added onto our home late this summer and what was once Lilly’s closet is now a door to the new attached garage.  She tolerates the mayhem well, as she does her brothers (for the most part.. as seen by her expression in the attached photo.) She’ll be moving into her new room before long. Lilly acquired four young laying hens for her birthday late this spring.  She still loves art, kickball & outrunning boys.

Beau, 6, graduated from kindergarten & is now a First Grader. He recently received a Citizenship Award from his teacher on which she wrote, “Thank you for always following school & classroom rules, Beau. And for always being kind to others. You make our school and classroom a better place!!” That pretty much sums up Beau at home, too. He makes our home a better place in every way with his impeccable manners & his great big, caring, enthusiastic heart.
We’re currently reading the Magic Tree House books together. He was the first to place presents under our Christmas tree (wrapped in notebook paper)and he’s working on his 2nd loose tooth.

As someone who is frequently asked to take photos of other families, it’s a little disheartening to not get one of our own this year. I’m settling for a makeshift collage for the sake of getting this greeting sent out. Mitch & I aren’t pictured, but are doing well!☺
He completed work on the new Voyagaire Lodge on schedule, in time for the MN fishing opener. It’s the largest project he’s overseen to date, and turned out great.
The work year has since been -and continues to be- very busy.  A mixed blessing.

In May, Mitch & I flew to Syracuse, NY to pick up a truck and drive it home.
We loved upstate New York. In our quick visit we stopped at waterfalls & state parks throughout the Finger Lakes Region (Watkins Glen was a favorite), Niagara Falls, and made our way home around & between all of the Great Lakes. We had a baseball game to make it back for - such is life these days.  Many of our weeks are spent scurrying back & forth across Northern MN for sporting events.
We didn’t make it to our Canadian hideaway this summer, but had a couple of mini getaways on Crane Lake while Mitch & the boys were working there.
Adding onto the house made for all kinds of activity & yard work. The addition has been built almost entirely of material made here on our property by Mitch & his sawmill.
We read a lot of great books & grew a pretty sweet strawberry patch.
Life, ever changing, has been good to us this year.
Wishing you a Peaceful Christmas & Pleasant New Year!


  1. Love your Christmas card and letter! I too write a letter every year. I know some folks make fun of these form letters, but I happen to enjoy reading any I get. I think it's so much better to enclose a letter in your Christmas card than to just sign your name and not say anything else. Hope you and your family have a fabulous Christmas!

    1. I feel the same, Linda - I love receiving & reading them! In fact, I just read two more that came in the mailbox & I was smiling ear to ear. :)

  2. Thank you for the wonderful wishes, and the recap of your incredible year. I love Christmas letters, when they are filled with this much love and light, anyway! Merry Christmas and best wishes for the coming year! :-)

  3. Always love reading about your family's adventures in Northern Minnesota Amanda! Wishing you and your family a Blessed Christmas and a Wonderful 2014!
    Hugs, Barb

  4. A beautiful record of the important milestones and memories of your year and as always it's great to have some photos to accompany your words.

  5. Having followed you through your adventures here I am super impressed how you got the entire year on one page, this is a beautiful letter and a gorgeous card...Happy Holidays!

  6. A wonderfully written recap of your life in the last year.I truly enjoy reading about your daily adventures and wish you and your adorable family all the best for the future and have a wonderful ,blessed christmas.

  7. So many wonderful milestones and memories and lovely shots. Wishing you a magical holiday season.

  8. i think a letter like this is great when you have so many kids doing and enjoying so many things. :) merry christmas to you all!

  9. Very sweet! I always get updates like this from several family members and I really enjoy reading them. Too bad you didn't get a family photo this year! It's tough being the one who is always behind the camera because you rarely get photos of yourself!

    Merry Christmas!

  10. Merry Christmas, friend! LOVE the bow ties!

  11. Just stopping by to say Happy New Year. Hope you and your family have a terrific, healthy, safe and loving 2014…


  12. What a wonderful way to remember the year. And of course I love your photos. I do hope you and your family had a Merry Christmas and Wishing you all the best in 2014.


  13. Hi there - you and your family live in such a different place to me and mine - I always look forward to reading the post - hard to fathom its the same world sometimes!

    Cheers and I hope you all have a good New Year - Stewart M - Melbourne