Isaac graduated from Middle School with honors. He worked hard his last year and also won the Olathe National History Day award for his project about how 9-11 effected the United States and the world. He created a model of the attack on the towers out of Legos as part of the project. Isaac has enjoyed his first year of high school so far. He ran with the Cross Country team and is excelling in his drama class. Isaac is on the Varsity team in Boy Scouts. He's advanced to a Star rank and is continuing to work towards an Eagle rank. He went to his second year of Scout camp – 1 whole week away from the family! Isaac also started early morning seminary this year. For our family and friends who are not LDS, early morning seminary starts at 5:30 am every school day. The class lasts for an hour and the students study a different set of scriptures each year – the Old Testament, New Testament, or Book of Mormon. Isaac surprised both his parents and has absolutely loved his teacher and learning more about the Savior and scripture stories. He gets up on his own, gets ready for class, and has had 100% attendance so far.
MJ's big exciting moment this past year was auditioning for Jazz band. They only take one piano player and out of all the kids who auditioned (including the former piano player and all the older kids), she was chosen! It was a happy, happy celebration! Still on the topic of band, MJ was in her first marching band parade – although she had to be pushed in a wheelchair because the silly girl broke her foot. She learned a good lesson about not chasing her baby sister through the house! =) MJ turned the ripe old age of 12 and has moved up to the Young Women's program at church. She's singing with the church choir, has performed in flute ensembles, and also in the church's community Nativity play. On the school front, 6th grade was very challenging – but MJ persevered and really loves her 7th grade team. She's doing great, finishing each quarter with honors. Over the summer, MJ took cooking classes from the Olathe 21st Century Culinary Arts Club. And she didn't burn down the school building! Yeah! The best part (aside from eating all the yummilicious treats she brought home) is that she now cooks for the family every Sunday. MJ took on the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time this year! She exceeded her goal and wrote over 10,000 words on a YA novel!
Rob is obsessed with polar bears, polar bears, and more polar bears. He has quite the collection going and loves to go to the zoo to visit the polar bears and talk to their zoo keeper. Aside from all things polar beary, Rob has been very active at school. He's in 4th grade this year and is in the running club, Presidential Service, Math Wings, learning about computer programming (he designed his first video game!), in the school choir and earned his black belt in Recorder Karate. Whew! At church, he's loving cub scouts and singing in the children's choir. Outside of church and school, Rob is making progress in his piano lessons, making lots of Lego creations, and loves to ride his bike. As always, Rob is still a big goofball. He makes us all smile regularly.
Anna Banana (she doesn't like to be called Banana any more) wants to be just like her big sister – to the point of driving MJ and everyone else in the house insane. Anna is in 1st grade this year and she loves her teacher, Mrs. Boswell. She's made huge improvements with her reading! Anna also sings in the children's choir at church – and sings everywhere she goes! She loves to make up songs to sing and play on the piano. Anna's big accomplishment this year was learning to ride a big girl bike with no training wheels! Her favorite part of the summer was riding horses and fly fishing at Uncle Dan and Aunt Erica's house. She caught more fish than everyone else put together and is now a horse fanatic. Almost every book she brings home from the library is about horses – no matter if they are fictional stories or guide books for taking care of your own horse. She says she wants to be a veternarian and own her own ranch with horses when she grows up.
John is now one of the website architects for Sprint.com. He works with a 24 hour team of people here in the U.S. and also abroad in India. He received his 5 year employee certificate and also got a raise. John is still enjoying his work as the church Cub Master. He says hanging out with the 8-11 year old boys is just about his maturity level. =) He and Danyelle are also the Nursery Leaders for their congregation. They have the best calling – to play with toys, sing songs, and eat snacks with the 18 month old to 3 year old munchkins. It's awesome! John won NaNoWriMo this year. 50K words in 30 days on his 2nd middle grade novel. John spent most of the summer either taking care of the munchkins or taking care of Danyelle when she broke her foot two days before their family vacation. He replanned their vacation so it was crutches and wheelchair friendly, even finding a way to still go camping for the first time as a family! With all that stress, John took up knitting to decompress. He's created lots of fabulous stuff so far!
Danyelle traveled A LOT this year. She went to Pennsylvania three times, Texas twice, and Maryland once. She spent about 2 months on the road. She was the keynote speaker and presenter at two Inter-faith conventions. She had her first fiction short story come out in an anthology – Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels. It was a very exciting year! And yes, she broke her foot. But that didn't stop her from enjoying her anniversary vacation. She and John celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary and went to Branson for a week – just the two of them!!! Thankfully, Branson was very wheelchair friendly. Danyelle teased John that all the wheelchair pushing was training for their golden years. Other things that took up her time (other than fun family stuff) were months of physical therapy, organizing the Storymakers Midwest Writers Conference, learning how to crochet, and refreshing her flute playing skills. She sings with her church choir, performed in the church Nativity play, serves on her school district Special Education council, and is also on a committee for the Inter-faith Hospitality Network (which benefits local homeless families). For Christmas, Danyelle decided to give back in a personal way by having her hair cut off and donated to Locks of Love. With all the craziness of the year, her favorite thing to do was to just be at home with John and the kids.
We hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your families and friends
and a fabulous New Year!
One last note . . . here's a little something to make you laugh.
Our favorite Muppets Christmas Video!