Here's our Christmas letter that Mom wrote that we sent out this week. It's, uh, just a little bit long, but please take the time to read!
Hello to all our friends and family,
The years go so fast, don't they? You probably feel you just heard from us! Well, you know the drill, as I have a hard time keeping things short - grab that coffee, the laptop, sit back and find out what happened in the lives of the Maretzki’s this year. We won't disappoint you.....lots went on as usual. In fact, I think this letter will have to top all the others as more than ever, we fit a lifetime into a few months.
These were of course the coldest months of the year. We were still in the house that Gord built finishing off a few things here and there, but mostly just existing, quietly and calmly as the year before had been so hectic, building a house, moving numerous times (it ended up being 7 moves by the time we ended up in the farmhouse, if you can fathom it). It was wonderful to just enjoy being together without major construction deadlines. At this time Gord picked up a few more contracts that meant the contracts got priority over finishing the final details of the house.
MarKerr is born
In January, Gord reconnected with a friend, Kenny Kerr, who has a complimentary set of skills to Gord with respect to his computer background. Gord's strength is in the hardware aspect of computer controls and Kenny is an expert in C++ computer software. For years, his wife, Karin, and I had talked that it would be amazing if the two of them could do something together business-wise. When the two of them would be in a room together, their conversations would sound like a completely different language. It seems the timing had never been right to get something off the ground, let alone to even have a conversation about working together as Kenny and Karin hadn't lived near us until this past year. The timing was now. Together they are developing a controller and they hope to have a product they can take to market this spring, Lord willing.
Meanwhile Gord's GHM Engineering business kept him busy. He always finds himself doing such unusual projects. This year his main work involved doing the controls work for the Canadian Center for Inland Waterways which involved automating aspects of the fish research department (with guppies)! It was a project that took the greater part of the year which meant he was GLAD when it was done.
March was a really fun month for us as we were all highly involved with the wedding of our dear cousin, Stephanie. Our whole family enjoyed playing a role in helping her meet her future husband, Andrew, and we were therefore blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the wedding itself. Sydney was a bridesmaid
and Sawyer was the
flower girl. It was a beautiful day and
Andrew and Stephanie will, no doubt, have a blessed life together. They are expecting their first baby in
January, another exciting time for all of us to share with them!
April and May
Fidelity Books went to a number of homeschool conferences again this past year. It was a little harder to manage with yet another house move, but we didn't want it to die, so we forced ourselves to keep it up and were encouraged to do so as the books we sell continue to bless those who read them. More renovating went on at the farm.
June was a big month for Gord. I dare tell you he turned 50! Shocking, isn't it? He's aged gracefully and the farm life is keeping him young, not to mention all the toddlers around his feet, so he fools a lot of people. We weren't living at the farmhouse yet, but we managed to host a pig roast for our friends and church family. It was amazing. Soccer games were going on one side of the house and people were mingling and eating on the other side enjoying the perfect weather God had given us that day. We were not just celebrating Gord's birthday, but all that God has done in his life, particularly in the last few years. What a blessed life he's been given. We wanted to thank all the people who had contributed in any way or built into his life over the years by having them come. It was the perfect way to break in the new farm. Gord hopes to do another pig roast of our own next -year (with maybe our own pig!). I never question him anymore. I've learned he's usually serious and that it usually happens.
August brought our cousins up from the states - what a great time was had by all as the 17 (that's right, 17, from just 3 of us!) grandchildren enjoyed being together even though the visits are not frequent enough for our kids liking. All this time work had been going on in the farmhouse. Painting was really the only thing holding us back from moving in. I was getting excited! Once the painting was complete and dry enough, I literally woke up and told the kids, "We're moving today." And that was that. I was so excited. In a matter of hours I had the whole kitchen packed up and single-handedly moved over while Gord was at work. He was rather shocked to see what I had done in such a short amount of time. Within 24 hours we were moved in enough to stay for good. What a great feeling to wake up that first morning to views of barns, neighbouring farms and just space.Sometime later that August, Gord had a rather innocent conversation one morning with someone at church. The other man was telling him he knew of another mutual friend who was looking to sell his small herd of cows. Gord casually mentioned he'd be interested. Well, if we didn't get a call that afternoon from the man with the cows. Within a week we were down at his place looking at cows and the next thing you know we were buying cows. It was the funniest thing. Gord was determined to make his farm not just a place with a lot of grass to mow. The cows arrived on Jude's 5th birthday - what a great gift for a new farm boy! We got a special breed called Scottish Highlands, 17 of them. One of our friends says they look like the Beatles as they have very funny hairdos. They've certainly taught Gord a lot FAST about farming, fencing, pasture management, feeding, cold weather and being disciplined! They eat rain or shine. Earlier in the summer, Gord had the grass of one of our pastures baled to hay for potential future animals. I thought it was a little early as no animals were even on the property yet, but it turns out that hay fed them for the whole fall, so he seems to know what he is doing. Anything he doesn't know he researches and quickly learns.
Our farming library is growing. You would laugh if you knew my nighttime reading regime now...books like You Can Farm now sit on my nightstand. I think I heard you laugh out loud.
When we bought the cows 6 of them were pregnant and due in the summer and early fall. The first cow to deliver ended up having major complications. They weren't on our property until they had all delivered, so Gord, being the new owner, had to whip down and see what he could do to help (as if he had lots of calf delivery experience!) So, he and the boys left, only to find the calf had already been born, but was being completely ignored by its mother. Jesse turned into Mr. Mom Cow and attempted feeding the calf all night by bottle all the while being swarmed by mosquitoes and attempting to get a few winks of shut-eye in Gord's truck. What a night! The next morning the vet came and attempted to put the mother cow back together as she was suffering from a lot of her insides making their way out, so to speak. Again, the boys were witnesses of the whole event, not missing a moment of it. Both Gord and I felt they left as little boys and came back as young men.
October and November and December
Not being one to stop the farm surprises, Gord did it again. I came home after a lunch out with my mom to find our children running up to me holding two kittens. The story they told me was hilarious. They'd been at a pet store where they observed some man come in with a couple of orange kittens in a crate asking the store owner if he'd take them. The owner said, "No, sorry." The kitten man left, but he also left the kittens - outside the door of the store, crate and all. Jude saw this and said, "Hey, Dad, can we take those kittens home?" He'd been asking for a cat for months. Gord said, "We'll have to see, " and proceeded to buckle him in his car seat. Meanwhile he runs back in the store and says, "What are you going to do with those cats at the door?" "What cats?@!" "I'll take them if you don't want them." "You can have 'em!" So the next thing you know, we're cat owners to two very lively brother cats. Talk about adding life to a home!
Living up on the ridge of the escarpment is wonderful for views. We can actually see the lake from where we are, but we've also discovered that living up here brings unusual amounts of wind - there's a geographical
explanation for that,
I'm sure. It can be hurricane-like
sometimes. Yikes. Gord started watching all around us how
neighbours seemed to know things we didn't know. They were getting snow fencing up, prepping
for winter in ways we'd never even considered, so needless to say, Gord started
doing whatever the neighbours were doing.
He had purchased a tractor along with the property and started getting
it kitted out with the snowplow attachment, all while it wasn't too cold
yet. He's glad he did. Then he and the boys built a proper hay
feeder that got moved under the barn loft door, so now the hay just gets thrown
out from the top of the barn directly into the hay feeder (bet you never
thought you'd get a letter explaining hay from me before). Now he's feeling a little more prepared for
what is sure to come.
The other house was sitting unoccupied and still slightly unfinished as Gord's contracts kicked up again in the fall. We were able to help out some friends who needed a place to stay while they were doing a major renovation on their house, so our house had "house sitters" the whole time which was a good thing to keep an eye on it as we no longer lived there. They moved out middle of December and Gord's contracts will end at the end of December. That should see Gord back at the other place finishing off the final touches, hopefully listing and Lord willing, selling, this Spring. I've learned to not have too many expectations as life just has a way of changing in ways you don't expect.
Our little Jonas had a minor accident this summer, poor little guy. He was just over a year at the time, toddling and falling everywhere, taking steps that would give him little bumps all the time. One time at my parents' house, he took a step with no one to catch him in time, off the top step of a three-step deck. His face landed on the bottom step and he immediately lost one tooth and two more had to be removed the next morning. That was hard on all of us and we felt his pain! He's made an amazing recovery which we are also grateful for. He'll be nearly two when the other baby comes. He continues to keep us on our toes and gates seem to be everywhere in this house.
Jinger, our 3 year old, got glasses this year. She looks super cute and surprisingly wears them without too much fussing. She wants to do school all the time, even on Saturdays. With non-stop chatting and imaginary friends all over the place, she remains one of our most social children.
Seeing as there are always lots of pregnant friends in my life, one of her greatest joys was to take pregnancy photos of the moms-to-be, followed by a photo shoot once the baby came. What a gift to the new mom - they absolutely loved it. Her blog continues to be where she posts a number of her
photos and updates
our friends and family on a weekly basis.
She started teaching our younger children piano lessons this year,
too. I was happily surprised to find
that they (mostly) listen to her and I've actually seen some improvement since
they began a few short months ago. Nice
to have a teacher in-house! My only
complaint is the amount of baking she does.
No joke, it's constant. How is
one supposed to be self-disciplined when there is always a chocolate chip
cookie lying around. Can you imagine
I've had to ban her from the kitchen to once a week? She doesn't like that rule.
So, as you can see, it's been a full year and I didn't make any of this stuff up, honest! We always want to be quick to thank the Lord for ALL that has been done and how blessed we are. We are thankful for a full life; we know it is a gift from above.
We thank the Lord for our good health, for his protection and for his promise of hope this season. We trust you will enjoy the same. Please update your address book for us as we finally have a permanent address that we hope to have for a long time.Sincerely,