Sunday, December 7, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014 from the Grays!

We hope this note finds you well and prayers for those that are struggling.

This has been a wild ride of a year. We began with Nana's death after 100 years on this earth. Her life was celebrated with generations of family and friends. On the way to my mother's for Nana's service, I rolled the car with Junior and Mike as passengers. Though we walked away from the totaled vehicle, I suffered a concussion, lots of bruising, long term pain, and developed PTSD. The guys had minor bruising and only needed a few chiropractic adjustments; I am looking at 18 months for full recovery. The driver side window shattered when we hit a small tree, the side airbag protected me from the shattered glass. We ended up replacing our 5-passenger Honda with a 7-passenger Ford.

Passenger Side

Driver Side

In March, we welcomed the arrival of my niece, a strong-willed, intelligent baby. She is adorable! I got to cuddle more babies in April when my best friend delivered twins via IVF. It is a blessing to see two women who have struggled with infertility have adorable bundles to cuddle. For spring break, Mike and I took Junior and J to Portland to explore downtown for a few days. We explored the waterfront, Powell's Books, OMSI, Portland State University, and the Oregon Zoo.

Park in downtown Portland

Oregon Zoo

Mike and I celebrated 15 years of marriage with no fanfare. We acknowledged our anniversary, but no special celebration. Where do 15 years go? This fall marked 20 years since we met; yes, we were just kids, but our relationship is still strong with God's grace. Junior began marching with the high school marching band in June at Forest Fest, full rehearsals began in August with competitions and football games throughout the fall. As of December, marching band is complete until June. As soon as school ended, we sent Junior on a plane with the other 8th graders for a whirlwind trip of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and DC. The class had a wonderful time learning more about government and history. A few days after returning, we sent Junior off to my parents' for two weeks. He got to experience a heat wave (105+ temps), went shooting, helped my mom with painting without getting paint all over the floor, swam almost every night, and charmed all the relatives. Then we were off to Crater Lake National Park for several days during the prolonged heat wave plus we got to breathe the smoke from a forest fire in Klamath Falls. The lake was not deep blue, it was pale blue due to the smoky haze.

Crater Lake

In September before school began, Junior and I traveled to visit his biological family. It was a great weekend visiting with his relatives and some friends. We spent a day at the water slides and an evening at a state park.

September brought additions to our family. We became an unofficial Safe Family for our neighbors providing long term, part time care for their kids. We have two boys age 13 (J) and 10 (D) every weekend (nights included) and every day after school. In November we began caring for their 5 year sister (M) one day a week. We do not know how long we may care for these kids, but we love them as ours as long as we care for them. Mike even built the boys a bunk bed. We are learning to parent three kids. The Lord has blessed us with a smooth transition and good kids. Please pray for their family that they could return full time to their parents.

Bunk beds

Our family is gaining another member - a brother-in-law. My younger sister got engaged in November! In 2016 we will celebrate their marriage.

This year Mike has been having fun with his Ural which arrived in June. He has rode around Hood Canal and in Olympia. He participated in a Riders for Health Scavenger Hunt and Camp Out. In December he rode with his aunt in a local Toy Run where 10,000 motorcycles rode to raise toys and money for kids in need for Christmas. Junior and I have each rode as tub monkeys (the side car passenger). Junior is the kid with the cool dad who arrives at band practice in the motorcycle!

First ride after purchase

Rest break during Ride for Health Scavenger Hunt

Aunt T & Mike at Toy Run

While writing this year's letter, I realized there were no photos of me. I searched our 2014 photo archives and found three from work and few from our vacations. When I was not the photographer, I often was not around for the activity. Between work, shuttling children, and my health, life was too busy to take photos or not appropriate for photos. Besides work, I had several ER visits and medical issues - some related to the car accident, some not related. I am learning to navigate high school requirements for Junior and be an advocate for J and D. 

Me in front of USS Blueback, SS-581 at OMSI

2015 will have more adventures and surprises waiting for us. May the new year bring blessings to you!

Peace and Love,
Jocelyne, Mike, Junior, J, D, and M