Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December Newsletter

From Laura, 14 … Last month we studied Italy.  The country has a complex history, so it was difficult to settle on one specific topic.  I wrote a report on Italian holidays, and Becca wrote on a monk named Savonarola.  For our special Italian meal, Becca and I dressed as nuns.  I ended up sort of as a novice, because of my white head covering.  I liked the outfit; it was simple and comfortable.  Maybe I will keep dressing that way!  For the Italian supper we made an antipasto tray, a white bean and sausage dish, a hearty minestrone soup, and polenta cake.  Polenta cake is like lasagna except without pasta.  Instead, it has flat, rubbery sheets made out of polenta, which is basically cornmeal.  Later, Becca and I performed the Italian national anthem, with me on the piano and Becca singing.  We also danced some exciting Italian folk dances.

From Becca, 17 … Around Thanksgiving time I started a bread business.  Laura and I went around to our neighbors giving out flyers and free samples of fresh rolls.  We got several orders for the following week, so I was very busy.  I made six dozen rolls on Thanksgiving Day and two loaves the next day.  It was fun making so much at once.  I had three bowls of dough rising all at the same time.  On the first batch I nearly panicked because I thought I had gotten the water too hot and killed the yeast, but it rose after all and we were able to deliver them all on time.  I didn’t earn a whole lot of money, but I had a great time planning everything and making the bread.

From Seth, 20 … One recent change for me is that I got a job working for a land development engineer.  It’s part time, and involves working on surveys and site plans.  One major part of site planning is designing the drainage systems and the detention ponds.  It should be an excellent learning experience.

From Anna, 23 … In October our church hosted a conference featuring Dr. James White as a guest speaker.  The topic this year was Islam.  I think the biggest take-away from the weekend for me was the renewed realization of how hopeless Islam is.  Islam shares with Christianity a belief in a holy God, a broken law, and the threat of hell, but in Islam there is no mediator.  This should point us with even more gratitude toward our great hope in Christ, who has satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf, and give us a desire to share this great hope with those around us-- Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Our family was in charge of registration again this year.  We had over 400 attendees, and a large percentage of last-minute registrations, so we had a busy week leading up to the conference.  I enjoy that sort of work, though, and I was glad to be a part of it.

From John, Megan, James, and Ezra … (by Judith) Their biggest news (and the reason I’m writing this entry) is the birth of Ezra Michael last month!!  The birth was harder and longer than James’, and Ezra was 1 ½ pounds bigger, but mother and baby are doing well.  At first Ezra wasn’t sucking or able to open his mouth wide enough to nurse.  The next morning after he was born, they gathered themselves up and headed out in the pouring rain to have him treated by a chiropractor especially skilled with this type of problem.  The improvement was immediate and dramatic!  He hasn’t had any trouble since then.  They’re having the usual adjustments to an additional baby but are gradually getting back into the swing of life.

From Ray, Katie, Peter, Samuel,  Andrew, and baby … (by Katie) Ray has started his own real estate brokerage, and it’s going very well.  He hopes to start having other agents working under him, probably starting next year.  He has also hired a part-time employee, starting in January, to handle a lot of the paperwork and communications involved with properties that are under contract but not yet closed.  It should take a lot of the work load off Ray, and allow him to focus more on client relationships and new business.  

The boys are doing very well, and growing up fast.  Peter recently turned four, and we had a fun party with family, games, folk dancing, and ice cream cake.  Peter is excited about the new baby we have coming, because he wants to hold a baby, but Andrew won’t hold still!  It’s Peter’s first time to really comprehend a new baby coming, so that’s fun.  The baby is due in late May.  I felt yucky for a while, but it only lasted a few weeks, thankfully.  The other day I said to Peter, “Maybe God will send us a girl this time,” and he said, “Maybe God doesn’t have any girls left!”

From Judith … Honestly it doesn’t really matter to me that so far all the grandchildren that God has blessed us with are boys.  I find that I’m instantly in love with each one from the first moment I get to see and hold him.  Each of the five boys is truly his own unique person.  It’s fascinating to think about how different they are from each other.  Girls are likely to come along eventually and will be received with as much delight.  The first girl will of course be a great novelty, but ultimately she too will settle in among the ranks of the very special and unique little people in our lives.

From Gerald … Even though my work is very much the same as it has been for the past several years there has been a change in my management.  Earlier this year I was transferred from engineering to IT.  This was a change that made a lot of sense because I was already functionally working for the person who is my manager now, even though I still had a manager in the engineering department.  Now the person who is responsible for managing my workload and for writing performance reviews actually understands and knows what I do.  I still work closely with engineering staff and actually have some added responsibilities that involve more interaction with engineering management than I had before. 

A much-appreciated side-benefit of this change is that it is now possible for me to work from home more than I was allowed to before.  Nearly all of the collaboration that I have with other workers is easily accomplished by phone or by using online tools.  This is the case regardless of where I am located.  Working from home has a double advantage in allowing me to be more productive because of fewer interruptions from people coming into my office and also allowing me to be more in touch with what is going on at home during the day.  When I am at home, it takes less than a minute for me to come home for lunch.  I cannot easily do that when I am in the office.  It also saves me the financial and time cost of commuting on those days that I stay at home.  I still go into the office a couple of times per week. 


With love from the Pedersen clan

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