Merry Christmas 2011!!


I must be getting older - it's getting harder to remember all that we did this year! I've been able to narrow down our pictures from this year to only 65 - so please enjoy. Click on them if you want a closer look.

We celebrated the beginning of 2011 in Myrtle Beach with Don's family. We've had several fun trips meeting up with family, mostly in Orlando. If you come to Orlando, be sure to let us know, because we might crash your vacation too! (Or you might want to come down and join us for Moster Jam.)

Our girls find plenty of interesting things to do around our home. They each got their own sewing machines this year, and are learning the craft. There's usually something interesting living in our yard, located in the subtropics. Much to Don's delight, they also enjoy playing with their Snap Circuits kit making electronic projects. The girls are taking after their dad in wanting to tinker around and try to build things. And there's lots of fun to be hand in daddy's studio or just making salads together. Barbara is delighted that they are getting old enough to handle more of the housework, like dishes, window washing, and vacuuming.

This year was a big home improvement year for us. We started off with a new paint job on the exterior. Barbara redid the patio floor, and we hired out the resurfacing of our deck. Don found two major underground water leaks, dug them up, and repaired them. We also continue to enjoy the fruits of our vegetable garden. We also had our pool resurfaced and replaced the whole pump/filter/heater/chlorination system. We re-sodded the yard and upgraded some of our landscaping.

Sarah and Rachel enjoy their involvement in American Heritage Girls, with lots of interesting outings, marching in the parades, visiting veterans, etc. They also continue in the Saints PE program for homeschoolers. We are so thankful for the great friendships they have developed!

The girls are also active at our church, and have fun in the choir and dressing up for the annual Harvest Festival. They graduated to the Moonbeams piano classes this year, and are taking their music to the next level. They have some new cousins on Barbara's side of the family and always enjoy a visit with them.

One of the joys of parenting is throwing a birthday bash for your child! Rachel's 8th was a jump party, complete with bounce house and obstacle course in our back yard. Sarah continues her love for horses, so we had a horseback riding party for her and her friends, which ended with a horse-painting ceremony (yes, that is a real pony with the handprints of the kids.) They also enjoy the themed parties of their friends. Both girls earned their fishing badges at the International Fishing Hall of Fame.

Here we have more outings that foster their love for animals. Both girls began third grade this year, and continue to learn quickly. Many Fridays involve an educational field trip, such as the Stranahan House. In March, Barbara had a welcome break at the Womens' Conference with our church, where the speaker was Anne Graham Lotz.

Cake decorating, or perhaps over-decorating, and facepainting are always fun. The Plantation homeschool group got to tour the USS Normandy (CG-60) guided-missile cruiser - Don decided to tag along for that outing. The man in fatigues is the captain. It has become an annual tradition to watch the Plantation Independence Day parade with our friends the Lupos and the Schwartzs, whose daughter was born on the 4th of July.

Disney somehow convinced us to buy season passes again this year, so we've made our share of runs up to Orlando trying to get our money's worth. We got a good deal on the Grand Floridian, so we decided to stay there and check it out. The line of people in the 4th picture is Don's brother's family. We made a trip up to Chattanooga to visit with Michael and got to see everyone while we were there. The last picture is the 1st birthday of our cousin Joshua Egan, that we got to celebrate.

And now, let me tell you about our road trip in June. We visited Columbia SC, Lake Wylie SC, Christiansburg VA, Roanoke, Gettysburg, Hershey, Bird-In-Hand, Weedsport NY, Niagara Falls, Trenton NJ, Washington DC, Mount Vernon, and Virginia Beach in 15 days.
We started out visiting friends we've known since before any of us were married, who recently moved to Lake Wylie, Hugh and Trish Knight. We got to meet a new cousin, Jayden, for the first time. We surveyed the Gettysburg battlefields, and learned the proper techniques in a chocolate-tasting class in Hershey, along with a visit to the intriguing Hershey Gardens.

In Lancaster county, we stayed on a dairy farm in a farmhouse that was built in the 1800s. The girls had daily chores to do, including feeding the calves and harvesting the eggs. From there we moved on to perhaps Don's favorite place on earth, Niagara Falls.

We took a jetboat ride on the Niagara River and bobbed through some class 5 rapids. We drove right up to class 6 rapids, but it is illegal for any boat to traverse those. We had fun at the tourist traps as well, including the Crystal Caves mysterious mirror maze, that cranks out Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror while you try to figure out where you are and where your children went. In Trenton, we visited with Don's Uncle Jack, who has lived longer than any of the Jennings family, and his family. In DC, we saw the Washington Monument, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Library of congress, the WWII Womens' Memorial (where Barbara's mother is registered), and the National Air and Space Museum.

The inside of the Library of Congress is striking. There we saw an original Gutenburg Bible and Thomas Jefferson's original library. In the Air and Space museum, we saw the Wright Flyer. Not a replica, but the actual first airplane! We visited George and Martha Washington's home at Mount Vernon Then on down to Virgina Beach where we enjoyed a cruise on the Ellis' - um - yacht and a great visit with Steve and Pam, whom we've also known since before we were married.
Finally, we arrived safely back home with family memories that we will cherish forever.
In other news, Don went through his sixth corporate buyout in March, when Intel bought McAfee. It was nice to work for one of the top 100 best companies to work for, but the string of buyouts dissolved the product he was hired to work on, and his job with Intel ends Dec 31 along with 44 of his coworkers. 2012 will be bringing a career change.
Don has expanded his well-known Christmas light display this year to be a little brighter and a little better. Stop by if you are in the neighborhood. He also upgraded the squirrel trap to digital this year and has caught a record 20 squirrels so far.
Barbara has cleaned up her schedule in order to meet the growing demands of homeschooling and all the related activities. If this trajectory continues, we'll be moving faster than the Jetsons before graduation!

We hope your Christmas is full of joy and the blessings of the Savior who arrived as a baby!
With love, Don, Barbara, Sarah, and Rachel Law.