Merry Christmas 2008!!

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2)

Another year is almost gone - remember when we could not wait to grow up? Now we wish life would slow down! Welcome to our online Christmas letter! The photos here are rather small, but you can click on any of them to enlarge them in a new window. We continue to homeschool Sarah and Rachel this year, doing first grade work. We are having fun learning to read, to add and subtract, studying the Bible and teaching character traits. We do a story time each week with another homeschool family, fun field trips, ballet, and the Saints Athletic program for homeschoolers. The girls also sing in the children's choir at church, and Barbara is one of the choir moms this year.

2008 brought some fun trips - we spent a week with Don's family up at Disney. Sarah and Rachel have passed 44 inches and love the roller coaster height restriction breakthrough! They are riding Space Mountain and Expedition Everest this year, and ask to ride them over and over! It is so much fun to gradually unfold more and more of Disney each year. You can see 59 more photos from this trip at our online photo album DisneySep08. We went when the lines were short - walked right on to Space Mountain for example. We got to have lots of nice special treats, such as riding in the cockpit of the monorail. We also ate in some of the restaurants that we normally pass by.

We have always wanted to take the girls to places that they would be studying in their homeschool. We took them on a historical vacation this summer with a whirlwind 8 day tour of Philadelphia, Trenton, Mt. Laurel, Washington DC, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg and Jamestown. We toured Betsy Ross house, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We also got to see some friends and family in the area that we rarely get a chance to visit with. Don gave Barbara a day to do some genealogy research while he took the girls for a horse and buggy ride through Philadelphia. This was the highlight of their trip - they even "named" the horse Penny, after a horse in Felicity, one of their favorite movies. We have another online photo album from this trip with 30 more photos.
In April, Barbara went on a cruise with her good friend Diana Cox to the Bahamas. This was a nice break for both of the moms, and made for an "exciting" time for Don and Jeff as they stayed behind to take care of the four children! We all had a great time. Don and Jeff know how to keep the kids in line and get them to do all the chores. ;-)
Barbara also celebrated her 50th in April! We are very blessed to have so many good friends through church and love to get together with them. We also enjoy having cousin Pam and brother Steve and his wife Marilou nearby. We went out to dinner to celebrate Barbara's two decade refinement of her 30th birthday. Here are (top) Barbara, Pam Allen, Freddie Barber, Trish and Hugh Knight, David Schwartz holding daughter AnnaClaire, (middle) Romeo DeMarco, Steve (Barbara's brother) and Marilou Bradford, Josiah Schwartz, Sarah, Don, Rachel, (front) Anton, Allison, and Cecily DeMarco.
In May, we had a big outdoor birthday party for both Sarah and Rachel. We hired one of the coaches from their athletic program to come and set up a bunch of fun games for the children. He had them doing archery, sharks and minnows, a water relay race, tug of war, and a rather messy whipped cream covered donut eating contest. We are so thankful for the wonderful friends that our children are growing up with!
Sarah and Rachel love to dress up, just like most little girls do. Each year for October 31, our church does quite a production called Harvest Festival. Rachel went as as Ariel (the Little Mermaid), and Sarah dressed up as a clown. In November, we have a Thanksgiving repast for the homeschool group at church. Sarah dressed up as Pocahontas, complete with feather. Rachel wore a little colonial girl outfit that Barbara wore when she was a child.
We are so pleased with the way Sarah and Rachel get along together, even though they are as different from each other as night and day. Rachel has a spring in her step and a song in her heart. This year she started playing the piano by ear. Sarah is very mild-tempered and seems to be able to remember just about everything. Whenever the rest of us forget something, we just ask Sarah. They have a great time at home with school. They work with Barbara on our vegetable garden, where we continue to battle insects and nocturnal animals for the produce. We have grown some nice lettuce, tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers. We are yet to master corn, cantaloupe, and carrots.
We got a big surprise in November when Don woke up in pain and decided to go to a walk-in clinic the next morning. The doctor told him that he had appendicitis and that he would have surgery that day! If you know how Don can't handle hospitals, then you can imagine what a shock that was to him. He almost fainted in the office sitting down. In fact, the doctor saw him going pale and had his glucose level checked. The appendectomy was done with a lot of prayer and laproscopic surgery and he had an easy recovery with very little pain. No photos for this event. :-)
We always enjoy sharing our computerized musical light display with friends, neighbors, and strangers. We have had a lot of visitors this year. Many people drive by during the day and roll down the window to tell us how much they enjoyed the lights. This year Don did a lot of work on the radio broadcast portion of the show, so that people can hear about the show while waiting for the next show to start. You can see more info and a movie of it at The local squirrels continue to be a challenge. They destroyed dozens of strings of lights last year, but Don is on the offense this year. We have "relocated" 15 squirrels to a wooded area far away from our house. One night these artificial squirrels mysteriously showed up in the middle of the light display waving a white flag of surrender!
We are going to Myrtle Beach the last week of the year to be with Don's family. Call us crazy for driving 600 miles North to go to the beach! But the resort has an indoor water park that we are looking forward to.

We always enjoy reading your Christmas letters and commend you for making it to the end of this one! We hope you all have a blessed and thankful Christmas and a great 2009!

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