Merry Christmas 2009!!

the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Matthew 4:16)

Time, like the unstoppable tide, rolls on, and we are riding the wave! Welcome to our online Christmas letter! The photos here are rather small, but you can click on most of them to enlarge them in a new window.

By clicking around in Facebook, we discovered that the Rowley's (Kerry and Ray were Don's classmates at Furman, and later married) were heading to Disney in March. So we crashed their vacation and had a great time with them. They have two sons, we have two daughters, so Kerry got to talk about princesses and Don got to talk about speed and action.

One of the fun things about our girls getting a year older is that we can step up the outside activities a notch. For Christmas last year, the girls got skates and a scooter. They both manage pretty well on the skates - certainly much better than Don does. I guess this is the beginning of watching our children exceed us!

2009 also sent the bicycle training wheels into the past where it seems like diapers and pacifiers just went. Both girls can ride their bikes well and it takes a LOT less time to get to the park now. Don has to ride a bike to be able to keep up with his children.

We had some fun birthday parties in 2009. Rachel had a high tea party, where everyone came dressed as a princess. All of her guests were served on the fancy china by the servant staff (aka parents). Don wore a tux. We also had a guest princess who did everyone's nails for them.

Sarah's birthday party was a pool party along with a bounce house. Don built a few pool fountains for the kids to play in, along with a foam generator. Both the parties were a lot of fun for everyone.

We took our summer vacation in the fall with a two week road trip. Our outermost destination was the wedding of Barbara's cousin Erin in Pembroke, VA. The wedding took place on the top of a mountain (an alien concept to a South Floridian) at the beautiful Mountain Lake Resort. In fact, if you saw the movie Dirty Dancing then you've seen this resort. It is the first wedding for the girls and of course they just soaked it all up. It was an outdoor ceremony in lovely fall weather, complete with a surprise deer sighting during the ceremony. There's a whole bunch of pictures from the wedding at

Along the way, we also visited Orlando (twice), Augusta, Raleigh, Monticello, Chattanooga, Gainesville GA, and Lakeland. We especially enjoyed Monticello - the home of Thomas Jefferson. He had a 1000 foot vegetable garden that we all loved. There's 41 of our favorite pictures from this trip in our online photo album on the web at

We always enjoy Harvest Festival at our church, and this year was no exception. Sarah has deepened her love for horses and she got to ride on one behind our church.

Don began serving as a deacon of our church this year, which has kept him even busier. It has helped him to be more involved in helping our church through the difficult waters of a church merger. Our church has been through a big makeover, has installed Tullian Tchividjian as our new senior minister (following the deceased church founder, D. James Kennedy), and laying a new foundation for the decades ahead. Barbara is finishing up being the Co-President of the Genealogical Society of Broward County. This is her favorite hobby. She has also been on the steering committee for our churches home school group.

It has been exciting to watch Sarah and Rachel grow up so much in 2009. We are home schooling them again. It is so much fun to watch when the "light bulb" goes on and they learn something new. They are more involved than ever before, with American Heritage girls, Purity classes, Saints athletic program, piano lessons, the Literature Fair, and more.

Don got a special treat this year: We completely wore out the Chrysler Sebring that we had, and we replaced it with a Volkswagen Eos. It is not a common car, but it is very cool. It is a hardtop convertible, the only mainstream convertible with a sunroof. When opening or closing the top, it looks like a transformer toy in action. Don's sister video'ed it and you can watch it on YouTube.

Our girls are also a very welcome help with household work that they have not been able to do before.

Of course, they cherish their playtime. As they grow, they continue to be opposite in so many ways, yet they enjoy each other's company. For some reason, 2009 brought a noticeably elevated interest in hair and shoes! We can't figure out why they never talk about socks - it is always the shoes.

Barbara and the girls got to go on their first camping trip this year with the American Heritage girls. They went out to Billie Swamp Safari and stayed in chickee huts overnight. They could hear the alligators grunting in the night. Don wasn't able to go since he was hosting a table at the annual Grace-FM banquet that night.

Barbara and the girls also enjoy gardening. We continue to replant our veggie row that Barbara created last year. We came up with some really nice lettuce and some decent beans.

We gave the landscaping in front of our house a facelift this year, pulling out some old ragged plants and starting off with some fresh material.

Speaking of the yard, you may recall from last year's Christmas letter that Don had quite an experience with squirrels - both real and stuffed. The story has continued on this year! If you have time to kill, you can read all about it at the new squirrel section of the website for our Christmas lights at

Christmas is a good time to reflect on the larger things in life, and we are especially thankful for having so many good friends, and that our children also have so many good friends. We enjoy a lot of activities with our buddies, including zoo trips as seen here.

Our little cat - Little B has turned 19 years old this year. She has some health issues, but still helps out with the family like waking up the girls and helping them get dressed and seeing that they get to bed each night. She has her little routine.

Last year at Christmas we had a great time with Don's family at Myrtle Beach, and we will be going back to the same resort again this year.

We are very blessed to have our family put together in such a beautiful way, and we have so much to bring us joy this Christmas.

We hope you all have a blessed and thankful Christmas and a great 2010!

Barbara's e-mail address:
Don's e-mail address: