Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas is almost here!

What a wonderful time of year and it is definitely a Winter Wonderland! We have received a lot of snow and are keeping busy trying to keep our drive way, sidewalks and a path out to our chickens/dog shoveled out. I think winter is here to stay.

We have been so excited to get the mail each day and see who we've received Christmas cards from. We treasure our friendships and enjoy so much hearing about the events of everyone's lives.

I have been busy making my traditional chewy caramels and cinnamon roasted almonds and Christmas ornaments! The neighbors can't imagine Christmas without receiving their holiday treats from the Smiths. (These are the words we hear as we deliver goodies to all of them). We have also been been enjoying many holiday treats that get delivered daily from our neighbors and friends and my favorite thing of all...watching all of the classic holiday movies.

The magical spirit of Christmas fills our home in abundance this holiday season as our little Ethan is so excited about a special visitor coming Christmas Eve.
Merry Christmas!

(here is our Christmas Newsletter we mailed to family and friends this year along with the photo shown above)

*Happy Holidays 2008!*

It is hard to believe another year has “flown by”. We didn’t do any singular thing that was particularly “magnanimous” but we find it is truly all of the “little things” you do in life that make it so Wonderful and Memorable! Recently, we came across a quote that sums up our feelings on Christmas and gift giving:

"Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself to others." -- -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last year over the Christmas break, we went on a really fun vacation (with Kimberly’s family) that took us to various port cities along the Mexican Riviera. Other than a few things from “Santa” in our stockings, we didn’t exchange material gifts.
It was one of our all - time favorite Christmases!
As a family, we’ve begun realize that it is “simple things” like spending time with loved ones that truly make this “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. So, this year we are looking forward to keeping it simpler during the holidays.
We look forward to some time off from work, enjoying our kids, playing games, drinking hot chocolate, savoring holiday goodies, watching movies, cuddling by the fire with a good book, spending time with extended family and neighbors and not worrying about the commercialism of Christmas that can add stress and take away from the joy.

Here’s a quick update on our family:

Jade: We are so proud of the fine young man Jade is becoming. He is sure growing too… taller than me (Kimberly). He has found a new love this year in running. He participated on the Cross Country team and although he isn’t the fastest runner he finished every race and did his best.
He’s got SO much determination!
Every day when he comes home from school, after he has done his chores, he puts on his running clothes and goes running. It hasn’t been a passing fancy, he’s really shown a lot of determination and we have been impressed with his ongoing fortitude to keep running even in the cold!

He continues to enjoy art and his love for drawing has made Ethan get a little competitive with wanting to draw and paint as well as he does. Jade is a hard worker and never needs reminded to do his chores and is happy and willing to help with the animals, yard, garden and trees.

Jade has certainly been blessed with some unique trials; one of those is his ongoing battle with epilepsy. The day before Thanksgiving was a real bummer because after having gone over two years without having a seizure, he had a bad one. He has been so happy to be seizure-free for so long, we were worried this would be a real blow to him… however; he has continued to be upbeat and has not complained about it once! He has been blessed with some trials and he bears them well.
He’s a real example to us!

Ethan: This is a year of “Firsts” for Ethan. He is in the First Grade, he lost his First tooth and he blew his First bubble with bubble gum! (Needless to say, I have purchased many packs of bubble gum this year). Ethan has a passion for learning and is doing awesome in school! I just feel fortunate enough that even though he is reading and writing well, he still begs me to sit on our huge bean bag and read books to him, which I LOVE!
Ethan is our little adventurer and Indiana Jones is his hero. He always has to have a “Rope” around his belt, a bag of “treasure maps” that he’s made and he is always doing some kind of adventurous thing. He sure makes us laugh a lot. He loves to get “into character” with any movie he happens to be watching. It’s hilarious at times.

Ethan is just an absolute joy to have around and so much fun!
Tracy and I are enjoying very much the“Swoosh” noises that we so abundantly hear from his playing as we know that these youthful days will not last forever.
One my favorite joys this year, were the nightly walks Tracy and I took together. The sunsets here in Sunnydell Idaho are something to behold! It feeds my soul to be out in nature in the fresh air talking and walking with my sweetie and enjoying all of the beauty that surrounds us.

As a family, we enjoyed many summer evenings watching and enjoying the “phases of the moon”, our clear, starry skies and many other benefits that come from living out of town. Our garden is improving each year and we have enjoyed the fresh eggs we get daily from our chickens. We also had a good crop of strawberries (delicious on Tracy’s Buttermilk pancakes) and our plum tree bore its first fruits.

We feel fortunate to be near BYU-I with all the great concerts and cultural events. This summer we took Jade and Ethan to a Beetles tribute concert by a group called “1964 The Tribute”. Later, in the fall we attended the annual Halloween Symphony Orchestra concert which featured music from “Pirates of the Caribbean”. We all enjoyed the live music performances!

We also went many times to Heise Hot Springs, took several trips to Yellowstone, went backpacking into Alaska Basin and Grand Teton National Park, visited the Lewis and Clark Caverns & Virginia City, took a scenic trip through the Bear Tooth Mountains (in Montana) and went on lots of other scenic drives, with plenty of chocolate chip cookies, good music, great conversation and always lots and lots of laughter!

At this time, we feel so grateful to be gainfully employed and we know we are abundantly blessed for all we have, including health, good food to eat, a warm home and most of all a home full of love, hugs and kisses!

We hope this letter finds you all well.
We miss you and hope to see each of you in the coming year.
Your friendship is our greatest treasure!
We send our love and wish you peace, joy and happiness in 2009.

Love, the Smith’s.......Tracy, Kimberly, Jade and Ethan
(tracytodd@gmail.com & kimberlysmiles@gmail.com)

PS…coming January 2009, be sure to check out Kimberly’s Blog at:

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