1991 Christmas Letter

Hello again, Family and Friends!

We hope this year past has been as fruitful for you all as it has been for us. We have had the usual ups and downs but for the most part we are still going strong! Bob heard of an opportunity to apply for a program wherein high school math and science teachers are able to work in various government installations to improve their skills and to assist in various research endeavors. He applied and in late February was one of the one hundred high school teachers from around the country who were accepted for this work, thus he spent the summer at CRREL in Hanover doing research in ice engineering.

One of the benefits of working at Dartmouth College is that employees may take one class a term gratis. Pattie was successful enough in her class 1990 fall that she took another (both French classes) one in spring of this year. She was inspired by these learning experiences to apply for a master’s program at Dartmouth. Much to her surprise in late spring she was accepted for the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program offered by Dartmouth. She took her first graduate class–a feminist view of motherhood(very eye-opening!)–this summer, as well as a symposium and writing workshop. This entailed much more work than she could have imagined. Fortunately she was only working half-time at her job, though the job sharing turned out to more work for her than for her co-worker this summer. With all good fortune next summer the tables will be turned and she will be the one who is away more.

In April Christopher and Pattie went to Quebec for four days. Chris stayed with the family of the student who stayed with us in February and Pattie was totally immersed in French in the home of several Canadian nuns! Both Chris and Pattie found the experience enlightening, invigorating and completely exhausting…all that concentrating was hard to do!

In May Christopher started his Eagle Scout project which was to landscape the medians at the Thetford exit of Interstate 91. It was a lot of work and he has been working over the summer and fall, watering, removing dead plants, replanting as well as preparing the beds for winter and planting spring bulbs. He hopes to increase the number of flowering shrubs and other plants this spring. In July Janus organized and completed his Eagle Scout project which was building 30 picnic tables for the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial in Sharon, Vermont. Two weeks after completing the tables he, Christopher and Megan attended a wilderness youth conference there and were part of the more than 600 youth who used the tables for lunch on a terrible rainy Saturday. That youth conference was a mind-bending experience for the kids wherein they forged friendships that were designed to last for years as the youth participated in numerous “Outward Bound”-type activities.

Summer was very complex for the family as, for the first time ever, the children were left on their own as both Bob and Pattie worked at day jobs. Many lessons in responsibility were attempted–some successfully and others not as productive. The three older children all had jobs at various times-Janus and Christopher haying and babysitting and Megan picking strawberries for a local farm stand. With so many activities it was difficult to get the sailing in that we had desired–though a few trips were planned and executed. We took the Sailfish that Aunt Freda and Uncle Johnny Stephens had given us and went across the lake a few times in relatively high winds. There were some who enjoyed that excitement more than others!!

In August our Japanese visitor was Akiko Hagawara– a joy to have in our home. She added to the wonderful cultural exchange that was started two years before when Hisayo Oshima and then her sister, Chika Oshima were guests in our home. We have so much enjoyed these lovely sweet girls in our home. They are such a good example to our kids, as well as being fun. We went again to Kennebunkport, Maine for a weekend of camping, strolling on the beach and swimming in the cold Atlantic. The only disagreeable part of the trip was the many bug bites that Aki suffered!–and we wished again that we had figured out a way to get our sailboat to Maine for those long wonderful afternoon long tacks!!

Janus and Christopher both were advanced to Brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow and were leaders in June at the early summer ordeal for new Arrowmen. Christopher went on to be Senior Patrol Leader for the troop at summer camp in which Jonathan participated for the first time-to his great delight. He came home with the swimming merit badge, quite an achievement for him. Once again Megan attended girl scout camp here in Thetford and went on a several-days-long backpacking trek out of camp.

School brought the year in which four of the five children were at Thetford Academy–and for the first time Bob actually taught one of his own children mathematics. In fact he taught all three of the boys. Robbie is now loning it down at the Elementary School which pleases him to no end. He is very active in school and at the end of each day walks the half mile up to Thetford Academy to await his ride home with Dad and siblings.

Janus, Christopher and Jonathan all had a good year in cross-country running with Janus coming in fifth for his team in the State meet. Jonathan had a first in the junior high League championships. Christopher ran along at his best speed and built for another good year in 1992. Megan was on the first-ever girls’ soccer team at the Academy. She had a great time and learned a lot. By the end of the season the girls were winning games.

And finally, that much-dreaded year has arrived when Janus will begin the leaving the nest process. In fact he has completed the process and will be attending Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho next fall. He looks forward to this event with much glee. (Pattie has been crying since he went off to kindergarten–knowing that this day would come!) Now that he is ready to go the parents are getting excited for him, too, but have mixed feelings about letting him go.

Well, this letter has been going on and on and there is much left unsaid–but the message we most want you to have is that we love you all and miss you and long for that day when we might be together again. If all goes well, we will be taking a long family trip to the West this summer to take Janus and Christopher to the Philmont Scout Ranch in July, as well as swinging up into Idaho to show him his new home so that when August comes he can just fly out and be somewhat assured that he is getting to the right place.

Our love and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season with a glorious year to follow in which more of your dreams and goals are realized!

Bob, Pattie, Janus, Chris, Megan, Jonathan and Robbie

NEWS FLASH – Janus successfully completed his Eagle Board of Review on December 19th and will receive the award in February!! We are very proud of him.