Dear Family and Friends,
Here we are at the holidays and we are looking more like a New Year’s letter/card than Christmas. I think it snuck up on all of us so fast. I know this season of life has been tough but It’s time to stop and breath and contemplate and for us to practice gratitude. This is our second Christmas in South Carolina and I feel I’m less living in an out of body experience than last year but it still feels weird to me to be barefoot going to the mailbox in December. For Christmas I got new progressive lenses (yes I am now that old officially) and so I’m looking forward to seeing and reading clearly! As we clocked in another season here, the boys are more settled in life here too even though I know they do miss Amherst.
The twins are juniors at Wando High School and Daniel is a freshman at the same school. All three Vote boys in one school means a place gets to know the Votes REALLY WELL. I never knew how hard having kids in high school were but here we are navigating through the nuances of southern culture being yankees and so I must constantly remind some that WE ARE STILL NEW HERE. Daniel has enjoyed being in Air Force ROTC this year. I personally love the program and it is the most pro-social entity that is in his life. I’m not a big military person but as someone who is said, “they are training to be ambassadors and representing our country, school etc. they must learn to be leaders and deal with the officer.” As hard as it is to iron that uniform it’s blessed him with some great opportunities.
Garrison and Jonah are still working at Jack’s Cosmic Hot Dogs. Jonah’s been known to don the hot dog suit and wave down traffic. Jonah is taking 3D art and Art 2, still very talented in art but tinkering in culinary exploits. He has a steady girlfriend that I actually hired as a math tutor for Daniel so it’s win win for me. Garrison is taking Civil Engineering/Architecture, as well as AP Psychology and really hoping he leans into the creative field with his talent and he also spends time skateboarding. They both have their learners permits and we are slowly inching towards the time they will be drivers….but we are in no hurry. Over the summer we went to visit SCAD Savannah Collage of Art and I think they were inspired at the small art college environment. It’s hard to imagine where they will be in a couple of years, but I’ll keep my head in the sand for while longer with that!
Steven is enjoying the weather working from home and using his meat smoker. The amazing thing is that he’s lost almost 50 pounds and still going strong. We try to get out together to walk on the beach with our crazy Maisy dog and watch the dolphins feed off of our new favorite spot called Breach Inlet. It’s actually the location of a battle in the Revolutionary War and it’s kind of interesting to think about under all the sand what might lay underneath. Frequently when I come home he’s working with Maisy at his feet and it’s a good sight to see at the end of the day.
I am still working at the same place I have been last year as a teaching assistant in an alternative program that is residential for foster kids and psychiatric treatment facility. Yes it’s hard. This year I really wanted to move on, however it wasn’t God’s plan. I’m a little less “shocked” by it all and it’s super emotional at times when a good one leaves (the entire point…) and another one comes. There’s been some changes to the program that have made my job somewhat “better” so I opted to stay for the time being. I spent a lot of time this summer taking Maisy to the beach early in the morning and hanging at the dog park.
We also enjoyed having Steven’s sister Joanne and her fiance Greg visit this summer. I’ve gotten very good and doing a small foot tour of downtown Charleston. Daniel really bonded with Greg as they are both motorheads and we took them to cars and coffee and Ladson market. We had seriously perfect weather and it was fun to have guests while we had time off.
We also took some time to drive to PA and visit my parents before the school year got started and we practiced traveling with our “puppy” who is now 54 pounds of love. That practice came in handy when we evacuated for Doreen to the Asheville, NC area. We took advantage of having some time off, and visited Pisgah National Forest and Asheville. We definitely want to visit again and hopefully get to the Biltmore but we took in the mountain air and came home to just some palm branches on the ground. We are very grateful! One of the benefits for myself in writing this letter is to see the year behind me and count my days and people blessings….there are have been very hard times that don’t make the highlight reel on social media….yet still we are blessed. I am thankful that God placed us with great people both in church and in our neighborhood. We miss our friends and family if we can’t see you in person but we also pray that the Lord keep you in good spirits this Christmas season. Here’s to the 20/20 vision we have for the new decade!