Sunday, December 22, 2013

Judd Christmas Letter 2013

Another year has passed us by. Our first year here in Alexandria Virginia has been a good one. We love the sunshine and the seasons. We love all the amazing things to see and do. And although we  miss our families and friends more than we can say, we count ourselves very blessed for the new friends we've made here on the east coast. 

Thomas started out the year in his new position writing procedures for the TSA. He loves his team of co-workers and has never been so happy in his work. At church, Thomas was called to be the second assistant in the High Priest Group, which makes him officially an "old man". He hasn't let his advancing years hold him back though, as this has been his year for physical fitness. Thomas ran his first half marathon with me back in April and has been doing P90X in the mornings with a buddy. He's so proud of his newly aquired lats! And speaking of buddies, he has made some great ones here.

I found a new love this year in the George Washington Memorial Parkway Trail. It runs along the Potomac river and is just beautiful in every season. I spent many an hour there, training for the Nike Women Half Marathon.  I also worked for nine months this year as a temporary employee for the Nike Women's Marathon doing social media and customer service. It was definitely a blessing and I was able to work from home and further hone my multi-tasking skills(that's the nice way of saying I lost a little bit more of my brain). I've also been so blessed to make some wonderful friends out here. 

Marley has had a busy year. She attends early morning seminary and has a pretty heavy work load in school this year. She is attending live online classes through Williamsburg Academy and is really loving it. She also has a pretty booming career as babysitter extraordinaire and is saving money for her first car. She just got her learner's permit last month and will be sixteen in March. That is just plain crazy! Best of all, she's still the best big sister ever and such a huge help to me!

Townsend, who officially became a teenager this year is also taking classes at Williamsburg Academy. Aside from a few hard life lessons in time management and saving your work is doing really well too. His real loves in life are basketball, pizza, and bacon. He spends four nights a week playing basketball and just as many days begging to have bacon for breakfast or pizza for dinner. Although prone to being just a tad antagonistic, he is a fun and loving big brother!

Aislyn just turned 10. She’s a lover of everything My Little Pony. She took a science class this year and is now an expert on all wetland creatures. She's got a keen memory when it comes to animal facts. She also wants to be a chef when she grows up. She has a little “cafĂ©” every day at lunch. She takes orders and gives excellent customer service. She recruited Townsend as her assistant and affectionately calls him her sous-chef. It’s pretty cute!

Our little Jairus, I'm realizing is not so little anymore. He turned 8 this year and was baptized. This year he started cub scouts and piano lessons and is loving both. His other loves in life are Mine Craft and Legos. He and Ephraim are best friends(most of the time) and are often off together having what they call "brother time".

Ephraim is 6. He loves Jairus so much and gets the saddest puppy-dog face you ever saw when his big brother is off doing things without him. Ephraim is our tender and quiet little guy. He says the most thoughtful prayers you ever heard and then out of no where can pull out some pretty awesome wit and humor.

Ada will be 4 in a couple of weeks. She feels everything very deeply. Every day she tells me,"You're the best mom.....(pause for effect) EVER! And then five minutes later she's expressing her grave displeasure at the injustice of my parenting decisions. She's full of life and energy and was born to be in charge of something. Her siblings don't always appreciate her attempts at leadership, but I'm always happy when they do. It's a lot more peaceful at least for a little while.

Joan-Claire. She'll be 2 in March. Her first year was a little rough. She was pretty somber and would smile for no one. But I'm happy to report that the last few months have opened a whole new world for her. She's a very independent little thing and I think babyhood was just holding her back. Now that she's walking, running, climbing, and talking more she is so much happier. More messes for sure, but I'll take a happy baby any day!

Life is a gift. It can  often be frightening or mundane or confusing or overwhelming . But it is a gift. I am so thankful for those moments when everything seems clear, when I can see just what it's all about. Those moments come more and more frequently as I give a bigger place for my Savior, Jesus Christ in my life. I know that He is real and that He lives and that all light and beauty are from Him. My heart is filled with gratitude for all the love and peace I have been blessed with. I pray with all my heart that each of you can feel that peace, too. It is the love of the Savior of the world!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 6, 2013

One Year

It always happens, but time has truly flown by! We have been in Virginia for almost a year now. It has been a wonderful year. So many amazing experiences seeing history and art and the beauty of the world around us. And so many experiences with knowing that God is a very real and active part of our lives, that He listens and answers prayers, and that he tailor designs each opportunity for struggle and growth. I am not always so great at appreciating those struggles in the moment but I can always see the wisdom and loving care in my experiences once I've come through.
Today, I attempted to get a picture with all the kids together for this year's Christmas card. Definitely not an easy task getting seven wiggly and opinionated people to hold still and smile! This is how most of them came out.

It's crazy being a mother. Just minutes before these photos were taken I just about lost it. Aislyn was throwing a fit about having to brush her hair and someone had left honey on the table and Joan-Claire was covered in it and Townsend was busy antagonizing someone else to tears. Luckily, instead of saying "forget it" we pushed through. And now as I look at these beautiful, silly faces I just feel so grateful to have each one of these people to share my life with. I love them and even better than that, they love me too!