Joe and Rita Vander Kooi Family, 2016
(This is the letter I included with the Christmas cards I sent out. I always keep 1 copy per kid and save it in their “memory box”. All photos taken by Joe’s sister, Tae.)
I – In God’s time, things will happen. That is something that I have tried to keep in mind throughout this past year. It was definitely a year for us to grow in patience.
N – Never have we had this wet of a spring to try to get the crops planted. Joe replanted some fields TWICE! It seemed like as soon as conditions were fit to get in the field, it would rain a few more inches. It was mid-June by the time the planter was put away for the year. Surprisingly, the yields this fall were average as the crops were phenomenal in the areas that weren’t so wet.
G – Goats are good stress-relievers so we got a few of those again. My fantastic friend from college sold us a mama goat named Tess, and her two babies, Tickle and Trouble. I think Joe secretly pets them when I am not looking. They did not have a lot of respect for my fencing for the first couple months but are doing well under Vince’s care now. More baby goats expected next spring!
O – Ohio is a popular place for a family vacation, right? We all traveled to Cincinnati for Ava’s January check-up. She will go every 5-6 months for at least another 3 years and then once a year until skeletal maturity. Ava’s nerves continue to grow. Her sensation has nearly fully returned (we are still hopeful for the outside of her hand and pinky finger). Functionally, she can put her arm on a table, use her forearm to hold paper in place while coloring, and bend her elbow and raise her arm enough to touch her fingers to her mouth. We pray for continued improvement and believe that she will gain more in God’s timing.
D – Downtown Chicago and the Wisconsin Dells were also included in our trip. Lots of good memories!
S – Somehow Joe convinced a salesman from Claas (forage harvester for cow corn silage) to throw in a free trip to Germany as part of our last purchase. It is like moving mountains to prepare for a week away from little ones and the farm, but the trip was worth it. Our kids enjoyed spending time with both sets of grandparents and Joe’s Aunt Sue. For us, it was a time to focus on each other and chew our food over adult conversation. It was a bus trip with other Claas owners and quite the mix of people.
T – Toddlers say the cutest things and Violet is no exception. My favorites are “I wanna show you shomshing” and “Yeah, sure”. She brings so much joy to our days and she knows it.
I – Impossible. I am hopeful that it is just a phase with nerve regeneration, but it takes absolutely everything I have to get Ava ready to go in the morning. She can’t take her shirt off herself, but everything else that I put on her, comes right back off. She especially dislikes coats and I get a lot of dirty looks around town.
M – Musically, Liv added the violin this year and really enjoys that. Another new activity for Liv is swimming with the local YMCA’s team. She somehow went from having the least activities on her schedule, to the most. In case you were wondering, Vince still doesn’t like piano. He does enjoy wrestling as well as baseball, as long as it doesn’t interrupt a cutting of hay.
E – Extra guests are always welcome in our home and around our table. Please stop by and we will love to spend time with you. Developing hospitality is a goal for 2017. Have a great year!