I pray this letter finds you well and enjoying a festive, not too hectic, December. As I have sat down a few times to write my Christmas letter, which I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting :), I am amazed at all I could share. I feel like we never stop or slow down, but I am thankful for a good year. #recap
2016 has been a year of milestones for the Browns. I turned 40 in August. Jason and I celebrated our 20th anniversary in October, in Highlands, NC, in the same cabin we went to for our honeymoon. Our oldest turned 16. Our oldest son started high school. And, second to youngest started middle school. An appropriate hashtag for me this year has been #dontblink.
My 2015 Christmas letter expressed the chaos of me working five different part-time jobs. In January, I was blessed to begin working at the church full time. I’m enjoying it and smile when I think of how the Lord eased me into a full time office job, even though I fought it for so long. I don’t quite have as much time to do things like blogging, digital scrapbooks, and helping in classrooms, but other things have been occupying my time like carpool and creative laundry management. I’ve come to really enjoy shooting-range-date-nights, random outings with one kid (I used to want to include everyone in everything), Pinterest crafts, and, working my Rodan + Fields skincare business. #messagemeforrandfinfo #shamelessplug
Jason continues to work a self-employed carpentry business, thirteen years and counting. He has been able to work on our house some this year, remodeling a bathroom and renovating the backyard. Jason and I have both been working with the youth group at church this year - Jason working with high school boys and me working on the organization of the monthly activities. Jason also enjoys our shooting-range-date-nights, enjoys xbox, staying home (something we don’t do often), putting up with my Pinterest crafts, and is extremely supportive of my side business. #ilovemyhubs #selfemploymentisablessingandacurse
Mollee turned 16 in October, but has yet to get a driver’s license. Even though she is ready to drive (and we are ready to have a driver), testing is not her best thing - she has followed in her mother’s footsteps and struggled with the Georgia permit test. We put the test on hold until she has more time to study, without schoolwork looming. She is doing great in school, enjoying dances, soccer, and other activities - 10th grade life seems better than 9th grade. Mollee also stays very busy with babysitting jobs. #definitelymydaughter #stillmolleemoo
Tavis just turned 15, but since I can’t find his birth certificate or his SS card, so we are waiting on the state of TN paperwork to get his permit. He enjoyed a fun trip to DC with his class in the spring, and he got to attend his first NASCAR race and his first UT football game this fall. He has started off high school fairly well - life is better after academic testing. He is my never-sick-kid but ended up with a “mass” in his neck that turned out to be nothing and then had to have surgery this summer. All is good, Tavis continues to disrupt our dinner table with much laughter, and he is anxiously awaiting soccer to start in February. #alwaysmakinguslaugh #tavisisaddandnotafraidtoshowit
Daegan is an old man trapped in 7th grader’s body. He decided not to run for Student Council this year after a fun election last year, because he knows his own boundaries. He started his own lawn mowing business this summer and was able to keep up with a few lawns. He raised enough money at our church car wash to cover the expenses of all camps, retreats, and activities for him and his three siblings for the entire year. He also rocked the cookie dough sale at school, totally on his own. Needless to say, motivation is not a problem. He is never found without a book and was excited to get my “old” home office as his own, not shared, bedroom. #obssesive #daeganisourentrepreneur
Capps started middle school this year. It has been a little bit of a rude awakening for him because he has never struggled to get classwork done, but this year he is a 6th grader taking all advanced classes, even some 8th grade classes. He likes the challenge, but has had to adjust his mentality of how to handle homework and how to use a Study Hall properly. He is doing great and loves being out of elementary school. He has made some great new friends this year and he is also anxiously awaiting his first “real” soccer season. #wecallhimrainman #retirement
Haynes, what I call him, but who you know as Mac, is still my little buddy and loves to run errands with me or snuggle any time he can. He is in 4th grade and continues to be the smallest in his class, but he is ok with it because “he may be the smallest, but he is definitely the funniest” (his words, not mine). School is not his forte, but he excels at the social world, and he manages ok. He is a pack rat, always sleeping with fifty small objects under his pillow. He is also a dog whisperer, lover of all dogs, or even animals. #theyougestoffive #funnyman
I love being a mom to these five kiddos. I attempt to never take this job for granted. I envisioned my life differently, a few more kids, homeschooling, etc. But I see the Lord’s amazing plan unfold as we take each year - one step at a time. We are extremely grateful for CCS and for my opportunity to be working. #thegiftoftrusting
With me working full time, the kids have all had to step it up on housework, chores, and cooking to help out. They’ve all had to accept me not being as available. And they’ve all had to learn to be more flexible. I’d say, overall, we are working as a team. #browncrashpadisourmapname
2016 has looked much different than other years for the Browns, but the new look is growing on us after a year. The Lord has been gracious. The Lord is always good. The Lord always provides. #worryisnotanoption
Merry Christmas to you all!
Gretchen (for Jason, Mollee, Tavis, Daegan, Capps, and Mac)