Merry Christmas, Friends and Family!
We hope this Christmas season finds you enjoying the blessings of family, warmth, and love. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season- but my favorite part about the holidays is enjoying relaxed time with the people I love.
As most of you know, the highlight of this year was the birth of our daughter, Viviana Marie, on May 18, 2009. She weighed in at 8lbs 4oz, and was 20 ¾” long. We’ve been so blessed to be her parents! She’s growing up very fast- already it’s amazing to look back to her newborn pictures and think she was “that small”. Viviana is a very alert, happy baby. She loves to see everything and figure out the whole world all at once. Like every baby, she’s taught us lots of lessons- I’m inclined to think we parents learn far more from our munchkins than the other way around!
Ever since she was a tiny baby, she’s had a particular fascination with lights and trees. Consequently, we’ve gone on lots of hikes with her, so she can feast her eyes! Vivi’s really enjoying all the pretty Christmas lights. When we go over to Ben’s family’s, who have colored lights all the way up their stairs, she just stares and stares, totally enraptured.
Vivi and her aunt, Brylee (5 weeks older than her), have recently started to “discover” each other- it’ll be so much fun to see what all transpires as they learn to sit up, crawl, and interact more. On the Graber side, Vivi’s sandwiched between cousins who are 8 months older and, any day now, will be 7 months younger- so as she gets more interactive, I know she’ll have tons of fun with her cousins. They think she’s great, and love to talk to her and pull at her- which she’s starting to really enjoy. The first couple months, she wasn’t sure what to think of her noisy cousins, aunts, and uncles!
This year also brought another huge change, shortly after Viviana’s birth. Ben is going back to school to get his Masters in math education. We attended CHEO (Christian Home Educators of Ohio) Convention this year, and there was a speaker encouraging people to pursue dreams. The wild idea of becoming a teacher was laid on Ben’s heart, and as he contemplated it, he also talked to a CollegePlus vendor, who told Ben about some options he’d have for fast tracking it, and also being able to do the degree from home. The options he mentioned actually didn’t use CP- we were grateful he was willing to help us just as an honest friend! Well, the dream didn’t go away, and a few weeks later, after counsel from a variety of people whose opinions we value, Ben was enrolled in online courses at Liberty University. He should have his MA in math education by Spring 2012, at which point he’ll start looking for a job in his new field. All of Ben’s courses will be online, except 3 “intensives”- each one week fast-track classes. We’ll be heading down to Virginia this winter for 2 weeks, when he’ll complete two of these. The third will get done next summer. Ben’s doing great with his classes so far, and as someone who loves learning, has thoroughly enjoyed them. So, they’ve been a pleasant means to the end goal. Ben’s a very gifted teacher, as we’ve discovered through the tutoring he’s done of siblings, and he has a passionate desire to make learning come alive for students, and take math from being something abstract and difficult to being tangible and fun. His new job will make far better use of his talents and passions than his current job as a software tester does. That said, we’re very grateful for this job, as it’s been perfect for the current and past seasons of life. Because he can work from home, it’s also enabling him to go back to school while working full time, while still having time for people, too.
As for me….just life. I feel so privileged to be a mom- something I’ve longed for ever since I was 3. It’s been amazing to watch my dreams of wifehood and motherhood unfolding in far bigger ways than I ever could’ve dreamed of- and as one friend mentioned, I get to have my dream job, as Ben’s pursuing his. I’m so grateful I get to spend all day at home, with Viviana. We have lots of fun together in the kitchen, working on sewing projects, cleaning, and so on. We also enjoy reading and playing together. I started making cloth diapers before she was born, so that’s one of my “constant” projects. There’s also various other projects going at any given time. With all the writing Ben’s doing, I’ve been inspired to get back to it, and start making more use of our blog again, which has been thoroughly enjoyable. I’m working bit by bit on a larger project; a cook book of all my favorite recipes. Another exciting thing that’s just taking off is starting a baby carrier library, where I can educate women about benefits of babywearing and how to use different carriers, which they can borrow. Specifically, I’ll be teaming up with our local pregnancy center, though the service will be available to anyone. All going well, we’ll be off the ground in February! I feel so blessed that God’s opened up doors for me to share my passions with people.
Together as a family, we’re pursuing our vision- to love each other, to love our children, and to let that love spill out into the lives of those around us. We’re pursuing our goal of holding out grace in a world where there’s plenty of condemnation, legalism, and judgmentalness. Grace might not always be the most perfect thing, but there are plenty of people willing to pick up the tab on the other side, so if we can’t walk a perfect middle-line, God’s called us to fall on the grace side. It comes naturally to Ben- always understanding, always ready to love, never desirous of holding out judgment. I’m a work in progress….but I’ve seen enough of the negative of the other side to be desirous of putting aside self, and following Ben’s leading in holding out grace.
May your year be richly blessed!
Ben, Brianna & Viviana Graber
Viviana, 5 1/2 months old
Hanging out with Daddy, 9/2010 -- Doing dishes with Mom 12/2010
Family shot September, 2010