Christmas Letter 2014

Merry ChristmasHello to our family and friends! This year we have gone to a paperless Christmas letter by posting a 2014 update here. If you saw the note in our Christmas card and chose to visit, we are sure glad you did! We think fondly of so many of the friends we have met along the way and family that are instant connections when we are able to visit. We deeply appreciate each of you for being supportive, kind, funny and encouraging at some point in our lives. We are truly blessed!

This past year marked the second year for Juaquin and Sandra’s country living. The journey continues to be an enjoyable one, but not without the hiccups of reality. Insects, for example, can appear in great numbers practically overnight. Seems neighborhoods with lots of houses and people serve as a fortified barrier of squishing and spraying that may help keep spiders, beetles and grasshoppers to a minimum. Not the case when a little land surrounds you. Fortunately, this year the creepy-crawler numbers are lower thanks to a posse of chickens on patrol. It is truly amazing how effective they can be!

Hens on bug patrol

Hens on bug patrol

Predators have been another hiccup…rather a BURP as some rascally raccoons took out many of our chickens. It was a very upsetting event for me. I never knew I could get so emotional over the loss of chickens. I realized that my reaction had more to do with feeling responsible for not having them secure. The outside coop they were locked in each night turned out not be raccoon proof and I felt bad about that. Juaquin and I immediately sorted out new ‘sleeping arrangements’ and have our chickens in a stall in the barn each night. So far so good!
Juauqin continues to work for a nearby school district in the technology department and managed to create a successful little summer and fall garden. Digging in the dirt is fun at any age and we are still picking spinach for salads!
Juaquin working in his summer garden

Juaquin working in his summer garden

I stayed busy as a substitute in the spring and hoped to get hired on as a full-time teacher, but there are simply plenty of teachers to fill those positions. As much as I enjoy working with students there was a need to weigh ‘being on call’ as a sub for full-day jobs at low pay or pour my time and energy into keeping up with mowing, chickens, barn cats and the never-ending household chores. For now, I am focusing on the latter, but keeping an eye out for “Now Hiring” signs at local businesses.

Adjusting to the empty nest gets easier with each passing day. Having our children nearer would be ideal, but we know all too well that life choices can send you to all sorts of places! Our thoughts and prayers are with our children every day.
This past year Joshua decided to exchange the walls of work at the Texas state capital with the open air. He is completing courses to be a Surveyor. He works for an Austin surveying company and really enjoys it. Sarah continues to enjoy her work at the capital. They moved closer to Austin city center and are minutes away from their work. Always a plus in traffic-heavy cities! Getting home faster means more time together and with sweet dog, Bear and their kitty George.

A visit from Joshua, Sarah and Bear  =)

A visit from Joshua, Sarah and Bear =)

Jana and Stephen continue to stay very busy serving in the Air Force at Dover AFB. Juaquin and I took a road-trip to Delaware and enjoyed visiting them and meeting their adopted dog, Chara. We spent a day in Philadelphia with three objectives: see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and have a Philly cheese steak sandwich. All were amazing! More recently, Jana and Stephen surprised us with the news of “we’re pregnant”! We are so happy for them and already love our grand-baby. She is due mid-April and we cannot wait to meet her!
Stephen, Jana and Seth

Stephen, Jana and Seth

Seth definitely had his share of ups and downs this past year, but always ready to adjust as needed. He was sworn in with the Texas National Guard in March 2013 and was finally given training dates to become a C-130 Load Master last spring. Since this was a 6 month training at various locations we suggested it was best for him to move out of his apartment in Arlington and back with us since he was to be out of Texas for so long. He completed initial training in San Antonio, completed SERE training and was in Little Rock when it was discovered that his depth perception was not up to par.
Visiting Seth at Little Rock

Visiting Seth at Little Rock

His unit quickly lined him up with a position in Aircraft Flight Equipment and he is waiting for a school date. But wait…there’s more!! Last month Seth received a message asking if he would be interested in a full-time Guard job. He accepted and will begin that job mid-December. In the meantime he continues to bar tend and valet at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. He is hoping to find a little house to buy near Carswell (aka: Naval Air Station Joint Reserve base) in Fort Worth, Texas. We’ll keep you posted on any new road blocks!
We are so happy and proud of our children and treasure every moment and visit we have with them. Modern technology definitely helps stay in touch!
We also enjoyed a couple visits from our nephew, Felix. Nothing like having a 5 year old around to keep the day busy!
Felix and Uncle Juaquin collecting okra for dinner

Felix and Uncle Juaquin collecting okra for dinner

Night fishing

Night fishing

Celebrating the 4th of July!

Celebrating the 4th of July!

Lots of swimming with Felix

Lots of swimming with Felix

Throughout the spring and summer we were happy to have Juaquin’s father, Delbert, come out for some fishing. His health has been on the decline and throwing a line in helps keep his mind on something he enjoys.
Juaquin with his dad and Seth

Juaquin with his dad and Seth

Uncle Marshall and Delbert on one of many fishing trips

Uncle Marshall and Delbert on one of many fishing trips

Labor day was spent in Brady for the annual Goat Cook-off! It is always nice catching up with the Torrez side of the family. My dad would have loved it!
My Brady Bunch family =)

My Brady Bunch family =)

On a sadder note, we said a final “goodnight” to our dear, sweet dog Shadow. What an absolute treat it was to have this pup in our lives for 14.5 years. She was textbook border collie and just an absolute joy!
Juaquin and "the best dog he's ever known" Shadow

Juaquin and “the best dog he’s ever known” Shadow

The world seems quite topsy-turvy these days and in need of constant hope and an embrace of wisdom. May the everlasting Hope of this Season sustain you and yours throughout the coming year! If you are ever in North Texas please let us know. It would be great to see ya!

Merry Christmas,

Sandra and Juaquin

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4 responses to “Christmas Letter 2014

  1. Such a beautiful family, and so thankful to count you among our friends. So sorry to hear about Shadow…such a precious pup; but thrilled about the chickens and country life (my dream). So excited for Stephen and Jana and for all of you. Glad Josh and Sarah are doing well, and Seth, too. Life just keeps moving forward. : ) God bless y’all during this Advent/Christmas season and in the New Year. Love from The McBrides

  2. As always we enjoy reading your Christmas letter and so happy to hear about Jana and Stephen’s good news!!!! So awesome! May you and your family have a Very Merry Christmas. Love You!

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