Merry Christmas to all the Faces we miss,
Michael turned 13 and entered 8th grade this year. We continue to homeschool through Valley Oaks, and this year that included doing an 8th Grade Constitution class, which was timely and interesting to learn about during this remarkable political year. We both learned a lot, and Michael passed the class with a 99.29 final grade. We opted out of soccer this fall, so his outdoor time was spent honing his marksmanship with his bow and air rifle. This practice paid off during the week before Thanksgiving, when Mike took him rabbit hunting (with air rifles) on his grandparent’s 5 acres, where he shot two rabbits large enough to make a delicious rabbit stew for Thanksgiving dinner. We also ate ham for Thanksgiving that came from one of the two pigs we raised this year, a project which was Michael’s brain child, although the credit for the care and maintenance of the animals has to be equally shared with Talitha and Mike, who fed and mucked along with him.
Talitha turned 10 and entered 5th grade this year. She also continues to homeschool through Valley Oaks, where she attended art online for a period of time. However, she said that she mostly likes classes because of the time she has to talk to friends. Since she couldn’t do that in the Zoom classes, she wasn’t quite so keen on attending. I think we can all relate. She is definitely our most extroverted family member and has really missed getting to be together with friends. We had a few outdoor playdates around our fire pit and in the Starbuck’s parking lot, but mostly she has gotten some quality time being playmate and director for her younger siblings. This has included writing and directing them in a few theatrical productions in her room complete with scenery and costumes as well as lots of time outside swinging and jumping on the trampoline. Outside, Talitha also helped Mike out a lot in his garden, helping him plant and watering on days he was at work. Talitha has also enjoyed continuing to crochet and is currently working on Christmas presents for each of us.
Beren turned 6 and entered 1st grade this year. He also homeschools with his siblings through Valley Oaks. His reading skills improve daily, and he is currently reading, “Bear Stays Awake For Christmas.” He continues to keep us on our toes with his rambunctious ways and zest for life, including catching and caring for several different lizards and frogs throughout the year, which currently includes two blue-bellied lizards who reside near the pellet stove, keeping warm for the winter. He has also begun talking about his dream for when he becomes an adult of living on a boat that has a research lab and traveling around the world being a zoologist, studying animals in their natural habitat. His interest in living things also made him a help in the garden, planting seeds and watering, as well as a budding forager as he became adept at finding and extracting pine nuts from the large pine cones that fall in our front yard. Needless to say, he has spent a lot of this year outside, but when he was inside, he pursued his love of constructing creations out of Legos and participating in shows with his sisters.
Maggie turned 3 years old this year and left babyhood behind. She runs with the big kids now and continues to improve her language skills, mostly through her favorite hobby of copying whatever big brother is saying and doing. She has a very strong personality and makes herself seen and heard despite (or maybe due to?) being the baby of the tribe. When not running about in the yard, she loves to do her puzzles, cook in her kitchen, play with her “booplos” (duplos), look at her books, chase the cat, and dress her babies. Everyday she also requests doing “her alphabet” with mommy on the trampoline, which involves taking turns going on a picnic and naming a food to take with us in alphabetical order. Between this game and her time sitting in on big brother’s reading lesson, we are anticipating her time spent learning to read will go quickly once its her turn. One can always hope.
At the beginning of the year, Mike and Shannon were anticipating a year of more rest and pursuit of our favorite hobbies, as Mike finished up his BSN online in March and took a 40th/70th birthday celebration trip to Ireland with his father. However, like most of us, the restful days and pursuit of hobbies has looked different than we expected. We have enjoyed supporting the kids in their ideas for animal husbandry and creative endeavors and have even pursued a few of our own. Mike hatched his first home bred chick this fall, and Shannon has gotten a little more time to scrapbook, working on Maggie’s baby book. We also tackled lots of outdoor projects, including having the house painted, getting a hot tub, building a pig pen, adding electricity to the shed and chicken coop, and tearing up the front yard in order to do a more water friendly landscape in the spring. Probably the most important project that we tackled, though, was a marriage mentorship with a couple from our church. Not surprisingly, and maybe some of you can relate, this was a trying time for our relationship, but the time that we invested in each other this fall has really reaped some good fruit these last few weeks. Without our usual interactions with friends and family, this has been a rather lonely time for us. It helps to know and remember that we are united in our love for Christ, our love for each other, our love for our kids, and our love for others. We both make mistakes, often the same mistakes we have been making for the last 15 years, but when we remember our common goal of partnering with Love, we can forgive each other for those mistakes and move on toward that common goal. For this reason, we are especially struck by the awe of this season, that Love chose to come and dwell with us, to suffer with us, and to ultimately die for us. We hope that the awe of Love is yours as well this Christmas.
The McMahons: Mike, Shannon, Michael, Talitha, Beren, and Margaret Roselle
How Many Kings
by Jason Ronald William Germain / Marc A. Martel
‘Cause how many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?