Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Christmas letter 2008

Dear family and friends,
We hope this letter finds you happy, healthy and warm in the glow of the Christmas season. I cannot believe I’m actually attempting a letter prior to the 25th of December. Trust me, it’s not because I have the time to use in this manner, but I do have the cards printed, so I guess I had to do something about it!
Let’s recap the year: We were enjoying our first winter on Campus View Drive when Lincoln, in mid-January, received about 8 inches on top of frozen ground overnight and our basement flooded with about 2 feet of water. Ryan luckily was NOT electrocuted when he went downstairs into the water, even though much of his guitar equipment was plugged in and pulling electricity at the time. Although our insurance didn’t cover the losses, we were fortunate to only really lose a Christmas tree, several Gracie books and toys and 15 or so sets of guitar strings and pedals. All, of course, have been replaced, but it was a mess for a while.
In July, Ryan was honored with the Charles Rowe Award from the Associated Press for his series on bridges (after the collapse last summer) and on the retirement system in Illinois. He, at that time, also had decided to pursue a management position in his field and left the AP after 7 ½ years. He moved about 100 feet in terms of office space, but now has increased job responsibilities and more say over how he covers the Statehouse as the Capitol Bureau Chief for the State Journal-Register. It’s already been a busy year, thanks to our Senator being elected President, and an even busier month, thanks to our Governor losing his mind and his freedom. While he’s trying to be home more, as the boss, he takes more pride, it seems, in what is put out there by the paper, so he works harder. He also does a weekly TV spot on WAND-TV News at 5 on Thursdays out of Decatur. I don’t think he likes being in “my” world, but he’s doing a great job! As far as I know, the Governor hasn’t asked for his resignation unlike many of the Tribune editors, so he shouldn’t be mentioned in the affidavit!
I began this school year (my 6th at LCHS and 11th overall) taking on Accelerated Sophomores and a new class called Media Communication. I am thrilled to use my journalism degree again, and my 20 seniors have added an online-only school newspaper on our school’s website ( and are learning the ins and outs of the news business. We also plan to begin doing live-to-DVD morning announcements, skits and advertising in the coming months for our school and post them online as well. Lots of changes on the school front – friends left, new classes, new superintendent & schedule, censorship of my book choices, etc, – but so far, so good.
Now, for the Gracie update. She is 3 ½ and started going to preschool this year. She is LOVING her school, teachers and friends. She is learning a lot of new things, and it is very exciting for her mom and dad to be able to ask her questions and get complete answers (although we have also started lying about things – blaming Chippy and Pepper for her messes). Her room got a makeover this summer to “Cinderelly” blue and she upgraded to a double bed full of pillows and loveys. She is VERY close to mastering this whole potty training business – FINALLY! She is very anxiously awaiting Santa this year, helped put up the new Christmas tree and is obsessed with all the Baby Jesuses she can find in any nativity scene. Her Christmas concert scheduled for this week was postponed, but I have loved hearing her sing Christmas carols and teaching me the sign language to “Silent Night.” How fun and sweet! Chipper is still being a great big brother. At four, he is very relaxed and settling in to our house and routines quite well. He, however, ruptured his ACL last week
and has to have surgery to repair it on Christmas Eve. We have amazing veterinarians who love Chippy very much. In fact, this will be his second surgery this year – he had to have kidney stones removed (avoid Ol’ Roy food as much as possible if you can) – but he came out like a trooper, so we know he’ll be back to his 80-lb. self in no time!
Pepper is the youngest of our furry brood and she topped 125-lbs of love at her last checkup. She and Chip are truly best friends and have a lot of fun in the snow together. Chip is still trying to play, even with his injury, but our Miss Pep gets bored when he just tries to play with his front paws! Our sneaky little girl has been pretty trapped since we expanded our fence this summer, but she did manage to get her extra largeness outside the fence by squeezing UNDERNEATH it! We are still astonished at how she did it, but one second she was on the same side as us and the next she was in our neighbor’s yard.
2008 has been a painting year – we painted Grace’s room, our dining room and our bedroom. I still have other projects in mind for our house, but Chip’s surgeries have tapped out some of those funds. We wouldn’t trade him for anything, though, so it’s all worth it.
Gracie also added two baby girl cousins since we last wrote, Abigail Keith was born before 2007 was over and is days away from her 1st birthday, and McKenzie Lyle Atwood (Julie & Kris’ third) was born in February. Should be an amazing Christmas with all her cousins!
We wish the best for you and your families always. God Bless You & Yours!
Ryan, Jennifer, Gracelyn, Chipper & Pepper Keith