Christmas Letter 2022

Monday, November 28, 2022

Merry Christmas, sweet Friends & Family! I'm so glad you found your way to our little corner of the Internet. This is the space where I've tried to maintain a record of life and memories. It's not quite as nostalgic as old fashioned scrapbooks and journals, and there are definitely major gaps (consistency is not one of my spiritual gifts), but we sure do love looking back on the memories we've managed to document here!

This year has been yet another full of adventure. Neither Brian or I seem to be able to sit still too long, but both in our own way. Brian is always challenging our family to grow in some area or another; and I'm always saying yes to invitations and adventures (although I'm a total homebody in between)! Between the two of us, we keep our crew living our best lives - and I wouldn't have it any other way! 

Here's the rundown of life updates! 

B U C K   A N D   C H U C K

You all know that these two mini humans are the best thing that have ever happened to us, and they only get more amazing with age. The independence of older kiddos, combined with very sweet and fun personalities, is making parenting these two so dang fun. Of course, there are PLENTY of challenges, but we're grateful that each year with them is our new favorite ever. 

Recently, I was completing a writing assignment/journal entry for my therapist (more on that later!) on my personal parent goals and I was so grateful to reflect on what I wrote, and how intentional we've been about striving to meet those goals, that I wanted to share an exerpt here. I share mostly so that I remember, but also in case it inspires or encourages any family and friends to reflect on how you're meeting your own parenting goals. In writing this, I realized that many of the things I stress about on a daily basis are not worth my anxiety, and that the things that matter really have remained a priority in our home. 

I know that I want to have strong relationships with my kids. I want to hear their hearts and for them to KNOW they're heard. That what they think is important to me, and that I'm always on their side (even if that means correcting them because I want what's best for them).

I want them to feel confident. To grow up in a home that empowers and encourages them to be their best selves, and to not feel the need to compare themselves against anyone else. To know they are amazing and celebrated just the way they are.

I want their childhood to be full of play and adventure. I want it to be CALM and peaceful. Gentle and slow.

I want them to know and love Jesus. I want them to know their parents know and love Jesus.

I want them to see a healthy marriage. To know without a doubt that their parents are absolutely best friends and ridiculously infatuated with each other. 


We're on our fourth official year of homeschooling and we fall more in love every year. We can't imagine another way of doing life. The kids and I have fallen into routines that work well for our family. We have so much flexibility in our days, and are able to spend a lot of time living a life we've dreamed of for them, and striving to meet those goals I wrote about.

As I write this, Charlie is laying next to me in her Christmas pajamas, working through her reading lesson. She interrupts me as needed, but is able to work mostly on her own (thankful for awesome technology!). Beckett is upstairs, reading another book instead of knocking out his grammar lesson. This is an ongoing battle in our house, and one that I'm not even a little bit sad about. The amount this kid has learned from just constantly reading is AMAZING, and the fact that he has the time and freedom to just devour as many books as he'd like makes me weepy with gratitude. 

Beckett has always been our quiet, logical, smarty pants kid. As he gets older, he's finding his goofy boy side, which is equally entertaining and challenging at times! He's confident, kind, and genuinely LOVES his family deeply. He gets his servant heart, ability to have a conversation with ANYONE, analytical thinking, curiosity, bravery, and his light & carefree demeanor all from his awesome dad. 

From mom, he gets a love of books and a nice tan... to which I say YOU'RE WELCOME. ;) 

One of my favorite things about this kid is that he is always willing to try new things. This year, he's dabbled in tae kwon do, soccer, ninja warrior, tennis, chess, coding, Latin, piano, and engineering; among other things. He says that of this list, his top favorites are ninja warrior, tennis, and coding. He's decided that soccer, on the other hand, is not for him and doesn't plan to play another season. His parents totally support this choice (no offense, kid). His energy on the field definitely doesn't match his enthusiasm in other areas of his life, so we're moving on!

This year, I thought it would be fun to interview each family member with the same list of questions. Here's Beckett's interview!

What was your favorite part of this year? Getting to see Connor again

What is the thing you’re most grateful for this year? Family 

What is one prayer you have for the Christmas season? That nobody gets hurt. 

Who is your best friend? Brady Holke 

What is your favorite place we’ve traveled to this year? California, because we got to meet Orleatha and I got a new friend (Orleatha’s neighbor).

What is the hardest thing you’ve accomplished this year? It was kind of tricky to finish some of my piano books. I’ve finished two new piano books since winter!

What is your current favorite hobby or pastime? Either reading books or playing video games. Reading books is my happy place. If I get angry or something, I can just go up to my room, read for a little bit, and I won’t be very mad anymore after like half an hour. 

What is your favorite part of your day every day? Hanging out with mom.

My favorite thing about Charlie is her intense creativity and imagination! She is just a ball of joy, and she has the absolute best giggles. She loves all things girlie: unicorns, rainbows, baby dolls, crafts, pink, glitter, the cheesiest girlie music. She is my mini me in so many ways. She's extra, ya'll. She knows how to get what she wants. She loooves lists and itineraries. She's extremely cautious, doesn't like change, and is overwhelmed by too many people. On the other hand, she's incredibly affectionate and thoughtful, and she feels deeply. She's amazing. In more ways than anyone reading this could ever know. She's most herself at home or in small groups of people she's very comfortable around, so very few people get the true treat of REALLY seeing this girl shine. I'm so grateful to be in her inner circle. 

Charlie is a creature of habit and NOT interested in lots of variety and change, so she's been consistent in her hobbies and preferences. She spends a LOT of time with her dolls, putting that incredible imagination to good use. Most of the time, you'll find her in a fully-immersed conversation with a baby doll, LOL doll, Barbie, or Lego Minifigure. She also still plays soccer with her Ladybugs - who have now been together almost HALF of her life - and she still does gymnastics every week. She LOVES both. We've consistently offered new opportunities, but she knows what she likes! This year, we have convinced her to give basketball a try, but she's extremely apprehensive. She'll be playing with a team of primarily Ladybugs (her soccer team), so hopefully she enjoys her experience! Only time will tell. 

Here's Charlie's interview!

What was your favorite part of this year? Our trip to California, because we got to go to Legoland and Disneyland.

What is the thing you’re most grateful for this year? My Home

What is one prayer you have for the Christmas season? That nobody gets hurt

Who is your best friend? I don’t have a best friend. There’s too many people that I like!

What is your favorite place we’ve traveled to this year? Disneyland

What is the hardest thing you’ve accomplished this year? There’s a lot of things that I’ve accomplished this year that have been super hard, because I’m scared of a lot of things! 

What is your current favorite hobby or pastime? Playing with Avaya

What is your favorite part of your day every day? Playing with my dolls, because I basically play with my dolls every day. I’m counting Legos [MiniFigs] as dolls. 


When I think about attempting to summarize the work part of our life, I chuckle a little bit. Brian keeps the business side of things ever-changing and always interesting. He's so full of energy and so incredibly brave that I cannot at all comprehend how he musters it all, but boy am I grateful he chose me as his partner in life and adventure. It's been an epic ride. 

This season, we're finally wrapping up an extremely long and trying time with some drama we've had to navigate (lawyers and lawsuits and liars, oh my!). It's been very hard and very frustrating, but Brian has managed to continue to lead our family and teams with grace, integrity, and the most amazing calming presence. He's a unicorn, I swear. 

This picture is one of my favorites ever. He sent it to me after depositions one day. I love it because he RARELY lets on to how much pressure he carries, and then when he chooses to share (notice the sweat), it's in a light and funny way (whereas I would definitely be crying and complaining and whining about how unfair it all is).

But there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel, so please pray for our family as we finally walk away from a season of poopity poop poop. 

In other news: It's now been seven years since he launched All American Calendars (now Law Enforcement Services) and it's still going great. We're so thankful for the most amazing team who we love deeply. This year, we finally signed the papers to acquire (buy) a similar company from a sweet friend who is looking to retire. This is such an exciting development as we continue to grow the company we love. Brian has worked so hard to expand his relationship and opportunities to serve our Law Enforcement well. It's a very cool industry to be a part of, and we're super grateful for our tiny part in serving. 

We also just celebrated four years with the real estate company that we share with my brother. Brian and DJ have had a few entertaining years of trial and error as they figure out what in the world it looks like to grow a successful portfolio, but they've been brave, hard working, and willing to learn. Again - so dang impressive! I'm simultaneously jealous of and inspired by their willingness to take risks and try [what I think are] TERRIFYING things. But here we are: with 21 additional rental properties in the last two years, and now they're letting Brittany and me work on our first (and maybe last? lol) house flip!

And if all that weren't enough, Brian had a new idea and dream... so we've got a brand new adventure headed your way in 2023! We bought a building! And a web domain! We have lawyers! And supplies! This one's exciting, guys.

Want to follow along? Find us on Instagram HERE or Facebook HERE

Way more on that later. 

Here's Brian's Interview! 

What was your favorite part of this year? Going to the Akers’ Lakehouse.

What is the thing you’re most grateful for this year? Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with the lawsuit. 

What is one prayer you have for the Christmas season? That we get some answers for Baby Ben.

Who is your best friend? Josh Frey.

What is your favorite place we’ve traveled to this year? Niagara Falls

What is the hardest thing you’ve accomplished this year? Resisting the urge to hire an assassin. 

What is your current favorite hobby or pastime? Dreaming about my new business.

What is your favorite part of your day every day? Devos with the kids at night.


Anyone who knows us at all knows how much of a priority travel is in our lives. It's a major reason we homeschool, a huge part of our annual budget, and something we spend a giant chunk of our time planning and executing. We LOVE being on the go (which is funny, cuz we also LOVE being at home!). 

The amazing part is that I generally only initiate a couple of trips per year. The rest of it happens because a friend or family member invites us to join them on an adventure, and we try REALLY hard to always say yes! We want our life to be filled with adventures with the people we love. And we are OVERWHELMINGLY grateful for the flexibility and resources to make it happen. 

This year, we made it to California, Texas, Niagara Falls (on both the US and Canadian sides), Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia. We did a couple of local trips here in Missouri, camped at a couple of places in Illinois, visited 3 theme parks, 3 National Parks, and lots of cool state parks. We visited tons of friends and family, took about a billion pictures, and made LOTS of memories

Our people mean so much to us. And even though there's never enough time to spend with ALL of the people we love so much, we're endlessly grateful for the opportunities we do have! 

And now it's time for MY interview! 

What was your favorite part of this year? Watching the weight come off of Brian’s shoulders as the court drama started to look up. There was a noticeable physical change in his demeanor, and it’s the most satisfying and liberating thing I’ve ever experienced.  
What is the thing you’re most grateful for this year? Other than my previous answer? I’m grateful for the army of amazing people God has put in my life. Go listen to the song Rescue by Lauren Daigle to hear the theme song for my journey.  
What is one prayer you have for the Christmas season? That our families can spend time truly enjoying each other, with as little stress over unimportant things as possible. I pray we can really focus on the Reason for the season. 
Who is your best friend? Brian (although I considered changing my answer after he said Josh... He’s the worst husband I’ve ever had...)

What is your favorite place we’ve traveled to this year? Niagara Falls

What is the hardest thing you’ve accomplished this year? Taking steps to overcome mental and emotional crap, including attending a RUQ conference and getting back into therapy.  

M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S 

And that's a wrap!! You made it to the end of the the longest Christmas letter ever! We hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse into our family, and that your holiday season is filled with time spent with the people you love most! 

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