Let's start with our youngest - Nathan (1). He is our littlest one. He loves to suck on his four fingers. He is so cheerful and loves to play. He has a very big smile. He is nearing 20 months old. His hair is blonde and may be the only child to have the most blonde hair. He loves his older sister Julie and they are best buds although they do get into tug of war fights with toys from time to time. He loves taking naps at his scheduled times. He is beginning to speak and express his feelings by grunting and growling as he eats his food. He loves to play hide and seek and ride on Julie's plasma car.
Julie (3) is getting more feisty as she gets older and more demanding in what she wants.
She is very bossy toward her older brothers and sisters making sure they do what Mom told them to do. She is at a stage where she is saying so many funny and witty things. For example, the other day she angrily told Jamie and Katherine, "I need my causitive!" Confused the girls asked Wendy what that meant, but she told them Julie just made up that word. Julie loves to wear her pretty dresses to church on Sunday and bring her own set of scriptures to church and when we read as a family. She gets into mom's purse and digs for candy. One of her favorite things to do is walk around the house holding the iPod while she listens to her primary songs. Going outside with Nathan is always fun for her because she gets to put on her shoes (She has several pairs.) and coat. She is also a very sweet and loving little girl. You can frequently find her in Mommy's or Daddy's lap.
Next is Jeffery (9). In May toward the end of the school year, the teacher recommended Jeffery that Jeffery be tested for the gifted program so the gifted teacher requested permission to test him. Wendy and I consented even though we had already decided to homeschool Jeffery after the current school year ended. He was accepted into the program. Wendy began homeschooling him in July because of the helpers she had at home for the summer. Jeffery has already learned to type and write in cursive. He is not as angry as he was before, and his relationship with Wendy is much better (not perfect though). Life in general is much better.
Jeffery played basketball in February and learned a lot about the game. We usually only allow the children to play one sport each year due to the and will play soccer in the spring this upcoming year. Jeffery loves to make people laugh and is goofy and playful. We love him for who he is and are excited to see who he becomes.
He has also been participating in Cub Scouts. He is doing very well and learning so much. He was at Wolf rank for most of the year up until his birthday where he completed all of his requirements. In the past couple of weeks, we had a Pack Meeting where he was awarded his Wolf badge. We are still working on his Faith in God program where he can complete the requirements which also includes learning all of the Articles of Faith.
Ethan (12) has made some major accomplishments this year, too. He started out this year in the 6th grade playing basketball. He made a lot of progress from year 2 to 3. His team went all the way to the championship game but lost. That says a lot because the team was about middle of the pack but in the tournament, they went a long way. Year 4 of basketball will hopefully be good too. Ethan has the coach of the team that beat them in the championship game last year, so that is really good.
He is now in the 7th grade this year and is doing very well in school. He picked up the reading bug this year too. He is reading like crazy almost every chance he gets. Sometimes that is good and sometimes that is bad because he neglects other responsibilities that he should be doing. He gets the reading gene from his mother.
Ethan attended his first Scout Camp this past year. It was at Camp Sequoyah in Delta, Alabama. He attended Scout Camp at the right time. It was in the high 80's that week with low humidity. The next week was in the 90's with high humidity. Whew! I attended 2 days with him. He has worked on a lot of badges and on December 16th, the troop had a court of honor and he has advanced in rank. He is currently working on a few merit badges - Communication and Family Life. I am working with him on the Family Life. We just started and if he will put his favorite books down, he can accomplish this badge very easily and learn a lot during the process.
Ethan has also grown a few inches since the beginning of the year. He is now taller than his sisters and may be taller than his mom. If not, he will get there soon. He is a deacon at church and passes the sacrament. He also conducts the music in the priesthood hour. Wendy is very proud of him for conducting the music. He is becoming a good leader among his peers at church and at school. He also home teaches with me and teaches some of the lessons. We are very grateful for his growth and progress as a young man and look forward to seeing how he grows.
Katherine (14) is becoming a beautiful young woman. She is still playing the piano - although sporadic at times, but she is playing. We wish Jamie, Katherine and Ethan would play more often but we leave it up to them to increase that talent or not.
Katherine played Tennis in the spring for the first time. She enjoyed it very much. So much that she participated in tryouts a few weeks ago. We are pretty sure she made the team but haven't heard anything yet. Katherine is in the 9th grade this year and is attending seminary for the first time this year which started at the same time school started.
She played in the band last year but didn't march, so this summer she went through band camp and marched during the fall. She probably won't play next year because she doesn't like it that much. We have learned through the years that Katherine is very much independent and doesn't really care to please the crowd - which is a very good thing. She enjoys having friends but makes sure that she is not just following the crowd. We love that she is this way. She is taking Spanish this year in school and is enjoying that subject.
She motivates Jamie in several ways to by working on particular tasks that Jamie has to do too. For example, Katherine was making a lot of improvement on her Personal Progress and was catching up to Jamie. This action lit a fire under Jamie to get her to start working on her Personal Progress, too. Personal Progress is a program for young women to help them stretch in different aspects of life such as spiritual, service and skills. While working on those individual attributes, one has to accomplish several tasks and a service project for each. There are 8 different attributes such as Knowledge, Virtue and Faith. See Personal Progress .
Jamie (16) is our oldest. Jamie has played in the band for 4 years now. She enjoys her time in the band and her friends at school and church. She enjoys the challenges of AP courses. She knows that this is a necessary route for her to get ahead during high school so that when she does begin college, she won't have to take much of the general courses before she decides what she wants to do for her degree. She works very hard and makes good grades.
This is also Jamie's first year of driving to seminary and to school. It is so nice to have an additional driver in the family. She is doing pretty well at driving. We are still hesitant of her driving on the interstate due to her lack of practice and experience but she will get better with time. Jamie also ran track for the first time in the spring. She found out a lot about herself and what events she needs to focus on for the 2016 Moody Track season. She is already working on conditioning for that time. She brought home some jump boxes (or leap boxes) to help her become quicker and work on her leg strength and endurance. I am anxious to see how she will do for the upcoming season.
Jamie is also excited about the prom . She ordered a dress in August (I think?) and it still hasn't got here. It's coming from China so maybe they're walking it over. She loves going to the Church Youth activities, too.
Jamie got braces this summer so she is trying to take care of her teeth. We recently saw a Studio C clip on "Susan Weebers" and busted out laughing because she reminded us of Jamie and her supports.
Jamie and Katherine both attended Girls Camp again this year at Camp Hulaco. It gets hotter and hotter every year. Each camp is different but seems to be fun in its own way every year.
Wendy has had so much going on this year - maybe too much to list. As discussed before, changing Jeffery from public schools to home-schooling was definitely a chore. She served as a walking den leader at Twilight Camp in June and that was a week long event. She is constantly with Julie and Nathan taking care of them and then going places many times during the week to take care of family needs. She also served with the Band Boosters at the Home football games. She also went to the Band Booster meetings so that she could be up to date with what is going on.
She also went to the BSA district meetings to bring back information to the Troop or Pack committees. Yes, she also serves as the membership chairman on the Troop and Pack committees in Leeds Ward with Troop 275 and Pack 3275. It is a very hard job especially during this time of year when charters are needing to be renewed. Last year, our ward bought a membership to a Boy Scout software program that can be renewed annually. It is called Scoutbook. It is really neat and parents and leaders can use this tool to monitor the boy scout or cub scout's progress.
Wendy planned our summer with fun events. We took a trip to Six Flags, Turkey Creek, Cave Spring, Georgia, Oak Mountain and Calloway Gardens, Georgia. Wendy and I also, took some getaway trips to Gatlinburg, TN (after my release). We definitely enjoyed ourselves and needed the time off.
She also has a calling in the Relief Society as a 4th Sunday instructor. She does an outstanding job and members always look forward to her diligently prepared and creative lessons. Wendy does so much for our family and we are so thankful for her.
Jason (me) had a good bit to do this year too. From the beginning of the year I was still serving as the Bishop of our ward and as most of you know, I was released this past November (9th) and called as a High Councilor in the Birmingham Alabama Stake. I am still trying to understand what I am doing and how best to serve the members throughout the stake. I have definitely been blessed to see and do the ward level of church in a lot of capacities and callings and now will get to see it from a Stake level. It seems like your eyes are opened a little each time that you serve in different callings.
During January and February, I was following Ethan and Jeffery around to basketball practice and games and that was fun to do. We are getting it started again to where I am going to practice with Ethan during this month before the games begin in January.
In June, I attended a couple of days at Scout Camp to be a chaperon for our boys in the Scout Troop. I also went to work at the 6th Street Parking for the Boy Scouts in Tuscaloosa to help earn money for the Scouting Fund for the young men in our ward. I didn't attend any games this year but was grateful to help the boys.
I am still working in Birmingham in the Transmission Project Management & Customer Service department. I work with great people. I have changed areas and obtained more responsibility and I enjoy it. I really enjoy working in transmission lines area because that is what I was taught from the beginning of my career at Alabama Power but I also enjoy learning the Substation side of the business too.
Although many things have transpired in our lives this past year, we continue to be grateful for the many blessings that we have received. We are truly grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ, for his birth in the manger, for his teachings that help us be more like him and for his atoning sacrifice so that we may return to live with him one day. We hope to keep Him in our mind during this holiday season and soak up the full meaning of Christmas. We love this time of year for the spirit that it brings and hope that you enjoy it, too. We hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Hoppers - Jason, Wendy, Jamie, Katherine, Ethan, Jeffery, Julie and Nathan