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Shopping is underway. Cookie and treat making has begun. Decorations are hung (in case you haven’t seen them, just check above). And we here at Lathropworld are looking back and recalling the year we’ve had and all it makes us thankful for. Because even though there have been joys, triumphs, sorrows and losses in many different forms, we’ve still got family, a roof over our head, food in our house, untold creature comforts, and the love of each other to get through a cold Minnesota winter.

 

Most of you lived through the year with us here, so this is all just review, but it’s all important enough to celebrate and talk about again.

 

Every life is filled with milestones, and we’ve had our share around here. We entered the year with four students in the house and finish with three students, a Master, and, well, me.

 

Jenni finished a five-year quest for her master’s degree from Luther Seminary this year, gaining her sheepskin in May after a lot of hard work and determination.

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I got to be there to watch her defend her thesis and for the graduation ceremony, and both were a fitting and impressive reflection of her accomplishment and how smart and deserving she is of the rewards and recognition. She’s now academically qualified to funnel God’s word into kids’ heads, but as she’d probably say right now, anyone is capable of doing that. She’d just help make the message clearer and more effective and help families do that themselves.

 

Meanwhile, Hannah and Zoe, our babies, as it were, entered seventh grade this year, which to me is truly middle school. Sure, sixth grade is considered middle school, but these days, it’s more of a transitional year getting them from the relatively simple world of elementary school and into the more demanding aspects of seventh and eighth grades.

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There are times, though, that I look at them and still can’t see them as seventh graders, or even as 12-year-olds. They’re still the same little girls who I’ve protected and guarded forever. Now they’re just bigger, smarter, and really starting to find their own way in the world.

 

And finally, not to be outdone, there’s Patrick.

IMAG0324He is nearly, for all practical purposes, a grown-up, except he’s not. Because he’s a teenager, and is completely and whole-heartedly embracing his teenagerness. He’s a junior in high school now, a thought which shakes me to my core simply because I can still remember my junior year in high school like it was…well…25 years ago. Okay, so maybe I do deserve a 16-year-old.

 

I might sound like I’m complaining about him a lot. And if it does, that’s not what I mean to do. He’s incredibly smart, very sensitive, a really nice kid, and pretty stubborn, which is both a good and bad thing.

 

Like so many teenagers, he’s got miles and miles of potential, and the trick right now is tapping his desire to push himself and do something with his talent and potential and smarts. It’s times like this that I think our model for high school education is completely wrong: let’s get to know the kid and start letting them loose to discover what the world’s about and learn everything they want from all kinds of subjects. I know, it’s a crazy idea. But sometimes I just think out loud.

 

I’m proud of everyone here. I’ve got four really smart people around me, and it’s always a joy to see what they can do. It’s been a good year, and there are more to come.

 

More to come tomorrow.

The First Day of Christmas – 2012 In Pictures and Memories