Merry Christmas 2015!

Greetings to all our family and friends! It’s been another full and blessed year for us. January had an exciting start: when we returned from visiting Melissa’s family in Honduras, we discovered that a couple of rats had been using the apartment in our absence. The next few weeks were somewhat stressful as we washed and wiped everything that was out in the open, and learned to hide all our food. We were very glad to discover the rats had not gotten into any of our drawers or cupboards, which saved a ton of work. Eventually we found all their holes, sealed them, and managed to trap one rat and, er, remove its presence from the house.

In June we were privileged to host missionaries, the Jason and Ashley King family, during our church’s Missions Conference. We enjoyed getting to know them and the other missionaries. The conference was a great blessing and challenge, and ended with a BBQ/cake/pie bake-off at our church. Melissa placed third with her prize-winning Swiss Roll Cake, dethroning many previous champs. She looks forward to placing first next year.

We spent our summer vacation in Orlando, FL, attending the Dice Tower board gaming convention. For three days we enjoyed playing board games, meeting new people, participating in Dice Tower activities, and just being nerdy among others like us. We even got to play a couple games with one of the founding members of the Dice Tower!

Brian and Melissa at Dice Tower Convention with Sam and David Healey
Dice Tower Con! With Sam and David Healey!

The last night of the convention we attended a pirate dinner show, featuring swashbuckling acrobatics and piratical romance!

Brian and Melissa at the Pirate Dinner Show

From June to July we got to spend a whole month with Melissa’s brother Tim before he shipped out to Japan. We had a great time of board games, movies, and just having fun. We also toured the USS Alabama, exploring throughout the entire ship.

Melissa and Tim on the USS Mobile
Tim showing off his Navy knowledge to us lubbers

Around Christmas 2014, we discovered we were going to have a baby! The wonderful ladies of Crossroads Baptist Church threw a baby shower for Melissa in August, and Mom and Megan Koser got to attend. So many wonderful gifts were given, and once again we say thank you!

Our little Lydia was born September 3rd at 7 pm, weighing 7 lbs. 10 oz. and measuring 20 1/2 inches long. Brian was wonderful during labor and delivery, and the staff at Springhill Medical Center were very supportive. The birth went well with no complications, and recovery was swift. Melissa’s parents and sister were present for the birth, and Brian’s family arrived the day after. We also got to see Melissa’s Uncle Leland and Aunt Marty, and a week later her brother Dale and his family visited as well. It was a very exciting time, and we were so glad to see everyone! Many thanks again to everyone who helped us with meals and housework those first few weeks.

Lydia newly born
Lydia on her first day

Just after Lydia was born, Brian switched to a new job. While before he was doing database work in the medical field, now he works for a consulting firm, doing many different projects in many different fields. Although he can no longer walk to work, the new office is close enough to still come home for lunch every day.

Since Lydia was born, Melissa has not tried as many new or challenging recipes, preferring to stick with those that are quick and easy. However, earlier this year she did make deep dish Chicago-style pizza, fried ice cream, and from-scratch strawberry donuts. She also made some cinnamon candy for Christmas. The links lead to those recipes on our website, where you’re also probably reading this Christmas letter! Speaking of which, Brian has made a few changes to the website, improving the appearance and adding recipe tags.

We’ve enjoyed getting more involved in our church this year. Melissa is now playing the piano full time. Until Lydia was born we taught the 3rd-grade class of our Wednesday night children’s Bible club and taught a Sunday morning preschool class once a month. We also got to help out with Vacation Bible School this summer, teaching lessons, songs, and Bible verses. Working with children can be challenging, but it’s always rewarding.

Brian’s family was able to visit for Thanksgiving again this year, and we enjoyed a hearty meal together. We also got to watch his sister Megan perform in a production of The Scarlet Pimpernel at PCC.

The Scarlet Pimpernel cast
Megan and her boyfriend Josh Hutt, who played the Scarlet Pimpernel

Logan Harding took our Christmas photos; hire him to do video or photography at Shadowpoint Media. Bekah Haas made Lydia’s scarf and booties; get your own at the Softly Sweet Facebook page.

Lydia in her knit hat and scarf
Our precious girl

Today is Christmas, and as we post this, we’re enjoying spending Christmas with Brian’s family again, in Louisiana.

If you pass through Mobile in 2016, please stop by and see Lydia (we’ve found that she’s the main reason people visit nowadays 😊). Looking forward to a great 2016!