Dear Family, Friends and Blog Readers,
Well, this has been an interesting year, to say the least. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who are more than ready for 2020 to be over! Between Covid-19, a property severance in-progress, and ongoing health struggles, it has been a stressful year. In the midst of all the changes, both at home and in the world, we are thankful that we serve a God who never changes. Despite all the uncertainty of what the future holds, He is in control. As a little 3-year old Olivia once told us: “God is holding everything.” May you hold on to this certainty throughout this Christmas season, and into the New Year.
As some of you may know, back in July 2019, we began the lengthy and expensive process of attempting to sever our house from the rest of the family farm. As Donna’s mother’s health has been declining the past few years, it became imperative to take the necessary steps toward legally owning our home. Needless to say, we encountered many obstacles along the way, and the waiting has been excruciating. Nevertheless, after decades of being told that it could not be severed, our application finally went to the county council this past August, and was approved! After drilling a new well, formally changing use of outbuildings, moving a driveway, preparing to register easements and enter an encroachment agreement, we have nearly completed all the requirements. We await the completion of the final paperwork some time in the New Year. Each new day brings us closer to our goal. God is good!
Due to Covid, Olivia was unable to complete her first year of gymnastics and she is not yet enrolled in any other extracurriculars. She is looking forward to joining a number of clubs for a variety of activities in the future. We were very thankful that Olivia was able to participate in-person for the “Ready, Set, Read” kindergarten readiness program at Mommy's alma-mater, Belleville Christian School, back in February. She loved being in a “real” classroom and seeing what a “real” school was like. Her favourite part was going to the gym! We missed out on a lot of play dates with our friends, however we were able to have several outdoor visits. Olivia enjoyed playing in the sprinkler, bike riding, going to the park and picnic-ing with friend Deegan. We have really missed our visits with the Virtue family and their boys, as well as friends Jaylynn and Lucas.
We celebrated Olivia's 4th birthday in June. Due to Covid, we did not have a large party; rather, friends and relatives dropped by throughout the week for outdoor visits.
We are now in our second year of homeschooling! We are doing two half-days per week at home, and meet up with another family on Tuesdays where Donna teaches kindergarten to both Olivia and friend Lydia. In this way, we are able to do small-group activities for math, language, and music, and have some much-needed social time. This fall, Oliva started speech therapy to work on some of her speech sounds. She enjoys her virtual sessions on the computer and is making good progress with her /c/k/, her /g/, and her /l/ sounds.
Covid brought more changes to our life this past year. Jared had already been working from home on and off, but in March, he opted to make it permanent. He’s settled into his new routine and it’s nice to finally have a use for our home office again. It’s also nice not having to make lunches every day! He just reached a milestone of ten years at his current job of senior software developer for clevr. We converted our spare room into a home gym where he is able to continue his weight lifting. He also enjoys being outdoors and walks 5 (sometimes 10) kilometers a day.
Donna worked hard this summer and fall with all her canning. She has sold about 250 jars since June and hopes Christmas will clear out the rest of her inventory. In addition to her regular clients, she gained some additional clients for whom she sells items on consignment. She also sold a variety of items for her in-laws who were downsizing before their move. Aside from a brief break due to Covid, Donna continued her cleaning/organizing job one day a week for a client. She also manages all the secretarial work of the household, including coordinating appointments, contractors, and all the severance paperwork. Occasionally she has time to scrapbook.
Sadly, we recently had to say goodbye to our dear cat Charlie who passed away suddenly on November 20th. He was part of our family for nearly 9 years and is dearly missed. He is survived by brother Chester, as well as several barn cats.
Despite our many hopes and plans for this year that did not come to fruition, we have been blessed. We were able to go to the beach a couple of times-once in June before the tourists descended, and then again in September. We kept cool in the pool nearly every day during July and August. Olivia especially enjoyed having water fights with Mr. Ron. We enjoy his company as well as that of Ms. Gayle, and have come to think of them as family.
We are fortunate to have such wonderful neighbours who bend over backwards to bless us in so many ways. As I recently prepared Christmas cards for our neighbours, I reflected on all the ways that each one of them have touched our lives this past year. From free fertilizer, cat food/litter, honey, and fresh produce, to personalized Halloween treats, to snowplowing and rototilling, to Costco runs, to advice about our severance, to the use of a fridge when ours was broken, and even the occasional feeding of our barn cats, our neighbours are the best!
We hope that you and your family are well. May you have a joyous Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.
With Love, Jared, Donna & Olivia Gryce