December 12, 1989
Dear Family and Friends,
Merry Christmas! As we approach the Holiday season, we are thankful for each of you and what you mean to us. This certainly has been an eventful year to close out the decade of the eighties. Uff-da!!!
After deciding to expand our family, it became evident that we would either need to move to a bigger house or make more room in this house. After examining the options, we decided to add on to our home. What began with the idea of enclosing the patio, mushroomed into adding an upstairs across the back of the house. We now have 1100 more square feet – four rooms and a full bath.
Adding on is something we will not soon forget, especially the nervous feeling of taking off the existing roof during hurricane season. The week we were scheduled to pour the slab, Tropical Storm Allison dropped 10 inches of rain in our back yard. That week, we were in Orlando enjoying Disneyworld, Epcot Center (especially Norway), MGM Studios, Kennedy Space Center, and the Atlantic Ocean at Cocoa Beach. If you've never been, try to go in the off-season to avoid the unbelievably long lines.
We went home to Iowa in July. Like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” says, “There's no place like home.” We had an Aldrich family reunion with all of Craig's brothers and sisters together at the red house on the hill in Northgate. Sharon got to compare expanding stomachs with her also pregnant sister Anne. This has been a big year for babies with five new great-nieces and nephews.
When we returned from Iowa, Sharon took a week-long math workshop for graduate credit. Then Oreo had six kittens. (We had already kept two from her first litter: Zee – all black and Wapner – all white.) The next day, August came in with a bang: Hurricane Chantal struck. Due to a change in drainage patterns, our street flooded. The water outside rose to lap at the entrance to our garage. The neighborhood kids literally went swimming in the cul-du-sac!
Meanwhile, inside the water seeped in after the wind blew back the tar-paper on the new section's unfinished roof. Despite Jon on the roof in the storm trying to staple it back, we spent several frantic hours sopping, mopping, bailing out, etc. Water dripped from vents, ceilings, wallpaper, light fixtures . . . I would throw towels over the stairway, wring them out in the spin cycle of the washer, drag them upstairs, to start the cycle over again.
Just before school started, Craig's sister, Connie, drove down from Chicago with her friend Betty. They got to experience construction and repairs first hand. We had fun touring Galveston's tall ship, the Elissa. We bought her wonderful Olds Diesel from her and they flew back on a plane.
Rachel is 14 and an eighth grader, taking advanced American history, typing, math, language, science, etc. She made Regional Symphonic Band with her flute playing. She has recently begun taking jazz dance lessons. Homework, practicing, babysitting, and working with Dad's video business keep her very busy.
Aaron, a third grader, enjoys writing and drawing, especially designing his own cartoon characters. He has just taught himself how to type so he could “publish” a “book” for a class project. Both he and Rachel are incredibly proficient with Nintendo, scoring in the millions. When Dad did not buy it for them, they pooled their resources, and bought it themselves.
Our new son Philip Craig Aldrich was born October 17. (I had worked the 16th.) I drove myself to the hospital and he was born 16 minutes after admission. Craig drove the 20 miles from work, home to get his video equipment, and to the hospital just in time. Philip, a beautiful, blue-eyed, dark haired, chubby-cheeked blessing, weighed 9 lbs. 11 oz. and was 21 1/2 inches long. (The San Francisco earthquake occurred two and 1/2 hours later that same day. We were very relieved to hear from former college roommate Farzan and family, who live there. He swayed in his 11th floor office, but they were OK.)
I've been enjoying maternity leave – even night duty. My big projects have been to stain and finish all the woodwork for the addition, clean out all drawers and closets, and decorate Philip's nursery with rocking horses and teddy bears. When I took Philip to meet my students, they were astonished . . . speechless . . . it was unforgettable. He has such a pleasant disposition, already smiling and cooing. He has really grown – and is already wearing size 9-12 month clothes! It appears his dark hair is disappearing in places . . . I plan to return to work January 2, and Philip will be going to Texas City with me to Sunbeam Daycare, where Aaron went for three years.
Jon has moved his Keepsake Video business out of our fourth bedroom downstairs to the new addition upstairs. It has made an ideal location for his film-to-video conversion equipment, and now Philip has his own bedroom right next to ours. At Amoco, Jon is Supervisor of Hydrocarbon Accounting, which means his group records receipts and shipments of petroleum. He has wonderful coworkers, many of whom attended our “open house/meet the baby/Christmas party” that we hosted December 1.
Jon was sick for five weeks with mononucleosis right before the baby was born, but is fine now. He keeps his evenings and weekends packed with video work, this weekend taping our church's singing Christmas tree performances. It's the first one in our new sanctuary. One hundred twenty-five trees were used to construct a 40 foot high “tree” with 80 choir members as the singing ornaments. The man who built the tree is the same Gary Prince who did the add-on to the house.
This week, Jon has just returned from three days in Iowa. We had received the very disappointing news that Jon's dad, Alvin Alonzo Aldrich, (born December 31, 1901) has inoperable thyroid cancer. We plan to go home to Iowa for Christmas. We covet your prayers for all of us at this time, and especially for Alvin. He has lived his whole life with Jesus and his daily walk continues to be a source of inspiration for us all.
As we kneel once again at the Bethlehem manger, we pray your lives would be lived with Jesus as well. We want to close with a portion of one of Alvin's favorite hymns:
Children of the Heavenly Father, safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird, nor star in heaven, such a refuge e're was given.
Neither life nor death shall ever, from the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth, and their sorrows all He knoweth.
Though He giveth or He taketh, God His children ne'er forsaketh,
His the loving purpose solely, to preserve them pure and holy.
Jon Craig, Sharon, Rachel, Aaron, and Philip