The biggest news this year is the birth of David Aaron Southerland. He was born on August 20, 2013. We actually knew we were expecting when I wrote last years "Year in Review" but we had not yet let the cat out of the bag yet. David is our ninth child and fifth son. As I write this he is four months old. It is a blessing to have young children though I am in my mid 40's. I suspect that the "empty nest syndrome" that tends to affect many of my peers will be a long time coming. When David is 20, I'll be 65. In the meantime, God has entrusted Sheri and I with parenting children from 20 years old down to newborn, simultaneously! This year has certainly given us challenges to handle from children across the spectrum of age.
Since I started with David, I'll move on to Melody. Melody is talking very well now. She's quite the little ham! Definitely not a low maintenance child. But she is a joy. We have started attending a homeschool co-op this year. At first Melody wasn't happy with the idea. But she warmed up fast and now asks us about it frequently.
Samuel is growing fast. He's joined Sarah in asking good questions during family worship and Bible reading time. I love to see him learn. I hope to teach him correctly and train him to be a man of God.
Sarah continues to ask good questions. The big question that I love to hear from her that she seemed to ask me frequently this year is, "Will you read the Bible with me?" How can I refuse? Sarah has become a very big help to Sheri this year. She helps out with both David and Melody. Both of them love her too. Sarah loves to draw and read Melody books. She also has developed a love of chess and asks me to play quite a bit. One of Sarah's favorite bedtime questions is, "Would you tell me a story about when you were a kid?"
Paton has improved in his violin playing. Not only did he play a solo at his recital this year, but his instructor asked him to also play along with the younger students so that he could help to lead them in playing their songs. Paton is taking French this year in co-op.
Justin is growing like a weed. He's about to catch me. He's doing well in co-op too. He's taking anatomy. He's also been enjoying playing chess. He's become very good at it beating me and my dad from time to time. He's been playing chess online with my dad, so that keeps his skills sharp.
Brianna is 16 and is currently in the middle of the driving portion of driver's ed. She hasn't seemed quite as anxious to get her license as Brittney and Michael were. I'm thinking that's due to a couple of reasons. First, she doesn't have the money to buy herself a car yet (and I can't afford to get her one). Next, Michael and/or Brittney are always going somewhere and Brianna can tag along easily. But even still, I've spent some time in the car with her, and I expect we'll be doing it more frequently in the coming months.
Michael turned 18 this year. For the past couple of months he's been working as a driver's helper for UPS. He taught himself to play the guitar and has been playing at church. Michael signed up for a couple of 5K runs this year. He and Brittney have challenged each other to give up sugar except for "special occasions." So, even though the "special occasions" or holidays seem to be whatever days are even remotely considered a holiday (like Columbus Day), they are still doing a lot better than they were previously.
Brittney continues to excel in her bootmaking skills. Her first pair of cowboy boots were her own. She attended the boot and saddle show this year. Her instructor said that she should enter her boots in the contest there. But she didn't want to put her boots on the shelf until after the contest. So she opted not to enter. After seeing the rest of the entries, it seemed likely she could have won in her division. She also completed a pair of awesome boots for me this year! If anyone reading this would like to get on the waiting list for boots, she's ready to start taking customers now.
Things going on with me include two new jobs for this year. I started contracting at Dolese Brothers in February and wrapped it up in July. I went from there to CSI, where I am in a full time salaried position as a government contractor at Tinker Air Force base. I'm doing ASP .NET C# MVC programming. I've also got a project going with a friend I met in Tennessee while we were living there from 2001-2005. John Lovelace is a landman for the oil and gas industry. I've been working with him since March on a Windows program for landmen. This will allow users to enter information and generate reports. It's been a slow go, trying to squeeze in time during lunch breaks and some late nights after getting the kids in bed. It's tough for me to do programming during late hours, so that doesn't happen much. In spite of the challenges, I hope to have something to bring to the market within the next month or two. This is a C# ADO .NET Windows application running SQL Server.
Time is flying. It seems that every trip I make around the sun I pick up speed. I can't believe that we've been in Oklahoma for almost eight years. There's much to like about living in this state, though there's always hope that we'll eventually be back "home" in Texas. Because while my kids have identified themselves as "Okies" I'll always be a Texan at heart.