Colby with us and third Eidolon done · December 2013

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May these last days of the year find you blessed and well! Here is a taste of our past year:

January found us in a new home. We moved a few blocks away to the outskirts of Woodlawn Park, just around the corner from the school the boys used to go to. The house is larger and seems to be better-built. Bo redid the floors and bathroom, and the two bedrooms upstairs were split between the oldest boy and the two younger ones. It felt like home right away! We’re on a corner where we can watch the world happen, and a friend paid for us to build a fence for our dog Bones to wander around behind, in exchange for babysitting his dog whenever he needs us to. It’s an ideal place for barbecuing and keeping a pleasant yard, keeping up with the “Joneses” across the street, and sitting on the small porch drinking coffee.

In February tragedy ensued when Bo lost his father to cancer in Tennessee. He attended the funeral, and came home to try to resume life as usual. He’s been keeping as busy with work as he can, remodeling for others and taking care of our house. In March we were fortunate to be visited by Bo’s daughter Angel and her and Dustin’s mother Trish. I was very pleased to spend time with them and show them Portland. A month later, we were happy to attend Dustin’s graduation. Trish came back to be there for the event, and was able to meet his foster family as well as view his living quarters in Beaverton.

Dustin has been enjoying his foster home, and has his own room while sharing meals with his foster family. He is involved in social groups outside of school and his foster family goes bowling, to the mall, and other places together as well. He comes and stays with us every other weekend, and turned twenty in September. He has told me that the time he’s spent here in Portland has been the happiest time he’s ever had. It’s a brave thing to say considering how much he misses his mother and sister in North Carolina. He talks to them each week and we hope to plan his trip out there to see them as soon as the funds are found. He resumed school in September, this time to learn life skills in preparation for life on his own someday.

Holden is now living on the coast. He ended his sophomore year with poor grades, which was supposed to be taken-care-of by putting him through summer school. That was too expensive, so we looked for other options and came up with Job Corps. For kids from 16 to 23, it’s an opportunity to learn a trade while getting a GED or High School diploma, and it’s free. He started his Junior year at Jefferson, and when he heard he was getting into Job Corps he said good-bye to everyone. Three days after he turned 17 we drove him to Yachats, OR on the coast. It looks like a really great place, although his first comment was that “it looks like a prison.” Since he started there, he’s had one pass to come home, and his report was that he was enjoying it although he’s very busy. He’s making friends and is learning the importance of following strict rules and working to get through life – like doing laundry and raking yards. Everyone there pitches-in, like one huge family taking care of a giant home. He already accomplished his GED, and can now concentrate on the thing he has loved and pursued his entire life: automotive maintenance. He will be here for Christmas, and return to Angell Job Corps in January.

Jaben turned 12 in July, and is living-up to the stereotype of a 12-yr-old boy. He talks-back, antagonizes his peers and elders, goes off on his own constantly and for long moments, wears ear-buds or headphones a lot, and argues when we say he needs to stop watching TV. He also hurts himself frequently. So he’s healthy and well adjusted for his age. We haven’t received a lot of warnings from his teachers although there is still some academic concern having to do with handing stuff in. He’s good about staying after school when he has to, and when he’s not doing school work or watching TV he’s out in the park or talking with whichever girl he likes currently on his phone. I can hardly believe this big boy is my first baby.

Edgar turned 10 in April. As I write this, he has announced that he’s “getting better at armpit farts.” He’s going to the same school as Jaben now, and they take the bus together. He still wants to be in track, and enjoys sports like football, baseball and soccer, but has now added archery to his list. (No, I don’t think it has to do with the Hunger Games movie.) He is the one most concerned about what is fair, who should pick up his part of the room, whose turn it is, and whether he’s getting the short end of the deal. His fiery freckles/red hair combination warn of his temper flares, and otherwise he is either quietly contemplating or making funny faces and giggling at himself. Full of quirky spirit, this one.

Then we gained Colby. In September, the family of one of our boys’ friends was being evicted just before his birthday. Bo got wind of this and invited him to our house for an overnight so he could wake up in a warm house with running water on his birthday. He also threw him a birthday barbecue. (I was working most of this time, and Bo made these decisions and implemented them without me, but with my support.) His name is Colby and he was just turning 11. His mother is temporarily living in a more cramped space with her parents, and away from the school Colby is used to. We offered to let him just stay with us indefinitely and go to school with the boys until she could find them a place. Colby now feels as though he has brothers, and his mother and father (not together) visit him and give us support whenever they can. All good people, we feel they need this help for Colby and we’re happy to give it. Colby is a great kid and we’re happy to help him. He will be having Christmas here with us, with visits from his parents.

I have been working at Walgreens and still doing my housekeeping. I also just finished the third and last book in the Eidolon series. I now plan on working on other stories I have stockpiled, and maybe drawing more. I have been drawing a little, and did a commissioned piece for someone just this past month as well as displaying my things in a local gallery for the holiday season. I’m very happy with what I’ve been doing with myself this year.

In all, we are doing well. We’re safe and healthy and generally happy. I pray that this letter finds you the same way.

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