Friday, December 9, 2011

Our Online Christmas Letter

Everyone has been on my case about writing this and I just haven't found the time.  For me to write a good Christmas letter with the usual flare it takes me about a we'll see how this goes early in the morning.

I'm going to pull names out of a hat and do things not in order like I've done in the past.

Jacque bought herself a house in Hartford this past spring and is enjoying life as a home owner.  Her biggest accomplishment was her 4'x4' garden.  I explained to her about square foot gardening and she was intrigued since her backyard we could fit in our kitchen...but hey, remember...she's a land owner now.  Might not be much land but it's hers.  She's currently working on adding more letters behind her name.  You'd have to ask her what it's all about because she lost me when I asked her.  If I have this figured right within 24 years she'll have every letter of the alphabet.

Ah Karlie, our 7 year old with a heart of gold.  Recently you can find her outside with the chickens.  Her favorite is a buff hen that you'll find her carrying around the door yard or giving wagon rides to.  This past spring the girls were playing with the calves and Karlie stepped on a nail that resulted in a ER visit.   Later this past September she started piano lessons and is already excited to play at the nursing home with her older sisters and brother.  She's in the 2nd grade and will be celebrating her first communion this spring.

Next out of the hat is Olivia...our 5 year old bouncing blonde.  She's usually found 3 steps behind Karlie if not in front of her.  It's not unusual for her to come into the house all out of breath telling me about them playing with the calves or chickens.  We are trying kindergarten with her and not pushing it.  The biggest challenge with her is trying to get her to hold the pencil the right way...this makes 2 years now.

Heather...she won't tell you unless you ask her but she's applied at grad schools. (Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota) She took her GRE this past summer which was an experience trying to make it through all the road construction in Oshkosh.  This spring she'll be graduating from St. Norbert's with a BS in Biology (and I think in Chemistry too)  This year she is sharing a dorm room with far so good, I think.  Heather keeps the room more serious making sure they keep to their studies.

Jason and Katie add something different to the family...they know that they can create a stir just by kissing.  Jason still works for Brad Kemink and does his wood business on he side.  He has piles of firewood on the farm that can be seen from the road.  Katie switched jobs and now works at the bank in Fox Lake.  It's closer to home.  She seems to enjoy it from what we's one of those "hush-hush" types of jobs.  These 2 kept out of trouble with their garden this past summer and plans are already being made for a larger one this next year.  Katie also added a flower bed to the front lawn and Jason's talking about taking down some trees on their lawn...does that surprise you???

Preston our Jason wanna-be...likes dressing in jeans and a flannel shirt.  Loves the farm and everything about it.  If the weather isn't nice you'll find him inside playing with Jason's old farm set.  His favorite Christmas music is "Little Drummer Kid" and "Frosting the snowman".  For only being 2 he knows a lot and is very smart.  If you compliment him on his smile he'll continue smiling and it will get cheesier as the compliments keep coming.  Maybe we'll be potty training next year...I don't want to have to say that too many times.

If Hannah gets a chance you can find her at Lambeau field wearing her boots but she needs to dress a little warmer.  She is in her second year at St. Norbert's and is planning on going on her first mission trip the first of the year.  Leaving home is still a struggle for her as she hugs the younger ones and you can see tears welling up.  Her studies are going well and everything is on track.  This past summer she started a new job...she milks cows south of Randolph when she comes home.  This is a new experience since it's in a parlor.

Being in the top 60  Culver's grill master teams in the country is an accomplishment of Aimee's this year. She'll laugh and giggle about this but no one else can say that. Last Dec. she graduated from Marian. Her job search is sluggish so she continues on at Culver's where she is a manager. Her and a friend still live in Fond du Lac where they share an apartment...a nice apartment for FDL.

Angie has had more of an eventful year...took the ACTs for the first time, got her drivers license, got her hunting license and a third job.  Being a junior in high school she's keeping her eyes open for colleges...St. Norbert's might be the top this week.  The new job includes baby sitting a 3 year old little boy on Tuesdays.  Having a drivers license really helps around here.  This past spring she competed in the Solo & Ensemble contest in Beaver Dam and got a first on her class B piano solo.  And a class C duet with Emily won a first also.

Emily has had just as an eventful her drivers license 20 minutes before Angie, took the ACTs for the first time, got her hunting license and took on a third job.    She babysits on Fridays for the same little boy.  Her college choice this week looks like Edgewood in Madison.  I still question these girls if they want to be separated.  Emily's Solo and Ensemble class C piano solo also won a first...clean sweep for the Grahn's!

Finally we come to Ethan a.k.a. Mozart.  He has troubles sticking to what is assigned to him for piano lessons because he likes to compose his own music.  He's really good at driving the older ones nuts and annoys them continuously.  What do you expect from a 9 year old brother?  Goosebump books are the ultimate for him as he always is adding to his collection.

This concludes the Mark and I.  Mark seems to be getting banged up more this year.  If a heifer isn't rolling onto his legs a cow is stepping on his foot.  This year we remodeled half of the old barn and put in new stalls and add 30 cows to the herd.  We did the work ourselves even mixing the cement by hand.  The kids all got an education in barn remodeling, hanging stalls and mixing and pouring cement.  This makes chores much easier and better for Mark.

As for myself, my business keeps me hopping.  I have a fan page on facebook for those of you who want to see my creations and stay up to speed on new developments.  Juggling a business and a family for the past 4 years is not easy but I think I've found my way.  Our garden did well and we grew celery for the first time.  I don't think this family will ever buy celery again.  The flavor is incredible.  I even sold tomatoes on craig's list...LOL

Don't think this family is all about work...All work and no play makes for a dull family.  We took a vacation out east in May.  It definitely made for some memories but not the kind you'd write home about.  We haven't even talked about going on vacation again and we're usually planning the next one by now.  You can read about it here.  We got down to the Henry Villas Zoo in July.  In August we took the kids to the Dells and took the upper boat tour and the hidden canyon tour.

So this concludes our 2011 year in review.  We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


  1. Thanks for the update Marlene, I enjoyed seeing the pictures and hearing about all the family.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  2. Great letter, it was nice to put faces with the names, have a great holiday

  3. I get the work and play time, but I'm still not convinced you sleep! Thanks for sharing your family adventures with us.
    Hope you and yours have a wonderful Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!