Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year from the Erdners

    We have had a wonderful time this Christmas season, though it seems to have been even busier than usual.  As usual, we love to take a little time during this season to reflect on the last year.  There have been a lot of ups and downs, and we are truly thankful for everything.  I'll try to give a little update on everyone without writing a novel!
    Todd has been busy as usual, still working for Intel as a manager. Of course, his work pays the bills, but his passion is his family and investing in their lives.  Todd coached basketball and soccer for the younger kids and is very hands on with all of the kids.  He's a great dad.  Todd has also been very consumed with working on a 2100 square foot addition to our home!  We were able to move into our new master bedroom shortly before Christmas, and Todd is still finishing details in the new space, but we are at least moving in the right direction.  It is so wonderful having the extra space, and we look forward to finishing everything so we can complete the rearranging of children and kitchen items so we will be less cramped.  I am especially enjoying having our own bathroom and a real closet after 8 years of sharing the bathroom with the kids and not having a closet in which to put all our clothes. 
    I've kept busy homeschooling the children, and starting a new speech and debate club in South Austin along with a good friend.  I also help manage our little farm with the help of mainly my daughter Nina.  I have recently been challenging myself to get into shape after the birth of our 10th baby, and I feel really good about that.  Life is good.  I am so thankful for everything The Lord has blessed us with, and sometimes I can't believe the bounty in our lives.  Mostly my wonderful husband and children, whom I will be describing next.

    Abby is now 17, a senior in high school, and looking forward to graduating in May. I can't believe my little girl is all grown up!  Abby continues to take classes at ACC for dual credit, along with a couple of classes through One Day Academy and a few at home.  She is playing select soccer and is very committed to speech and debate.  She went to Nationals in June with her Persuasive speech and Duo Interpretation.  She plans to compete in Team Policy debate as well as 5 speech events this year.  On top of all of this, she is working part time at a doctor's office helping with billing.  Abby is excited to have been admitted to the University of Texas at Arlington where she plans to pursue a degree in nursing!  We are very proud of the young lady that Abby has grown up to be.  She loves the Lord and is excited about what He has planned for her in the future.

    Datiya is 16 and became our second licensed driver in October!  She is doing well with that so far.  Datiya continues to be the wittiest, spunky girl.  We love her fun personality and the way she makes everyone feel comfortable and welcome.  Datiya easily befriends everyone she meets, and they all love her.  She is taking 2 classes at One Day Academy and the rest at home. She is riding with her sister, Nina and her cousin on an IEA equestian team.  A few weeks ago, Datiya had major surgery on her upper and lower jaw for orthodontic purposes.  She is recovering well.  It hasn't slowed her down too much.  In fact, she was back on social media almost immediately after being wheeled out of the recovery room. Datiya will compete in speech and debate in at least 5 speech events and Team policy debate.   Datiya is creative and artistic, and I can't wait to see how God will use all of her talents and her gifts with people.  

    David is 14, and becoming a young man!  He has long ago outgrown his older sisters, and all of his little brothers idolize him.  David plays select soccer, and he has been invited to join a team that will be traveling to the United Kingdom this summer to compete.  He is so excited about this opportunity. We are proud of him because in order to make this particular team, the coaches look not only for athletic talent, but also for young men with excellent character.  David was chosen based on both, and we couldn't be happier for him.  One thing I love about this opportunity is that in order to go, the boys must raise the money themselves by working, not simply asking for donations.  So, if you are in Austin and need any manual labor, you can call David!  David is taking 2 classes at One Day Academy and the rest at home.  He does well in school.  He is also competing in Team Policy Debate as well as 2 speech events.  I'm trying to convince him to add a platform speech along with Duo Interpretation and Impromptu. Even with all of his successes and accomplishments, what I love most about David is his way with his younger brothers.  He has 4 (5, including the baby) little brothers who are watching every move he makes, and he treats them very lovingly.  I'm always reminding him that he is setting the example for those little boys, and I'm proud of his example.  He's a wonderful young man, already on his way to making a difference in the world.

    Nina just turned 13, and she is truly going on 17!  I need her to slow down a little bit on this growing up stuff. With two older sisters, she just has always been very mature.  This year, Nina is taking World View (Starting Points) at One Day Academy along with Forein Policy (with her three older siblings).  She is by far the youngest student in that Foreign Policy class, and she is certainly holding her own.  Nina has always been a very diligent student.  Last year, her first year competing at the senior level of speech, she qualified to Regionals in 2 speech events!  She was competing against students as old as 19!  This year, she is competing in Team Policy debate and at least 5 speech events. Can you tell she is really into speech and debate?  Nina also continues to ride horses, and she is competing on an IEA equestrian team with Datiya and her cousin this year.  She is already qualified for Regionals in walk, trot and canter!  Nina also enjoys cooking and baking.  Recently she has expressed an interest in attending culinary school. She will be showing turkeys again in 4H along with a variety of home skills.  Nina is a spunky, fun-loving girl who is well-grounded in her faith. 

    Enoch is 11 and an active and bright boy.  Enoch plays select soccer.  He is small in stature, but fast on the field.  I think that sometimes his opponents don't know what happened when this little guy whips past them to the goal!  Enoch is good at math and gets his school work done quickly, so he can spend his time free on our land!  He has enjoyed building forts with his brothers, jumping on the trampoline, and riding his bike.  Enoch and Lillah competed in Juniors for speech last year, and they did really well with their adorable Duo Interpretation.  Enoch is well on his way to being a great speaker.  He is probably one of our more social children, always wanting to call a friend to "hang out."  Enoch is a kid who knows what he wants and goes after it!  This summer he wanted to make some money, so he put up signs advertising his lawn-care services, and he got his first job!  The people who hired him were very impressed by how hard he worked and what a good job he did.  Enoch is still as sweet and tender as ever with his baby brothers. He is sensitive and caring.  I know God is going to do great things through this bright, confident, caring, outgoing young man!

  Lillah is 9!  She is active, free-spirited and loved by all.  Lillah is very bright and does well in school, but she doesn't have a lot of patience for school right now.  She would love to spend her days running on our acres with the wind in her hair.  She is a tomboy, keeping up with her brothers with no problem.  When we had another boy instead of the little sister she was hoping for in April, she said, "That's ok.  I'm used to boys."  That pretty much sums it up.  Lillah is still the strong leader she always has been, thoughtful and fair.  I think someday God is going to use that in her life.  She always makes sure we save treats for anyone who may have missed out for whatever reason.  She tries to make sure everyone gets to play what they want some of the time.  Lillah loves horses, and has taken some lessons this year.  She would love for us to buy her a pony (like most little girls)!  She and Enoch will compete in Junior speech again this year with another adorable Duo Interpretation. She also is taking piano lessons along with her older siblings.  She even played along with the rest of the family on Christmas Eve as we sang a rockin' version of "Silent Night."  I think she wants to grow up and be the next Taylor Swift.  No matter what, this sweet, thoughtful girl is sure to grow up and do great things for God.

    Simeon is 7, and our most serious child.  This doesn't mean he doesn't goof off and have fun.  He can be very goofy.  Simeon is very pensive, and thinks about a lot of things.  He is gaining ground as a reader, and soon he will be drinking in vast quantities of knowledge about all of the things that interest him.  I can hardly keep up.  Simeon has become very diligent this year to get up and get his school finished.  He has been keeping up with the older kids in Bible memory, and has the verses down better than the other kids at times.  Simeon plays soccer with daddy as his coach, and he loves it.  He is fast and scores lots of goals.  Recently, he and his siblings have been using the large great room that is in the addition as a giant roller rink for their rip-sticks.  They are having a blast.  Simeon is the one that Jed and Hezi really look up to.  It is sweet how he takes them under his wing.  Simeon is also the most precious, loving boy.  He will often spend all of his money to buy a gift for a sibling, grandparent or mom and dad.  We regularly get love notes and picture from him left on our pillows.  Whenever we go out anywhere, Simeon runs over to give us hugs and kisses and to say, "I love you more." I'm excited to see this sweetness remain in him as he is growing up.

    Jedidiah is our spunky, active little 5-year-old.  He radiates energy. I'm so glad we get to homeschool him.  Here at home, he can be himself and be loved and secure in who God has made him to be.  This boy never stops moving.  He runs and jumps and wrestles and climbs.  He spins and flips.  He is the most accident prone child we have, already sporting 4 scars on his face.  When you sit next to Jed, you can feel the electricity jumping from his little body.  Jed got to play Upward basketball in February on Simeon's Kindergarten team, and he just ran up and down the court.  It was pretty funny.  Jed also plays soccer now.  Jed is extremely bright, and there is always some extraordinary thought rolling around in his brain.  Every now and then we get to hear some of these thoughts, when he slows down enough to share with us.  He says the funniest things.  Right before the baby was born back in April, we had a rare moment when Jed was just sitting inside with me and my mom as we waited for our overdue baby.  He was talking on and on about how he has done all of these amazing things so far in his life, like jumping over a HUGE shark in the ocean ("it was actually 2 sharks!").  Then he got quiet for a minute and started talking about things that are "annoying."  He said, "You know what would be really, really annoying?  I mean soo soo annoying?  If you were born without a brain!  Because then you'd be soooo stupid!!!"  Umm, yes, I guess you could say that, Jed.  Haha!  Jed is the child that one minute is making you want to scream (for example for no apparent reason, he took his new baseball bat he just got for Christmas and smashed a new toy the baby just got for Christmas--whyyyy, Jed???), and the next minute is melting your heart with his sweet hugs and kisses.  He, like Simeon, always says, "I love you more!"  He will look you right in the eye with his beautiful green eyes, and you just see heaven.  If you take a moment to see past his super-activity level, you can see the precious heart that God has given to Jed.  This boy, I'm confident, will change the world someday.  God is really going to use my little Jed, and I am so privileged to be his mama.  

    Hezekiah has grown up so much this year. He turned 3 in November.  His sweet little face is precious with huge brown eyes framed in long dark lashes.  Hezi is happy, sweet and talkative.  He can be a little hard to understand even now, but he will patiently repeat himself until you understand what he is trying to say.  Hezi is much quieter than Jed, and will play for hours alone with his little cars.  He can often be overheard making the cars talk, having them act out little stories.  Hezi is a very friendly, loving and happy little boy.  His big sisters love to make him say funny things.  Ahh, the life of a 9th child with teen siblings.  I can't wait to see how his personality develops as he grows. It's amazing how much joy these little ones can bring.

  Our precious little Toviel Zechariah joined our family a week overdue on April 23rd, 2014.  He surprised us by deciding he really did not want to emerge from his cozy cocoon as easily as his predecessors by pushing
backwards during the pushing phase of labor.  After his heart kept dropping alarmingly during contractions, we elected to have a c-section, which no one expected after 9 relatively easy births.  We felt like we tried every position and everything we could do, and he was not meant to be born any other way.  We are so thankful for the goodness of God in keeping me and Tovi safe through it all.  We believe God orchestrated every aspect of his birth, including the decision earlier in the pregnancy to have the baby at the hospital instead of the home birth I had wanted.  I'm so glad I was in the right place for this birth.  God knows what is best and we trust Him completely.  Toviel means, "goodness of God."  Our little son is beautiful and sweet and such a reminder that yes, our God is GOOD!  

    We are so very thankful for all of the blessings in our lives.  I haven't even begun to touch on everything that has happened this year.  We hope you have had a blessed Christmas season.  It really is a wonderful time of year.  Whether you believe Jesus was actually born in December or not, it is so wonderful to see the openness and receptiveness people have this time of year to hearing about God who was the baby born to save the world.  I love seeing the kindness people show this time of year.  And, yes, I love to see the people who come to church only once or twice a year, because perhaps this time they will hear and believe the story of the most precious GIFT ever given to men.  
    May 2015 bring you joy and blessings!

With love,
Michelle and Todd 
Abby, Datiya, David, Nina, Enoch, Lillah, Simeon, Jedidiah, Hezekiah, and Toviel