Sunday, December 24

Christmas Letter 2017

Another year, another whirlwind and we’re grateful for the journey! We’ve lived in Stuttgart for 9 years now! You are in our hearts this Christmas season. Thank you for blessing our lives with your light and goodness! We hope this finds you and your loved ones gathered in the peace, joy, and warmth of holiday traditions and good health. We love this time of year to celebrate the Savior of the World!

This young family of ours keeps us hopping, as does Ryan’s wanderlust+travel deals! This year’s travels took us on a ski trip with church friends in an Army lodge; a hop for Easter break to Mallorca island, Spain; the Paris Temple open house; our first hut hike in Austria with ward friends; exploring the awesome Alps in Kandersteg, Switzerland, while the boys were at Scout Camp; Veteran’s day weekend on Lake Como, Italy; and when Abby [Bare] and Trevor Buck came for Thanksgiving we showed them highlights of Paris, Venice and Florence.

In August, we were able to make an epic trip to the East Coast to get reacquainted with many of Ryan’s family on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. In the following week we raced to see more people and sites we love down the coast. We saw the Big Apple with brother-in-law, Nathan Ha, and a dear friend, Shana Serrano. Then to Philadelphia where we crashed with two of Tracie’s college soul sisters and their families before landing in DC to play with Tracie’s brother Chris’s family and squeeze in a few more dear friends. There’s never enough time with people you love!!! The kids were ecstatic about US candy, donuts, and Chick-fil-A, but not so much with the big city sites. I-95 was all sorts of frustration for Ryan who sure loves the Autobahn! C’est la vie!

Easton, 14, 8th Grade - Grew over six inches and now shaves his ‘stache and is taller than Mom! He is all-around dutiful! First regular job dog walking, Red Cross First Aid/CPR babysitter certification, tennis and piano lessons, Model United Nations admin, Scout Camp, Life Scout, assistant patrol leader and Deacon’s quorum presidency first counselor, cookie baker and emerging dinner cook. He really enjoyed his first school dance with friends as well as watching Stranger Things with Mom, Dad and McKay.

McKay, 11, 6th grade - Our strategically-minded, social, competitor and athlete likes his hair longer with the side-swoop. He is losing his last baby teeth and is ready to grow UP fast! Activities included MathQuest club, baseball, piano lessons, running a 5k with Ryan, tennis lessons, LOVED his first Scout camp, Lego builder, board game lover, and now learning programming. On the lookout for ways to earn money that don’t involve animals because he wants an iphone! Enjoyed first middle school dance, hanging out with friends, and messaging them. Aches for the sociality of school in our new homeschool venture.

Morgan, 9, 3rd grade - Tried a ballet and hip hop dance class and then discovered a love of cheerleading, stunts, working on splits, and cartwheels! It’s her favorite mode of getting from place to place! Thrived in the Young Americans music, dance, theater workshop! Loves earning money helping Easton dog sit and dog walk. She loves to create and do art projects, attend Activity Day Girls at church, and is learning to bake and cook. Life goal to live near water, have a paddle board and a dog to swim with. She’s enduring piano lessons and sure is fun to watch “feel” the music as she plays!

Jake, 6 - His joy for life and how he expresses it keeps us laughing and on our toes, especially his comically timed swearing!?! He finished German kindergarten, is learning to read and do school work, and loves having mom one-on-one for his lessons. He’s an independent lunch maker of sandwiches, nachos, and tortilla cheese rollups for himself and Aliza. He scored some great goals and saved many runaway balls in fall soccer. Lost first two teeth! Started melodica lessons. Such a fun active imagination as a Ninja, Power Ranger, and Lego builder!

Aliza, 3 - Her vocabulary and expressive assertiveness and/or sweetness kills us! She loved her Kindermusik group with mom. Decided to be potty trained and be a big girl all at once this summer. Demands to have homework like her siblings, especially drawing sticks, bubbles, “A”, and ghosts. Loves going to nursery at church, playing on her own, with siblings or her “best friends.”

Tracie, 40 - Finds great joy in seeing kids try new activities and grow into themselves! Continued to hold German class and was thrilled to see her teacher find love and remarry! Member of Int’l School Parent Council which facilitated first student job fair with parent presenters. Scout Committee secretary, then membership co-leader (recharter tedium). Bonus Bare family time with a girls’ weekend in Phoenix, Luke & Brenda’s wedding, visit Chris’s family, and Abby and Trevor’s visit here! This fall, homeschool circus trainer-in-training. Loved coaching Jake’s soccer team! Called to work with young women at church. Joined a European LDS working group focused on positive messaging regarding human sexuality and church settings. The group is soon launching a website, are providing speakers for conferences (Ward Education Day in Stuttgart January 2018), and doing leadership trainings in Europe.

Ryan, 43 - Earned the challenging German hunting license. He loved the intense eight weeks of evenings plus Saturday courses and shooting range practice! Also took up Sous Vide method cooking of delicious steak, chicken, and the best BBQ ribs! Enjoys serving in a new bishopric at church and making deeper connections with our congregation. Began search for professional growth opportunities. Reconnected with his siblings, their families, and his love of all things New England. Go Red Sox! Coached and refereed Jake’s soccer team. Work trip to DC followed by visit to his Mom and Mark to help set up Christmas and filled their freezer with pies and crusts. He is our beloved Thanksgiving chef, giddy tour guide for visitors, and Christmas spirit mascot with his first fake tree and self-installed automated mood lighting!

All our love,

The Carters