"Annual" family letter for 2007 (and some of 2008)

To our family and friends,

According to my computer, my last “annual” family letter was completed February 3, 2007 (though that doesn’t mean that’s when I actually got it to you…), so now is the perfect time for an update.

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Graduation Ceremonies 
April 2007

Last year was an eventful one for us. When we started the year (and left off with the last letter), Bryan was finishing his MISM degree and we were in the middle of applying to doctoral programs. By March, he’d visited three schools (University of Georgia, University of Oklahoma, and University of Maryland) and received an offer from Oklahoma. We thought we’d be headed to the Great Plains. Then, two days before the “accept or decline” deadline on Oklahoma’s offer, we received a surprise phone call from Georgia State University. They didn’t have time to fly Bryan out before his deadline, but they really wanted him in their program, so they made on offer over the phone. GSU happens to be one of the top doctoral programs in Computer Information Systems, so we jumped at the chance!

In August, we packed up our home and moved our family to Georgia. Moving is not fun, nor (despite my best efforts) a very organized process. This was the first time I remember moving more than 20 miles, so the whole “we can’t go back and forth to finish up the little things” was a new experience for me. But we were given a lot of help—from family, from Provo ward members and friends, and from Acworth ward members. To all of you that helped—packing, cleaning, making dinners, or watching the children—thank you so very much! It really meant the world to us. :)

Our first day in Georgia happened to be one of the hottest days of the year (we arrived near the beginning of a record-breaking heat wave, with temperatures hovering around 105°F for over a week). We treated ourselves to dinner the first night we were here—and all ended up drinking at least two or three full glasses of water! I think the waitress was very amused. :)

Bryan had a few days to help unpack, then he was back to school. We chose the city of Acworth because (1) it is not in the middle of Atlanta, where the school is (not exactly a family-friendly place), and (2) it has an express bus that does go to the middle of Atlanta. The bus stop is a five minute drive from our home and drops Bryan off a block or two away from school. And, since he’s not driving the whole way, we save on gas and parking and I’m not worried about him falling asleep in rush hour traffic (not that he struggles with that a lot). It’s perfect. :)

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Our new home. The children love the extra space! We’d been hoping for something we could “grow in” through the next four years, and this was perfect! :)

As Bryan set out to start his new program, I set out to tame our home. Or rather, tame the back yard. I quickly met a new plant out here: Kudzu. Apparently, this vine was touted as a great solution to soil erosion and was actively planted in the southern US from about 1935-1950. Then they realized it wouldn’t go away. You can now pass entire fields or forests covered in Kudzu. It mummifies shrubs and trees, winding around them to quickly and tightly that they are eventually overrun. And it had taken a good hold in our back yard. So, I took our newly acquired shears, donned my chemistry lab coat (I learned early on that the Kudzu gives me a skin rash), and went to war. :) By November, I had cleared most of our bushes and trees of the vine and was searching for the root crowns/nodes so I could stop it from re-growing. Then it went dormant. I’m sure the war will start again with a vengeance in the spring, but for now there is peace. :)

At about the time I was waging the Kudzu war (and trying to get our house in order—an effort that is still ongoing), Bryan received some wonderful news: a paper he had worked on with a BYU professor and other BYU alum had been accepted for publication in JMIS (Journal of Management Information Systems), which is considered one of the top 5 journals in his field. It should come out in the next edition (Winter 2008). This has filled us with both excitement and gratitude—and will be a wonderful help when it comes time for Bryan to apply for jobs! :)

Other than that, we’ve just been keeping busy. Soon after we moved here, I was called as ward organist—a very daunting, yet very rewarding calling for me. It had been years since I’d played the organ (since before we were married!), but it’s all come back fairly quickly. Not that I don’t need to practice or that I don’t make mistakes. :) But the ward members have all been very supportive and encouraging, and I feel like I’m learning the songs much faster than I ever could before—more than I ever could without help. :)

Bryan went for a while without a ward calling, but has been able to work at the Atlanta Georgia temple once a week since early September. This has helped provide a bit more balance to his “secular” studies, and has also allowed him to associate with some amazing brothers and sisters, most of them older, with many life experiences and wisdom to share. In addition, he was given the responsibility of ward clerk about a month ago. It makes getting to church a little interesting (as he has early meetings and I need to be there a little early to do prelude), but we can work around it. :) It’s been good for him to have a responsibility in the ward—I can see how important it is for every member to have a calling, to feel like a contributing part of the ward group.

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Jonathan "reading" to Emma 
January 2008

As for Jonathan and Emma, they are adjusting quite well. We’re still working finding other young children to play with (there aren’t quite as many around our neighborhood as in Provo), but he’s been a wonderful playmate for Emma. Sometimes he’s not exactly nice to her, but he usually takes the role of teacher or guide—something that is almost always cute, but sometimes quite scary. Emma now climbs without fear (once I even caught Jonathan trying to demonstrate how to climb out of her crib!) and very much enjoys throwing organized piles or whole shelves of books onto the floor.

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Jonathan as Spider-Man (sans mask)  
October 2007

Jonathan has become quite independent in the last year and can even be a big help to me (with careful direction). I especially love it when I can direct him to help Emma with something (usually opening some food or getting a drink or taking a toy upstairs) and he happily does it. :) He’s also developed quite an imagination. My current favorite is that his hands turn into spiders (good ones). Once, when I asked his spiders to help him eat his dinner (he’s become good at stalling), he informed me that spiders don’t have mouths and can’t talk. I responded that they could still help him eat, so he then immediately turned them upside-down. They died. Luckily they were actually sleeping and woke up soon enough. :) Like most little boys, he loves cars and trucks and trains (and can even identify UPS and FedEx trucks), and has been passing this on to his little sister. :)

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December 2007

Emma has gone from baby to little girl this year. Her vocabulary is ever growing and currently includes at least 45 verified words, her favorite of which is currently “baby,” though “doggy” and “daddy” are also quite common. It’s been nice that her ability to communicate has grown almost proportionately with her desire to choose—the chance of a mini fit is greatly reduced when I know what she’s wanting. :) She’s also developed a keen interest in books, whether she’s just looking at them or being read to (thankfully, she doesn’t tear or draw on them as much as she used to, though Jonathan may help change again). And, much to both my joy and dismay, she’s become a Daddy’s girl. Bryan can often get her to do something (like take a bite) that she’s refusing to do for me. This charm has been wearing off a bit lately, though, as she develops a little more of an independent streak.

Overall, we have been greatly blessed. It is amazing to look back and see how much everything has worked together for us, even in ways that we never would have considered. It is even more amazing to look forward, knowing that He will continue to bless and guide us as we continue to seek his counsel. We do not yet know what 2008 will hold for our family, but we have confidence that all—the blessings and the trials—will work out for our good.

We wish you all a wonderful and growth-filled new year! :)
Love,

Cassia and Bryan,

Jonathan and Emma Beckman

 

PS–Posting this on our web site is our way of both making a copy for future reference and catching those who didn’t get this by email.  If you didn’t get it by email, that probably means I have lost your email address–so please update me so I can catch you next time!  :)  Also, the emailed letter includes current contact information, so let me know if you need that.  :)

One Response to “"Annual" family letter for 2007 (and some of 2008)”

  1. So Cute!
    I Love my niece and nephew!

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