merry christmas from evan and amy

 

Dear Friends & Family,

What a great, wonderful, difficult, beautiful year! We moved from Maryland to Wisconsin, became an aunt and uncle to the beautiful Anika Eve, and started a new job at Hope Christian High School teaching US History. Well, technically, only Evan has that new job, but I have been doing so much lesson planning and grading, that it sort of feelings like a joint venture. But I suppose that’s what you get when you meet your spouse at History Honor Society and spend the first 7 years of marriage putting each other through various history master’s programs.

 

picture together

 

January and February found us in Maryland packing up our east coast life. We said goodbye to dozens of close friends, mostly from our beloved Church Family from Church of the Advent. They threw us the sweetest goodbye party. I will always remember sitting in the living room listening to the prayers of thanks and commission from friends who had walked with us through the highs and lows of planting a church and living life together the past 7 years. Saying goodbye to the two babies we nannied was especially sad. It was such a privilege to spend my days with them.

 

boxes

 

We arrived on the cold and snowy first of March in Wisconsin, without a job, hoping that Evan’s state teaching certification would come through in time. My brother and his very pregnant wife Candace graciously allowed us to live with them, giving us their finished attic. We waited through Lent for Easter, for the baby to make her appearance and for a job to come through for Evan. Seven months later it is easy to forget how long that waiting can be. It certainly felt like a long wait. But spring and Easter and the baby and a job came!

 

arms holding baby

 

The highlight of the summer was the month we spent in the south. The tutoring company that Evan and I worked for in Maryland invited Evan to work on curriculum for the new SAT in Atlanta for a month, and I tagged along and tried to make the month livable in our extended stay hotel. On weekends we hiked and visited friends and family in neighboring North Carolina and Alabama. But we escaped the real southern summer and came back to Wisconsin for the glorious July weather. August brought the start of Evan’s job, and a quick family reunion for me to the glorious north woods of Manitoba, Canada with nearly all my cousins.

 

Lady Cousins 2

 

The Fall has been very full—full of life and work and people. Life in the little brick house in West Milwaukee is full of two dogs, four adults, and one sensitive and delightful baby girl. Our new church, Christ Redeemer, has welcomed us in whole heartily, and we are in a small group, and reading scriptures, tending babies in the nursery, helping in Sunday school, praying, greeting, setting up, tearing down, and serving the cup during communion—the gloriousness of a new church plant!

 

small group mke

 

We are only a quick drive from Chicago, our 3 year old goddaughter Teresa, Evan’s cousins, and a handful of close college friends. We are about 5 hours from my parents, who have enjoyed their new title of grandparents immensely and have come down to see her (and us!) quite a few times.

 

cousins

 

Of course the fullest part of the fall has been Evan’s new job. Most nights you can find us upstairs grading piles of papers on the Columbian Exchange or the New Deal and creating new curriculum for the next day.   It is not a very sustainable pace of life, but first year teaching is almost like building the house you will live in for (hopefully) years to come. I feel blessed that I have a flexible schedule to pitch in most afternoons and evenings. Evan has been amazing in his dedication and sustained energy. His inner-city Milwaukee students keep him on his toes. He comes home with hilarious and tough stories from his day. He has a great set of co-workers and administrators that are really devoted to helping get these kids into college. We feel so blessed to have so much family support, a great church community, and all the experiences of stress management that came from surviving grad school: eating a really clean (paleo!) diet, getting good sleep, and hiking along the rivers and glacier formed hills of Southern Wisconsin.

 

forest 7

 

In between my moonlighting as a teaching assistant and making us yummy food, my days are spent helping to care for my 7 month only niece (I get to spend 2 to 5 days a week with Anika when Candace goes into the office) and writing.

 

Anika and Boone

 

I continue to plug away on my novel, and despite feeling like I haven’t gotten to spend as much time as I would like writing, it really is coming along. It is looking more and more like a real novel, with a beginning, middle, and end filled with dragons and gnomes and kids looking for their grandfather in a kingdom of tree houses and mysteries. My blogging has also been a bit slower this year, but I started an exciting project reading through all the Newbery Award Winning books for children (starting in 1922!). I feel super blessed to have so many people believing, supporting, and working to let me write.

 

drawings trees and valley

 

We are ringing in the New Year in Arizona with my family, enjoying the perk of teaching: 2 weeks off at Christmas. Yesterday, I’m joined Evan in that great new adventure: turning 30! We are hopeful that this next year will bring a further settling into this new Wisconsin life. Pray for us as we finish out the first year of teaching, as we make decisions about how to spend this coming summer, and as we hope to add more members to our family soon! May the Lord bless you and keep you this Christmastide and Epiphany season!

 

cactus

 

Much love,

Evan and Amy

 

 

chili pepper wreath

 

14 Responses to 2014 : A Christmas Letter

  1. James hays says:

    A wonderful Christmas letter telling of a good year for a great couple. Happy new year. Love, Grandpa Hays

    • Amy Rogers Hays says:

      Thanks Grandpa Jim! We were so sad to miss yesterday’s gathering. Merry Christmas from sunny Tubac, AZ. Love to you and Grandma Anne!

  2. Michelle Battles says:

    Amy,
    Thank you for sharing! It is so good to read of your life adventures. It has been quite a few years since our summer in Tanglewood, but I still think of you and remember our time together with a full and happy heart.
    Much love,
    Michelle (Richter) Battles

    • Amy Rogers Hays says:

      Thanks Michelle. It was such a special summer, and my time with you and Grace was most of that. I found our locket the other day, still with the three harp strings in it. I love seeing pictures of your beautiful daughter! Lots of love, Amy

  3. Aunt Karen says:

    Blessings on you and Evan as you move
    into the new year. It would be lovely to see you again soon.

    • Amy Rogers Hays says:

      Thanks Aunt Karen! I hope that we can see y’all soon too. We won’t be able to make it out with the rest of the family for their San Diego trip, but we’re hoping that after this first year we can do more traveling! Love to you and Uncle Skip!

  4. Dean Rapp says:

    Amy and Evan, Thanks so much for the card telling me how to get this Christmas letter, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, especially since I’ve been wondering the last several years how you are and what you have been doing. My travels around the world have now taken me to 83 countries, the last 3 to see the Islamic architectural sites along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan,Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.
    Best wishes to you, Dean

    • Amy Rogers Hays says:

      Thanks Dr Rapp! I’m so glad that you’re traveling. I’m sure you have amazing pictures. Do you find yourself still planning lectures in your head about your travels, or are you enjoying simply taking it all in? Evan and I remember your classes so fondly. We always say, if grad school was more like Dr. Rapp and Dr. Harkrider’s classes we’d probably have stayed and done PhDs. But I’m glad we both have M.A.s and are using the love of history and story outside of the pressures of academia. One of our favorite things (when we have a bit more leisure time than we do now) is to watch Rick Steve’s travel show about Europe, I love picturing you traveling around like that. I’d watch your travel show! Lots of love from both of us! – Amy

  5. Ed Deitch says:

    Hi Evan & Amy,

    Great letter! Hope all continues to go well and that 2015 brings good health and happiness. Evan; continued success in your teaching career, but don’t rule out law school. Amy; look forward to reading your book.

    All the best,

    Ed

    • Amy Rogers Hays says:

      Thanks Ed! I know that we didn’t get to meet, but the longer than Evan is at this job, the more I am so thankful that he had you for his student teaching mentor. I appreciate your wisdom, straight shooting approach, and all the hours and years you put into developing your curriculum that you generously shared with Evan means which let me see Evan a lot more this year. Thanks so much for all your work! – Amy (P.S. One of my favorite student responses this year was after a couple of immigration lectures, when asked what island the immigrants would stop at before entering America, a student wrote “The Galapa-ghost Island.”)

  6. Christy says:

    What an eventful but it seems joyful year you have had! Glad I can follow along in your year with your blog posts. 🙂

  7. Amy Rogers Hays says:

    Thanks Christy! I miss you friend!

  8. Deb Rogers says:

    What a lovely recounting of 2014! May 2015 be full of many blessings!

    Love,

    Mom

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