2008 Christmas Letter

Holiday Greetings to you all! We hope this letter finds you all healthy and happy this holiday season.

This last year has been so event packed that we feel that we need to include the last 14 months. It has been a non-stop emotional roller coaster. We have had the thrill of a new addition to the family, the loss of two family members, the stress of a house on the market, the uncertainty of being homeless and in temporary housing and the relief moving and the excitement of planting new roots.

The story beings in November of 2007 when our first home was on the market. Sara was some how able to keep the house "show ready" (agents calling from the front yard were her favorite), while pregnant and raising Rebecca. We hadn't had any offers and Sara's pregnancy was progressing so we were seriously considering taking the house off the market. The day before we pulled the plug, we got the offer.

This sent life into overdrive with the frenzy of moving added to the regular holiday hustle and bustle. With the pregnancy progressing we couldn't delay closing. We still had a goal to be in the new house before a new Charbonneau entered the world. Just as this was ramping up we suffered the loss of James's Grandfather, "Uncle Joe" Stone.

Closing finally came and went and we were homeless for a week. The only month-to-month apartment we could get had a lease that started one week after closing. With two full moves and three additional temporary addresses (thanks to both of our parents and "Uncle Tom" Cece) we were in the apartment. The year ended with a McDonald's dinner on New Year's Eve. It was all we had the energy for and seemed a fitting end to the year.

Now living in a two bed/two bath apartment in Gaithersburg, Sara feeling very pregnant, Rebecca fully into potty training and James working tirelessly on house hunting spreadsheets we couldn't wait for January, 2008 to end. Luckily, by mid-month we were negotiating for our new house and planning our next move. We settled on our new home in southern Frederick County, Maryland, and were moving (again) by mid-February with the assistance of our family and friends.

While we worked quickly to settle into our new house, we were counting down the weeks until the expected arrival of our second child. Our beautiful, Melissa Anne, with jet black curly locks and bright blue eyes was born on the evening of Monday, 3/10/08. Weighing in at 7 lbs., 3 oz. and with a length of 20 inches, she was born just two weeks shy of her due date of Easter Sunday (3/23/08). Although we had a planned c-section for Wednesday, 3/19/08, in the likeness of her sister, decided to come on her own terms. Rebecca handled the situation in her signature ease and was whisked from here to there (in her pajamas) and from person to person without even a hiccup. We credit this easy transition to the loving support of our families.

The remainder of the spring passed through sleepless nights, setting up our new home and the celebration of Rebecca's third birthday. This was a big birthday for Rebecca because she was now a big sister and was getting ready to start school. As the weather warmed, she spent many days playing outside in her new neighborhood on the playground equipment, making new friends, drawing with chalk on the sidewalk and driveway and blowing bubbles.

With the warm weather in May, we experienced another surgical surprise when we learned that Sara would have to have her gall bladder removed. The surgery was short, but the recovery was a lot longer and more painful than Sara had ever expected and may have been more difficult because she delivered Melissa by c-section just two months earlier and was still nursing. We were very lucky to have both Grandmothers drop everything at a moment's notice to assist us for the next week. Within two weeks, Sara was back to her usual self and was ready to start on our list of home improvement projects.

The summer flew by. Sara took the girls on several extended trips to visit family and friends while James stayed behind to take care of some of the messier house projects. On the home decorating front, we painted and decorated Rebecca and Melissa's rooms and on the home improvement list, James completed a backyard patio that features a retaining wall with built-in bar and in-paver lighting. James has additional plans that include a deck, fence and playset that will be started in spring, 2009.

In late August, Rebecca went off to school for the first time. She attends pre-school two days a week and is just loving it. Her social schedule is busy with play dates, dance class and trips to the Frederick Gym. The fall progressed quickly with the last few weeks of October playing particular emotional havoc when we suffered the loss of another grandparent, Sara's Grandmother ,"Memaw", Helen Clarity.

As we close the book on 2008, we are gratefully counting our blessings. We are now a family of four, recently celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary, are enjoying our new house, and are thankful for the health and happiness of our family and friends. It was a busy, joyous, scary, fruitful, sorrowful, and exceptional year.

To our family and friends we wish you our fondest holiday greetings and best wishes for 2009!