Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Wishes!

At Thanksgiving, I had grand plans to write my Christmas letter and have it posted by the beginning of December. But the lack of snow on the ground made thinking year-end thoughts seem hasty. And the tidal wave of work that washed in made any additional writing nigh-on impossible.

Time, however, marches inexorably forward. And since I keep running into friends who say they’re awaiting my annual missive, it seems ill-advised to confess that I was considering not writing one this year.

So, without further ado, I give you: 2008 in Review!

Shivering at SeaWorld

The year began with a family trip to SeaWorld in Orlando. My mom and dad took the whole family there for Cassandra’s birthday. While we had a ball, unfortunately, the temperatures plummeted into the 30’s. It was SO cold! We literally wore everything in our suitcases -- several pairs of jeans and shirts -- at the same time. Still: Shamu was worth it!

Mini Miracles and Other New Additions

Our good friend Chari started “Mini Miracles,” a not-for-profit ministry, this year. She takes therapy animals to visit hospitals, nursing homes, women’s shelters, and schools.

In May, Chari began her ministry with two rescued miniature horses. (One of which, we discovered, was expecting. We are awaiting a “blessed event” at some point in the near future...). This fall, she received her Delta Society Therapy Animal certification. She is well on her way to making her dream a reality. We are very proud of her.

The minis are stabled on our property. They are always good for a laugh -- especially when viewed next to our two Percherons...

Several new horses now call our place home. Cassandra got a lovely 21 year-old half-Arabian gelding this summer. That was an intentional addition to the menagerie. We also acquired an Arab mare and Chari rescued an Arab gelding-- neither of which were originally part of our Grand Plan.

This summer we said a final farewell to Digory (our “special needs” Dalmatian). He was 11 and succumbed to renal failure. For two horrible weeks, our house was dog-free. It was an entirely foreign and unwelcome feeling.

Ah, but the dogless misery has passed, thanks to Seraphim.

“Sera” is world’s most wonderful English Mastiff puppy. Her favorite thing to do is to lie on my feet and keep them warm while I’m working. A friend of mine says that Sera is God’s way of blessing me for ever having Dalmatians. She’s currently 70 pounds, with lots of growing still ahead of her.

School Daze
Cassandra started Kindergarten this year. I was all for keeping her home and homeschooling, but Little Miss Sociable really, really, really wanted to go to school. ::sigh:: We documented the Auspicious Occasion with this photograph. Makes me all smiley and teary at the same time...

She attends Ruth Murdoch Elementary school in Berrien Springs, and is enjoying every moment of it. So far, she can count to 100 by 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s. She can count to 10 in at least 5 different languages including French and Swahili. And she is reading everything in sight. She turns 6 on Jan. 4, and constantly amazes us.

“Oooo! I Do!”

In November, Cassandra was a flower girl in a friend’s wedding. She’d been to weddings, but had never been “in” one. She loved every moment of it: from fitting the dress to rehearsal, from walking down to aisle to the reception. Of course: it was a chance to get all dressed up and have people look at you -- what’s not to love?

Fun With the U.S.H.J.A.
Work on a Major Project for the United States Hunter Jumper Association that began in May, 2007, has continued throughout this year. The project is scheduled for launch in late Spring, 2009, and much remains to be done.

My involvement with it took me to Chicago and Harrisburg, and has enabled me to work directly with legends in the hunter / jumper industry including Olympic medalists, USET coaches, show jumping hall of famers, and other notables. My December list of interviewees reads like a Who’s Who of the horse world. In times like these, it’s oh-so-easy to love my job!

Other Updates
While the USHJA project has been my main concern, I thought it wise to heed the advice handed down from the Sages of the Ages and not put all my writing “eggs” into a single client’s basket.

Other projects in the works include a book for “Horse Behaviorist” Ryan Gingerich, and a screenplay for an independent biopic that a director friend of mine is developing.

Other professional highlights of 2008 included having American Horse Publications name “The Rider’s Pain-Free Back” as one of the Top 3 books of the year, and winning a spot in a Master Screenwriting class with one of the top script consultants in the country. (I didn’t even feel a twinge of guilt when I put my regular clients on hold and spent a blissful week of intensive screenwriting work in L.A.)

This year, I had a few speaking engagements, including a well-attended writer’s workshop that lasted for 4 weeks in the Spring.

At one of my lectures, I connected with a woman who has an amazing life-story to tell. I spent the better part of the summer and fall mentoring her through the process of developing a book proposal. I’m hoping for great things for her in 2009.

We Call It “Performance Art”
Robert continues to build and maintain websites for several clients. He’s a deacon in our church, a first-class cook, and Cassandra’s favorite game-playing buddy. He also does a superlative job of running the house while I work crazy hours to keep clients happy.

Doing the “Potato Dance” at a Potawatomi powwow. (We took second place.)

In February, Robert’s seizures returned after a three-year hiatus. He’s had several this year -- some were quite spectacular. (Nothing squelches choir practice for the Christmas cantata quite like a grand mal.) Through it all, however, he has kept his optimistic outlook.

Daddy and Cassandra waging war with "Risk."

Christmas in Our Winter Wonderland!
With over a foot and a half of snow on the ground, it’s beginning to look a LOT like Christmas here!

This holiday season, our entire family wishes you and your loved ones an abundance of health and happiness, wealth and wisdom.

Thank you for continuing to keep our family in your thoughts and in your prayers. God has been so good to us this past year. We trust He has blessed you and those you love as well.

May the joys of family, friends, and good fortune brighten your life for the remainder of this year and throughout the next. Merry Christmas!

The Hendrickson family: Ami, Robert, Cassandra, and Sera – December, 2008.