Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas

I have not posted on my blog for a year and as I sit to write our annual Christmas letter it overwhelms me to reflect on the past 365 days. My life, our life, is a constant whirlwind. I think we can honestly say that it is never boring here - EVER! This year was crazy without exception. It was a crazy good year, a crazy year of change, and just plain crazy at times.

Grace is 12 years old now and in the 7th grade.  She's found a passion for all things in the kitchen (except cleaning!). Her bakery creations and sumptuous meals are always a treat. She enjoys watching shows like Worst Cooks in America and The Pioneer Woman and recently discovered the The Great British Baking Show. When not working on school or doing science in the kitchen, Grace is reading. We're pretty sure she just eats books! She has an affinity for fantasy, something that she and her dad share. Of course a description of Grace without her new favorite hobby would just not be complete. She also shares a love of theater with her father and performed in three productions this past year - The King and I, Mulan, and most recently The Snow Queen. We are so pleased that she's found outlets for all of her creativity and look forward to watching her grow in these areas. (But no more growing in height because she's almost as tall as her mom!)

Gianna turned 10 in May and is in the 5th grade (with some of her work in 6th and 7th). She loves school and asks for more even during our breaks. Math seems to be her favorite subject followed by History. She's a super good tutor for her younger siblings, too!  Outside of schooling, gymnastics takes up the next biggest chunk of GG's time. She works out 9 hours a week at Hayasaki Gymnastics Center, her second home you might say. This September she did have her first serious injury after falling off the uneven bars. For 12 weeks she was in a splint then a cast for a broken right elbow, but it didn't slow her down. She still practiced almost 5 hours a week! Gianna was an extraordinary example of perseverance and determination! As of December 4 she was fully released and is back to handspringing and aerialing all around the gym. Her first competition will not be until February 2016.  Aside from schooling and gymnastics, Gianna loves to crochet and is now working as a mother's helper for a few local families.


Tobias is now a strapping 8.5 years old. He is in the 3rd grade this year and doing great! In May he made his First Holy Communion at St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Champaign. To continue growing in his faith, Toby is now an altar server at our parish, St. Thomas in Philo. His first time serving ever, though, happened at Ordinations this year at the Cathedral in Peoria. He was so excited and had many things to say when he got home!  Toby also played baseball for CU Kiwanis Little League. He made many improvements through the season and is already pumped up for the upcoming season where he will move up to the Farm League level. After baseball was over, he jumped right into his first year of Cub Scouts and is having a great time so far. He got his first pocket knife which was a big deal. When he's not busy with any of those aforementioned activities, you might find him being one of the best big brother's around, hands down!
Joshua turned 7 in August and is in the 2nd grade. He's an aspiring engineer, like his Granddad, and watching the cogs in his brain turn can be very interesting. He loves to know how things work, but thankfully he hasn't taken too many things apart yet!  He just celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time and is preparing for his First Holy Communion in the spring. He played baseball with Toby in the CU Kiwanis League and actually had dad as coach! Josh also joined Cub Scouts this past summer and is super enthusiastic about his den meetings and other scout commitments. When he's not busy keeping his younger brothers occupied or thinking up some amazing game, you might find him building Legos or drawing awesome pictures!

Josh with his best buddy Garrett
Samuel is now 5 years old with the legs and paws of a Labrador Retriever. He's just about as big as Gianna and his hands are already the same size. We're pretty sure he's going to be a very tall young man one day!  Believe it or not, Sam is now in Kindergarten. He loves doing school at the table with mom and even asked to learn how to read. He cruises through his lessons with ease and leaps from the school table to go and play with his brothers!  When not sliding down the stairs on a blanket or hiding in a fort somewhere, Sam likes to play trucks and just recently started building with Legos.

Nicholas just turned 4 this month and remains the runt of the litter one might say. Out of all the kiddos so far, he hangs out at the bottom of the growth chart. However, what he lacks in size he makes up for in feistiness!  Nick is in Pre-School this year and enjoys working on his letters and numbers at the school table. He loves to have books read to him and enjoys watching Paw Patrol, Voltron, and Rescue Bots. 
His face says it all!
Alexander celebrated his 2nd birthday in September. The easiest way to sum up this little guy is to call him "scrappy." Coming in as #7 and the 5th boy, there pretty much isn't any other way to survive in this household. Just recently his language has exploded and he definitely doesn't ever want to be left out of anything. He's always quick with a "me, me"! When not chasing or being chased around the house, Alex likes to dress up as Spiderman and he loves to play trucks. He's kind of a tag-a-long at the school table right now, but the big boys getting reading practice by reading him stories. He also likes to color with his big boy crayons and occasionally creates a masterpiece somewhere other than paper!
Welcome to our newest addition and #8 in a long line of great kids, Gwendolyn Kathleen was born on August 10. She was welcomed with shouts of joy that could be heard throughout all of Champaign County!  Weighing in at 9 lbs 4 oz and measuring 22 inches, she's right up there with the rest of them. Her name is inspired by two amazing women who we affectionately know as Grandma and Nanny. Gwen, Gwenny Penny Poo, Gwenny K, and Baby Gwen as she's affectionately called by many, brings so much joy to this house. All of her siblings dote on her and love her to pieces. It's certainly nice to have some more pink in the house! Gwen got to take a very special trip with Britta out to New Mexico to visit her birthday buddy, Great Granddad Schaller. It was quite the adventure filled with many memories. Next year will certainly bring many more stories of her sweet personality.


Christopher is busy as ever! He started a new full-time job at Busey Bank in November. He also continues to work many sporting events at the U of I and takes a shift or two over at Medix (an ambulance service in Danville, IL.) He also continues to volunteer for the Edge-Scott Fire Department. When life occasionally slows down, he heads over to Church to play basketball with the guys or enjoys a men's discussion group. Above all, Christopher is an amazing husband and father no matter what chaos is going on around us.
If you read the rest of this letter then you know what Britta has been upto this year! Schooling, chauffeuring, cleaning, birthing, cooking, training, loving, (quite possibly screaming every once in a while), and lots of praying.  Running a household of 10 is an amazing undertaking that no one in their right mind wishes for or dreams about as a young child. However, Britta absolutely loves nearly every minute of being a wife and mom. The minutes she doesn't absolutely love are just reminders that God never said doing what He asked would be easy!
We hope that you and your family had a fantastic 2015. We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  May the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, reign in your hearts. 
Love, The Kreps Family


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