Friday, December 20, 2019

Weston Family 2019: The Focus of Our Lives

December 2019

Dear Friends & Family,

2019 was a Ticket to Ride year of travel and adventure for our family! We took several routes and stopped at many glorious destinations; yet, we maintained a continuous path of progress toward new horizons. On our journey, whether we were heading down a straight-away or making switches at a junction, each train car played an important role.

Box Car: Much of our year is linked by learning over days, weeks, and months of homeschooling versatility. This was a year of “less is more” as the commitment required from each student became more intense, requiring greater selectivity. All three kids performed in StarStruck Theatre’s Shrek the Musical, participated in church activities and service projects. Madeline (13) read like a fiend, continued in 4-H and attended her core classes at our charter school resource center. Max (15) preferred more online learning, supplementing with in-person Chemistry labs, and lots of free reading. Natalie and Max participated in Seminary, studying the New Testament, and delighted in attending church dances. Madeline is looking forward to attending both dances and Seminary in 2020!

Tanker: Our most remarkable family member this past year was Natalie (17). Not only did she get her driver’s license, graduate from high school one year early, start attending Ohlone College full time, and work her first part-time job at our friend’s bakery, but Natalie also enrolled in a nine-month course to earn her FootZonology certificate! We are truly blessed to watch Natalie taking on the responsibilities of transporting her siblings, studying hard for her courses, gleaning job skills, and bolstering the health of her family and friends.

Passenger Car: Six years ago we began raising our first puppy for Guide Dogs for the Blind and this year we started a new puppy-in-training, “Jogger.” We picked up Jogger in February, at ten weeks old, and just celebrated his first birthday. As puppy raisers, we will be working on all basic training and socialization until Jogger goes to "college" at Guide Dogs for the Blind between fifteen and twenty months of age. We thoroughly enjoy having such a sweet Labrador Retriever in our home, especially Sammy and Lucy. If you're interested in the process behind raising and training these amazing dogs and the commendable work they do guiding the visually impaired, watch Pick of the Litter: A Dogumentary. The film received such a positive response, Disney Plus is now airing a Pick of the Litter series, based on the original documentary!

Reefer: How did we “chill” over the summer? We spent many Days of Wonder visiting Peru on a multi-sport tour through gAdventures -- biking the Sacred Valley, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain, and kayaking Lake Titicaca; hiking from the North to the South Rim at the Grand Canyon (Madeline, Janine & friends); and exploring the shores of Kauai with Grandma Laurie via hike, bike, kayak, snorkel and catamaran, culminating with a one-year memorial for Grandpa Dana on the beach.

Freight Car: Abe has been working in Trust & Safety at Google for almost five glorious years and traveled to Tokyo, Japan with his team in October. Janine is working her tenth school year as an Education Specialist at Connecting Waters Charter Schools and coordinates classes at our resource center. As a team, we are funding this operation called life and look forward to retiring some day.

Hopper: Exercise keeps us all strong, flexible, and balanced these days! We add yoga, cycling, and hiking to our dog-walking core for a routine that can’t be beat while we log many miles of great conversations, explore local neighborhoods and trails together. We have nothing but pure love and gratitude for our four-footed pals who celebrate each walk with much enthusiasm and a sense of adventure!

Coal Car: Over the year we’ve improved in fueling our bodies with a vegan diet -- cooking and eating vegan has become a natural part of our lifestyle and keeps us healthier than ever before! If you’re even considering transitioning to a vegan diet, The Game Changers is an eye-opening documentary to watch. As Hippocrates endorsed, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Our main staples are fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables from weekly produce boxes, around which all meals build themselves. In addition, Madeline and Natalie have taken on the challenge of making the most delightful vegan treats -- chocolate mousse cake, caramel apples, pumpkin and apple pie-in-a-jar, blueberry muffins, chocolate-covered matzo, caramel turtles and more!

Caboose: Little Red Hen Ranch has closed its gates and the chickens have moved on to greener pastures, finding excellent homes with several families from our 4-H club. It was difficult to admit that our teenage kids were interested in other things besides chickens, but that’s the beauty of growing up! We’ve spent the last eight years raising and selling pullets for egg-laying and that business has come to an end with the decade! Plus, it’s been years since we’ve stopped eating eggs and although we loved giving eggs as gifts, we are ready to reclaim our backyard orchard and get some more trees established in the nitrogen-rich soil, compliments of the chickens!

Locomotive: As the wise Russel M. Nelson once said, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.” As we go down the tracks of life, whether inching by or barreling forward, we are so grateful to celebrate Christ, the true locomotive, who keeps us heading in the right direction if we yet maintain our focus on Him.

Happy Holidays! Come and visit us in 2020 for a meal, a chat, a walk, a foot-zone, or a puppy hug!


The Westons
Abe, Janine, Natalie (17), Max (15), Madeline (13), Sammy (11), Lucy (2.5), Jogger (1) & Catniss (7)

Got your tracks straight?
See if you can match each train car with its role:

Box Car
Passenger Car
Freight Car
Coal Car


This car transports loose bulk commodities such as coal, ore, grain, and track ballast.

Enclosed and generally used to carry freight. This car, while not the simplest freight car design, is probably the most versatile since it can carry most loads.

This tender car is a special rail vehicle hauled by a steam locomotive containing its fuel (wood, coal, or oil) and water. Steam locomotives consume large quantities of water compared to the quantity of fuel, so these cars are necessary to keep them running over long distances.

This engine is a rail transport vehicle that provides the motive power for a train.

This car transports cargo all or some of the way between the shipper and the intended destination as part of the logistics chain.

This is a manned North American railroad car coupled at the end of a freight train. Provides shelter for crew at the end of a train, formerly required in switching and shunting, keeping a lookout for load shifting, damage to equipment and cargo, and overheating axles.

This piece of railway rolling stock is designed to carry passengers. Can also be associated with a sleeping car, baggage, dining, railway post office and prisoner transport cars.

This car is designed to transport liquid and gaseous commodities.

This is a refrigerated box car.

Check your answers at:

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