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James-Patzelt Family Christmas

Hi Friends & Family!

Thanks for taking the time to type in the web address and check out our little album here. I know people were always complimentary of our photo-calendar card we used to do, but printing costs are just too high now, and I have a website with endless space!

I'll still attempt to tell the story of our year through photos (and videos, now!), but the updates that don't fit well into captions are:

  • Yes, we have a new (temporary) family member, a German exchange student named Sebastian Patzelt, who is 10 days older than Preston. We have him from August to June, and he has been a blessing many times over for our family. He plays handbells with our church, runs track (and throws shot put) at the high school, and has made countless friends. The kids enjoy having a new brother, and we such a helpful, smart and funny new son. We also enjoy communicating with his parents, 14-year-old brother and 9-year-old sister back in Lower Saxony.

  • Derek is still a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and a weekday Navy civilian (GS14).  He finally got a diagnosis for his health problems of last year — Meniere's disease, which is an inner-ear condition that causes all sorts of issues from vertigo and dizziness to headaches, nausea, tinnitus, brain fog, and more. It's caused him a lot of missed work and family activities, but we are trying to manage it as best we can. He still plays in the advanced bell choir at church and is an assistant coach for Preston and Sebastian's basketball team.

  • Preston, 15, is a sophomore and is learning to drive! He should have his driver's permit by the beginning of 2023. He's still struggling with work completion at school, but he scored in the 97th percentile on the PSAT and is slowly improving on his school performance. He serves on the "stream team" at church and is playing rec basketball this season. He also won 3rd place in literature for the PTA Reflections contest at school for his poetry (other poems of his were published in the school literary magazine this spring). He recently decided to pursue a career in digital marketing.

  • Audrey, 13, loves doing aerial silks and art. She has a boatload of friends at school, cherishes her independence, and babysits often in the neighborhood. A moment not spent on the phone with her friends is a moment wasted, though she will turn it off if Sebastian is around! She still gets straight A's at school despite not studying and claiming she doesn't pay attention in class (but we know she must be since she nails all the tests!). She also sang with the adult choir at church this December in our big cantata, and is about to move up from beginner to advanced handbells.

  • Melissa received a Women in Business Achievement Award on Dec. 13 from Inside Business magazine and brought most of the family to the awards dinner. This month she became the new president for the board of directors at Peninsula READS, an adult literacy nonprofit where she has served for years. She is frequently found in different area high schools, where she mentors students in entrepreneurship classes, teaches about marketing and website design, and conducts mock job interviews. At church, she directs the children's handchime choir, plays in both the beginner (as a sub) and advanced handbell choirs, sings in the chancel choir, coordinates the acolytes, teaches children's Sunday school, gives the children's sermon twice a month, and creates marketing materials for church events. She is also active in book club, neighborhood activities and her cake-decorating and other hobbies.

Our 2022 in Review

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