Oak Haven Happenings

December 2006                       5330 Belfast-Owensville Rd., Batavia, OH 45103 (513)735-2440                          Varicks@aol.com


Greetings to our friends & family!

We hope all is well with you and your family.  Thank you for sending all the wonderful Christmas cards, we enjoy receiving them.


Jim, Jennifer, Kristin, Michelle, Julie, Julie's mom, Julie's dad, & Brian.

Jim & Julie

“Aloha from Hawaii…”

Jim & I had an incredible getaway to Hawaii in November.  We spent an amazing three weeks exploring Oahu, Maui and Kauai islands.  I felt like we were on our second honeymoon!  (It was our 24th anniversary.)  We had several opportunities to snorkel with green sea turtles (one was 3 ft. diameter), do a lot of bird-watching, hike along mountainous coasts and over volcanic craters, kayak up a river to a waterfall, explore coastline for wonderful beaches, peruse art galleries, etc.  It was a very special time for the two of us!  The empty nest stage looks much more appealing now!  If you are interested in reading a detailed report, Jim blogged our trip on:



Our photography business continues to meet our financial needs.  We are thankful for our clients and the year-round work that comes in.  Fall is always the busiest time for us, especially this year with the added pressure of getting it all done by the end of October before our trip.  We are photographing more graduating seniors and fewer families.  Other than that, business is as usual.  We have some exciting ideas to take our photography in some new directions, somehow combining photography with natural area conservation.



One of the hardest decisions we made this year was to leave our church after 9 years. While it was difficult to leave our church “family”, we feel that we are in a better position to fulfill all that God is leading us into.  We are now attending Faith Church with my sister & her family

Home Improvements

This has been a big year for home improvements.  We started with the half-bath, doing a complete overhaul.  We began the job last year during Christmas break thinking the job would only take 1-2 weeks.  It ended up taking 8 weeks!  (I learned not to start house projects before Christmas.)  Jim is pleased that we created a gallery where he can display his black & white photographs.

Our next project was the laundry room which was long overdue. The walls were dingy and the dogs kept on stealing and chewing up clothes from the baskets.    The girls helped paint the walls and added decorative designs.  The room is now organized, bright and functional. (We are using trash cans with lids for laundry baskets to solve our problem with the dogs.)

Next, Jennifer wanted to replace the carpet in her bedroom with wood-like laminate.  We also repainted the walls a warm yellow, adding white wainscoting to the walls and crown molding to the bathroom.

We have spent many enjoyable hours planning our next major home improvement.  We plan on building a detached garage and turning our existing garage into living space with a new entry and mudroom.  At this point we have drawn up the plans for the garage and turned the trees on the site into stacks of firewood.  (Quite a job in itself.)



We had 30 kids in our 4H club this year and the club ran smoothly despite its big size.   Some highlights were: a police dog demonstration, car mechanics, ceramic art, Cowan Lake picnic and the River Sweep.  I’ve had several people from other clubs compliment us on what a nice club we have and how we are setting the standard.  It’s so easy to go through life and not think too much about our circle of influence and the impact we have on others.

Seniors Outreach

One of our goals is to make a difference in our community.  We count it a privilege to visit and put on a monthly program with others from our 4H club for the elderly at Owensville Commons.  They are so appreciative. Our biggest event was planning a picnic at Gauche Park and providing food for 100 people.  The historical cabin was open and a group sang gospel hymns for us.  We have seen a big difference in the past two years.  Before, the residents hardly knew one another, and now there is a warm camaraderie.  They have even started their own club that meets once a month to celebrate birthdays etc. We started the outreach to be a blessing to them, but I think that we receive the larger portion.

4 Paws for Ability

We are still fostering puppies and training dogs to become service dogs.  We usually have four dogs in our household with Michelle fostering two and Jennifer rotating two dogs in for more advanced training.  She enjoys socializing them by taking them to college with her.  It is very rewarding work, unless it is a rainy day and we are dealing with muddy paw prints.  Arghhhhh….


Jim, Brian, & Julie’s dad standing in the only safe place while

 pitching horseshoes

 with the rest of the family.


Micah, Faith, Brian, Kristin, Hope, Ethan, Jennifer, & Michelle

 at Turkey Run State Park, Indiana,


Turkey Run, Indiana- a winter weekend in January with my whole family, although the weather surprised us with a balmy 55 degrees.  We love the state park’s trails and the indoor pool.  It was great fun!

Captiva Island, Florida –we spent a week in March at our favorite relaxing vacation spot.  It was interesting to see how it looked after the hurricane hit 18 months before.  We were there for their 1st reopening week and there was still a lot to be done.

Roan Mountain, Tennessee.- at the end of June was awesome with its rhododendrons in full bloom. We enjoyed hiking parts of the Appalachian trail.   My parents joined us for the trip; hiking, swimming, cliff jumping (for Brian), ping pong, card games & playing horseshoes were highlights.

Caesar’s Creek, Ohio – August weekend trip to camp, kayak, and jet ski with my whole family again, although Brian put a damper on it by getting appendicitis!

Cumberland Falls, Kentucky – A  weekend get-away in Oct. to see Fall color.  The falls were impressive.


The “Kids”

We were very impressed with how well our kids did on their own for three weeks while we were in Hawaii.  They ran the household, kept up with school, answered business calls and got along well with each other.  The hardest part was probably getting Brian to his carpool for basketball practices and games.  We are very proud of them.

Kristin (21) is a Junior at University of Cincinnati.  She received the top student award in Early Childhood Education at the awards ceremony last June.  Additionally, Kristin has been working hard at Rouster’s Apple House this Fall and also worked the blueberries in June.  She is raising money to support a native missionary in India.  At Gauche Park she expanded her heritage garden that she began last year and put on a program about period gardening for school children in our area.

Jennifer (20) transferred to Northern Kentucky University and is also a Junior this year.  She will graduate a semester early in the Human Services: Mental Health program.  She shared the top Human & Social Services’ student award with her best friend at school.  Jennifer has had the opportunity to work more at 4 Paws for Ability, learning how to train dogs for autistic children.  Additionally she has begun helping train the families on handling their new service dogs.  She drives up to Xenia (75 minutes each way) on Mondays and Fridays and goes to school Tuesdays through Thursdays. 

Brian (17) is a senior in high school this year.  He is not sure what major he wants to pursue, but he is sure that his college needs to be near a nice ski resort.  We are thinking that he would enjoy Business as he is very successful at buying and selling on the internet.  Brian continues to enjoy skiing, buying ski clothes, watching ski videos (dreaming about skiing…)  We are especially enjoying watching him play basketball.  His team, the Landmark Eagles, has won their first 9 games.  Kind of sad this is Brian’s last year to play.  We’ll miss our entertainment!

Michelle (16) 

Michelle has continued her artistic endeavors, and had the opportunity to teach a cake decorating class for 2nd graders and to our 4H club.  Last year in August, Michelle began fostering a golden retriever puppy named Aurora.  They both learned a lot.  Aurora graduated, so Michelle has now begun fostering her next puppy, Nikita.  We are sure she will be equally successful with this new puppy.  Michelle has added two rabbits and two degus (large rodents) to her menagerie.

In Conclusion

Text Box: Parker

Every year we write these letters, I realize how much we have to be thankful for.  But what is most important is that Jesus came as God in the flesh and died on the cross to forgive our sins.  He is the gift of unconditional love!

With love from the Varicks

Jim, Julie, Kristin, Jennifer, Brian, & Michelle