Oak Haven Happenings

December 2007                       5330 Belfast-Owensville Rd., Batavia, OH 45103 (513)735-2440                          Varicks@aol.com

Greetings to our Friends & Family!

If youíre wondering why you are getting our year-end letter at the beginning of 2008, itís because our computer crashed the day after we finished writing this in December.  The melt down took with it all of our 2007 pictures and files.  Our words of wisdom for 2008 Ö BACKUP!


We find ourselves at the end of 2007 wondering how it passed so quickly. While the year did seem to fly by, it wasn't because this was "just another year." We had more milestones this year than any other that I can think of. More importantly, those milestones seem to be marking a path that indicates that we're heading in the right direction.



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

Jim & Julie

Julie and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year. It's been fun to look back over the early years of our relationship and see where we've come from. It's amazing how small directional changes early on can lead you to vastly different places over the long haul. Whether itís what classes to take, who to hang out with, or how to spend our time, each step is setting our course to our unique future. I can't imagine a more wonderful life than the one I've shared with the "love of my youth." We managed to get away for a fall weekend to an incredible natural area in south-central Ohio called the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. We stayed in a cottage perched on the edge of a beautiful, pristine gorge, where we could listen to the water flowing over the rocks in the stream below.

Julie & Jim at the Highland Nature Sanctuary for their anniversary.


Kristin at Eagles Nest in Guatemala.



Kristin (22) started student teaching 1st grade this year to≠wards finishing her goal of graduating with her BA in Early Childhood Education this com≠ing Spring. She has enjoyed working with the kids and hasn't found the classroom setting as intimidating as she was expect≠ing. It has given her an appreciation of the flexibility that she had through homeschooling, though. There are definitely children in her classroom who would be more likely to flourish with a one-on-one learning ex≠perience. Kristin also got to spread her wings this summer by spending six weeks working in an orphanage in Guatemala with her cousin, Faith. As is often the case when you reach out to the needs of others, they grew tremendously through the ex≠perience. I'm sure it will be one of those events that sends ripples through the rest of their lives.



Jennifer (21) also had the opportunity to travel abroad this summer, spending five weeks in Austria studying childhood dis≠orders, the psychology of relig≠ion, and generally enjoying traveling around Europe (7 countries!). She will be graduating next week with her Bachelors in Human and Social Services.  After graduation she will begin working full time at Four Paws for Ability, where she has been working part-time for the past seven years. Her responsibilities have grown from puppy-raising to teaching classes to prison inmates on how to train service dogs. It has been a great family experience seeing how these dogs have impacted the lives of their special-needs partners and their families.


Jennifer at the Coliseum in Rome.



Brian with "his" car.


Brian (18) graduated this year from high school and is now enrolled as a freshman at University of Cincinnati-Clermont College studying Interactive Multimedia Technology, which includes digital photography and videography. He has started a videography business with his cousin, Micah. Watch at your local movie theatres (or at least YouTube) for titles by Roaming Gnome Productions. This summer he worked at a golf course, which was a real life-lesson in what it means to work for someone else in an entry-level position. While he enjoyed it, I think it has motivated him to start thinking about building his own business.




Michelle (17) brought an end to our homeschooling commitment this year by enrolling as a post-secondary student at the Univer≠sity of Cincinnati-Clermont College. That means that while she is still a junior in high school (technically enrolled at the local high school), she is taking all of her classes at the college. She receives college credit and high school credit and itís all paid for by the State of Ohio. After two years of study, she will graduate from High school and receive an Associates Degree from UC. This is the first time that she has had classes in a classroom setting (with lectures, tests, etc.), but she is making the transition very well.  In Oct. Michelle had the opportunity to give an hour-long service dog demonstration to about 450 1st and 2nd graders at Kristinís school for a special assembly.  She also had a display of her clay figurines at the library for two months.  She has received several commissions, which have been fun and profitable.



Michelle at the Owensville Library with her display of figurines

"Oak Haven", under construction.

Home Improvement

Quite a bit of the conversation around the house this year has revolved around plans for our new addition. We have been planning, modifying, rethinking, and redesigning for months. We no longer just "go on a bike ride." Now we take the bikes and go on design-finding missions through local neighborhoods looking at dormer proportions, shingle colors, and siding textures.

October we broke ground, which means that we have the added pressure of getting everything designed just right before the current design is set in concrete (literally). We are turning our existing garage into living space and adding a new entry, mudroom, garage, and workshop.  The building process is going great (although there has been too much rain), and we look forward to being able to use the new space next summer. We have framers doing the basic construction, but plan on finish≠ing the inside ourselves. Maybe it would be more realistic to think the space will be useable by next winter.



While most of the year was spent focusing on home, we did get to go to Florida for three weeks last winter.  It was more of a tag-team vacation, with every≠one participating, but not all at the same time. Iím sure that will become the norm as the kids build their own commit≠ments and interests.  Some of us also went backpacking in May to Red River Gorge in Kentucky, along with a couple of other camping trips over the summer.  We went to Niagara Falls over Labor Day for Jenniferís Birthday and enjoyed bike riding and hiking along the gorge.  In Oct. we got most of Julieís family together for a fall weekend in a cabin at Burr Oak State Park (Ohio).



This month we've had the gift of experiencing Allie (a Four-Paws dog who has been part of our family for two years) having a litter of ten adorable little pre-service dogs. She (a Golden Retriever) was bred with a Standard Poodle to produce Golden Doodles, which we hope will have the temperament of a Golden with the hypoallergenic coat of a Poodle.  (Five-weeks old in the picture below.)

Alli's ten puppies, which we named after National Parks.

Mesa, Sequoia, Teton, Bryce, Shenandoah, Reyes, Yosemite, Acadia, Canyon, & Rocky

In Conclusion

Text Box: Parker

I hope that the past year has been good for all of our friends and family. We appreciate that our meandering path through life has been impacted by so many great people like you. We enjoy hearing from all of you. Have a great holiday and take a few moments to think about how the God of Creation wants to be actively involved in all of our lives.


With love from the Varicks,

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



Oak Haven Photography
Varick Home Page
4Paws for Ability