I wish I could send a paper Christmas card to everyone I know, but sadly, resources are finite. In lieu of that, I'm celebrating the second day of this joyous season by posting our Christmas greetings here. This is the picture (courtesy of a dear life-long friend) that I put on our card this year, and the text of the letter I sent.
All of the grace and blessings of the Nativity to all of you!
Photo credit: Rebekah Mosci at Olivia's Photography
(Linus is on the right)
Dear family and friends,
I can't believe it's December already! 2014 has been a wonderful year for our little family.
We rang in the new year with our families in our hometown, fun as always, then it was back to work and school as usual. We hunkered down through a record number of weather-related school closings last winter, as precipitation and frigid temperatures made it too difficult to venture out. Yikes! It was a stir-crazy time.
We broke up the monotony of January with a trip to northern Michigan for skiing. Blaise braved his first-ever ski lesson in the cold and then refused to go back out for the rest of the weekend. Camilla was a trooper, though, and enjoyed lots of time on the slopes with her grandpa, skiing with such abandon that she created a number of “thank goodness for helmets” moments for her parents. Blaise and I finished the month with a trip to DC to visit his godparents and our godson. He was so calm during the trip! I guess one-on-one time with parents is soothing for kids. Either that or he’s incredibly mollified by riding on airplanes.
During February, Bryan timed a week-long business trip perfectly: just before he left, Linus and Ambrose came down with pneumonia. Nothing a round of antibiotics couldn't fix, but the few days I spent trapped on the couch under the pair of two-year-olds made me super glad we'd done their tonsillectomy the year before and caused illness to be a rare thing. Thankfully, my mom showed up to help and we powered through.
In March, Bryan spent most of a week in Vail, Colorado, with his dad. An avid skier, he looks forward to this visit to the Rockies all year. He came home happy and rejuvenated, which he deserves very much considering how hard he works the rest of the time.
When April came, the world finally started to thaw and I think the general mood in our house lifted several notches with the degrees on the thermometer. Forty degrees felt balmy, and I was relieved to be able to let the kids play outside. That month was a big one for Camilla: at the beginning, she made her first reconciliation, and on Easter she received her first communion. It was a joyous occasion for our girl. It feels like just moments since she was a four-week-old getting baptized, so this was surreal, but lovely. Camilla was beaming on the day, and is thrilled to be able to receive communion at her school's daily Mass now.
At the beginning of May we had another joyous occasion: my sister Tirienne got married. I was a bridesmaid, Camilla a flower girl, and Ambrose and Linus ringbearers, although only one of them made it down the aisle. So much for a matched pair! Linus made up for bailing on his ringbearer duties by trying to escape and reach the bride (he adores Aunt Tirienne) during the wedding. Fortunately we headed him off.
I rounded out May with a weekend trip to meet up with friends in Atlanta. After struggling through our twins' infanthood, I feel lucky to be able to make these little escapes; I come back a happier and calmer version of myself and everyone's life is better.
June brought the end of the school year - an exciting time for children - followed quickly by Camilla's first ballet recital. She’s been enjoying her ballet lessons hugely, and we loved seeing her on stage for the first time. Hopefully it was just the first of many!
At the beginning of July, we ventured up north for a week in Harbor Springs with friends. Our kids are a great age for outings, and they loved the Independence Day fireworks.
During the summer, we survived a couple longish business trips for Bryan, and I flew away to a Catholic women's social conference for a rejuvenating weekend at the end of July.
As a whole, the summer was lovely: not too hot and not too full, the perfect balance of planned activities, trips to the park, and my sending the kids outside with popsicles and an order not to bother me unless someone was bleeding. Having exhausted grubby children at the end of a summer day signals victory to me, and I hope someday they remember these leisurely times with fondness.
At the end of August, Camilla was ready for third grade and Blaise excited for kindergarten. They transitioned happily into the school year. Camilla complains that homework cuts into her free time, but is in love with her brand-new teacher. And Blaise enjoys school more than any kid I've ever seen, asking every weekend how many days until he gets to go back. Ambrose and Linus, stuck with their mother all day, are less thrilled, and are usually asking by 9am when we get to go pick up their older siblings. But luckily they have each other for company, and they've settled into the new routine.
In September I got to spend a long weekend in Chicago with dear friends, and Bryan got another week-long business trip, aka "workation," along with a trip with Camilla to visit my sister in Minnesota. My brother in Alaska welcomed a new daughter that month, whom we look forward to meeting when she’s older.
In October, we took multiple trips to the apple orchard (mmmm, donuts) and made and devoured many batches of apple crisp and applesauce. Halloween/All Saints’ Day brought excitement and treats, along with the resultant much-anticipated sugar highs.
My Minnesota sister livened up early November by delivering her first baby, and later in the month I went to visit her and her tiny boy. Just after I returned, we celebrated Thanksgiving in Port Huron with our families, and enjoyed time with relatives we hadn’t seen in a while.
December, as usual, promises to be a hectic and celebration-filled month, and we are excited for Christmas at home with kids who are the perfect age to get the most out of the magical holiday.
Camilla turned eight in October. She is a bookworm like her mother (this year’s favorites: the Babymouse series and everything by Beverly Cleary) but also loves to do crafts and write stories. As a girl with three younger brothers would, she has an impressive ability to concentrate amid chaos. She is sensitive and kind, likes puns and dark chocolate, and looks forward to playdates with friends and her weekly ballet class.
Blaise will be six in January. When he’s not at school, he spends his time directing his younger brothers’ games, and they’re happy to follow his lead. He’s fascinated by mechanics and numbers, and often asks us to give him a “word problem:” math to solve on the go. He’s very physical, with a quick temper, but mostly agreeable and generous, and happiest when he’s playing outside.
Linus and Ambrose turned three in May. Three-year-olds are such a mixture of adorable and volatile, and our twins are no exception. It’s a good thing we’ve survived two previous three-year-olds so we know this stage ends! But in the meantime, we’re alternately sighing with frustration and laughing ‘til we ache.
Linus is our organizer and idea guy. He is serious and determined (some people might say “stubborn”). His straight face makes it even funnier when he breaks out one of the jokes he cracks regularly. (You’re probably shocked to learn that many of them involve potty humor.) Linus works hard, but only on things he wants to do, and enjoys eating, roaring like a dinosaur, and running everywhere, including indoors.
Ambrose is our mellow, more cuddly twin, but that doesn’t mean he can’t commit to a tantrum, because he certainly can and does. He amuses us with his malapropisms and spoonerisms (he recently asked me to read him a “Tog and Froad” book) but has broken ground as the first of our four kids to be willing to tell his name to adults who ask. He also enjoys eating, making long lines of toy cars and trains, and asking constantly to take trips to the library. (Linus, wherever we take him, always asks immediately to go home.)
I hope that your home has been filled with joy this year, and I pray that 2015 brings whatever you are wishing for. From all of us: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!