It’s that time of year again! Christmas cards have been sent and now I’m sitting here (possibly procrastinating a work project) thinking, man I should have written a Christmas letter! Our little family really isn’t so little anymore. We seem to always be busy and running. 2016 was filled with extreme highs, some lows (like losing power for 5 days over the last week!), as well as adventure for our family of five and looking back, it was most definitely one of our best yet.
Big picture-wise, a lot happened in 2016. In January we welcomed our first nephew on my side of the family! George stole my heart the minute I first held him. He’s growing and changing so much – I just wish I was able to make it up to Portland to see them more often. Then in May we welcomed twin nieces! Unfortunately they were born scary-early and spent a lot of time in NICU but now they’re home and healthy and growing more every day.
We had a lot of fun summer adventures that included our first camping trip as a family of 5! The kids had a great time… Andy and I needed a weekend from our weekend haha! It was so nice to get back out in the woods. We hadn’t been camping since Reese was a baby. We hiked 6 or so miles at Silver Falls with some friends. We road-tripped to Cheyenne, Wyoming in August and met up with some friends that live in Michigan – Cheyenne was the midpoint for both of us. It was a quick trip, but the kids did so great and it was so great visiting with our friends. We’ve already started planning our trip for next summer! We ended the summer with a long weekend at the Oregon Coast.
Rylee turned 8 in May and started the third grade this school year. She continues to be involved with sports adding basketball and now even volleyball to the list. Between those, soccer and softball she’s playing some sport throughout the school year. Rylee works really hard at her school work and it really shows. Her teacher this year is really pushing her in all subjects and it’s so fun to watch her face new challenges head on. Her ability to understand math concepts blows my mind, and honestly intimidates me just a smidge. She will be better than me at math in no time. She also loves to read and devours books. Right now, she is reading 4 different books in preparation to compete in OBOB (Oregon Battle of the Books). Most recently she was invited, as one of seven 3rd graders and only 14 kids in the whole school, to represent her school on a team for a national STEM competition called Destination Imagination. I am still learning what all that entails, but she is very excited about all she has on her plate right now. Outside of sports and academics, Rylee enjoys helping Andy build things/complete projects around the house and property. She is an amazing big sister and has such a big heart.
Reese turned 4 in July. This girl likes to live out loud. Emphasis on the loud. Ha! She is full of spunk and always has a twinkle in her eye. She’s in the Pre-K class at her daycare/pre school and it’s very fun to see her put together letters and sounds and begin writing. The other night Rylee was teaching her basic addition – go figure. Reese has essentially spent her whole life watching her sister play organized sports and between Tball last spring and soccer in the fall, it’s clear that she cannot wait to get out on the field! She will be playing soccer when she starts kindergarten next fall and she is so excited about that idea. I often joke that if there’s a fight in our house, Reese is in the middle of it. Her and Lincoln get along great 99% of the time. Rylee and her however, well, there’s just something about sisters, I suppose because I remember doing the same things to my sisters. In general, Reese is very independent and strong-willed and will do things in her own time and feel her own feelings and most definitely does not care for her big sister telling her otherwise. She loves to play “home” and cart her baby dolls around the house. She is obsessed with all things baby mainly because of all of her new cousins! She loves to hold them and tells me “I am their best cousin, Mom.” … it doesn’t matter which cousin she is referring to. She has even named one of her babies Éliane, after one of her cousins.
Lincoln turned 2 this year. If you’re around him for more than 5 minutes, his shyness will wear off and you’ll hear him talking a lot. It’s fun to hear him stringing sentences together and it’s downright funny hearing him reprimand his sisters… “Calm down, Rylee!” “Reese! Be quiet, Reese!” No idea where he hears those phrases! He is running all over the place – mostly chasing after his sisters. He also loves having sword fights, pretending to vacuum (with those same swords), or building/fixing things “like Daddy” with his toy tools. We offically had our very first trip to urgent care for an injury thanks to him. He jumped off the bottom step at my sister’s house and slipped on the hardwood floors. We thought he bit clear through his bottom lip. Turns out he didn’t and other than a fat lip, he was completely fine. FUN TIMES! He also loves trains and helping Andy build fires in the wood stove. He’s most happy when his sisters are including him with their play and will happily play the pretend husband or “babe” and carry around the baby dolls. Lincoln has a great relationship with both of the girls.
Andy started his 13th year of teaching in September. His schedule this year includes P.E., shop, and construction math. He has worked really hard on building a shop program out there and has made some fantastic industry partners in the community. He is also team teaching a STEM class and has his “head teacher” position helping with transcripts, counseling, and basically running everything behind the scenes. New kid shows up? Mr. Rice can help. Kid can’t get into his locker? Mr. Rice can help. A parent needs a grade report status for another class? Email Mr. Rice, he can help. Anyone know how to set up the PA system in the gym? Mr. Rice can help. Kid needs a bandaid? You guessed it… Mr. Rice can help. He has even been voted by the senior class two years in a row to give the commencement speech at graduation. Because, why not? He truly loves what he does. While his work keeps him plenty busy with long hours, he has managed to help coach Rylee’s T-ball team last spring and it sounds like he will be helping with basketball next month too. Outside of all that, it seems like he’s always scheming, planning, or executing a major project around the property and the latest one is a home office for me. We are converting part of the garage into an office/guest room. No no, we will not be getting rid of Andy’s beloved Cruiser. There will most definitely still be room in the garage for that! One of these days, maybe his priority will shift to something for himelf and he will get those brakes replaced and install a steering conversion kit like he’s wanted to for the last 4-5 years. Maybe.
In February I left my job at the IT training company to take a position at a tech company based out of Portland. Working from home offered a lot of flexibility with family stuff and traveling to Portland once a week for work meant seeing my sister and nephew on a regular basis and that was amazing. But after not quite 3 months with that company – basically out of the blue and thanks to facebook – I was offered a position as Director of Marketing for a hunting company. The company is based in Texas so I continue to work from home. DREAM JOB STATS: Achievement UNLOCKED I am so, so happy to be back in an industry I love. It’s been fun reconnecting with old colleagues. I have traveled to Texas a few times since I started in June and even had the chance to hunt whitetail in South Texas. 2017 kicks off with quite a bit of travel for me… I will be in Dallas, Vegas, and Harrisburg, PA for shows in the first 6 weeks alone. I am looking forward to sticking with this company for a long, long while with many more adventures. Hopefully a caribou hunt will be on the docket in coming years! Aside from work, I continue to really enjoy cooking and have also taken a liking to running. I certainly wouldn’t call myself a runner, but Julia (my best friend of 32 years) convinced me to run a 5K race with her back in May and we’ve done two others since then! Most recently was a holiday run on her birthday where we both took 3rd place for our age divisions! Next year we’re going to bump it up to a 10k!
Andy and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary in August. Last March marked 10 years living on our property. We have three amazing, healthy kiddos. It’s hard not to look at this life we’ve built and smile. We are looking forward many more adventures in 2017!
Now looking back at this letter, I realize why I could never write one to include with a Christmas card… I may as well bind and publish this bad boy as a short novel! If you made it all the way to the end, BLESS IT! Gold star for you. xoxo
*Photos by Elizabeth Crow Media