Excerpts from 2007 Annual Christmas Letter:
Once again, the wonderful holiday season is upon us. A time for gifts, giving, and of course, Christmas newsletters. Ours is a special milestone this year as it represents the 10th annual Christmas letter! When you are done celebrating, you can read on to our year in review.
January marked the beginning of my second trimester of pregnancy. Unlike with Jack, I had very little morning sickness and briefly (wrongly) considered that we might be having a girl. What I did not consider is that not feeling sick would eventually lead to triple the weight gain of my first pregnancy, but more on that later.
Speaking of Jack, he began the year as a freshly minted three-years-old, but still much a toddler, until one day he and Brian left to run errands. Jack breezed back in several hours later, excitedly telling me about his adventures with his father, using far more sophisticated language, attention to detail, and imagery than I ever realized he possessed. I stared at him unable to process the change as he chattered away. Just like that, he was a little boy.
Jack still loves garage doors and elevators but has really mixed things up this year by adding gates, signs and automatic doors to his obsessions. Getting around the house can be a little tricky since everything from a shoelace to a broken measuring stick becomes a “gate” and Jack prefers we punch in our access code to open the gate before letting us by.
In February, I was promoted to xxx, at xxx, where I remain on my flexible 4-days a week schedule. In addition to my regular job, xxx also had me xxx for an international industry consortium. And you know how various world cultures love to merge into one perceived-American-driven standard! Like butter on hot toast! Also, because I appeared to be some sort of job-magnet, Disney contacted me and asked me to be a writer on their new website, Family.com. I really am not sure how it happened, but one of their producers came across my writing and made me an offer, which I almost turned down because writing artistes like me really don’t like deadlines. Ultimately I accepted, writing an hour or two every weekend, because having an actual editor was too cool to forego. So this just goes to show, Christmas letters will usually lead to great fame.
As for Brian, he continued his work as an xxx at xxx, which he really enjoys, or finds really stressful, depending on the hour. His colleagues have great senses of humor and Brian has become well-known at the company as his quiet conversational tone really compliments his speakerphone habit. At home, Brian is still perfecting his dishwasher loading methodology, and we aren’t committing, but think that by the end of next year he may have found a way to engineer an extra fork into the configuration. Brian insists he still loves me but has banned me from executing the loading sequence.
In April, Jack entered the “asking why” phase. And although I always vowed I would not brush off my children when they asked why, and would instead give complete and scientifically correct answers, I was not fully aware of the incessant and circular nature of said questions and within 24 hours I was responding to everything with “Because I said so.”
By May, I was into the final months of pregnancy and was large enough that we feared I might throw the Earth off it’s rotational axis. The early “glow” dissipated into general irritability and Brian decided this was an excellent time to begin exercising several hours a day, suddenly inspired to start competing in triathlons. He finished his first triathlon three days before I had the baby, finishing in just over three hours.
In June I was able to hand off my international job and also wrap up writing for Disney. The timing worked out perfectly because a few days later I got another new job at home- a mother of two!
On June 27th we welcomed our second beautiful son, Alec Orion, to the world. Alec is the personification of joy. With dark curly hair and a soulful, twinkling gaze, he spends his days laughing, cooing and smiling at whoever happens to look in his direction. My Dad insists that he can feel Alec watching him even when he is in his bouncy seat facing the other direction (Alec, not my Dad), just waiting to catch his eye and smile. The name Orion means “light of Heaven” and he certainly has been.
To show his humility by not being perfect, Alec is not such a great sleeper and rarely naps. Like his brother, Alec is a big boy. He weighed in at 18+lbs at eight weeks and was wearing 24-month sized clothing by the time he was four months old. While we are charmed by the boys’ resemblance to Brian in this respect, carrying our infant is not entirely dissimilar to toting around a cement block, albeit one with a good personality. This can be a challenge when chasing after Jack, or really, doing anything.
Jack, who was not particularly interested in obtaining a sibling, has done pretty well with the competition. We suspect he is occasionally envious of the attention the baby gets because we are very astute parents and also because he says, “I’m jealous. Put the baby down and hug my belly.” While Jack declines to hold the baby, he has not been totally immune to his charms and is relishing his power to make Alec, who adores Jack, laugh. In fact, Jack recently announced that he would like “100 baby brothers” (though I suspect it has more than a little to do with him getting additional access to the automatic revolving doors at the hospital). I told Jack unfortunately his chances for that many siblings are pretty low.
I’ve found that going from one to two children is similar to going from zero to one. It occurs to me that we had a lot more time before, but with the added work are added rewards. We are also extremely lucky to have the help of our wonderful live-in nanny, who we couldn’t survive without. I’ve noted that with the second child we are pretty much over the practice of sterilizing dropped toys, or cutting cheerios in half to prevent choking. I smile when I think that I still had the baby monitor in Jack’s room before Alec arrived. These days, I’m a lot more likely to install soundproofing in their bedrooms and issue stern warnings about what’s going to happen to the next kid that wakes mommy up.
The rest of the Summer was spent with me trying to recover from the delivery by caesarean. A virulent infection led to other complications that I am still dealing with- all around not my best time physically. However, Alec was born safely and without complications so I am grateful.
On to a busy September! Brian competed in his second triathlon, finishing in less than three hours. He is currently training for 2008 races and is a constant reminder of how I am not a triathlete despite walking over 200 miles in loops around our neighborhood to drop the baby weight (as any of you with a phone know since I pass the time by making calls). Brian and I also celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary (15 years together!) in September. Brian surprised me with a romantic evening out in a limo and a 10-year marriage blessing at xxx. It’s been a wonderful life together and we are very thankful.
Jack also started preschool in September. I was worried about the transition, and although he had a slight adjustment to make when he realized he wouldn’t be actually running the school, he has since thrived and loves it. His preschool is in a charming old fashioned schoolhouse on a historic working farm, so they visit the animals often and have lots of fun. I love picking him up and hearing about his day, especially discovering what his three-year-old mind perceives as a highlight. Jack is very bright and is able to do simple reading, spelling and math. He is very strong in spatial temporal reasoning, which he obviously didn’t inherit from me. He also loves Spanish, so we are now all bilingual, as long as the word is related to something that might appear in a Dora episode.
Of course fun isn’t the only thing that Jack gets at school- he has also become our personal link to the greater community of preschool maladies and, as I write this with a sore throat after getting a goodnight kiss from Jack, it occurs to me I should really start teaching him to wave (“Wave night, night to mommy, baby!”) Just until preschoolers decide to be more fastidious. As for size, Jack hasn’t gained much weight this year, attributed to the fact that he subsisted largely on highly diluted apple juice until we figured out so much water was affecting his appetite. In spite of his parents being a bit clueless, Jack has still managed to grow upwards. I’m not sure of his exact height but you look at the closest 4-year-old and tack on an extra head, that’s about how tall he is.
In October and November we settled into our routine as a family of four, with my returning to work and all of us sleeping a little less than we’d like to, for now. And while this year has brought us great gifts, we have also lost family and friends, some of whom are not a lot older than us. This poignant reminder of how precious and short life is has reinforced our deep sense of gratitude for all that makes life beautiful, including our many wonderful family and friends. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we’ve come to see we have everything we ever truly desired, and it’s been ours all along.
All of which brings us to today. Jack is on the cusp of turning four, at which point he swears he will begin eating vegetables and Alec a happy and round five month old with a single little tooth he isn’t afraid to use. Christmas is a time for miracles and we hope you all have yours. As always, we wish you great peace, love & light in the New Year.