Dearest Friends & Family,
As I sit here in front of our cozy wood stove fire, my heart is full. The Christmas tree is aglow with twinkling white lights, ornaments hung helter-skelter in odd clumps on the branches, and the plastic nativity set is scattered around its base. Our littlest beauty, Grace, is sound asleep in her crib while the eldest three have made camp at the base of the boys’ bunk bed, surrounded by fortifications constructed of foam chairs, pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals galore. A few creaking floorboards and three excited little voices coming from two piles of blue, and one of pink can be heard in the living room of our little farmhouse as they chatter and giggle about enemies and spies. Yes, such is a picture of our life right now, and what a beautiful life it is. If any sentiment resonates with me this year, it is that of thankfulness.
“KB”, our Caleb (age 7), finished his first year of school – Kindergarten, and embarked upon his second – First Grade. Though he changed schools between the two, he has done well at both, in fact, having recently won the first grade spelling bee! It has been fun watching him go from forming words to fluency in reading over the past year and observing him put together various pieces of logic and math from daily life. However, all of his stuffed animals are still of utmost importance to him, and though he has begun to be a little more self-conscious to his outward responses publicly, he still loves to watch Veggie Tales and the like in the privacy of his own living room, laughing and giggling throughout. Most importantly, he desperately wants us to snuggle with him and tell stories each night…..something neither Jason nor I are eager to give up anytime soon. He is our tenderhearted boy with a tough outer shell and requires much patience from his parents! But strong is his heart, and if we all stay the course, he will be a fine man someday.
“Emet, my Emet” (age 5), is a thoughtful and helpful little soul. He continues to grow in mind and stature and is frequently mistaken for Caleb’s twin….A large boy he is! He has flourished in “Friday School Kindergarten”, our home school Co-op. He loves the classroom time, and a chance to pack his lunchbox and carry a backpack. He is working hard on his letters and numbers, putting together words and writing birthday letters to his stuffed animals. There are a few words he still mispronounces, and we might be a tad guilty of not correcting him, in holding on to our little boy, but by and large, he is growing out of the preschool years and preparing to move into the world of Kindergarten. Emet is also our budding chef, and not only loves to help in the kitchen, but also loves creating recipes of his own…and to his credit, he comes up with some pretty incredible combinations! He has a true talent!
“Ru Bear”, our Anna Ruth (age 3), is a passionate and fiery one. She can be as sweet as sugar, full of laughter and giggles, or as stormy as the deep blue sea. She definitely can hold her own against her older brothers, who do give her quite the run for her money. She is the apple of her Papa’s eye and spends most of the time he is home by his side or on his lap. Her vocabulary has increased from simple sentences pieced together at the beginning of the year to a full vocabulary of ramblings, missing “R” and “Th” and “V”s which are replaced by “W” and “F”s. “Whew Awe We Gowing?”….”NO NOT!”….and “I Luf you” are things we hear frequently from our little Ru Bear, in addition to her sing song little voice chatting away to her dollies and friends. She can frequently be seen toting around two or more dollies and loves to rock them and put them to bed.
Our Gracie, (age 1), is a true joy. Our entire family is delighted daily by her winning smile, adorable dimples, twinkling, bright eyes and happy countenance. She holds her own to be sure, not allowing herself to be left behind in any situation. But, for the most part, she is full of laughter, and increasingly, silly antics. Knowing she is our last, it has been both a joy and a sadness to see these stages pass for the last time in our family. However, we are looking forward with great anticipation at the new adventures we have before us.
As for Jason and I, life remains full. Jason spends many hours at Columbia West Engineering, his workplace of nearly 10 years, and we took the big step of becoming partners this year. I have been working hard at being Mama to my four little ones, and in my spare time, (which is very spare indeed!), I have been trying to write more in my blog and have started a kitchen blog and Facebook page, Mama Ann’s Kitchen, to capture some of the fun my kiddos and I have in the kitchen and demo the Demarle Flexipan product I have long used and now distribute (our Disneyland fund). :-)
We are blessed beyond measure by a large group of dear friends and family to share our lives with. I can’t even count the number of times a need has been met, or babysitting provided for an appointment or a much needed date night. However, more often that not, we all find ourselves gathered together as families spending time together…..which may include 15-20 children and 12 or so adults. The memories we are making are full of laughter, noise, and a good share of small arguments over various “mishaps”. Negotiation and teamwork skills are already in full swing. Because of both our life stage with little ones and a life of friends and fellowship, our house isn’t always as tidy or spotless as I would hope…..nor is the car vacuumed or the laundry complete. But life is full, and life is good. I truly wouldn’t change a thing.
Friends, if you’re reading this letter, you have been a part of my life in some capacity over time. Times change, and things rearrange, but a friend will never lose their spot in my heart. May God bless each of you in this rich season of the celebration of His Son’s birth. May you enjoy and treasure each moment spent with family and friends, storing the memories away in your heart for a rainy day and preparing the way for new and lasting traditions.
Ann, for the family
Jason: (360) 909 0892, Jason@columbiawestengineering.com;
Ann: (206) 290 7359, firstname.lastname@example.org, GourmetToGerber.Blogspot.com, MamaAnnsKitchen.Blogspot.com