Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Mother Lode (a.k.a. our Christmas letter)

Welcome to our annual family Christmas letter. Or, I forgot that we usually send out some sort of Christmas letter until a few days ago, and rather than write one, print it out, fold them up, and so on and so on, I decided to go electronic this year!

So let's start with a memory of how the year started:

And yes, that is the best sweatshirt ever. I kept it for my next pregnancy (full disclosure, I'm wearing a fuzzy red maternity sweater right now because its so soft I can't resist it).

Back in January, I had my first days life...working only one job. It was oddly enjoyable! I'm a very focused person, always trying to be productive and accomplish projects. The end of my second trimester was a good time to start having some free time, so it worked out!

In January, Tim and I went on our second cruise to the Caribbean, making stops in St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau. It was a fun trip of transitioning between entire days of lounging on the boat, eating dessert and reading, to walking miles and miles to sight see in at each stop. It was a much-needed vacation to decompress after two years straight of working 60 hours/week, though.

Coming back, I stepped into a role at my job as both an executive assistant and a communications specialist. I spent the next three months learning how to code a website, which was much more interesting than I originally thought it would be. It was like a math problem, I just had to find the right answer to make the website function right!

And then, the most adventurous part of our lives began at about 6 a.m. April 29: I had my first contraction around the time that Tim's alarm went off. 12 hours later, during which time I threw up grape juice, swore like a sailor (pre-epidural), took a nap (!) at 8 centimeters thanks to drugs, almost had to have a C-section because the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby's neck three times, aaaaaaand then Levi arrived. My mom made it for the last ten or so minutes of the delivery, and then we all had to wait until I was steady enough after blood loss (only two or so hours) to get down the hall to recovery.

And then our lives were topsy-turvy in the best way :) Family descended for the first week or so after Levi was born, and I had another seven weeks after that home from work. I valiantly tried to get up in the mornings before 9 a.m., but after Levi ate around 5:30 I was never motivated to get up again before his next meal. Tim managed to sleep pretty well most nights, other than waking up once or twice when Levi freaked out about getting a diaper changed (note to self: you don't have to change their diapers every three hours around the clock; if they fell asleep after eating enough and it's only been a couple of hours, let them go back to sleep!)

We spent a lot of time outside those first few weeks, sitting on the porch swing and just rocking, lounging on a blanket in the back yard, and going for a walk every day with Levi in my Mobi wrap

Time went on - I went back to work part time for a few weeks, working "from home" - or rather, at a cafe with my laptop while a friend watched Levi at home every morning. At 11 weeks old, Levi transitioned to full-time daycare downtown. Tim and I love the daycare, from the mix of kids who are there because of its downtown location to the director to the teachers to the big room for infants. I drop Levi off every morning around 7:45, and Tim picks him up around 4 p.m (he works a bit earlier so he can pick Levi up then).

Two weeks after going back to work, I started a new job! After four years of free-lance writing for any publication that would have me, the local (and rather prestigious, if I may brag a bit) business journal had a position open for their news reporter covering Lancaster County.  I wasn't really job-hunting while on maternity leave, focusing more on things like sleeping and showering and diapering, but a friend in the industry tipped me off and within a few days I was hired, which was really exciting. I'd been looking for something at least more focused in writing (PR, marketing coordinator, copy writer) for quite some time, but any interviews I went on either didn't materialize into an offer or just didn't feel right if they did.

However, I forgot that when you start a new job the learning curve can be intense, even if it's something you're pretty familiar with. Going from free-lance to leaning all the processes, subjects and style of the business journal has been a bit intense, but almost five months in I finally feel like I'm getting the hang of it. I have my own office with a couple of other people about 15 minutes from our house, and commute into Harrisburg once, sometimes twice, each week to be at meetings or just be present in the home-base office there.

I feel like I'm leaving Tim out of the mix a bit here. This has been much more a year of change for me than it has been for him, somewhat of a welcome switch for both of us I think :) He's still with the small construction and renovations company he started with about a year and a half ago. It's grown significantly from the six or so employees then to more than 15 now, doubling its revenue in 2011 and having the best year ever on the books. Tim spends his time estimating the costs of potential jobs, working on marketing and some strategic planning for the business. The atmosphere is one that he can grow in, and the leadership are strong Christian men who are very particular about how they conduct their business, which has been a blessing.

In our family, Tim has gone way beyond and held up a lot of moving parts. He continues to cook delicious meals for us (when he's not home I eat easy mac or cereal. true story), out doing himself with new flavors and invented recipes regularly. I think he should start a food blog - though we've learned as parents that hobbies aren't always an option!

He still spends time with the same group of boys at church he's been with for four years now - since second grade. They're in fifth grade now, and love to wrestle, play dodge ball and eat!

I should mention that our one and only home improvement project this year, aside from finishing the nursery in February, has been to build a shed in our backyard. And by "we," I clearly don't mean me. There was a cookie-cutter shed, 8x10 and about four feet tall in our backyard when we moved in. It caved in during our second year here in the heavy snows of that winter. We priced out the project, and decided we could build a bigger, better shed ourselves if we were crafty about it.

Well, from finds including a huge Anderson window for $20, some quality shed paint from Sherman-Williams half-off and some shingles at a local auction for dirt cheap. Our shed came together. Though the interior is still 8x10, we added an overhang for firewood (dry firewood makes such a difference!!) and made it a little taller. "Taller" as in about 14 feet tall. As in it almost makes our three-story house look small....

We had a string of bad luck including my car getting hit by a deer (in Tioga County, Pa., where there are more deer than people), Tim's cell phone, our video camera and my wallet being stolen, and lastly, right before Thanksgiving, and attempted burglary at our house. In the first situation, we were stranded up in Nowheresville, PA for about a day, had to pay for part of our rental car charges for three weeks and then had to drive the 7 hours (up and back) to retrieve my car and return the rental. In the second instance, my wallet was found but we had to replace the cell phone and will eventually have to replace the video camera. In the last instance, a marvelous neighbor saw someone snooping around and called the police, who were able to catch the guy. We had one pane of our two-pane back door broken, but other than that all is fine, thank goodness.

Since Thanksgiving we've put up Levi's first Christmas tree, a blue spruce that he likes to touch even though it's prickly. He can't move yet, so it's not in danger of being knocked over yet. He loves chewing on Christmas cards though, so feel free to send some our way!

We wish you all a blessed and merry Christmas!


Holly, Tim and Levi

P.S. If you're looking for more detail about our little cuddle-monger, check out the rest of the blog :)