Lots of sameness, too. We still love each other very much, look for ways to become increasingly involved in our community, desire for personal and spiritual growth at every turn, work hard to keep our bodies young, attempt to teach our offspring what it means to be good people, struggle to get laundry folded and in drawers, and are very, very, very tired. :)
Our seven year old 1st grader has shifted to a more introverted soul. Although he absolutely enjoys play dates and the social side of life, the all-day school schedule leaves him hungering for time in his room and in our home enjoying art projects and quiet make-believing during free time. He still surprises us with the other-world-ness of his depth, sensitivity, empathy, and self-knowledge at such a young age, making comments such as "I just wish I could dive into love and stay there awhile" or, after a frightening trip down a tubing hill, "Well, now I know what to expect: fear. I think I"ll pass on the next run." CHALLENGE: Teaching Jackson how to manage and healthily direct his emotions.
Our five year old kindergartener had a LOT of growing up to do over the summer. In Ohio, we had planned to have him hang back an additional year in his safe, cozy, tight-knit special education preschool class come this past Fall. When we moved to Colorado, the options changed, and he had to get his backpack packed for full-day big boy kindergarten! Sullivan LOVES it. His language development (speech has always been his challenge) continues to grow and his new claim to fame is discovering his funny side (according to teachers) and discovering success with it with the ladies (father's child much???) :) What we love about Sullivan is that he wants to do everything fully and well (read: attention to detail) and that he generally is up for anything. CHALLENGE: Teaching Sullivan that aggravating Anderson puts him on the naughty list and that his own self-created rules and legalisms are not ones that EVERYONE is required to follow.
Our two year old "play schooler" is a mess. A complete and total mess. His smile is as large as life and his scream is as large as life. He is fun, demanding, playful, destructive, affectionate, aggressive, loving, and disobedient. The umbrella quality for all moods is a very, very HIGH ENERGY disposition. We simply do not understand; aren't subsequent kids supposed to adopt a mellow and easy-going spirit? Example: He repeatedly screams 'READY TO GO' in the car at every single intersection where the stoplight has the nerve to be red. Because of said Anderson-ness (coupled with a pregnant mamma), we decided - for the first time - to send a child to school at the early age of 2. He goes twice a week to a local church's little school and thrives. Anderson loves his family and wants to constantly be included and engaged in anything and everything mom, dad, or brother Arthurs are doing and does so non-silently. We love him. Challenge: Teaching Anderson patience and that he is not the center of the universe (baby-is-going-to-rock-his-world).
Campbell Joy: Everyone suggests that this baby girl is going to be spoiled. I refused the possibility until we were selecting trinkets to bring back to our kids while on a trip away. We found appropriate little gifts for each boy under $5. BUT THEN THERE WAS THIS LITTLE BABY GIRL DRESS for $20. Let it begin. :) Thus far, she is active in my belly and seemingly already puts up with her brother's roughness: she appears un-harmed by accidental jabs and kicks and jumps thrusted upon her temporary home, natural consequences of parenting three boys. We are all extremely excited and extremely scared about her arrival in March. Will we make it? Challenge: Teaching Campbell to let her mother sleep in a comfortable position.
Scott: Scott is thrilled to have been offered the position as Vice Chancellor of Advancement at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus and thrilled to be surviving it. :) The learning curve has been insanely steep and his involvement in big decisions, big problem-solving, and big ideas has kept that hungering mind of his very, very fed. Scott continues to run, often found with his little miner light and leggings on in the wee hours of the morning, fending off coyotes (no joke - he saw one once!). He is grateful for a 10 year anniversary trip to Cancun, Mexico, sans kids, with his wife in November where long, uninterrupted conversations transpired on beach walks and the biggest decision of his day was which all-inclusive restaurant to hit up that night. He/we soaked up every moment, because the next opportunity for a couple-only trip will be just about right around never. Challenge: Squeezing it all in: making family, work, and personal wellness ALL priorities.
Tricia: Tricia has handled the move, house-renovation, pregnancy, and social transition quite well, if she does say so herself. :) Truly, I want to share that my relationship with God and the surrender of ALL THINGS (control, worry, fear, plans, emotions) to Him has been the explanation for any moments of sanity or peace. As always, I remain fascinated by faith. And the growth opportunities this year have abounded in that department. The neighborhood we (read: our realtor) selected for us (Sundance Hills) is an extraordinary fit with friendliness abounding from our neighbors and new friends. The elementary school, pool, and playground are each a walk away and invites to a new book club and mommy-only-play-dates are among the things I am thankful for here in our new digs. Challenge: Re-incorporating exercise into non-pregnant life and providing a healthy slice of parent attention to each kiddo. Spring shall be interesting!
And, finally, it should seem clear that we have developed a habit of making and breaking traditions (I announced two years ago that our holiday letter delivery would shift to Groundhogs Day annually, then missed last Feb -- I announced last year that our gift-giving would come in the form of "Top New THREE THINGS/products" our family came to love over the previous year and then tossed that one out the window). Therefore, I will not promise any follow-up. But, this year, I'd like to toss out a few of our family favorites... may give you insights into our daily lives:
Recipe: Honey Lime Enchiladas
Humor-maker: Emily McDowell's cards, sayings, and prints (thanks for introducing, Marie!)... if you ask me, EVERYONE ought to have the following posted somewhere (not for young eyes):
Music: "Multiplied" by NEEDTOBREATHE, "Magic" by Coldplay, and "I'm Not The Only One" by Sam Smith... for the record, we are still obsessed with SPOTIFY (give it a month free if curious).
Kid chapter book: The Secret Zoo by Brian Chick... Jackson was fascinated by first book in series... on second now!
Novels: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.
Toys/Games: Rush Hour
and Story Cubes
Fast dinner: Still Chipotle and Papa Murphys
TV Shows: Still stuck on both Grey's Anatomy (I know - we are loyal) and Parenthood (last season this yr! go back and start from the beginning if you are new to it). Recently, we can't get enough of "Big Bang" and will plunge into "Downton Abbey" in January.
Much, much joy from Colorado... As always, we are grateful for our loved ones and your continuous support of us and this Arthur Adventure we are on. No matter what state (as in the U.S. kind AND as in the emotional kind) we find ourselves in, our dear friends are always in our hearts.
Scott, Tricia, Jackson, Sullivan, Anderson, and Campbell Joy Arthur