Our family has had a great year of new experiences and wonderful blessings!
Alexis and Annabelle will be 6 in January. They started Kindergarten this year at Trinity Christian School. The girls LOVE it and are learning so much! Their teachers are a true blessing and I am so grateful to have them in such an awesome school. I’m still getting used to keeping track of all the activities and fundraisers and volunteering stuff, but it’s great to know what’s going on at school and to have the opportunity to be involved. My iPhone calendar is getting a work-out like never before!
The girls are enjoying some extracurricular activities as well. They are involved in Kids Theater at church and performed in the Christmas play this year. They take an after school art class once a week and they will be starting gymnastics in February. They keep telling me they want to take ice skating lessons too, so I think that will probably happen as well since I could take lessons with them! (Think I’m too old to learn to do a single toe-loop?)
The girls love playing with their cousins Lissa (8) and Steven (4) and making up games with each other. They all have amazing imaginations and can keep each other entertained almost indefinitely. They especially love playing at my parents’ house together. My dad just recently installed a zipline in his backyard (which he has tested extensively himself…you know…to make sure the kids are safe.) He’s also made them a hover-craft. He pretty much has this grandfather thing down pat and I’m pretty sure he will continue to be a big kid for forever. My mom continues to amaze me with her ability to work, keep a beautiful house, entertain four grandchildren at the same time, and always look beautiful. A friend recently told me that she assumed my mom was about 10 years younger than she actually is. I tend to agree and cross my fingers I inherit my parents’ knack for graceful aging. My family is enjoying our Spring Valley “communal living” arrangement. My sister lives 7 houses down from me on the same street, and my parents and my grandma live just minutes away. I can actually walk to my parents’ house through the canyon in about 15 minutes. It’s wonderful being close to family and I am so grateful that we’re all planning to stay put for a good long while.
In other news, Jeff and I recently hired a personal trainer to help get us in shape. The best part is, she accepts payment in dog food and snuggling. Ruby is an 8-month old Vizsla. If you’ve never heard of a vizsla, that’s not surprising. They aren’t super common. We got her back in June when she was 7 weeks old. Boy was she a cute puppy!!! We did a bunch of research before we chose what breed of dog we wanted and we have been very happy with our choice. We can’t go anywhere with her without complete strangers marveling at how beautiful she is…or asking us if she’s a Weimaraner. Vizslas are a medium-sized Hungarian pointer. They are SUPER friendly by nature and have a ton of energy. Ruby gets about two hours of exercise every day and probably at least 8 hours of cuddling. Most days will include a long walk around the neighborhood, a slightly extra-legal romp through the canyon near our home, or a trip to the dog park or the beach to play with other dogs. She is a pretty happy / spoiled pup.
The girls LOVE Ruby and have a bunch of very girly nick-names for her including, “Honey-bunchy-Ruby-pie,” and, “Ruby-snoodle-diaper-waggle-bottom.” It’s kinda amazing the poor dog even knows her name. Jeff is completely smitten with her too. He did ALL the middle of the night trips to take her outside to potty when she was a puppy, he takes her to training class every week, takes her on a walk every day, and gives her all the snuggles a puppy could possibly hope for. Ruby also has the amazing power of turning Jeff into an absolute social butterfly. My normally introverted husband is perfectly happy striking up a conversation with absolute strangers about Ruby or dogs in general. Ruby is an extremely extroverted dog, so I guess they balance each other out.
In September my dad and my Uncle Tommy accompanied my family (and Ruby!) on a houseboat trip on the Colorado River. The dog LOVED being off leash in nature for a week (she’s a great swimmer and so far seems fairly lose-proof!) and my husband, father, and uncle enjoyed inventing the new sport of “Kite-Dragging.” It’s where you get dropped off in the middle of the lake with a kite and hold on really tight while the kite drags you down the lake. They seriously did it for HOURS. …I stayed with the kids and the dog and read lots of books and prayed that they wouldn’t hurt themselves.
Jeff is still working at Metron. He’s been there since he was an intern still enrolled at UCSD many (MANY!) moons ago. He’s now a division manager and runs his own office at Liberty Station. He’s super smart and does fancy stuff and goes to meetings a lot. Occasionally those meetings are in Hawaii, which works out pretty nicely for me. I’ve accompanied Jeff on several work trips to Oahu over the last few years. The most recent one was in October and my parents were nice enough to take care of the kids for us while we were away. It was a nice little celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We went horseback riding, kayaking, took a sunset cruise, had a spa day, and spent plenty of time laying by the pool and reading. …and Jeff went to some meetings while I went shopping.
I’m still keeping busy with my part-time photography business. In fact, I shot nearly 52,000 photos with my “real camera” in 2012…so far. Christmas is still to come, so I’m sure that will be up to at least 53,000 by January 1st. So, even though I consider myself a stay-at-home mom, I’m keeping plenty busy doing about 3-4 sessions per month for clients.
I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday season this year and can take the time to reflect on all the blessings life has given you. I am so thankful to have a wonderful husband, delightful children, the best parents a kid could hope for (who celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this year!), a sister who is more like a best friend AND lives on the same street as me, uncles, aunts, grandparents, in-laws, a gaggle of nephews (including my newest nephew, Romeo, born in October), one niece (AKA: my favorite niece), and wonderful friends to share my life with. I love you all so much and thank God for all of you. I truly could not ask for more wonderful family and friends.
Melanie, Jeff, Alexis, and Annabelle
P.S. Sorry there were no zombies this year. Hopefully the pics of the cute puppy and the sweetie-pie baby will make up for the lack of undead. I promise to do better next year.