What to say about 2012. It's been a year unlike any other for us. Busier, for the most part. It's been a good one. No major traumas or dramas. But the kids are growing older and time seems to be slipping faster and faster through our fingers.
In a large-ish nutshell:
*Hannah turned 14 in May. She enjoyed her first youth conference in June - also her first dance! She started high school in the fall. This was a big change for us. It's been several years since I've had a kid in full time school. Suddenly she's gone a lot. Not just at school, but with many extra-curricular activities as well. She's in her school jazz quartet as a keyboardist and learning SO many new things that her years of piano lessons hadn't taught her. Jazz is such a different style than classical (or hymns!) so it's been a fun change for her and super educational. This is in addition to her regular classical-style piano lessons. She also played her second ever season of soccer this fall on the rec league team. She has improved so much from last year. It was really fun to watch her and see how her understanding of the game and her ability to play it have magnified.
Hannah was nervous to go to the charter school this year, as she didn't really know anyone in it (other than some passing acquaintances). Josh and I met with the high school teacher before the year started and just fell in LOVE with her. She is one of those once in a life time teachers who really loves the kids, has great goals for her class, and wonderful personal values (with which we felt comfortable having her be a major influence in our child's life for so many hours a day). Since school started, Hannah has made some lovely friendships and has a great group of like-minded students with which to hang out. So far, we're really happy with the decision to send her to Three Rivers.
*Brynne turned 12 in March. She was eager to be old enough for the Church's youth program and join Hannah there. This spring she competed in Odyssey of the Mind at the state level. It's fun to watch Brynne act. If you know her as a shy, reserved person, you would be surprised at how she unleashes her personality when she is on stage. She is a good actress! Brynne is taking violin lessons - she is midway through her second year and still loving it. Her Christmas/Birthday gift this year was a new (nicer!) violin. It's so fun to hear her play it.
This year Brynne is technically attending Three Rivers charter school, but she is doing independent study. The school provides materials and we can ask for guidance. But for the most part, I help her structure and schedule her study time and she teaches herself. We meet with a teacher once a month or so to check in and show Brynne's work. She's not interested in going to school on campus, so this is a great compromise for us. Many of you know that last year Brynne won the local VFW Patriot's Pen essay contest. She entered again this year, and as the only applicant was a shoo-in for the district competition! She wins some scholarship money, so it's a great thing! Brynne also played soccer this year - I think it was her 5th season. The biggest thing we noticed was how much more aggressive she was on the field. As one of the taller players (yes! our Brynne!) it was fun to watch her start to come into her own and take advantage of her natural speed and coordination.
*Logan - a.k.a "the Loganator" - turned 9 in April. He is such a funny kid. He loves the computer. Loves sports. LOVES Cub Scouts. Scout day is his favorite day of the week. We've had a lot of fun doing scout activities along with school stuff. Logan played his second season of soccer this year. He's a quick little guy, but a little leery of getting bowled over in a head-to-head confrontation with another player, or the ball. It makes me laugh to watch him duck when someone kicks the ball straight at his head. I'd duck too! One of the best things about Logan is his thoughtfulness. He's known as the guy who holds doors for everyone, who sets up the Primary room for his teacher each week, and gives hand and back massages to anyone who's looking a little tense. He's pretty skilled at it, too!
Logan loves music. I haven't started him in formal lessons yet, but he's been learning to play his favorite songs by ear on the piano. He also loves to dance. He's like a mini Zac Efron, and I've been trying to convince him that it is NOT girly to take dancing lessons. He could take jazz or hip hop - no pink tu-tus required (he's mortally afraid of girly things). He's finally starting to think about it seriously and I'm hoping to get him into a class in the near future.
*Kenna will be five in a month (my only non-spring birthday amongst the kids). Technically a preschooler, she is starting to show interest in learning to read, though I think it will be a while before she really starts reading. She is turning into a great artist and loves to color and draw. I love four year olds because they are so hilarious. Kenna is one of those highly verbal, big word using kids who pops out the most interesting comments. The other day she told me that things were getting out of control in her life. I could totally empathize!
After spending most of her early years wanting nothing to do with her brother, he has recently become her most favorite person on earth. And he accommodates her. She creates all sorts of fantastical pretend play for him to join. She hasn't been really big into learning new physical skills such as bike riding (until Natalie learned to ride Kenna's bike), but we are just enjoying this kid so much. She was a difficult baby, but she has turned into a really fun, loving kid.
*What can I say about the baby of the family? Natalie turned 3 in March. Her personality is really starting to shine. She is opinionated, independent, loving, and loud. I'm just now getting her toilet trained because once she learned it, she stopped, and hasn't cared to do it until recently. She tells us all, often, how much she loves us, and enjoys a good snuggle. But try getting her to do anything she isn't in the mood for and you're in for a fight. A loud one. Ahhh, to be the youngest. Good thing she has Kenna to keep her in line. Natalie is really into computers, surprisingly enough. She runs the DVD player, knows how to play music on the computer, and enjoys various apps on my tablet. Sometimes this worries me, but we try to maintain balance.
As a family, we've had a few highlights this year.
- In May we took the kids to Sacramento for a family trip. It was technically a home-school field-trip to wrap up a year of California History studies. We had a fantastic weekend together.
- Josh took the older girls with him on his business trip to Santa Cruz in June. I don't know how much fun they had between the hanging out with friends, visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, but the girls were good sports about it. Rough, right?
- At the beginning of our summer, after looking at the calendar, I realized that we had only ONE short weekend that was still empty and was determined to squeeze a family camping trip into that time. And by short, I mean one night. We did it. We drove 45 minutes away to Hendy Woods and had the best time. Josh's parents came out for part of the day to enjoy dinner and campfire time with us. We went on hikes through the beautiful redwoods and made s'mores after dinner (of course!). It was fast, but I'm so glad we took the time to do it. Family vacations are the best!
- I was able to attend a couple days of Girls Camp with Hannah and Brynne in July. Came home to a husband who'd been dealing with two very sick little girls. They got better just in time to join their siblings on a special trip with Grandpa and Grandma R. to Idaho and Utah for a family reunion and other fun. Kenna still talks about "the long trip we took with Grandma". The sheer length of the drive was apparently the most memorable part for her. She remembers that they stayed in three hotel rooms and saw four temples. Fun times! They had a great time, actually. I'm impressed that the grandparents were willing to make the trip - and also impressed that they survived it!
- While the kids were gone, Josh and I spent a week in Switzerland with my sister, her husband, and my parents. Josh had a bad head cold and I wasn't feeling too hot for most of the week, but we still managed to enjoy ourselves. It was fun to travel together and see some incredible scenery and adorable villages. It's always nice to be back home with the family, though.
- At the end of September I took the three youngest kids with me to visit my parents and siblings out of state. Josh stayed home with the two older girls, and his Dad (who also happened to be a bachelor that week) came out to keep them all company. Brynne was really looking forward to cooking the meals and getting some quality time with Grandpa. They enjoyed themselves, I think. I know I had a nice time with my young children. The little ones were fantastic on the drive. I had been nervous about the long trip with no big kid helpers, but movies, plenty of stops, and of course yummy roadtrip snacks make any trip fun. We hit a pumpkin patch with the cousins and Grandma and Grandpa T. Every time we see a pumpkin at the grocery store now, Kenna and Natalie remind me that they've been to a real pumpkin patch. I love vacationing in the fall since we don't get a lot of fall colors on the coast. It's nice to go "over the hill" and be able to see them. Not to mention, being able to see all four of my sisters on one big trip - what a bonus. A little girl time is always a fun thing!
- In October Josh entered a community chili cook-off - and won! He's got a stellar recipe that he's happy to share with anyone that would like to give it a try.
See. I told you it was a large-ish nutshell! We've had a great year full of blessings. We look forward to more time enjoying each other as a family AND hopefully spending lots of time with the friends and extended family that we love so much!