Tuesday, January 6, 2015

All Because Two People Fell In Love (and Wrote A Letter Together)

Every year since BH1 and I were married we have written a Christmas letter.  Honestly, the first few years before kids when I was in residency the content was a little sparse.  Yes, yes I know it is seemingly generic and ridiculous.  I too have gotten the letters extolling the virtues of "perfect" children wherein Johnny is playing 6 sports at a college level even though he is in the fifth grade and Susie is a straight A student with her heart set on Julliard at the age of 12.  Our letter is not that letter.  Sure we get a chance to brag about our kids (who wouldn't?), but ultimately it is our year in review.  Our chance to look back on the year, good and bad and reflect on all the (mis)adventures we had and how we grew spiritually, emotionally, and physically.   
Our "perfect" kids
Photo credit: Ben W Photographic

I have known BH1 a long time and had the distinct pleasure of meeting his grandmother before she passed.  Shortly after her death, BH1's aunt found every Christmas letter his grandmother had written dating back to the first years of her marriage.  They told the tale of how "those hard to lose last 15 pounds of baby weight" were actually a baby, BH1's aunt who is 18 years junior to her older brother and sister arrived a few months later.  They spoke of the year they bought their first house and the furniture inside; furniture that sits in my dining room today.  They are an archival reference perfect to settle family disagreements about what year so and so moved away or went to Boy Scout Jamboree or broke a bone or passed away.  They were hand typed, and now scanned in and burned to a disc for us to have forever, right next to the beautiful silver table ware I wouldn't even begin to know how to use.  

When I married BH1, I gained a beautiful, loving extended family with a history together.  I brought with me my immediate family (parents and 4 siblings), but very few meaningful connections with extended family and I yearned for his experience...through those letters I get to have that experience.  Last week we celebrated BH1's aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary.  It was a perfectly simple restaurant affair with an sweet slide show.  My kids hardly acknowledged me as they were immersed in connections with family around the long table.  SH3 was boisterous and silly with her favorite aunt and uncle, SH2 wanted mommy and daddy close but chatted with friends across the table, and SH1 absorbed in one on one time with one of his "big boy cousins" and learning secrets on how best to tease his sisters from second cousins.   
Photo credit: Ben W Photographic

BH1 and I married a bit later on the cusp of our 30s.  BH1's aunt and uncle knew in junior high they were meant for each other and married at the tender age of 17.  I pray every night for the future spouses of my three SHs.  I hope that their true love can read our letters and get to know this amazing person and the family they are forever connected too.  

Don’t get me wrong, it is tedious to write and takes about the whole month of December to put together from choosing stationary, making an outline of things to include, several back and forth edits, updating addresses, and sticking stamps, stickers, and labels.  It is a labor of love; this year SH1 happily licked all 150+ envelopes and double checked that each had a holiday sticker and stamp.  I think he is starting to get it; his journey is in captured on those red and green pages and that history keeping is important to him too.  
Photo credit: Ben W Photographic
In case yours was lost in the mail, here it is for you...our year in review.

Dear Family and Friends,                                                            December 2014

As you know there is no deficit of social media outlets wherein we post, blog (www.3smallhumans.com), Instagram, tweet, or chat, so you may be thinking this letter is now obsolete.  You likely have said to yourself, “There is no way they are doing their annual family Christmas letter.  We know what they have been up too because we have the internet.”  No such luck.  This is an opportunity to put the year in review and uphold the traditions started by BH1’s family generations ago, so please bear with us and come along for the recap…2014

In February, we headed out to small town, AZ to stay with BH1’s parents and celebrate an unseasonably warm Gold Rush Days.  Kids and parents sweated it out in cowboy hats, boots, and denim but took in the amazing sights of the parade and senior pro rodeo.  As spring progressed, SH1 played “coach pitch” baseball and we attended three spring training games at which the kids loved every minute of tripping over spectators, frozen lemonades, and Dodger dogs.  SH2 took dance lessons (ballet and tap) and had her first recital which was, as expected, the most adorable event ever.  Like most four year old girls she loves to dance, sing, and collect every perceived treasure in one of her many purses.  We have taken to search and seizure maneuvers a few times a week to clean out the shards of glass, bottle caps, rocks, and most recently the baby Jesus from the kid’s nativity set from her bag.

It was summer before we knew it and in celebration of Memorial Day, our neighborhood association puts on a packed four day program.  We swam for hours, ate snow cones and hotdogs, drank local craft beers, tie-dyed our own shirts, decorated and biked in the neighborhood parade and best of all cheered on the kids as they 3-legged raced and gobbled watermelon at breakneck speeds.  It was like having a vacation at home, in the 1950’s.  Our annual 4th of July vacation was a blast and can be summed up in five words: sand, surf and more sand.  This year we stayed in a small beach town in California and brought our bikes.  A highlight of the trip was riding bikes along the beach with the surf in our ears and sun on our backs. 

Summer started to wind down and school started again, but not before we downsized BH2’s parents into a town home eight minutes away from our house.  On a blistering hot day it took 20 people the better part of 18 hours to get it done, but around midnight, BH2’s parents slept in their newly unpacked home.   A big THANK YOU to all our friends who made this vision materialize.  The next week we left for Maui, HI with BH2’s sister and her husband on a dream dual 10 year wedding anniversary trip. Due the generosity of BH1’s parents we had a two bedroom time share and BH2’s sister was able to cash in a lot of airline miles to make it happen for the four of us.  It took weeks of preparation, scheduling, meal planning and a village of grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends to pull off what was the second best trip of our lives (next to our own honeymoon of course).  We hiked the 13 mile Haleakala Crater, put our toes in the sand every day, found secret waterfalls and drank POG (pineapple, orange, guava juice) by the gallon.  Again, THANK YOU for making this dream a reality. 

Shortly before we left, SH1 started first grade and is now reading.  He has recently realized that he can read and it is terribly fun to tool around town with him reading aloud every sign in sight.  On the flip side we can no longer spell aloud when we don’t want the kids to know what we are saying; Pig Latin is what we are thinking of trying next.  He is a bright, charming, and funny six year old who reminds everyone uncannily of his daddy as a kid.  SH3 is every inch of two years old and started preschool two mornings a week to do the crafts we would never allow at home.  A little lady with no shortage of nicknames, she has been dubbed “Pig Pen” by her teachers and comes home looking like she is getting the full experience.  This gives BH1 a few hours to accomplish a task or two without her silently destroying some corner of the house.  She has bouncy BH1 family curls and a laugh that lights up a room. 

Summer turned to fall and despite her broken “shattered” big toe only two months prior, BH2 accepted an opportunity to hike the 24+ miles of the Grand Canyon from South Rim to the North Rim in one day.  She came away with a renewed connection to God, her sister, and nature.  From highest high to lowest low, soon after BH2 returned, SH2 had to be hospitalized for persistent fever.  She had severe kidney infection that required five days inpatient with IV antibiotics.  SH2 has since fully recovered and we are grateful to God that she does not have any underlying issues and is completely healed.   On a far brighter note, days after SH2 was discharged from one hospital, we visited another to celebrate BH2’s brother and his wife and the arrival of our newest niece.  Her addition to the family brings the tally to eight BH2’s family grandkids in six short years.  We are a busy bunch to say the least. 

Halloween was a blast with our familiar family bash and hours of trick or treating.  The kids were given the opportunity to eat all the candy that they wanted in one sitting and then it would go away forever.  It took 2+ hours, but there was shockingly no vomiting or complaining when the baskets were remanded to adult custody.  In November SH1 and SH2’s soccer seasons came to a close.  SH2 loved having BH1 coach her first season although we all know the trophy is really the best part.  BH1 took a week to go hunting with his brother and friends.  It has been several years since he has killed a deer and BH2 is now convinced that the hunting is not so much the point as the men bonding time.   BH2 was able to attend her 10 year medical school reunion with BH1 and her brother and his wife who are now living in Arizona.  Why did they move?  Because BH2’s little brother is in his first year at BH2’s alma mater medical school and we could not be more thrilled for both of them.  Thanksgiving was a lovely weekend affair spending time with BH1’s family on Thursday and Friday with BH2’s side of the family is becoming a new tradition.

BH2 continues to train the resident physicians and has been blessed with the opportunity to lead the Patient Safety Workgroup for the hospital.  She won the “Teacher of the Year” award as voted on by the residents at their graduation; a lifelong goal finally realized.  BH1 continues to stay home with the kids and seamlessly juggle the schedules, drop-offs and pick-ups, activities, volunteering, meals, and everything in between to keep our family of 3 small humans, 2 giant dogs, and 5 chickens afloat.  Yes, we now have chickens.  BH2 likes to tease BH1 that since he now has a beard, fervently composts, fancies gardening, and tends chickens he is one pair of skinny jeans away from being called a “hipster”. 

It takes a village to raise 3 small humans and this year more than ever, we have relied on our village to love our children, feed our souls and selflessly give of their time and energy.  Thank you again.

We are humbled by God’s goodness this year and wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases and happiest of New Years,

Our family of BHs and SHs
Photo credit: Ben W Photographic

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