Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2010: The Year in Review

After some months (oh, really? Well, I guess it has been few years actually…) away from blogging, I’ve decided to try to get back to it. The kids are really growing and changing so fast, it might be a good thing to get it all documented, with a few pictures thrown in, especially for grandparents and relatives far away. So, by way of a beginning, I thought I might recap the last year or so, and then move on from there. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with it regularly, as much as I can with anything! This is a really long one, so go get a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable…
2010: The Year in Review
Last year, as you probably know, we had our third daughter. Matilda Jane Willis was born in January (though we had rather expected she would come in December, at least that’s what all those fun little due date calculators said, Dec. 24th. She had other ideas.), so that makes a good place to begin.

January: 2010 began with me pregnant. I had rather expected not to be pregnant by that point, so you can imagine the mood around our house was a little tense. But we rang in the new year and I hoped fervently for some sign that I might someday soon be holding a baby. The first two weeks of the year were spent in what now seems like a rather humorous program of activities to bring labor on. Every few days I went to the chiropractor, the masseuse or the midwife.

My sister and her partner Amy had planned a trip to Michigan to meet our new baby, and it was beginning to look like they would either witness her birth, or just sit around looking at my belly. They arrived on January 15, just in time to be with us for Matilda’s birth on the following day. I will write that story and post it separately for those who like birth stories. I wrote down Rachel and Fiona’s stories, and I owe it to Tilda to do the same. It was such an amazing and precious day, but I am sure it will fade from memory and I should have it written down. Anyway, in summary, she was born at home at 7:29am on January 16, weighing 9lbs, 3 oz and 21.5 inches long. And she’s been pure joy ever since!

The remainder of January and all of February was just a pleasant haze of new baby love. In March, when Matilda was 6 weeks old or so, we went to the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City for the weekend. This was a Christmas gift from my mom and we had a blast. The baby slept right through the whole thing, and Fiona was a little overwhelmed, but Rachel was in her element. We are planning to go again this February, so stay tuned for a post on that!
At the end of March we all piled in the car and drove to Oklahoma City for Spring Break. Wow, what a trip! Ben’s dad had had some very serious heart problems during the winter, and was still recovering. It was a particularly precious moment in time because all of Ben’s siblings and their children gathered with us there for Easter. Matilda was a super good traveler, just like her sisters, and we all had such a great time.
After we returned, in April, our friends the Hales visited, and life just kept rolling along. School let out at Memorial Day and summer began. Oh boy, what a summer! It was so hot for so long, we really got a full dose of summer. Lake Michigan warmed up faster than it ever has, and we really swam as much as possible. Believe me, it is not easy to take three kids, one of them a small baby, to the beach, but we did it a lot. Rachel and Fiona were capable enough in the water that I could just sit in a chair under the umbrella, hold the baby while she slept and watch them splash around. It was really blissful.

At the beginning of June, Ben and I got a wild hair and decided to rip out the built in bookcases in our living room (don’t panic, they weren’t original to the house), patch our cracked and bumpy plaster walls and paint the living rooms and dining rooms. We planned to be done in time for houseguest season, which usually begins in July. Well…anyone who has been to our house in the last little while knows just how far that project got. I guess we grossly overestimated what we could get done while caring for three young children. There’s always hope for this year!

In July we took a trip down to Ypsilanti to visit the Hales (who had been up for July 4th), and watch their daughter Kenzie in her first play. She was great, and enjoyed it so much that she was in a fall production as well. Later in July we camped with the Manchester family at Otsego Lake State Park. Ben had to work, so it was just me with the girls for 4 nights. Exhausting! I really don’t have any pictures of that week, just because my hands were so busy with other things. We had a fabulous time nevertheless and hope to make it an annual tradition. The kids are big enough now that they were allowed to roam the campground and find friends – they loved it!
We rolled right from our camping trip to the McKinney family reunion, the first weekend in August. We hosted it in TC, and Beth and Amy came up for the occasion. The, toward the end of August, Ben’s parents visited us too. Bob was still recovering, but was so much stronger and really enjoyed the time with the kids.

On Labor Day weekend, a big wind storm blew in, the air temperature dropped and the lake temperature plummeted about 40 degrees. Good bye summer! School started – Rachel in 2nd grade and Fiona in her second year of 3 year old preschool. The previous year, Rachel had loved school and Fiona was not so wild about it. This year, it was the opposite. Rachel, for the first time in her life, hated school! Apparently, the fun and games are over in second grade! Her teacher this year is very, very good, and runs a very disciplined classroom. It took Rachel a few weeks to get used to her teacher’s style. Also, Rachel’s reading ability was really not up to the task. So she’s been working very hard with reading specialists and a tutor, and her work is definitely looking excellent. It was a real struggle in the beginning, but she is consistently bringing home stars, smiley faces and A plusses. We are very proud of her and how hard she has worked to turn things around. Hooray for Rachel!

Halloween was super fun. My dad joined us for the party, as did my mom, her partner, and her partner’s mom. And Barkley the dog, of course! Matilda wore the same bumblebee costume Rachel and Fiona had worn on their first Halloweens. Rachel was a vampire (I actually made a cape for her on my sewing machine! I know, go figure…) and Fiona was a princess (not a Disney princess – I haven’t fallen that far from my principles! No, we’re talking garden variety fancy dress – Easter, Christmas and the like. I pick them up for next to nothing at Goodwill and then let her wear them to death.). Actually, Fiona has been a princess everyday for several months – she’s in that fancy dress phase. It’s getting kind of old by now, but I’m trying to go with it. She even wears dresses to bed. It can just be a little frustrating, since these phases always seem to happen right after you buy a bunch of really cute back-to-school clothes and then they won’t wear them because they aren’t a princess dress. I guess that’s what I get for letting them dress themselves. Whoever wrote that chapter about fostering independence by letting them choose their own clothes in the Little Kid Manual didn’t have girls! I’m pretty sure the Little Kid Manual was written by someone who has no children, but that is another post entirely.
Back on topic… At Thanksgiving we all piled back into the car and headed to Oklahoma again. And once again had a great time. The girls get to ride horses (which Rachel loves and Fiona endures), and this time we went to the zoo. The weather was unseasonably warm during the first part of our visit, so we got a lot of good quality time outside, at parks, the barn, the zoo and so on. We returned in time to begin preparations for Rachel and Fiona’s birthday on December 3rd. Each of them had a separate party on the day in question, in addition to the cupcakes and such I felt obliged to send to school with each of them. And, to top it all off, Ben selected that week (OK, it was the only one available, but still…) to surgically end our childbearing years. What a stressful week! I think next year we’ll go somewhere else instead. At least, I know I will be going somewhere!!!
The day after the girls’ birthday, Mom, Linda and Gramma Gramma (Linda’s mom) came down for the annual Victorian Sleighbell Festival and Parade in Manistee, as well as to celebrate with Rachel and Fiona’s. While they went to the parade, Ben and I escorted Matilda to the ER for her first ever hospital visit. Poor little thing, she touched our wood burning stove and burned her little hand. She was fine, thought nothing of it, and the burns healed in no time. She really enjoyed flirting with the hospital staff and they put a funny bandage on her hand, which kept her well entertained. Needless to say, our woodstove now has a cage around it.

I hate this @&!% BOW! Pictures for Christmas cards did not go so well...

We stayed in Michigan for Christmas, which was so magical. We had Christmas morning at our house, and then went on to my mom’s for a few days. Uncle Dan was with us, and both Rachel and Fiona felt that getting to spend time with him was the high point of their holiday. We missed the family that we could not be with, and that was the only hard part about the holidays. We rang in 2011 with a little party in the living room. Fiona and Rachel stayed up to watch the ball drop, and we played games, ate popcorn and watched a movie all snuggled on the couch. In a few years, Matilda will be able to stay up and what fun it will be then.
I always love to make New Year’s resolutions, and I’m pretty good at keeping them. We’ll see how it goes, but I hope to a) take more pictures of my kids, and b) blog regularly. Wish me luck and stay tuned!


dogwalktalk said...

so wonderful to enjoy my morning cup of tea with your words dancing before my eyes and in my head
i love you
looking forward to more pictures and posts!

Alexandra A said...

Yay! What an amazing recap. It is special to have the documentation for yourselves and the girls, but also a great way to share news and developmental progress. Hooray to Rachel for overcoming her difficulties with school this year, bravo to Fiona for loving it, and congratulations to you for getting everyone through it! But today, happy 1st birthday to Matilda!

Dan said...

Big smile ...