2013 letter

So, Jim wrote our family Christmas letter this year and let’s just say he is going to have to do it from here on out – it was a whole lot better than mine from previous years!!  For anyone curious about our 2013 year in review letter, here it is:

Dearest Friends & Family,

OLIVIA LAINE: For those of you who have children, you understand how much change occurs between 6 months and 18 months. It’s difficult to describe the transformation from an infant to a toddler.  Olivia started the year a helpless sitting baby with sleeping issues, and ends the year a vibrant running toddler (with sleeping issues:-). We have yet to crack the Olivia-sleeping-code, but she has blossomed into a silly, cuddly, beautiful little lady with curly blonde locks, a contagious grin, and a heart melting hug. Olivia is fashionably late to everything: crawling, laughing, walking, teething… and she has yet (at 18 months) to clearly speak any meaningful words. But she is brilliant in her own observant way, always watching her older sisters and patiently learning how to take full advantage of being the baby. Most of you who have seen pictures need no explanation: she is a doll, and it is impossible not to love her.

MAYA LOUISE: This year has been a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sort of year for Maya. For the first 8 months of this year we were worried about her. Her temper was getting out of hand, and we were beside ourselves on how to help her remain calm.  She would completely lose it at the drop of a dime and this girl really packs a punch! It really wasn’t until the start of preschool (and Maya’s 4th birthday just before that) when the tables finally turned.  After the first month or so of school, we asked her teachers at drop-off how she was doing, terrified of what we might hear. But what they told us completely shocked us: Maya was an angel. No problems. None. In fact, she was a leader and a great friend to all the little girls at the preschool, and was always helpful and volunteered whenever she could. I think Robin cried a little and I could not stop smiling when we heard this. When you’ve endured the storm and the sun shines again – there is no greater feeling in all of the world (you Californians wouldn’t understand:-) Maya can be the sweetest girl in the world (every morning before I leave for work she needs her “hug and a kiss”).  And she can also be very intense. We wouldn’t want her to be any other way and we are very proud of who she has become (and is becoming). On the lighter side, Maya is funny. Really funny. She is witty and creative and says things that make us all laugh out loud. (She takes after her father in that way:-)  She enjoys drawing, playing on the computer, singing and dancing, and trying to keep up with her older sister.

AMALEA LORAYNE: In the moments when I stop to remember that Amalea is blind in her left eye and is on anti-seizure medication for epilepsy – I am blown away at this girls resilience, her unrelenting joy and love of life, her creativity and wild imagination, her infectious and unique laugh, her never ending energy and her downright scary brilliance.  Most of us have not experienced half of what Amalea has in her 6 years on this planet, and yet most of us could not boast of the qualities that she contains. Amalea is constantly teaching us about life: enjoying it (through play and laughter), creating it (through art and make believe), sharing it (through empathy and love), and giving it back (through generosity, compassion, and teaching).  She definitely has her weaker moments (like any 6 year old girl) and her medication makes her very emotional – but she also possesses a wisdom that transcends her age.  She has always been this way. Surprising. Special. Unique. Gifted. As far as what she’s been through this year: she had her second major seizure in March (her third, maybe fourth overall) at which point we started her on Keppra (the miracle drug). We recently took her to a Neurologist at OHSU whom we really like and feel will help us understand her epilepsy and possible causes.  We will continue to hope and pray that ultimately she can get off of the medication and lead a life without the constant fear of spontaneous seizures. She started first grade at a new school this September, and although she moved states and said goodbye to friends she made in Santa Cruz, she picked up right where she left off and is thriving in school. She thoroughly enjoys reading, drawing, playing make-believe, riding her bike, playing with her neighbor friend, Stella, and our new cat Rojo.

ROBIN DAWN: For the record, this is Jim writing. And the reason this is Jim writing is because by 8pm every evening, Robin turns into a pumpkin and heads upstairs; exhausted. Only full-time parents can understand the exhaustion that comes from a full day with kids. And not just kids, three girls (whom hopefully you have read about:-). On a typical day, Amalea wakes up at 6am (guaranteed and on-the-dot), which, may or may not be before Olivia wakes up. Then there is the whining about breakfast and getting dressed and what to wear and diaper changing and lunch making and floor mopping and laundry cleaning and dish washing and food shopping and school drop-offs (which she walks most days, rain or shine) and more whining and Olivia planking and tantrums and crying and crying and crying, more pooping and NOW there’s a cat – so more pooping. You get the idea. Robin is a hero, and a role model, and the best darn momma and wife that ever existed (that may be a slightly biased opinion). Most of you who are women, and closer to our age, can understand how hard it is to give up your life and your career to become a full-time mom. Yet Robin, over the last year, has not only let go of her career as a respected and sought after teacher but also worked so hard at Mothering: understanding her kids and how to communicate with them, sleep schedules and meal plans, strollers and bicycles, breaking up arguments and getting two strong willed girls to coexist. Robin has embraced the title of “Mother”, and although I know she doubts herself in the hardest moments, I can confidently say that there is no other woman on this planet that I would rather have at home raising my daughters and whom I would want to parent with than Robin. There may not be a ton of academic or professional accolades to list for Robin this year, but I can only begin to describe the mother that she has become. Our girls are lucky. I am lucky. We are so proud of you – keep fighting the good fight.

JAMES KENNEDY: I will speak as myself here.  This year has been difficult. One of the hardest yet. At the start of the year I had recently taken a full-time position with petfinder.com as one of their main web developers.  It was a very stressful and difficult situation that demanded a ton of my time (and since the rest of the team was East Coast, some pretty strange hours at times).  At the same time, things seemed to be falling apart at the seams for me in Santa Cruz and we were beginning to prepare to move back to Portland.  Santa Cruz was exactly where we needed to be for the two years we were there (and I am so thankful to my in-laws for all that they did for us), and I can honestly say we tried to make it home – but you know a place is home when it beckons you and haunts you and you can think of nothing but it while you are away. That is what Portland did, for me and for Robin.  We decided to move back after school let out and I started to look for jobs in Portland. A month before we were to move, I was contacted by Jive Software (a Portland based software company) and offered a job I could not turn down. Given the circumstances (Amalea’s medical needs) it was the perfect opportunity to have something that offered amazing medical benefits and consistent pay.  It also meant that I would have to be gone from 7:30-5:30, Monday through Friday (something I was not used to, having worked from home for so long).  In the end, the good outweighed the bad and I started at Jive three days after arriving back in Portland. Immediately, there was a new wave of stress as the newly formed web team dove into redesigning the marketing site for Jive. It was a whirlwind of a first three months here in Portland, but now that it is over I can say with some certainty that I am in a very good, healthy, prosperous place. I am still getting used to the long hours (especially now that I leave when it is dark and get home when it is dark) but I am learning to carve out “special” time to spend with each of my four beautiful girls. Our house feels like a home again, and our family has settled into a routine. Life is good and as winter settles in, we are thankful for the rain and the wind that batters and beats us, that carves and shapes us, into stronger individuals and a closer family – and we long (as all NorthWesterners do) for when the Sun returns to us in Spring (I mean Summer. I mean hopefully before next Autumn.:-)

May Peace be with you,


December 14th, 2013 by Robin Leave a reply »

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