Despite all my grousing about what a difficult year 2014 was -- and, even though I am quite happy to turn the page on a new year -- I will never forget 2014. It was definitely a year to remember, not one to forget. We accomplished so much this last year and I think our hard work has laid the foundation for some joy and peace in the year to come (knocking on wood as I type that thought).
And, we finished the year in style! As is our tradition, we took two weeks off for some down time and family time. This year, we started the break with a visit from Eric's mom. She was the first of our family members to come see us in our new home, so it was fun to host her and also to kick off the holidays with her. We were a bit frazzled trying to get all the last minute things done before the holidays. This neighborhood, which is a very nice community full of wonderful and friendly people, has inspired me to try to be a bit more neighborly than I have been in the past. So, I spent some time making baked goods and filling out holiday cards for the neighbors we've come to know. We also had last minute shopping and gift wrapping. So, it wasn't totally relaxing, but we did manage to do some fun things in all the readying -- like ice skating!
One of the cool features of our neighborhood is the local ice skating ring (which is about a 5 minute walk from the house). We took Kai there to try it out at the start of the break and she LOVED it. She begged us to go every day before we left town, so Eric's mom got to make a couple of trips to the ice rink with us to watch Kai perfect her new sliding skills. It's amazing to me how persistent Kailey is when presented with a new challenge. The first day, we were there with our neighbors (who also have a 6 year old, Nora) and Kai watched Nora for a few minutes before taking to the ice on her own. Nora was pretty good and Kai was determined to catch up in skill level. Nora's dad watched Kai take a couple of immediate falls and turned to me and asked, "is she one to keep going or is she going to get frustrated?" As if to answer him, even though she hadn't heard him, Kai pulled herself up and determinedly made her way around the rink. The second time she was faster. By the fourth or fifth time, she wasn't holding onto anything. When we told her it was time to go, she protested despite being soaked through because of her numerous tumbles and begged to return the following day. She has a ways to go before she'll be doing any tricks -- but, her determination and natural athleticism is a great combination for learning these new skills and makes her such fun to watch.
By Christmas, we were ready for a real break and had a nice relaxing day. Because we've never made a huge day about the actual holiday, Kai doesn't get too worked up about it. In fact, she slept until her normal hour that morning, coming into our room at about 7:15. She climbed into bed with us to snuggle. After about 10 minutes, she turned to us and said, "I sure am excited to open my presents today!" I thought that was so funny -- when I was a kid, I was up on Christmas morning at 4:30 AM too excited to sleep. There's no way I would have hung out with my parents for any length of time without mentioning the presents or pleading with them to start unwrapping them. Kai was excited, but she could also wait. Pretty cool at the ripe old age of 6.
We headed downstairs and let her unpack her stocking -- which she had a good time doing and she got quite a few cool things (Strawberry Shortcake dolls, a headlamp, socks, candy, Skip-Bo). After stockings, we hung out for a bit and made a big breakfast. We eventually got to the gifts under the tree and had fun unwrapping things. Once presents were open, Eric, Alden and I headed upstairs for a nap -- nothing better than napping on Christmas day. That afternoon, the owners of the ice rink opened the place up for free to families in the neighborhood as a way of celebrating the holidays together. We headed down and had fun skating with the other families. I even tried it, making my way around the rink twice while holding onto the back of a chair (and looking like a total fool). The first time around, I got to the back of the rink where it was quite slick (because it was melting a bit) and got scared. I stopped skating and just stood there, clutching the chair, and wondering how to get back to the exit without making a total fool of myself. I was considering just sitting down and scotching across the ice. Kai came up to me and said, "you can do it Mama. You just have to believe in yourself." It was the advice I needed -- so I steeled myself and made it around (with the chair, of course). That Kailey -- she's wise beyond her years.
The day after Christmas, we said good-bye to Eric's mom and then set about cleaning the house up and readying for our own travels the next day. Our flight the next morning was EARLY. I thought it would be a nightmare, but it just made for tired children who slept the whole flight (which was actually nice).
We had fun in Portland visiting my parents and even got a couple of movies in while they watched the kids (I love going to the movies -- it's feels like such luxury to have a few hours to just immerse myself in something without anyone interrupting!) We also did quite a bit of cooking and game playing. And, we went on a hike with Amy, Leo and Soren -- which was really fun. Alden LOVED being on the hike (until he got too cold -- then he was over it). But, for the first 3/4 of the hike, he was totally into it.
On New Year's Eve, we headed over to Amy and Dave's for some dancing, pasta making, and general merriment. It was a low-key evening, but a lot of fun.
The best part was watching the kids perfect their respective skills -- for Alden, crawling. For Kai, skiing. Both of them are so determined -- and I love watching them go, go, go!
I scheduled us on the last flight out of Portland, hoping to maximize our time on the mountain. Note to self: don't schedule flights on the last flight out during the winter months. Our flight home was delayed 2 hours, meaning our 8:30 PM flight didn't take off until 10:30 PM. Ouch. That put us home at 1 AM. Kai, who can sleep anywhere, fell asleep in the airport at close to her bed time. Alden, who basically doesn't sleep, took an hour nap at the airport and then proceeded to party for the next 2 hours (from 9 PM - 11 PM) until we were finally on board the plane and the cabin lights were off, at which point he reluctantly slept the rest of the way home. He was insane -- dancing, bopping around, yelling, waving and trying to grab anything that came into his orbit. Eric and I took turns passing him back and forth, neither of us had the energy to man-handle his squirminess for more than about 10 minutes at a stretch. It was exhausting. Although, also entertaining. Alden is so good-natured. Even when he should be screaming his head off with exhaustion and frustration at our 2 hour flight delay that was causing him to miss his bedtime by a long shot -- he just rolls with it. Instead of throwing a fit, he embraced the adventure of it in his baby-style... which meant being a crazy person, but a happy crazy person. That said, I was so glad when those cabin lights were finally off and he settled back to sleep. Happy babies can still be quite exhausting!
And with that, we said hello to our new year and the new adventures that lay before us. Like I said, I'm not sure I'll miss 2014 but I'll never forget it. And, because of all that we did in 2014, I'm really looking forward to 2015. Kind of a nice way to start the year.