Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Letter 2008

In order to be more earth-friendly, we've decided to publish our letter via the Internet this year.

Some of the many highlights we have experienced throughout 2008:

The biggest news for the year is that Dave is in his final year of general surgery residency, so we as a family have been traveling quite a bit to visit different sites on the west coast for possible job opportunities. We hit a total of 5 locations before we came to a final decision... which is...

Auburn, California:
About 30 minutes to Sacramento, 15 minutes to Roseville, 45 minutes to Donner Summit where there are some sweet ski resorts. Auburn borders the American River, is in the foothills of the Sierras, but just below the normal snow line. It happens to also be above the fog of the San Joaquin valley. It also contains a 40-acre rec area that has trails all along it. AWESOME. I should mention that the practice Dave is joining has a 4-day work week. Even sweeter. The schools rank in the top 10% of California, consistently, and it is a small enough town to only have 1 high school in town - really two if you consider the outlying area . Now if only we could sell the house (without giving it away)...

The other big news is that we are expecting our fourth baby. ANOTHER boy. We are so pleased to welcome boy #4. Our boys are so sweet and tender that another one can only be a good thing. April 11th is the expected due date, but if we're lucky (like we were with Kaelan), he'll decide March will be better. Oh ya, and we have NOT come up with any names, yet. As for the rest of the family...

Jeydan (1 year): He just made it to the 20-month mark. It's amazing that he has survived all those couch-jumps and running falls. When he spills, he goes big. Not a subtle little dude, either. Everything is a little more animated, loud, and irreverent with him - but still with the bounds of being an angel :) His newest talents include repeating words with great accuracy (not to the point where he can use them by himself, though), showing off his Spanish vocabulary by translating with physical actions, and generally showing his physical agility through crazy acrobatic stunts from less-than-ordinary household objects.

Kaelan (3 years): He is the "old man" of the group. Stubborn as ever. A very serious, but funny character that enlightens us with so much humor without meaning to. He gets very embarrassed and usually upset when he realizes that he is getting attention from being his funny self. He is a very bright and observant little boy, but I find that he is SOOO slow in getting his stuff together. He likes to dilly-dally in anything and everything. For instance, he will stand over the toilet after finishing his business for an average of 2-3 minutes just talking to the walls EVERY TIME and then again for his shoes, and his coat, etc., etc. He finally is enjoying preschool, but I think he'd still much rather just hang out at home and veg... talking to those walls.

Lathan (5 years): A determined, focused, and driven little 5-year old. He is precocious, and has such a stellar memory of all things. Random knowledge is his forte. Say it once and he holds onto it forever. Not a great thing when watching movies/TV. He always desires to be a help to his brothers. I am amazed at his ability to comfort and love all of us. Watch out because he is the ultimate watchdog for all behavior and will not let things slide (beware all you coffee and wine-drinkers!). He is growing up so fast. Talents he has developed include reading both music and books (simple, of course), singing his heart out (in perfect tune and lyric), and creating beautiful artwork in a variety of mediums (I'm serious, he's really talented in the art arena).

Continues to work at the local gym teaching lessons in the pool; but with enrollment down, she is finding a lot more time to herself (a.k.a laundry, bills, staging home for sale, etc.) and still not finding enough time for blogging or exercising. She finds the run-around of kids to both half and full day school each day tiring, but can manage as long as JJ concedes. She participated in a X-tri (mountain bike, instead of road bike) triathlon this year and also took part in the swimming leg of a triathlon, since the motivation to run and really exercise in general has waned over the years. Must be the economy (????). She is happy to feel that this will probably be her last pregnancy and can finally move the family back to a part of the country that feels like home.

Still plugging away at his job as underpaid, under-appreciated medical trash bag of responsibility. OK, so it's not that bad (but it can be!) being one of the chief residents. He does have a little more flexibility than he used to. He also has been busy training and competing in triathlons this year. I used the word "training" loosely. Life would be so much easier for him if the day had about 12 more hours to it (10 of which would be used for sleeping). He has quite a load to carry between all his responsibilities and he takes it all in stride and is the most supportive husband and dad any family could ask for. He is especially studly for landing that Auburn job!!!! Go Dad!

We wish you all a merry holiday and hope that 2009 year will be just as fun as 2008. We miss all of our friends, but are so thankful we were able to visit with many of you this past year.

Oh ya, and since this will be my last posting of the year...


Monday, December 15, 2008

Dave's Take

So, Griselda and I just got back from our interviewing trip and were quite surprised at what we found. We interviewed in Oregon at Silverton / Salem, and then in California at Auburn, Roseville, and Lakeport. We received two generous offers immediately after interviewing at two of the sites, and were blown away by Auburn. The professional opportunity was great and the area was awesome. Perfect for raising out three, soon to be four, little steamrollers. Anyway, for the last week we have been getting really antsy as Auburn and Roseville continued to streamline their selection process adn finally heard from Auburn today. We have been offerred a job with their group and we accepted. We quickly went out and celebrated and now Griselda is sleeping off a wicked virgin pina colada....... anyway, we are really excited. More news to come.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Just a sneak peek of Xmas letter to come...

*At my friend's ward Xmas party

We have been VERY BUSY as of late. We were all lucky enough to make it to Cali right after Thanksgiving for a week or so for a bunch of interviews for Dave. It was fun overall - spending time with family and the kids being able to hang out and discover new places and all - but we were SOOOOO spent each night as we tried to keep basic routines and manage a 3-hour time difference. Funny how kids circadian rhythm is so hard to break!
*We stayed in a place that has a BEAUTIFUL garden-park and they had a lot of cool landscaping.

*much of our travels were like this with JJ. Poor kid being dragged here and there.

*he was doing a funny head-nod here (notice his head is not resting on the seat-back).

I was able to meet up with several friends along the way, which was so great since it's been YEARS since seeing these guys. Our first stop took us to Oregon, which was beautiful, but didn't feel like home. I saw my good friend Megan, with whom I graduated HS. It's been something like 5 or 6 years since I've seen her. While we were there, my good friend in Michigan, Sheila, watched the two older boys. So we only had JJ tagging along. I felt so guilty leaving her with 4 boys, but I really think all of us fared so much better without that additional leg of travel for the kids.

*Megan and her 6-yr old triplets and Isa

*one of the triplets taking our picture. I think I've decided that things never look better when being shot from below.

Then we we headed our way back to MI, saw the boys in the evening, then left the next morning in the early AM to Cali. We arrived in Sacramento and then stayed in Roseville. It's a nice suburban "town" bustling with so much activity. We interviewed in Auburn that next day and LOVED everything about it. While in Auburn I was able to visit with an old friend that I haven't seen since my sophomore year of HS. You count the years. Many, nonetheless. Oh, the blessings of Facebook! She has a daughter the exact same age as Kaelan and the boys loved playing with her, even if only for a short time. Then Dave interviewed in Roseville and had good things to say about that place, too. The day after that (Friday, I think), we visited with an old friend, who I met in the singles ward in CA and it's been something like 11 years since seeing her. She was great. She has 2 daughters of her own and is about due with her 1st boy. She watched the boys (all of them!) while a realtor took us on a neighborhood tour for a couple of hours. The boys really had a good time with them, so we decided to crash their ward Xmas party the next night (which was quite impressive, to say the least - what an awesome ward). On that next day we visited with my brother and his wife and her parents, who live in that same area. We had a wonderful dinner and time playing with all the big-kid stuff. The boys were so exhausted, though, since that east-coast time was still such a heavy influence. In fact, every night for the whole week, Kaelan would have to "lay down" after having several bites of dinner and within about 1-2 minutes would be passed out cold. Hilarious!

*Having fun in Auburn above the fog and LOVING the sunshine.

*We were all just getting into our food when Kaelan had had enough.

*Once JJ was finished, he needed his comfort (Mama's hair) to help him relax. We thought he was asleep because he was in this position for a while breathing deeply; and we took this pic to see if his eyes were closed only to find this sly expression. We laughed at this for a long time. BOO!

After a tiring night at the pasta restaurant. Go Daddy Dave! They never even budged.

We then took a short road trip north of the Bay Area to a place called Lakeport. It's a small resort-like town on Clear Lake with almost nothing there; but I have to say that the lake and surrounding scenery are quite amazing. We felt so good about Auburn that this trip felt like such a waste. We wanted to complete our obligation, so we went ahead and checked it out. I've never been to that part of CA, so I thought it could be a fun trip. What I found is that we were all so tired and cranky. No one wanted to do anything or eat this, or go there.

Here is a little taste of our experiences:

*Kaelan trying REALLY hard not to fall asleep after the meal.
*Ward Xmas party crafts

*Lakeport highlights - and these last ones are what I should be doing right now; but I was thinking of you, Dito. ;)

And at last, the final pic for tonight...what we did while spending 4.5 hours in the LV airport:

Check back again in about a week to see the Xmas letter!