End of the Year letter, 2004

This year has continued to keep us on our toes, but luckily with joyful surprises and manageable challenges. Our biggest news happened this September when we were thrilled to find out that we’d be making Lily a big sister next May. Our kids should be 23 months apart; this is simultaneously terrifying and exciting. We’ll try to keep you posted, but have no idea what it will be like to have an energetic toddler and a newborn at the same time, so bear with us!

Here are a few more highlights from 2004:

In February we bought the most awesome home we could imagine. We’re only 15 minutes from downtown yet feel like we live in the country. Sitting on two lush acres, our home is a unique space with outdoor living a big part of the design. It needs a lot of work (hence the emergency re-roofing we had to do in October after gnarly rains) but we’re young, so what the heck! We’re planning a small addition next year and are blessed to have the original architect in on the project. The place is a perpetual mess, but you’re welcome to come by anytime!

We celebrated Lily’s first birthday in June with a huge carrot cake made by Grandma Janis and a great party at our new home. Family and friends hung out on our deck in the sunshine while Lily wondered, “What’s the hubbub about?” We also got to enjoy hanging out with new nephew Liam, born to Elaine’s brother and sister-in-law in April. Matt and Michele have a happy boy who is a delight and we miss them terribly since their move to Omaha, Nebraska in September.

The day after Lily’s birthday we ripped out our termite and wood rot infested deck. We have been living with the gaping hole ever since and are looking forward to the remodel so we can have our wonderful deck back. We’re even looking forward to incorporating in a hot tub. Mark’s brother Steve, who recently purchased a new house, has decided he didn’t want the hot tub it came with and is generously gifting it to us! Parties at our house will never be the same again. Thanks, Steve!!

In late July we decided to hit the road for a 2 1/2 week road trip. We drove up the coast and came home via Yosemite. We stayed with friends, family or in our VW camper van and we had a great time. Lily slept in many odd places (including a closet) and we had time to talk about what we wanted for our future. One of the big discoveries was that Elaine wanted to go back to work full time while Mark wanted to be a stay-at-home dad. Shortly after we made this realization, Elaine was offered a job at The Old Globe that actually made this shift possible. We’ve been adjusting to our new roles and are trying to decide how things will change once we have the new baby. One day at a time, my friends!

Lily enjoyed her first Halloween as a dog. She picked the costume herself and loved barking at it, at people and all around the block we trick-or-treated on. She would march right up to a door, bang on it with her pumpkin basket, and grin wildly at people as they delivered the goods. She even tried to share with a parent who bent down to tell her how cute she was. Mark and Elaine enjoyed eating the candy since Lily just thought it was a toy (and we encouraged that belief). It was a blast.

We spent Thanksgiving up at Uncle Bob’s and Aunt Betty’s cabin on Palomar Mountain where we introduced Lily to sledding (BIG hit), a hay ride (acceptable after a small protest cry), and the family turkey insanity (our toddler eats like a Tasmanian Devil!). We’re heading up North to visit with Mark’s clan for Christmas/New Years and will keep our fingers crossed for snow. We’ve also decided to sponsor a family in need this year rather than buying our very comfortable friends and family meaningless gifts. It’s so easy to forget what the holidays are really about and let ourselves get overwhelmed by the massive consumerism. What’s another sweater for dad when you know someone who can’t even afford groceries? It’s out of control! So, that’s the plan.

Overall it’s been another good year. We are rich in family, friends and laughter, three things we have found to be more important than just about anything else. We hope this letter finds you and yours happy, healthy and in good spirits and we look forward to another year in your company.

Lots of Love,

Elaine, Mark, Lily and the little bean