Anual Holiday Letter

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Once again, December finds us with a year of memories behind us, stacks of photos (over 1,400 uploaded to our Flickr photo account this year alone!), a mess of stories (about 300 of them posted on Elaine's web log WannabeHippie this year alone), countless birthday parties, art projects, outings with playgroups, park days, trips to the zoo and museums, visits to the beach, walks... you know, life. We've been lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time together - neither one of us forced to work full time - just enjoying our kids, our home and the life we've managed to put together for our family. Mark continues to do some freelance carpentry as well as working gigs here and there with corporate theatre companies as well as local theatre groups. Elaine mostly takes care of kids but has also taken on the title of "Tupperware Lady", making a few extra dollars doing Tuppertini Parties (Tupperware and Martini's) as 1950's house wife, Bitsy Bunting (photos and product available at Bitsy Bunting). Our daughters, Lily (3.5-years-old) and Anya (1.5-years-old) continue their very important work of growing and learning and pushing the limits. They are a constant source of joy and frustration.

We spent a good chunk of the year on the road, visiting friends and family, taking grand adventures and seeing the world with two small children in tow. We flew across country in February for Mark's work, landing in Orlando, Florida. After a few days of working a gig while Elaine wandered around town with the girls we enjoyed some true family vacation time. While there we celebrated Mark's 38th birthday at the Kennedy Space Center and then visited for a few days with friends near Tampa. We took the girls camping with one of our playgroups in June and Mark and his brother did some grown-up camping on their own in August. In September Elaine abandoned Mark and the girls to visit Allyn in the Bay Area, a trip that is becoming a birthday tradition. October put everyone back on a plane, this time flying down to La Paz, Mexico with Elaine's mom and Step-dad for a week with friends Milton and Susu and their daughter Michelle. Our friends have a beautiful bed and breakfast there and with Grandma along to help with the kids, we easily had one of the best vacations of our lives, soaking up the sun, playing on private beaches and talking late into the night with old friends we so rarely get to see. November allowed us some time to spend with family, seeing Elaine's brother, his wife and their adorable son for one night and then continuing on to stay with Mark's mom in Northern California for Thanksgiving. The car ride home was less than pleasant as both Mark and Anya got the stomach flu and suffered the whole way back. We had planned to make one final trip in December but after that experience, we've decided to stay put for the month! Instead we look forward to enjoying a visit from Mark's brother, Steve, throwing another Solstice Party, rising early on the 22nd to see the sunrise and open Solstice gifts, and spending time with the extended family for Christmas.

Other activities and highlights include:

* Elaine learned to knit and ran off weekly for a Monday evening knitting group with friends.

* Our container garden continued to grow and we enjoyed the added produce from joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture - you sign up for deliveries of fresh, organic produce, which is simultaneously delicious, affordable and environmentally conscious! YAY!).

* Elaine formed a walking group with other moms, promptly pulling her piriformis muscle and causing her to limp around enjoying sciatic pain for months. It still hurts when under stress. But yes, she's still walking with friends, just less aggressively now.

* We had such a hot summer that Mark went out and bought an above ground pool, allowing the four of us to leap in and cool off as needed. The girls are still a bit afraid of the water, but the summer gave them plenty of time to get used to it.

* Lily started her first rec center classes this year with gymnastics (one class in July and another this fall with her Grandma Janis), dance (which she is devoted to) and drama (which she hated... I guess she's unaware her parents are theatre junkies).

* Along the same lines, we took Lily to see a performance of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! this November. She didn't enjoy that either, finding the lights and music and overall experience overwhelming. Seriously, kid!

All in all, another exhausting and wonderful year, full of the expected ups and downs. We hope this post finds you enjoying a happy holiday and a really excellent new year. Many blessings to you and yours; we'll be thinking of you!

Elaine, Mark, Lily and Anya

Our end of the year photo card