Things have once again been very busy, but this time it's been much more oriented towards the positive. James was mired in the first finals of his law school career for a few weeks, spending 14 hours a day studying, breaking only for meals and an occasional much needed nap. He managed to make it through relatively unscathed, and didn't hit the major burnout stage until just before the last exam. In the middle of all of that, Cadence and I took on the daunting (but ultimately quite rewarding) task of finding us a new permanent home. It took a lot of work, but in the end we managed to secure a gorgeous new home in Hamilton Heights! We're very excited about our new abode, and are very grateful to the many people who helped us to get everything moved into it just in the nick of time...we have hardly done any unpacking and haven't yet finished scrubbing down the floors, so there is much to be done upon our return to the city, but at least everything is in and we can take our time getting it set up and ourselves settled in. It's very exciting to be thinking more about how to decorate the place than whether we'll find a safe home. In any case, we moved and then hit the road for our holiday trip with a lot of weight removed from all our shoulders.
Cadence has been on a grandparent high; her Nai nai came and spent the evening with us just before we left, and since we got down here she has been delighted to get to play with Nana and Papa. Not to mention how excited she's been to see Kelly and all the critters!!
The holidays kicked into full gear pretty quickly; I celebrated my birthday right after we all arrived, and we had the great fortune to attend some christmas parties within the week. Cadence got to attend her very first age-specific holiday party this year, when many of her good friends down here gathered for a Toddler Christmas Party! It was also a farewell gathering for our friends Colin and Anya, since they are embarking on their own new adventure, following Dad Steve's new job to Baton Rouge, LA, so it was a very fun but somewhat bittersweet event. There was face painting and balloons, good friends, lots of good food, gift exchanges, and even a few tears. We're sad that they won't be here when we come for visits anymore, but are very excited for them as they take on a new chapter in their lives together as we have done; this is a family full of wonderful, talented people who have been through a lot together, and support each other to the end. I have no doubt that they will be fine, and I am so happy for them and proud of them. And, since she just announced it on facebook I feel comfortable now declaring for all the web to see: They are expecting a new baby boy in May, and we couldn't be more glad and hopeful for them. There are no more deserving parents, they are both wonderful and have already proven themselves parents any kid would be lucky to have. Congratulations, Anya, Steve...the whole family!!
As I mentioned earlier, we have pitifully few photos, but I do have a few to share with you; and thus I bring you one of the season's miracles: getting six two year olds to sit on a single couch (without being held!) for a photo opportunity!!
And below you'll find a great one taken by Sheryl Hagan-Booth, Hannah's mom, which shamelessly I stole from facebook because...well, just look at it, it's just a fabulous shot. Thanks, Sheryl!
L-R: Nadia, Mia, Hannah, Kate, Colin and Cadence. What a great bunch of kids! I also stole this next shot from Sheryl. It really makes me understand why people are always saying that Cadence looks like a china doll.
Anyway, we had a great Christmas. Christmas eve was very productive, and Cadence had a lot of fun going to the Candles & Carols service at the UU church that evening. It was a fun service, and surprise surprise Cadence managed to steal the show (as usual) when Forrest, a good friend of my Dad's whom Cadie knows, sat on the edge of the stage in front of the congregation to sing a song, and she went right up next to him and danced along to the music. After that, she danced to every song that was sung, even getting the minister to dance along with her. She continued to dance, providing musically appropriate rhythms for each tune, even the candle-lit Silent Night at the close of the service, for which she danced a lyrical, slow, soft dance which fully embodies the calm of the song. It was brilliant. That night, we stayed up late cooking, baking cookies and preparing for the Big Day! Here's a shot of the cookies and milk (an orange craisin ants-on-a-log) that we left for Santa:
The next morning, she woke up to a dazzling array of gifts (see the photo at the top of this post, though that was before Santa came!), and had a grand time discovering all of her new wonders one at a time. She seemed almost more excited to give out the gifts she'd gotten for everyone else than she did to open her own, but she spent a looooong time with each new thing before moving on to the next, and that was almost always at great urging from the rest of the family, who were a bit more concerned with finishing the unwrapping with enough time to clean and finish cooking before the Minister came over for christmas dinner...
It ended up working out perfectly, though, and everyone seemed happy. Kelly had a bright red car in the front yard with a big ole bow on the front (granted, it's the car she helped mom pick out over the summer, which they've both been , Cadence got her Ice Skates and Princess clothes (along with books galore, my mom's old cooking set from when she and her siblings were little, my collection of plastic dogs, puzzles, ducks, movies...) and a highlight for me was when James opened his gift and actually squealed...he will deny this, but I have witnesses. I was going to post a video of it, but unfortunately the videocamera didn't get plugged in, so it died before the pivetol moment. Ah well, it's a great memory; it was the Kitchen Aid mixer he's wanted since we got married. I see lots of yummy breads and pastas in our future!
Cadence models her new Princess Clothes on Christmas morning. She was a happy kid!
Nana and Baba listen as I read "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" to Cadence on Christmas morning.
We had a wonderful meal, topped off with something that is likely to become a new tradition: New Orleans style bread pudding...it was AMAZING. Cadence went back to church with Nana that evening, and we all finished the day off with a movie together. All in all, it was a pretty great day.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that we also spent some time baking, building, and decorating a gingerbread house! Here are a few pictures of the finished product. It was a team effort, no one of us had creative control, so the end result was a delightfully haphazard candy home, complete with:
Family graveyard out front with a cross with an apple on it (there was a serpent to go along with it, but a cat ate it. Not kidding. Gingerbread serpent actually was eaten by a cat And not the one on the roof.), and:
Happy Holidays, all!!