This year brought many, many blessings for our family. It's amazing how quickly times flies with a little guy added to the mix, but with his huge curls, big smile and ever increasing vocabulary, Cooper has definitely made this year one truly to keep us on our toes. As far as trips go, we hit the Southern Caribbean in the spring, planted squarely in the mix with Tommy's 5th birthday and Cooper's 2nd birthday. What an amazing journey it was, too, as we visited the unfamiliar islands of Caracao and Aruba, the less than stellar coasts of Costa Rica and Panama, and made our way into and through the Panama Canal. Once back on land, I quickly scrambled to get ready for our big guy's 40th birthday party, and managed to pull of what ended up being mostly a surprise to him. Down in Everett his family and some friends joined us for a surprise gathering for him, and I followed that up by a romantic...uh, change that...family trip to Whistler as a surprise as well. John just couldn't stand to be away from the boys on such an exciting trip, so with Rhonda in tow, we headed up together. Whistler continues to be a favorite getaway of ours, and we enjoyed watching Tommy try out the big boy jumps and the skate park with his bike. In June, we headed out for our annual pilgrimage to Silverwood, then stayed close to home for the summer. However, John's summer was just ramping up.
Huge. Monumental. Amazing.
Our trip to Vineman Ironman 2009 was supported by our friends and family, and I was able to travel down with John on his most amazing athletic journey. Brad had fought through numerous injuries throughout training to race hard and successful, too. It was an incredibly proud moment for me, not only to watch my husband cross the finish line looking completely at ease and extremely happy, but competing in this race. I still remember our early days together when I would go out on runs and John would tell me, " I don't really like to run." Now, he's doing this.
Our final trip of the year saw us in California, celebrating all things Disney. It was an amazing trip for us as a family and a time where John and I had the pleasure of watching our beautiful sons experience the "magic" of Disney. We were so very thankful that we made the decision to take this trip while Tommy still believes and Cooper loves on all characters, no matter their name!
Tommy completed roughly three years at Catch The Son, and although great strides were made these years, he still brought laughter, and a tad bit of embarrassment, when he crawled under his chair during his graduation ceremony. Long live the photo John took of this moment. Tommy spent his summer jumping off the dock and the life guard chair without a life jacket, and quickly made friends with the lifeguards. They spend a lot of time hanging out with him, playing with him on the beach and on the trampoline and chasing him and the friends around the lawns. Although he tried, he still does not put much effort into water skiing, but bring on the tube and he's all daredevil. Flying across the lake, "surfing" the tube and begging to go faster. That's what it was about on the water. He started kindergarten this fall, and although still a bit anxious and tearful in the mornings, he's learning to trust his new teacher and enjoys his days at Geneva. We're seeing the beginnings of his writing and reading emerge, and it's exciting to watch that continue to grow. Legos, legos and more legos. That is his true love. He loves his friends Isaac and Tiago, and finished his first season of Lakeside Soccer. John started and retired after his first season as assistant soccer coach. Tommy is a great brother to Cooper, and has to put up with a lot of Cooper. Cooper will take his toys, break his Legos, throw tantrums, etc. Although Tommy seems to enjoy those moments when Cooper is howling about something, he's also quick to give in and relinquish whatever it is that Coop is carrying on about. As we enter this time of year, we're seeing more and more moments of enthusiastic play between the two, and it's not only encouraging but endearing to see. They'll dance together, races through the house together squealing with delight, wrestle and tackle, play and do tricks off of the bed onto the floor mattress, and sometimes even sit together and play legos. Tommy started guitar lessons, but after a month of it, I pulled the plug on them. Although he likes to play his guitar and jam, he does not want to practice what he does not understand, and just isn't quite ready to take on the complicated tasks involved in each lesson. I didn't want to tarnish his love of his guitar in fighting the lessons piece, so although I was a bit disappointed we couldn't go each week, it was a good decision. He still continues with his hip-hop classes at Dancing For Joy, and our newest nanny is even a hip hop dancer herself, so that is a fun addition for us as well. Tommy is quite the homebody. He has been asked on numerous playdates with friends, but he does not want to go, preferring to have the nanny of the day come pick him up and take him home to play. He also has to be first at whatever he does, and competes with Coop for everything now. This does not sit well with Coop, and usually results in more howling throughout the day.
Speaking of nannies, one of the most challenging aspects to our schedule has been the constant scheduling of nannies. It's challenging in both the weekly schedule to not only cover our work schedules, but to accommodate their school schedules within that as well. It's figuring out who is going to pick up who when, and which parent has flexibility on any given day. Throw in illness to the mix, or a change in school schedule, or a change in our work schedule, and it can get messy. Molly left us this fall to attend college, and Jamie just left now after getting a full time job down in Everett. For the first time I had to advertise up at Western, but after receiving only one hit on that, interviewing and having it not work out, we actually got an opportunity from my friend Kris. Jamie Two has come to us now, and we're looking forward to her beginning with us in the new year. It's very hard for us to not know how we're going to cover our schedules, but Lil has offered to help with the holes created lately, and as a last resort, we know we have her for backup. It will be interesting to see what the new year brings, that's for sure. I am always delighted, though, to come home with the kids engaged in one activity or another. One evening I came home and my entire bedroom had been transformed into one big fort. I'm not kidding. Georgia went to town. One night it was the entire living room. Usually there is arts and craft all about, or baking projects they've done together. Trips to the fire station and the school playground, or outside to play soccer and football. It's a fun party when we're gone, and I have little worry about their adventures when we have to be away.
Cooper...where should I begin? He is such a beautiful little soul. He's quick to love, quicker to howl, a firecracker and teddy bear all at once. It's amazing how quickly his sentences have come, and such a delight to hear all that is going on in his head. Just recently, he's taken to saying, "Mommy, I love you," and "I want to love on my mommy" when he wants to be held and cuddle, and really has attached himself to being a "baby" when it suits him. "I baby" he'll say. "I'm just a little guy". He loves to dance and listen to music, jump and throw himself around playing "wee" in our bedroom. He wants to be included in everything, which includes big guy talk, including poop, "hate" and "oh my gosh". This spring when we traveled to the Caribbean, he was barely talking. The change to now is amazing and how quickly it comes. He absolutely loved Disneyland and all that he saw. He loved seeing the characters and bolted quickly to give them big hugs and love all over them. Cooper started preschool, and it has been tough on me. His start was slow, and he would cry and cling, not want to go and create a fuss. At the same time, he was battling sickness after sickness, which didn't help with his transition to school. I wanted to throw in the towel more than once, but now John generally takes him to school and deals with it, as he has a much stronger determination to see it through. Now when Coop goes to class, he's less likely to throw a fit, and Teacher April says any problem he has is quick and mostly for show. He's doing well now, and learning new songs and his alphabet. Cooper loves to sing his alphabet and songs that he hears on Dora, Olivia and Phineau and Ferb. It's so cute to hear him singing as he wanders about. Unlike Tommy, Cooper seems to enjoy the company of animals. He has not forgotten Papa Darrell's farm, and loves to cuddle on dogs and cats alike. He rode on the horses down at Warm Beach without hesitation. Tommy, on the other hand, does not like dogs, or many animals in general. However, he is now pestering us for a pet, preferably a cat that he can cuddle, so that is our latest quest...to dodge the "pet" discussion. Can we remain a pet free household until they are both on their own? Not sure about that.
I wish this could be more comprehensive. I'm sure I will look back years from now, regretting the time I didn't devote to being more thorough in my documentation of the kids' lives. However, life is so very hectic, and I'm thankful that John continues to log photos whenever he can. Maybe my New Year's resolution will be to get better at blogging!