So late… no Christmas cards this year…

To our family and friends:

I prepared this holiday letter on Christmas Eve, but mailing it out in Christmas cards after New Years seems a little ridiculous. Please forgive us for our “neglect” this year… on a positive note, most of my envelopes are already addressed for next year (as long as I don’t lose them between now and then…)!

Happy New Year to you all – may 2014 be a wonderful and memorable year!

*************************

Merry “Belated” Christmas!

December 2013 (and just maybe the months leading up to it…!) was slightly nuts for our little family and as a result; we’re behind in just about everything Christmas/holiday related (sigh…whatch’ya gonna do, right?). Although we know there’s little to no chance we’ll actually get our Christmas cards our before gifts have been opened, leftovers are all eaten up and you’ve had the chance to take advantage of some of those post-holiday sales, we still wanted to take a little moment to let you know that we’re thinking about you… (and that despite evidence that may indicate otherwise, we have been thinking about you) and give you a run down on the highlights of the past year.

It doesn’t really need to be said again but WOW TIME FLIES! This time last year Andrea was at home, Violet was just barely 5 months old, Layla and Meaghan were getting used to a new school and a new daycare, we had an old and (as it turned out) very sick pup, our basement had just flooded with sewage (gag) and there was a wall separating our kitchen and living room. This and more has changed since then. What…A… Year…

Through the ups and downs, the activities and renovations and brilliant ideas (okay…so they aren’t all brilliant….) we really make an effort to regularly take a step back and appreciate the many many many things we have to be thankful for. Did I say many? I meant it. Life is not always perfect and we don’t always have everything we’d like or the way we’d like it… but we have so much more than we need and a whole lot of the most important things in life with cuddles and giggles and little grimy hands reaching and grabbing at us – reminding us to try harder to be present. to be better. for them. Enjoying the journey, right? Right. Easier said than done – but certainly a worthy objective!

Some highlights from the last year… and maybe a couple of lows (sigh… just keeping it real) 2013 actually started on a bit of a downer. Over the holidays, our basement flooded (gag… again) and we quite unexpectedly lost our first dog, Reuben. Brutal (Losing Reuben, that is. The flood sucked, for sure, but losing the dog was way harder than we ever would have imagined).  As difficult as it was at the time, we pulled through and moved on. 555815_10151474637576217_495864433_nBefore you know it, we had a crazy little puppy, Quinn, running around our newly renovated basement. As much as a special (spazy!) dog like Reuben was irreplaceable, Quinn, who just recently turned one, has turned out to be a really great dog.    And we took advantage of the basement situation to downsize the “Rodgers zoo” (score for Andrea!). The rest of the winter seems uneventful in comparison but we benefited from Brandon’s 5 weeks of paternity leave (which in typical Brandon fashion, was used more to care for the new puppy), lazy days at home and the cottage and Andrea finally got into a workout routine that worked for her (seems like small news, but it changed her life!) and discovered the Looneyspoons Collection cookbook (absolutely fantastic!!!)

With the arrival of spring came numerous projects (some more necessary than others of course) and the countdown to our much-anticipated summer off all together. The best renovation projects from the spring/summer have to be the addition to the mezzanine at the cottage and the new deck at home. Both of which were realized by Brandon and his Dad. What a team!

582345_10151951978296217_1642385809_nThe summer… was incredible :)… and it went by so fast 😦

We thoroughly enjoyed the cottage, discovered how wonderfully content a campfire can make Andrea, found a hidden path to explore and spent lots of time looking for frogs and other critters. We took advantage of the intensive outdoor swimming lessons and spent hours and hours at the soccer field with both Layla and Meaghan playing this year. The summer FLEW by, but by the time school was starting up again, we were all ready for a little routine in our lives. To say we got more than we bargained for us an understatement…

Ooof… Change is great. I love it. But too much change at the same time is… really really difficult (to put it simply!). The fall hit us all pretty hard as our weeks filled up with various responsibilities, commitments, activities and events… oh… and more renovations (of course!)…

Brandon went back to work and continued working towards his masters’ degree in teaching. He prepared (weekly tutoring) and studied for the infamous and very difficult “French test” that is required for him to receive his diploma (which we just found out he passed – with a high enough percentage to teach French! Bravo!). He also kept up his regular exercise and continued playing in a weekly basketball league… among other things.

1013924_10151750423136217_759018254_nLayla started grade 1 (and we said hello to homework in the evenings. um. not fun.). It is incredible to see her learning so much and we’re both thrilled and proud that she’s doing so well in school – and especially math! Meaghan returned to daycare 3-days/week and is very interested in her sisters homework, trying hard to keep up despite the two-year difference. You wouldn’t know it to look at them though – Meaghan is almost as tall as Layla now and we are asked regularly (by strangers) if they are twins! Violet started going to daycare in September (sniff sniff!) but integrated with ease. Despite the onslaught of germs leading to sickness after sickness over the last few months, we’re confident that she truly enjoys her days playing with other little ones.  The “big girls” also did cheerleading and gymnastics through the fall. They are all growing up way too quickly and although they drive us a little wonky, we’re so proud to often get really positive feedback about how good and sweet and polite they are.  I guess we must be doing something right!

Andrea (who always needs some sort of project – if it’s not a baby on the way, it’s a mountain or… a masters…geez) returned to school and work in September. She thought she had it all worked out quite perfectly… the various pieces of the puzzle falling into place… but once again she learned the important lesson that it is impossible to do everything part-time and do anything very well at all (sigh!). Her first class in over 7 years turned out to be the most challenging class that she had ever taken. Foreign Policy Theory is interesting (to some!) but particularly complex… and introduced her to her first school related all-nighters ever (EVER!) She handed in her term paper on December 19 and is crossing her fingers that next semester will be easier. She’s also still REALLY happy with the kitchen/living room renos that we managed to complete in September/October. That white subway tile backsplash was a real tough job on her weenie arms but it turned out exactly like she was hoping it would!

1468811_10152063166921217_1714347926_nOver the next couple of weeks, we are going to take a step back… and enjoy some much-needed down time with each other. We’re so blessed to have the cottage for that. Meaghan said it best when she said grace before dinner a few weeks back “Dear God, thank you for the food and thank you that it’s Friday because we get to go to the cottage and I love that”. Aw. Needless to say, we are so happy to see that they realize how special it is to get away and enjoy the simplicity of spending time together… away from distractions… away from the hectic… away from the “just wait a minute while I…”. This Christmas (or slightly after!) and in the coming year, we are wishing you all the same in some way or another.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2014. It’s going to be a good one… I can feel it!

With love,

The Rodgers’ Family

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