2012 Christmas Card

Merry Christmas to everyone! It’s certainly been a long time since I’ve posted here, but I thought I’d share an advance preview of this year’s Christmas Card! I get a $10 off code from Shutterfly anyway — so why not?

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.
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Merry Christmas To All, 2009

2009 Christmas CardMerry Christmas! Once again, it’s been an eventful year for our household…especially since it started off with two of the very best gifts ever.

Snug as Bugs in a RugGeitra, Neil, and Amelia were thrilled to welcome our twin boys Gabriel and Adrian to the family on January 22nd this year. They arrived about a month early, and although they were small, they were blessed with good health and quickly gained strength. As a result, we were able to welcome them home just a few days after they were born. Our lives just haven’t been the same since–for one thing, we are B-U-S-Y! It took us a bit longer to find our new rhythm with the boys than it did when Amelia was born, but they both hung in there with us and waited patiently (usually) while we figured things out. Luckily, we had a lot of help from our parents, our friends, and our church family during the first few months. Bottle feeding was especially difficult, since their feeding reflexes were immature, but eventually we got them to start packing on the weight once their pediatrician suggested a special formula designed for preemies.  By the time they were six months old, the boys would hoover down about 80 ounces of formula a day, which works out to a big Costco-size can of powder every six days — and does not bode well for how much these two are going to eat once they hit middle school. They’ve been making the transition to solid foods for the past few months and have been doing quite well — in fact, both of them have turned into little Cheerio junkies!

Adrian and Gabriel MickelsonRegardless of the future in which they eat us out of house and home, life with these two little men is joyful. Gabriel just started to fully crawl today, as a matter of fact, and Adrian is still “combat-crawling” on his belly like he’s pulling himself through the mud on an obstacle course. Gabe has learned from Maggie, and often carries something in his mouth while on the move.  Adrian has a regular circuit through the kitchen, and always checks to see if Mom remembered to pick up the dog dishes. They can also sit up by themselves, and they’re starting to pull themselves up on various bits of furniture. In short, they’re pretty mobile…and they take full advantage of it whenever they get the chance. Gabriel seems to be a bit more of a thoughtful explorer, sometimes finding an interesting toy and just sitting to play with it for a while. Adrian, meanwhile, loves crawling over, under, around, and through anything he can — highchairs, exersaucers, his brother…it doesn’t matter to him! They love it when you join them on the floor, rewarding you with two of the cutest smiles in the world — all the cuter for the veritable explosion of baby teeth both of them have coming in right now.  And following an example we set with Amelia, they are in a early music, movement, and socialization class called Kindermusik.  We manage to squeeze that in when Amelia is at preschool.

Amelia MickelsonSpeaking of the Big Sister of the house, Amelia is doing very well. She’s three-and-a-half now, and continues growing into a wonderful little girl who loves abundantly, spreading joy to anyone she meets with her beautiful smile and enthusiastic hugs.  We  introduced Amelia to a small daycare for several days a week during spring and summer — that way, she got a good amount of attention during the day while Mommy was home focusing on the boys. She adjusted well and started drawing shapes and tracing letters, and she really enjoyed bringing home the various crafts and pictures she made each week. She carried that forward into her first full year of preschool at our church — for which she also successfully completed the HUGE milestone of potty training!  Her favorite pastimes include everything from Little People to Tinkerbell and her fairy friends, and from watching movies about Space Shuttle astronauts with her Daddy to cooking dinner or baking cookies with Mommy. She absolutely adores her little brothers–she loves to play and cuddle with them, and shares some of her favorite toys and buddies with both of them quite freely.  Amelia is also a tremendous help around the house — fetching socks, refilling diapers, picking up toys, and doting on her brothers. She’s learned how to feed the boys by helping them with their bottles and giving them finger food (which she samples liberally herself). Amelia is also thrilled to be singing in the Little Angels choir at church, and she’ll have her public performance debut when she sings in the Christmas pageant this year!

The Mickelsons on the Fourth of JulyAs for Geitra and Neil, life doesn’t completely revolve around Amelia and the boys. Geitra is still involved in various activities at our church, including singing in the choir and participating on the curriculum committee for the children’s Sunday school program. She also enjoys participating in a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at another local church. Neil is still working hard with Booz Allen Hamilton, where he manages a 20-person team doing systems engineering work in support of national defense systems. He also got a bunch of various “fix it” projects done around the house this past year, and still managed to read a decent number of books despite the number of pages he could read per day plummeting after the boys’ arrival on the scene.

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t note the passing of Geitra’s Grandmother Bittinger this past year. As we join her family in mourning the loss, we are reminded time and again of the importance of family by all the help and support we’ve received from ours in the past year and a half as we prepared for the twins’ arrival (and the barely-controlled chaos once they were here), potty-training Amelia, and all kinds of other things. We are abundantly blessed by our family and friends, and we wish each and every one of you a joyous Christmas season and a happy and healthy New Year.

All our love,

Geitra, Neil, Amelia, Gabriel, and Adrian

P.S. Adrian stood up for the first time on December 22nd, and Gabriel learned how to do it from him the next day…watch out world, here they come!

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Welcoming the Boys – A Video Slideshow

We’ve been remiss in posting pictures of the twins and their big sister to the blog lately, but hopefully this slideshow will make up for that a little bit. We hope you enjoy seeing how much the boys have grown in just three short months.

By the way, Neil put this video together as a surprise for Geitra as part of the twins’ baptism celebration last Sunday. We’ll get some pictures of that posted soon.

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A Twin Update

Well, the twins are about two-and-a-half weeks old now, and we might be starting to settle into a rhythm. The first week was pretty challenging, because Gabriel started having some problems keeping his food down after a feeding due to reflux. With some help from the doctor and Mylicon, we found the magic combination and he started eating better. Both of the boys were actually not quite gaining the weight that we wanted to see, so the doctor started us feeding them higher-calorie formula and said to keep the house at around 75°F. So we’re now officially living in a hot-house.

It paid off, though—just a week later, both boys are above their birth weights (Gabriel finally broke the five-pound mark at five pounds, two ounces; Adrian weighed in at five pounds, 14 ounces) and were putting on weight at a rate of three ounces per day (versus the normal one ounce per day). We’re getting a little rhythm going at night, with Neil taking the pre-1AM feedings so Geitra can continue to rest and recuperate from her surgery. Sleep remains a bit uneven for us, but that’s to be expected.

So, that’s about it for now…but Neil wanted to share this photo with everyone. It’s one of his favorites so far.

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Please Welcome The Twins

We’re proud to announce the birth of our twin boys, Gabriel Edward and Adrian Robert Mickelson. They were born shortly after midnight on Thursday, January 22, 2009 at INOVA Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia. While they were born about four weeks premature, both of them are heathly and have been “rooming in” with Geitra at the hospital. They were delivered by Ceasarian section due to Gabriel’s low expected birth weight, but Geitra is recovering very well from the surgery. We brought the boys home around 12:30AM on January 26th—stay tuned for another blog post for the story behind that.

Gabriel was born at 12:42AM, weighing four pounds, 15 ounces and meauring 18 and 1/4 inches long. Adrian was born at 12:43AM, weighing five pounds, 11 ounces and measuring 19 inches long.

As you’ll see in the pictures below, Amelia had a chance to introduce herself to her new baby brothers the day after they were born—you should have heard her howl when we took one of the boys out of her arms!

Our thanks to all the family and friends that have helped us get ready for the blessing of the boys’ arrival, and for everyone’s heartfelt prayers for a healthy birth. It helped us more than you can know.

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Holiday Letter 2008

Dear Family and Friends—

Merry Christmas once again! Yes, we realize that it’s only ten months since we published our last Christmas letter (OK “Valentine’s day letter” was more like it), but after last year’s debacle we resolved to do much better this year. We didn’t quite make our goal of getting our cards mailed right after Thanksgiving, but at least we got them out before Christmas actually happened!

OK, first things first. As some of you know already, we’re expecting our next child in early 2009. Well…make that children. Yes, you read that correctly—Geitra is pregnant with twin boys, with a due date of February, 2009, and Neil is getting used to the never-thought-he’d-use-it phrase “father of three.” Getting this news certainly made the second half of the year a bit more interesting! We’ve been busy getting the nursery ready for the boys, and heading to appointment after appointment to make sure they are both healthy. Overall, things have been going fairly well so far, although Geitra was put on “not so strict” bed rest to see if one of the boys can put on a little bit more weight before the birth. You can follow news about the boys on our blog—we’ve been posting some of the ultrasound pictures, and we’ll definitely post pictures after they arrive!

So how is “big sister” handling all of this? Well, Amelia’s been absolutely wonderful this year. Even more than last year, 2008 has been a year of amazing discoveries about our little girl. For instance, her vocabulary is outstanding, to the point where she almost seems like a word magnet—point something out to her and tell her what it is, and that’s all it takes…from that point on, she’s got it locked in her mind. She can count from one to ten and sometimes up to 13 or so, and she’s learning her ABCs as well—she’s up to “L” all by herself! She is also getting quite adept at making her wishes known, asking for certain bedtime stories, certain foods, and whatnot. The best part about that is that she usually wants Mommy, Daddy, or Maggie to be with her to play or to give her hugs and kisses. Those moments make the odd little crying fit here or there (she is two after all) seem like a very small price to pay indeed.

One of the other highlights for us this year was celebrating our tenth anniversary. Neil and Geitra celebrated by taking a nine-day cruise in the Caribbean on the Caribbean Princess while Amelia stayed at home under the loving care of her grandparents. Nana Snider and Farmor Mickelson took care of Amelia during the first week of our trip, and then Nana went back to Ohio while Farfar came down to help out. Amelia had a wonderful time with her grandparents, who did everything from taking her to her swim lessons to playing the park. In the meantime, Neil and Geitra visited Bermuda, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and Grand Turk and also enjoyed all the amenities the cruise ship had to offer—from visits to the spa to movies under the stars. It was a great time to reconnect with each other, knowing that our little one was well taken care of. We can’t thank our parents enough for taking the time to do this—especially since there were some unexpected surprises the first couple of days. First, a severe storm hit Virginia the first day we were at sea, leaving our moms without power for about twelve hours. Ever resourceful, Nana Snider cooked Amelia’s dinner on the grill out back and dug out the crank-powered radio she had given us as a gift a few years ago. In the meantime, Farmor Mickelson made her way home in the pouring rain from a visit with friends courtesy of AAA after our car broke down on her—twice—due to a stuck thermostat. Despite it all, they had a wonderful time with their granddaughter—and we definitely made the most of what is likely our last vacation without kids along for years to come!

As for the rest of the year, it’s been very busy. Geitra continued her variety of activities with Amelia (including more swim classes and gymnastics), a couple of moms’ groups, and church events through the better part of the year until the pregnancy really forced her to slow down—grudgingly—in the past couple of months. She also had an opportunity to take a week of vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico, with our good friend (and Amelia’s godmother) Kate, while Neil stayed home and had a week to play the doting father for Amelia. A grand time was had by all in both places. Speaking of work, Booz Allen has continued to treat Neil well while keeping him very busy. The contract he is supporting has had its ups and downs, but there are usually opportunities for growth and new business even when things are in turmoil—the trick is identifying them and capitalizing on them.

And what of the four-legged member of the family? Well, Maggie is doing fairly well. She has continued to adjust to Amelia and her friends, and they have some nice play times together. Unfortunately, we got a little bit of bad news a couple of months ago when we took Maggie in for an eye exam…it turns out that she has some significant vision loss in one eye as a result of contracting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from a tick bite at some point. Luckily, the disease responds well to antibiotics and we caught it much earlier than many people do…in fact, our regular vet doesn’t even test for it. Maggie might even recover some vision in the bad eye as she gets better. But the bottom line is that she’s still in pretty good health overall, and she’ll continue to be a great playmate for Amelia and sooner or later the twins!

So, that brings us nearly to the end of 2008. Thanks again for coming to read our holiday letter on the website, and keep your eye on our ever-evolving gallery for pictures of the kids. We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With Love—Neil, Geitra, and Amelia (and two players to be announced later…)

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Pumpkin Chuckin’!!

We (Neil, Geitra, Amelia, and Nana) had a wonderful time at Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia, today with Amber and Nathan. They have a cool “Pumpkin Chuckin’” event that features all kinds of ways to destroy leftover jack-o-lanterns! They also have all kinds of farm displays, activities, and toys for the kids to play with. Here are some of the best pictures from our time today!

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Halloween 2008

We had a great time with Amelia this Halloween — she got a few fun holiday outfits from Farmor (aka “Grandma Judy”), and had a great ladybug costume that she used to win “best all-around” in the little kids costume contest at church. She also had a wonderful time trick-or-treating with Mommy, Daddy, and Nana who was in town for a little while.

Here are some pictures of our lovely little girl for you to enjoy!

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More Pictures of the Boys

We had another brief ultrasound appointment last week to get some new pictures of Baby B’s heart—he was bashful last visit, and the technician really couldn’t get nice shots to ensure everything is OK. So with a little time and more growth, back we went to get new pictures. And again, both Baby A and Baby B are doing just fine. Here are their latest and greatest headshots:

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It’s a Boy — And So Is the Other One!

Yep, that’s right — we’re now expecting twin BOYS, not just twins of the “unspecified” variety. We got some really nice, clear pictures during our ultrasound appointment on Thursday, and both boys felt like showing off a little bit. Luckily, their nursery is already decked out in shades of blue with a nice “moon and stars” motif wallpaper, so we don’t have too much redecorating to do in their room at all. And we’ve found cribs and a dresser that we like to go in that room, so we’re rolling right along!

Here are some pictures from the ultrasound so you can see for yourself… :)

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