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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