We spent a lot of time at Six Flags, but not as much as we did in 2016. We weren't going to renew our season passes for 2018, but we had so much fun at the New Jersey park that we really wanted to go back. And, they were so cheap ($52/each) that we couldn't resist. I've written about our other trips, but I will say that New York was a definite highlight and as a family, it is hard to beat our spontaneous trip to Florida. I can't imagine we will ever make such a big trip on such short notice again!
The biggest change was me returning to work. It has been 5 months and so far the transition is better than I expected. I miss seeing the kids in the mornings, but our morning nanny is so wonderful that the kids don't seem to mind. And, the early start means that I am home by 4:30, so we don't miss out on much afternoon/evening time. Thomas is home even earlier and is able to greet them shortly after they get off the bus. Obviously, the biggest impact is on Luke since he has to go to daycare. But, there is an awesome program near our house and he has been very happy there. I think he would rather be home, but I also think it is probably better for him to be at daycare. It was hard for me to find ways to entertain and provide stimulation, especially now that his naps are so short, or completely foregone.
For New Years Eve, we had our traditional cheese fondue. During dinner, we discussed the highlights of the past year and what we are looking forward to in the next. Here are everyone's favorites:
Kori and Thomas: seeing Hamilton in New York
Anna: being Tweedle-Dum in the school play
Jack: riding the tallest roller coaster in America (and one of the tallest in the world)
Kara: going to Philadelphia, and specifically the Franklin Institute
Luke: riding the Metro train
I'm super shocked that no one chose going to Harry Potter World, but maybe that was because we went in February and it was too far removed from memory. It was a pretty awesome family vacation where Kara gained some roller coaster bravery. Seeing their faces in Diagon Alley was priceless. And the frozen butterbeer--I'm itching to go back just thinking about it all!
And, what people are most looking forward to in 2018:
Jack: Can't decide between the cruise and starting his last year of elementary school
Anna: Going on a cruise
Kara: Having Thanksgiving on a cruise
Luke: Riding the metro train
Thomas: Celebrating our 15th anniversary
Kori: Going to Six Flags New Jersey and riding their awesome roller coasters
|It's always fundue with this crew|
On to our annual "report" on the kids:
Anna has made great progress this year. She had a strong finish to 3rd grade and was excited to begin 4th. We had a tumultuous summer while she was trying to decide if going into the STEM program was the right decision for her. Ultimately, she decided to return to her home school and is very happy with her decision. She made straight As on her first report card and was selected to join the math club. She is also in the gifted reading program. She started piano lessons about a month ago and is doing well. Her violin lessons last year helped her with some of the basics. Hopefully, she will enjoy piano more than she did violin and the lessons will continue throughout the year. She still loves to play with Littlest Pet Shop and has a new found love for American Girl. Anna also really loves to read, in fact, she spent her Christmas money on books. My three words for Anna are: inquisitive, argumentative and helpful. Thomas said: impulsive, helpful and smart. When she grows up she wants to a veterinarian or marine biologist.
Jack also had a strong academic year. He was selected for the gifted program in math and added into the reading portion when he reached 4th grade. He is also in the math club and really enjoys school. He is very competitive and if his teacher has a prize for the first one to accomplish something, Jack is extremely motivated. He was the first to memorize some math facts and won a calculator. He is currently fighting for first in some other math game. He is an introvert and generally prefers to be inside with a book then outside with friends. He loves Star Wars and Disney Infinity. For the most part, he is easy-going (at least with Thomas and me--maybe not as much with his sisters). He rarely complains and does pretty much whatever we ask when we ask it. He is very sweet and kind-hearted. He still loves history and is always up for a trip to a battlefield or other historical site. My three words for Jack are: quiet, kind and smart. Thomas said: quiet, confident, and smart. When he grows up he wants to be a lawyer and then become a politician.
Kara is enjoying third grade. She has her two best friends by her side, which made the transition easy. Like her siblings, she is a good student who enjoys school. She is still high-spirited, but has done a lot better controlling her frustrations as the year progressed. She loves to be helpful and is always asking if there is something we need, especially if it involves cooking or baking. She still loves playing with Littlest Pet Shop and being outside. She is an expert on her pogo stick. Like Jack, she is competitive and has a strong desire to exceed expectations. She can spend hours on a project, although she can also get very frustrated if things aren't going the way she wants or expects. When I started work, I asked the kids to make me something to decorate my office. Kara was the only one who was interested and spent hours making me a pointillism picture. She is very sweet and thoughtful, for Christmas she spent hours in her room working on surprise gifts for us, including a very clever ornament that has all our names. My three words to describe Kara are: emotional, loving and determined. Thomas said: temperamental, hard-working and sensitive. When she grows up, she wants to be a lawyer or an author.
Luke is the perfect baby of the family. He loves his siblings and they are still very patient and kind to him. They are (almost) always happy to entertain him if Thomas and I are working on something and need a few minutes of peace. Anna and Kara frequently fight over his attention and have to be reminded that he is a person and not an object (thus, he cannot be "stolen" by your sibling). He is very lovable and makes friends wherever he goes. His teachers at school adore him and always seem genuinely happy when he arrives. They have made it a point to tell us how smart he is. Luke can also be a bit stubborn. More than once, he hasn't had a "project" for the day because he refused to cooperate. One day, that meant he would only write his name as ekul. Which, to be honest, I found pretty funny. After all, the kid is 3, if he wants to spend his work time writing his name backwards, I say, go for it! Luke only has one volume--loud! He loves to have light saber battles with Jack. My three words for Luke are silly, loud and funny. Thomas said cute, loud and rambunctious. When he grows up, he said he wants to be Spiderman.
Gus is pretty new to our family. We've only known him a week. But, my words for him are silly, loving and immature. When he grows up, I want him to be housebroken (sooner rather than later, please).
Thomas had a good year at work. He continues to receive great reviews. He was happy to go to lots of baseball games. Although Jack didn't want to continue playing, he really loves going to games with Thomas and the two were able to take in several Nationals games. He is hoping to score All Star tickets in July. With me going back to work, he changed his schedule to arrive home a bit earlier. He has taken on all homework responsibility, which has made my life pretty pleasant. He is always looking for ways to make my life easier. Even with the new dog, he has taken over nighttime duties. When I protested, he admonished that I needed to let him do something nice for me. I am not sure why he thinks I deserve it, but I am very thankful for a husband who is so loving and kind.
As mentioned, there were a lot of changes for me this year. Sometimes, I feel true regret over my return to work, but mostly I am happy with the decision. The paycheck has provided us with more financial freedom and I like feeling intellectually challenged. It is fun to work in a building right next to Thomas'. Sometimes, we even take a quick walk (it's a 7 minute loop around our buildings) if one of us needs to clear our head. It has been a good crutch for me to have Thomas there, I frequently (like, multiple times a day) call him with questions and he is always patient and helpful. It would be much harder without him there. I still have to fight the negative self-talk over being so much older than my senior colleagues (my two supervisors are a bit older, but literally every other lawyer in my building is much younger). I frequently have to remind myself that the 7 years I stepped away from the workforce were both necessary and productive. But, it is hard to think of where I could be compared to where I am.
That concludes the annual year in review. There is a lot to look forward to in 2018. I expect Gus will make the most changes, at least I hope he will. Luke turns 4 this year, which is pretty crazy. I always think of 4 as that turning point from toddler to kid. He even picked his own birthday spot this year---the gymnastics center. Some of the birthday places fill fast, so we recently started talking to him about his birthday (which is in March). We told him his choices were the gymnastics center, a party at home, Great Wolf Lodge or Pump it Up. He thought by choosing the gymnastics center, it meant we were going right away. Like after nap. He was mighty disappointed, but we have it reserved. Not for the time we wanted, despite booking 3 months in advance, but we get to have it on his actual birthday, which is pretty cool. Kara's birthday is next month and she wants to have a Harry Potter themed party with a few friends. She wants to watch a Harry Potter movie and eat Harry Potter themed food. Should be fun! We have a big cruise planned in November, but may have to cancel to pay for a fence.