and here's some of what would have been in the letter to accompany the card but with the bonus of photos that couldn't have been included in an annual letter (and probably a whole lot wordier, too, since space is a non-issue! How fun for me! :) )
Absolutely nothing exciting happened in January. Maybe this yearly recap month-by-month isn't such a good idea after all. Hmmm... how about a photo of the family in
We experienced a first as a family in February! (Ooooh alliteration!) Snow day!!! It was wild to us that schools would close for just a skiff of snow, but sure enough! The snow started falling and the kids had early school dismissal which turned into several days of unplanned
March this year brought Mardi Gras! This isn't a holiday we would have ever celebrated before our year long adventure in Louisiana, but it's something we'll enjoy yearly for now on! We found a local bakery that makes (passable) king cakes, we busted out the box of beads, I went a little purple-green-and-gold crazy at the Dollar Tree, and we invited the missionaries over to enjoy the Mardi Gras festivities. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
April was a busy, busy month! Molly turned 6, Willy had some business travel to the opposite corner of the country (Florida), Molly and I went on a fun Mommy-Daughter date to see my favorite singer, Mindy Gledhill, in concert, the big boys went to a Scouting Jamboree weekend on the coast, and Ben went to Prom! In April we also got to take a quick family trip to Utah for Willy's Hartford Connecticut Mission reunion. While we were there we enjoyed a whirlwind weekend visiting with family. It was the first opportunity we had to take Molly to Temple Square while it was in full spring time bloom and be able to get a whole family photo with all the beautiful flowers as a backdrop.
Nana (Karen Campbell) treated Willy, Brady and Toby to a Disneyland adventure in May! (Ben had his turn with Nana when he was younger. Molly will get her turn when she's a little older! Such a fun Nana tradition!) They had a blast and made so many memories. May was also Mother's Day, and Willy continued the tradition of giving me a lei. He made it himself and it made me feel like a queen!
June was one of the busiest months of our year. Toby turned 9 in June. The kids finished school, but rather than pack for vacation we got to pack up to move AGAIN. The owners of the house we had been renting decided to move back into their home, effectively forcing us to find a new place to call our own. We had our 6th address in 3 calendar years (!!!) by the end of June. Fortunately we were able to find a house that kept Ben and Brady in their same schools, but Toby and Molly had to change to a new Elementary and we found ourselves in new ward boundaries. Big changes, but changes we could live with. And because moving isn't busy enough, we also whole-heartedly welcomed houseguests for about 3 weeks in June! Ben's best friend from Louisiana came to visit which was a blast for Ben and did his happiness level so much good! And then my brother Jed, sister (in-law but in-my-heart too!) Ashley and their kids came to visit for about a week. We had a blast spending time with cousins and family and enjoying Oregon with them as much as we could while packing and preparing for the move. Jed's family actually got to stay at both of our houses while they were here! What an adventure June was!
July involved a lot of unpacking (as you can imagine) and then relaxing! With Nana and Papa and two Campbell cousins, to be exact! Yep, we moved into our new place and a week later got more houseguests! It was awesome and such a good distraction from the chaos of the move. We took a quick weekend getaway to the coast and to Astoria with Nana and Papa and the cousins and had an amazing time!
August brought scout camps, football practice, getting ready for school to start, and blackberry season! Willy grew up in the PNW so it wasn't new to him, but the kids and I had our first experience picking blackberries right off the bush and eating them. I pretty much put 1 in my mouth for every 3 that I collected to take home. Heavenly! August was also the month during which Willy did a 75 mile bike ride in one day. The kids and I were so proud of him for setting and reaching his goal! The kids even made a finish line for him to cross when he got home!
Back to school in early September! Ben is a Junior this year. Brady is in 7th grade. Toby is in 4th grade and Molly has reached that ever important ALL-DAY 1st grade status!! That meant that for the first time in about 13 years, I found myself at home alone during the days! I didn't know quite what to do with myself! Back to school dominated the month.
October is birthday month for Ben, who turned 17, and Brady, who turned 13. Two teenagers in the house. Heaven help us, right? I realized I wasn't cut out to sit at home by myself all day with the kids in school and I got myself a job... at the kids' school! I'm working as a lunch monitor and a reading intervention teacher. It's just 3 hrs of work a day which is absolutely the perfect way to reenter the work force after such a long stint as a stay-at-home-mom! October was also a very exciting month for me. I had joined a hula halau (school) early in the year and October brought with it our annual exhibition. The whole year of hula was amazing. We had a weekend retreat where I carved my own ipu and created a stamp that represents my family and life, we had a luau where I learned to make all traditional Hawaiian foods, and we had the incredible exhibition where I got to dance and chant ancient kahiko hula as well as dance modern auana hula as well. I'm so grateful to have had the chance to reconnect to Hawaii and the hula that I so love! I have a new 'ohana here in Oregon! October was also, of course, Halloween, which means... family costume time once again! This year we were various kinds of zombies. Regular zombie who is in search of "braaaaains", doctor zombie who mumbles "spraaaaaains", plumber zombie out to fix "draaaaaaaains", etc. It was a silly fun game for us to come up with our costumes and zombie types. Fun year for the Campbells (except poor Ben who was super sick... but even got in on the costume with us because of his aches and "paaaaaains")!
November was a challenging but special month. I went to Utah to spend time with my sweet grandma Norma Romig during her last week of life. I had the incredible experience of helping with her care round the clock for several days, and I was by her bedside with my hand on her arm when she passed away. The spirit was so strong, and despite our own loss, we were so grateful to know that GG was with GPa again. I love my grandma so much. I will always cherish my memories of being her "Rosebud". One really special result of Grandma's passing was the gathering of her family to her side. I got to see cousins I hadn't seen in years and we had a wonderful time reconnecting and enjoying all-day suckers together (a Grandma tradition!)
Later in the month, the whole family took a trip together to Utah to spend Thanksgiving with both the Romig and Campbell families! We stayed for 4 full days so it wasn't quite the whirlwind trip we'd had in the spring and we really got to enjoy our time with family for the holiday! Willy and I got to take a trip to the Ogden temple to celebrate our 18th anniversary. And we took the family to Temple Square the night after Thanksgiving to see the Christmas lights get turned on. What a sight!
And finally... the end of 2014! Amazing. For Christmas this year we bought our very first fresh Christmas tree. What a fun thing to be able to enjoy here in the PNW where fresh cut trees are so affordable. Next year we'll try U-cut!! Much to Molly's dismay, Willy chose Ben to put the star atop our tree this year. All the kids helped hang decorations. They got their traditional Christmas Eve pajamas on the 24th and we had a lovely Christmas on the 25th. We're all enjoying our time off from school and work this week and dreading a bit the idea of going back to "real life" next Monday.
2014 wasn't a bad year, but it definitely had it's challenges and we're hopeful that 2015 will be a positive one with plenty of happy, positive experiences.Where do we all stand at the end of 2014? Here's each family member's update:
Willy - Grateful for good, continued employment with Autodesk, Inc. Took several business trips during the year including to Florida, Denver, Las Vegas and New Hampshire. Well-respected within the company and making a name for himself. I'm so proud of him! He's currently serving as the Teachers Quorum Adviser at church. Our new home is on top of a doozy of a hill so he hasn't biked quite as much during the second half of the year as the first, but he's made a goal of completing a 100 mile bike ride in a day before he turns 40 in 2015 so you can imagine how much biking he'll be doing in the next couple months as he prepares!
Angie - I'm grateful for good employment too! After 5 years with the company, I'm no longer designing scrapbook products for ScrapGirls but I will be venturing into selling my designs independently soon and I look forward to that new venture. In the meanwhile I'm teaching piano lessons again, I'm working at the kids' school, and I just started working for a wonderful senior care company as the On Call Supervisor, which means I answer phones after hours from home and help with staffing and client issues. It's a little intrusive sometimes and it's pretty unpredictable, but it's employment that allows me to work from home and I'm so grateful for that blessing. I'm very involved with hula again and I love having that in my life. At church, I was teaching Sunbeams in our new ward, but have just been reassigned in the Primary to be the pianist which is one of my favorite callings, so yay!
Ben - Doing great as a Junior this year. Carrying a pretty heavily academic schedule this year and earning some college credit as he does it. He still was able to squeeze in Guitar 2, which he loves and he's a group leader in his guitar class. He played JV football this year but got to swing up and dress for Varsity during the playoffs. His team made it to the state championship game this year! They lost the game which was disappointing, but 2nd place in state isn't anything to be ashamed of. We're already excited about his Senior/Varsity year and hope for another strong season! Ben keeps telling us he's going to get a job. We're still waiting for him to actually do it. :)
Brady - Loving life as a 7th grade middle schooler. He continues to push himself to straight As which blows our minds a bit. We don't know exactly where his drive and desire for perfection comes from but he rocks the school scene. He's also becoming a great trumpeter in the school band. And he's also really social and has a great group of friends that he loves to hang out with as often as we'll let him. We had a bit of a scare with Brady this year when he had a very intense and debilitating migraine for the first time. The migraine caused vision loss, memory loss, slurred speech and loss of fine motor skill. It was terrifying and earned him a trip in an ambulance to the ER. Fortunately it was "only" a migraine. We're hopeful that they don't become something he has to deal with very often!
Toby - Toby has adjusted really well to his new school and has made great friends already. His teacher has (almost) nothing but good things to say about him (if only he would turn in his work on time...!) I thoroughly enjoy watching him interact with friends at school during lunch time. He's our fun and quirky character, and he's well-liked by all the kids around him. He's enjoying Cub Scouts and having his best friend from school live just down the street from us.
Molly - Continues to dazzle us with her pink-purple-sparkle fashion and flair. She is thriving at school academically and socially. She's a bundle of constant energy and motion. She's about as girly girl as they come, but she can rough and tumble with the boys like she's one of them. We love our little diva princess!
And there you have it! More than could ever be packed into a Christmas newsletter, even if done in 6pt font, single spaced with 1/4" margins and filling up both the front and back of the paper. I have a feeling only my mom will read all of this (so here's a little shout out... Hi Mom!), but if you actually read it all, thanks for swinging by and catching up on our family! Hope you had an awesome holiday season and that 2015 is your best year yet! I'm hoping to make it one of my best. I'll be around here a lot in the process of making it one of the best! Hope you'll be here too. :)
PS... I cheated and set the date and time of this blog post to 12/31/14 @ 11:59pm. I didn't actually finish until about 1 am on 1/1/15 but I really REALLY needed this to be my 3rd blog entry of 2014 LOL. Only three entries in a year is embarrassing... but just two?! Inexcusable *wink*!