Every year I have grand ideas about Christmas cards and how on top of things I will be. Visions of gorgeous cards all sent dance in my head...Well, life always has a way of setting in and I usually find February has arrived and I realize Christmas cards will have to wait until next year.
This year, however, my decision not to send them out is a bit more intentional. Oh, I love to get Christmas cards. I've been enjoying having personal items in the mail over the past couple of weeks, instead of just junk and bills. I love opening up the cards and seeing all your sweet smiling faces, and my refrigerator is getting filled up with the most up to date pictures of family and friends near and far. Especially since having kids and far flung friends, I've come to really appreciate the visual reminders to think about, pray for, teach names, and contact more regularly the people that are important in our life. Kudos to you if you've already sent out your Christmas cards, and if they're still in progress I look forward to receiving them!
But, for a couple of reasons I've decided to go virtual on my Christmas letter and holiday cards. First of all, it seems to make the most sense with all our busy, hectic, and cluttered lives to simplify and use the form of communication we all check most. That way each of you can see our letter if you choose, but you don't have to wonder if you should keep it out of some sense of duty to our frienship. ;-) (Maybe that's just me, but I'm sentimental and have a hard time throwing out something from a friend/family member until an "appropriate" amount of time has gone by.) It's also a nice, green thing to do. Less waste, less chemicals used in the printing.
Secondly, our church is participating in Advent Conspiracy this year (if you haven't heard of it, check it out) and I've really loved the message. The main theme. Spend Less. Give More. Love all. Worship FULLY. I've been trying to focus on giving relational gift--gifts of presence, not presents and to really think about the meaning of the season. Each of us is urged to give one less gift this Christmas, and to share what we would have spent with those less fortunate--reaching out to the forgotten, the least of these, living like Jesus. However, we don't buy that many gifts. I was having a very hard time deciding what or where to cut since we're usually really modest about gifts and this year are really only buying gifts for the kids (and even then, not going crazy). We're not even exchanging Christmas gifts between ourselves this year(that's another post for another time, don't worry, we're still celebrating with each other, but more of that presence vs. presents thing). But, I realized that this was one way I could spend less and still give more. I can still share what's going on in our lives at Christmas-time, while at the same time putting what I would have spent on cards and postage to work bringing hope and light (the true message of Christmas) to the hurting.
I'm hoping you all understand. We love our family and friends, we're excited to share this year's happenings, and we hope to see as many of you as possible as soon as possible. So without further ado, here's the happenings of the Slager crew in 2008, 12 months of Christmas style. :) Merry Christmas!
Whew 2008 is nearly past and it seems it was just getting started! Here's a peek into our life each month of '08.
Our year started off in a big way. Though we'd hoped to welcome our second baby in 2007, Lydia Elise was born January 8 at 12:29am, weighing in at 8lbs. 1oz. and making Joshua a big brother. We spent the rest of January settling in at home, celebrating Joshua's 2nd birthday and introducing Lydia to family and friends.
In February, our family grew again, sort of. Joshua received his first pet, a red Betta he named Michael. He's a great pet-owner and still enjoys feeding him daily and is greatly amused by water changes. Madison continued to be "blessed" with record snowfall (we got over 100" this year) and Joshua became Daddy's snow-clearing helper. Lydia was also dedicated and we were able to spend some time with Gigi and Papa (Slager) here in Madison.
March brought our first long car trip with two kids. We traveled back to Michigan and Indiana to celebrate Easter with both sides of the family. It was so nice to finally make introductions of Lydia to extended family and to see many family members we hadn't seen for nearly a year. Lydia started sleeping through the night (briefly) and smiling and giggling and in general working her way even deeper into each of our hearts.
We finally were done with the snow in April and able to get back out to enjoy all that Madison has to offer when it's not frozen solid. We took trips to the zoo, the park, and in general spent as much time out in the sunshine as possible.
In May our family began a season-long adventure. We were able to get a garden plot on campus where James works and we started a small vegetable garden. It was so much fun to watch the growing process through the eyes of a two year old and to get to expose him early to where food really comes from. Thoughout the summer we enjoyed the time to get out and work the soil as well as many fresh vegetables. All the work was worth it to see Joshua's exuberance when he found produce that was ready to pick!
June took us back to Michigan again, this time for the wedding of James' younger brother Justin. Joshua was a ring-bearer and James a groomsman, so we were busy with wedding festivities, but still found time to see the other side of the family as well. In addition to the wedding June was filled with berry picking (and eating!), lots of trips to the park and fun in and around Madison with friends. We also participated in a CSA share in an effort to do more local eating and Joshua loved picking up our box each week at a local farmer's market.
Lydia began sitting up on her own in July and trying to locomote soon thereafter. Joshua found his new favorite haunt, the Middleton Splash Park, and we spend many warm days throughout the rest of the summer running and splashing there. Mommy was charmed by it too, because it kept our busy little guy entertained and had the added bonus of being FREE! July was also memorable because it marked the milestone that every mother dreams of from the first dirty diaper: Joshua finished POTTY TRAINING!!!!!!!!
August brought many mobility advances for Lydia. One of my favorite questions to Joshua during this time went something like this. Liz: What does baby Lydia do? Joshua: She crawls...she cruises...she climbs stairs. That's right our little princess accomplished all of these feats in rapid succession and reminded her mommy every day that a house she thought was baby-proofed was not completely so!
September was a month filled with family. After an extended Labor Day weekend back to Michigan we returned to Madison with my dad and youngest brother (the kid's extra-special Uncle Stephen) in tow. We were blessed to have them with us for just over a week and they offered their time and talents helping James accomplish several projects around the house that a busy father of two kids under 3 can usually only dream about. We also enjoyed a fun-filled weekend at the end of the month with Slagers, soaking up the last few truly warm days of summer.
October found us in and around Madison for the most part, but we did enjoy a mini-vacation to LaCrosse where both kids went on their first hike. We also enjoyed several trips to the orchard and pumpkin patch much to Joshua's delight. Hands down, his favorite happening was the chance to ride in a real-live fire truck with a fireman (at a fire-safety week open house) and he's still talking about it. Lydia's big moment came when she found the coordination and balance to take her first steps. Both kids had a blast trick-or-treating as well and Joshua's excitement over it just makes me look forward to Christmas more.
November brought an end to the outdoor weather, but for the most part Joshua has kept himself happy and busy inside for he's into blocks and books like never before. He's a great conversationalist these days and keeps us highly entertained with the things he tells us. We're amazed every day at the things he knows and understands. Lydia spent November honing her walking skills and trying to keep up with big brother. My big change for the year came in November, when I decided after 3+ years of nannying part-time it was time for me to focus entirely on our kids.
Our December has been a fun one so far, filled with the childlike excitement and wonder that only kids can bring to Christmas. Joshua is eagerly counting down the day to both Christmas and his birthday and anticipating all the fun and surprises those will bring. Lydia just got her first tooth last week and she's also becoming quite verbal. In addition to Daddy, Mama, ball, and bye-bye, our little Miss Independent is treating us to a chorus of "No!'s" everytime something doesn't go as she'd like. We'll celebrate Christmas here at home, then it's off to Michigan for 10 days of Christmas and birthday celebrations before we bring on 2009!
Our year has been a busy one, but we're so blessed and are looking forward to what the New Year will bring. May each of you have a very Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year!
Love, James, Liz, Joshua, and Lydia