Every year I write a Christmas letter to recap the past year. Our list has grown over the years and most of you who read this blog probably received one... but if not, below is our "the letter" and the boys pic with Santa. Sean does not like the big guy one bit but even so he managed to make it onto the "nice" list along with his big brothers. And just for the record... YES, I spelled Christmas wrong on the pictures that I ordered from shutterfly (I swear.. that must be right up there with breaking the leg lamp)... and just for the record... I had Pat proof it for me. We make such a good team...LOL
Merry Christmas from the Collins Family!
We hope this holiday greeting finds you happy, healthy and enjoying the gifts of the season. We have been insanely busy this year and obviously much too busy to catch the typo on the Christmas picture (go ahead and look). Sean appears to be pretty upset about it. 2008, will forever be known as the year Mommy spelled Christmas wrong (yea, memories). In order to keep this letter within my self imposed 2-page limit, I have composed a little ditty for you inspired by the 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS to touch on some of the highlights.
On the first day of chaos my family brings to me…
1 Bluegrass Music Festival
2 broken bones ~3camping trips ~ 4 Y chromosomes
Five thousand and three diapers (seriously)
6 letterboxes found ~ 7 lessons learned ~ 8 near mishaps ~ 9 inches grown 10 (x2) kickball champions ~ 11 date nights ~ 12 thousand batteries!
Remember, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear. ‘Tis the season so go ahead and belt out a carol or two. People expect to hear a few off-key joyous sounds this time of year however, if you happen to be spreading Christmas cheer with Patrick, please note that he makes up his own lyrics right there on the spot. If you are self-conscious about your cheer-spreading abilities or, based on previous cheer-spreading trials, know that your cheer may not be well received… I offer you two options to ease your anxiety this holiday season. 1. Position yourself next to a seasoned cheer-spreader who perhaps may have had some professional cheer-spreader training and lip-sync the words along with them. To add a special touch to your cheer-spreading-tom-foolery, over exaggerate your facial expressions and add lots of arm gestures. 2. Enjoy some mulled wine or spiked eggnog before commencing in any cheer-spreading activities. A wee bit of holiday spirits could also be offered to those within ear shot, perhaps enticing them to sing along with you. This not only takes the emphasis off you but would also allow you to secretly audition cheer-spreaders… then default to option 1.
Andrew, now 7, started first grade and has adjusted well to a full day of school. He is still very active in soccer and goalie remains his favorite position. Dinosaurs, Legos, building things, going to the library, fishing, Cub Scouts and his SAVE-A-WORM project continue to make his list of favorite things. He is a wonderful big brother and a huge help to me around the house…and earning an allowance doesn’t hurt either. Andrew has been attending Religious Education classes on his path to First Communion and Confirmation to the Catholic Church. Obviously, he has been paying attention and righting wrongs where necessary. While driving in the car one day Andrew overheard me swear as a driver cut us off…I immediately apologized. His response was completely serious and priceless… “Mom, don’t say sorry to me… say sorry to God... and Jesus… and Santa.” From the mouths of babes! Everyday I am grateful for his stubbornness and his ability to get under my skin and make me take a closer look at myself. For his overflowing compassion for others, his pure sense of right and wrong and how clearly he defines the evils of the world. His smile. His questions…his persistent, never-ending, sometimes impossible questions. His fascination with the mundane things that are invisible to most and the freshness of his young soul. Andrew has a true gift of kindness and is generous with his love and talents.
Sam, now 6, has had an exciting year. In big news… drum roll please… HE IS WALKING! It is a clumsy, awkward, Frankenstein sort of walk but it is indeed walking! He is becoming more stable on a variety of terrains and I think he is even trying to run. Indeed, Everything is possible…the Impossible just takes a little longer. Sam still has some major global delays and developmentally he falls roughly into the 18-24 month range (or at least that is where some chart says he is…blahhh). That being said, Sam is still progressing and he has worked really, really hard to be this delayed!!!(a little joke) We are so proud of how far he has come and excited about how far he can go…Yes, slow and steady really does win the race! We choose to focus on the tremendous amount of work it takes Sam to achieve things that we all take for granted rather than where he actually lands on some chart. If he were only given credit for effort rather than whether or not he can stack blocks or jump on one foot… he would be operating off the charts! Sam is progressing and thriving and we can’t see what he will do next! We could all learn a thing or two about hard work, tenacity, determination and pride from this little boy who marches to the beat of his own drum (yes, he can actually march now!!!) Sam continues to amaze us and we marvel at his abilities.
Sean is truly a gift of joy. Have you ever meet one of those people that are just happy all the time? Well, Sean is one of those people. He is an absolute delight, his giggles are contagious and his kisses are as sweet as honey. Sean turned a year in August and he has yet to get his first hair cut. He has the most precious golden curls and I can’t bring myself to cut them. He is sweet and easy going but I have determined that, just like his older brothers, Sean has also inherited the naughty gene from his father. He started walking at 10 months and now he runs and climbs on everything! He is amazingly tolerant of Sam’s “tough love” and will happily accept a head-butt or an incredibly tight squeeze when a gentle peck or loving embrace was intended but missed its mark. He has climbing in his blood and we are also suspicious that he has orangutan DNA. He has also reminded us that indeed, sharp things, the remote, loose-lid sippy cups and black permanent markers are very dangerous in the wrong tiny hands (oh how soon we forget). Sean is such a ray of light and helps us all to see that life really is quite simple… eat, play, sleep and above all else… love everything you do.
Patrick was one of the assistant coaches on Andrew’s soccer team this fall and will resume his coaching duties in the spring… Go Sharks! When he retires from the police department he has a promising second career as an elf in Santa’s Workshop. He has taken apart and McGyver-ed back to life some of Sam’s most beloved toys more times than should be scientifically possible. Sam is hard on the toys he loves the most and Pat has become a “toy-whisperer” of sorts… to Sam’s great pleasure. He is still the President of our local Down syndrome parent support group, The DDC. Yes, with all these other activities he still finds time to put in 18-hour days in the detective bureau… Good thing he doesn’t need much sleep and thankfully, we have actual pictures of him to show the kids. I fear if he actually left work after working only 8 hours there might be some catastrophic break down or butterfly effect that just might throw the planet off its axis. So, Honey, we all want to thank you for your selflessness and bravery and for the sacrifices you make EVERYDAY to preserve the human race as we know it. Thanx, for taking one for the team.
RaeAnn . “Oh Lord, please grant me the patience to deal with all my blessings”. Some days require a little more divine assistance than others. If you are looking for an up-to-date account of our crazy life, ramblings of a soccer mom who has lost her mind, words of wisdom from the mouths of babes, half-@$$ed parenting tips and lots of pictures of the boys, check out my blog at www.blessedandluckyarewe.blogspot.com and see just how Blessed and Lucky we truly are. Yes, I have joined the ranks of moms who blog and became a Facebook stalker. It is a fabulous waste of time and very entertaining to say the least. Patrick does not appreciate my new-found love of blogging, but he is at work anyway and probably won’t even have time to read this letter so what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Amidst my crazy life, I have realized that although not the most realistic aspiration, my secret desire is to try to live more like a Zen monk… and with that in mind my one word resolution for 2009 will be: SIMPLIFY. I will strive to live simply and make an honest effort to rid my life of many of the unnecessary and unessential things in order to make room for what truly is essential... a lofty goal indeed.
As 2008 comes to and end, we pause to take stock of the positives in our lives. The unease over the economic situation, the energy crisis, responsibility to Green-Our-Routine, the war, political change, the kids not wanting to get ready for school on cold mornings, the piles of unfolded laundry… these concerns are ever present, always lingering, but now is the time to rejoice and celebrate all that is good and hopeful in our lives. I would hope that you allow yourselves to take some time out of your busy schedules to enjoy the gifts of the season with loved ones and let the true holiday spirit swallow you up whole. It is not that our concerns don’t warrant our attention, in fact perhaps they do now more than ever, but now is the season to take a brief hiatus from our worries and devote just a moment to view our own situation with new eyes. I think that if we look closely enough we may realize that indeed we have been given so much! So in the light of the New Year, I pray that we will be able to rise to the challenge and set a good example for our children. I hope that in this time of so much uncertainty that we can seize the opportunity to teach them life lessons that they may otherwise take for granted. What a poignant time to discover the magic of the season and that Christmas comes from your heart and not from a store. How better a time to show our thankfulness for the food on our plates and warm coats that we wear? And with everyone facing difficult times ahead, think about all the opportunities to teach our children about spreading kindness and compassion to others?
As we wrap up this year’s Christmas novella, we want to share with you our wish for the new year: May we all have enough warmth in our hearts, enough food for thought and enough shelter to weather any storm. My friends, we thank you for all your love and support and we send you good cheer and well wishes for the upcoming New Year. Merry Christmas and God Bless you all.
Patrick, RaeAnn, Andrew, Sam & Sean