a couple years ago, i let myself off the “must-take-a-family-photo-and-send-out-a-christmas-letter-to-eighty-of-our-closest-family-and-friends” hook. i figured, the stress that expectation creates and time it requires just wasn’t enhancing my christmas spirit or advent season experience. so, i let it go. i’ve been trying to “post” our picture and letter here on this blog instead, eliminating the need to order tons of photos, make copies, address a million envelopes, etc. this year, i apparently eliminated the pressure to accomplish this task on time as well, so here you have our “christmas letter”, about 3 weeks late. : )
this past year was challenging for us. it was also beautiful, magical, stressful, scary, and filled with freedom & joy & struggle. here is a look at our 2012 in a nutshell (while i scroll through our iphoto albums to remind me)…
last year, after christmas and into the new year, we were able to spend time with phil’s family in illinois. that is always a treat since we don’t get to see family often enough, living apart from both my family (MN) and phil’s (IL). the visit included gifts (christmas and belated birthday gifts — from phil’s sister’s family), wrestling with papa, the children’s museum, cheering for our cousin’s basketball game, etc.
a year ago this saturday, we celebrated silas’ 9th birthday with a trip to the zoo & our favorite laser tag company in denver with silas’ two closest friends. i cannot believe our oldest son will turn TEN on saturday! wow! what a fantastic boy. last year, silas tried playing basketball for the first time, and it was a blast watching his excitement on the court as he tried a new sport.
phil took silas & lincoln out skiing several times last year, and they are just beginning to hit the slopes again this year, as the snowfall has been depressingly low so far this season. they both seemed to enjoy it, and we certainly feel fortunate to live in a ski resort town. tate is already asking about when he’ll get to ski — that kid is aggressive and will have no problems catching up to his brothers in many areas of life.
lincoln tried a tumbling class last year at the local rec center and loved it. he is such a social butterfly, and it was his first school-like experience. he also somersaults around the house on a regular basis, so tumbling was a great fit for him. last year was lincoln’s & tate’s last year together at home before lincoln started school, so it was fun to watch their friendship as they played and fought, laughed and cried together last year. they went through quite a long stint (initiated by lincoln) of hanging out in shorts & no shirts on most days, even throughout the cold winter months. they’d layer up to go from house to store to the office to friends’ houses, and as soon as we arrived anywhere (minus the store & restaurants — you’ve got to put your foot down somewhere), lincoln & tate would walk through the door and immediately strip back down to shorts & undies. they looked cold to the rest of us, but they never once succumbed to the pressure to put their clothes back on!
tate turned three last march, and as tradition goes for a third birthday in the gallagher home, we went to build-a-bear, and tate got to pick out an animal to stuff, name, dress, etc. right around his birthday, i threw down an ultimatum about the “boppy” — his pacifier. we decided it was time to give the boppy to the boppy fairy and let her pass it on to a newborn baby somewhere in the world that would need it more than a 3-year-old does. tate bravely gave it/them up one night, and put them in an envelope he decorated for the boppy fairy. the next morning, he woke up and they were gone (cold turkey!), and a small gift was left in their place — which he promptly lost within a week’s time. we were so proud of his courage! tate will turn four in less than two short months, which would be difficult to believe, if he weren’t already acting and conversing and telling stories like a 4-year-old!
phil & i turned 34 & 33 in the spring, two weeks apart, and we were able to spend a night together at a beautiful hotel in denver, without the boys, thanks to our good friends here. my parents were in town on my birthday and made me my favorite birthday dinner growing up — lemon chicken. yum! what a wonderful gift to have more time with them now that they are both officially retired!
in april, we drove to fort worth, texas, to visit our dear friends who moved away from breckenridge a few years ago. it was such fun to stay with them and catch a glimpse of their world and their lives in texas. they also come up here to visit a couple times a year — it’s such a blessing to stay in touch with friends who were such a HUGE part of our first decade of life in colorado. phil’s parents also came out here to see us in april, and we took them to see the “royal gorge” in canon city, co. a first for all of us!
may was a big month for us as i ran my first race — the bolder boulder 10k (6.2 miles). i was able to accomplish both goals of running it without walking and finishing in under an hour. phil also had a great opportunity to travel to california (with his dad) and spend two days at an intimate rob bell conference. it was a great couple days of rest, conversation, inspiration, and yes, surfing for the first time. of course, it’s no surprise to those who know him, that he was a natural on the board & in the water…
we had a busy & full summer. in june, we traveled to minnesota and stayed for three weeks celebrating both my dad’s 70th birthday with his seven kids & families, and my youngest sister, emily’s, wedding. hands down one of the most beautiful weddings i’ve ever seen, and with phil officiating the ceremony, it was also extremely poignant & meaningful to the couple & everyone there. in july, we attempted our first-ever SCY day camp with the elementary-aged students. lots of fun & tons of planning — it is yet to be decided if we will consider pulling it off again this year… : ) lincoln learned to ride his bike this summer, as part of his annual “summer challenge” and silas spent time finding appropriate sticks and then making them into bows & arrows in the height of his hunger games craze. the boys took swim lessons (s & l), then they buzzed off their hair (l & t), and we were able to take several day/camping trips around colorado with friends.
both of our other SCY staff, who had been running the middle and high school programs for the past two years, decided to transition out of SCY and move on to other jobs & aspirations this past summer. we stepped in where they both left off, which means we are once again in charge of all three SCY programs (elem., MS, HS)… we really enjoy the students and leaders and families across the K-12th grade board of SCY. it has just been a very busy, full, and sometimes exhausting last half of the year!
in the fall, silas entered 4th grade, while lincoln pulled his first two teeth in one day and promptly began kindergarten the very next day. they both had an incredible fall semester at school this year. silas loves his teacher, his classmates & studies, while lincoln happily walked out the house towards school each & every weekday morning. he has an amazing teacher — the same as silas had four years ago — and has quickly made some close friends at school, and is loving learning to read. we are blessed this year to have a new principal at the boys’ school. he and his wife live a block away and we’ve been enjoying spending some time with them — kindred spirits from the start. at home, we re-discovered what it’s like to have only one child left with us — which hasn’t happened in six years. tate misses his brothers during the school day, but he is thriving at home, growing quickly and leaving afternoon naps behind…
lincoln & silas played soccer once again last fall, and it was a great way to make some new friends with other families who have new or upcoming kindergartners. silas was honored at a school board meeting for scoring 100% on his math section in one of the state standardized tests that he took the previous spring. phil took the leap and finally got a tattoo that he has been dreaming up, on his left arm… which was the same day he talked to his parents and sister on the phone and found out his mom needed a biopsy to see if a couple growths she discovered were cancerous. it was a big day. of course, those of you who have been keeping up with us know that judy indeed has lymphoma. they found six areas in her body that had it, so she has undergone an aggressive series of chemotherapy treatments throughout the end of 2012 and into this month. the good news is that her most recent “pet scan” showed a clean bill of health. she has just one round of chemo left, and then, we all pray that her “full remission” status continues on and on, indefinitely. it has been a difficult time for phil to be away from his family in illinois. thanks to the generosity of a couple families here, the two of us were able to go spend time with his folks back in november for a weekend, which was good medicine for us all.
in october, lincoln turned six and celebrated with a birthday party with his new friends from kindergarten. what another great opportunity to begin to get to know some of the kids and parents that lincoln could be in school with for the next 12 years! they are a good group of people, and lincoln really enjoys all the students in his 15-student class. lincoln is excelling in school, especially in the math and reading departments, and he absolutely LOVES to draw! for halloween this past year, lincoln was “hawkeye” from the avengers comic series, tate was batman, and silas trick-or-treated as peeta, from the hunger games. we gave out candy and hot chocolate/cider to the kids & families that stopped by and had a great night with several families who warmed up over bowls of soup and helped us hand out candy.
my mom was able to come stay with us for three weeks in november, and my dad joined us for the last week and a half over thanksgiving. we celebrated the holiday with my parents and a couple other families that we are close to. it was a relaxing and wonderful day — a breath of fresh air during a busy fundraising time for SCY! it was also a gift to have my mom here that month helping out with laundry, cooking, cleaning, babysitting, etc! she is awesome!
december was filled with what you might expect during advent/pre-christmas season… we cut down a christmas tree, had several christmas parties to go to or to organize, lots of special time with the boys and christmas shopping… phil & i purchased rec center passes during the black friday sale so that we can continue to run/workout during what so far has been crazily cold christmas months. i began doing yoga on a weekly basis and absolutely love it so far! the whole family was sick off and on over the entire christmas break, so we stayed home and rested for most of the two weeks the boys had off school. christmas and all its traditions came and went, and it was a lovely, peaceful and restful time for us all. on new year’s eve, we went to denver with another close family and watched the boys jump at a “jump street” (a trampoline center), had a yummy lunch and then smoothies from jamba juice afterward. i’m pretty sure our lights were all out before midnight, as we were still catching up on much-needed rest for our recovering bodies…
we are certainly thankful for all of you, our family and friends, who add such beauty and joy to our already full lives! thank you for continuing to walk alongside us as the years fly by, and if you’ve read all the way through this “nutshell” (yeah, right!) of 2012, i am highly impressed! we love you.
to a 2013 filled with grace, peace & joy!
love, anne, phil, silas, lincoln & tate