Overdue Holiday Letter

Hello-

We’re once again comfortable pushing the limits of what constitutes a Holiday or New Year card, as we’ve blown well past the Jan 1, 2013 deadline. Thanks for bearing with us. To reward you for your efforts, we’ll also post a HD/Blu-Ray version of this letter on our blog with additional pictures, videos, and an alternate director’s ending. We understand that it’s a fragmented and competitive media landscape and we have to earn your attention. This blog post is, in fact, your reward.

All in all, I think we were happy to have 2012 wrapped up, and be starting a new year. The biggest story of 2012 for us actually started right at the end of 2011. After Christmas, we’d undertaken the traditional, once-a-year, medium-depth cleaning in our master bedroom. After moving some long undisturbed items around, we were horrified to find several of the hardwood floorboards buckling up against each other.

We pulled them back to reveal mold, teeny tiny creepy crawlies and general dark nastiness. We quarantined ourselves out of the room, sealed the floor area off with a tarp and started trying to figure out the problem. There were many twists and turns to the story, but in the end, we ended up moving out of our master bedroom for the first month of January and out of our house from early February 2012 until almost the end of June 2012. We stayed in hotels and guesthouses along the way (guesthouses, it turns out are condos or apartments that are rented out like hotels by their owners). Although we never did a final rigorous accounting of the exact number, we think we packed up and moved about 20 times in the course of those five months away. After all the re-construction, we are extremely happy to be settled back into our place. Ryder and Maisy held up wonderfully throughout the whole experience, and have developed a genuine fondness for hotels – or, generally speaking, any place other than our actual house. We’re wondering why we haven’t gotten a kindly worded note from our friends in the staff at the Homewood Suites…

In the summer, at the end of the water damage adventure, we were able to do what has become an annual tradition for us – our summer trip to Cape Cod, Caitlin’s early stomping grounds. Everyone enjoys spending time with Grammy Kitty and Granpan Paul. We attended the Tabor reunion for Caitlin, where she went for her high school years. I learned first hand that repeating tiny whale patterns, gaudy plaids and the sweater-neck lasso move are not just things created for effect in the J. Crew catalog. We all truly enjoyed relaxing on the Cape in the summer, soaking in the beach and all the wonderful things Sandwich has to offer. Surprisingly, it turns out that we’re the kind of people who “summer” on the Cape, and we summer up all over that place.

In December, we took a trip to California for our early Christmas celebration, another tradition we’ve established over the last few years. We avoid traveling with big crowds, and love being in Bermuda Dunes, especially when it’s freezing in Chicago. The kids love hanging with Grancie and Papa Bill, Auntie Amy and Uncle Tim, digging in the yard, running around with Chloe, or visiting the Living Desert Reserve (a “desert zoo” – which my Chicago friends have a hard time understanding). Spending time with Amy, Tim and Slider, who arrived just before Christmas last year, was especially important and rewarding. Despite repeated love-maulings* from Maisy, Slider escaped unscathed and his first Christmas with us was a rousing success.

* Love Mauling Series

Ryder turned 6 in September and started at a new school within walking distance of us, Waters Elementary. He missed the first three days due to illness, attended for two days, at which point the Chicago Teachers Union went on their first strike in 25 years. We got the message loud and clear that the universe definitely wanted Ryder in kindergarten…His adjustment to the new school arrangement had (more than) a few bumps in the road, but as of now, he’s adapted well to the new routine. He’s been enjoying being a part of the chess team, and the faint smell of a trophy in his future. Caitlin and I aren’t picking up the same scent at this point. He and Maisy are gradually learning to swim, with the cold Chicago weather and pool accessibility making it a longer process from what I remember growing up in sunny, southern CA. Ryder loves building Legos, playing Playmobil, reading or being read to, and the occasional game of Angry Birds Star Wars.

By the time you get this letter, Maisy will have turned 4! She’s every bit a girlie girl – often insisting on picking out her own outfits, accessories and shoes. Her insistence regularly makes for some high-stakes conversations each time we leave the house. She seems more like she’s 4 going on a slightly insane 30. As of late, she’s been very into playing dolls, house, or shop, which involves filling all the gift bags she can find with toys from all corners of the house. It’s a delight to clean up after…a real delight. Maisy also started a first-time school experience this year – preschool at the Families Together Cooperative Nursery School. We’ve referenced the school in letters past, and the vibe is about the same. We’re thankful to carpool with friends who have children at both Waters and FTCNS, making things a little easier for everyone involved.

Caitlin is a wonderful mother. Probably the best there is. Don’t fuss, I’m allowed to say that. Her efforts to keep our family happy and healthy are wonderful to behold, and even more wonderful to be a recipient of. She continues to work for her OT mentor in a clinic setting, on a part-time basis. Their arrangement has been really beneficial from a learning and professional development perspective. We’re hoping that she can get out to Denver some time soon for more in-depth sensory integration training. She still works with EI (early intervention) clients, but in a more limited fashion than in years past.

I’m still working at Draftfcb. Specifically, focusing on the Discover and Valspar accounts, with a big focus on mobile application design. I enjoy 90% of the job, but am still working on finding the right work-life balance, since work is very demanding a lot of the time. As of recently, I’ve been elevated to lead the creative side of the entire Discover account. I’m super-excited about the opportunity afforded by the new role.

We’re excited for our upcoming adventures this year. We’ll be sure to tell you all about them waaaaay after they happen. Stay tuned.

Ryan, Caitlin, Ryder & Maisy