I have a couple family members who send out annual newsletters at Christmas time. They're always full of stuff that sounds super-impressive like: so-and-so ran a marathon, so-and-so finished writing his book, or so-and-so spent four months in an impoverished country building a school for orphans. Reading them is a great way to make yourself feel humble.
For some time I've considered writing such a letter myself, chronicling a year in the life of my family. Misty contends that we'll end up sounding pathetic, but I think we fared pretty well this past year.
Misty got a new job working as the communications director for Fresh Air Family, a non-profit organization that promotes outdoor activities. With this career change, she's been able to work from home and keep Emily and Kendall out of day care. That situation has not been without its difficulties, but the reward of spending more time with the girls has been nice for Misty.
With her job to propel us, we've taken numerous trips around the state to enjoy Alabama's natural beauty. We've gone camping in Conecuh National Forest... canoeing and camping at Bear Creek... explored caves at Rickwood Cavers, Sequoya Caverns, and Cathedral Caverns... searched for fossils at Shark Tooth Creek... and made other trips to places like Oak Mountain, Ebenezer Swamp, and Turkey Creek.
As for recreational vacations, we made three trips to Disney World this year. In February, Misty and I took Emily. We returned in September with both girls (and on that trip bought ourselves annual passes). Then in December Misty and I visited sans children to celebrate our 5-year anniversary (which was actually in November). With our annual passes, we're planning two more trips in 2009.
In between our jaunts to Orlando, we also managed a trip to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida for a few relaxing days at the Gulf and another to Columbia, South Carolina where we got to visit with my brother and sister-in-law before they moved out to Denver.
Emily started taking a dance class in September. Supposedly, she's learning ballet and tap, but it's more like choreographed chaos. The teachers tell us that at her age, the main thing is to make the kids understand that dancing is fun. Emily has also begun working on a video project in which she'll host her own cooking show. Hopefully it will debut in the coming year.
Soon after she turned a year old, we began introducing Kendall to the idea of using the potty -- she doesn't do it on her own, but she'll usually go if you place her there. At around 18 months, Kendall gave up her pacifier with very little struggle. She's learned about fifty different words and has just begun putting them together.
I haven't had any significant career or life changes, but I'm happy with that. I reached my 10th year at al.com, and I enjoy my job. I've been able to attend events at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Alabama Ballet, the Birmingham Zoo, the McWane Science Center, Disney on Ice, and more -- all in the name of "work." I've also seen a number of great concerts in the past year -- Band of Horses; Stars; British Sea Power; Islands; Ingrid Michaelson and Josh Ritter; Maria Taylor; Erin McCarley, Jason Isbell, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Michael Franti at City Stages; The National, Modest Mouse, and R.E.M.; KaiserCartel; Crooked Fingers and Okkervil River; and Wild Sweet Orange -- my proudest moment though was on Father's Day, holding Emily in my arms as she shouted through the noise, "I love it!," while giant balloons and confetti rained down on the audience for the Flaming Lips performance at City Stages. And like Misty's excursions around the state, that too was "work" for me.
Our final notable event of 2008 is that we joined a church. After a couple months of visiting Homewood Church of Christ, we decided that it was home for us. The people there have been wonderfully friendly and welcoming, and the classes and services have been enriching. Having grown up in the Episcopal church, it's a little different for me, but I really love it. It's the first time I can remember actually enjoying going to church.
Coming out of a year when so many people have had it rough -- especially considering the economic recession -- I'm thankful that my family has had so many good things happen to us in 2008.