Dec 18, 2012

Christmas Letter II

Dear family and friends,

I didn't send a letter with our Christmas cards this year.  This is what we sent instead:

Writing a yearly recap is usually fun for me, but this year I just couldn't do it.  Now I'm a little sad, though, because we really do have a lovely life and it's good to take note of our blessings. I don't need a catchy something-or-other to communicate that.

Recently our entire family was in the kitchen and I marveled at the growth we have experienced together.  I remembered the many tearful nights so long ago when I wondered if we'd ever have a baby, or a second one, or a third. Quite suddenly we have five fantastic children--children with energy and personality and intelligence bursting out of every pore--entrusted to our care.  This year our children have helped us appreciate the gift of excellent school teachers, the value of child safety devices, the method for cleaning up every imaginable mess, the kindness of strangers, the proper use of steri-strips, the miracles of two-wheeled bike riding and first steps, the wonders of the zoo, the delights of twirling in fluffy skirts, the sacredness of baptism, the maturity of middle school, the taxi that is mom's van, the enjoyment of board games, the thrill of the great outdoors, and the blessings of a large family.

During 2012, Zach grew taller than his mother and, at age 11, has feet almost as big as his father.  He divides his school day between middle and elementary school.  He played on basketball, swim, and track teams this year and is becoming increasingly more concerned about his hair.  Tyler, 8, is an extremely conscientious fourth-grader and a budding pianist.  He loved art lessons this year and has a way with words.  We love his creative masterpieces.  Gavin turned five this fall.  He is an intense, independent, intelligent boy, with more mischief and mayhem up his sleeve than we can manage most days.  It's a good thing he's so charming and delightful the rest of the time.  Lexi is three and enjoys preschool.  She is learning to write her name and adores her teacher.  Lexi has discovered the magic of nail polish, pink cowboy boots, and fixing her own hair.  And then there's Kate (16 mos.).  Oh, how we adore her round belly and dimpled cheeks and engaging personality. We look forward to more words, as well as the day when she grows tired of playing in the toilet, climbing on the counter, escaping through the back door, and helping herself to our toothbrushes and the flour in the pantry.

Garry and I are grateful for the love and support of dear friends, parents, siblings, and grandparents; gifted doctors who have helped Heidi get back on her feet after last year's difficult pregnancy; stability in Garry's employment; the beautiful state in which we live; and the faith in God that gets us through the good and the bad.

One day last month a friend took family pictures for us.  These photos capture our family as it was in November 2012.  Already, Zach's hair is longer and I'm a few pounds lighter and Kate is working on new teeth.  Our family is constantly changing and learning and shifting and growing.  Nothing stays the same for long.  The good thing is that we're a happy family, and we get to do it all together.

So this is farewell to 2012.  I can't say I'm sad about leaving it behind; it was a long and difficult year for our family.  But as 2013 dawns, I'm excited for what is ahead.

Much love--

The Bartle family
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