Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Letters Part Four...

Happy Holidays from The Blacks!


December 2023

Joyeux Noel et Bonne Anne!

Our 2023 schedule has been overbooked! It seems like there are millions of things to do, but not enough time. You will understand once we get down to business.

My husband, Peter, who will soon be formerly known as Congressman Black, is running for President of the United States. His schedule has been beyond overbooked the past year. He flies halfway across the country to a campaign rally, then as soon as that's over, he flies to the other side of the country for another campaign rally, not to mention flying from JFK to Washington Dulles for his duties as a congressman. On the upside, his campaign is going amazingly well, and he's able to keep up with his demanding schedule. I do worry about him. Is he getting enough sleep? Is he eating properly? I guess those sacrifices will be worth it, especially if he wins. I should say when he wins because I've yet to see him fail at anything. Maybe then, he'll have time to sit down and eat or sleep for more than a few hours, but I'm assuming the presidency is an even more demanding job than congress. I don't know. I just wish I could somehow find more time to add to his schedule. I miss him, the boys and Sophie Allison miss him.

I "retired" from being a supermodel. Honestly, I don't know how that works. I'm not referred to as the woman formerly known as a supermodel, I'm still called Supermodel Gabrielle Black. Despite being retired, I'm as busy as ever. I returned to the Law Firm of Rinquist, Rupert, and Wallace, and started handling cases again. For those who don't know, I'm an entertainment lawyer. I defend most of the celebs in and out of Hollywood, well known or not. I work on a case by case basis, and I'm rarely in town. I don't think I've seen the inside of a court room in New York because the majority of my cases take place anywhere but here. I take that back. I've handled two cases in New York in the last eleven years, but that's it.

Our oldest son, Logan is currently in the hospital due to injuries sustained from an explosion on Black Friday. Police and firefighters arrived on the scene and found fragments of an explosive device. They were obtained from the scene as evidence. Police have determined that the bomb was on the passenger side of the vehicle, which explains why Logan sustained most of the injuries. Peter hit the unlock button on the remote for his Porsche Cayenne, which police assume detonated of the bomb. He and Logan were getting into the vehicle when the explosion took place. Police have no leads so far, but they are continuing to investigate further into the incident. 

Logan lost a lot of blood. The hospital held an emergency blood drive because he has type O negative blood. Family, friends, and total strangers with type O negative donated blood, ultimately saving our son's life. We almost lost him, and thinking about how close we came to losing him, it makes me panic. He had to undergo total reconstructive surgery of his face. He sustained burns on his arms and legs, cuts on his arms, legs, and face from shards of glass being propelled at him from the blast. The passenger side door flew off and hit him in the face and chest, which caused three fractured ribs. His jaw is wired shut and he's on a liquid diet right now. He can't talk very well, he writes what he needs to say on a dry erase board, or he communicates through sign language, which Peter and I haven't quite mastered. He's supposed to get one set of wires cut hopefully the week of Christmas, which will free up some of his ability to move his lips and speak more coherently for lack of a better word. Currently, Peter, Phoenix, and I are taking turns staying with Logan at Wallace Memorial Hospital.

Peter was also injured, sustaining first degree burns on his right arm and leg, cuts from shards of glass projected in the explosion, and a fractured rib, the same rib he's fractured twice before. He was banged up and bruised, and spent three days in the hospital. Peter later had to undergo rhinoplasty. His nose was broken in the blast and had healed improperly. The surgeon had to re-break it, set it, and then put the cast on, which left him with two black eyes and some nasal swelling. He is miserable and cranky and says that rhinoplasty was much worse than the tonsilectomy he had to undergo when he was 24. (It took him six months to fully recover from that.) He's just at two weeks post surgery. He's eating diphenhydramine like candy, trying to get some relief from the pain and sinus pressure that's resulted from nasal congestion, which is common after undergoing rhinoplasty. The worst part is that he can't touch or blow his nose. He had to reschedule some campaign rallies, speeches, and social events where he would schmooze for votes, but the good news is that this forces him to slow down for a bit.

Prior to the explosion, Logan was often the master of the manor while Peter and I were out of town for work. (I retired in order to be closer to home, which in this case means in the same country as my children, but nowhere nearby.) Logan has been such a big help to us by looking after his brother and sister, and taking care of them. I always felt bad about leaving him, but he's not alone. The butler, maid, and other staff of the manor are there to do the cooking and cleaning. Logan is a responsible young man, and he's greatly helped us out.

Our middle child, Phoenix, is doing really well this year. He's excelling in school. He's got a girlfriend named Kappi. They were friends prior to dating. Phoenix has been doing fair to good as far as his health is concerned. He was in the hospital in January after having three tonic-clonic seizures within a three hour period. Dr. Sheffield was concerned about the possibility of convulsive status epilepticus occurring. Phoenix was admitted to the hospital for observation. After a few days of trying to invoke a seizure in order to try to see what area of the brain is causing him to seize and if it's a neurological issue or a chemical issue, no seizure occurred, so he was released from the hospital.

Since Phoenix was born ten weeks early, his premature birth has been linked to the majority of his health issues, which consists of fatigue, chemical imbalances, and seizures. He has several different types of seizures, primary generalized seizures, and partial seizures. He has seizures from both categories, and we never know which type of seizure he's going to have. He has a combination of absence seizures, atonic "drop" seizures (person remains conscious), tonic-clonic seizures, simple partial seizures, and complex partial seizures. The absence seizures are hard to pinpoint, but the tonic-clonic seizures start out with a shriek or scream because air is being forced past his vocal chords. Phoenix has had seizures since he was two days old, so Peter and I have dealt with this for a long time. That still doesn't make it any easier to witness. Poor guy has been through so much, but he never complains. He's a great kid. He doesn't deserve to go through things like this.

Our daughter, Sophie Allison, is out of the loop, so to speak. She knows that Logan is in the hospital, and she has made him several get well cards and crafts, but Peter and I don't think she could handle seeing her big brother in his current state. She's eight years old. She should be doing eight year old things, so she's getting spoiled by Peter's parents. Peter's twin sister, Kate, is going to take her for a few days as well. Ryker and Leah took Sophie Allison during Thanksgiving break. She had an awesome time playing with their children, Hannah, Katie, Maddy, and Gregory. She hasn't asked too many questions yet. I have taken her and Phoenix to brunch every Sunday since Logan's been hospitalized. Peter and I feel that it's important that Phoenix gets away from the hospital. He's visits there all too often for his own health issues. And Sophie still needs interaction with her family. Last Sunday, she thanked me for letting her visit with her grandparents, her Aunt Kate, and her friends. She's such a sweetheart!

Peter's parents, Philip and Kim Black are doing well. Philip loves being a grandfather. He's been very involved in Logan, Phoenix, and Sophie Allison's lives. Kim is a famous clothing designer. She released her new clothing line, Cocktails and Caviar, which consists of classic black dresses with a modern twist, perfect for evenings out among friends or work colleagues.

Peter's twin sister, Kate Black-Wallace, and her husband, Spencer Wallace, are expecting their first child! The baby is due in August. They find out the gender next month. Kate and Spencer are still practicing law at the Rinquist, Rupert, and Wallace Law Firm.

We traveled so much this year. We went to Maldives, London, Rome, Venice, Paris, Milan, and the list goes on, so it was nice to be home January through April. It was great having down time to spend together as a family. We got to be real parents! We helped Logan, Phoenix, and Sophie Allison with their homework, sat down to dinner together as a family, and had a family game night. I loved my few months as a typical wife and mother. It was so rewarding. Then it was back to work for me. And of course, Peter's been busy with his presidential campaign.

Peter and his twin sister, Kate, celebrated their birthdays in March.

Sophie Allison turned eight on April 5th! She wanted to have a tea party, so I invited Daisy, Leah, Tallullah, and their daughters, and we went to a fancy tea room and had a tea party with the little finger sandwiches and petit fours.

We sort of celebrated our wedding anniversary on April 10th. All three kids had been sick with bronchitis. Sophie Allison brought it home, then Phoenix and Logan caught it simultaneously. So I had my hands full with three sick kids. Thankfully, my friend, Leah is a pediatrician, and she makes house calls. Logan and Sophie Allison were on the mend within a few days. Phoenix doesn't always bounce back immediately, and he needed extra time for recovery. We finally got him on the mend. Peter had made reservations a month in advance to our favorite restaurant. He had an amazing night planned for the two of us. Then the children gave us an unwanted anniversary present. You guessed it! (I assume that fourteenth wedding anniversary is illness.) Instead of an amazing night out, we spent a miserable night in, which consisted of laying in bed and trying to watch television while doped up on meds and in a fevered state of consciousness. Logan and Phoenix were nice enough to spend the night of our anniversary taking care of us, with Sophie assisting. After Peter and I recovered, we simply got too busy to really celebrate our anniversary, but I did get roses and a diamond tennis bracelet. I got Peter those gold cufflinks he had been eyeing.

On July 21st, Phoenix turned fifteen. Unfortunately, his birthday started with a tonic-clonic seizure. The postictal phase was worse than the seizure itself and he ended up spending the day in bed. We rescheduled his party for the following week, and he ended up having a great day!

September 4th was Logan's sixteenth birthday. He only wanted to go camping. Peter is so not the outdoorsy type. He only tolerates fishing for so long, so he arranged for Paul to take Logan, and his friends, Declan, and Zane, camping. The camping trip took place during the long weekend that Labor Day offered. The guys had a great time. Phoenix was apprehensive about going on the trip and since some of his meds have to be given intravenously, he figured it best to stay home. Peter decided to take Phoenix out for some father/son time. They spent the weekend together while Sophie and I did some last minute back to school shopping.

I turned 29 AGAIN on October 1st. (I've been twenty-nine for a long time!) For my birthday, Peter sent me to a spa getaway with the girls. Daisy was unable to come due to illness. Leah couldn't get time off from work, so it ended up just being me and Tallullah, and she was a good sport about it. Tallullah is a bit of a tomboy, but she really enjoyed herself. Tallullah is an active type of person like I am, so we took advantage of the fitness center every morning, went swimming during the afternoon, and had a walk around the grounds after dinner each evening. Tallullah even went shopping with me. I am a professional shopper. (One time, I spent eight hours shopping on Rodeo Drive!) That's not Tallullah's thing, but again, she was a good sport about it. She even purchased some girly clothes, including a gorgeous cocktail dress and some clever pin striped suits that looked amazing on her.

Thanksgiving just wasn't the same this year for obvious reasons. Sophie Allison went to dinner at Leah and Ryker's house, while Peter and I spent the day at Wallace Memorial Hospital visiting Logan and his girlfriend, Jerrica.


The Christmas season hasn't been the same so far. The staff began decorating. They finished the dining room (as seen above) and the den (below).


The sun room is also finished.


Everything looks wonderful, but there are so many things missing, like Sophie Allison running through the manor, anticipation and excitement for Christmas Day in the atmosphere; Sophie helping the staff decorate cookies and other goodies; Peter and Logan bringing in firewood, the cold radiating off of their coats; Phoenix lounging on the couch, watching "It's A Wonderful Life," every single time it comes on. I hope that Logan can be home for Christmas.


I decided to put Sophie's tree up in her room so she will see it when she comes home. I think Sophie's tree is my favorite (pictured above).

I hope I haven't forgotten anything. If you can't tell, I'm a bit stressed and it appears that I went all over the place. I've also been taking care of Phoenix while composing this letter. He's not feeling well today. I think he's just tired and feeling the stress that Peter and I are feeling. I can't wait for my boys to start feeling better all around.

I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas Season, and a Happy New Year!

Joyeux Noel a tous et a toutes une bonne nuit!

Congressman Peter Black, Gabrielle Olivia, Philip Logan, Phoenix Ryan, and Sophie Allison

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Letters Part Three

Here it is, another Christmas letter from a character in my book! You know the rules, any questions, just ask. Enjoy!


December 2023

Christmas Time Is Here...

Merry Christmas! It's a pleasure to be writing to everyone to share an update about our lives and to express well wishes during this Christmas Season. Our year started out wonderfully, but ended on a bit of a tragic note. I'll get to that later. For now, let me give you an update on my family.

Paul and I are doing well. He's still the pastor at Living Waters Cathedral, and he's been the captain of the police force for almost ten years. I ditched my job in publishing to become a full time writer. I now work from home, and I love it. We celebrated our eighteenth wedding anniversary in November.

Our children are growing up way too fast...

Zephra turned nineteen this past May. She and her husband, Alexander Rossi, have been married for two years now. Paul is slowly accepting Alexander as his son-in-law. He still sees Zephra as his little girl, and he wants to protect her. It doesn't matter that she has two little girls of her own, he will always see her as his little girl. (I know this because my father still sees me as his little girl.) Zephra returned to nursing school to become an RN. She will finish school a week or two after her twentieth birthday. Paul and I are so proud of her. She's really done well for herself. I'm sure Alexander is proud of her, too.

Zane also had a birthday in May. He is now sixteen years old. He came home from Hollywood, CA, for his birthday. He's still a typical teenager, sort of. He still plays the starring role in "The Secret Life of a Teenage Vampire". He's definitely doing better than I was at when I was sixteen. He and Trinity are coming up on their one year wedding anniversary. Paul is handling Zane running off to Hollywood and getting married better than he did with Zephra. He still worries about Zane, though. He and I both know that Zane is a teenager who's living in an adult world, which means he thinks he's a man, but he's not even close. Still, he's become quite mature and responsible for a sixteen year old, and he does work hard. He and Trinity were together for six years the day before their wedding.

Zayden celebrated his twelfth birthday in July. He's such a sweetheart. He's loves being an uncle to Zelda and Zayna. He misses Zephra and Zane since they moved out. Zayden is on the honor roll at school and plays baseball. He tried out for the basketball team in September and won a spot as the shooting guard.

My Mom and Dad, Zephyr and Belinda, are doing well. Mom has improved dramatically since her accident twenty years ago. VNS has done wonders for her. Dad refuses to retire. He owns and operates the family business, The Wallace Architect Firm, which was started by his father. My youngest brother, Troy, is twenty now. He's still living at home and helping Dad take care of Mom. He's working for my Dad at the firm and plans on sticking around for a few years before going to college.

The year started out routine.

The first real event in our household took place in March. Paul turned 37 on March 2nd. Daisy, Leah, and Gabrielle helped me throw him a surprise birthday party. We went ahead and celebrated his best friend, Peter's birthday at the same time, since they both have March birthdays.

I turned 36 on April 26th. Paul surprised me by taking us all to Hawaii. We had an amazing time going to luaus, watching fire dancers, learning how to Hula dance.

We went to Colorado at the end of June to visit Paul's family.

School started in August/September. I'm still working from home. This makes my second year of working at home. I still love it!

On October 16th, Zephra's youngest daughter, Zayna, turned two. She's such a sweetheart. She looks just like Zephra did at that age. She has Zephra's auburn hair, green eyes, and freckles. She's already putting sentences together and saying words that most of her two year old peers wouldn't normally say. Even Zelda wasn't putting together sentences until she was around three. She says, "I want some food," or she will say, "I want," followed by the specific name of the object, action, or food. She also says, "I love Nana," and "I love Papaw". Her latest saying is, "Mommy is a big meanie." Alexander taught her that one. Zephra threatened to teach Zayna how to say, "Daddy's so lazy." I really hope she doesn't.

Though our anniversary is in November, Paul and I went on a cruise to the Caribbean in October. We had an amazing time. Zephra, her two children, and Zane came home to watch Zayden and house sit while we were gone. We were pleasantly surprised to come home and see the house clean and in order, Zane laying on the couch listening to his iPod, Zephra making dinner,  Zayden playing checkers with Zelda, and Zayna sitting in her playpen watching her uncle and her big sister.

Thanksgiving was spectacular this year! All of our family was present for dinner. We got caught up on how everyone is doing, and we also got some exciting news! Zane and Trinity, announced that they are expecting their first child! It's a boy! We're finally going to get a grandson! We're STILL too young to be grandparents for a third time in my opinion, but I can't help being excited! Paul thinks Zane and Trinity are taking on too much, and that they have no idea what they're getting into, but I reminded him that we were in the same position. We were a little older than they are. I was eighteen and Paul was nineteen when we found out I was pregnant with Zephra, and we weren't even married. Zane and Trinity got married long before they got pregnant, so I think they're doing better than we were. After dinner, we sat around and talked. We saw family out as they left. Alexander took the girls home so he could get them to bed. Zephra, Zane, and Trinity spent the night with us. The six of us stayed up late, played games, and watched movies.

On December 5th, Zelda turned six. I can't believe she's already six! She is the spitting image of Alexander. She has his black hair, dark brown eyes, and olive complexion. She can't wait to start first grade. That's all she's talked about since she turned six. When Paul asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she said she wanted to start first grade. She's so funny. She's definitely got Zephra's personality.

We're still living at Tori's house since the fire two years ago. (Police still have no leads as to what caused the fire.) Tori and her husband, Taven, decided to give us her house, free and clear. They brought the deed over last week. Paul and I were completely flabbergasted, and so thankful. I finally feel like our lives are finally pieced back together again. The outpouring of love and kindness from our friends, our family, and our church family the past two years has been amazing. 

I just want to take a moment to give thanks to God and to those who have encouraged us, purchased items we needed, and to those who have lifted us up in prayer, thank you so much. Prayers are appreciated.

Zephra invited us over to help her decorate her home for Christmas. It's been a tradition that began two years ago, when she and Alexander moved into their house. The three of us accepted and we spent yesterday putting up the tree. Paul and Alexander hung her outside lights. Once the decorating was done, Zephra made dinner. We sat down as a family and ate. As I sat at the table with my son-in-law, my daughter, my husband, my youngest son, and my granddaughters, I realize how blessed I am. Two years ago, Paul and Zephra weren't even speaking. Now they're close again. Paul's accepted that Alexander is here to stay. They're getting along finally. And we have Zayna, who has added so much joy to our lives. I can't wait to see what God has in store for us next year!



I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Remember to count your blessings this Christmas Season.

With Love and Appreciation,

Pastor Paul, Tallullah, Zephra, Alexander, Zelda, Zayna, Zane, Trinity, and Zayden

Christmas Letters Part Two...

Here's another Christmas Letter from some of my characters! Please enjoy! Any questions, you know where to find me!


December, 2023

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Greetings and Salutations! I'm thrilled to have the time to sit down and compose a Christmas letter to everyone this year! That's because my husband was kind enough to take all four children out to look at Christmas lights. Ryker is the best. I don't know what I would do without him.

This year has been a good one, and I can't wait to tell everyone about it. The problem is, where to start. It's too quiet in here. I am waiting to hear, "Mommy! Mom! What are you doing, Mom? Can I have a cookie? Can I watch television? Mom, Katie won't share!" Maybe I should have him bring the children back.

December is our big month out of every year, and this year is no exception.

Christmas is approaching rather quickly, and with four children, the atmosphere is one of anticipation and excitement! Ryker and I are enjoying keeping the magic and mystery of Christmas alive for our children. Soon, they will be too old to believe in Santa and flying reindeer.

It's hard to believe that Hannah and Katie will be thirteen on New Year's Eve! Seems like I just had them yesterday! And Madeline and Gregory will be twelve on December 21st, just a few days before Christmas. So for a little over a week, I will have four children who are twelve years old. TLC should give me a reality show. (Just kidding!) I'm going to have two teens and two tweens! I just hope the girls don't have an early onset of ATS (Acute Teenager Syndrome). Next year, I will have four teenagers. Maybe I'm on to something with that reality show.


We've had a good year filled with many blessings from God.

Ryker is still practicing law, but he's doing most of his work from home still, going to his office only when necessary, and of course, the courtroom. He loves being able to work from home, especially during the summer months when the children are out of school.

I'm still working at Wallace Memorial. I've been the head of the Pediatrics Department for two years, and I'm still loving it! My job is a bit more demanding, and I don't see as many patients as I did before, but I'm still glad I took the position as head of the department.

I continue to get job offers for a position as chief-of-medicine at St. Katherine's Children's Hospital, but I keep declining. The Wallace Architect Firm, which is owned and operated by my dad and his triplet brothers, Zephyr and Harper, designed and constructed Wallace Memorial Hospital, and I wouldn't dream of leaving! My mom still works there, some of my cousins work there, and my dad was the first chief-of-medicine there. As you can see, there's so much family history embedded within the hospital halls.

Hannah is doing well in school. She loves Reading and English. She won the school spelling bee again and got to go to the state spelling bee, where she won second place. She's also a published writer in the school newsletter. She aspires to be a writer and she's well on her way! Hannah is so imaginative and creative, and such a girly girl. She's probably our calmest child. She spends most of the summer months laying in the hammock, reading, and listening to the ocean.

Katie is excelling in math and science. She won first place at the school science fair for the third year in a row, and went to the state science fair all three times, where she placed second this year. She was a bit disappointed in herself, but she's going to try again. She's such a hard worker. She's had a few setbacks due to having diabetes, but it doesn't slow her down much. It certainly hasn't hindered her grades. She plans on being a doctor. She enjoys helping her brother and sisters with Math and Science homework. Katie loves animals. She wants a kitten so bad, but she and Ryker are both allergic.

Madeline "Maddy" is doing much better in school. We have set up monthly meetings with her teacher and we're doing what we can to help her develop an interest in learning. Ryker and I decided to see about having Maddy take an IQ test, and we discovered that she has an IQ of 111, so Ryker and I know she's intelligent. She's also a daydreamer, so it's a bit difficult getting her to apply herself. I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she has it narrowed down to a princess, a teacher, a news anchor, a chef, or an actress. She's so random! We're going to have her undergo a few more tests. Maybe she needs to be challenged more. We're hoping to figure out what we can do to help her get engaged in her school work. On a positive note, Maddy is an amazing little girl, who loves to help me around the house. She said that no matter what career she chooses from her list, she also wants to be a wife and mother.

Gregory is a sports fan, like his father. He plays baseball, football, and basketball, and he's really good. I know that all parents think their son or daughter is the best, but Gregory is a serious athlete. Not only does he attend practice, he practices at home. That's his biggest interest in the world, sports. I think it's difficult being the only boy, but Ryker softens the blow by taking him to do guy things while the girls and I go to the grocery store or shopping. Gregory really surprised me by offering to help me decorate cookies last week. He made each of his sisters and his dad a special cookie, then he asked me to leave the room so he could make one for me. Gregory doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he says he's thinking of becoming a lawyer.

As for the rest of the year, well, I'll tell you! I'll just give you the important highlights!

  • Wallace Memorial Hospital won some awards and were presented with them in January. Ryker and I were privileged to be able to attend the awards ceremonies.
  • On Valentine's Day, Ryker surprised me by taking me to Los Angeles! He knew I had always wanted to go to LA. It meant so much to me that he went all out! He doesn't travel well, so he usually spends the first day of any trip resting up in the hotel room. This time, he accompanied me to the spa as soon as we arrived to the hotel. We spent the week in Los Angeles and had an amazing time!
  • We went to a Seder Dinner at Ryker's parents house in March. (Ryker's father by adoption is Jewish. Ryker's mother is half Cambodian. Ryker has such an amazing cultured background, and the children and I have learned so much from both of his parents.)
  • For our thirteenth anniversary in May, Ryker and I went to Rio, where we spent our honeymoon! We rekindled so many wonderful memories, we bought souvenirs for our children, and we've decided to take them to Rio next summer so they can see where our marriage began.
  • We took the children to Disney World in June. Ryker's parents and Daisy and Steve's daughter, Ashtyn, joined us. Ryker's birthday took place during our trip, so his parents and I took the children so he could have the afternoon to himself, then we had him meet us for dinner, where we totally surprised him.
  • My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in August. My siblings and I threw them an intimate anniversary party. Aidan and Achilles took footage from our home movies and made an amazing video for them. Veronica and Victoria were in charge of decorating, and I coordinated getting the five of us together for photos so Mom and Dad could have pictures of us. After the anniversary party, we all got together for a photo of our entire families; Mom and Dad; Aidan, his wife, Bridget, and their six children, plus one on the way; Achilles, his wife, Briannon, and their six children; Ryker and I, and our four children; and Veronica and Victoria, my youngest siblings. They graduated high school last year, and are now part of the way through their first year of college. That's so hard to believe! My parents were beyond thrilled that we put so much time and effort into the Ruby Wedding Anniversary. Now the question is, can we top this on their 50th anniversary?
  • September 10th, I turned another year older. I had the day off, so I slept until ten, when Ryker and the children brought me breakfast in bed. Ryker ran me a hot bubble bath. I spent an hour relaxing in the tub. My besties, Daisy, Tallullah, and Gabrielle, took me to lunch at this little coffee house that offered cheese and chocolate fondue. We had fun skewering things to dip into the cheese or chocolate. Then, the four of us went to a spa together. I came home to find a romantic, candlelit dinner waiting on the balcony overlooking our private beach in the backyard. My parents had taken the kids to Chuck E. Cheese, and then to spend the night with them, so Ryker and I had the evening to ourselves. After we ate, we sat on the beach and watched the waves. It was a very good birthday.
  • For Halloween, Hannah dressed up as a "spelling bee" by donning a bee costume and carrying around her spelling book. It was cute and funny. Katie was a Siamese cat. (She said she hoped that Daddy wasn't allergic to her costume.) Maddy and Gregory dressed as news anchors and had a comedy routine they performed for anyone who would listen/watch them. (It's funny how opposite my indentical twins, Hannah and Katie, are, but Maddy and Gregory are so much alike! Twins are truly a mystery.)
  • November came, bringing germs that ran rampant through our house. We passed them around for a bit. Thankfully, we were all better by Thanksgiving and able to join my parents for dinner at their house. Ryker's parents had us over for dinner the following week.
  • We have two Christmas trees. One in the living room, and one downstairs in the sitting area (the two trees pictured above). Hannah, Kate, Maddy, and Gregory informed me that they wanted their own tree. That's what we did today...

That about sums it up. I have so much going on with the kids birthdays and Christmas. I have to make a few calls and do a few last minute touches for Maddy and Gregory's birthday next week. I think I'll just do a New Year's theme party for Hannah and Kate since their birthday is on the same day. They'll love the idea of soda out of plastic, fluted glasses, noise makers, birthday cake with sparkler candles on top, and the fireworks that Ryker and his dad set off to ring in the New Year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Leah and Ryker,
Hannah Jade and Katherine "Katie" Olivia,
Madeline "Maddy" and Gregory Alan

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Letters...

The holidays are not the best time in the Townsend Household, but rather than whinge about how bad things are going, how we've all been sick, and the fact that my father-in-law is getting worse, I am going to do something far more interesting. I am going to post Christmas letters from my characters in my book. If you have any questions, just ask. For now, here goes...

(Decorations outside of our house.)

(My parent's house)

December, 2023

Merry Christmas!

Not a whole lot has changed since last year, and to me, that's a good thing. Things have been good, for the most part. 

Steve is well. He's still the chief of medicine at Wallace Memorial Hospital, still a workaholic, and still a devoted husband and father. I love him more everyday.
Our son, Declan, is doing extremely well in school. It's still so hard to believe he graduated high school at the age of fifteen! He's in his second year of college at the age of seventeen now, and well on his way to med school, although he can't decide what he's going to specialize in. He may pursue two specialties, like his father. During the summer, he works as a deejay and he's in demand.
Speaking of Declan, he came home this morning. Steve and I were having coffee before he left for work, and Declan walked into the living room. It was such a nice surprise. He said he wasn't coming home until tomorrow. He spent the morning helping me around the house. We laid around and watched television. We decided to surprise Steve, so we went to Wallace Memorial to have lunch with him. Ashtyn will be over the moon when she comes home and sees her big brother. It's always good to have him home.

Our daughter, Ashtyn, is also striving high academically. Her teacher and principal had discussed allowing her to move ahead a grade last year. We decided to allow her to do so with concerns, but she amazed us all. She is the youngest student in the eighth grade, and her classmates look up to her! Ashtyn announced that she has decided to be a doctor. Looks like both of my children are following in their father's footsteps!

Ashtyn is actively involved in helping those in need. Her class at school is having a food drive, and next Sunday, the class is going to the mall to purchase things from the angel tree. Ashtyn's Sunday school class is taking toy donations to send to children overseas. She has really jumped in and helped them. I remember two years ago, when she approached me with so many questions about how to help them. I answered her questions and she just burst into tears. She really has a heart of gold. She said the best thing I did for her was when I took her to volunteer at a homeless shelter. We're doing that again this year. As usual, she's been using all of her Christmas money to buy gifts for those in need. She's such a good kid. I am truly blessed to have such good children. I couldn't be prouder of both of them.

I still work in publishing. I finished my book, but I'm not giving out the title just yet. I'm meeting with my boss after the New Year so he can look it over and tell me if I need to make any adjustments or corrections. I've decided to use my name, rather than a pen name. I also need to mention that I have been declared cancer free!

 So that brings us to Events and Happenings!

  • In January, the hospital won several awards for best overall care, best oncology department, and #1 in cardiac care and rehab services. Later on, Wallace Memorial won another award for neurology. We attended all of the awards ceremonies and celebrations.

  • In February, Ashtyn had to undergo a tonsilectomy. She recovered quickly and was back to her old self in a few days. Steve was too busy to do much for Valentine's Day, so I surprised him at work. We spent a couple of hours hanging out in his office. He ordered take out and I brought some pink iced heart shaped sugar cookies that Ashtyn and I made earlier. He went a step further with roses and jewelry.

  • I celebrated my birthday on February 25th. Declan came home to spend my birthday weekend with me. He and his girlfriend, Anya, took me to lunch at my favorite restaurant in Manhattan. When Steve and Ashtyn got home, the five of us went to dinner. Gabrielle, Leah, Tallullah, and I went for the annual birthday tea at the tea room on Saturday. It's a birthday tradition to get together for tea and petit fours for our birthdays.

  • In March, Ashtyn celebrated her birthday. I hosted a slumber party for her, which went very well. Her birthday was also the second anniversary of the day I was declared cancer free last year!

  •  In April, Declan and Ashtyn had spring break at the same time for once, so we took a trip to France to visit Steve's parents. We had an amazing time.

  •  In May, Ashtyn completed the seventh grade and Declan completed his first year of college.

  •  In June, Steve and I celebrated our thirteenth year of marriage. We spent eight days in Cozumel, Mexico, just the two of us, while Ashtyn went to Disney World with our best friends, Leah and Ryker, and their children, Hannah, Kate, Maddy, and Gregory. Declan went to Colorado with my cousin Tallullah, her husband, Paul, and their children, Zephra, Zane, and Zayden.

  •  July, we spent two weeks in Japan. Steve's parents, as well as mine, met us there. Trevor, his wife, Amber, and Benjiro, and his wife Elizabeth, joined us the following week. Declan got to bring Anya to Japan for the first time. She had such a great time. It was essentially Ashtyn's first time to Japan, that she remembers. She was a baby the first time we took her. Declan and Anya were kind enough to dote on her. They took her on a day trip to Tokyo. Steve, Trevor, and Benjiro visited former colleagues at the newly built hospital. My father and Steve's father went to see a sumo wrestling match. Amber, Elizabeth, my mother, and Steve's mother, Katerina, went shopping in the village. Anya and Ashtyn came with us a few times.

  • In August, we took a trip to Rio, and spent a week enjoying the sand and sun. We took the cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain, hiked up to the Christ statue on Corcovado Hill, and took many other tours that consisted of boat rides, swimming, walking tours, etc. We had so much fun.

  • Steve's birthday was a few days after Ashtyn returned to school, on August 29th.

  • In September, Declan returned to college. I was sad to see him go. The good news was that Steve and I had some downtime to get back into the swing of things at school/work. This was my third year going back to work full time. Ashtyn is in the National Honor Society again this year. Her teacher told us that she's already doing English and Math at high school level.

  • My mother had a cancer scare, but it turned out to be nothing. (THANK GOD!)

  • In October, I was so sick, I battled one illness after another. On Halloween, I was too sick to take Ashtyn trick-or-treating, and Steve had to work late the last week of October. Leah and Ryker were kind enough to take Ashtyn, along with their four children. Ashtyn had a great time with Hannah, Katie, Maddy, and Gregory.

  • Steve's mother had a breast cancer scare, but thankfully her biopsy proved benign.

  • In November, Declan celebrated his seventeenth birthday. Unfortunately, he got the sick the day after he came home for Thanksgiving Break. He spent the entire time he was home, sick in bed. Thankfully, he managed to join us for Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Our friends, Peter and Gabrielle are having a rough time of it. Peter and his fifteen year old son, Logan, were seriously injured the day after Thanksgiving, when Peter's car exploded. Logan sustained the worst of the injuries and had to have a lengthy surgery. They held an emergency blood drive for him, which saved his life. Peter spent two days in the hospital, and Logan may get out on Christmas Day, we hope. He's doing some better. Peter had to undergo rhinoplasty, and he's feeling miserable.

  • My Grandma Rio and Grandpa Tory also passed away the week of Thanksgiving, when their pilot lost control of their private jet.

  • Thanksgiving Day was bittersweet with Declan being sick and the death of both of my grandparents. The good news was that all of my family, including my Uncle Griffin, Aunt Brooklyn, and their children, who are usually away for the holidays, spent Thanksgiving at our house. We caught up on how everyone's lives were going, reminisced about Grandma and Grandpa, and ate WAY TOO MUCH! Declan's girlfriend, Anya Rossi, and her mother, Gia, came over for Thanksgiving Dinner. That has become a tradition the last two years.

  • My grandparents visitation took place on Sunday night and the funeral/graveside service on Monday afternoon. The services were beautiful.

  • Steve decided that we needed a short vacation, so we went to the mountains to regroup. Declan and Steve went snowboarding while Ashtyn and I shopped and took some skiing lessons. I am embarrassed to report that my thirteen year old is a much better skier than I am!

That brings us to December, and we are all getting ready for the holidays. Ashtyn, Declan, and I baked and decorated cookies earlier today. Anya and her mother, Gia, came and brought Italian Wedding Cookies, then the five of us hit the mall so Ashtyn could see Santa. It was so funny to watch as Ashtyn explained to Santa that she wants to be a doctor for Christmas. The look on his face was priceless!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Daisy Jade, Steven, Declan, and Ashtyn Fiona Michelle!

And for our next letter...well I'll compose it in another blog post.

Hope you enjoyed!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Goodbye November, Hello December!

Just a few updates...

It's almost Christmas, and I'm not ready for it.
My battle with walking pneumonia started eight weeks ago and I'm still coughing, still not feeling 100% since then, but I am feeling better, still just exhausted. I just want to feel completely better.

Some of our problems have been eliminated, atleast for November. We got two checks, which paid the rent for November and part of the rent for December.

I'm working on a project for my pastor. It's been rather time consuming, but I've enjoyed the research. I've got a few more things to do prior to sending the email to the church. I'm having some problems with spacing, which is what I'm trying to fix.

Doug is at school, taking a make up test. With all of the car problems we've had in the last six months, he's missed some important classes. That brings me to my next update...

Our car has a shredded tire. This happened the day after Thanksgiving. It's going to cost $50.00 for a professional just to put the spare on for us because it requires special tools. So we're either going to have to tow it somewhere (which is about as much or more) just to get a new tire put on, and then we have to shell out money for new tags.

We got an unexpected blessing of new towels. They are pretty and so lovely to use, and I have no idea where our towels are going, so this really helped out.

We had a nice Thanksgiving, but we didn't eat until eight p.m. that day. After thawing the turkey for the recommended amount of time, the inside was still frozen, and I couldn't get the neck and giblets out of the turkey. Doug got up and was able to remove them and he helped me get it in the oven. Next year, we've decided to either go out to eat or have something called "Steaksgiving," something our friend Paul thought up. If the weather continues to be seventy degrees on Thanksgiving Day every year, then I don't have a problem with grilling out. Steak is yummy and contains no tryptophan (Trip to Alaska, Trip to the Carribean...)

No more updates for now. Until it's back to the matter at hand, the project.

Have a good weekend!