Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Letters Part Four!

*All pictures are from*

December 2013

Seasons Greetings!

I'm writing to you from our cabin. Peter thought some time away would be good for all of us. I think he was right. It's so beautiful and peaceful up here.

The cabin used to belong to Peter's parents. Peter bought it off of them in 2010, when his mother put it up for sale.

Peter's twin sister, Kate, and her husband, Spencer, decided to join us and get away from it all. I couldn't blame them after the whole Thanksgiving Day fiasco. But, what are the holidays without family drama?

Not much has changed for us.

Peter's still a congressman. Nothing new there.

I still work as an entertainment lawyer, representing celebrities who need legal counsel, and sometimes those celebrities who cannot control themselves. I've cut back my own hours due to Phoenix and his health needs. He's doing okay for the most part, but there are still lots of unanswered questions, which means lots of doctor visits. Phoenix sees seven specialists now. Seven.

Logan's fine. I call him, "Mini Peter" because he looks and acts exactly like his father! Sometimes, when he looks at me with those brown eyes, I see Peter staring back at me, and I usually give in to his demands. I know that's not good, but if he didn't look so much like his father, I would be able to resist him.

Peter's mother, Kim, is still a big name in the fashion industry. She's already working on her Spring, 2014 collection. Peter's father, Philip, still manages his wife's business affairs.

Peter's twin sister, Kate, retired from modeling at the beginning of this year, much to her mother's chagrin. And her husband, Spencer, is still a corporate lawyer who works for the same law firm as I do. (Leah's husband, Ryker, did, too, but he works from home now, so I don't see him much at all.)

Again, as you can see, nothing really new is happening. But I can show you pictures of the cabin!

The cabin. Peter and Spencer have spent most of the morning hours fishing in this pond.

The cabin at night. Look at this gorgeous view!

The ground floor hallway. When Peter called the staff and had them get the place together for us on such short notice, they were nice enough to assemble the trees so we could spend the first few days decorating. Peter and I had the boys gifts sent to us here at the cabin. We also purchased a few things for them since we've been here.

The den on the ground floor where Peter and Spencer play cards or have scotch and cigars after dinner.

The ground floor bathroom. Kate and I have spent so much time lounging in the hot tub since we got here. It's so relaxing!

The ground floor bedroom complete with wood burning stove.

The kitchen/dining area on the first floor. We don't take all of our meals here, just lunch and dinner. Peter and I usually have breakfast at the table in the sitting room of the master suite.

The sitting room on the first floor.

Closer view of the first floor sitting room Christmas tree. This is the first tree we decorated because it is by far the biggest tree. It's a real tree, too, so we don't spend much time in here with the boys due to Phoenix's health issues. He has allergies, but they have yet to be pinpointed, so we keep him away from anything that could remotely trigger allergies.

The first floor family room, where Kate, the boys, and I retire after dinner. The boys watch television until they fall asleep, which is usually between eight and nine o'clock. Peter comes in and carries Logan up to bed. I take Phoenix up to the room where we sleep, administer his medications, and put him to bed. It's easier to give him his meds while he's sleeping. Then, I take him to his bed and sit with him for a few minutes to make sure he's really asleep. Once I realize he's down for the count, I grab the baby monitor and take it downstairs with me so I can listen in case he needs anything.

The first floor bathroom. Logan thinks the tub is a swimming pool, (I can't blame him for thinking it's a pool, it's certainly large enough, especially to a little boy), and he's been asking me and Peter to take him swimming. I may have to break out his swim shorts and his life jacket and let him swim!

The hot springs right outside of the cabin! Peter and Spencer have braved it, but Kate and I are not interested in the least.

The second floor hallway. This is probably where we will open gifts first. The boys will head straight for this tree, while Peter, Kate, Spencer, and I will have coffee and admire the view. On Christmas morning, we will go about the cabin, stopping to open gifts at each tree.

The second floor bedroom with twin beds. This is where the boys sleep, in their "big boy beds" as Logan calls them. Logan starts out in the first bed by the doorway, but when we check on them before we retire for the night, we find Logan asleep next to Phoenix in the other bed. He's very protective of Phoenix, but so are we, so he's probably learning that from observing our actions.

The second floor bedroom with a king bed, which adjoins the other bedroom. This is where we sleep when we have the boys with us because the room where they sleep is just right through the other door of bathroom. We leave the door open so we can hear them, and if Phoenix needs anything, one of us can be there within seconds. If it's just us, we sleep in the master suite. There are two loungers across from the bed, so we put a boy on each one. Since Kate and Spencer came with us, we let them have the master suite.

The second floor bathroom, shared between the two second floor bedrooms. This is where Peter or I bathe the boys. The tub isn't as deep as it looks.

The second floor sitting room. This is where we sometimes spend the next hour or two after the boys go to bed, so we can be close by if Phoenix wakes up and needs something. I like to come up here, sit in one of the chairs next to the window, and thumb through magazines while admiring the view.

The second floor bathroom. I rarely bathe the boys here because of the fireplace, the candles, and the protruding stones. There are just too many things they can hurt themselves on.

The third floor is basically the master suite and a small hallway where the stairs end. Kate and Spencer are loving it!

The third floor master bathroom. Peter and I often lie in the tub and have tea. The two teapots, tea cups, and basket of tea bags are probably a dead giveaway. The tub has whirlpool jets in it, and if you make the mistake of adding bubble bath, you will end up surrounded by a huge wall of bubbles! The toilet and the sink are on the lower level of the bathroom.

The hot tub on the third floor deck with a gorgeous view of snow covered mountains. The four of us did come out on the deck and get in the hot tub, but there's a huge patio heater to help keep us warm, and there's always the steam room if we get too cold.

We've had a BLAST since we got here! We took the boys outside to build a snowman, we've shopped, we've eaten, we've been skiing seven times since we got here. The first time we went was great. We left the boys in the care of our butler and trusted friend, Jean-Luc, and we headed to the nearest ski resort. Kate is an avid skier, which is odd for someone who loves summer as much as I do. Peter's great at skiing, but he loves snowboarding more.

Before we went skiing, we did something I am good at (because I'm not the best at skiing). We went ice skating.

Ice skaters!

Then, we hit the slopes.

This ski lift contraption took us to the top of the slopes.

I can ski. I'm not nearly as good at it as Peter, Kate, and Spencer, but Kate patiently stayed by my side as I carefully navigated my way down the easy slopes. I do look adorable in my ski gear, though!

Peter and Spencer went snowboarding.


After Kate and I exhausted ourselves on the slopes, we watched our husbands snowboard until we got too cold and had to go inside the ski lodge and have hot chocolate. I called to check on the boys, who were playing. Phoenix was doing fine.

It started out as such a cold, overcast day, but it ended up being a gorgeous day!

After the guys were finished snowboarding, they came inside the lodge to warm up. Of course Peter's idea of warming up is having a glass of thirty year old scotch without any ice. He and Spencer finished their drinks and went into the gift shop. They returned with two microfiber blankets. Kate and I knew they were up to something, but we didn't know what, a man with a horse drawn carriage pulled up in front of the resort. Peter took my  hand and escorted me out to the carriage, which seated four. We took one seat, Spencer and Kate took the other. We rode in the carriage to a restaurant about two miles away from the resort, huddled under blankets and drinking hot chocolate all the way there. It was so nice.

We got to this restaurant, and it did not look like a place I would normally dine, but the food was amazing, and the service was top notch! We ate way too much. We got in the carriage to go back to the ski resort, and snow began falling, which made the ride even nicer.

The carriage we rode in!

We got back to the cabin to find Jean-Luc helping Logan and Phoenix wrap Christmas gifts for us. It was so sweet! Logan looked so serious as he fumbled with a bow, and Phoenix was singing a song he had made up on the spot. It was something like, "Yay, it's Christmas and I'm wrapping presents and there's snow, and there are places we can go, and snowmen, and Santa, and deer, and red flowers..." and he just kept going with whatever he could think to say about Christmas. Peter got it on video, thankfully.

We just put the boys to bed. Peter and Spencer are watching television in the upstairs family room. They've got the baby monitor so they can listen in on the boys, in case Phoenix needs anything. Kate, who was exhausted from the shopping she and I did, went to bed about ten minutes ago. I thought now was the perfect time to sit down and compose our Christmas Letter.

Now that I've given you the grand tour of the cabin, and told you about some of the things we've done here so far, I'll give you some updates about our lives this past year.

January was filled with appointments for Phoenix. (For those of you who don't know, Phoenix has some unknown health issues. He's seen specialist after specialist since he was born. He spent five months in the NICU after he was born. I went into labor at twenty-three weeks. The doctors at Wallace Memorial Hospital were able to stop my labor with medication, until I was twenty-seven weeks, when Phoenix decided he was ready to make his debut into the world. From that day on, our lives have been filled with appointments, medications, hospitalizations, surgeries and concerns, but also strength, joy, laughter, tears, hugs, kisses, and love from a beautiful little boy whose smile lights up a room.) We saw the neurologist, who prescribed a new medication for Phoenix to control his seizures. He has a combination of different types of seizures; absence seizures, simple partial seizures, complex partial seizures, drop seizures, (where he just drops to the ground but doesn't lose consciousness), and tonic clonic, also called grand mal, seizures. The tonic clonic seizures are the worst. I've seen him have that type of seizure many times, but it still doesn't make the next one any less scary. The medication from that visit did decrease his seizure activity dramatically.

We saw the endocrinologist. We've had no luck controlling his glucose level, which is constantly low. Everyone thought he was a diabetic due to some of his symptoms, especially the fact that he can't seem to get enough to drink. He can put away the fluids, so we were all surprised to see that his glucose was low. We have to give him glucose tablets. We check his glucose three times a day. He used to cry and run away when it was time to check it because he hates having his finger stuck, but now he looks forward to it. That's one good thing the glucose tablets have done. He will stand there with me until the machine beeps, and he says, "Do I get one of those grape things?" He's so disappointed when he doesn't have to eat one.

We also saw the ENT and the speech therapist. The ENT is pleased with the results of the surgery, which took place last November. (Phoenix had tubes placed in his ears.) The ENT was also glad to know that Phoenix has not dealt with constant ear infections like he did before. The speech therapist said that his words are much clearer, and that he's advanced in his speech for his age (which was eighteen months at that time). She doesn't expect to be working with him for much longer.

I spent the last two weeks in Milan as a guest judge on a modeling show. (That was the first modeling related job I've accepted since I retired five years ago as a supermodel.)

In February, Phoenix was hospitalized on Groundhog Day. He was showing symptoms of a cold before I had to leave for Milan, but he wasn't getting any better and had developed a fever, so Peter took him to the ER, while I stayed at home with Logan, who was now exhibiting cold symptoms. Phoenix was admitted and spent fourteen days in the hospital. We took turns spending the night at the hospital. He stayed the first night, and I stayed the second, and so on and so forth. One of us took care of Phoenix, while the other took care of Logan. (Believe it or not, I would much rather take care of Phoenix when he's sick than Logan, because while taking care of Phoenix is complicated and requires IV meds and finger sticks and more, he knows the drill and cooperates 95% of the time, but when Logan is sick, he's a tyrant, just like his father. He will scream, cry, and throw things because he doesn't feel well, then, he will hole himself up in his room, where he makes his demands from bed, and he's only three! He's Peter through and through.)

Our Valentine's Day celebration took place in the hospital cafeteria. They served a breakfast buffet for dinner, something Wallace Memorial Hospital does once a month (is it sad that I know this), which consisted of heart shaped eggs, heart shaped pancakes, heart shaped sausage patties, heart shaped Canadian bacon, heart shaped waffles, and fresh fruit cut into little heart shaped pieces. Our friend, Steve, who was working that evening (he's an oncologist) joked that the cardiology department was boycotting the hospital cafeteria because whoever made the food did not use the correct shape of a heart. He also brought us three sugar cookies which were shaped and iced like an actual heart, and even had different colored icing piped on them to look like veins and arteries. He said one of his colleagues made them and brought them in for Valentine's Day. We ate our cookies and took the third one up to Phoenix, who ate that cookie like it was his last meal.

Leah, Tallullah, and I got together on the 25th to throw Daisy a surprise party at the tea room for her 26th birthday. Daisy's doing so much better. She's still in remission. She's gained some weight back, and her hair has grown and is now touching her shoulders. (She can't wait until it's down to her waist again.) She looks amazing, and happy. She showed us pictures of her then five year old son, Declan. (She and Steve adopted him. He's lived with them since October 31st, 2011.) She loves being able to be a mommy again, and as Tallullah puts it, to do "Mom things". We had such a nice time. Then, Leah had to get back upstairs to Ryker. His father had a heart attack two days before Daisy's birthday. I had to get back to Phoenix and see about him.

March consisted of more visits to the doctor for Phoenix, concerning his hospitalization, and a referral to the pulmonologist after another struggle with pneumonia, which thankfully did not require another stay in the hospital. His visit with the endocrinologist was better this time. The glucose tablets proved to be working. More tests to follow.

March 2nd was Paul's twenty-seventh birthday. Peter, Ryker, and Steve took him to his favorite BBQ place to eat, then, they went to a boxing match.

March 11th was Ashtyn's second birthday. We took the boys over to celebrate her birthday.

On March 31st, Peter and his twin, Kate, celebrated their twenty-seventh birthday together. Phoenix wasn't feeling well that day. He had a seizure, so Peter and Kate went out to dinner together to celebrate while I stayed home with the boys.

We took the boys to the church Paul and Tallullah attend for Easter Sunday. They looked so cute in their little suits and ties! After service, the church had an Easter egg hunt. It was the first time the boys participated. They had fun. Phoenix found more eggs than Logan! Logan kept stopping to eat the candy he found in them, or pocket the money that sometimes fell out of them.

On April 10th, Peter and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary by taking a weekend trip to LA. We spent the week lying on the beach or poolside at our hotel. My brother, Braxton, and sister-in-law, Rhiannon, stayed with Logan and Phoenix at our place.

April 26th was Tallullah's 26th birthday. Daisy, Steve, Leah, Ryker, Peter, Paul, and I took her to that new extreme sports place. Tallullah's very adventurous. She was climbing rock walls and flying across the place on the highest zip line, and having a great time!

On May 3rd, Logan had his first visit to the dentist. He was very good during the visit and did everything the dentist told him to do. He's NEVER that docile. He must be learning from his brother. His dental health was excellent.

After the dentist visit, I picked Phoenix up from the house, and took him and Logan over to Zane and Zephra's birthday party. Peter was out of town that day, so he couldn't make it. Zane and Zephra's birthdays are a day apart, so Paul and Tallullah throw their parties on the same day. They both had a great time.

June 12th was Daisy and Steve's third wedding anniversary.

June 27th was Ryker's birthday, so the four of us went over to their house to hang out in their backyard, which is a private beach. Peter, Ryker, Steve, and Tallullah surfed, while Daisy, Leah, and I sunbathed as we watched them. Paul took all of the kids to hunt for seashells. That consisted of his own two children, Zephra and Zane, Steve and Daisy's two children, Declan and Ashtyn, Leah and Ryker's oldest twins, Hannah and Katherine, and their youngest twins, Madeline and Gregory. Paul helped them find shells. Then, he got them all involved in building a sandcastle. Logan and Gregory kept begging to act like Godzilla or King Kong and destroy it, but instead, Paul built them a city out of sand, and let them terrorize it. He even made little people who looked like they were running! The kids had such a good time.

We went back over to Leah and Ryker's house and spent fourth of July having a barbecue on the beach.

July 21st, Phoenix turned two years old. We threw him a Blue's Clues party. He loves Blues Clues, and he's so observant. Peter will sometimes bring bagels home from the bagel shop next to the airport, and he will hide them, but the minute Phoenix gets up from his nap, he will ask for a bagel! How does he know that? So I'll get him an Asiago cheese bagel. He eats half, and I eat the other half.

Phoenix had such a good day that day. He ate a full meal, something that's rare for him. He ran around the house with Logan and their friends, which consisted of Declan, Ashtyn, Zephra, Zane, Hannah, Katherine, Madeline, and Gregory. They were all running through the house giggling and squealing with delight. But that night was a different story. I woke up around two in the morning to check on Phoenix, and he wasn't breathing very well. So I called an ambulance and woke Peter. By the time we got to the hospital, Phoenix was fine. They went ahead and kept him that night to monitor him. The next day, they ran some tests, but they could find nothing. They referred him to an allergy specialist. I'll just add that doctor to his list. Poor guy sees enough doctors as it stands now.

In August, Logan started preschool. Phoenix could have went, but I'm not ready to let him go yet. Logan seems to enjoy interacting with his peers. Once he's awake, Logan can't wait to go. He asks, "Is it time to go yet," every five minutes!

August 29th was Steve's birthday. Peter got this fabulous idea for he, Ryker, and Paul to take Steve to Vegas. I won't go into details, but I was not surprised when Peter got them all kicked out of the casino.

September 4th was Logan's third birthday. He walked around declaring that he's a "big boy" now. He's just like Peter. You could see how proud Peter was when Logan informed him that he was now a big boy. We had a "big boy" party, with a "big boy" theme, which was sports cars. Logan loves sports cars, just like his father. He already wants a Porsche. I have no idea what I'm going to do with him and he's only three! The gang came over, and the kids played. Then, it was time to open gifts. Logan was thrilled to see the  "sports car" that Peter got him. He  got in and took each of his friends for a ride around the backyard! I didn't expect him to share it, but he did.

September 10th was Leah's birthday. Daisy, Tallullah, and I took her to the tea room, where we had an elegant tea party complete with Petit Fours, fondue, and all sorts of other goodies.

October came, bringing with it my birthday and Halloween. The week of my birthday, Peter took me to Tahiti! We spent the majority of our time in our thatched roof hut that is poised on stilts above the still blue waters! It had a private sun deck, and glass floor panels so we could see the Ogle Technicolor reef fish! One of the awesome things about being there was getting breakfast delivered from a traditional dugout canoe by Tahitian women wearing fragrant leis! We went on a shark and stingray feeding tour. I was a mess, but Peter loved every minute of it. We partook in a couples Tahitian massage, explored the heart shaped Moorea, sampled traditional Tahitian dishes, such as breadfruit, taro, Poisson Cru, which is raw tuna marinated in lime juice, and coconut milk. we visited a pearl farm, which I thought was awesome! Tahiti is famous for its black pearls, but not all of them are black. They can come in shades of blue, gray, bronze, green, and aubergine. We took a boat ride in Bora Bora among the Mt. Otemanu. It was gorgeous!!! We saw Polynesian dancers, and I gave it a try. I caught on really quickly, but Peter said he had more fun watching me than participating. We got on the plane to head home. As soon as we were free to move about the cabin, my husband told me to close my eyes. He placed a box in my lap, one last surprise. I opened the box and saw the necklace. Peter bought me a gorgeous strand of black pearls for my birthday. He said my eyes lit up when we were at the pearl farm. He spoils me so. I got with the girls for a day at the spa a few days after I returned home.

For Halloween, Logan wanted to be "like daddy". Peter was thrilled! And the best part was that he was home in time to go trick-or-treating with us this year! (Last year, I took them by myself, which wasn't easy because Phoenix had a seizure halfway through the night, and Logan was disappointed that we had to go home.) So I put Logan in his little black Easter suit with the red silk tie, and found him a small briefcase to carry around. Phoenix wanted to be a lion, like Logan was last year. I let him wear Logan's old costume. He looked so cute in it! He was walking around, yelling, "RAWR," in his cute little toddler voice. It was absolutely adorable. It was one of those nights where nobody would ever know that Phoenix was anything but a normal, healthy little two year old boy.

While we were out with the boys that night, we saw one of the nurses who took care of Phoenix last time he was in the hospital. Phoenix recognized her, because he ran to her, hugged her tightly, and said, "Thank you!" He's such a polite little boy! (Logan, on the other hand, is a different story. We have to remind him of his manners. One time, we were out somewhere eating with Paul and Tallullah, and Logan burped really loud. Peter asked, "What do you say?" And Logan replied, "Nothing." Of course, Paul and Tallullah thought it was hilarious! I wanted to die right there. And Peter was angry. He kept on until Logan finally said, "Excuse me.")

November started out with Logan coming home sick from preschool. Peter and I caught it. Phoenix didn't, which was a miracle! So the three of us spent the second week of November lying around the house, feeling miserable. Leah and Ryker took Phoenix during the day each day. (Leah's a doctor and well aware of his needs, so I don't worry about him so much when he's there.) He had a blast playing with Hannah, Katherine, Madeline, and Gregory. By the second week, we were all feeling better, and things were fine until the holidays began.

Paul and Tallullah celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary on November 9th.

Thanksgiving was when the real drama took place. Peter's parents came to New York to spend the holidays with us. Peter and his twin, Kate, were really hoping they wouldn't. If their father, Philip, had came by himself like he did last year, that would have been fine, but when their mother, Kim, comes in, there's ALWAYS drama. She's a clothing designer, very high maintenance, and nothing Peter or Kate do is good enough for her. Kate's not thin enough, and Peter should have chosen a career in the fashion industry, because according to her, that's all he knows. She's never proud of them. (She's always been like this, too. When Logan turned one, she came over for the party, changed everything, and invited people we didn't know!) So when they decided to come in for Thanksgiving, I knew there would be drama. I just wasn't prepared for this year's drama.

Kim announced that she and Philip would be having Thanksgiving in their upscale Manhattan penthouse apartment. She insisted we attend, but I had already planned our Thanksgiving in advance. My brothers, Julian and Jericho, and their wives, Melissa, and Corinne, were coming in from Boston, and Kate and Spencer were coming this year, since Spencer's parents were going out of town. Peter informed her of this, and let's just say the fan was hit. It finally ended with Kim stating that we weren't welcome, and Peter and Kate getting plastered while playing pool in the billiard room.

I went ahead with our catered Thanksgiving dinner. Black Manor was decorated accordingly. I made a few side dishes, Spencer brought his famous bread pudding. (Kate can't cook. Her mother said that was something "the help" did.) My brothers and sisters-in-law brought all kinds of food and desserts to our house. Dinner turned out great. We were sitting in the formal dining room, chatting away. Everyone fussed over the boys and how big they had gotten. And in the middle of dinner, the doorbell rang. Our butler, Jean-Luc, was our guest for Thanksgiving dinner, so Peter got up and answered the door. It was his mother and father. Peter brought them in. His expression was one of anger. Peter's mother, Kim, began her dramatic speech about how we did not invite them over for dinner. Philip hung his head, embarrassed. Kate was scared, and Spencer looked as angry as Peter. Julian, Melissa, Jericho, and Corinne, looked uncomfortable. Once the speech was over, Peter escorted his mother out of the room. We could hear shouting, but we couldn't make out what was said. Philip apologized for his wife's actions and left the room. I apologized to our dinner guests profusely. I was angry and embarrassed. (And before you ask, no, I'm not putting this letter in their Christmas card! They get a picture of the boys and that's it.)

Peter called the staff in Colorado and asked them to get the cabin ready for the weekend, and after Kate and I came back from our Black Friday shopping trip, we headed to the cabin. Peter's mother was angry that Kate and Spencer chose to come with us instead of spending the rest of the holiday season with them, but I can't blame either of them! I'm surprised Peter and Kate are as normal as they are after growing up in such dysfunction!

So here we are at the cabin. I think this was the best decision we could have made, getting away for a while. It has definitely done Peter and Kate some good.

I hear Phoenix crying through the monitor, so I must close for now.

I certainly hope everyone has had a great year, and a wonderful, drama free, holiday season!

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year,

Congressman Peter Dylan, Gabrielle Olivia, Philip Logan, and Phoenix Ryan

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