*All pictures are from weheartit.com.*
Forgive me for being so late getting these letters sent out. This month has been very busy. Paul's baby sister, Annie, is getting married on Christmas Eve, so the majority of this month has been spent helping her get last minute plans in place!
(Annie's engagement ring!)
Alaric, Annie's boyfriend of four years, proposed to her on Christmas Eve, 2011. He originally told her he was unable to make it in for Christmas that year. He had her gift sent to her and instructed her not to open it until Christmas Eve. So Christmas Eve came, and Annie opened the gift. Inside was a note that read, "Close Your Eyes." Annie closed her eyes, and when she was told to open her eyes, Alaric was standing there. He got down on one knee, and he proposed! It was the most amazing thing I ever got to witness!
We are all so excited for Annie! I just can't wait to see this wedding, and I'm not a huge wedding person, but I've been with her throughout the planning, every step of the way! Annie's going to look so beautiful!
The wedding starts at eight o'clock tomorrow evening. I'm so excited!!!!
(Annie's dress! Dreama says it's perfect for a Christmas Eve wedding.)
(The reception hall, decorated and ready for tomorrow's wedding!)
(The wedding cake!)
When did I become such a girly girl, you ask? I think it's because of all the time I've been hanging out with Dreama, her daughters, Allison and Ashley, and our sister-in-law, Annie.
Aside from the wedding, we've been busy prepping for the holidays. Paul and I finished our shopping for the kids two weeks ago. I had some time to myself yesterday to go pick up a few last minute gifts for him. While I was out, I also purchased birthday gifts for Leah's oldest twins birthday. All four of her children have a birthday this month. Her identical twin girls, Hannah and Katherine, their birthday is on New Year's Eve.
And now, I will give you some updates about us and our families.
Paul and I are doing great. We celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary in November. We have fallen in love with each other all over again. We renewed our vows on our anniversary. We were going to do it in November of 2011, but I wanted to do it when Daisy could be there. I took Paul's last name, sort of. I am now Tallullah Wallace-Harris. Paul also took on the "Wallace-Harris" last name. He said if my maiden name was that important to me, then it was important to him. He's such a sweetheart! He still completely annoys me. He tells the worst jokes, he follows me around like a lost puppy. He never takes anything seriously. He's always singing songs with the kids instead of helping them with their homework, and he's so messy! And I love him. I love everything about him!
Our children are growing up way too fast! Zephra turned eight on May 2nd. She's in the third grade now, and she loves it. She's made a lot of friends. She's always got some birthday party or sleepover to go to nearly every weekend. She's such a social butterfly! She must get that from Paul's side of the family because I'm nowhere near being a social butterfly. I like hanging out with my three girls, Daisy, Gabrielle, and Leah, or my family, which includes Paul's family. I consider them mine, too. Paul's a social person and he loves to entertain people, but like me, he has a small circle of friends. Zephra is still as headstrong as ever, something she gets from me for sure. We still go head to head at times. She is so much like me that sometimes I want to lock her in her room until she calms down. She has my temper, which can be rather explosive. She speaks her mind, just like me, but she also fights for those who can't fight for themselves. We were recently called to the school to talk with her teacher and the principal because she popped a bully dead in the face! (I can't help it, but I was so proud of her. Paul was, too. I didn't tell her that, of course, because I don't want her going around and punching kids in the face.) He was picking on a second grader, and she marched over and told him to stop or she would hit him. He said no, so she hit him.The principal said that the boy has been a model student since Zephra hit him! (Again, so proud of her.)
Zane turned four on May third. Did I mention he is four now? I can't believe he's four!!! And he's the male version of me! He looks like me, but acts like Paul, and he's a daddy's boy. (Both of my children like Paul more than they do me, but I think it's because I'm always the bad guy. Paul doesn't want to discipline them, he wants to make them laugh, and hug them, and give them cookies, and let them stay up an hour later than they should, but he does discipline them when they do something major. I know he hates to have to discipline them, but it's for their own good. He had to ground Zephra last week for lying. I could tell it hurt him, especially when her little bottom lip started to quiver. I felt bad for both of them.) Zane's so tall for a four year old, too. Most people assume he's Zephra's age. I call him my little vampire because he would rather sleep all day. He does not like to get up for preschool in the mornings. He gets that from me. Before I had children, I would throw things and verbally assault anyone who would try to get me up before noon, except for my dad, because he would pick me up, carry me to the bathroom, and throw me in the shower, fully clothed if I didn't get up. Paul has felt my wrath upon waking me before noon, but now that I have children, I have to get up. I have no choice in the matter. So I endure Zane's tantrums each morning, (Zephra used to be the same way before she started school. Now she gets up each weekday. The weekends are a different story.) Anyway, back to Zane. Zane, like his father, tells the same corny jokes. He rarely takes anything seriously, except for his sleep, and he's messy! I tell him to clean his room, and he replies with, "This is my room, and I like it this way!" (Paul taught him to say that, by the way.) I decided that Zane has a point, so I compromised. I don't force him to make his bed, but his clothes, shoes, and all but one toy have to be put away. I also make him clean up his messes in other areas of the house, and he's actually good about that. (Zephra, who was also messy, has now become as neat as a pin since she has friends over most of the time. She doesn't want them to think badly of her.) Zane really is a good kid. His preschool teacher says he's so quiet and well behaved. We've never had to go to school over Zane, yet. Paul says to give it time.
Zayden is two years old. His birthday was in July. He looks just like Paul. He has Paul's red hair and his biological mother's brown eyes. Zayden is such a sweetie. He calls me, "Mom" and wants to snuggle in my lap, and I'm perfectly fine with that. Zayden's story is a bit complicated, and rather than share what was a tough situation, I have decided to forget about it and put it behind me. What I will say is that Zayden is a lucky little boy because he has two mothers who love him very much. That's all anyone needs to know.
My parents are still going strong. They celebrated their thirty-first wedding anniversary in March. Mom is doing great. She's had several surgeries to repair the damage done from the accident, but the results were good, and she's showing significant improvement. She's able to do more, although Dad still fusses over her for the most part. Dad's fine. I worry about him taking care of Mom, Troy, and Scout, when he's home from college, plus working full time at the Wallace Architect Firm. We've all tried to talk him into retiring, but he won't hear of it. My oldest brother, Zack, has convinced Dad to cut his own hours, which is good. Zack has taken over some of the things Dad used to do there.
Zack turned thirty-three in January. He and his wife, Sarah, who will be thirty-two on Christmas Day, and their son, Captain, who turned eight in September, are good. They celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary on the twentieth of this month. They still live in town. Zack and Sarah have been a great help to our parents. I'm glad they stuck around.
My brother, Noah, is getting along well. He turned twenty-eight on June 2nd. This time of year is difficult for us, but more so for him. Ever since our brother, Liam, who was Noah's identical twin, died (December 11th was the third anniversary of his death), Noah hasn't been the same. Arissa, who was Liam's fiance, has helped Noah greatly. She and Noah have taken refuge in each other. They have been seeing each other for the last two years. They're inseparable, and they say they're just friends, but I will be surprised if they don't end up together.
Scout started college this past August at the age of sixteen. He graduated last May. (He skipped eighth grade.) Our parents were not sure if he was mature enough to handle college, but he's proven them wrong. He will be seventeen on April 10th. And my youngest brother, Troy, turned eleven in November. His birthday fell on Thanksgiving Day, so my parents had his party the day before.
Paul's family is doing well this year. He and his mother are becoming closer. They have both worked hard to repair their relationship, and it's paying off. Paul visits his mother once a week. He takes her to lunch, and they hang out, sometimes with the rest of the family, sometimes alone. Ever since Paul's father died, Paul's mother has been rediscovering who she is. She tried the whole "acting like a grandmother" thing, but she found out that she's adventurous. She takes Paul, his brother, Jeff, Annie, and Annie's fiance, Alaric, and all of the grandchildren to the family fun center. She plays paintball with Paul, Jeff, Annie, and Alaric, while Paul's brother, Keith, takes the younger ones to do something less dangerous. (Keith is so not adventurous!)
Keith, his wife, Dreama, and their children, Allison, Ashley, and Adam, are having a great year. Paul's brother, Jeff, who has Downs, is still living living with them. Annie lived with them as well until about six months ago, when she put the down payment on a cottage in Denver. (Keith and Dreama bought the cottage as a wedding gift to her and Alaric, but they won't find that out until Christmas Day!). Keith and Dreama just celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary in October. Keith turned forty on September 15th, and Dreama turned forty-two on the 16th. Dreama's a psychologist, and Keith is a business tycoon.
Allison is seventeen now! She will graduate high school May of next year. She and her boyfriend of two and a half years, Nicholas Glassman, spent the summer in Los Angeles, California. Nicholas, who's twenty, runs his father's sister company there. He's a business major at UCLA.
Ashley is seven. She's a sweetheart. She's on the honor roll at school, and she and Zephra are such close friends. They've been inseparable since Keith and Dreama came here to New York to spend the holidays with us. (They live in Denver.)
Keith and Dreama had their first son in April of 2011. Adam turned two on April 5th this year. Keith is thrilled to finally have a son. Adam is adorable! He has Dreama's auburn hair and blue eyes, but he is as shy and as quiet as Keith!
Jeff is twenty two. He wants to get married to his girlfriend, but Keith and Dreama don't think that's a good idea. They did turn the attic of their six bedroom Victorian home in Denver into an apartment for him. Dreama thought it was a good idea for Jeff to feel independent. And Jeff has really done well. I think he's trying to prove that he can live in an apartment by himself. He keeps the place clean, he's cooks his own food. He's even had Keith, Dreama, and the girls "at his place" for dinner. Annie and Alaric are great with Jeff. They take him and his girlfriend out on double dates, which is really sweet. Jeff says that he feels like such a grown up now. (I think Jeff is my favorite! I remember the first time he saw Zane, he cried. He said, "Is that my nephew?" And I told him it was. And he asked if he could hold Zane, and at first, I was reluctant, but Jeff has been so good with Zane. They're buddies now. Jeff is probably the most precious person I have ever met. He's great, really.) He invited me and Paul to come to dinner at his house for New Year's Day, so we are! I can't wait, honestly!
Annie, who's twenty, is so happy! She's been caught up in her wedding plans. She's such a sweet person. She has been walking around, well, more like floating dreamily, with a huge smile on her face.
Paul's sister, Roseanna, the oldest at forty-two, and her daughter, Jaiden, who is twenty-three, are doing well. Roseanna is still single, but she's been seeing a really nice man for the last two years. She brought him in last Christmas to introduce him to us. He's a few years older than her, and has a daughter who's twenty. She and Jaiden have been like sisters since the day they met. It's good that Roseanna has a nice guy for once. The last one was very mean to her and Jaiden.
As I mentioned earlier, we have been getting ready for the holidays. See the pics below.
(Our newly redone living room. My sister-in-laws, Dreama, and Annie, helped decorate.)
We put up our tree on December 1st. Paul wanted a real tree this year. I was concerned about how Zephra would react because she has allergies and asthma, but she's done well. The kids had a blast hanging ornaments. Keith, Dreama, and the rest of the family came over to help us decorate.
(Our newly redone dining room.)
My father and his triplet brothers, Turner, and Harper, came over, painted, and totally redid the dining room for me two weeks before Thanksgiving. I love the color! Paul, his brother, Keith, and my brothers, Zack, Noah, Scout, and Troy, hung the stars and snowflakes that Dreama, Annie, and Allison made, above the dining room table. Keith, Dreama, and the rest of the family, purchased the pillows and Christmas decorations for the dining room. Dreama, and Annie, and my nieces, Allison and Ashley, and Aunt Amy put the place settings on the table. That was my Christmas present from them to me. Uncle Harper and Aunt Isobel purchased the table, chairs, the new place settings, and the white doors, and Uncle Turner and Aunt Amy got us the fireplace. Uncle Turner helped Dad install it.
(Our family room, where Paul, Zephra, and Zane will fall asleep on Christmas morning, among wrapping paper, ribbons, boxes, and bows, while I clean it all up.)
We have a fake tree in our family room, where Paul spends most of his time, watching his huge television. He and the guys usually get together and watch most of the games here. They watch the first game of the season at Ryker's house on his television, which I think it's the same size as ours, and they watch the super bowl at Peter's because he has a theater sized screen at his house, complete with reclining seats, and a huge buffet of food. It's almost set up like a sky box, you could say.
We helped Keith and Dreama decorate their home here in New York. We also helped them decorate their Victorian home in Denver. We spent Thanksgiving with them and decorated on Black Friday. (The pics of their place were taken at their New York home.)
(Keith and Dreama's living room. I love the ice skates on the tree.)
(Keith and Dreama's kitchen. I love their kitchen.)
(Keith and Dreama's sitting room. Dreama has such a great sense of style. Sometimes she makes me wish I was less of a tomboy.)
We got to see Annie's new place. It's gorgeous, and somewhat bigger than I expected to be a cottage.
(The foyer at Annie's cottage.)
(Annie's sitting room. The wood burning stove makes the cottage smell so wonderful!)
(Annie's Dining Room/Kitchen.)
(The downstairs bathroom of Annie's cottage.)
(Downstairs, spare bedroom.)
(The utility room. This is Annie and Alaric's little dog, Honey. Alaric got Honey as a gift for Annie three years ago, but he had to keep her at his house. Now, Honey lives at the cottage with Annie, and Alaric when he moves in. Half of his stuff is there now.)
(I think this used to be a barn, but it was converted into some sort of rec room or living area.)
(Bench in the rec room.)
(Annie and Alaric's family room upstairs.)
(Annie and Alaric's bedroom.)
(The upstairs bathroom.)
Annie's cottage is so cozy! I loved being there! I can't wait to go back and visit.
My brothers and I went over to help Mom and Dad decorate their home for Christmas!
(My mom and dad's dining room, where we will have Christmas Dinner this year!)
The dining room is the focus of our visit there, so Mom always goes all out. Paul, the kids, and I have Christmas dinner here every year. It's a tradition. My brothers pop in and out throughout the day. We sit and eat. Then, we eat throughout the day. Then we eat more.
(The family room at my mom and dad's.)
The family room is where we gather to watch Christmas movies after dinner. We usually lie around like beached whales and fall asleep. That's Dad's chair by the fireplace, where he will fall asleep with all four of his grandchildren piled on top of him. The men usually fall asleep first. My dad is the first to go, then Paul, then Zack, then Scout. Noah's usually in the lead, managing to stay up the longest. Then, there's the snoring competition, judged by the women, usually me, my mother, Sarah, and Zephra. Paul snores the loudest, so he usually wins. And what's worse is he's usually sitting beside me on the couch, so I can't hear the Christmas movie we were trying to watch in the first place. Dad comes in second place. He will wake himself or one of the grandchildren with his snoring. Zack's usually in third place. Troy takes fourth place. Noah and Scout do not snore, but Scout talks in his sleep, so I feel sorry for his college roommates. He has talked in his sleep from the time he was a toddler.
After our corporate nap, Mom and Sarah serve coffee and dessert. Then, we reluctantly stagger into the front room, trying our hardest to wake up.
(The front room.)
The front room, or the sitting room, is where the gift exchange takes place each year. Most of those gifts are for the grandchildren. My parents take that whole, "spoil the grandchildren and send them home" thing very seriously. Gifts are handed out to Captain, Zephra, Zane, Zayden, and my youngest brother, Troy. Then, Dad gives me, my brothers, Paul, Sarah, and Arissa an envelope with a check for $500.00 each. We get a few homemade gifts from Mom, but the focus is mainly the grandchildren and Troy.
I think I'm going to skip the long, drawn out part of the letter about our year and all of the boring stuff. Instead, I'll highlight the important months.
- February, Ryker's father had a heart attack. (He's doing so much better now.) February was also Daisy's birthday. She turned twenty-six. She's doing great! Not only did we celebrate her birthday, we celebrated her second year in remission. The second year anniversary happened on March 11th, which is also her daughter, Ashtyn's birthday.
- March, Paul turned twenty-seven on the second. The guys took him out for BBQ and then to a boxing match. March 11th was Ashtyn's second birthday, and Daisy's second year in remission. We went to help celebrate Ashtyn's big day.
- March 31st was Peter and his twin, Kate's birthdays.
- April 26th was my twenty-sixth birthday. We went to an extreme sports place with all of my friends. I had such a blast climbing rock walls, riding zip lines, and paintball! The girls and I beat the guys in a paintball match.
- May 2nd was Zephra's eighth birthday, and May 3rd was Zane's fourth birthday. We usually do their parties together since their birthdays are a day apart and they both have the same circle of friends. The party went well.
- Leah and Ryker's third wedding anniversary was the 29th.
- June 12th was Daisy and Steve's third wedding anniversary.
- June 27th was Ryker's 26th birthday. We went to his house and spent the day hanging out on the beach, playing volleyball, surfing, and lounging around on the beach.
- July 4th was also spent at Ryker and Leah's on the beach, doing most of the same things we did at his birthday party.
- July 12th, Zayden turned two. He had a great day!
- July 21st, Gabrielle and Peter's son, Phoenix, turned two.
- August 29th was Steve's twenty-sixth birthday. The guys went to Vegas. I had a feeling that was not a good idea. Since we starting going to church, things have been different at our house, and I mean different in a good way. Paul didn't want to go and gamble, and he quit drinking since alcohol ruined his father's life, and nearly ruined ours. He almost didn't go, because he didn't think Vegas had anything to offer. But I talked him into going, mainly to help Steve and Ryker keep Peter out of trouble. So what do you do when you go to sin city, but you don't drink or gamble? You eat! And you check out the lights. Since Ryker is such a foodie, he and Paul hit all of the five star restaurants. They spent every free moment in the hotel gym burning calories. They also walked around the city at night to check out the lights. Paul was somewhat disappointed in Vegas. I have no desire to go, really.
- September, school began for Zane for the first time. He attends preschool. He's learned so much already, but Zephra always tells him what she learned each day, so he's picking it up from her.
- Zephra started the third grade. Like I mentioned before, she loves school. She gets up without a fight now, and she's excited to tackle each day.
- Peter and Gabrielle's son, Logan, turned three on September 4th.
- Leah's birthday was September 10th. We took her to the tea room. It's tradition for us ladies to start out with a party at the tea room and move to another location of our choice.
- October was Gabrielle's 26th birthday. Peter took her out of town for the week, just the two of them. When she returned, Daisy, Leah, and I, took her to have a day at the spa!
- October is also a big deal for the kids because of Halloween. Paul and I are not comfortable with the idea of Halloween. Our church has other activities for the children to participate in where they can still dress up and get candy. The problem is that Zephra wants to dress up as a zombie, or something equally gross. Every single year, I ask, "Zephra, what kind of costume do you want?" Her response is something like, " An ax murderer," or "A cheerleader with her arm hacked off." So we have to sit her down and talk to her and explain to her that she can't wear something like that to church. This usually ends with her shouting and Paul trying to calm her down. In the end, we can convince her to change her mind, although this year, she was dead set on being Darth Vader, so we gave in. At least the costume isn't bloody or gory. Zane usually chooses a superhero costume. He was Batman this year, and Superman last year.
- November 20th was Daisy and Steve's son, Declan's sixth birthday, but he was so sick, so the party was rescheduled for the thirtieth.
- Thanksgiving was okay, as okay as it can be when your oldest is sick, your middle child falls down and hurts himself, and your youngest is at his mother's. (We all missed Zayden so much!) Zephra had a cold. She was feeling miserable and cranky. She sat with her little arms folded and didn't want to do anything. Zane was running through the house with Troy and Captain. When they came to the dining room when we called them to eat, Zane, who was in his socks, ran in, slid across the hard wood floor, and slammed right into a chair. He cut his nose and ended up with a knot on his forehead. Paul immediately scooped him up while I grabbed some ice for his forehead, and Sarah ran into the bathroom and got some things from the medicine cabinet to clean and bandage him up. He cried for a good twenty minutes. We weren't sure if we should take him to the hospital because he would not calm down, but his cries turned to whimpers, then eventually quieted. I took him upstairs to my mom and dad's room, and put on cartoons on their bedroom television. Paul brought up a couple of plates of food. He fed Zane off of his plate, and Zane was hungry, which was a good thing. Paul went downstairs to take his plate down. I stayed upstairs with Zane and watched over him. He fell asleep ten minutes later, due to the adrenaline crash that followed his traumatic experience. I snuggled with him and ended up falling asleep. Paul woke me an hour later with the news that Zephra had spiked a fever. So we took her home and put her to bed. Zephra was well in time for Declan's birthday party on the thirtieth, but Zane had caught what she had. Paul stayed behind with Zane, and I took Zephra and Zayden to Declan's party.
I've told you about December and the wedding plans, so I guess I'll wrap this up. I need to get the kids to bed. Tomorrow is the big day!
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!
With Love and Appreciation,
Paul, Tallullah, Zephra, Zane, and Zayden