Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Letters Part Two!

*All pictures are from weheartit.com.*

December 2013

Merry Christmas!

(The tree downstairs in our house.)

(Our living room tree.)

(Our living room tree, complete with presents!)

(The tree in Hannah and Katie's room.)

(The tree in Madeline and Gregory's room.)

Hello and Merry Christmas to you!

I hope everyone is having a great December surrounded by your loved ones this Christmas season! Things have been busy here in Casa de Tenenbaum! Of course, with four children, things never slow down, and December is our busiest month. We have two birthdays ten days apart for four children this month, plus Christmas is right in the middle of their birthdays.

Things have changed around here. All four children are walking now, which means I'm getting plenty of exercise chasing them. Maddy still prefers to crawl, though. At first, we thought something was wrong with her legs, but we figured out that she liked being carried around. Every time she would crawl, we would either pick her up and carry her, put her in her stroller, or pick her up and stand her on her feet. She loved the attention she was getting.

Twins, Hannah and Katherine are two now. (They are identical, by the way. We had them tested this year.) Both girls have exceeded most of their two year old peers in height. (Ryker's 6'5, and I'm 5'10, so I'm assuming our children will be on the taller side.) They're both such daddy's girls, too, although Hannah prefers me when she's sick or upset. Hannah's doing well. She wants to learn to read so badly. She loves reading, and she'll often bring me the dictionary and ask me to tell her the words and what they mean. Katie's doing fairly well. Despite being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes last year, she's as active as Hannah. She's gotten use to the routine of insulin and finger sticks and doctor visits. Sometimes, her glucose will bottom out, which is scary. She had a couple of seizures due to having too much insulin last year. She hasn't had any further seizures at this time, and we're hoping it doesn't happen again.

Madeline and Gregory are one. They're doing great. They're both on the same level as most of their peers. Gregory is our little explorer/daredevil as I mentioned previously. I have a hard time keeping up with him, but he has to be constantly watched or he will climb things and try to jump off of them. Maddy is like Ryker in the sense that she's content to sit in one spot and look at one toy or one book. I always know where Maddy is because she's not as active or as adventurous as the others. She's also a Mommy's girl, so she loves to be in whatever room I'm in. Gregory doesn't prefer one of us to the other just yet. He's content to be with either of us when he's winding down at the end of the day.

Ryker's enjoying working from home for the Rinquist, Rupert, and Wallace Law Firm. Having him work at home is so much easier on all of us, especially since I am doing my residency at Wallace Memorial Hospital. (It's going very well! I love it!) We turned the spare bedroom downstairs into an office. He's home the majority of the time with the girls, which means not having to rely on a babysitter when my parents are working, and when his parents are out of the country visiting relatives, and when one of the kids is sick, which happens often when you have four of them, he doesn't have to miss work. He still goes into the office to meet with clients, and handles lots of cases in the courtroom, but having my family or his family watch them for two or three hours is much easier on everyone than eight to twelve hours. His secretary, Meg, still works from the office, so she keeps him informed on everything and faxes what he needs to the fax machine at the house. Sometimes the kids can be a distraction for him, but when they're really fussy, his mother will come and entertain them, or my mother will spend her lunch hour at our place to look after them long enough for Ryker to make phone calls and get some work done that the kids may have prevented him from doing.

My family is doing well. My parents celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary this year. My father's playing with the idea of retiring as chief of medicine of Wallace Memorial Hospital, but I doubt he will go through with it. He could if he wanted to, but I know what a workaholic he is. He would be bored to tears. My mother, who's an obstetrician for those who are just joining my Christmas card list, is now the head of the women's health division at Wallace Memorial Hospital. She's doing a great job. She still sees patients, just not as many as she did before taking over the women's health division. My brothers, fraternal twins, Achilles and Aidan, are in their junior year of college. They both made the Dean's list almost every semester. Achilles is a business major, and Aidan is psych major. I think Mom and Dad were a little disappointed that neither of them went to med school, but Achilles said, "You have Leah. Isn't that enough?" My little sisters, twins, Veronica and Victoria, started second grade this year. (My parents had no trouble conceiving me, but they had to use fertility drugs for the second and third pregnancies, resulting in two multiple births, which consisted of my siblings, Aidan and Achilles, and Veronica and Victoria. Veronica and Victoria look identical, but they have never been tested.)

Ryker's parents are doing okay. His father had a heart attack. He's doing much better now. It came as a complete surprise because his father isn't overweight, doesn't smoke, he keeps his cholesterol under control and walks everyday, rain or shine. The doctor said it was considered mild. Ryker said he would hate to see a severe one. His mother is doing well despite everything. Her husband's heart attack was a wake up call. She and Ryker are so much alike. They both prefer being at home more than anything, they're both great cooks, and they both like to lie around, reading books. Now, they are being more active. She and Ryker join his father when he goes for his daily walk. I think the heart attack was a wake up call for all of us, really.

My dearest friend, Daisy, is doing better. She is in her second year of remission. Her strength and energy are starting to return, and she's enjoying being able to do "mom things" with her two children. Her life is nowhere near normal still with doctor visits and testing every three months, but she and her husband, Steve, are thrilled for what little bit of normalcy they are experiencing.

That's about it for updates on our families. On with our year!

January: This month is usually our slow month, and this past January was no exception. We had tons of snow that month, which forced us to sit inside and do nothing, which is what we wanted to do in the first place. But it's difficult to do nothing when you have two sets of twins. We're usually saying "NO," and "STOP THAT," at some point to our two year old twins, Hannah and Katherine (Katie), or one year old twins, Madeline (Maddy) and Gregory. Most of those two phrases are reserved for Gregory, our little explorer/daredevil. (And I have no idea where he gets that from! Ryker and I are so not adventurous! The most adventurous thing we did was go to Rio for our honeymoon.) The most exciting thing that happened that month was that Gregory scared us half to death by climbing to the back of the couch in the living room, and falling right onto the hardwood floor. He busted his forehead, which looked scarier than it really was. We thought he broke his arm the way he fell on it, but it was just bruised. Ryker and I packed up all four of them and rushed to the hospital. I sobbed all the way there. I was worried that everyone would think I was a bad parent. But other than a few x-rays of his arm and a band aid, he was perfectly fine. Needless to say, we had carpeting installed at the end of the month.

February: February was definitely the worst month out of the year for us. The first week of the month, I got really sick with a stomach virus and ended up being hospitalized due to dehydration. I spent the night there on IV fluids. Several hours after I got home the next day, all four kids became sick. Then Ryker woke up in the middle of the night, sick. So we spent Valentine's Day at home. We had crackers and Sprite for dinner, and took turns taking care of four sick toddlers.

The following Friday night, the 23rd, Ryker's parents offered to take the children for the evening so Ryker could take me out for a late Valentine's Day dinner. We had wonderful time eating French food and talking. We finished off dinner with coffee and dessert at an intimate coffee house down the street from the restaurant. I was tired, so Ryker stopped by the house, took me in, and left to pick up the kids from his mom and dad's. He called me ten minutes later. I answered the phone, just expecting him to tell me he was on his way home. I said, "Are you on your way?" He said, "Leah, my dad's having a heart attack." He was very frantic. I was shocked. He said they were waiting for the ambulance. Since my parents live right across from the hospital, I called them on three way to explain what happened and see if Ryker could drop the kids off with them. They were totally fine with it. I told Ryker to call me when the ambulance arrived, and I would meet them in my car at the hospital. Ryker's father spent the last six days of February in the hospital, and that was only a mild heart attack.

Daisy's 26th birthday happened two days after the heart attack. I left Ryker long enough to help Gabrielle and Tallullah with the surprise we had already planned, then went straight back to Ryker's side at the hospital. Daisy understood completely. She's such a sweetheart. After all she's been through, she spent the rest of the week making meals for us and the kids, and sending them to the hospital with Steve.

March: March was like a lion this year, snowstorms, thunderstorms, flooding, but nicer weather arrived more toward the end of the month. Ryker's dad spent the majority of the month going to doctor's appointments and rehabilitation. We kept our schedules free aside from work in case his parents needed us.

March 2nd, our friend, Paul, celebrated his 27th birthday. He and Peter, whose birthday is March 31st, usually celebrate together. (They're like brothers.) Ryker, along with Peter and Steve, took him out to eat at his favorite BBQ place. They embarrassed him by having the servers sing to him for his birthday. Then, the guys went to a boxing match.

Daisy's daughter, Ashtyn, celebrated her second birthday on the eleventh. Ryker and I took our brood over to help her celebrate. Ashtyn loves other children, and she enjoyed having the girls and Gregory there. She was introducing them to her big brother, Declan, and he laughed and said he had already met them. He was trying to teach them French. (He is very smart.) Hannah paid close attention. Katie busied herself with her hat, which she put in her mouth. Maddy fell asleep. Gregory walked around, exploring Steve and Daisy's house. Declan gave up on giving a French lesson and took Gregory throughout the house, with Ryker watching them, showing him the downstairs.

March 31st, Peter and his twin sister, Kate, celebrated their 27th birthday. They went out to dinner, but the guys got together the following weekend to give him the gifts from all of us.

April: Due to all of the crazy weather, April was when things began budding and growing, which meant allergy season had arrived. Hannah and Katie inherited Ryker's allergies, so the three of them sniffled, sneezed, and coughed their way through the month. Maddy, Gregory, and I were fine. (Maddy and Gregory take after me and my side of the family, but Hannah and Katie are Ryker through and through.) I decided now was the time to start potty training, since Gregory and Maddy had shown an interest. Hannah and Katie were mostly potty trained by Thanksgiving last year, and I am happy to report that they are doing very well. They were wearing pull ups to bed, but after a few months of neither of them wetting the pull up, I tried a few nights of them wearing "big girl panties" and they have been successful for the most part since. But Gregory and Maddy were not interested in the potty when I Ryker and I trained Hannah and Katie. Now, they are. We bought two more potty chairs because Gregory said he wasn't using a "girl's potty". And I couldn't blame him. Hannah and Katie's potties had cute little pink bears on them. So far, Gregory is getting the hang of it. Maddy seems bored and somewhat disinterested. She will go and sit on her potty when Gregory goes, but she hasn't figured out that you're supposed to put your pee and um...other things in it, to put it politely.

Tallullah's 26th birthday was the 26th. Tallullah is very adventurous, so we took her to this new extreme sports place. It's a huge building with rock climbing walls, and zip lines, stunt driving, and obstacle courses, stuff that was right up her alley. The guys thought it sounded awesome, so they came with us. It was more fun than I expected it to be. I didn't do all of the extreme things. I did climb the little rock wall, as did Daisy and Gabrielle. The guys, except for Ryker, had fun on the zip lines. Ryker climbed the second highest rock wall, while Paul and Tallullah scaled the largest one. They also had a paint ball field, so we formed teams, girls against guys. Us girls actually won! It was so much fun.

May: This month consisted of Zephra and Zane's birthdays. (Their birthdays are a day apart, so Tallullah does one party for both of them.) The kids all had the best time!

May 29th was our third wedding anniversary. We spent the weekend before, the 24th through the 26th, in Los Angeles to celebrate, while my parents were nice enough to watch all four children. (We're still giving Ryker's parents a break after everything his father has been through.)

June: This is probably one of the busier months. We usually go on vacation, but this year, we decided to stay home. Ryker felt apprehensive about leaving his parents. His parents didn't even go out of the country this year to visit their extended families in Israel and Cambodia. (Ryker's mother is half Cambodian, and his father was born in Israel. Ryker has four half sisters in Israel from David's previous marriage. He has his grandfather and aunt in Cambodia. We've been to Phnom Penh and the surrounding area a few times, but we have yet to go to Tel Aviv because his half sisters have been great about coming to visit us. We plan to go with David and Monica next year.) So we stayed home and lounged around in our private beach backyard. Ryker took Hannah and Katie into the ocean this year. They had a blast!

June 27th was Ryker's 26th birthday. I asked him what he wanted, and he said he would like to grill out and have our friends over to hang out on the beach. I didn't want him to have to cook on his birthday, but he's very talented at cooking, and he loves it. I'm very surprised he didn't ditch law school to go to culinary school. (I've gained fifteen pounds since we got married! Even after losing all the baby weight from both pregnancies, I still wasn't able to lose those fifteen extra pounds!) I didn't let him make his own cake, though. I made a beach themed cake with Daisy's help, and left it over at her and Steve's place. They brought it with them when they arrived. Daisy, Gabrielle, Tallullah, and I lounged in our swimsuits on the beach. (I used to wear a bikini, but since I've had four kids in two pregnancies, I wouldn't dare now. Daisy, Gabrielle, and Tallullah still look awesome in their bikinis. Yes, I'm a bit jealous, but I love them anyway!) The guys surfed, all except for Paul, who entertained all of the kids by taking them on a seashell hunt, and enlisting their help to build several sandcastles. He even built one for Gregory, so he could stomp it and act like he was terrorizing a huge city. Paul is great with children. (I'm sure if it were up to him, he and Tallullah would have six by now!) Paul and Tallullah's daughter, Zephra, and Steve and Daisy's son, Declan, who are the oldest of out the children, helped Paul out tremendously. My parents and Ryker's parents came later. They stayed for dinner, which consisted of steaks, baked potatoes, and a large veggie filled salad with homemade croutons, real bacon bits, and several homemade dressing choices.

July: We had everyone over for fourth of July. Once again, Ryker grilled out, this time it was just hamburgers and hot dogs though. Then, he helped my father set off fireworks on the beach. All of the children were captivated. After the fireworks were over, Katie toddled over to me, hugged me, and informed me that she had the best day ever. That's something I would have expected from Hannah. Hannah's like me, she will chat you up the whole day if she knows you will listen to her, she loves to be snuggled and cuddled, and she will say what she's feeling at any given moment. Katie's independent, and she NEVER says what she's feeling, so it was a very pleasant surprise.

July 21st was Gabrielle and Peter's youngest son's birthday. Phoenix turned two that day. Gabrielle and Peter hosted a party for him at their home, Black Manor. It was a good day for Phoenix, but he ended up spending the night at Wallace Memorial due to a scare where he wasn't breathing well, but he's fine now.

I had to take some time off in July because Ryker was handling a HUGE case, and he had to be in court for almost three weeks straight. My parents were out of town, and Ryker's parents helped as much as possible, but I still wasn't comfortable laying it all on them.

In August, I reluctantly let Hannah and Katie go to daycare. Since they're just three months away from their third birthday, now is a critical time for them to develop social skills that are detrimental to their mental growth and development. It's a great daycare center, and the staff does not just watch the children, they introduce the basics of preschool, letters, numbers, colors, and memory exercises. They even teach sign language! I didn't think Maddy and Gregory would benefit from it just yet. The older girls being in daycare helped Ryker out tremendously. He was able to get more work accomplished. His parents were starting to miss the kids, so they would come over and entertain Maddy and Gregory. They even started picking the girls up from daycare so Ryker wouldn't have to stop what he was doing. We sat his parents down and asked if they were sure they were ready to take on the kids again, and his father told us to stop fussing over him and let him enjoy his grandchildren. So we did.

Steve's birthday was August 25th. The guys took him to Vegas. Steve had not been away from home other than work since Daisy got sick, so the guys thought it would do him some good to go on a weekend trip to Vegas. I think Ryker was concerned that they would end up having a "Hangover" experience there. Peter admitted that he was going to live it up. Steve was worried about being away from Daisy. Paul couldn't wait to see the lights. They had an experience for sure. Peter got plastered and hit the casino. He lost fifty thousand dollars, which Steve not only won back for him, but doubled it, and almost got himself in trouble. They were asked to leave the casino. Thankfully, Steve was able to get Peter out of there before he lost more money and challenged several people to a fight. (Peter thinks he's ten feet tall and bulletproof as it is, and it's worse when he's inebriated!) Paul and Ryker played a few slot machines, got bored, and decided to go check out some of the luxury hotels and five star restaurants that Vegas had to offer. The trip home was fun, and I say that with the utmost sarcasm. Peter was severely hungover. The flight was turbulent, so Ryker was motion sick. (He does not travel well.) Paul was disappointed because Vegas wasn't anything he thought it would be, and Steve couldn't wait to get home. Of course, they all laugh about it now. They still tell Steve that he should forget about the whole oncology career and become a professional gambler.

September: Gabrielle and Peter's son, Logan, turned three on the fourth. We took our four children over to celebrate with him. Logan was very happy to have them over. He got a brand new car that he can drive around in, and he took all of the kids for a ride. Maddy surprised us by wanting to be the first one to go for a spin. Like I said, she's usually very content to sit in one spot and do one thing all day. I think Logan was shocked, too, because he said, "Are you sure?" And she said she was. (My children constantly surprise me. They're great. Two sets of twins can be quite the handful, but I wouldn't trade any of them.)

September 10th was my birthday. When I came home from work that day, Ryker had a hot bubble bath, complete with rose petals floating on top of the water, waiting for me, along with the book I had wanted, and a glass of non alcoholic white wine. Ryker saw to it that I got in and got settled, then he took the kids outside while I laid in the tub and read my book. He had my mother take the kids for a few hours while he prepared steak and lobster tail with baked potatoes and salad. We had dinner on the deck overlooking our beach backyard. We ate and watched the sunset.

On the fourteenth, the girls kidnapped me and took me to the tea room, where they had an intimate tea party in my honor. They gave me some very nice gifts. We talked, laughed, and had a great time. When I got home, I was surprised to see my mother, Ryker's mother, Hannah, Katie, and Maddy, seated at the dining room table, where they held a tea party for me! Ryker, my father, and his father, took Gregory to the Barkely Academy high school football game. Gregory had the best time! He went on and on about it when they got home! He kept saying, "Ball, Mommy, ball, football, kick, fans." He was beyond thrilled. My little boy had his first guys night out!

October: Gabrielle turned 26th on the first. She was out of town on her actual birthday, but the girls and I took her to the spa for a day of pampering when she returned home.

Halloween is at the end of the month. Ryker and I are not extremely big on Halloween, but Hannah and Katie became interested because their daycare was having a Halloween party. So I took them out shopping for a costume. I was concerned about what they would want to choose, but I was pleasantly surprised. Hannah wanted to be a butterfly. Katie announced that she would also like to be a butterfly, but not the same one as her sister. I managed to find two different colored butterfly costumes. Hannah was a Monarch butterfly, and Katie's butterfly costume had a blue and purple design in the wings. When Maddy and Gregory saw the girls costumes, they wanted in on it as well, so I took them shopping. Maddy wanted to be a flower. That was easy enough. I found a sunflower costume. And Gregory decided that if his sister was going to be a flower, he was going to be a honey bee.

On Halloween night, we took them to our regular church, where they were having a safe trick or treat. (Ryker's mother is Catholic, his father is Jewish, and we are Christians, so we go to three different churches. So when I saw our regular church, I mean the non-denominational Christian church.) They also had a costume judging contest. All of the kids got something for dressing up, but Maddy and Gregory won first place in the costume contest! Gregory toddled over and accepted their certificates and their trophy and thanked everyone. He didn't understand that he had to give the trophy back so their names could be engraved on it. We convinced Maddy to go up and have her picture taken with her twin brother.She reluctantly agreed. She walked over. Gregory held one side of the trophy, and she held the other. The church photographer took several pictures. Then Maddy leaned over and kissed Gregory's cheek. They ended up using that picture on the front page of the church bulletin the following Sunday. Gregory was so excited! He exclaimed, "It's us!"

November: This is our month of planning for the holidays and for our children's birthdays. At this point, I've figured out what themes the children want for their parties. Hannah and Katie's party is the easiest to plan. Hannah likes pink and Katie likes purple. So I incorporate both of their favorite colors into the decorations. I get both pink and purple streamers, plates, party favors, wrapping paper for their gifts, and etc. This year, they're fine with a pink and purple party again. Maddy and Gregory's party is a different story. As they get older, I wonder how I am going to plan a party for them. Right now, they coordinate everything, like they did with their costumes. Gregory is sweet enough to let Maddy decide first, then he chooses something that goes with what she wants. I sat them down and asked them what they wanted for their birthday party theme. Maddy looked thoughtful, and she said, "A Christmas Birthday!" Gregory agreed. (Last year, Maddy wanted a red theme, and Gregory wanted a blue theme.) So I asked them if they were sure, and they nodded. I didn't think it would go over well because Christmas is just three days after their birthday, then Hannah and Katie's birthday is on New Year's Eve (which means that I will have four two year old children for ten days in December, but do I have a reality show on TLC, no). I talked to Ryker, and while his mother and my mother watched the kids together, we went shopping for the birthday parties.

While we were out, Ryker went ahead and purchased the groceries for Thanksgiving dinner, which was held at our house this year. We usually have two Thanksgiving dinners. We eat dinner with one set of parents on Wednesday, and the other on Thanksgiving Day. This year, we decided to combine them all on Thanksgiving Day. Our dining room table seats ten. Our kitchen table seats six. So we decided to bring our kitchen table into the dining room, put it in the corner, and let my little sisters sit there with our four children. Hannah and Katie can sit in their booster seats, while Maddy and Gregory are in their highchairs.

Thanksgiving Day went well for the most part. Katie was extremely crabby, and at times inconsolable. She wanted Ryker, but he was busy cooking dinner. I just wasn't good enough for her. At dinner, she threw such a horrible fit that Ryker gave up and put her in his lap so she would give our ears some peace. He was able to get her calmed down and fed. I feel like such a bad parent for saying this, but when she fell asleep in his lap, I wanted to break into the Hallelujah chorus! I don't think she felt very well, but I don't know. I never really figured out why she was so upset.

I skipped Black Friday shopping this year, instead sending money with my mother. My mom and Ryker's mom did their shopping together. It's become a tradition for them.

(Ryker's Mom and Dad's tree in their living room, and the beginnings of other decorations.)

Once Ryker's mother returned from Black Friday shopping, Ryker, the children, and I, went over to help them decorate their home for Christmas. Ryker made white bean chicken chili for lunch, his dad brought the tree up from the basement, and his mother and I unwrapped ornaments. We let the children hang the shatterproof ornaments, and they were all eager to help this year. (Last year, Maddy and Gregory were too young, and Katie, who didn't quite understand the concept, kept putting ornaments in her mouth.)

(Ryker's Mom and Dad's spiral staircase.)

I did the lighted garland on the stairway! I was so proud of myself! Maddy sat at the bottom of the spiral staircase and watched as I carefully hung the garland.

After lunch, Ryker and his father tackled the task of putting the trees together, then the eight of us decorated them. Hannah and Katie wanted Ryker to lift them up so they could hang the ornaments higher. And of course, Maddy and Gregory wanted to do that as well. (It's the whole, "Monkey see, Monkey do" law that often occurs when you have more than one child.) My precious little Maddy wanted to give the tree a hug once we were finished. Obviously, that was impossible.

(Decorations in Ryker's Mom and Dad's family room. They even got a stocking for me!)

Ryker's father helped Hannah and Katie hang the stockings. (The kids don't have stockings. Ryker's mother got them those pets that you can hide stuff in, and that serves as their stocking. They don't know that yet, but I know they're going to be so excited!) 

Ryker's parents insisted we stay for dinner. Of course, they have all of the things required for our four children. They have two booster seats and two high chairs, bibs, sippy cups, the whole nine yards. We used to just bring Hannah and Katie's things over, but when we found out I was having another set of twins , Ryker's mom and dad started buying things to keep at their place for the four grandchildren. We sat down to dinner around six-thirty. And as a treat to round out the evening, Ryker's mother made cookies. She enlisted the help of Hannah and Katie, who were thrilled. Maddy wanted to watch, so I took her into the kitchen. She was so well behaved. She watched quietly as her big sisters helped roll out the cookie dough. Hannah got to use the cookie cutter, but Katie was apprehensive about it. It was a good day.

(My Mom and Dad's sitting room tree.)

December: We decorated our house for Christmas on December first.

The following weekend, Ryker and I packed up the kids and went to help my parents decorate their house. Even though my mother usually has Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner catered, (everyone brings a side dish or two, and she still makes a lot of side dishes, but it's more convenient to have the caterer prepare the turkey or the ham for our large family for the holidays) she would rather us get together and decorate for the holidays instead of hiring a decorator. She always does something elegant and fancy for the sitting room, since that's the first room everyone will see when they come into the house. She decided to go with a predominantly silver theme this year. Last year, she did gold and cream, which looked awesome. And she always gets a real tree for the sitting room, too. Dad, Aidan, and Achilles go out, cut down the tree, and haul it back to the house because that's how much they love my mother. Ryker always puts the star on top. He's the tallest, so it just works out that way. It smells heavenly, especially when Mom puts cloves and cinnamon sticks among pine the branches.

(My Mom and Dad's family room tree.)

My parents let us decorate the family room. Since I don't live there anymore, Ryker and I simply help rather than tell them what should be done. Veronica, Victoria, and I, put this tiny tree together ourselves. We hung the personalized stockings (which were not hung when the picture was taken). Mine goes in the middle, Veronica and Victoria's stockings go on either side of mine, and then Achilles and Aidan's stockings go on each end.

We had dinner with my parents and siblings, which consisted of Chinese takeout. Mom and Dad had put in a full day at the hospital, and they just wanted something we could grab and eat.

(Ryker and I made cookies. We decided to let Hannah and Katie help, since they did such a good job helping Grandma Tenenbaum.)

Friday, after we put Maddy and Gregory to bed, Ryker and I decided to let Hannah and Katie stay up for an extra hour to help us make cookies. I washed their little dimpled hands, feeling a bit sad because I knew they would be turning three two weeks from now. And I sat them at the table, put their little personalized aprons on them, and rolled out the dough. (I found their little aprons online.) I gave them each a cookie cutter, and Ryker showed them how to use it. This time, Katie participated.

I iced the cookies, and Ryker showed the girls how to put sprinkles and colored sugar on top of them. Hannah did very well. Katie completely covered one cookie with sugar, so we had to take the shaker away. She wasn't happy. After the cookies were done baking and cooled, we let them each have half of a cookie. This satisfied them. They both went to bed without argument a half hour later.

(The cookies Ryker and I made!)

After we put the girls to bed, Ryker and I made cookies. They turned out beautifully.

Christmas is less than two weeks away. Maddy and Gregory will turn two in just three days. Hannah and Katie will turn three on New Year's Eve. It's a bittersweet moment. They're growing up, much to my chagrin. I admit, I had a difficult time when they arrived three years ago. I didn't think I would ever get the hang of motherhood (part of it was post partum depression, which I did not have the Maddy and Gregory, oddly enough), but I've found my groove. It's stressful at times, but I could not imagine my life without my four beautiful children. And believe it or not, I miss the baby stage at times. I don't miss the diapers and the spit up, but I miss cuddling them, and the bond that comes with breast feeding. I remember how excited Ryker and I were to see them take their first steps and hear their first words. I think the worst part of parenthood now is watching them grow up because it goes by so fast. It really does. I'm afraid I'll blink and miss a few years. The one thing I'm not going to miss; POTTY TRAINING!

And on that note, I will close!

I hope your year was full of surprises, good memories, and lots of precious time with your loved ones!

Merry Christmas, From Our Home to Yours,

Ryker, Leah, Hannah, Katherine, Madeline, and Gregory

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