One year, four girls, four completely different people. While they all contribute to the drama, the fridge artwork and the food and toothpaste consumption, they all couldn’t be more different. This is a source of joy and trial, mind you. And when I (Rachel) got a book to help them learn how to sort out conflict on their own, they dubbed it the “blue book of bad things.” Nevertheless, they listen to the lessons attentively and we’ve overheard them using their conflict-resolution skills on each other. This year also saw marked improvement in chore participation - much to the parents' relief.
Elise (11) is thoughtful, thorough and a natural leader. She is focusing her creative energies on several books that she is writing and illustrating; as well as perfecting her illustrations of dragons. Having overtaken mom in height, she is busy reading more books than her parents can provide, keeping her teachers busy with complicated questions (this is her part time job) and gently teaching her little sisters about how the world works. This year she got a phone without data, but with a wifi connection, she is regularly face-timing with friends that live far away. This has scratched her social itch especially because some of her good friends moved away this year and she misses them a lot!
Maddie, who turned 6, got glasses this year and continued patching for most of the day to correct her lazy eye. She is quite proud of the various designs that her patches sport - pandas being her current favorite. She recently declared that while Elise is her “best” sister, she misses Hannah while she’s at school and loves nothing more than “sleepover night” which means all the sisters get to sleep on the floor in Adele and Hannah’s room in a giant nest of pillows and blankets. She’s learning to read and write, and shocked us by writing out our names and putting them on the fridge. Her friend Willie (an 18 inch doll) is her constant companion at home and she has many stories for us about his future life accomplishments. She is very nurturing, loves her routines and her favorite evening activity is helping mom make dinner.
Adele is full of energy and loves to design and build. The material is not important - lego, cardboard, patio pillows, Minecraft blocks- she will build out of anything. She turns 9 this month and hosted a Minecraft birthday party by building bunkers in the attic for a nerf gun war. She told me she was surprised at how strong she was – we asked why and she said she didn’t know she could rearrange the entire attic. She wasn’t kidding - the entire attic was redone. The only one still being homeschooled, she is mostly independent, keeping up with her weekly homeschool group classes and assignments all by herself. She is cheerful, curious, creative and very affectionate.
Hannah is turning 5 in January and cannot wait. She is assertive, inquisitive and opinionated, and these things are balanced by compassion, cuddliness and willingness to laugh. She has her birthday all planned out plus the day before (she has scheduled that day for baking and decorating cupcakes). She “can’t believe it's almost here.” She’s figuring out all her letters and sounds, and putting together words despite precious little input from her family. Naturally curious, recent conversations include theology, anatomy and physiology, heaven/hell, the contents of ear lobes, whether or not Jesus rose from the dead, and how she can get daddy a job on the radio. She loves Fridays when everyone is at school because she can plan playdates (aka dragon training days) with her friend John or “have alone time” where she busily narrates her toys to herself all day. She’s still trying to be Maddie’s big sister but Maddie continues to hold her own. It helps that Maddie’s birthday is not changing.
Besides raising the girls, being the home chef and taxi service (among many other mom-jobs) Rachel has started teaching online again and is doing accent modification and advanced ESL tutoring. She continues to blog (on this site) and is working on a poetry book (to be published in the new year) and a book on motherhood. Blogging and writing has given her a beautiful creative outlet. She’s grateful to get to share her writing.
Soon after we announced our plans to move to Toronto, Joel took a buyout package from his job at Rocket Mortgage, the company he’s been with for 12 years. He is still looking for work but has used the time off to study and get a few much-needed certifications. Naturally, our plans for moving to Toronto are on pause for the time being. He also ran the Detroit half marathon this year, a race that goes over the Ambassador bridge to Windsor and an underwater mile through the tunnel back to Detroit. While it was not a PR, it was by far the most fun he’s had in a race thus far.
Here are a few books we’ve read this year and highly recommend:
The Air We Breathe by Glen Scrivener
The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland
The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande (aka the blue book of bad things)
Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart by Jim Jackson and Lynne Jackson
Thank you for being a part of our lives and to all our friends and family near and far - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Love, the Holmes