Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Letter 2012

December 2012
Dear family & friends,

As I look about me this fine evening, I cannot help but feel tired.  It’s not that I’ve physically exerted myself; on the contrary, I’ve been sitting most of the day.  It could be the general lack of sleep that comes with a newborn, but that’s certainly not the whole story.  The lights shining from the Christmas tree and the stockings hanging from the mantle give quite a cozy feeling to the place, but the picture doesn’t stop there.

Scattered across the floor is a strange assortment of mismatched toys relocated with love by Hosea.  The dining room table is piled with bins and what appears to be complete randomness by my well-meaning husband.  Shrieks and squeals are regularly escaping from the girls’ room down the hall, where I imagine all sorts of creativity and imaginative play are forming a scene that only the producers themselves can fully appreciate.  And here, in my arms, lies the newest member of our family, born October 10, engaged in an activity somewhere between eating and sleeping.  

For better or for worse, being a breastfeeding mother forces me to sit down and take a break frequently.  My house may suffer for it, but I love this special time with my babies.  Avelina is my fifth child, and I still marvel over the tiny fingers and toes and consider myself one of the most blessed people in the entire world whenever I kiss one of these soft, little cheeks.  Her only hobbies at this time are nursing, sleeping and fussing at me if ever I dare to lay her down, but how precious is this fragile creature to me!

Many people have asked about Hosea’s adjustment to having a little sister.  Honestly, I can’t say he seems to have noticed all that much!  When he does pay her attention it requires careful oversight by an adult, as he’s a rather heavy-handed guy.  We’re thrilled to report that he is finally showing signs of some basic receptive language, but he still has yet to understand “gentle.”  Physically, 2-year-old Hosea has made some great strides this year.  He has been learning to use a walker in therapy, and he is now able to attempt a few independent steps so long as he has his ankle braces on.  On a day-to-day basis, his primary mode of mobility is knee-walking.  All of the tests from last year were, in essence, negative, so we still don’t have a more specific diagnosis.  I suggested “Hosea Syndrome” to the geneticist, who said it may very well take the discovery and recognition of some new, rare disorder to finally be able to give a medical explanation for Hosea’s challenges.  (Methinks I should try my odds in Vegas!)  We will continue to follow-up with the specialists, but we’ve decided to take a small break from all of that until spring.
With two little ones not walking, I am extra grateful for the help of our oldest three children.  They are each eager to hold Avelina, and they play well with Hosea and often feed him for me.  Even 4-year-old Anastasia has proven herself a big helper and often likes to bring me breakfast in bed.  Her gentle temperament and sweet smiles are a blessed start to my busy days.  For now, Anastasia is learning her letters and often enjoys listening to a story or following along during Eliana’s history lesson, but I plan to start a phonics curriculum with her in January.  She is very excited about it and asks me nearly every day if she can do school, too!

Six-year-old Evangeline is in first grade this year and brings an admirable positivity to our school room.  Her cheerful attitude and responsiveness to praise make her a joy to teach.  Her wonderment and happiness in everyday things is such a beautiful, classic picture of childhood, and her creativity often impresses me.  She recently lost her first tooth and successfully stopped sucking her thumb.  We are very proud of her for giving up such a hard-to-break habit!

Eliana is eight years old now and in the third grade.  Her favorite subject is history, in which she is currently studying Rome, Greece, and the New Testament.  Earlier this year, Eliana enjoyed playing soccer in our neighborhood league. (Evangeline also played, but it clearly did not hold her interest this year.)  Our home is often blessed with Eliana’s ever improving piano skills, and our little musician especially delights in being our accompanist.  It is a joy to watch her grow into a young lady more and more every day.

As our children are getting older, so are we!  Chris and I both hit a new decade this year.  Turning 30 didn’t feel nearly as strange as the reminder that I had not already passed this milestone!  As for major events, Chris and I managed to stay on the continent all year and lay low.  He continues to teach computational fluid dynamics (Just smile and nod—I do!) at the Air Force Institute of Technology, and I was still attending births and teaching childbirth classes through May, at which point I took an early maternity leave to focus on my own baby and upcoming birth.  We did manage to have some unexpected excitement in April, when we discovered some major water damage in our home due to a small, previously undetected leak, and over the summer, when the Air Force sent Chris to Montgomery, Alabama, for some training for 2 months.  We quickly jumped back into school once that was behind us, and I’m in shock that a semester has already gone by!

It’s been another busy year of love and growth.  The sights and sounds around me tonight do represent a good deal of work to be done, but far more importantly and dearly, they represent a beautiful life that I am blessed to call my own.  Thank you for being a part of that life, and let us together give thanks to God, from whom all blessings flow!

                                                                        Merry Christmas,

                                                                        Jennifer, for the Martins