Taylor Christmas Letter 2017

Hello Friends,

Christmas Moose here, wishing you all a lovely Christmas season, and ready to fill you in on the last year in my Happy Little Home.

First things first.  For the first time in many years, the family got me out of my box ON-TIME.  We had a wonderful day listening to Christmas music, eating leftover Thanksgiving food, and picking out a Christmas tree to deck our living room.  For some reason, the family didn’t think to bring me along to pick out a tree.  I’m not sure why as my moose-background qualifies me to be an excellent tree-picker-outer.  Ah well.  The family came home with Lydia’s top pick for a tree, and though they had a little trouble getting it up straight, it sure makes for a lovely view from the fireplace mantel.  There seems to have been an extra amount of dancing this year, Christmas music filling our halls, and, now that the Little Ones have figured out how to turn on the Christmas lights, they are on all-day, everyday.  Not that I mind.  Now, I know you’re all happy to hear all about me, but I must move on.

Starting with the youngest…Elijah John is now one year old.  He’s an adorable Little Calf and he is strong.  He muscles his way around the living room, sneaks around the tree, and gets right over to the lights faster than you can say, “Antlers”.  He’s pulling up now, babbling, giving hi-fives, and can handle being wrestled by his older sisters.  He likes to put things into his mouth, but hasn’t choked on any pine needles yet.  Oh!  And he can climb!  He started climbing the stairs this month, adding to Justine’s list of regular prayer requests for his safety.  He’s cute and sweet and, though it’s a bit early to tell, I think he’s going to be one smart little kiddo.

Paul (two-years-old) is his own moose…I mean, man.  He struts around like he owns the place and isn’t afraid to be different.  While the girls follow in each other’s footsteps, Paul doesn’t mind marching to the beat of his own drum, asking for a different treat than everyone else, or walking around barefoot regardless of the weather.  He always has a favorite toy he obsesses over for a few days: a wooden puppy, cloth book, toy car, football, or even a kitchen item (metal tongs, recently).  He’ll carry the item around all day, sleep with it, bring it to the dinner table, and on any outings.  He’s learning to talk more and more, and, now that Dad sits by him at dinner, he’s learning to stay in his chair without crying, even when he doesn’t like the food.  He still loves his mommy and anyone who’s around much will see Paul sitting in Justine’s lap, sucking his fingers and holding his own or her hair for comfort.

Abigail (four-years-old) is the sweetheart of the family.  She loves to be snuggled, gets sleepy more often, and likes to make people happy.  She will share with her siblings and gets so happy when she gets to skip nap time to play with Lydia. When they play, Abby is the princess/bride/ballerina and Lydia is the one helping her get ready and presenting her to the family.  Abby smiles shyly and lets Lydia be the spokesperson, but she loves to dress up. Abby is learning her letters this year and is working on memorizing her third Bible verse.  Abby is slower to learn new things than Lydia, but when she learns them, she quickly becomes more independent.  She has been known to clean the whole living room so she could have room to play, or find a blanket and snuggle up in the glider for hours when she isn’t feeling well.  Abby is often humming and singing, especially the two Bible verses she already knows and affectionately calls, “my verse”.  She has a fiery temper which she is slowly learning to control, but she also has a fiery love for life and fun and her smiles are always making everyone around her so happy.  She is also the little fish in the family and loves all things water.  Do not expect Abby to walk near a puddle without marching right over and stomping in it at least once.

Lydia turned six this year and started first grade.  She learns incredibly quickly, which is good, as the school day is often interrupted by diaper changes and nap times.  She is learning to pay attention to God’s voice and obey.  Lydia’s appetite for playing (especially with her Daddy) is insatiable.  She loves being read to and doing fun activities.  Lydia is always asking, “Can today be a fun day?”.  Some days the family goes out (without me) and visits a museum or walks downtown somewhere, eats out, and calls it a fun day, though I can’t imagine any family truly having that good of a time without their Christmas Moose.  Lydia thinks every day should be a fun day.  Every meal should be special.  And there should always be dessert.  After Elijah started trying to choke on everything, her school prizes were removed from the house (choke-ables, the family calls them) and she is now rewarded by earning enough “points” for her work to watch an episode of Mister Rogers with her siblings.   I can’t say I mind.  The kiddos gather together and Elijah crawls laps around them while they all sit mesmerized for half an hour listening to the show, then they spend the next week acting it out over and over again.  It’s pretty cute.  Lydia never outgrew the “why-stage” and can ask a million questions without taking a breath.  She is strong-willed and independent, but still loves to feel close to her parents and even her siblings, and can’t stand going to bed without being on good terms with everyone (and saying goodnight and giving hugs and kisses all around…twice).

The year has been full of ups and downs for Justine.  January started off with a newborn.  February found the family falling into a nice groove, but then March turned everything upside down.  It was a rough end-of-winter with not enough sunshine, sleep, or health in the home.  Springtime brought sunshine and led off an epic summer full of happy family memories.  Fall was a process of getting back into routines and fighting for more sleep. Why these babies don’t sleep is a mystery to me.  Moose calves just don’t have that problem, I guess. Justine has been embracing simplicity this year, and especially this winter, reevaluating her to-do list and canceling item and item that aren’t actually necessary.  She’s setting aside computer or phone time to engage the kiddos and tackle the few items she has left to-do this year.  I must say, it’s a heart-warming sight to see her sitting in her favorite chair each morning with the Christmas lights on and a mug of hot tea or coffee.  Her Bible is kept on my mantle lately (where the Little People can’t hurt it) and each day after reading, her thoughts, burdens, to-dos, and worries are laid out before the Lord then left for Him take care of.  The highlights of her year (beside becoming a tri-athlete) have been prioritizing her family and letting a lot of other things go, growing in closeness and unity with Dan, and seeing God work in the hearts of her children in some big and little ways.

This fall Dan celebrated his first anniversary working on the autonomous car for GM.  After months of the family praying that he wouldn’t have to drive so far to work, with no obvious answer in sight, his boss suddenly gave him an immense increase in freedom to work closer to home in addition to one day at home each week.  Unlike any moose dads I’ve known, Dan is an incredibly involved father.  He tucks the kids in each night, chats with them about their day, answers their questions and prays for them.  He leads family Bible-time each night, reading the Bible and asking or answering related questions.  He asks the kids about their days, takes them outside to sled and build snowmen, and stays up-to-date on what their learning in school.  He has been realizing more and more how important it is to invest in the family and let other things go, especially as he observes and hears from older dads in his office who haven’t done so and regret it now.  Dan plans the best fun days, treats his children with love and attention, and showers Justine with love in all five languages.

It’s been a delightful season in this warm home, and along with the Taylor family, I wish you a beautiful Christmas celebration in the coming days and the happiest of New Years.

With Love,

Mister C. Moose

The Munchkin Turns Four

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On May 30th, our Lydia turned four. As with all Taylor birthdays, the day (and following and proceeding days) was a celebration. Earlier in the week, Nana and Papa stopped by for a visit and gifted Lydia with some new outfits. In fact, she’s wearing exclusively new Nana and Papa outfits in all of the pictures in this post. Actually, she wears the Nana/Papa outfits almost exclusively now. Especially the purple dress (not pictured here) which she asks to wear every single day.

First thing in the morning Dan gave Lydia her birthday flower: a petunia which is now happily planted in the window box in the front of our living room windows. She faithfully waters it and pulls off the dead blooms (with some help). It’s pretty cute.

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Next Lydia got to open some presents. Dan and I gave her a backpack stuffed with a notebook, pens, and toddler scissors, along with an activity package called Ready, Set, Paste. It has eight little glue projects and Lydia loves putting them together for “school” each day.

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Late in the morning our family made a trek over to Plymouth to visit the famous E & H Lemonade Stand. It was our first time and we took our time considering our options. The lemonades were delicious. While we sipped, we enjoyed some activities put on by the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum.

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Next we traveled in to Ann Arbor for an open house. Lydia got soaked running around with some of her friends in the rain. By dinnertime everyone was tired out, but not too tired for some more presents, this time from Dan’s parents.

Paul even joined in the celebratory mood by almost smiling.

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Lydia got a swimsuit, towel, chair, and a sprinkler and has asked to play in it every day without fail. I thought it would be fun to see her reaction when she finally learned what the “spraying thing” was, but the reaction wasn’t as epic as I’d hoped. But I’ve included a couple clips for your enjoyment. We’ve all had fun with the sprinkler already.

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Lydia also got two new pairs of sunglasses which were promptly snatched up by Abigail. Abby was also sporting a post dinner mohawk and no shirt because we had spaghetti for dinner and she is impressively messy whenever we eat spaghetti (which is also why we save spaghetti for bath night).

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Great Gramma Dexter gave her a new, very special mirror, which used to be Grampa Dexter‘s. He used to use it when he was stuck in his big chair to see behind him into the kitchen and find out what Gramma was doing.

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And now she’s four. She’s just as cute, funny, snuggly, sweet, and helpful as ever. She’s also developing her very own sense of fashion. She loves to sing and pretend and act like a “big girl” in front of others, and she really dislikes being alone. She also keeps Dan and I on our toes because we told her not to say “hate” and she corrects us every time we say it (which is why I used dislike in that previous sentence!) She recently caught our pastor taking a bite of soup without praying first and she bluntly blurted out, “You didn’t pray for that!”.

She’s quite a character and we love her so much. Happy birthday sweet Lydia Hope!

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Birthday Shoes and Pizza

When Dan and I first started getting to know each other, we sent emails about once a week while I was away at college. Once I came home for the summer, he kept wanting to get together but nothing just spontaneously worked out, so finally he had to call my house and ask me.

At the time of the phone call I was just about to eat some lunch, a bowl of leftover spaghetti. I answered the phone and was just lifting the first forkful to my mouth when Dan asked, “Have you eaten any lunch yet?” and I (after putting the fork down) honestly answered, “No”.

An hour later we were chatting over sandwiches at Quiznos, finally getting a chance to just sit and talk for the first time only a day before Dan would leave on a ten-day mission trip to Guyana. It wasn’t officially a date. We didn’t start dating for another year and a half. But it was the first date none-the-less. Now I have the joy of eating with Dan every single night, and seeing him every single morning and evening, and I love it.

I share this story because, 1) It’s a good story, and 2) Tuesday was Dan’s birthday, the day we celebrate all things Dan. We love him.

There may have been pizza involved.

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I may have tried to take a picture with just salad on the plate to keep the pizza a little family secret. The secret is out. There was pizza. Lydia went bazurk and Dan didn’t feel all that well afterward. Lesson learned.

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I guarded the cards and gifts zealously for days leading up to this celebration, but finally the time came when Abby…er…Dan got to open presents.

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But, slow down. Cards first. Always.

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Then presents.

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Dan got some much-needed new shoes (barefoot shoes, see how they bend?), weightlifting shoes, and his old jump rope. The girls loved the jump rope but were unimpressed with the shoes. Dan loved the shoes but took the jump rope from the girls because it was getting a little dangerous.

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Dan thanks everyone for their kind birthday thoughts, words, and prayers. Apart from the post-pizza-unwellness, I think he had a nice day. We certainly enjoyed it as we enjoy him every day. And, we were all happy that Baby did not join us for the celebration.

One Year Old!

Well, it’s been a whole year since our Abigail was born, and what a year it has been! Today we celebrate a whole year with Abby Faith. We celebrate that she even made it this far, that we’re no longer driving back and forth to see in her in hospital every day, and that she is a happy and healthy baby girl. Most of all we celebrate that God entrusted her to us and for all the precious memories we get to share in the years ahead. We love you Abby!

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Sunflowers and Music Notes

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This weekend our family had the privilege of attending the wedding of Peter and Rachel, a young couple from our church. Everyone, even Lydia, has been looking forward to this wedding for months (just days for Lydia, actually) and we weren’t disappointed.

Peter and Rachel is that they both grew up going to the same church. They knew each other for years, but only as friends. Independently they sought God about marriage and both became certain they were to marry each other without ever talking to anyone else about it. When Rachel was deciding what to do after high school, Peter decided it was his time to step in and start a relationship. Both families were in favor so Peter asked Rachel to begin a courtship. They continued to read the Bible, pray together, and seek the Lord’s leading and their parents’ guidance all the way up to engagement and their wedding day. And the Lord blessed their faithfulness with a happy courtship and relatively smooth wedding planning. They are a great couple with a great story. (Peter and Rachel, we just love you guys!)

So anyway, the wedding. There was a lovely ceremony followed by an equally lovely, strolling reception. We talked with old friends, made new friends, and everyone had a happy time. So, without further adieu…

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Dan tells me people don’t really watch the bride walk down the aisle. They glance at the bride and than watch the groom for his reaction.

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The maid of honor was Rachel’s sister, and our Pastor happens to be the groom’s dad.

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Congratulations Peter and Rachel! It was such a joy to share in your wedding day and to watch your love story unfold. God bless you both and your new marriage!

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Easter According to Lydia

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We had a wonderful Easter spending time together as a family and with friends, celebrating the resurrection of our Savior. There were new and pretty dresses. There was a potluck breakfast. There was a joyous Easter service. There were lots and lots of pictures. It was, indeed, a celebration. And on Monday, when all the festivities were over, Lydia agreed to share with you all what she has learned about Easter.

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Hapter Berday Daddy!

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Monday was Dan’s birthday.  Sadly, Dan’s birthdays have fallen into a pathetic pattern over the past few years, which goes like this:

1. Plan special yummy dinner
2. Plan special (probably expensive) healthy dessert
3. Try to buy a gift he’ll like
4. Be disappointed by a dinner that was not as good as anyone had hoped
5. Be disappointed by gifts that he didn’t really want
6. Be disappointed by a dessert that did not taste good enough to justify the time or cost

This year was the year I decided to break the cycle. I think it worked.

For dinner, we used a gift card and bought Qdoba. Tried and true. For dessert, we bought some coconut milk vanilla ice cream and blended it up with peanut butter and a dash of maple syrup to make peanut butter milkshakes. Delicious. For gifts, I asked Dan for a list and then spent a few weeks trying to trick him into thinking he was getting a bunch of gifts not from his list. And now…for the pictures.

We started with the cards, of course.

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Now for the first present…

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This was a reenactment of his surprised and happy face. The original was much more authentic.

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Lydia likes it too!

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It helps with sore muscles, sort of like a massage. It hurts at the time but feels better afterward…what Dan refers to as “good pain”.

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Abby doesn’t know what she thinks about “good pain”.

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Neither do we. But we love him.

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A bow for Lydia!

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(Somehow I forgot to take pictures of the gifts we got him. Oops.)

What could this one be?

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A new keyboard!

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Dan’s new computer setup. He loves it. Now he won’t have to get a sore neck staring down into a computer screen all day long.

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Dan and his baby girl.

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And his big girl. She wished Dan a lot of “Hapter Berdays” all day long)

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And his favorite girl.

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Happy Birthday Dan! We love you!

Our Christmas…a Poem

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Christmas stockings, Christmas lights
Christmas music played at night,
Angel ornaments made by (great) Gramma
(no we don’t believe in Santa)

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Dancing on our living room floor
Snow falls just outside the door
Taylors come to celebrate
And all the presents are homemade

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Cookie cutter biscuits, those are neat
Hurry up, it’s time to eat!
Exchanging gifts is so much fun
We made something for everyone.

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A calendar made with Lydia’s hands
so Grandma T can keep track of plans
Grandpa got some special tea
Grown and homemade by Mommy

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Too soon it was time to go
So no one gets (too) stuck in the snow
Goodbyes are always very sad,
but there was more fun to be had.

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Christmas morning is coming quick
The roads are getting pretty slick
Christmas eve we head out the door
because we need just one gift more.

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Christmas morning comes at last
The night did not pass all to fast
Except for Mom, hope she’s not crabby
She was up with hungry Abby

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Christmas pjs, pretty dresses
Lots of wrapping paper messes
Candles in the morning dark
The party is about to start!

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Lydia can’t believe her eyes
A big girl bed! What a surprise!
Now Daddy reads some from God’s word
Stockings are second, presents are third

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Abby’s gift: to be snuggled all day,
She wouldn’t have it any other way
Mommy got a pretty coat
Daddy got some workout clothes.

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Christmas came and Christmas went
But the best gift was still heaven sent
Baby Jesus come to earth
We love to celebrate His birth!