2017 – In Pictures

I take a lot of pictures.  This spring, as I was trying to figure out how to find time to get everything done that I needed to do, it occurred to me that I don’t do anything with the pictures I take.  They sit on the computer and never get looked at or enjoyed.  I don’t have time to regularly upload to Facebook, so nobody ever really sees them.  I resolved to put my pictures to a little better use.  One idea that I tried this week, was picking out favorite pictures from the whole year and putting together an end-of-the-year video we could watch as a family on New Year’s Eve to remember the highlights from the year behind us.  We had a special time last night watching this video and then thanking God for the many blessings He gave us over the past year.

So, here’s our year: 2017, in pictures.

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

Taylor Christmas Letter 2016

Well, my Friends, I am back again for anther edition of the Taylor Family Christmas Letter. For those of you just tuning in, I am the much Beloved Christmas Moose, back again to update you on the Taylor Family Happenings from this memorable year. Ready? Here we go…

(The pictures you will see were all taken from the Taylors’ afternoon-long, pathetic attempt at a family picture. I say pathetic because they did not get one successful shot, and because they accidentally pointed the camera too low to include me. I was on top of the fireplace mantel. Ah well. Family pictures with four Little Ones are literally impossible.)

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Would you believe I woke up to meet another little Moose-calf in the Taylor household? They never even told me they were expecting! But out I come, out of my box in the closet to join the family in putting up Christmas decorations, and there was the most adorable little Baby just nestled up in Justine’s arms! If you’ve seen pictures, maybe caught a glimpse of the Little Guy snuggled up and sleeping…you have seen nothing. He is SO cute. Just wait until you see him with his little eyes open wide. Adorable.

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Along with writing a traditional Christmas letter, this year I have been delegated with the task of including an update of Elijah’s first month, because yesterday was indeed his first month birthday. Lij, as the family most frequently calls him (pronounced as the middle portion of E-Lij-ah) was born on November 20, bright and early. He flew through his tests and procedures and was happily discharged and sent home two days later, November 22, two days before Thanksgiving and four days before I came out of my box (Yes, they got me out a day late this year). However, Taylors like to break the medical odds and in true Taylor fashion, Lij tested positive for borderline congenital hypothyroidism. It sounds worse than it is. While hypothyroidism (low activity of the thyroid gland) can be very serious, Elijah has a very mild case and is already taking special medicine to keep everything right where it needs to be. As long as he takes his medicine, like the good baby he is, he shouldn’t have any symptoms.

Elijah weighed five pounds and eleven ounces when he was born, and at his latest appointment was up to six pounds, ten ounces. The first couple of weeks were slow going because he was just too sleepy to eat very much. Most parents want their babies to sleep more. Justine was trying earnestly to wake him up. Elijah even sleeps at night, much to Dan and Justine’s surprise and delight. Sure, he gets up every 1-3 hours, but three out of every four nights he’ll go right back to sleep after a diaper change or a snack. He is a content Little Boy and everybody in the home loves snuggling him.

And, I might be speaking too early, but as I was writing this update I saw the Little Guy roll over for the very first time. (Although he was sort of on his side to begin with.) Way to go Little Man!

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Well, as adorable as Elijah is, I just can’t spend my whole time writing about him. Next up is P-Man. That is: Bud, Buster, Buddy, Butch, Butchems, Butchcake, Stinker, Rascal. Paul. He’s a cutie too, and always up to something. This year Paul set a new record for the family by taking his first steps at 16 months old. He spoke his very first words during one of Dan’s softball games this spring, “Hi Daddy!”. Aww. Some of his other words are: baseball, Mama, Daddy, baby, Leeya (Lydia), Lijah, no, and sock. He loves wearing his shoes everywhere he goes, except in the car, where he loves to take them off. He still needs two naps a day, sucks his fingers when he gets sleepy, and enjoys being held by his Mommy. He loves to be outside in the warm weather and hates being outside when it’s cold. He will hold his little brother and give him kisses and sing him songs. He absolutely loves to wrestle anyone, but especially his Dad. Recently he found the drawer where Justine keeps her oven mitts, and now he likes to dig those out and put them on before finding Dan and punching his legs. He is all boy and super sweet all at the same time.

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Then there’s Abigail. Abby, Abster, Abs. She’s a little fireball and whatever she does she does ALL THE WAY. If she’s happy, she’s irresistibly sweet. If she’s angry, everyone from here to Detroit knows about it. She doesn’t let her big sister push her around. They are the very best of friends, even if they don’t realize it yet. Together they love to play house, wedding, and princesses. Lydia is always the bride or bridesmaid and Abby is the “Wedding Girl” (we don’t know what that is yet). She is three, but if you hold up your three middle fingers she will tell you that she is not that three. She is the pinky-ring finger-middle finger three. Abby always calls Paul by his nick-name “P-man”. She thinks Elijah is “so, so cute”. She likes to do school with Lydia, which involves coloring in a coloring book or tracing in her special tracing book which she calls her “cat book” because of the cat on the cover. She is learning that napkins are not called “Backins”, but she still calls toilet paper “paper toilet”. Abby is funny and sweet and learning and growing a lot this year.

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Lydia (Lyds, Lydnacious, Munchkin) started school this year and loves it. Her favorite parts are probably math and art, but everything else comes in a close second. Lydia is almost always pretending: pretending to be a mom, pretending to be a grown up with a sister that she is always visiting, pretending to be a princess, or pretending to get married (to Dan). She is incredibly creative with her outfits (regular or dress up) and becoming more and more aware of what she likes and doesn’t like. Today she was sharing her list of foods she doesn’t like (spicy peppers, onions, celery, mushrooms, and sort of baby carrots) and does (tomatoes, cucumbers, burgers, pizza, cheesy noodles, ice cream, chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, and chocolate). If you ever are lonely, you could use a Lydia in your life. She loves to be together, loves to snuggle, and can always find something to talk about with lots of questions included. She has an insatiable desire to play with her Daddy; read stories; and, at Christmas time, make tea, turn off the lights, and snuggle in the living room by the Christmas tree. She is quick to love, quick to forgive, and learning how to be a Big Helper to her Mommy and a Loving Sister to all three of her siblings.

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Justine has her hands full this year, as strangers love to tell her. She likes to think that full hands and full days make for a full heart, and she has been basking in the joy of it all this Christmas. This summer felt like one big, long wait for Baby. Now that he is here, Justine is soaking up his Little Newbornness as much as she can (while still taking care of the rest of the pack). She also loves teaching Lydia. All year she has focused on being a Good Mom and being grateful. She finally found a satisfying healthified toffee bar recipe, an accomplishment that can only be trumped by successfully taking all four kids to Elijah’s doctor’s appointment last week. (They are a handful!) Other than homeschool and Baby, the highlight of Justine’s year has been spending more one-on-one time with Dan. She, like Lydia, loves to spend time together.

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Dan started a new job working as an Artificial Intelligence Computer Scientist on the Autonomous Vehicle for GM this year. So far he has been enjoying the challenging problems at work, despite a longer commute and even earlier mornings. He still loves to work out in his (unheated) garage gym, even on the coldest and windiest winter days. This spring he joined several young men from church on a Softball team, and this summer he spent many Sunday afternoons playing baseball and soccer. Dan has also tackled several home repair projects this year including roofing his garage and rebuilding his old shed. He can’t wait until Paul and Elijah can tag along on his projects, in his gym, and on the baseball field.

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As for me, it was a good year snuggled up in my box. I have never had the privilege of seeing a Taylor Baby so freshly born, and, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, he sure is cute. The others are too, and even more so this year as more of them can say my name and give me hugs. I just love when they suck on my antlers.

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Well Friends, so wraps up another year for the Taylor Family. They, and I, wish you a blessed Christmas season and a very happy new year.

Yours Truly,

Christmas Moose.

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Our Up North Christmas

The very first Christmas present I opened this year was a new camera from Dan. My last camera stopped working several months ago and I was so excited to have something better than Dan’s phone to take pictures on. Sadly, as I was playing around with it one night, I deleted all of my pictures.

:'(

But my brilliant husband suggested, “There must be a way to get them back”. And he was right. I’m in the process of retrieving those pictures now so that’s why there aren’t any pictures from Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Sorry friends. Check my Facebook page in a few days (or weeks or months since I never have time to upload pictures with the three Little People running around).

🙂

The Taylor family (us) celebrated a rushed Christmas on Christmas Eve morning before packing the car and driving up North for an extended family Christmas Celebration (on both sides). Lydia didn’t sleep the night before Christmas Eve because she was SO excited to go up North and to open presents. Remembering those feelings myself, I was sympathetic, but we were exhausted because we couldn’t sleep either and when we did doze off for fifteen minutes we’d wake up to Lydia yelling, “CAN I GET OUT OF BED YET AND OPEN PRESENTS. I’VE BEEN ASLEEP A LONG TIME!”

So began our Christmas adventure.

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Christmas Eve we showed up just in time at my grandparent’s house for a traditional Matson family Swedish Christmas feast, followed by carols and presents. It was a sweet time and fun to catch up with cousins and watch the kids run around together.

Christmas morning we woke up after ANOTHER sleepless night (I only told her she might get to open a present from Grandma and Grandpa but someone must have let the cat out of the bag because this night wasn’t much better than the first!) We enjoyed breakfast with my parents and brother, took a quick walk around the block and then waited for the rest of my siblings to come with their families. All of the kids, and grandkids were together for the first time in a long time (ever?) and it was such fun. Oh, and there were presents, lots of presents (much to Lydia’s great joy). As much as we enjoyed the gifts, it was the time with my family that we cherished the most. The day went by all to fast and the next morning it was already time to pack up and head over to Dan’s parent’s house for the other Taylor Christmas.

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There was good food, lots of visiting, a bit of Euchre, and, of course, presents. Abby was so cute when she realized she got to open some too.

“Presents? Me?!? Presents? Me! Me!”

Among other goodies, the girls got a collection of kitchen food and gadgets. They love them. And so did I. (Until we got home and the 100 piece collection scattered itself all over our house three days in a row. It may have disappeared after that. Good thing Grandma also got us some toy storage!)

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Is this picture overload? I can’t help it. She was so cute sitting there so absorbed in her toys.

As you’ve already seen, there was a little bit of Wii playing. We even let Lydia have a turn.

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Paul got in lots of snuggle time. With everyone.

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And Lydia and Abby got to make some special Christmas cookies with Grandma Taylor.

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After a few days, we braved the bad weather and drove home with a few days left in Dan’s break. So, we took Lydia ice skating. She has been asking to go since she found out winter was on its way. It almost turned out to be a failure when we got out on the ice and she couldn’t stand up. Someone gave us on of those “pushers” (anybody know what those are actually called?) and that helped, a little. Dan got out on the ice with Lydia and helped her figure it out. Soon she was holding onto that pusher with all her little might enjoying the ride, frequently reminding us, “Not too fast!”

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In the end I think ice skating was a smashing success.

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Finally, we rang in the new year with a quiet night at home, the kids sleeping in their own beds. Daddy and Mommy stayed up until midnight, just barely. We snapped a quick “new year” picture while we washed cloth diapers. I know, I know, doesn’t sound like much of a party, but some quiet time at home with Dan was just the way to wrap up 2015.

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Happy New Year everyone. And a special thanks to our parents for hosting us for Christmas and the days after. Traveling with the Littles isn’t easy, but you all help a lot. And I know we created memories in our and their little minds that will never be forgotten.