Monday, December 07, 2009

A Dickens Christmas Letter

Welcome to the annual Dickens Christmas update! I hope this letter finds you and your family doing well this holiday season. In the interest of saving trees and time this year, I decided my blog would be the best place to share what is happening in our little part of the world.

Usually writing comes fairly easy to me, but I must admit I struggle with my Christmas letter. I find it extremely hard to neatly summarize a year's worth of life. In any given year we of course have our share of ups but also our share of downs. There is also a lot of chaos but also a lot of calm. How do I take all of that and sum it up into one neat little package? I haven't figured it out yet, but if anyone ever does, please let me in on the secret. In the meantime, I have decided to do the best I can.....

This year was that typical year I described - a huge helping of chaos with a side of calm. Jessie's schedule was extremely intense with his third year rotations starting our year off. He was working 80 to 100 hour (at least) weeks. The summer led him to an away rotation in Denver where he spent the month of July. The kids and I stayed in Dallas and pursued numerous traditional summer activities such as summer camps, swim lessons, and being lazy. Jessie can currently be found in almost any airport in the United States as he travels for interviews. Yes, that is correct, we are at the point some might call a "real" job. In a few short months, June 7th to be exact, Jessie will be a full-fledged M.D. We are very excited at finally reaching the goal we have been working towards for the past several years. I am extremely proud of Jessie for all his hard work and smartness.

After years of preparing for medical school and then actually attending medical school, where do we go from here? Our fate will be sealed on March 18th, 2010. This is the date that all fourth year medical students gather and open up their official letter informing them of where they have been selected to go. It is a match system, so we can request certain places but there are no guarantees. Jessie has interviews across the country: Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Lubbock, Temple, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Austin, Wichita, Louisville, Lexington, Omaha, Columbus, Wichita, St. Louis, Winston-Salem, Knoxville, Roanoke, Spartenburg, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Denver, Madison, Little Rock, Birmingham and some cities I have probably missed. If you have any personal information on these places, please send it my way. I would love to hear what it is like to live somewhere else. We have both grown up in Texas, so it is difficult for us to imagine living somewhere else. People ask me where we would like to end up. Part of us wants to stay here but part of us wants to experience something new. We have decided we will just put the decision in God's hands and enjoy the ride.

The interviews have brought a lot of headaches as far as travel nightmares for Jessie and just the sheer organization; however, one good thing has come out of them - a family vacation. It has been a couple of years since our last vacation, so we decided it was time for another one. Jessie had an interview in Salt Lake City before Thanksgiving, so the rest of us tagged along for some skiing. The kids loved skiing and they loved swimming in the heated pool even more. There's nothing like toting 100 pounds of luggage and two kids across the country to have them exclaim that "the pool is the best thing" about the vacation. Last time I checked we have pools here. Oh well, it is the experience and memories - right??

{Warning: Bragging Ahead...}

Ashley is in first grade this year. She loves school and continues to be amazing at reading and math. She also started piano lessons this year and has picked it up very quickly. I have really enjoyed listening to her play Christmas carols on our piano. It has always been my dream to have someone around here play carols for us on Christmas Eve and I think this year is "the year."

In an effort to remedy my lack of childhood athleticism, I enrolled Ashley in soccer this past Spring. This did not go very well. She did not like sweating on warm days and being cold on cooler days. Actually, I found that there was no perfect temperature for her, even if it was a beautiful 78 degrees outside. So, her soccer career quickly ended. Tennis proved to be a much better sport for her, as long as it was played on an indoor court (obviously for the climate control). Dance classes still top her list of favorites. This past year she did an adorable recital routine to "Spoonful of Sugar" from Mary Poppins. We were then fortunate enough to go see the Broadway production of Mary Poppins and Ashley was mesmerized. Finally, she loved learning to ride her bike (without training wheels) this year. After a lot of practice, she is now a great rider. I can't wait for Landen to learn how to ride his big bike, so we can start riding as a family. Ashley continues to be a super sweet, caring and helpful little girl. I feel blessed every day.

Landen is now 3 and continues to be our little wild man. He never stops talking or moving. He loves anything with sports and begs Jessie to play football with him. We were able to sign him up for soccer this fall, which was a lot of fun. His soccer adventure went a little better than Ashley's. Each game Landen would score almost all of the goals for his team. Even his assistant coach (who was a former pro soccer player) told Landen he had "the gift." I thought he was referring to the gift Landen has of pushing my buttons but it turns out he has a "soccer gift." Honestly, I think his coach just had a soft spot for Landen because one day after practice Landen gave him a big hug and thanked him for teaching him soccer. That would be another one of Landen's "gifts" he can be quite the charmer when he wants to be. I think that will take him farther than a soccer gift, but Jessie is still anxiously waiting to see if the "football gift" is going to go anywhere.

Landen also has an amazing "gift" of asking questions. I get all sorts of challenging ones every day like, "What happens if your head freezes?" or "What happens if a fire station is on fire?" He is curious about everything and can never get enough knowledge. Building is still a great hobby of his and he is always helping Jessie with his household projects. Despite all his wildness, Landen is very sweet, helpful and makes us laugh every day.

As for myself, I have once again retired. It turns out there is plenty to do around here....imagine that! Going back to work was a great experience, but it made me appreciate being at home for now. I enjoy the extra time I am getting with Landen and being able to go have lunch with Ashley at school whenever I want. I did manage to complete all my requirements to renew my teaching certificate so I do still see myself teaching (or doing something) in these next couple of years. I just want to wait and see what happens with Jessie's interviews until I commit to anything.

That pretty much sums us up. The Cliffs notes version of the Dickens. Just like Cliffs notes don't live up to a book, my letter does not live up to our year. It feels like a lot is missing - those ups, those downs, the laughter, and of course the tears. It was all there, even if it was missing from the words of my letter. We had it all, so in that respect it was a good year. Now we are ready for our next adventure and are thrilled that each one of you are in our lives to share it with us. We hope you have a blessed holiday season and a wonderful 2010!!

P.S. If you have never visited my blog, feel free to catch up on what we have been doing these past couple of years. If you do read my blog, I hope you enjoy by semi-annual post. Hopefully, this will inspire me to post more often.


Those Dandy Dillards said...

LOVE it! Keep it up!

chandraceta said...

I laughed...I cried...I want more!I will be watching this space for more frequent updates!