The Christmas Letter 1997

This Holiday season again finds us happy, healthy and in good cheer. We hope that you and your families are similarly blessed.

Unfortunately, I must begin our annual letter on a sad note, as my Great-grandmother and Grandma passed away last year. They were both really neat people, and I was especially close to 'Grandma'. I was blessed to be holding Grandma's hand as she died, which made a beautiful and faith affirming event out of an otherwise very bleak experience. It was a privilege to be there. Somehow God's love shined through as she died, which has helped all of us get through a difficult time. It's hard to explain other than to say that, while very said, it was also beautiful. (??)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, and in MUCH more joyous news, Hubby and I are delighted to announce that we are again expecting the pitter-patter of little feet early this summer! I've already heard the heartbeat for the first time, which is mind-blowing beyond description. I think that's as close as this sinner is ever going to get to experiencing a miracle. Wow! So, I cried again and generally made a fool of myself before these poor doctors who were not remotely expecting such a strong reaction to a supposedly routine exam. Given the speed of my last labor, there is some question about my ability to make it from town to the hospital, so I may end up taking a number of days off before the baby is actually due in order to avoid making the evening news. (Newsbreak: Young lady gives birth on Beltway, holds up traffic for 15 minutes. Irritated motorists shoot at car.) The baby is due in June, so please keep me in your prayers.

As for our beloved first born, he is both the light of my life and the bane of my existence! Love is wanting to hug and strangle your child at the same time. Little Pumpkin is frighteningly similar to the energizer bunny: he keeps going and going and going! Pumpkin is a friendly, outgoing, happy child that just happens to need to be outside for about 2 hours a day to run off excess energy. He loves being outside, and I've found myself sitting on the front pouch in rainstorms simply so he can sit on my lap on the outer side of that darn door. While outside he giggles hysterically at everything, gleefully pointing at trees, birds, the next door neighbor exclaiming " 'side!" (outside).

Along with being outside, Pumpkin loves balls. (Preferably thrown outside!) Actually, after our cats, balls are his favorite toy in existence, and he says 'ball' about 19 thousand times a day. He even sleeps with them! He is surprisingly good at sports for a 19-month-old, and already knows that you Kick a soccer ball, but you Throw a tennis ball. If you toss gently, he can actually catch as well. In a truly amazing feat, he'll do a "Charlie Brown" and run up to kick a football if you hold it for him. He is definitely Hubby's son, and already owns numerous footballs (and a small Steelers jersey!)

Except for all of the usual terrible two horrors, (and it can indeed be horrible!) I want to repeat that generally Pumpkin is a happy-go-lucky kid, with a great smile and Hubby's sense of humor. Do 2 year olds already have the grasp of lovingly teasing? If so, he's got it. He simply adores his father, and his eyes light up every morning when he sees his da-da. It just warms my heart to see it. So, Pumpkin is a gem and truly the soul of my existence. Motherhood is to forever have your heart walking around outside of your body. It's as frightening as it is wonderful!

My job is same ole, same ole so I won't bore you. I still work for the NLS, I still love my job, I still work part time, I LOVE working part time, and I still love my job independent of working part time. I work Mon. - Wed., so every week I get a 4-day weekend. Pumpkin obviously thrives on this, and those times I need to go in for an extra day he is exceptionally clinging the following one.

Hubby had his usual busy travel year. This included such horrible (tax-financed) destinations as Seattle, many trips to Charleston and a 2-week trip to Japan. For the final indignity, (ha!) he was "forced" to attend a trade show in Orlando Fl. To ease his pain I had both the Grandmas babysit Pumpkin and joined him there to dance, dine and romance the week away. (Ok, Hubby doesn't dance, but we did quite a bit of dining!) No lie, we missed the baby, but it was also fun to sleep in, have dinners with actual pauses in conversation, and hit the hot tub spontaneously at 11 pm. PS Disneyland is a blast without kids! It was our first vacation alone since our honeymoon 3 years ago!!

Pumpkin and I also joined Hubby on one of his trips to Charleston for a mini break on our way to visit my father at Hilton Head. Of all things, Hubby came down with chicken pox while we were there! Some vacation! So Hubby didn't get to do much at Hilton Head. Anyway, Pumpkin loved the trip and had no fear of the water - he would run into the ocean until the waves knocked him down then stay there under water until Grandpa and Terri rescued him. He thought it was all great fun and I tried not to have a heart attack.

In other Hubby related news, as you may know there has been this ongoing foolishness about his job: would it be moving, where would it be moving, would it even be funded, etc. In a true gift from God, out of the blue one day Hubby received a call from the Army (a position he turned down last year because he didn't like the location) basically offering him similar job and asking if he would accept. So Hubby had the enviable position of going to interview them to see if he wanted the job. He decided it would be a good career move, they promised less traveling, and thus he's no longer a NAVY man. Go Army.

In closing, we will end the year as we began it, at the fifteenth annual ski hard, party hard, sleep a little, eat a lot, everybody gets the "tequila flu" extended Kenkel family love-fest out in Colorado. We're really looking forward to it this year because, given how much Pumpkin loved jumping and playing in the leaves, I think he is going to get a HUGE kick out of the snow. Plus, now he's old enough to join us in the pool and related activities.

That's all the really big news from the Yates Family. (I want to note I cut OUT about 3 more paragraphs about Pumpkin, so consider yourself lucky it's only THIS long this year!!) Again, we hope you had a wonderful year and wish you all the best in the new one. Hope your families are happy healthy and giving you Tons of Christmas Gifts!!

Happy Holy-days !!
Have a Blessed New Year !!
Hubby, Julie, Pumpkin and those infernal cats.

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