Merry Christmas!

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There is a blend of  busy and quiet around here, as we delve into the holiday season.  That seems like a good way to describe our year.  It started out with a mild winter, that lead us into a fairly rainy Spring.  Sandy, Steve and the girls visited in March.  Steve was here for a week and then Sandy & the girls stayed for a few more weeks.  We celebrated birthdays (Dahlia’s, Matea’s and mine), visited all our favorite Seattle places, took walks and enjoyed watching all the girls play together…something that doesn’t happen nearly as often as we’d like.

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In April we joined our church on a retreat to help build new bunk houses at Soundview summer camp.  Brett did the heavy labor, while the girls and I cleaned rocks out of horse pastures and played on the beach.  The girls have enjoyed singing in the kid’s choir and Brett & I have been teaching Sunday school once a month, along with participating in other community volunteer projects offered through our church.

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In the Spring we received invitations to two summer weddings.  Both from cousins of mine in the UK.  So in June, along with the majority of the Knight family, we flew to Europe.  Most of the trip was spent in England, but as a family of 4, we made a 3-day stop in Iceland, and as a larger group of 9, we spent 5 days in Paris.  It had been 5 years since our last visit to England and since that time, our extended family has been growing!  So we were all excited to meet and introduce the newest members.  To see more photos and read more about our trip click here.

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Oh, sweet summer!  I tend to claim Autumn as my favorite season and if you ask Brett, he’ll say Spring.  But as a family, it is evident that we love summer!  Many Seattleites complained about too much rain this summer, but I think we were in Europe when most of that was going on, because my memories are full of time spent outdoors…in Grammy & Grandpa’s pool, at the beach, on the lake with friends, planting & harvesting a new garden and hiking on local trails. 

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In the fall, Matea started her 2nd year of preschool at Spanish Academy.  We decided she would attend all 3 days at “the farm” this year.  She’s made lots of new friends and her teacher tells me that she is speaking Spanish regularly at school.  She rarely speaks it at home, although the other day she said to me, “Mama, solo hablo Español, no Ingles!”  She turned 4 this year, which has brought a growth of imagination, curiosity and creativity (as if she didn’t have enough of those already!)  Conquering small challenges is one of her greatest joys right now.  For example, it was a big day when she buckled herself into her car seat all by herself.  It sounds simple, but for a 4-year-old, this requires a great deal of strength, patience and practice.  She also started ballet class once a week, which she has a huge passion for at the moment.  Once Fall began, we were determined to keep spending time outdoors, so we signed the girls up for pony camp, a Nature Science Camp and Dahlia and I joined a mommy/kid hiking group.

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At Matea's school

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With Matea in school 3 days a week, Dahlia & I get a lot of one-on-one time, which is great.   We opted not to join a “toddler group” this year and enroll her in a Spanish language class, which she attends with me or my mom (“Lita”), once-a-week.  Joining the hiking group has allowed us to explore new trails and meet other like-minded moms and kids.  Dahlia is an energetic, affectionate and funny little girl, who keeps us on our toes (read: a little naughty).  She is the child, who when you’re not looking, will write on the wall with a crayon.  Somehow, we averted this with Matea.  When Dahlia turned 2, her vocabulary was not increasing as expected.  It is likely, she had a case of, “big sister talks for me”, but never-the-less, she began speech therapy once a week.  Since then, her language has grown by leaps and bounds.  Now she is ALWAYS TALKING!  However, she continues to have difficulty with pronunciation, so the therapy is focusing on that at the moment.  She looks forward every week to “play time” with her therapist, who she adores.

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In October, Brett & I got away for a weekend in Las Vegas.  It was my first time there and proved to be about what I expected.  It did however, fulfill my wish to see a live Cirque du Soleil show.  It also allowed for some quite time by the pool, which was great for both of us, but especially for Brett, who has had a very busy year at Microsoft.  Besides his day job keeping him busy, he was hard at work this Spring and Summer, building a play structure for the girls and creating a new stone patio and garden beds for our yard.  

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As for me, I continue  running, going to pilates, sewing, crafting and gardening (when the weather allows).  This year I added to that by taking a few knitting classes.  I also started a blog with Sandy, as an avenue for us to share all the things we used to try and share through phone calls and email.  As sisters, we have always learned so much from each other, and this space has not only been a great creative outlet, but has allowed us to feel so much closer than the almost-3000 miles that separate us at the moment.  

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It is hard to believe that we are nearing a time when Dahlia will be starting preschool.  And although a little kid-free break in the day does sound tempting, it is bitter-sweet.  So we are consciously taking full advantage of the days when both girls are home and we are free to fill them however we choose.  As our schedule begins to feel busier with the passing months, our biggest goal is to maintain a pace that allows us to truly cherish this time.  There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t wish we had a video camera capturing a “moment”.  Yet, when we turn the cameras on, it never has quite the same effect.  So we try to let it all sink in, somewhere deep.

With the holidays around the corner, we are reminded of our many blessings.  Not only the ones that are right in front of us each day, but also of friends and family all over the world.  We wish you a joyous holiday season and love and happiness throughout the year ahead.

Much Love,

Brett, Mandy, Matea & Dahlia

You Tube video of Matea’s Christmas concert at school: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq51_0bm-v0&feature=related

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