Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Letters, 2005

Merry Christmas, 2005

Well, it’s that time of year again --- wrapping gifts, baking cookies, singing carols with our angelic-voiced children, sipping hot cocoa by a roaring fire while my family harmoniously watches “A Christmas Story” together, tucked under a warm flannel blanket --- and obviously, lying and fabricating things for our annual Christmas letter, so that we sound like a happy and functional family. :)

This has been a year of ups and downs for the Escoe family: Blaine and I finally traveled to Seattle in March for his major reconstructive surgery (two YEARS after he was originally diagnosed) UP; Blaine contracted a staph infection after the surgery and had to have six weeks of self-administered IV antibiotics, and two additional surgeries to clean up his leg, DOWN. The Seattle surgery wasn’t a complete success, DOWN; so he traveled to Augusta for corrective surgery this fall, UP. *That* surgery wasn’t successful, either, DOWN; but his doctors reassure us they can fix everything in the spring (Perhaps back out to Seattle we will go --- we’re still hoping for an UP ending to this whole saga!) Kendrie caught a virus that her whacked-out immune system just couldn’t handle and spent two weeks in the hospital this summer, DOWN; all her hair fell out again, DOWN, but we remembered just how cute she is bald, UP! :)

On a sad note, Blaine’s mother Shirley passed away while we were in Seattle … but helping to balance the sad news is the fabulous, excellent report that Kendrie finished her two years and two months of chemotherapy this December the 15th! I have no doubt that Shirley is cheering from above as we head toward that wonderful finish line.

Blaine started a new job this summer …. Doing something for the Air Force; I’m not sure what. Something to do with contracting, or program management, or something. Whatever. He loves it, likes his co-workers and his boss very much, and we put in for yet another extension here in Georgia, which was granted -- we’ll be here until summer of 2008. And with regard to his ongoing, never-ending reconstructive process, well, seriously, I figure it should culminate with the doctors finishing everything, and him finally getting a full set of teeth, about the age of 92, just in time for them to yank them out and give him dentures. I don’t even think he cares anymore, as long as he can work in some hunting and fishing in between surgeries. Funny how “getting rid of his cancer” wound up being the easiest, least-stressful part of this whole process.

I’m doing well; I began another surrogacy journey this year and am currently (depending on when you read this) about 18 weeks pregnant -- just one baby this time. I knew I wanted to do another surrogacy, but waited until Kendrie was close to the end of her treatment so I could give this pregnancy the time and commitment it deserves. I’m happy to say that all is well so far. I also traveled to NYC in August to visit both previous families and their kids, and helped the twins celebrate their 2nd birthday --- I’m so fortunate to be included! Closer to home, I serve on the PTO and volunteer at the kids’ school, but not as much as I did last year. I still haven’t grown a spine or learned to say NO, so now I just avoid making eye contact with as many teachers. Seems to be working for me, so far. I also got a few weekends away for scrapbooking with some of the best girlfriends in the world, so all is good in my neck of the woods.

The kids have been good this year; busy, wonderful, obnoxious, typical kids. Brayden is eight years old and is enjoying 3rd grade. She loves everything about school, except for the days I come to volunteer in her classroom because apparently I am the biggest embarrassment on the planet. She started gymnastics this fall, is in the Ecology Club at school, and loves arts & crafts, “That’s So Raven”, and blue fingernail polish. She is asking for her own phone for Christmas (don’t worry, she’s not getting it!) and I’m worried we are at the top of the very slippery slope of pre-teen-hood, and staring down a giant mountain of hormones and attitude. Good thing she’s so lovable 95 percent of the time, or I’d have to lock her in her room permanently.

Kellen, “Mr. I’m a Boy, All-Boy, unless it involves a spider or a bug within a 50-mile radius, in which case I squeal like a girl at a Jesse McCartney concert” has had a good year. He’s seven now and in the 2nd grade. He still loves recess and lunch best, although he does pretty well in the classroom, too. He played baseball, soccer, and basketball this year and tells us next year he wants to try football and track. The optimistic part of me hopes he will be a well-rounded sportsman; the pessimistic part of me just thinks of all those practices we’ll have to sit through. My only complaint about Kellen is that when he hugs me (thank goodness he’s still willing to hug me in public!) I can rest my chin on the top of his head. Just when did *that* happen, and how can I stop it?

Kendrie, well, where do I start? She is still gender-confused, and wants to legally change her name to either “Nicholas” or “Dash”. Of course, one of those might fit better with the camouflage and Spiderman clothes she insists on wearing every day. She is six, tearing through kindergarten, played t-ball for the first time this past spring, and most recently conquered the tasks of tying her shoes and learning to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels. Now, I realize she might or might not be a little late on those milestones, but considering she spent most of age four lying on the sofa, nauseated from chemo, we’re still pretty stinkin’ proud of her! Now, if we could just get her to knock off the incredibly annoying “baby-talk” that she does all the time, life would be a success.

I realize that lots of people use these annual family update letters to brag and wax nostalgic about all the mah-velous things their fabulous children have done throughout the year. I’d love to go on and on about the brains, beauty and brawn of my three (all true, of course) but it would be remiss of me not to mention that they also seem to have some sort of alternate personality disorder, where all they are capable of doing for long periods of time is fighting, bickering, and arguing with one another. I spend my days half horrified, and half hopeful, that SuperNanny will show up on our doorstep. When I’m not loving them to death, I just want to pinch their little heads off. And that, my friends, is an Honest Christmas Letter. :)

In between the squabbling and skirmishing, we did have some family highlights this year: the Make-A-Wish organization sent us to Disney World for Kendrie’s wish trip, which we enjoyed greatly (when the kids weren’t fighting … do you see a pattern here?) We also spent a long weekend at the beach in Florida with The Lighthouse Family Retreat, and a weekend in Atlanta with Camp Sunshine. We drove to Ohio to visit our friends Kim and Kenny and their four boys this summer, and down to Florida to visit our friends Erin and Joe and their three boys, and take advantage of their easy-beach access. Although we gripe and moan about our kids’ obnoxious behavior, which is even worse when we travel, we sure don’t seem to learn our lesson very well, do we? I guess we’ll keep vacationing and trying until the kids get it right, or until Blaine and I throw our hands up in despair, whichever comes first.

I hope your family had highlights this year, also, in between the daily grind, chores, activities, work, school, and LIFE that seems to speed by so quickly. I give thanks not only for the blessings in our family, but for this time of year when I’m forced to sit back, relax, and ponder the good things. I mean, I HAVE to, if I want to keep pounding out this letter year after year!

Hope yours was fabulous, as well. Lots of love, the Escoes

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