Blount 2011 “Year in Review Letter”

Everyone seems to do a great job of sending out yearly letters around the holidays, so here’s our attempt.

We collected some of our favorite photos from this year (mostly just the summer and fall) and made this video:
http://animoto.com/play/PXP02w37vyZ60ddGU7vxxg
Go ahead and watch it.

Back already?

It’s the end of December already and Poppy is almost 4 (01/24) and Oliver is almost 2 (02/02). Last year at this time, we went to Kansas City for Christmas with Alan’s family and after a long drive on Christmas eve, made it back to Louisville for Christmas with Anita’s. Oliver was just walking and still pretty chubby. Poppy was her same precocious self a few inches shorter, but thinking back now, the comparative difference is stark. They have both come such a long way this year.

Anita has worked 2 or 3 days a week this whole year, spending the other weekdays with the kids. The first half of the year we had one of our good friends Andrea taking care of them on the days that Anita worked. We have family passes at the Louisville Zoo and the Science center, so we were there a lot. Anita also took Poppy to several weeks of ballet/tap classes, and we make it to some park or another almost daily, often meeting others for play dates.

This summer we helped to host a family reunion for Alan’s extended family who came from all over the country to Mammoth Caves National Park. We did a lot of cooking out and sitting around telling stories. There were some other young ones (their third cousins I think) blazing a trail for the next generation. As you might expect, the kid’s parents trying to keep them somewhat in line and the grandparents encouraging them on. Surprisingly, we didn’t really go into the caves until the end and then we didn’t last too long before the kids had had enough… oh well, another year or two before they will have the patience for that.

Starting this fall we put both kids in a co-op school near us called “The Friend’s School”, where Poppy went for a year, a year ago, until Oliver was born. They attend 3 days a week, while Anita is working. The kids are both happy to be in classes, and I think really benefit from the structure and interacting in group settings with other adults in charge. We get daily reports of what the kids do and they bring home many projects they do during the week. Poppy’s compatriot Eleanor (2 months older) is in her class, and Oliver’s little buddy Abe (2 weeks younger) is in his class. We’ve gone to a few school functions after hours, and even just walking through the halls, everyone certainly knows our kids and there’s a real sense of inclusion at all grade levels there (up to grade 4 I think).

Oliver and Anita took trip to Florida to visit Anita’s grandmother early summer. Oliver and Alan took a trip to Houston mid-November to visit Alan’s grandfather, mother, and family. We all drove to Columbus, OH a few times to visit friends and we made several trips out to the lakehouse throughout the summer where we went boating and tubing, yes, with the kids. Anita and Alan took a trip without the kids to New Mexico to attend a friend’s wedding in the summer, while the grandmothers took over the kids (we’ve got to do that some more!). Otherwise, we have kept pretty close Louisville, but we certainly stay busy. We went on a train ride which was robbed by train robbers on horseback. We went to 3 or 4 different fall festivals, including the Colorfest at Bernhiem Forest. We have visited and pet every barn or zoo animal near us, and I think our kids have been on 6 different firetrucks this year. We went to the state fair, we went to a dozen birthday parties, a few neighborhood festivals (a few with bouncy castles), and a few concerts in the park.

Alan has continued to work at Allied Health Media, the name is new, but it’s the same company he’s been at since 2007. The beginning of the year they launched speechpathology.com and have been doing “phase 2″ adjustments to it this year, and gearing up for some other major projects using the same code-base slated for early 2012. The company has doubled in size in the last two years and things seem to be going well.

Anita still works as a pharmacist, and for the same company, but in a new location. She had been working at Central State Hospital, a state run psychiatric hospital. The hospital was downsizing and she feared her position was going to be cut, but instead she got shifted to the Hazelwood location. In both locations she still does mostly medication and chart reviews, ensuring adequate oversight is done for patient labs and prescriptions. She also fills in as a staff pharmacist, filling medications and handing them out to the nurses.

Oliver is regularly referred to as “a little kewpie doll” as he’s got white-blonde hair with little ringed tufts sticking out. He also always has a scratch or bruise or several on his forehead, face, etc. Since day one, he’s an extreme child. When he’s happy, he is extremely happy. When he’s unhappy, it too is extreme and everyone is going to know about it. At the beginning of the year he was walking on somewhat unstable legs and not really signing nor talking. He picked up walking and all physical activities quickly, but he was pretty slow on the communication side of things. He knew exactly what people were saying, even fairly complicated concepts, but he didn’t really start trying to talk till late fall. Now he’s got a pretty decent little vocabulary, but it can take some effort and a few clarification questions to understand him… even that level of communication has made the lives of his parents a lot easier – much better than whining for everything. We mimic his speech a lot because it’s so cute, especially when he starts chanting “oh baby, oh baby, oh baby”. He doesn’t suck his thumb or use a pacifier, but he has little silken “lovey” blankets he keeps on him at all times. He’s a bit of a brute, especially when he’s tired, but he is more affectionate than Poppy was at his age. His favorite things are books, tractors, trucks, balls, dogs, chickens, etc.. but mostly it’s “trac-ctor”.

Penelope has had a wonderful year. She has certainly gotten all of the last little bits of attitude she didn’t already posses, and thinks she can do anything. On the other hand, she pretty much can do anything… she’s a rough and tumble girl who can climb and sing and dance and cook and occasionally even listen. She is astoundingly good with her little brother, and they are best friends most of the time. This has been a magnificent year for imagination. She’s carrying around her baby dolls, driving cars and boats and airplanes and trains, or she is being the mama while Anita and Alan are the “sisters and brothers” or sometimes the “dog” or the “alligator”. I mentioned singing and dancing before, but I just love that she has decided that David Bowie’s songs from The Labyrinth are some of her favorite as well as “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and a handful of others. She not only sings along while they are playing, but she has walked into school singing a song the whole way. Doubly remarkable because she’s a bit shy sometimes, either genuinely or playing an act she can be shy even with people she knows… or not, there’s really no way of telling with her. Poppy has been picking out her clothes since she was 1 and is well known for her sense of style, I’ve never seen 3 kinds of stripes on a person one day, followed by stripes and dots and plaid the next; maybe all black the day after with pink socks. She recognizes most of her letters in any order/word, she can spell her own name and write it (sometimes readable), she can recognize all written numerals and can count up to at least 30. We are still at the very beginning of trying to equate letters to sounds to syllables to words. She may possibly be the world champion of rolling down a hill or dancing in the living room.

A whole year just went by, fast. We have wonderful memories and great photos, a beautiful family, smiling faces, and tired feet.

Happy holidays! Love and best wishes to your new year,

The Blounts