Happy Advent to everyone! Since this post also serves as part of our holiday cards this year, we also wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year as well!
2015 is going to be a wonderful year for us, as we will welcome a baby boy into our family sometime in late March or early April. But until then, we would like to reflect a bit on the excellent year that 2014 was for our family. We were really bad about keeping up with the blog for most of 2014, so we figured this way we can hit the highlights for you and catch you up to speed.
In January, Hallie officially became certified as a postpartum doula by Doulas of North America. This means I am qualified to provide quality non-medical support for mothers and families after the birth of a new baby. I help moms (and dads) with things like breastfeeding, physical healing, emotional adjustment, learning to care for a newborn, sibling adjustment, family transition, and household management. I provide non-judgmental companionship, guidance, and resources to families in the first days, weeks and months after baby arrives. I absolutely love the work I do with clients, and am honored to have had such a successful first year of official doula work serving families.
In March, we had a blast enjoying a “stay-cation” weekend with Hallie’s parents and brothers. We needed a break from the long, harsh winter cold, so we went to the Sea Life aquarium at the Mall of America and The MN Children’s Museum, among other things.
Mike ended his third year as Principal of a Catholic elementary school on a high note by attending the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) annual conference in Pittsburgh in April. At the conference he presented a session about how school leaders can use iOS to be more productive, a talk that he has given several times since.
In June, we were excited to meet our newest family members: identical twin nephews Elias and Jude! They have been so fun to watch grow and see how darling their huge smiles are. We are still learning how to tell them apart, and can’t believe how big they are now compared to when they were born prematurely. We are so glad to see their whole family doing so well in adjusting to life with twin babies.
In late June, Mike and Hallie took a much-needed (and long overdue) true vacation and actually boarded a plane and went far away to Washington, D.C. for five days. It was our first time on a plane together since our honeymoon four years ago, and we had been saving for this little trip for quite a while. It proved to be well worth it. While we had both been to D.C. before (Hallie in high school and Mike many times as a kid and middle school teacher) we both love the city and wanted to rediscover it together. We were able to visit our good friends Sarah and Chris, who both work for the U.S. State Department and live right in D.C. proper. We stayed with them for a few nights and they showed us a good time out on the town. We also met up with Pat, a friend and mentor of Mike’s. While on our trip, we explored old town Alexandria, VA which is full of charm and history. I love being married to a history buff because we can stop at some nondescript brownstone corner building and he tells me all about what happened there hundreds of years ago and why it’s significant. In the nation’s Capitol, we went to a number of the Smithsonian museums and the Library of Congress, toured the Capital, and rented bikes to more quickly and easily get around the National Mall to see the monuments and memorials. Genevieve and Mari seemed to hardly notice we were gone; they were having so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa (Hallie’s parents). We missed them, of course, but knew it was going to be a while before we had another opportunity to travel together. It was definitely a highlight of the year for us.
A few weeks after getting home, Mike flew to Los Angeles for an education conference while Hallie packed up the girls and headed to northern Wisconsin for a week at a cabin with Hallie’s side of the family. Mike was able to join the family after he returned from the West coast and we had a great time swimming, playing in the sand, playing on the playground, exploring nearby small towns, and just relaxing and enjoying nature together.
In late July, we took a road trip down to Haverhill and Marshalltown, IA where much of Mike’s family gathers for almost-yearly reunions. It’s always a fun time catching up with each other, seeing how the kids have grown, meeting the new babies, and visiting the old stomping grounds that are so special to his Mom’s side of the family.
August and September were busy months for our family, as I was busy with clients and Mike was beginning his fourth year as principal. During this time, Genevieve began preschool (at Mike’s school) and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (a religious education program in the Montessori method). These changes marked the first time our girls were regularly separated from each other. It took them a while to adjust and it was clear they really missed each other when they were apart. Of course, that didn’t last forever, but it was so sweet while it did. Also in September, I completed a 40-hour intensive training to become a certified lactation counselor (CLC), which means I am now able to better support mothers who want to breastfeed, are initiating breastfeeding, or are managing lactation. Naturally, this helps me in my work as a postpartum doula, but also allows me to serve women who may not need the full services of a doula but do need some assistance in their breastfeeding goals or challenges.
As Christmas approaches, we find ourselves full of gratitude for all the blessings we’ve been given this past year. At age 3.5, Genevieve is learning every day and sharing her expanding world with us. She’s an observant, caring big sister and has loved meeting new friends in the last few months. We have no doubt she will be a wonderful big sister to Baby Boy when he arrives. Mari turned two in September and has amazed us with her verbal progression. It seems like every day we hear her say new words and complete sentences. She is our mischievous (sometimes stubborn) one. We’ve loved watching her grow into a big girl and she too seems to be preparing for her new role as big sister.
I have been preparing to teach postpartum preparation and breastfeeding classes starting in January, and am enjoying my work on the volunteer Board of Directors for Guiding Star Twin Cities, a new non-profit serving families in the metro area.
Mike has been keeping a well-read blog on technology and education, and has been a speaker at a number of professional education conferences in the Twin Cities. In January, he starts his third and final year in the University of St. Thomas’ Murray Institute. He will graduate next December with an Ed.S. degree and principal licensure.
2014 was a great year for us, and we hope it was for you too! Here’s to 2015 and all the promise the new year always brings. May you and yours be happy and healthy throughout.
Hallie, Mike, Genevieve, Mari, and Baby Boy