Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Happy Holidays! Our 2015 Christmas Letter

This was my favorite photo from our Thanksgiving trip to the Grand Canyon. We went to the snow in January but that did not prepare us for the cold that is the Arizona desert! 2015 was the year we took our first road trip. The kids saw their first snow falling.  They learned how to play Chicken Foot. We started a practice of family game night but then slacked off. We'll  have to get back into that in the new year with some novel games, send ideas our way! Our family movie night practice is still going strong as Cory always likes to get the newest release on dvd and pop the best popcorn and force me to close the laptop and enjoy this simple yet delightful family togetherness. Knott's Berry Farm passes were the big Christmas present last year and we made several trips to enjoy quality family time and spend time with friends.

Cory continued to dedicate himself to sports but it is clear that his new favorite teams are whichever ones his kids are playing on as he helped coach Amberly's  softball and took on the role of team manager for Kyle's soccer team and coached Owen in baseball. He is so dedicated that he volunteered to coach Kyle's basketball team this winter! Oh and I almost forgot, he is also on the board for PQ rec softball as Special Events coordinator. He plays softball one night a week, goes to school one night a week and still takes on all those other roles. It's pretty amazing to see how he finds that family / work life balance, always putting the kids and me first.  He is the one always keeping us busy and striving for us to create those family experiences.

Amberly continues to surpass all expectations academically. She is in her 3rd year of chorus and asks to change the radio station in the car to find a song suitable to sing along to. She plays the flute in 5th grade band and is playing so well after working to overcome the beginning challenges, which will be a great life lesson on not giving up and taking challenges as opportunities for growth. This year she has participated in GATE activities after school and has discovered coding. Her love of helping and being a leader is demonstrated by being part of Safety Patrol, a job she takes very seriously. Her love of arts and crafts has only grown, which is proven by the fact that it at times can take over her room. We had her 10th birthday party at Color Me Mine and started a new tradition of having a birthday breakfast with friends. She has an adventurous spirit as she discovered more roller coasters to push her limits at Knott's Berry Farm. This year she has had a few bumps and bruises with a Sever's Disease diagnosis and a sprained left arm, but she is a trooper and strives to rest when needed so she can be an asset to whatever team needs her. Sometimes it's okay to slow down and it has been a lesson in listening to what her body is telling her. We were so thrilled to support Amberly in her campaign for Student Council President. Her ability to follow through on commitment, convey her qualifications and share her vision with her peers had Cory and I beaming from ear to ear.  I love that she thinks of others and can see the bigger picture.

Kyle has found his love for reading! We joke that we can't really be mad at him when he is up late sitting by the hall light to read his book. We are so glad to see him turn a corner with this area. I'm so grateful for the Magic Tree House Series as this seemed to be the thing that flipped a switch. Math however is his jam. We hear him all the time quizzing Owen with math problems. I'm thinking it might be the LEGOS he plays with all the time. He questions things to try to figure them out, not taking anything at face value, a true thinker. Kyle went to his very first Charger game this year! He really wants to play football. This year Kyle decided he wanted to try out for club soccer and he made the team. His skills and circle of friends grew as a result.  It has been a test of commitment and understanding that we don't always play to win but rather to grow and have fun, which it is clear he did. This year Kyle was able to join chorus and it will be the one year he and his sister get to do performances together. He's very into video games, especially Minecraft and Star Wars. He has been making sure that we watch all 6 episodes before we go to see episode 7 on Friday when it opens. Kyle is a loyal friend and watching his friendships develop and stay true from Kindergarten warms my heart. He would prefer to be behind the camera instead of in front of it. He's always wanting to negotiate about taking pictures with one of our phones. Like his dad, Kyle loves to eat out, one of his favorite places is Wings N Things and the other is Souplantation which makes me a happy camper! He does love a good salad and prefer broccoli over several other vegetables, a testament to the idea of repetition and serving up foods in different ways. He's not nearly the picky eater that he once was so I'm happy to see him expand his taste buds often by his own choice. Because Boy Scouts changed their policy I finally said "Okay" when Kyle asked if he could join Cub Scouts. He loves getting to go and do "boy" things. Kyle is forever teaching me about pushing limits and being an independent thinker, I think it is no coincidence that he came along right when he did.

Owen has been loving first grade! He's already reading chapter books and always wants to make sure his homework is done. He cares very much whether he turns in his best work and cheerfully comes home to share what he has learned. He is at that precious stage where he just loves to learn for the sake of learning. This year Owen showed us that he can hit the ball, quite well, no more hitting off the tee for this guy. When Kyle went out for Club Soccer of course Owen wanted to as well. He went from the little field to the big field and managed to do great in this huge leap. He seems to always have energy to spare, both on and off the field. His coach would have him fall back to play defense and push up to play offense to help wherever it was needed. I don't know where he gets this boundless energy from! His smile and infectious laugh have earned him many friends, his circle is always expanding. Like Kyle, this is his first year in Cub Scouts and he's getting to try new things and build more skills. I think so far this school year Owen has won the title for most trips to the Nurse's office. Just proof that he plays hard as most of these trips have come during recess and it's not from being clumsy, it's from a play hard or go home mentality. Owen has adopted a "Go BLUE" mentality too. Any chance he gets to mention Michigan he will drop that line in. He's not afraid of the spotlight and likes to make sure we don't forget our dinner ritual of "Favorite Part of the Day" where he always has more than one thing to share. His tendency to be positive and eagerness to help will continue to serve him.

There's much on the horizon for 2016! The Woolley family is looking forward to more travel, more adventure, learning life lessons, time together and time apart, focusing on gratitude and helping others. Happiness is a Habit and we are sure going to cultivate it!

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