Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: Looking Back

Each year, I try to write a short piece to summarize the highlights of the previous 12 months. This year was filled with such extreme joy and extreme sorrow, that it's kind of tough to process and put into words.

It occurred to me not long ago that I truly understand Dickens' paradox.

Most notably, Tilly was born and my mom died. It doesn't get much more extreme than that when it comes to hope and despair.

We made ourselves at home in our new home, and we said goodbye to our beloved knucklehead of a dog, Brandy.

We traveled home to Nova Scotia in July to spend time with my family. It was much-needed therapy for me. Thankfully during that time we got to see my grandmother, Nanny Wells, because just last week, she passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's.

2015 was the year we so beautifully completed our family when I gave birth to my last baby. It was also the year that my mother last walked this earth.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I have no predictions or resolutions for 2016, but I have hope.


December was a busy and festive month of decking the halls and celebration. Early in the month, December 9th to be precise, we had 2 big things happen on the same day: 1. Nora lost her first tooth, and 2. Tilly picked out her first Christmas tree.

That night, we let the branches settle on our real tree a.k.a. our family tree a.k.a. the party tree a.k.a. the Santa tree. While we waited, Nora and I decorated our small tree formerly known as Mommy's tree but now known as Mommy and Nora's tree.

The night that we decorated Mommy and Nora's tree is the same night that the Tooth Fairy visited our house for the first time. You can see how excited Nora was to wake up to several chocolate gold coins as well as a real silver dollar! (She was more excited about the chocolate coins.)

 That night, we baked cookies, which Tilly got into when we turned our heads, and we decorated our family aka party aka Santa tree. Nora and Daddy really took the lead while I sat back and enjoyed the view.

Over the next few days, we got the rest of the house decorated as well!

Mid-month, Nora participated in her first ever Christmas concert with her pre-school. It took place in our church hall. Nora's class sang Rudolph, and it was SO cute. The kids were the perfect mix of sweetly shy and super excited. Dede and Grandpa came along with Brad and myself. Hannah babysat Tilly so we didn't have to worry about rushing home for baby's bedtime. After the concert, there were cookies and punch as well as an ornament exchange. Nora gave an Olaf and received a Rudolph. When it was all over, we took Nora to Dunkin Donuts for a special post-show treat.

In the middle of all of the Christmas cheer, this sweet baby turned 11 months old. She is only a month away from turning 1 year old. Her little personality is blossoming before our eyes. She's funny and sassy and *still* the sweetest little bundle of joy you could ever hope to meet.

For the first time in our married lives, Brad and I hosted a family event at our house on Christmas Eve. We had 14 people for chili, chips, cornbread, and lots of deserts. Nora and Tilly got to open their first Christmas present-- PJs and Christmas DVDs. Nora's PJs were of the Elf variety, while Tilly's were red Rudolph polkadot footie PJs. Nora's DVD was Tom and Jerry Christmas. She just discovered them on YouTube recently and finds them hilarious. Tilly's was, of course, Elmo.

After everyone left, Nora brought Santa's cookies and chocolate milk along with some special wrapping paper downstairs near the family/party/Santa tree before heading to bed for the night. Brad read her "T'was the Night Before Christmas", and she drifted off to sleep quickly.

Nora and Tilly must have been *very* good little girls because Santa delivered!

He even left a few treats for the pups, as well as for Brad and me!

Nora and Tilly had big fun opening and playing with all of their new stuff. Nora was so excited and so thankful for everything she received from socks to Barbie to clothes to My Little Pony to books to
her dollhouse. She was so sweet and gracious about each  gift, and it made my heart happy. Tilly was all over the place and had no idea what was going on, but she had fun just the same.

We did Christmas dinner, the Lyle family traditional prime rib and baked potatoes, at Bo and Lea's house. The girls were spoiled by their grandparents, aunts, and uncles with much more than they needed. They're so lucky, and I hope they grow to understand and appreciate all of the gifts in their lives, material and otherwise.

In the days after Christmas, we tried to make the most of our time off. Brad took Nora to the zoo, and we had a play date with Amelia and Allison. Nora loved seeing all the animals at the zoo, and she and Amelia loved the fact that they each got Cheer Bear and an Elf from Santa.

On New Year's Eve, Brad and I took the girls to Muse, a local children's museum for New Years at Noon. The girls had fun playing, and  Nora LOVED the countdown with confetti and balloons.

We had a quiet night at home, just the 4 of us. The girls were asleep by 8 and 8:30, while Brad and I rang in a subdued New Year with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper on CNN while eating Chinese food. Here are our adorable little New Year babies.

 Selfies with Mommy while Daddy was getting Tilly to sleep.

So, I guess that's it for 2015. It's about 23 minutes until the ball drops in Time Square, and I kiss Brad goodnight. Hopefully we'll be fast asleep shortly after that, IF the fireworks that have been going off for the past 30 minutes don't wake the girls.

Happy New Year.