Monday, February 4, 2013

2012 in review- or for the first time.

I am official a failure at blogging. I had planned to do a year-end-wrap up in December to make up for not really blogging anything last year... and here it is, Feb. 4th and I'm just now doing it. While I do a scrapbook of pictures, this is the only place for me to write down a little longer information about what goes on in our family. So I'm going to go ahead and give it a shot- here are some things I don't want to forget about 2012. 

Easter- If it doesn't rain, it is a good Easter Egg hunt! We had the Sunday School crew all come over for a hunt in the greenway. It was very fun. 
And no rain even on Easter day. Cute kiddos. 

Andrew turns the big 4-0! We celebrated with a limo ride. We took the kids out first and drove around Damascus. 

They thought it was really fun. At first Reagan was totally confused, and a little worried. She was probably wondering why she was in a car without a carseat. Then she got on board. Ainsley spent most of the time talking in a British accent. Pretty funny. Then we dropped off the kids, and picked up Eric and Cyndi and Ryan and Jenne and went downtown for dinner. It was really fun!

Our kids LOVE going to "big kid" parties. The end of the tennis season party is probably their very favorite. For the past 6 or so years we have been lucky enough to have it at the Helm's house. Swimming with the big kids is fun, but they especially like hanging out in the hot tub. 
Camden went to preschool at Barlow, with Mrs. Dupuis as his teacher. It was a great experience. We always knew he was a really smart kid, but we also know he is a busy kid, so we didn't know exactly how school would go. Turns out it was amazing. He was a perfect little student and always did great. Except that time he snuck out of class. During calendar time one day in May he actually left the classroom. A student found him in the parking lot at Barlow on his way to daddy's classroom. When we "talked" to him about what in the world was going on, he calmly explained that he was going to Dad's class because he was sick of calendar time. He didn't understand why the kids couldn't figure out that Tuesday always comes after Monday. Of course. We took his graduation picture in front of the calendar. 
Hudson on his last day of school with his teacher, Mrs. Terveen. The cool thing is I was job-sharing with Laura back when I was pregnant with Hudson, and then she ended up his second grade teacher. 
Ainsley with her fifth-grade teacher on the last day of school, and the last day of elementary school at Deep Creek. The last day that is, unless it becomes a K-8 school and she moves back. We will see. 
While our kids started playing tennis at about 4 and have always been on soccer and basketball teams, playing in their first tennis tournaments this year was a big deal. It is quite a bit more pressure to be out on the court all alone than it is to be on a soccer field with a whole team. They both did great and can't wait to do it more. 
We again did fireworks stands with the Strandbergs. It was a great year. We have, however, turned our children into little fireworks freaks. Ainsley and Hudson love to come and work at the tent. This year Ainsley started making posters and little displays that said "Our favorites" and "Ainsley's Picks." After Camden had left one day I discovered that he too had made a display of his favorites, and then taken a pen and written signs with arrows all over the tables pointing to his display that say "Camden Picks." It was so cute, even if it was graffiti. Good thing the tables aren't exactly high quality and that the rental company probably didn't notice. 
Ainsley went to Trout Creek Bible Camp for the second year and loved it again. It is quite possibly the highlight of her year. Sarah, Natalie and Lainie went with her. It was so much fun. She still talks about it and remembers different things to tell us about it months later. So happy she gets to have that experience. 

Grandma and Grandpa took us to Disneyland! The first day we got to go play at the Santa Monica beach and for the first time our kids got to experience playing on a WARM beach. The Oregon coast will never be the same again. 
We have so many fun memories of Disneyland I don't even know where to start. It was the perfect Disney vacation. The kids were amazingly good, the weather was perfect, and everything went basically exactly as we had planned. We were there for five days. We did three days going back in the evening for the night shows, Fireworks, Fantasmic, and World of Color. The kids really loved all the rides. Ainsley, Hudson, and Camden even all loved California Screamin', Space Mountain, and Ainsley and Hudson even did Tower of Terror. Reagan loved every ride she could go on, she was a total dare-devil. 
Speaking of Reagan, we thought taking a 2 year-old was going to be difficult at best. She however, was AMAZING! She was delightful pretty much the whole time. Before we left I cut her special blankie into fourths so if we lost it we had more, and so that we didn't have to take the whole thing everywhere. It worked perfectly. She slept a few days in the stroller, and pretty much just went with the flow. She loved everything she saw and did. We realized she didn't really know any of the Disney characters though, but she still loved them. Whenever she saw Micky Mouse she would shriek, "Mousey!" She wasn't scared of anything. We even took her in the Haunted House and she said over and over, "Is this scary?" I just kept saying, "No, it is just fun." And she would say, "Okay, and laugh." 
I think the thing I've been the most surprised about is how much Reagan still (6 months later) talks about Disneyland. She remembers so much and will say, "I love California Adventure." Or whatever part she is thinking about. She rode the Ariel ride so many times I can't even count because she did that quite a bit when there were rides she couldn't go on, one time Grandpa took her and just stayed on it three times in a row, waving off the employees telling them that they weren't getting off. She love it so much. 
We were so happy that all three boys got chosen to do the Jedi Academy. We were worried about what would happen if one or two got picked, but not all of them. Fortunately they all did- and loved it. The battled Darth Vader very bravely!

Eleison and Camden couldn't get along better. They have so much fun together. As they get older they will probably not be as good of friends because they are a boy and a girl, but for right now we are enjoying what great friends they are. 
It was such a fun trip that everyone will always remember.

We love going to the beach each summer with the Strandbergs.
Our hike to drift creek falls when were were there was awesome. So awesome, Camden didn't even need a shirt.
Really it is the moms that make the whole thing happen. It is so great to spend time together just relaxing, or you know, cooking for everyone!
The very tough Pate men.
After a great summer it is hard to go back to school, but the kids were pretty excited. Ainsley got to start middle school and we braced for the "middle-school" experience. We are five months in at this point and it has been pretty much wonderful. She has great teachers, works really hard, and has fun friends. Sixth grade has been gloriously drama-free and a positive experience. We hope it continues this way! She started playing the flute in band, and her teacher is Mr. Evans. I taught his youngest daughter (who is now a college freshman!) in first and second grade. I must say, a beginning band teacher has to have the patience of Job. Hudson started 3rd grade and gets to have Mrs. Manzella who he also had for kindergarten. This is good news for him, but was sad news for Camden who was expecting to have her. Instead Camden started out kindergarten a little rocky because he wanted Mrs. Manzella, and instead got a teacher that, to put it mildly, needed to be done teaching. She lasted five days. On day six she didn't show up. It ended up perfectly because Mrs. Brier, who had retired a few years before after teaching kindergarten at DC for 20+ years agreed to come back and just teach his class. She is exceptional and she adores Camden. It has been a great year so far for him.
Ainsley's first band concert. 
A very cool thing we found out the night before school started was that Andrew won the Oregon State Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award. He got lots of recognition, including an article in the Oregonian. His assistant principal is who nominated him. One of the best lines from the letter he wrote was, "If Andrew doesn't walk on water, it is only because that won't help his students do better in their social studies classes." It was a great honor. 

Halloween costumes have become trickier for older kids we have found. Reagan was thrilled with a pink princess dress, Camden and Hudson both found inspiration from Disneyland. Hudson is Indiana Jones, with his hat, whip, and gun purchased in D-land, and Camden is a pirate with his hat also from there. Ainsley ended up settling on being a Greek goddess. They all had a great Halloween. 

And then there is Christmas. Easily one of the most memorable parts was Camden getting to do the opening prayer at the Cornerstone Church Christmas Pageant. Weeks of agonizing over the prayer because he said he didn't know what to say. He finally settled on something, but never would say it for me. On the way to church that morning I ask him to practice it and he said, "It is a prayer mom, your just supposed to say whatever pops into your head to talk to God." At that moment I about died. I think I held my breath from then until he uttered Amen at the end of his perfect little sweet prayer. He said (what he practiced) "Dear Jesus, thank you for coming down to earth to be born in a manger. And than you for dying on the cross for our sins. Thank you for Christmas. Amen." 
Hudson's job was to carry the tent-thing over the wise men. He got to do it with Jackson, so it was perfect. 
 The program couldn't have been cuter.
 Christmas morning we were at home with just our family. It was really fun. The kids had a great time.

 Then we went to Salem to spend the afternoon with Grandma, Grandad, Great-Grandma, and Auntie Kate.

 The next morning we headed to Milton-Freewater for a week. We celebrated Christmas again and had so much fun with Grandma, Grandpa and the Zieglers. Our kids were more excited about seeing their cousins than Christmas presents by far. That makes me happy.

I know I didn't include tons of things, and probably some big things that deserve to take the place of some things here. But at least it is something! I can (maybe) do a blog post here and there without feeling like it is weird because I skipped all of last year. We were very blessed in 2012 and love our little family.

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