Merry Christmas 2016!

Well it’s that most wonderful time of the year again! But wow what a busy time of year it is as well.

2016 has been a crazy year… our first full calendar year with a child! A baby… a toddler. Boy, toddlers are fun! Did I say fun? I meant crazy. Am I asking myself questions? Yes. Toddlers make you crazy, so…

Michael’s job sent us to San Antonio in February to start the year off with a little fun. Before the Team Meeting started, we met up with Natalie’s Aunt Sharin and her Michael, and we toured San Antonio: The Alamo, Sea World, and so forth. What a cool town! There was of course an obligatory trip to In-N-Out Burger as well. Obviously. Deliciously. The picture to the right was taken in the morning at the La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, where we stayed and held our company’s meeting. Clara also experienced a swimming pool for the first time, and after starting timid, she quickly loved it!

Then in April, Clara turned 1! It’s amazing how quickly her first year passed, while also seeming exasperatingly slow at times. To mark her first birthday, we had our friend Sarah shoot some photos. There are so, so many great ones, but here are just a couple to share:

Really, this entire post could just be gallery after gallery of photos of Clara. She’s just too adorable yet also ridiculous. Here are some other milestones she reached this year:

  • Started walking right after her first birthday… and now won’t stop running everywhere
  • Started talking, and is adding words daily (see below)
  • Waving to neighbors as they drive by (the “neighbor wave” that we all do haha)
  • All but four of her baby teeth have come in

But in non-Clara-related news, Michael’s job has continued to challenge and excite him this year. It has had him traveling a bit more than in the past, with brief trips to Chicago and Southern California both taking place this year. Most news-worthy though has been DKP’s progress on the new headquarters in Zionsville (articles here, here, and here). The building is well underway and still generally on track for a Summer 2017 move-in! Below is an awesome video about our groundbreaking ceremony in August.

Otherwise, Michael continues to keep busy playing with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra and the Directors’ Jazz Orchestra, as well as following IndyCar (and motorsports broadly) obsessively.

Natalie’s boss has been pretty demanding this year, and often won’t let her get far before giving new orders. But her boss is pretty cute — and growing like crazy. She’s only a little over a year and a half old, but is already wearing 2T-3T clothes for most things. And she’s recently added so many more words to her vocabulary! Recent additions include hilarious pronunciations of “blueberry,” “raspberry,” “slipper,” and more. “Baby” seems to be her clearest, most frequent word, as she requires having her baby doll handy whenever it’s time to read, or pray, or travel, or… anything.

Also, after spending approximately 15+ years attending East 91st Street Christian Church, we spent a good part of 2016 determining what was best for our family regarding church, and are now attending and involved at Grace Church in Noblesville. It’s another large church, indeed, but Clara seems very comfortable and happy in Grace Kids, and that alone was reason enough for us to settle there. But there’s a terrific community of people we’re getting to know, and so we’re excited to see what 2017 holds for us with our church family.

This spring Natalie bought a used dining room table and chairs… after many months of off-and-on-again work on it, Michael stripped the whole thing and refinished essentially all the horizontal surfaces, and Natalie painted all the vertical surfaces. We got it done just in time to host Thanksgiving, and we love it! It’s quite large and super sturdy, and now it looks good in our house!

Michael got a new (used) car this year! Traded in the trusty 2010 Ford Fusion one day before its sixth birthday for a one-owner 2014 Ford Focus ST. 6-speed manual, turbocharged 252 bhp 2.0L 4-cylinder, bigger wheels/tires and brakes… this is a fun little car! Also satnav and other interior goodies, but those are just bonuses (oh and Recaro seats, just like Clara). Of course, 5 weeks after buying it in Cincinnati, it got rear-ended(ish) at a stoplight. NEAT. So then I spent six weeks driving a boat. I mean a Dodge Challenger. So that was annoying. But it all healed nicely, and now I’m about to enjoy my first winter with it :-)

This fall, an opportunity arose for Clara to get a bit more socialization with her peers and for Natalie to work with elementary students, so now Natalie works Thursday mornings at Grace Church during event childcare (for kids of parents attending events at the church). Natalie still enjoys cooking, long walks to the park, and reading (albeit her reading level seems to have dropped a few levels these days).

As easy as it is to focus on the frustrations of life (and anyone with kids can tell you those frustrations are new every day), we’re regularly reminded of just how fortunate and privileged we are, and what a blessing Clara is to us. We hope that each of you reading this are able to spend some time with family this Christmas counting your blessings as well. Merry Christmas to you all!

P.S. — Yogi’s still alive and well, and in fact inspired Clara’s first word: “dog”

Still quiet here.sas

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