Our Christmas cards are LENGTHY and don’t come out every year, but it seems that people get a kick out of them. Here is our 2014 Christmas letter. BTW, I got few back in the mail you might be hearing from me for address updates:)
Merry Christmas friends,
If you can’t tell, we’re on the every other year Christmas Card plan. In fact, that is my excuse for disregarding all the unspoken rules of decorum regarding just how long a Christmas Card letter can be. That and the fact that I can barely write all my kids’ names on a single sheet of paper, much less elaborate on their individual awesomeness (as determined by a somewhat biased mom and dad). Hope you enjoy. If you decide to gut the whole thing out, remember it will be at LEAST two years until you have to do it again.
Well, July brought with it sun, rain, and baby-Reynolds #9. FIFE, true to the Reynolds tradition, showed up 4 weeks early on July 30th, spoiling my reign as the sole July birthday in the entire Gary Reynolds clan. The other kids were delighted of course for the spoiler. Some of you know the last time we had a baby she came with a partner, and we already had two 1 year olds. It also happens that the year brought with it two cross country relocations. Well, Kat figured she got ripped off on all the cuddling and spoiling that should come with a last baby. So, we have #9. I don’t know if that is a very great reason for bringing a human being into the world, but the fact is that there’s plenty of love to go around at the Reynolds ranch, not to mention the care of the greatest mom on earth.
REESE and her twin Sade are recently 3. If we ever had two kids alike, I think they would be Reese and Tay. She’s conscientious and aware, and is really a parent pleaser, always “helping” out in her way. She is her mom’s shadow and her dad’s ardent disciple. She struggles with the menu around here though. We have a rule in our house that if you don’t eat your dinner, you can get down from the table, just know you’ll get it back for breakfast (I’m sure some of you are questioning our parenting practices right now). No surprise that Reese has had a lot of Brussels sprouts or green bean breakfasts lately, she sometimes even holds out until the next day’s lunch. And mind you, just getting them in her mouth is no cause for declaring victory; we have to keep a close eye on her as we often find some of those items tucked away in her cheek hours after they crossed her lips.
SADE. Where to begin. Every year there is one for whom the writing fodder abounds, and that is certainly Sade this year. First, she’s crafty. She went to hand a Ziploc bag of Chex Mix to Kat, saying “This is Reese’s” (all that was left were pretzels and Chex – blah). As it passed in front of her however, she noted some chocolate chips had settled down at the bottom of the bag. “Actually, it’s mine” she corrected herself, pulling it back. A month ago when Kat said, “Sade eat your food”. then turned around to the sink. When Kat had turned back to Sade, Sade had slid onto Tigue’s stool in front of Tigue’s empty plate and pronounced, “Look Mom, I’m finished”. She thinks the word for freezing is freaking, so we all get a huge kick out of her on cold snowy days, “Dad, I’m freaking cold”. She’s quite the little contrarian. A couple interchanges: Kat: “Sade, eat your broccoli”. Sade: “But I’m dying forEVER!“ Kat: “Sade, pick up your blocks”. Sade: “But I’m scared of monsters!” Finally, she is quite the bug collector. As Kat was walking her up the stairs for her nap, she dropped something. Then the something moved. “Oh, my moth!”
TIGUE, 5 in December, is a bright little whipper snapper. She is sweet and articulate, has real attention to detail and uses those skills to manage her twin brother Rook and younger siblings. She’s quite the mother for her little sisters. She goes by and covers them at night, brings them water, and comforts them when they wake. As sweet and helpful as she is, she is no slouch and knows how to take care of herself in this band of savages. She took a good hit this year and came in the house with a pretty bloodied nose. “What happened,” I asked. “She bonked her nose” Kat responded. “No”, Tigue corrected her, “Rook just sat on my face”. She can be crafty as well, like the other day when the kids were eating sweet peppers. Imagine this interchange. Tigue: “Mom, can I have a pepper?-”. Kat: “Sure”. Tigue: “-mint patty”.
ROOK (also 5), now this guy is a piece of work. For example, his birthday list includes the following: power ranger, rocket ship, iron man, knight helmet, dollhouse. I think he thinks his superheroes need a place to live when they’re not saving the world. Rook is quite a protector of his twin sister. I shudder to share this, but the other day we saw Tigue sneak something from her nose to her mouth. Everybody quickly jumped on her, “Tigue, that’s disgusting, don’t do that”. Rook, quickly to her rescue, “It’s OK, Tigue, sometimes I eat my boogers”. Last month our cat caught a mouse and was playing with it like a rag-doll as cat’s do. Tigue and Rook approached and found it dead. As they got a closer look it turned out the mouse was feigning death, and it jumped up and bit Tigue. Rook immediately jumped forward and stomped on it to where he was sure the feigning was over. He’s a man’s man, that kid, and has the confidence of many men; he’s well suited for this gaggle.
TAGG is 8 in February. He is a super aware and thoughtful kid, rapidly becoming a young man. He has his own way of thinking, and we appreciate his conscientiousness and unselfishness. He is regularly making hand-made gifts for people at school who are having birthdays, he always has something ready for each of his siblings on their birthdays well before we even talk about them. We had a funny incident with him with a bow and arrow. He got a new bow and was messing around with it. After dinner he took it back outside without our noticing. About as dusk began to fall, we realized he wasn’t around and saw the bow was missing. The weather was cool and darkness falling fast. We drove up and down the roads with no luck. I saddled a horse and took off the direction one of the kids thought he’d gone. I found him out in the woods, about a mile from home, well aware of where he was and didn’t see what everybody was so worked up about. After all, he was ‘huntin’. That little incident was the impetus for the new exploring rule: if you go out, think “WWBD” – stands for “Whistle, Walkie Talkie, Buddy, and Dog”. Since then, so far, so good. Don’t think I would even hesitate, though, if somebody came up with a reasonably priced surgically embedded blue tooth tracker . . .
DAK is now 10, and against all odds (at least on my side) he seems inclined towards the sciences. He recently spent a hard earned 50 dollars on a collection of the 50 most common North American minerals. We regularly get educated on the attributes and differences between things such as granite and quartz. He’s a hoot. Along with that scientific brain, he’s got a little less consciousness about what might be more obvious to the socially astute. Example: a while ago we were about to leave to church and I found Dak in mismatched socks and Rook’s church pants. It wasn’t that he didn’t realize that either of those situations existed, but he simply couldn’t conceive of a rational reason why pants that barely made it half way down his shins and socks that didn’t belong in the same drawer, much less on a matching pair of feet, didn’t functionally fit the need as well as an alternative apparel selection.
PAYTE just becomes more Payte with time. I think I could build a full elk skeleton with the bones she has collected in her room and in the garage. She loves building our fires, she saved up and bought a high powered pellet gun. She is shooting fewer birds these days, however, due to the trouble it was to feather and cook the last sparrow she shot and was obliged by her father to eat. I did, however, stumble on a skinned and frozen squirrel in the freezer in the garage. So she still knows the rules on killing animals, I just don’t think she can muster the appetite to eat that thing. Needless to say, small game hunting is on the decline around here. Payte has a really gentle, kind, understanding streak that is a welcome attribute in our family, though a little better attention span wouldn’t kill her. The other day I was giving her the 3rd degree about something, when she responded, “Dad, you don’t have to tell me again, mom already did”. I responded, “Well, what did your mother tell you?”, to which she replied, “I don’t know.”
TAY is now 13. And I must say it’s easier to write about the little ones, because they generally don’t read my writing and frankly, if they did they couldn’t care less what I write. Tay, however, is a full-fledged, card carryin’ young woman, so daddy has to watch himself. Tay went from a girl to a young woman in about 15 minutes at some point this last year, and all that entails for those who have been through this. For one thing, she told her mom she was done with public school drama, and decided to do homeschool. Kat relented, and Tay has completely blossomed in this environment, challenging herself with different subjects, topics, and books. She is incredibly driven, making big plans and seeing them through. She exercises, takes on projects (i.e. building a swing, training one of our horses to carry a bareback rider, and on and on). She has also clearly contemplated the path she wants her life to take, and is making very deliberate decisions about being a strong, righteous, helpful young woman. She extends herself to her mom endlessly to help with kids, cleaning, work, do kids hair . . . she’s an amazing young lady and we’re glad the rest of the crew have such a wonderful model to follow.
KAT actually is the saint that everybody assumes she must be, not only in her unmatched ability to create a home environment where kids are learning to learn, to work, to love, to care, to share, to sacrifice, and to make wise choices, but also in her tolerance and support of a hopelessly flawed companion. Some of you know that Kat was honored as the “Colorado Young Mother of the Year” by the American Mother’s Association. I normally don’t like to fall into the bragging trap with these Christmas cards – I think we all get our fill of that at this time of year – but when it comes to Kat, I don’t know what else there is to say but, holy smokes how did I land this one. Her smile lights up a room, and her love and purity lights up our lives. She’s one in a million, and we consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have her at the helm of the Reynolds household. I lean and depend on her in every way that really matters, and she gently leads all of us with her sweet example, her bottomless well of patience, and her commitment to choosing the right.
Personally, I continue to be overwhelmed at the abundance of blessings that continue to flow to our family. Late at night I often lay outside in the snow as it reflects the soft glow of the full moon in these spectacular mountains and I can’t help but wonder how I ever got so lucky. Such wonderful kids, such an amazing wife, a job and company that I love and dear friends and family whose lives are to me examples and models that I know will help me become the man I hope to one day be. We are grateful at this Christmas season for all these many things, and above all for Him whose birth we now celebrate.
We thank you all for your kindness and friendship. We pray God’s richest blessings on you, and that the peace and happiness of this Christmas season will help us all choose to be a little kinder, a little more thoughtful, a little more giving, a little more understanding, a little more selfless, and a little more anxious to serve and lift our fellow man.
God bless you, our dear friends. Love, The Reynolds (By the way, Kat built a website for us – your best chance of hearing from us again before another two years passes is to go there: www.katsninelittlelives.com)