A number of exciting things have happened to 8-year-old Nora in 2011. In the spring, both her grandparents were able to come to Ohio for her baptism. The baptism was a very sweet experience, and we were so grateful to have family there to share it with us. In the summer, Nora swam in our favorite lake and took tennis lessons. In fall, she started her gifted class (“Fun--like preschool!”(?)), continued piano, and kicked her first two goals in soccer. These goals were a long time in coming, so her father can be excused for jumping up and down and screaming like a maniac. Finally, Nora moved down to the new basement in a room all her own. She is in heaven.
Andrew is eagerly awaiting his 6th birthday this month. His big news is that he started Kindergarten, which he loves. He’s also taking pre-piano music class this year. Andrew lost his first tooth in Utah at his Warnick Grandparents’ home this summer. Our Tooth Fairy still found him, so she won’t be fired, despite her sometimes flighty and forgetful ways. His drawings of semi trucks, buses, airplanes, and Jeeps decorate our fridge and the fridges of his teachers and grandparents. Andrew is the resident rule-enforcer in our home, much to his sister’s chagrin. Not much is missed by his penetrating, petty-criminal-bustin’ gaze.
Stephen, at two, shifts rapidly between unbearably cute and just unbearable. On the cute side, we have his claims of having a beard (we think he means his upper lip), his love of hugs, his somersault attempts, his obsession with writing his name, and his big brown eyes and blond curls. On the unbearable side we have the typical toddler whining and tantrums in addition to the messiest eating we have ever experienced. (He is not done until he has pulverized every cubic inch of his food, and has eaten. . .any?) Stephen provides the comic relief in our family. The past few weeks, he’s taken to answering every question, “Yes, sir!”
Ellie and Nora joined a Mother-Daughter Book Club this year, and have had a great time reading and discussing some childhood classics together. In March, Ellie tagged along with Bryan to England for a conference at Oxford. (Thanks to the Merkley grandparents for making this childless trip possible!) Going to England has been a lifelong dream for Ellie, and she loved every minute--even the one where she mistook white wine for water (low lighting!), took a big swig, and just about spit it across the table onto Bryan’s distinguished British colleagues. She’s still running, albeit a little more slowly to keep pace with her favorite pregnant running buddy (sister Anna).
Bryan was consumed early this year with finishing the basement. He put up the drywall, sanded, hung the doors, put up the wood trim, and painted. He is pleased with how it all turned out and can often be found in the basement admiring his craftsmanship. Meanwhile, he gave professional presentations in St. Louis and Oxford, organized a conference in Dayton, spearheaded a major curriculum change in his college, published two papers, and finalized a publisher for his second book. He has recently become fascinated with wood-grilling. His peaceful and quiet life was abruptly interrupted last week by a new church assignment...bishop (a lay leader of a local LDS congregation). Time will tell if he survives to see next Christmas.