Hello and Season's Greetings from the Ickowitz house!
With all of the chaos surrounding this time of year (and we'll get to that in a moment), Mike and I have found ourselves with only a few days left to go in the holiday season and not enough time to orchestrate studio photos, personalized cards, mailing lists, etc. Instead, this year, we've decided to go green and email our holiday cheer to all of our favorite family and friends. We hope that in doing so, we might actually reach more people than we normally would, and that you in turn would also hear a little more about what we've been up to lately.So, as to the chaos... we know that everyone's busy, including yourselves, so we'll just recap the highlights:
With the introduction of Jake to our family this summer, Tanya was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with the kids for 16 weeks, and Mike took off two days a week to stay home, help out, and bond as a family. She returned to work as usual in the beginning of November and is still getting used to the morning and evening routines. We recently took a trip to New York to visit Mike's parents for Thanksgiving and will be traveling to New Orleans to celebrate a Joyeaux Noel with the Cajuns after Santa visits Knoxville. Tanya just finished up another semester in grad school after taking two classes that started when Jake was only a month old. With an estimated completion date of Fall 2010 (sigh), there will be a jubilant celebration one of these days. She had a minor wrist surgery at the end of November, and while the recovery isn't very painful, wearing a cast on her right arm for two weeks has made taking care of the kids and holiday shopping, wrapping, and traveling a challenge.
Mike, meanwhile, is hanging on to 29 for dear life until April. Always the entrepreneur, with the advent of basketball and the holiday season, he's staying busy keeping up the orders coming in our websites www.gmugear.com and www.vcuramsgear.com while running the parent company, PatDome Enterprises, which provides promotional materials to organizations and companies. This year he'll mark his 5th year at UT, which means that yes, we've been gone from DC for 5 years. How time flies! Anyone who knows Mike also knows that this schedule isn't enough to keep him busy, so he has also taken the enormous project of training for a 100 mile bike ride in May that will span 3 states and raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He's riding in memory of Tanya's grandmother, Catherine Sanderson (some of you may remember her as MamMaw), who passed away in February 2006 after a long battle with multiple myeloma. If you're interested in supporting the cause, donations can be made online at http://pages.teamintraining.org/tn/3st3mnt09/mickowitz. Only those who do not contribute to his fundraising efforts will be sent pictures of him in spandex. In addition to helping fight cancer, the benefits are already starting to show - Mike is looking more svelt with every 20 mile training session!
Dobby celebrated her 6th year as a member of the family, and at the mature age of 8, is starting to turn a little grey. We added a fence around our yard earlier this year, and she truly is the queen of her domain. However, she's still really shy, and this might be one of the only pictures we get of her. I think she was distracted after meeting Jake for the first time, so she let her guard down and got caught on camera. As a side note, I checked up on the place where we got her from and think it's such an amazing rescue group. If you live in NoVa or DC Metro and are considering adopting an animal, please visit www.foha.org. We're so glad we did.
Rachel is 3 going on 25 (as all of our elders share a simultaneous "serves you right" kind of grin). She loves Chuck E. Cheese's, going to the movies, everything that is Princess, pushing the cart while shopping at Kroger ("right store, right price"), and watching the Barbie movie that TheRock Obama told her to buy there. She is totally smitten by Jake, and even though she has cleverly suggested putting him back in my belly every time we pass the hospital, we know she loves him and we rely on her translation skills for their conversations, which sound eerily like whalespeak.
Little Jake will be six months old in January, and according to anyone who's spent time with him (so we're not just biased), he is the sweetest little flirt you'll ever meet. Approaching 17 pounds in record time, he's well on track to becoming Mama's little defensive back. Or tight end. Or running back. Please refrain from responding with lineman jokes. He's such a happy baby, which is kind of new for us since Rachel was...uhhh...somewhat demanding, and he too adores his big sister. Just when we're tempted to intervene because we think she's scaring or bothering him, we look over and there's Jake just grinning away at her. We knew that having two kids would be challenging from the beginning, but we didn't realize how quickly it would also be so much fun.
We hope you've enjoyed hearing about the goingson in the Ickowitz house and would love to hear more about yours!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Yule, and Happy New Year to our dear family and friends.
We hope to see more of you in 2009!