Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

Its Christmas time again and amongst other things, that means taking the time to recap and take stock of the previous year. In preparation for this letter, we were looking over last year's letter and were reminded just how much has happened in the last 12 months. Amongst other things, we got a job, a house, a pregnancy, and a year full of new memories. But we won't get ahead of ourselves. Here are some of the most significant events of 2009 in no particular order.

One of the earliest and most anticipated things that happened this year was that Eric got a great job. He is now working at the U.S. Dream Academy as the National Mentor Program Manager. During the 8 months he spent funemployed, Eric spent a great deal of time trying to seek out what God really desired for him professionally. Through much prayer and discussion, he really felt led to work for an organization that focused on helping underprivileged kids. This was further reinforced by the fact that Dream Academy, who provides after-school education and mentoring for children with an incarcerated parent, was one of only two organizations (both working with inner-city kids) that interviewed him. The job has been a great fit allowing Eric to use his relational skills and systems thinking to improve their mentor program. We were also blessed that this position allows Ashley to stay home. Ashley is considering working part-time but is very mindful that our little family is about to grow.

Speaking of which, for those of you who hadn't heard, we are pregnant again! Baby Lapointe is due some time around May 4th, and this week, we found out that we are going to have a little boy. Stefanie and George are having another little girl (their due date is 16 days before ours) so George and Eric are excited that the gender swing is going to sway a little bit more in their direction. Audrey and Baby Lapointe will be sharing a room and Audrey has already stated that she is ready to share her toys and her old crib now that she has a "big girl bed".

Our new house, which we bought in June of this year has been just wonderful. We felt at home the very first night, which for change-sensitive Ashley, was a pretty big deal. Our house is on the same street as George and Stefanie so our daughters get to play together several times a week. We love our neighborhood and have really enjoyed city life. This is also a good opportunity to publicly thank Eric's Mom and Step-Dad Luis without whom we never could have survived the move. Their generosity and warm welcome were an amazing example to us and we will forever be grateful for their hospitality. One of Audrey's favorites activities so far has been the zoo pass which we have enjoyed several times as a family and Ashley and Audrey have had a chance to enjoy with the Mom's group from church a few times as well.

I think we said it last year but it bears repeating that the hardest thing about moving is being so far from friends. Thank you to all of you that have kept up with us. You have no idea how much those texts, facebook posts, and phone calls have meant to us. One nice thing about finally getting settled in June was that we were able to begin getting plugged into our community and making friends. We found a great church called Faith Christian Fellowship that we have been attending for several month. Actually, its not accurate to say we found it because it was the church George and Stefanie attended before George became the High School Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Timonium. Being the oldest child, I think Eric is still having a hard time introducing himself as "Stefanie's brother" when people recognize the name. The church is really focused on reconciliation and we love worshiping with believers from varied and diverse backgrounds.

This year has also provided us the opportunity to spend more time with East Coast family that we hadn't had much of an opportunity to connect with in the last several years. We had a chance to spend a few weekends with Ashley's uncle Scott and his wife Laura at their beautiful house on the Chesapeake, and spent time with Ashley's aunt Karen and Eugene. Karen and Eugene have given Audrey such amazing gifts that whenever she doesn't know who gave her something, her first questions is, "Aunt Karen gave it to me"? Ashley also had a chance to spend time with her uncle Jon and his family from Georgia for the unfortunate passing of her Grandmother. Though it was a somber event, it marked the first time all of her paternal cousins had been together in 8 years.
All in all we would have to say that 2009 was a truly great year. We feel that God has blessed us in virtually every area of our lives and though there certainly have been challenges (like Eric's 45 minute commute to work each way), we cannot help but be thankful. We appreciate all you friends and family and want to offer an open invitation for a place to stay if you ever want to come out to Baltimore. Just don't come late April/early May...we'll be busy.

With much love,

Eric, Ashley, Audrey and Baby Lapointe


We had our anatomy ultrasound on Friday a found out we are having a baby boy! We are very excited about the new addition to our family. Eric is also excited to evening gender mix.

Our First Christmas of '09

Due to an upcoming Christmas trip to California, the Maryland side of our family celebrated an early Christmas this weekend. Like always we enjoyed time with family, great food, some dancing and games.

Dancing to Christmas music

The girls really loved all of their presents. They played kitchen in their new aprons making all sort of plastic foods for us to enjoy. We had a great time, but it felt too short. Eric, Audrey and I are looking forward to celebrating three more Christmases with of our California families.

Miss Shirely's

This year to celebrate George's birthday we joined the Hopkins family at our favorite restaurant, Miss Shirley's. They are so good; they are only open for breakfast and lunch and getting seated on the weekend is near impossible. The combination of the foods they put together is a work of art. George and I each got the Southern Sunrise Benedict featuring:

Poached Eggs & Housemade Slow Roasted Carolina Pulled Pork on Corn Bread Rounds with Collard Greens made with Tasso Ham & Cajun Hollandaise Sauce

For dessert (yes, breakfast dessert) we all shared the Pumpkin Cheesecake-Stuffed French Toast.

We all left with full bellies (especially Stef and I) that carried us through until dinner.

Goodbye kittens!

We are now officially kitten-less. After eight weeks of having four cats in the house, we were ready to say goodbye to our fluffy friends. I thought it would be harder to find homes for them, but after posting this picture on Craig's List and sorting through over 30 responses, we have found good homes for all of them. I was very disturbed by some of responses everything from strange innuendos, someone who want two kittens and the momma cat (why?) and a potential satan-worshiper (I Google stalked him after noticing his sketchy name and email address containing 666). Audrey did surprisingly well saying goodbye to the kittens. We are planning on keeping momma cat around and getting her fixed ASAP.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

First Snow

We had our first snow today, but we celebrated by braving the crowds at the National Aquarium for Dollar Day. We highly recommend the National Aquarium; they have an amazing Jellyfish exhibit and Poisonous Frog exhibit. The weather blessed us with fewer crowds than expected. We enjoyed coming home to a warm snow covered house (which the pictures do not do justice). The snow really makes us feel like Christmas is here, especially with the two holly trees that frame our house.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Potty Training...

This is as far as we have gotten...
so soon Bunnia, Audrey's favorite bunny, should be potty trained. Audrey obviously grasps the concept but is resistant to doing it herself.

Thanksgiving '09

This year we spent Thanksgiving with Stefanie, George, and his family. We had a wonderful time with plenty of food. Everyone took home lots of leftovers. George's mom Shirley made at least 10 sweet potatoe pies, so everyone got one (or more) to take home. We were definitely sad to not spend the holiday with our California family, but were happy to not being traveling with the Thanksgiving rush. Stefanie made a beautiful Peruvian Pisco 24-pound turkey.

Before eating...

After eating...Sofia need some food.

The Lapointe clan.

The Hopkins clan.

The girls ended their night in their couch fort.

Sofia's Birthday

I do realize that this post is way too late, since Sofia's second birthday was November 14th. Sofia had a great Mickey and Minnie Mouse party.The kids enjoyed showing off their moves, like every good family event we have.Stefanie and I decorated our first "toddler birthday cake."
Daddy's lap was just too far from the the action.
So she got a little closer and couldn't resist "helping" Sofia with her presents and cards. She actually did very well, much better than last year with the concept of others getting presents.
Cute Birthday Girl!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fall Means Lots of Leaves

This weekend we decided it was time to tackle our leaves. We know we will have to do another round but had enough to do a couple hours of work. Though this is our first year raking leaves at our own house, we have had a few years of practice helping Eric's sister and parents. Audrey had fun with her own rake (thanks to the Dollar Tree). We were happy to only have 10 bags of leaves to clean up (Eric's sister averages 30-35 bags). For the most part, we had the same amount of work as fun- I hope that continues over the years of living on the east coast.

Big Girl Bed

This week Audrey started showing interest in transitioning into a toddler bed so we gave it a try. She did really well the first night falling right asleep without getting out of bed. We had to "remind" her that she needed to stay in bed during nap time the first few days. We were a little nervous about the transition since we have heard some horror stories. The craziest stories were both from our friend Kristin's blog whose daughter decorated her room with pen and diaper cream on separate occasions. We took her experiences as warning to remove any potentially hazardous thing a two-year old might want to play with. The only mishap we have had so far was a black eye from Audrey's violent turning. For now, we are pleased to have reached another toddler milestone and seeing that she is nowhere near ready to give up diapers or pacifiers yet- those will be our upcoming battles.

Kitty Time

The kittens are 3 and 1/2 weeks old, we were "supposed" to start interacting with them to help socialize them. Audrey loves playing with them and requests "Fun Kitten Time" a couple times a day.