Thanks for coming last week. I especially loved how you worked all through the night to set up that amazing trampoline. That must have been hard and cold and I hope your hand feels better. Neither of us could have guessed that in the seven days since your amazing efforts, it would have either rained, had strong winds, or the whole world–especially the
trampoline bed–would be covered in spikey sycamore balls every single day. So no one has really jumped on that awesome gift yet. But don’t worry. I bet the kids will be out there ALL the TIME. Me too. I am going to pretty much become a gymnast again. So it was worth it and your ideas are great.
That all said, I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that next year you have to up your sneakiness level. Abigail–my oldest, I am sure you know her; squeaked by, just barely onto the nice list–is very rational and very observant. She notices Amazon boxes and American Girl boxes and handwriting similarities and we-have-that-in-the-house-from-Target wrapping paper. So you were a bit, shall we say, cavalier this year. We both hoped you’d be able to get away with it in second grade. Nope.
Also, mind manufacturing labels. Abigail noticed that her doll was “Made in China” but you live, and so presumably work, in the North Pole. Noting this discrepancy, combined with the other things I mentioned, Abigail posited a hypothesis that you are really “parents.” Evie set her straight, as she often does, with a theory about how you travel around collecting toys in advance made all around the world, then re-travel around distributing them, but we’ve got a skeptic. So, just, heads up.
Sorry this letter isn’t as full of gratitude as I intended. Thanks for all the new socks, the llama pajamas, the candy that looked like it might have been taken last month from the leftover Halloween bucket, and all the magic.
Non-objectively speaking (my strength), this was not our planet’s best year. You’ve probably already heard too much about disasters around the globe—violence and politics and refugees and famous people dying (though that seems to happen every year). And maybe it has you down going in to the Christmas season. So, we invite you to Evie’s world, where only news directly related to the Campbell family matters. Because in that world, 2016 was pretty fabulous.
We moved! After 12 long years (or whole lives, for the smaller members of the family) we left DC for a new adventure in North Carolina. So far, it is great. There is no traffic (the locals think there is, but we’re still riding the high where a small flock of cars waiting patiently in a line is actually somehow relaxing). It is warm. There are SO MANY Target stores. Oh, and we live near family for the first time in years, including some amazing babysitting-aged cousins. #happysigh
We went to Disneyworld. The girls’ faces of wonder at meeting real-life Ariel and Belle and Rapunzel made the trip. James’s face of wonder at meeting Joy and Sadness from Inside Out was a close second. And we loved having Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Rob as travel buddies.
We went to the beach. Nothing beats relaxing by the ocean, kids playing all day with family, and sand in someone ELSE’s bathtub.
Abigail got sporty. She did martial arts in Virginia, earning her low orange belt before we moved. She’s also doing jazz and gymnastics this fall. The true feat is that we almost always know where the respective uniforms are located.
Evie, who likes to do all the things that Abigail can do, also got to do dance and gymnastics. She is spunky and fun and adds an element of leotard fashion that we might not have otherwise.
I had a great time at my DC job through September. I got to be more creative this year than ever before and worked with awesome people. I miss it.
Except that so far, I love being home in NC. I drive the kids around all the time and hang out with the dog and read and work out and fight the urge to make more cookies. It is pretty awesome and makes the whole family happier and more peaceful, which is a daily blessing.
We have a fireplace at our new house. And a mailbox. And a doorbell. The girls are beside themselves with the novelty and joy of suburban life in a single-family home. Me too, once the doorbell fascination wore off.
We also have a [redacted] in our new house, which Abigail and Evie turned into a secret play space. They tell visitors it is an [redacted] (giggle giggle) but it is really full of art, books, and tea sets (apparently with hidden candy; I find lots of wrappers). [Details above have been redacted at Abigail’s request to maintain this important family secret.]
Evie got a Princess Elena backpack—part of being a big girl in transitional kindergarten class. She is learning to read and write letters, has weekly homework, and frequently surprises us at the dinner table with facts she’s learned that can prove other people wrong.
Abigail is a founding member at a new school, which she loves (Go, explorers! Cutest mascot ever.) She seems to pick up a new extra-curricular activity each week. Currently it’s chess. She is better than me already, but this is a very low bar, since I got scolded for calling it the “horse.”
Abigail—history’s most devoted reader—is developing excellent taste in literature. After years devouring anything she could get her hands on, she tackled classic series this year like Nancy Drew and Harry Potter. Finally, I feel the closing of the Rainbow Magic Fairies Not that I hate that wretched, formulaic series and cannot wait.
James and the girls made their own root beer for Halloween. It cost $50 and I had to go to four stores to get all the stuff, but it was tasty and hopefully satiated James and Abigail’s desire to carry out semi-dangerous science experiments around the house for at least a while.
Evie made things easy with her extremely clear (if arguably narrow and overly rigid) preferences. For example: every single day for lunch she has a peanut-butter-and-Nutella sandwich on bread with no crust. Once I didn’t have bread and sent it on a hot dog bun, and once we were out of Nutella and I substituted jelly, but I have since learned my lesson.
I ran in several races this year. I just finished my first half marathon this weekend here in North Carolina. Two amazing friends came from DC to help get me through it. I am still enjoying my post-run high (and the almost-as-important job of post-race eating).
James had some great running, too. He joined me in several races and inspired me to run a bit faster and farther. Except when I was silently cursing him because he runs so much more effortlessly than I do, even when I am training for a half marathon and he has a chest cold. So unfair. Grumble grumble grumble.
We had sooooo many cookies. Evie is a determined and sugar-tastic baker, and she kept us in ample supply of cookies, brownies, and cupcakes all year. And James kept up the tradition of weekly biscuit-making (BEST. BISCUITS. EVER.) He also added homemade soft pretzels to his repertoire. Friends are welcome to visit in NC to partake! We have a guest room. J
James really enjoys his new job, working at an analytic sciences laboratory at NC State. He has lots of latitude to choose his own projects, loves being on a college campus, and gets to wear more casual, non-DC attire. Plus, he’s hundreds of miles away from the home office right now…
James’s job came with a professional moving company that even boxed things up. Since I cannot convince James to get rid of his pile of old math books, this is the next best thing.
Maisie has a backyard. It is amazing for fetch and chase and tug-of-war, her best skills. The backyard did not come with someone to clean up dog poop, though. Alas. 2017?
In the banner year for fake Internet news, the Bow Wow News was created by two intrepid reporters who value truth, humor, and the American way (and who also employed their mom-who-can-type). If you’re looking for news, original poems, and photos of dogs in costumes, you should subscribe. I think it costs 50 cents.
We hope that despite any sadness or set-backs, you have had joys and triumphs this year. May you feel our love and the love of the Christmas season, and carry them with you into the New Year. You are always welcome in Evie’s world, where her birthday—and that of her birthday twin, baby Jesus—are coming soon to fill you with delight and love and peace and cupcakes.