Friday, December 13, 2013

Lewandowski Year in Review 2013

The year has been busy.  So busy we haven't blogged.  The year has, however, been wonderful and we wanted to share a sort of "Christmas Letter" with those who may be interested.  I often find it awkward to try to write a Christmas letter in 3rd person.  Instead, I’ll just write in first person, and you’ll have to know that the “I” is Karine.  :)

Winter –Spring 2013 

Big changes in the household!  In January, I went back to work as a teacher.  I accepted a position as an ESL English and Reading teacher.  I began in an elementary school and moved up to a middle school position in March.  I love being an active part of the Rogers Public School system here and have found it rewarding to work with students whose families speak mostly Spanish. 

My return to teaching coincided with a semester of evening graduate school classes for Tom and full-time Stay At Home Dad during the daytime.  What a special time this was for both father and children.  They had some incredible bonding and our house was somehow always clean!  He’s a wonderful father and the kids flourished with the extra dad-time.   Tom took education classes towards his Master of Art in Teaching at the University of Arkansas.  His favorite class was an Adolescent Literature class that focused on graphic novels and comic books. 

Zeke, Zadie, and Ezra enjoyed playing outside daily in the warm Arkansas winter and early spring.  They loved their “WHEEEEEEE”s (big pushes on the swings), digging in the sandbox, and walks to the neighborhood park.  Tom took the kids on several outings including a few visits to the incredibly awesome Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  Zeke attended preschool 2 mornings per week and loved playing with his friends there. 

Summer 2013

Potty Training!!!!  For the past 4.5 years, we have had 2-3 kids in diapers.  We very much looked forward to the day that we would not have diapers around our house anymore.  Success!!!!  Our house became diaper-free in June.  We haven’t looked back since.  J 

More graduate school…  I took part in a 2 week intensive graduate coursework program called ESL Academy.  13 long days of studying and classes for me, and long summer days at home for the kids and Tom.   Tom also took graduate classes in July in preparation for his student teaching/internship in the fall. 

Swimming-  we loved the water this summer!  Rogers just built a new Aquatic Center that we visited a few times.  We also liked the Bentonville city pool and a few others we managed to dive into.   The twins jumped off the side of the pool thousands of times and Zeke discovered the magic of swimming.  Once he got his face in the water, he was able to swim independently- this was so exciting for a couple of former-lifeguard parents. 
In July, we traveled north for a two-week visit to Minnesota.  There, we spent time with the Piersmas and other friends, we connected with Nelson/Zabell cousins and family, and we enjoyed a bit of time in the Twin Cities. 

Then, we reunited with the Lewandowski/Notch/Roesner cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grandma Jean.  Our annual trip to New Frontier Resort up in Park Rapids was full of sunshine and memory-making.  sun, sand, crafts, food, and late nights. 

Fall –Winter (again!)2013
School began in August, along with more big changes for our family.  I was still teaching middle school ESL, and Tom began his year-long student teaching internship as an English teacher.  He was placed at Oakdale Middle school, where I actually teach for the first two periods of the day before traveling to a different middle school.  We enjoyed driving to school together and bumping into each other in the teacher’s lounge.  Tom found success in engaging students in writing projects.  I thought the most interesting project he did was the “Soundtrack of My Life” project in which students wrote and shared about their personal connections to songs.  It was a great way to learn more about the lives of these kids. 

Speaking of kids, our own have been thriving this fall/early winter!  We hired a nanny over the summer who comes to our house each school day and lovingly cares for our three kids.  She’s actually a twin herself and is still best friends with her brother today!  Our nanny has become a special part of our family this year and we are grateful for a dependable, loving, and creative childcare provider. 
Zeke has continued to attend a morning preschool program for 4 year olds here at a local church.  He’s mastered numbers and letter sounds this fall and will be moving toward reading some beginning words in the next few months!  His #1 hobby is playing with Legos.  Zeke even sleeps with a Lego catalog next to his bed every night (and has been since July) He loves to build and create all types of rescue vehicles with crazy adaptations.  Tom and Ezra also have joined Zeke in building some cities and towns on our Lego table.   
Our twins are growing so quickly too!  They celebrated their 3rd birthdays in November, and we can hardly believe how quickly time has gone.  Ezra is no longer our quiet and reserved toddler.  He’s loud and strong!  Ezra loves to play superheros, holler, run, and jump!  Ezra is also really into painting and art this year.  He loves doing art projects, and our nanny has been happy to indulge him!  Ezra has fun exploring games and activities outside like soccer, digging in the sandbox, and chasing the dog.   While he loves to play hard, he can snuggle and cuddle with the best of them!
Zadie is growing into such a sweet little girl.  She’s happy to tag along with her brothers and play with them, yet can play independently for an hour in her own fantasy world.  She loves wearing tutus, singing original songs (often about following rules) , and playing with her (imaginary) “ballet friends.”  While Zadie has not begun any formal ballet training, a great deal of dancing is done in our living room and kitchen each night.  She adores our dog, Roxy, and the love is reciprocated by the dog.  It’s a special bond. 

As for me, (Karine- in case you forgot who was writing this), I’ve been happily finding my rhythm as a working mom.  I love my job, and appreciate that my schedule allows me to be with my family by 4pm most days.  I’ve enjoyed doing some craft and sewing projects, trying new recipes, and reading a few books in the evenings.  I look forward to Friday nights all week long.  We celebrate “Family Movie Night” every Friday with pizza and a movie for the whole family.  It’s a fun small tradition that I cherish. 
As we move into 2014, we look forward to many adventures.  We’d love to host visitors here in Rogers, Arkansas (seriously!)  and welcome our friends and family to look us up.  May your holidays be filled with blessings and light!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 
The Lewandowski Family

Karine, Tom, Zeke, Ezra, and Zadie