Christmas 2014

Dear family and friends,

Some of you by now, are familiar with the yearly updates of our exploits. This past year was not quite as packed with adventures as our first few years of marriage, but we still managed to make the time pass!

Work-wise, we are just finishing our second year with RevLocal, where we serve as Internet Marketing Partners for small, local, businesses all over North America. We visited the company headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, in January and in August for sales meetings. We really value those trips, as it’s an opportunity to be surrounded by other people like ourselves, who are motivated to help businesses improve their online presence. Plus, our leadership team always does a great job of keeping the meetings fun and energizing.

We spent Christmas 2013 in Toronto with Earl’s family, though we did squeeze in a couple of visits with Charlotte’s family near Barrie. It turned out to be an ice filled trip! A severe winter storm left the Toronto region covered in ice and us without power for 2.5 days (some others for a whole week!). Thankfully Earl’s mom’s building still had power, so we weren’t so hard off. We had some fun experiences trying to stay warm at home but also enjoyed some outdoor ice skating, Earl took in a Maple Leafs game with his mom and then we hit the slopes for tubing at Snow Valley with a couple of Earl’s high school friends on January 1, one of the coldest evenings of the winter!

Christmas2013-IceAdventures

In February we woke up at 4am on a Sunday morning to cheer on our Men’s Hockey team as they won Olympic Gold.  A few weeks later we enjoyed the Heritage Classic open air hockey game in Vancouver.

2014-FebMar-HockeyExperiences
We were fortunate to spend 2 weekends at the end of March and beginning of April house sitting back in Gibsons where we house sat when we first returned from our world travels. We absolutely love the house up there and the owners are happy to have us back when they’re heading out of town. As we had just learned that we were pregnant, it was great little getaway.  The beginning of April also marked 1 year living in the same apartment – a considerable accomplishment, given our previously nomadic lifestyle!  Until then, our longest stay in one place was 7 months in one apartment the first year we were married.

Straight No Chaser - Vancouver 2014In May we were able to take in a Straight No Chaser concert in Vancouver. If you haven’t heard of them before, you’ve probably heard of their rendition of 12 Days of Christmas on the radio at some point in the past few years. They’re a 10-man a capella group that started in university in the late 90s and then had a video go viral on YouTube about 8 years ago.  Their YouTube channel is filled with their videos of their covers and medleys.  They put on a great show and we’re going to see them again this week (Dec. 26) as they’ll be in Seattle and we’re taking Earl’s parents for the show.

As part of a program we were taking through Landmark Education, we organized a door-to-door food drive at the end of May.  With our previous door-to-door experience, it only made sense for us to do a food drive this way.  We were able to get some great support from local people, including a lacrosse club that had their whole organization join in.  In total we collected well over 3000 lbs of food across the Lower Mainland and some other communities organized their own Food Drive as well.  We’re looking forward to doing it next spring and would love to have more people join in, both in Vancouver and elsewhere.  You can read more at www.FoodShareDay.org.

In June, we were able to see Michael Bublé in Vancouver.  His opening act was Naturally 7, who we briefly saw during the Olympics in 2010. They are a also a 7 man vocal play group that use just their voices for instruments and they have another great YouTube channel.  Bublé is an amazing performer and put on quite the show for his hometown crowd with his parents in the audience.  Combined with Naturally 7 just made it even better and we thoroughly enjoyed it, along with our traditional downtown hot dogs as a post-show snack.Buble Concert

ATP Tennis TorontoWe combined our August trip to Columbus with another visit to Toronto. By then, Charlotte was noticeably pregnant, and we wanted to share the beginnings of our expanding family with our family and friends out there.  Charlotte was surprised with a baby shower hosted by Earl’s mom.  We had a great time and felt loved by many. In addition to all that fun, a little work and some Toronto sightseeing, we were fortunate to get some tickets to the ATP Tour event going on in Toronto at the time and had a chance to witness Roger Federer in action from some great seats.

At the beginning of September, we decided to move to a bigger place because we wanted another bedroom for the baby. We were blessed to find a place, actually a full house with a lower level – with both a third bedroom and also some additional room for an office – so we now have a guest room for people to take advantage of as well. In addition, we have a deck, a carport, a fenced yard, and Charlotte’s favourite, a clothesline outside!

At the beginning of October, we took a short road trip to Vancouver Island. This trip was partly to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and also served as a “baby moon”, a little getaway before our lives change forever. We were also able to connect with friends in Nanaimo who we hadn’t seen in several years. Together with them, we celebrated an early Thanksgiving and talked babies as their 3rd child child had been born just 6 weeks earlier. The road trip on the way to and from Tofino was a great experience as we stopped in Coombs for ice cream and to see the goats on the roof, and in Cathedral Grove for some nature walks among some massive trees, each way. We enjoyed several walks through the rain forests in Tofino and Ucluelet and had our fill of fresh seafood. We stayed at Middle Beach Lodge in Tofino after a couple of recommendations from friends and thoroughly loved it! Charlotte is ready to go back again!

2014-10-VanIsland

And then finally, on November 16, at 6:36am, we welcomed the newest member of our family, Suriya Jane Almeida, in a planned home birth. She was 6 lbs 13 oz, and was 48 cm in length and had a full head of hair. She is a good eater, and is gaining weight quickly, and happily for her parents, she sleeps well also!  Her name, pronounced Su-REE-ah, is close to the Hindi word for sunrise, which was around the time she was born.  Her middle name comes from Earl’s grandmother, on his mom’s side, who would have been 100 years old the day before Suriya was born.  Jane also means “God’s gracious gift”.  We are thrilled to be parents, and although it’s been an adjustment for sure, we are enjoying every minute!

We picked up a new, high quality, digital camera right before Suriya was born so the following photos and all future ones will hopefully be of higher quality than our previous camera phone shots.

2014-Suriya

We are enjoying our first Christmas in our home this year as Earl’s parents are visiting from Toronto.  We will have a nice family day at home and then take them to Powell River for a couple of days after Christmas to celebrate with Charlotte’s family while giving Earl’s parents a glimpse into a different part of BC.  We’ve bought our first tree together, and Earl’s first ever live Christmas tree.  Ever since our honeymoon, we’ve been collecting Christmas ornaments or items that can be turned into ornaments to commemorate our travels.  We look forward to sharing these stories with our children down the road.2014-ChristmasTree

Stay tuned for next year’s Christmas update letter to hear how parenthood has changed (or not changed) our lives… For now, the biggest changes are that Charlotte spends a lot of time feeding and rocking the baby, and both Earl and Charlotte cheer aloud when we hear our little blessing produce adult-sized sounds of bodily functions (burps, farts, etc), knowing that in just a year’s time, we’ll have to be training this same little person to produce those sounds quietly!

So, amidst these, our most recent “sounds of joy”, we wish you a very blessed Christmas, remembering that our Lord Jesus Christ came to us an an infant, and all the best for an incredible 2015.

All our love,

Earl, Charlotte, and Suriya

8 comments to Christmas 2014

  • Cass Chan

    Have a wonderful Christmas with your budding new family! 😀 You are already topping the awesome parents’ charts — and still rising! Enjoy the festivities, and wishing you all an excellent start to 2015. 😛

  • Heidi & Nathan

    What a great year! Great update!

  • The Kraus Haus

    Congratulations!!! What a glorious end to the year..and the beginning of so many more adventures. Although I too was impressed with the sounds…the amount of stuff that comes out of them little bundles of joy blew my mind away!!!!!!!! You will have so many stories to stimulate
    Suriya’s imagination. And I am sure she will be just as excited to travel with you. All the best to your whole family.

  • Ellen

    So fun to read about your year and see all the pictures! I love how you’ve been out and about going to so many concerts and sports events! It might be a little bit more difficult with having that sweet little baby, but I’m sure you’ll find ways to be creative with that:)
    Much love from me!

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