Christmas 2015

Dear family and friends,

Well, it’s our second Christmas as parents, and those of you who also have children won’t be surprised to hear us report that things have changed around the Almeida house!

First of all, our lives are way less exciting in the Travel/Adventure/Cool-Things-We-Saw-or-Did category, and way more exciting in the Guess-What-Suriya-Did-Today sort of way.  But let’s start with the other category first.

2014-Christmas-12-26Earl’s parents, Peter and Yvette, were both here for Christmas last year.  Yvette was able to stay until the beginning of February, come back for most of May, and is now with us again for the month of December.  Peter joined us again just before Christmas and will leave early in the New Year.  As a result, Earl actually took in more shows with his parents over the past year than he probably has in years!  On Boxing Day last year as a family we made the trek to Seattle to take in a spectacular Straight No Chaser show (if you have the opportunity to see them, take it!). We were also able to reconnect with a couple of our former leaders from our Southwestern days.

In May, Earl went to see U2 in concert, and two weeks later received tickets to see Barry Manilow with his mom.  Although Barry is getting on in years, he still puts on a good show!2015-Christmas-collage1

We also took both Suriya and Yvette to their first rodeo, in Cloverdale.  It was a hot, noisy day, but we were fortunate that Suriya slept through much of the rodeo but awoke for a great photo.2015-Christmas-collage2

In August, we attended our 3rd annual Vancouver Canadians baseball game.  Two years ago we went by ourselves, last year with 8 other friends and this year Earl arranged for a group of about 20 people to go with us.  It was a blast to all sit together, and for us to be able to enjoy such a fun event with people from a lot of areas of our life, who don’t all necessarily know each other.  Charlotte hasn’t been a big baseball fan in the past, but she always enjoys a Vancouver Canadians game!

Seahawks GameFinally, in September, Earl was invited by a colleague to attend the last pre-season Seahawks game, his first ever live NFL game.  It was a great game and a memorable experience!

And that pretty much wraps up the shows/events portion of our year! As you can imagine, we didn’t travel much this year.  Any travel we have done has been limited to road trips, mostly to Powell River and to the US. With Charlotte’s family in Powell River, she’s taken the opportunity to spend a few weekends up there with Suriya.  In April, Earl had a company trip to Ohio (yes, he’s still keeping busy helping businesses get found online with RevLocal), so it was good timing for Charlotte, and for Opa and Oma, to have a nice visit.  Opa had his 65th birthday in June, so we all headed up to join the family to celebrate.  It was great that Uncle Nick and Aunt Dora from Ontario were able to make the trip out too!

Our June visit to Powell River included a little time helping Oma out in her continuously growing garden.  This small taste of gardening gave Earl a bit of a bug and in August we started our own garden project in our backyard.  We’ve got a few fall vegetables planted but most of our work has been building towards the spring.  Suriya had just learned to stand up at this time and enjoyed watching us work from the deck or her playpen.  Earl started a blog, calling ourselves the Foolish Gardeners.  Like our previous blogging efforts, we’re behind in our posts but the first few are there and we’ll continue to write more soon.2015-Christmas-collage-gardening

Dinner on the DeckInstead of traveling, we’ve really enjoyed being in a place where we can return the hospitality we’ve received so much of over the years.  We had the opportunity to host friends and family for dinners or overnight stays all throughout the year.  In total, we had out-of-town visitors from Australia, Turkey, Winnipeg, Calgary and Toronto.  In the summer, we purchased a small barbecue and patio set and took advantage of our deck with many outdoor meals.

The rest of the fall has been spent visiting with/hosting family and friends. From mid-September until now, we’ve had a revolving door of guests, and have been thoroughly enjoying it! It helps that we’re fortunate to have a house with a guest bedroom downstairs. Charlotte’s brother Dan and his family from Winnipeg were the first to arrive.  It was the first time Suriya had the chance to meet her cousin Lola.  The two of them hit it off!2015-Christmas-collage-ClemensVisit

Charlotte’s youngest brother, Rolf, stayed for 5 weeks in October, while he attended classes for his apprenticeship. We had a brief visit to Powell River for Thanksgiving, which Charlotte’s brother Sebastian and his girlfriend Emily hosted, and then we were blessed with a visit from Charlotte’s sister Eleanore as well.  It turns out we’ve had the opportunity to spend time with the whole Clemens family at some point this fall, including Halloween weekend with 4 of the 5 Clemens siblings together! 2015-Christmas-ClemensSiblings

In November, Earl’s cousin Louella, and her husband Boswick, stayed with us over Suriya’s first birthday weekend.  It was the first time the two cousins had really spent time together without any other family around, and it was a great bonding weekend.

At the end of the month, Yvette arrived for an extended visit.  Together we spent a weekend trip to Leavenworth, a little Bavarian village in Washington State.  The journey to Leavenworth was a little more than we bargained for as we had to use chains on our tires for the first time as we drove through the snowy mountains, but the 500,000+ Christmas lights in the quaint village more than made up for it.  We enjoyed the atmosphere, the German-style cuisine and a wonderful sleigh ride as well.  Leavenworth is also home to a Nutcracker Museum, as the traditional nutcracker has a long German history.  The museum has hundreds of nutcrackers dating back many centuries.  It was the perfect place to pick up our newest Christmas tree ornament to commemorate our trip.  For those that don’t know, since our honeymoon in 2009, we have collected an ornament from each of our major trips.  Now that we’ve had a real tree for the past 2 years, it’s been a great way to look back on great memories while decorating the tree.2015-Christmas-LeavenworthOther than those things, our year has been spent mostly gawking at our adorable daughter.  It’s been fun to watch her grow, and even more fun because she is an extremely friendly and engaging little girl. She’s becoming really chatty, saying “hi” and waving or blowing kisses at nearly everyone she meets. She loves playing peekaboo, roaring like a lion, and watching trucks drive by (“tuk, tuk!” she says).  She can eat with a fork already, loves blueberries and the fermented fruit that we use to flavour our homemade kombucha.  As much as we’ve had fun “containing” her, we were excited to see her start walking earlier this month.  Next year we will be running to keep up!2015-Christmas-collage-Suriya-contained

Needless to say, most of Charlotte’s time this year has been spent with Suriya.  Together they attended baby massage, mom & baby yoga, swimming lessons, and have taken numerous walks and done lots of little baby (mommy) playdates. We even hosted weekly picnics in the park this summer with our new friends from our prenatal class (and anyone else who wanted to play with babies!). Charlotte and Suriya also attended nearly all of Earl’s Saturday softball games, with Suriya sporting the team colours more often than not!  Earl still plays hockey in the winter but the evening game times don’t work with Suriya’s sleeping schedule, so he doesn’t have his girls as spectators for that.2015-Christmas-fun

We have also enjoyed getting more involved with our church family this year. It has been fun to do life together, especially as there are several other families with children almost the same age as Suriya. We spent the summer having picnic gatherings in the park (yes, more picnics – the weather was too beautiful to not be outside!), and the fall having potluck dinners several times a month. Both of us have grown in our relationship with Jesus and are looking forward to what the New Year holds.

This Christmas we are celebrating in Vancouver with both Yvette and Peter, and we’ll be meeting up with Charlotte’s family in the new year.

Our thoughts are with you, and we wish you a wonderful Christmas season and an amazing 2016!

All our love,

Earl, Charlotte, and Suriya


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