Dear Friends and Family,
Happy Holidays from Maine.
We hope this letter finds you healthy, happy and rested. As many of you know, this year was a big one for our family—a year of many firsts. The first of which is this:
The birth of our wonderful child, Reid Amani. Reid joined us February 18 of this year, when all the trees were in bloom (God love California) and Davis was radiating the wonderfulness of spring. After a small hiccup at the start with a perforated lung, Reid made a quick recovery, and has proven to be a hearty (and stout) young fellow. His birth also brought us the good fortune of many wonderful visitors/baby carriers last spring, in the form of grandparents, other relatives, and some good friends, who helped us ease into the world of being a family of four. Reid is now 10 months old and an absolute delight.
He scootches along floors on his belly; has some vague sense that he should go feet-first down stairs; enjoys chewing on everything (noses, cups, lint, toys, magazines, hats of those carrying him, and shoelaces); makes loud and frequent pronouncements generally focused on the consonants b, m, d, g, and n; loves music and rhythm; and has mastered hand signals for two things dear to his heart—bright lights and ceiling fans. Reid is a jolly, easy-going, observant (particularly of his brother), and cute young lad.
Another first came in the same week that Reid was born, when Tim was offered a tenure-track position at the University of Maine in Orono to teach and study socio-ecological systems as part of the university’s Sustainability Institute.
Though we were sad to leave California, we were thrilled by the offer and made the journey to Maine in August, where, with the help of Topher and Marie on babysitting duty, we found a fantastic house to rent within a week. The house has a river for swimming just down the road and trails for hiking *right* out the back door, as well as some nice new neighbors. Tim’s job involves teaching and research and, though he is very busy, he has returned home on more than one occasion and said, “I think I have the best job in the world.” Tim has also started to carry on Tim Quirk’s tradition of walking to work (or on some evenings, running the two miles home in order to be on time for his second shift as Daddy—a job he treasures).
The next set of firsts came for Liam, who, in spite of his world traveling, really made his first big conscious transition this year with the move to Maine. Liam loved his “California home,” which included dear friends literally right across the grass from our apartment, a playground just outside our door, a garden plot across the road, and, in general, a great community. Long will we relish the days of university family housing at Davis.
Needless to say, his parents were a little bit worried about extricating him from yet another wonderful home. We primed him with a list of Maine assets that we thought he’d enjoy: blueberries, snow plows, and school. We came pretty late for the blueberries this year, but Liam has enjoyed many a swim in the river, his first foray into preschool, and now sledding, shoveling, snow angels, making “Henry the Helpful Snow Dude” and other such frozen shenanigans.
Liam continues to love books and has a gift for remembering all sorts of words (at Thanksgiving, he surprised Ann Overman by saying, “I don’t want to be a paleontologist. I want to be a volcanologist.”) He spends a good portion of his day pretending to be other characters, often a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Peter Pan or Captain Hook, a puppy dog, a cowboy or a pirate. His latest imaginative play has challenged his parents’ Quaker sensibilities, involving a wide range of weapons, but even when “armed,” he remains a gentle kid.
The final first is Katie’s brand new success as an author. Yes! Katie just recently signed her first publishing contract with Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers. We are very excited, and can’t wait to see how the process of publishing actually plays out in the coming year(s). The book is one that Katie began in graduate school and worked on through our time in India. As some of you know, it’s a “middle grade” novel for kids from about 10–14 years, is set in historical Tanzania, and focuses on an adventuresome girl who solves an important mystery in her village. Katie also continues to work on her second book, a parenting memoir about Liam’s first two years in India. Her other (and greater) accomplishment this year has been learning how to parent two kids well.
She enjoys the energy, constant activity, and particularly the blossoming relationship between Liam and Reid, and feels increasingly grateful for this phase of life during which she gets to focus so much on kids.
We’re also delighted to report that our dear Tanzanian friend, Modesta, graduated this year from university in Uganda with a degree in Community Development. She worked extremely hard, charmed and made many friends in Uganda (as she has everywhere she has lived), and is proud to be the first in her family to have the privilege of completing a university degree. We are so excited for Modesta!
We are grateful to have so many wonderful friends, even spread as they are across the world. We feel very lucky to have such great kids, parents (who happen to be four top-notch grandparents), siblings, and families in general. Though we find ourselves very busy with pretending to be dinosaurs, pulling kids on sleds, building forts, and changing diapers, our minds are often simultaneously with friends or family in Kodai, California, Colorado, Tanzania, Vermont, Washington, and all of the other places we and they call home. We miss you all and would be delighted to have you come visit.
Katie, Tim, Reid and Liam
Great Christmas news, especially about your book, Katie. Is it ok to link this post to the Bulger googlegroups, since I know everyone would like to hear the good news and celebrate with you…
So great to hear from you all! I imagine leaving CA was hard, but it seems you've landed in a great place. We are in Philly again now and have CA nostalgia at times, but this feels like home… Ada is attending a Quaker school, which is great. Congrats on the new babe and on your book. I will look forward to reading it with students! Email me your address.xoxo,kate oshea
It is always such a joy to read all about your adventures, parenting and otherwise! Thank you for providing me with smiles to last the day!
Many, many smiles within these words and pictures! Thanks for the rays of sunlight.
Wait – in the last picture, do I see Cowgirl Kate?
Ya dun good, ya dun good.
What a wonderful post. And oh so modest of you, Katie, to save your excellent author news for last. Kevin, Molly and I are thrilled for all of your family's successes and adventures this year. I can't wait to read the first of your many books with Molly Sofia when she's a wee bit older!
Loved, loved reading your post and delighted to see Modesta's graduation photo. What's next for her I wonder.
Also, congratulations to Tim on his degree and new job and Katie on her book.
Blessings and Peace!
The two of you are amazing authors from blogs to books. You are also amazing parents, your babies are blessed. We as a family are so very proud of you and also blessed for you being a part of it. Thank you for coming to PA for Thanksgiving and sharing time with us. We love you all.
Ann (the eldest of a great generation of people)
Best holiday letter EVER! Wow you guys are awesome and more awesome and even more awesome yet. I love your constant flow of happy news.
Big hugs to all of you!
Lovely to read and hear from you, happy family! Congrats on all achievements. Looking forward to reading your book: my daughters will like it too, I believe. I spend two and half months in Tanzania doing data collection, and of course parenting. Looking forward to seeing you sometime. Warm regards. George, back in Germany.