Friends and kindred, inlaws, outlaws, and otherwise:
Greetings and salutations! Joe’s off with his brother and some friends tonight and—having settled the children and the house—I am here with tea, treats, and laptop in hand, prepared to update you on the life of the Langemanns in 2017.
For the first several months of the year, Joe spent his time off renovating our kitchen and bathrooms with new cupboards, counters, and backsplash tile. Our dates for those months pretty much consisted of midwife appointments, a quick coffee and (another) run to Home Depot. I absolutely love the finished products! Working in a beautiful kitchen is good for the soul and the bathrooms feel like a ritzy hotel.
This year Joe developed quite a passion for longbow archery. He found a local range, shoots often with my dad and/or siblings in my parents’ yard, and regularly finds some small accouterment to add to his setup. I love it; it’s so him. He’s still working in sales at The Deck Superstore and really likes his job. The commute is a little crazy from our home right now (looking to move this year!) but one advantage is that he’s made his way through several audiobooks in the course of the year. He’s a wonderful dad and I love seeing him on the floor with the kids, creating amazing things from blocks, Duplo, Lincoln logs, etc.
I have no trouble keeping busy these days. Caring for the family, creating yummy and healthy meals, keeping the house (usually mostly) tidy. The kids and I get out for walks just about every day (current setup: double stroller and Ergo) and in summer make good use of our local pool. I still love to read and set a record for books read in 2017, thanks largely to a new Kindle (a having-a-baby gift from my hubby), making reading while holding a baby much easier. I’ve made great use of the library e-book service. I participate in music as I can...Joe, seeing that rehearsals and concerts made his normally steady wife “buzzed”, kindly worked things out for me to play with the Colorado Young Sinfonia through the end of the 2016/2017 season. I loved those evenings of focused work on some wonderful music. Recently I’ve been playing piano for worship at church. It has been a long time since I did any church music; it’s good to be back.
Both of us participated in Bold Reflection in the spring. Our summer concerts were special times, especially since the group took the fall/winter set off. We’ve missed BR but were able to join our church choir in the same capacities: Joe sings and I’m accompanying. Figuring out how to include music in our lives with three small children is a bit interesting, but we are so grateful for opportunities (and numerous family babysitters) that allow us to make it happen.
Yes, three small children! Madeline Rose was born on July 28, 11 days late. She was welcomed with great love and relief by her parents and with great enthusiasm by her siblings. Maddie is a sweet, laid-back, happy child and loves her older siblings. She rarely cries but has a whole collection of sound effects (including an ear-splitting screech) that communicate quite effectively. I am really loving this baby stage the third time around. I’m not nearly so worried about things like “will she sleep through the night” (probably, eventually) and “oh no is she acting normal” (yep) and much more aware that this is a short and special season of life. I love our nighttime snuggles. Her middle name comes with a funny story...we had a name for a boy but couldn’t settle on a girl name for a long time. We kept coming back around to Madeline and finally, in the last week or two before she was born, we decided we’d better come up with a middle name just in case. Problem was, we were totally stumped. So we put it to our families (via family text) and generated a whole slew of suggestions, including Belle, Ursula, Viola, and...more. Auntie Erin saved the day and Madeline Rose it is!
Emily turned 2 on July 2. She’s the best imaginable mixture of sweetness and spunk… impossibly cute and so articulate. She is a caring little mama for her babies; a small collection of dolls and a blue teddy bear that she calls her sister. (If you hear one of us refer to Emily’s sister, it’s typically not Maddie we’re talking about. It’s the blue bear). I regularly find her singing one of them to sleep. She loves to sit on the counter while Mommy works in the kitchen (“Hop you on da counter? Hop you on da counter?”). She picks up on emotions when we read stories: “He sad! He happy!”. I love her wonderful response to music. She gets so excited, moving, dancing, and occasionally exclaiming when it gets too intense. Earlier this year she was obsessed with the violin. Anything could become a violin: two pieces of tomato, goldfish crackers, toys, tubes from the vacuum. Grandma had pity upon her and got her a toy violin for her birthday. She sings with great abandon and sometimes hilarious lyrics (“Who in da world, da Lord is come.”). She certainly has her ideas about how things work, or should work. On the way home the other night she wasn’t super impressed that I was driving instead of Daddy (who wasn’t even in the car): “Dat’s Daddy’s driver right now! Don’t use it! Can you scoot over?”
James turned 4 in November. He’s getting to be such a big boy. Loves playing with Daddy and building things, digging outside, playing with his aunties and uncles. He’s all about construction equipment right now. I walked in his room the other day and he had a whole construction scene set up; Lincoln logs dumped all over and front loaders and dump trucks to load them into. He’s so creative; he’ll create expanded versions of toys (hooking a couple of trailers together to become a car carrier, or using a stethoscope as part of a leaf-blower) and comes up with wild and crazy headgear. He’s also a musician boy. Conducting, singing all the time...sometimes his own songs and sometimes real songs. If I’m playing the piano he comes up with some kind of drum set (container, two Lincoln logs) and just sits and bangs away along with me. I’m amazed by how much he picks up. He and Emily both sprinkle their conversation with references to songs and stories: “I see da light from above!” “I’m digging da celler of da new town hall!’.
It’s been fun to see the relationship between the two of them develop. This year they’ve gotten better at playing together peacefully for stretches of time longer than two minutes and it’s so nice. This exchange from July nicely sums the mixture of sweetness and insanity around here... James: “Look at you! You’re. So. Pretty.” (about one minute later) “Say bird poop, Emmy! Say bird poop!” They also sing together….recently I heard (very loudly) “Blow up, blow up, blow up de ark!”
Joe and I celebrated 5 years of marriage in September. We are so blessed to share life together. We’re working out how to live well in this stage, how to nurture our kids and our marriage and care for all the practical stuff. The intermix of the two can be a little funny. Today we had a lovely date, talked about organization and routine, and then went to Costco and got crate-happy. Over a dozen crates later the toys are well-organized, at least…
As usual, our travels were some of the highlights of our year! The usual Morgan family trip to Buena Vista in February was wonderful as always. In May, Joe and I flew out to Washington and spent a few nights in a fishing town on the Pacific coast! First time I’d seen the Pacific ocean. We had a lovely time together and spent as much of it as possible down on the beach. In October we made our annual trip to Michigan. It was one of our best vacations ever, long drive notwithstanding. We spent a few days on Lake Huron in a lovely little cottage right on the water, relaxing and enjoying the beauty as a family. Then we headed down to my grandma’s, where most of the rest of my family met us. I’m telling you, bringing a slew of babysitters on vacation is highly recommended. The kids loved the water, the sand, and the time with Grandma Noni and it was a wonderful relaxing and bonding time for all of us. It’s been such a gift to be able to spend these times with my grandma each fall.
We have been given so much. Obvious things: a home, love, family, friends, music. And the deeper things: God’s care. Grace. A hope that doesn’t change. Attending a performance of Handel’s Messiah was a highlight of my Christmas season; the truth and hope contained therein is so refreshing and grounding for me. It helps me to take a step back and see that no matter the craziness of the world or the anxiety of life and the having of three small children, God’s story is bigger and the ending is good. Deep security lies in that and I am so grateful. We are also grateful for you, our dear family and friends. (Especially the ones who babysit). Wishing you a wonderful 2018!
Joe, Rachel, James, Emily and Madeline Langemann
all the good photos by Sarah...