Merry Christmas! [1]

The kids are finally in bed after a full day of building snowmen and delivering toys to needy children. We sang a rousing medley of traditional Christmas hymns gathered around our grand piano, before having each child quote Luke 2 from memory.[2]
I am now cuddled by the fire, while Mark hovers over me, watching me drift into sleep. His cold, pale skin is offset by his sinuous muscles and amber eyes, and he whispers to me in a voice as smooth as silk, while the electricity of sexual tension sparks a heat between us that belies the winter chill.[3]

It has been an eventful year. Mark passed his licensing exam at the beginning of the year, and he is now an official Marriage and Family Therapist! It was a big step to leave his nine-year run at Rock Harbor Church, but Mark was ready to branch out on his own[4]. Mark is now in full-time private practice, and we are all adjusting to seeing him wear “grown up clothes”[5] to work every day. He is very happy with his new job, and comes home every day telling me how much he loves this work.[6] I am loving his new flexible schedule, and spending our first Christmas in 12 years without the responsibilities of being on staff at a church!

This was a year of change and experiencing new things.[7] This year I found a new hobby[8]: blogging. I try to write every day, and pepper my inspirational musings with stunning photography, made-from scratch recipes, and reflections on my exquisite homemaking skills and crafting abilities[9]. I also started a mommy blog with my friend Ali, called Mama Manifesto. It’s a great way to supplement my income[10] I am still working as a part-time therapist and gearing up for another semester of teaching at Vanguard University.

I am excited to announce, three short years later, that we were able to finalize Jafta’s adoption this May[11]. In other long, drawn-out adoption news, we also visited Haiti again in the spring. We are still hoping to adopt a little boy there and we took both kids on this trip so that they could meet their brother-to-be. We are hoping and praying he will come home some time next year. When we returned from Haiti, I was surprised to find out that I was carrying a new life inside me, one that was making me very nauseous but nonetheless continuing to thrive.[12]

Over the summer, Mark and I celebrated our 12th anniversary by taking a cruise with some other couple friends. There is nothing like a grand stateroom[13] and a trip to an exotic location[14] to rekindle the romance. This summer we also got to visit the Seattle Howertons, along with the rest of Mark’s family, and later played host to our nephews visiting from Florida[15]. My kids love their cousins and we love seeing them grow closer with every trip.

The kids had a great year and continue to meet new milestones.[16] India auditioned for the terrible two’s for months, but thankfully once she had her birthday in October, she appeared to enter into a whole new developmental stage.[17] She is obsessed with ballet and cheerleading[18], and may be the youngest girl ever to have a crush on Troy from High School Musical. Jafta spent the year asking acting like a typical 3-year-old (constant, neverending questions) [19] despite being the size of a typical 6-year-old[20] . He started a new preschool this fall with his best friend Ryder, and he is learning so much that I’m constantly amazed at what he retains.[21] It’s hard to believe he turns 4 at the end of the year.

The biggest surprise this year was learning that we are expecting again – a little girl will make her arrival in April. I spent my first trimester in the blissful state of an expectant mother, with a renewed sense of purpose and glow of impending life. [22]

All in all, it’s been a great year for us. In November, I was emotional to witness the ushering in of a historical event that I never thought I would see in this lifetime. [23] Mark and I also got to take a trip by ourselves this fall for a last hurrah before our brood grows from two to four. We are excited and a little overwhelmed to think that next year, we will be the parents to four kids four and under. But we love it, and feel very blessed to have such amazing friends and family.
We wish you the best this coming year.
The Howerton Clan
Mark, Kristen, Jafta, + India


[1]Unless you are Jewish, Atheist, or Agnostic. In which case we mean Happy Holidays. I mean, we’re down with Christmas. But we don’t want to alienate anyone. But we’re not embarrassed to be Christians. But we want to be PC to our non-Christian friends. Crap. If you are already offended, you should probably stop reading right now.
[2] Okay, our evening involved some Tivo’d cartoons, a few rushed books, bathtime, and then a couple tantrums before wrangling the kids into bed, after which I heard Mark mutter the phrase, “I would like to pimp-slap these two right now.”
[3] Oh, I’m sorry. Was that paragraph awkward? I read the Twilight series this year and I guess I’m still identifying with the romantic prose of young adult vampire novels. My IQ is in recovery. Pray for me.
[4] Yes, he really flew the nest. Into a new office right across the street from the Rock Harbor offices.
[5] He has ventured into the brave new territory of ironing and dry cleaning, instead of wearing surf tees and board shorts to work. He’s all growed up!
[6] The sign of a true extrovert – spending all day talking to people and feeling refreshed at the end. Mark is the anti-Kristen
[7] And some things that are best forgotten. Like when I succumbed to wearing Crocs.
[8] Hobby, diversion, colossal waste of time. Call it what you will.
[9] Stop laughing. Alright, it’s mostly snarky tales of my day where I mock myself, my children, and others.
[10] If you can consider getting random samples of DVD’s and diaper bags income supplementation. Mark does not.
[11] We are working on breaking a record for “longest adoptions ever”. And this was a fast-track case according to LA County.
[12] That’s right. I caught a Guardia parasite in Haiti!! What did you think I meant?
[13] A 6×6 prison cell with a porthole and a toilet practically on top of the bed
[14] The cruise was to Ensenada. We got off the boat, walked by several pharmacies selling Viagra, bars blaring techno music in the middle of the day, and curio shops full of boob mugs and Bikini Inspector t-shirts. Five minutes later we got back on the boat. Viva la Mexico!
[15] During which I realized that my house might be a tad bit small for four children.
[16] India stuck a cheerio up her nose, and Jafta has improved his aim and only pees over half the shower curtain now
[17] She skipped right ahead to her pre-teen years. Either that, or she has rapid cycling Bipolar disorder. Hard to say.
[18] i.e. she throws a fit if she’s not wearing her tutu and a certain blue bow she has deemed a “cheerleader bow”
[19] Does superman have to put lotion on his eczema every night, too?
[20] Prompting mommy to contemplate starting a line of t-shirts for large children, with sayings like “I’m big for my age, please lower your expectations accordingly”
[21] Like his classmates teaching him the names of every character of the Star Wars movie, how to make a gun out of Legos, and how to sing the playground classic Nanny Nanny Boo Boo. Oh, and I think he learned some letters . . . ?
[22] A mother experiencing crippling nausea, fatigue, daily progesterone shots, and a healthy dose of panic and anxiety,
[23] Yep. Mark joined Facebook.