This Year on The Millers:
It’s that time again. Time to heat up that turkey or ham or—can I dream?—prime rib roast. Time to cool the pies and chill the eggnog. Time to wrap the presents and find the perfect book to read on Christmas Eve (a new tradition in our house). And time to reflect on the past year—in letter form.
March blessed us with a new addition to our family: Margot Renee. Life with three is more than we were expecting, both in joy and work, but when we do finally collapse into bed at the end of the day, it’s with a smile. Most days. Margot is a tiny ball of joy, smiling and laughing from her very first days and teaching us to appreciate the circus of our daily life. She is a blessing and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to adore her properly.
By adding a week to either end of Spring Break, Susan and I were able to spend most of March marveling at Margot. Then Susan took the next month plus change with her, while I finished up the school year. Come summer, I took over.
Monday through Thursday, it was just us: Baby eating while Dad read. Dad writing while Baby napped. Sometimes we even traded off. I would eat and she would look at one of her many picture books. I would nap, and she would plot out the next chapter of her debut novel: Life in Diapers. On Fridays, I kept all three kids home and played the Stay-at-Home-Dad, at least until Susan came home at noon.
Another addition this year was French Breakfast. On Friday, when I had all three kids, I’d have them don tiny black berets and serve them something extravagant. I spent those summer weeks looking up recipes and writing food labels en français. While the children may not have been able to read the words I placed diligently beside each bowl of strawberries or raspberries, the cards certainly helped dad remember to say pain perdu and fraises and framboises. I originally imagined the kids asking for each breakfast item in fluent French. While this didn’t materialize, by the end of the summer they were adding s’il vous plaît to their English requests—even if Charlie’s came out more like “Silly Play.” After breakfast, we would read a French book and then watch a short cartoon. The kids didn’t learn beaucoup de français, but they did learn a love of crème fouettée and that’s a start.
Shortly before Margot turned zero, Charlie turned two. Two has brought not just babbling, but real talking: questions, demands, and cordialities. For an entire month, he walked around shaking everyone’s hand and saying, “Nice to meet you.” I do mean everyone: Mom, Dad, Sissy, people in church, stuffed animals, lamps. It has been a wonder watching him become a person this year. This time last year, he had a handful of words at his disposal. Now he speaks in complete sentences, has genuine insights about the world around us, and says “please” and “thank you” and, Susan’s favorite, “I love you, Mama.”
This year, Bonnie turned four and moved into a big girl bed. Also, Charlie’s crib was converted into a daybed and brought into Bonnie’s room. No sooner did Charlie move in than the Babar Wars began. Like fools, we got Charlie a stuffed Babar for Christmas and so, naturally, Bonnie stole it out of his bed every night. After much debate, she finally agreed to wait until he was asleep to steal it. This led to Charlie pretending to be asleep and then screaming when Bonnie came to collect. By Valentine’s Day, we surrendered to the tyrants and got her a stuffed Celeste doll. By March, Charlie had abandoned Babar completely, but Celeste remains Bonnie’s go-to girl.
A week into their new sleeping arrangement, we had a veritable constitution of new bedtime rules. Currently, Bonnie must stay in our bed until Charlie goes to sleep and then go to her bed and stay there until morning. This works so well that, as I finish this letter at midnight, Bonnie is across the table from me coloring a triceratops and singing, “All I eat is pizza, na na na na na na.”
One upside to Bonnie’s insomnia has been story time. After we read a book or two and sing some songs, Bonnie will request a story. “Not one with pages.” These range from tales of lost toys and kidnapped elephants to parables and myths about bunnies and dragons. Bonnie chimes in with characters, locales, and things they find on their journeys. As each story nears its end, she will throw in a new conflict just to make it last a minute more.
Me: And they all arrived safely to their home.
Bonnie: But it was full of carrots!
For a four year old, she has a terrific knack for introducing conflict—not to mention humor.
Workwise, things are on the up and up. During Susan’s maternity leave, they promoted her to Director of Admissions, proving once and for all that absence makes the heart grow fonder. As for me, I started my third year at Holcomb High School and am more involved than ever: two clubs, a new committee, and I’ve taken over the newspaper. It’s all very busy but good.
I leave a lot out when I write, but the salient points are there: the children are growing—and we are too. We wish you a warm winter full of pie and presents, savory meals for the days and good books for the nights. More important, though, we wish you time for the things that matter: Time for loved ones and friends; time to chat and read and reflect. 2019 has been the best year yet for the Millers and we all expect great things from the 20s!
All our Christmas-Love,
Steven, Susan, Bonnie (4), Charlie (2), Margot (9 months)