Hi there Friends and Family!
We hope that 2013 has treated you well. For us 2013 was the Hungarian calm before the storm and in 2014 our lives will be up in the air. (Whee!)
Oliver has been doing very well in the 3rd grade at his international school. He is reading a ton (big books) and doing math with the 4th graders. He has a huge vocabulary, which leaves us scratching our heads at the incredible things he says. He loves his baby sister Sarah but is not so secretly hoping for a baby brother.
Miss Sarah somehow gets cuter by the day. She is inches away from walking but is so adept at crawling, she could care less about trying. She tries to repeat words and has sworn off baby food altogether. She only wants to eat what the big people are eating—teeth be damned! Sarah doesn’t know what it means when we tell her a new baby is coming, but we suspect she won’t be thrilled about it, since she gets so much attention now.
Elizabeth has been steadily working away at her job with NATO as well as kept up with her National Guard commitment (including re-enlisting for another 6 years!). She’s done lots of great things in her time there and has really enjoyed it. She has also really upped her game in the kitchen since practically everything we eat is now homemade (bagels included). She is a tad nervous with how the coming year and move will go. Juggling a move, while pregnant with small children and dogs will be a big challenge. She’ll also be looking for a follow up job that was just as awesome as NATO is, which is no small task. Elizabeth is tough though and will handle it just as well as she has handled everything else.
Joshua has perfected lawyering from 5,000 miles away. He enjoys working in his pajamas (joking . . . sort of). He does actually enjoy getting to see baby Sarah a ton during the day. Our Hungarian hasn’t improved much, but Joshua has been teaching English to the international military partners assigned to the program in Papa. It is his reprieve from the house and lets him make a positive impact on the community. The coming move is all Joshua’s fault! With the help of some really spectacular recommendations, he was selected to join the United States Air Force JAG Corps. We don’t know where his assignment will be yet, or even when he will start training. We’ve been told tentatively March, but much has to happen prior to then, so that date can easily change.
We’ve been lucky to have several visitors over the past year. Joshua’s sister Cece came to visit in the spring, and our good friends Jeff and Adam spent a week with us on our vacation to Italy! Joshua’s dad was able to pop down to Hungary for a few days while he was in Europe refereeing wrestling. We also got to celebrate a real Thanksgiving with our friends the Simpsons, who recently moved from Cheyenne to Germany.
One of the most fun things about this year has been having multiple au pairs to take care of (mostly) baby Sarah and Oliver. First we had Miss Genevieve from Cheyenne. This happened out of pure luck but got us sold on the idea of having someone live with us full time. After Miss Gen went home, we spent the summer with lovely Miss Lena from Lile, France. Lena came with us to Wyoming on our trip home over the summer, and we didn’t think we would be able to make her get on the plane back to Europe. Then was Marek from the Czech Republic, Viktoria from our village, and currently Miss Brigi who comes from the other side of Hungary. Miss Brigi loves to beat us at every game we play with her and laugh at our Hungarian “skills.”
The biggest change around our house in 2013 was with our pets. While we were in Wyoming in June, Elizabeth’s dog Loki passed away rather suddenly. He and his antics are greatly missed. He’s been with Elizabeth for such a long time and will never be replaced. In September, we brought home a new furry family member to keep Kyah company and to lessen the pain from the loss of Loki. The new guy is named Zeke and happens to be a merle colored Great Dane. He is 6 months old now, and weighs around 80lbs. He will be a VERY big dog. Moving him back across the ocean will be an adventure in and of itself.
Just in case you missed it before (or the earlier hints in this blog didn’t tip you off), we are expecting baby Tolin # 3 in May! We’re blaming the Italy trip for this one. Just like with Baby Sarah, we will NOT be finding out the sex of this baby. We figure that life only gives you so many true surprise gifts, so why open the wrapping early? Elizabeth hopes for another girl because we already have everything a baby girl could need (and then some.) Joshua hasn’t said whether he has a preference, but has caved at least subconsciously and says “girls” when talking about Sarah and the new baby. Oliver insists that if we don’t have a baby boy, that we need to adopt a brother for him. We’re not opposed; we always talked about having 4 kids total, but Elizabeth has declared that she is not EVER going to be pregnant again. So we shall see.
We sincerely hope that you all are doing well, and we hope to be able to see more of you in this next year! Our door is always open, no matter where in the world we are. We will welcome you with a warm place to sleep, legos on the floor to avoid, fresh cinnamon rolls, and a large dog for cuddles.
All our love,
Elizabeth, Joshua, Oliver, Sarah, and Baby Tolin #3.
P.S. Here’s a slideshow of our last year. It’s kinda long, but there are pictures of just about everything we did! Enjoy, skim, see if you can spot yourself, whatever you’d like!