Then the Grinch thought of something he hadnít before!

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "Doesnít come from a store.

Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more!

In an effort to enjoy the season we have moved this part of the communication to a New Years extravaganza.

Talia is five now, I know she was an infant yesterday! She has developed a love of words. Her Aunt Biz and Uncle Todd delight in teaching her new ones. Her extended vocabulary now includes such words as myriad, contemplate, dearth, infinite, and plethora. She is always eager for a new word and loves to use them to impress others, perhaps a touch of my grandfather shining through! She is also in love with writing and crafts. With Christmas/birthday season fast approaching, Christopher and I have taken to spelling quite a few things. The other night , in an effort to avoid bed Talia said to her daddy (who was working in the bathroom), "I think M O M should help D A D put the molding up." She is not reading, but recognizes several sight words and I donít think it will be long. In an effort to get her to do things other than crafts and writing, we allowed her to join a dance class once a week. It includes ballet, tap, and tumbling. It seems awfully pink to me, but she is very excited, as is her sister, who thinks she should be able to dance too.

Olivia is two and will be quite distraught to only find 3 candles on her cake verses six, because she and Talia will be six soon, at least in Oliviaís world. She has a mind of her own and is more than willing to explain to you the way things will be. She fires me (as her mother) on a regular basis. She decided that she should go to dance too, but the only class offered for her age is a mom and me class. We went and she howled until I sat on the chairs and watched - because thatís what we do with Talia, she was then ready to do all the steps! She also enjoys crafts and writing and will spend an extended period of time at the table working on detail items. She is also extremely verbal (imagine that in child of mine!). Her new favorite word is Ďactuallyí. She is also proficient in profanity. This is trait I work diligently on curbing, but since

Christopher complements her on good usage techniques, Iím not very successful! She is also successfully potty trained - it only took three days once she made up her mind. I was sad for a moment at the thought of

no more diapers, but it passed quickly!

I am still teaching middle school part time and enjoy it immensely. They are always teaching me something new, sometimes more than I need to know! I am about 1/3 finished with my masters program at Notre Dame of Ohio. I love it. It is a small woman focused college. I have made many friends and rekindled a lot of my early fire for wanting to make educational changes. I also have discovered how much more I have to learn. I also continue to be party mom at Taliaís pre-school, and am planning a new round of childrenís programs for the Historical Society. Christopher still works for Picker - three whole years in one place. I hate to even commit it to writing. He is managing additional people and seems to like the job over all. He recently completed his Novell certification and is working on the MicroSoft equivalent. Since I went to school, he has become super dad. The girls and he have Tuesday night dates. They eat, shop - they check out local antique shops and the latest technological developments at a variety of stores, and go to the library. I also volunteer tutor one morning a week and the children have been seen in strange outfits including a tutu with underwear and a tee shirt. Christopher believes in freedom of choice in the clothing department.

Thank God for good childcare, and extra clothing!

School severely limited house projects and traveling this year. We did sand the floors in our bedroom and the other upstairs bathroom. Thus all the floors, except the girls rooms, my bathroom, and the downstairs bathroom have been sanded. YEAH ! The others have adequate coverings! My mother made me 2 new window seat cushions and a matching a comforter cover, as well as curtains for our room. It is a taupe on taupe fabric with an angle print in it. I saw the original in a Bloomingdales catalog for way to much money! We are very blessed to have talented relatives! I made new curtains (shower and window) for the girls bathroom - and we did install a new tub that is mostly done! That whole molding thing is still up in the air! I also painted figures on the walls as I did in the girlsí rooms. I am still planning on stripping the doors, but have not yet started! Christopher also installed new gas logs, and the livingroom - previously the frozen tundra land - is now so warm my mother complains!! We have also purchased some antique cupboards for the kitchen, and have a sort of plan. I almost hate the thought of adding walls - it will greatly reduce the girls display area! A refrigerator seems so inadequate after having two full walls to decorate! We made no major outside improvements either, but Talia had her own garden and I was mostly able to keep up with mine. She was thrilled by the cherry tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and tiny watermelon. Though she was very distraught with the amount of time it took to get results!

The entire Walsh clan headed to Tennessee late this summer. We rented a large cabin at the foot of the Smoky Mountains. It was beautiful. We went biking, hiking (once to a wonderful waterfall that we climbed and swam in - very cold!), and generally lazed around. We had a hot tub, and each night a different couple cooked. Jimmy and Christopher took their motorcycles and did things we asked them not to tell us about! They did return with tee-shirts proclaiming that they had concord 314 curves in less than 11 miles - I didnít ask for their time!! It was successful enough that we are planning a camping trip together this August is SE Ohio, near where Christopher and I went to school. We also managed some short trips to my moms, Rochester and Chicago. Iím not planning on summer classes this year, it cuts into my travel plans too much!

We hope the New Year finds you healthy and happy.

Love,

The Cobbís Jo@ct.picker.com or cobb@ct.picker.com