Christmas 2012
Joy to the World
The angel proclaims to the shepherds in the field “Don’t be afraid.  I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.” Luke 2:10, Message.
This Advent season has been much different for us than in years past.  We have a greater understanding of the joyousness of childbirth and I have a better appreciation for how Mary treasured up all the wonderful moments in the stable following Jesus’ birth.  Our own gift this year of a baby girl has been life changing.  While this sounds so cliché it is the only way to describe the months since her birth.  So in this season it has been rewarding to immerse myself more deeply in the joy that is Christmas: our Savior born to change the world through his amazing life and death and resurrection.  (I invite you to read my Advent letter on my blog for more on this.) Regardless of what your year has held I hope that you too can enter into a season this year of experiencing this joy that is like no other.
Our year started out quiet.  We were waiting for the birth of our daughter and to discover what becoming parents would be like.  Ryan found these months a challenge.  He was getting antsy.  We normally vacation in January; but this year instead we were in Chilliwackevery day of that rainy month!  Indeed, apart from the birth of our nephew, Kaleb on January 6th whose birth we celebrated from afar, there was not much going on in the early months of 2012.  I however, did not mind this slower pace of life: it fit my slower pace of everything from walking speed to mental processing!  I was pleased to feel fabulous during my pregnancy and enjoyed walks and occasional hikes up Teapot hill (I was proud I did this hike 8 months pregnant).  I worked until a week before Rayna was born and it was only a couple days before Rayna’s birth that I wondered if I would be able to continue my walks along the river that I enjoyed.
Rayna Katya Maria Rostek entered our lives on March 17that 4:32 AM (again if you are interested in more details of her arrival, her birth story is also on my blog).  Life would no longer be slow-paced and to give a true Christmas analogy it has felt like before she was born our hearts were 2 sizes too small and with her cuddles and smiles and laughs and milestone developments, like the Grinch, our hearts have grown beyond the heart-growth chart.  We are so blessed to have such a beautiful, healthy, bright, content little girl.  We are also so blessed with wonderful friends who brought us so many meals.  And so many friends and family near and far lavished gifts on us.  Further, Ryan’s parents arrived home from wintering in Florida when Rayna was two-and-a-half weeks old and served as consistent babysitters for us allowing us to regularly go on dates in Rayna’s early months.  To everyone we take this extra opportunity to say: Thank you!
I do admit that the freedom of no longer being pregnant and no longer being tied to the punch clock of work felt freeing.  So in April we decided it was time for Rayna to meet her Okotoks cousins (my sister’s kids) and Ryan began his first of many trips where he worked remotely.  Rayna’s first road trip was a success and even included a dip in the Banff Hot Springs (my sister, mother of 3, taught me that there is much you can do with a 6 week old and I learned a lot from her in my new motherhood).  A week after our return my parents were able to come out to meet their 4th grandchild.  It was nice to be able to spend my first Mother’s Day with my own mom. 
June was highlighted by the celebration of our 10thyear wedding anniversary.  Initially we thought we would consider our trip the past November to Kauaias our celebration.  However, we had some ‘travelling’ to make up from our dormant months and so we embarked on a lovely vacation to Whidbey Island in Washington State.  We rented a cozy waterfront cabin where Rayna had her own sleeping loft and Ryan and I were able to enjoy the romantic ambience that the cabin, its hottub and its view afforded.
In July we hit the road again for our Saskatchewanroad trip.  What a wonderful whirlwind!  We introduced Rayna to great grandmas, great aunts and uncles, second cousins, and friends from both my side and Ryan’s.  It was so good, as always, to reconnect with so many important people in our lives and this year to be able to have the time to lengthen our trip and take our time with the drive.
Highlights of August included Rayna’s first camping experience.  We joined our friends Chris and Vicky at Chilliwack Lakefor a wonderful campfire evening and Rayna’s first sleep in a tent.  It melted our hearts when Rayna woke up in the morning in between us and looked first to Ryan with a look that said “Dad?” then to me “Mom? What are you guys doing in my bed?”  It was such a neat experience to have our baby with us in a tent.  At the end of the month we hit the road again and headed to Shushwap Lake where our friends Joseph and Rahimay graciously invited us to join them for a few days.  The lake was perfect and the waterskiing and the company were great.  Rayna also enjoyed her naps on the beach in her playpen (or was that just mom and dad who thought it was awesome to be relaxing on the dock while their baby slept a few feet away?)
We returned to Chilliwackto settle into September.  I continued volunteering with youth and began attending Tuesday morning Women’s group at church.  As well I started full-fledged running training for my upcoming 30KM trail race.  Ryan started playing weekly tennis with a group of guys and his soccer league restarted.  And we both continued to meet bi-weekly with our close guy/girl friends for guys’ night and girls’ night as well as our weekly small group from church.  We were just settling into the routine and I completed my “30 give ‘r take” trail race around Cultus Lake, when we packed our bags again.  This time Rayna would have her first plane trip: destination Palm Springsto meet up with our friends Brad and Ashley and their little guy Raymond.  We enjoyed the simplicity of this vacation which included daily swimming, trips to the park, golf for the guys, and shopping for the ladies.
In the past my sister and I celebrated our birthdays by getting together sometime in November.  With the freedom of us both being on mat leave this year we decided we would re-implement this idea.  Somehow the idea transformed from me flying to my sister’s for 2 or 3 days, to mom joining us, to Ryan and my Dad coming too and lengthening our trip to a week, to a 10 day venture in Okotoks!  The main reason our trip was extended was to be able to watch the semi-final game between the Roughriders and the Stampeders at McMahon stadium.  While we had to watch our favorite football team lose in person for the third time, we enjoyed the experience of the game (cold weather and all; we haven’t softened toomuch living in the lower mainland of BC!).
Now as I write this letter it is December and we anticipate the joy of celebrating Christmas with family.  We have the privilege to be able to spend Christmas in Swift Current with my family followed by New Years with Ryan’s family in Florida.  What a great finale to a year that has abounded with gifts and opportunities!
We hope wherever you are this Christmas that you may find yourself immersed in the joy of the season as we celebrate the birth of our Savior Christ Jesus.
Merry Christmas from the Rostek family: Ryan, Cheryl, Rayna and Fritz.
PS: This year I actually have some pictures to go with my letter; but, due to frustration with uploading them to my blog I may or may not be adding them for your viewing pleasure:)