Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Picture Highlights from 2013

The first two months of 2013, we decided to foster a few puppies to help heal the hole that was left when Macy passed away in November 2012.  We went to the shelter one night to wait for the transport with excitement.  We were supposed to be fostering a little pup named Pancho.  The transport came and there were two puppies in the van that weren't supposed to be on there.  The shelter had no idea they were coming and nobody lined up to take them.  They asked if we would be able to take two puppies instead of just one...and how could I say no to these faces.  Ginger and Snap were tons of fun!

My husband knows me!  For Valentine's day, these hot pink running shoes were waiting for me on the counter when I got up that morning.  It was my first pair in almost a year.  I would spend the rest of 2013 trying to recover from an injured hip and a mysterious illness.  My racing season wasn't quite what I hoped it would be, but I am going in to 2014 with high hopes.

My three Valentine's Day cuties in their shirts that Gammy and Poppy sent them.

My hubby and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in March.  This year taught me what a gem I have in him.  He is truly a gift.  We spent our anniversary in Michigan.  My parents took the kids for the day and we were able to go see a movie and go out to dinner.  Early the next morning, Collin got the stomach flu which put a cramp in our style for the rest of spring break.  It was a wicked bug that took out every one of us but Dan.

On our way back from Michigan, we stopped to pick up our new addition.  It was out of our way and a little tricky to accomplish with my little man sick with the stomach bug, but we arrived home with my Anniversary present with no regrets.  He's the best anniversary gift I have been given...I wouldn't trade him for the world. 

In April, Kaitlyn picked out Teddy.  My little girl has such a love for animals.  I am thankful for a husband that allows his little girl (and me too!) to enjoy having pets in our home.

One day after Dan's birthday and a week before mine, Collin jumped off of our deck and ended up breaking his leg.  This was quite an experience and gave me a new found thankfulness for the health of my little family...and also a greater respect for parents of kid with physical handicaps...or really any medical condition.  I spent the first few nights with him on the couch trying to keep him comfortable and listening to him scream out in pain.  It was almost more than this Momma could take.  I wanted to take this from him and prayed that God would give him comfort and peace.  It broke my heart to watch him not be able to run and play with the other kids and see him get so frustrated when he couldn't do things for himself.  His teachers at school were wonderful and I really am so thankful for all they did for him (and me).  He spent about 5 weeks in his cast and another few weeks not being able to walk.  We are so thankful that it wasn't worse and that he didn't end up needing any kind of physical therapy.  We really hope he never jumps off the deck or anything else again...but if you know Collin, you know that's doubtful!

Kaitlyn celebrated her 9th birthday in May...she also got glasses this year.  I am blown away that God has allowed me the gift of a daughter.  She gets prettier with each passing year and never ceases to amaze me with how smart she is.  I love her heart for animals, her spunk, her strong-will, and her determination.  She is competitive and likes to be the best.  She's growing like a weed and I can hardly believe she will be in double digits in no time.

After a rough start to his kindergarten year, Collin did adjust and actually excelled in his first year of school.  With tears in my eyes, I watched my little man receive his medal for "graduating" kindergarten.  I was one proud Mama.

The summer included several trips to Six Flags!  Kaitlyn loves the roller coasters, Landon conquered his fears and rode a few rides for the first time this year, and Collin loves the water park.

In July, Dan took risk and accepted an offer at a new job.  He is now a rental property inspector and loves his new line of work.  It was an answer to prayer and has really been such a good thing for our family.  He is able to be home more often, has a more flexible schedule, and can even work from home some days.  It's so nice to see him leave the house in something other than nasty old clothes, work boots, and tool pouches.

Collin celebrated his sixth birthday at the beginning of August.  He wasn't walking very well yet, but he enjoyed it all the same.  He got a new bike and chose McDonalds for his birthday meal.  I am thankful for the fun he brings to our little family.  His imagination is incredible and the things that come out of his mouth are hilarious.  He has a great sense of humor and is a go with the flow kind of guy.  He is impulsive and creative and keeps me on my toes...and I wouldn't trade him for the world.

My Middle Man turned eight a few days after his little brother.  My handsome boy chose Steak N Shake for his birthday meal and (just like his brother) got a new bike for his birthday.  He brings the calm and reason to our family.  He sees lessons in everything and his wheels are always turning.  He can be more reserved than the other two, but get him alone and he will talk your ear off.  He is loving and always puts others before himself.  He is cautious but does like to have fun once he feels comfortable.  I love his cuddles and the kind things he says...he truly is precious.

At the end of August, I got to check something off my bucket list...I got to run a race with my Dad.  I wasn't feeling the greatest, but this was such a special race to me.  I am so proud of both my Dad and my sister and thankful that we can share a love for running.  My Dad ran a great race and it was so fun to cross the finish line and see both of them waiting with medals around their necks.  I always enjoy running with them when we are all together and I am looking forward to running with these two this next year!

We finally started the renovations on our basement.  It's been a long time coming!  It's been fun to sit and watch my man at work and I have been amazed my his progress!  Hopefully, in 2014, we will be finished and able to enjoy our new space!

After the unfortunate death of Teddy, my little girl was heartbroken.  We had decided that it was best to give her heart a rest...but, I couldn't help myself.  I surprised her with a new friend, Asia...a dwarf rabbit...who has been so much fun to have!

Days after the kids went back to school, I started a second job at a local orchard.  I wondered if I would be able to wing it with my health concerns, but it was really a blessing.  I loved working there every day, the people that I worked with, and the atmosphere.  At the end of the season, they asked me to come back next year...of course I accepted.  They handed out vouchers to all their employees and the kids and I were able to go pick apples for free.  I am looking forward to spending the fall months of 2014 there again!

 Halloween 2013 - even the dogs dressed up. :) 

When I look at this picture I feel overwhelmed with how blessed we were this past year!  Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking Back

The older I get, the more important it becomes to me to look back on the passing year as it comes to a close and gather something from it...some lesson I can learn, something I can take away...food for thought maybe.  I have always believed that there are lessons to learn in everything.

There has been much heartache, loss, and rejection for me this past year...countless hurts...countless scars.  It's one thing to go through something because you know that God has something better in store for you...it's a totally different story to be brought low at the hand of another person whose intentions were not at all good.  But, there are lessons in everything and something to be learned from this past year and I have learned a lot :

If anything else, I have learned of the truest love I could ever experience on this side of Heaven : The Love of My Husband.  When I felt like I couldn't lift myself out of my bed, his strength kept me fighting.  When I felt like I was all alone and I wanted to build the highest of walls to protect my heart from any more hurt, it was my husband who kept chipping away at the wall I was trying to build.  I believe that God gave us this year to better our marriage...to bring us closer...to open my eyes to the gem I married.  I have never, ever doubted his love for me but this year I have felt every inch of it and have been overwhelmed by how deep it actually is.

“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.” ~Bob Marley

I truly think this year would have broken me if not for the fact that God has told me who I am...and it's been His constant reminders (spoken to my heart through things I have read, words of friends, my parents, and words from my husband) have sustained me and kept me from believing the lies that others tried to destroy me with.  I know who I am.

Suddenly she realized that what she was regretting was not the lost past but the lost future, not what had not been but what would never be.”

― F. Scott Fitzgerald, A Nice Quiet Place.

This quote has really spoken to me over the past few months.  It describes what I have felt countless times this past year...I have been regretting what will never be...what will never be because I have had to set healthy boundaries for myself...what will never be because I have let go of all expectations...what will never be because there has been too much "stuff".  I am not good with change and I am loyal to a fault.  I have a hard time letting go of the familiar and will fight til the very end...but this past year has taught me that sometimes I just have to let go.  It's not letting go in failure...it's letting go because it's no longer healthy for me.  It's not letting go because I have some sort of grudge that I need to hold on to...no, it's the exact opposite...it's letting go because I no longer want to carry that grudge.  Some may not understand, but to me this all makes perfect sense.  I have had to find away to let go of the regret of the lost future...and find a way to embrace a future that looks a little different.  It took a little while, but I can finally say that I am content.

Amidst the heartache, this year has been full of joy, love, friendship, and fun.  I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have ever been.  I have realized what a gift my little family is to me and how much we need to guard our time together and cherish it even more.  I have been so thankful to the people that have surrounded my little family and I and loved on us.  I have never been so thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends.  I am so very thankful for another year at my job and the opportunity for Dan to jump in to something different.  I have watched him become a happier man and it's been so nice to have him home with us more.  It's been a year of restoration...finally feeling like we are recovering from the two years of unemployment we went through...and I am so thankful for the path He continues to carry us down.

So, as 2013 comes to an end, once again, I sit here thankful.  I am thankful for the lessons, the trials, the heartache, the hurt, the safety, our health, the laughter, and everything in between...I am thankful for normal and rest.  It's been a good year...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

 My Princess, Zaiah, and Middle Man - Christmas 2013

 Christmas Morning - 2013

Never in my thirty some years of life have I ever stayed home on Christmas Day...until this year.  It was the best gift I could have been given and I am so thankful to my husband for making that decision for us.  We took our time around our little tree opening our gifts, we made a big breakfast that everyone enjoyed, we spent almost the entire day in our PJs, we played games, watched a movie, and later on went to the movie theater to see Frozen.  It was a pretty neat experience seeing a show on Christmas Day...maybe a tradition we will have to adopt.  We came home and my husband fixed us a bbq rib dinner with garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli, and rolls.  It was wonderful spending the day together, just us.  I am looking forward to many more Christmas Days spent at home.