January was a very wintry month with lots and lots of snow! Sledding, snow angels, snowball fights(especially when mommy is the victim!)!! Aunt Brook was living with us during that time which was such a wonderful time for all of us(well, Brook may have preferred a more private living option ;) Noah enjoyed being able to spend time with Brook doing whatever she might be doing(I suspect he enjoyed talking her ears off as much as anything!) January was also when we found out that our 3rd and final baby would be a GIRL! We also found out at that time, that she had a two-vessel umbilical cord. While it turned out to be an isolated abnormality, there were a few days of uncertainty as to whether it was a "normal" abnormal or an indication of a bigger problem. God was faithful and provided just what we needed throughout the days of waiting for the 2nd ultrasound. While it was probably not the best option, I spend the night before that second ultrasound reading stories and looking at pictures on NILMDTS. I listened to many songs about God's faithfulness and read many stories of his all sufficient grace. I shed many tears. At that point nobody else knew that we were having a baby girl, nobody knew how much I had desired for this baby to be a girl even though before I was ever pregnant with her, I didn't really ever want a girl. I remember finally coming to peace in saying, "Lord, You gave me this baby girl, then gave me the desire for this baby girl, and I know that You have a plan for her life." And while I have said many times in my short years as a mother that these children are the Lord's given to us for whatever time He has chosen, it is really difficult to say that when faced with the distinct possibility that the time may be short or not at all. God was gracious and our 2nd ultrasound confirmed that the two vessel cord was indeed an isolated finding.
February brought more snow! More snow brought more sledding, more hot chocolate, and more Wii fun! It also brought the dreaded THIRTY for me...it wasn't SOO bad and I've mostly recovered just in time to turn 3-1...it's only a number, it's only a number, it's only a number... ;)We also enjoyed watching the Winter E-lympics(in a world of e-mail, e-bay, e-bates, you can see how he would get confused!) with Noah. It was so much fun to listen to him dream about being on a bob sled team or his talk about doing the Super G someday. I loved watching him watch and know that he was picturing himself on that stage getting a gold, silver, or bronze medal! I want him to always know that he can do anything he puts his mind to!
March 1st is our anniversary and we celebrated 7 years!! Amazing!! It's been an incredible journey and I don't think ever in my wildest imagination did I think we would have had 3 kids by our 7th year! While we have certainly not had a flawless marriage, we have made it to a very comfortable place...not sweating the small stuff, deep breaths before reactions, and looking at things from each others shoes have all helped tremendously(along with much prayer and many blessings from God.) March also brings a special birthday!! Noah turned F-I-V-E! CRaZy!! He was soooooo excited to turn 5...Grandma and Kayla even had a special countdown for his birthday at school!!
April! Nicer weather! Resurrection Sunday! Closer to baby day! We enjoyed Easter egg hunts without hats, scarves, and snow pants for the first time in a while!
May was a VERY busy month! Besides being my last full month of pregnancy, we had Justin's graduation, lots of family visiting, and Brook was leaving for Africa at the end of the month! Wow! I'm tired thinking of it all again! :) Justin's graduation day was B-U-S-Y! He ran in one of his last races and did QUITE well! His finish was toe to toe with another guy and he won literally by a hair and was so amazing, I thought it might send me right into labor(but it didn't!) We all left the race, changed clothes and went to graduation! Not only did he run well, but graduated in the top of his class! We are proud of him! The next few days were grad party, family leaving, and Brook packing (and repacking) the many items she would need for the next 2 1/2 years in Africa! We certainly miss her here with us, she truly inspires me and we enjoyed what time we were able to spend with her here in our home. We know, however, that she is right where God wants her to be for this time, and we are proud of her as well.
June! Finally! Joel turned 31 on the 1st and our baby girl arrived on June 3rd at 803 am! Grace Elizabeth, our beautiful addition to our little growing family, was given to us by God at just the perfect time! I have said it before and will say it again. She is truly a gift we didn't know we even needed! Most of the month was spent recuperating and adjusting to life with 3 little ones...it went fairly smooth and now I cannot imagine life any different!
July is an amazing month! I think it's because of the 4th o' July, personally! I mean who doesn't love a celebration and what better time to celebrate than summma' time! Watermelon, ice cream, swimming, burgers, brats...aaah! Throw in some friends, family and fireworks and you've got some serious fun on your hands! We spent most of July swimming at either Grandma's house or Joshua's house(sorry Mary, you know the kids always take claim!) It was a super fun month for sure, with an extra special highlight of Grace's new friend being born! Megan JoLynn Schramm entered this world on July 10th! Such exciting times these girls will have together!
August is a busy month with Camp Berean Way! We have lots of fun there every year! This year was a bit more difficult with a 5 year old, not quite 2 year old, and a 2 month old! I almost bailed and went home about half way through the week, but we made it through! Joel didn't end up coming home goatee-less this year either! He enjoyed getting to counsel with the senior boys this year again. We are definitely looking forward to camp again this year! August ended with Noah starting kindergarten and Justin going to college...what a bittersweet! Of course we love to see our kids grow up and learn new exciting things, but wow, going to school...wasn't he JUST born!
September started off with a visit from my dad which was followed by another exciting birth! One of my very best friends from college had her first baby--a GIRL! Elsa Camille Silver was born on September 7th! It was soo hard not to be there with Heather...she is really like a sister! I finished September with my first 5k after Grace was born! I ran the whole thing...that was my only goal!
October is Benjamin's birthday! He turned 2 on the second...his golden birthday! We tried to go to Greenville, SC to meet Elsa on his birthday weekend, but due to weather all the flights were overbooked and we didn't get to go. :( We had a fun day in spite of the frigid weather!
November is always a reflective time to think about the things we are thankful for and enjoying time with family and friends. I am very thankful for all of our friends and family! Each one of them holds a special place in our hearts! We enjoyed Thanksgiving with my dad as well as Joel's family and also enjoyed ridiculously warm weather for November in Ohio!
December...Christmas...aaah! We started December with too much sickness and antibiotics(YUCK!)...for the first time ever, I didn't get all the decorations out! At first, I was really sad about it, but then I realized that we weren't going to look back and think, "remember that year we didn't get all the decorations out". We still had a great year...as a matter of fact, I thought it was a great year. Noah remembered throughout the season that "Christmas isn't just about the toys, Daddy, it's about Jesus being born" I love that kid! He did so great remembering to thank everyone for his gifts and was soooo stoked at each gift! Benjamin on the other hand was still innocent, not really getting the whole idea that he was gonna get gifts on Christmas and even then he kept going over to see what Noah was getting instead of opening his own(he adores his brother!) Gracie even enjoyed ripping paper and tearing bows off! It was fun getting up and reading the Christmas story and being able to show the kids that while the gifts are fun, we really are celebrating Jesus and we always want to keep that central!
Another year coming to an end! I wonder why we put so much emphasis on "years". "New" years..."end" of the year...really? A year is a long time(sort of)...wouldn't we be much better off if we saw each month as a new beginning or every week...or every day...or every hour....or every minute...every breath! I love new years resolutions! I know that's weird, but I do! I think that the reason we fail at them though is that we fail to see that if we fall off the bandwagon in the first week, it's not "over"! We still have 11 1/2 months to succeed at this! If I were to look at my 1st week this year already, I would say this year was gonna be an epic fail! HA! However, even just today was a much better day than any day last week, because I am not gonna fall prey to the "new" year hype. Every second is a new beginning...if I mess up and eat a cookie for breakfast, I don't have to down the rest of the bag of cookies because I already wrecked my diet for that day.(This is purely for example purposes only...I'm not on a diet, though not because I don't need to be :P) I can take the very next minute and decide to make a change. We are already succeeding in our resolutions for the year because we are taking baby steps instead of trying to change everything we want to change NOW! I encourage you, if you are making resolutions to make attainable, measurable goals and remember "Be not weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not" Galatians 6:9
Happy New Year!