As I look back over 2014, my overall impression is that it was a challenging year in ways I have never encountered. Apart from the obvious, Sam's emergency surgery and having our home burglarized, I found 2014 to be a year of struggle for me in my calling as a mom. After 16 years in the trenches, I have deeply grieved the end of the baby/toddler/preschool stages with my children. It. Is. Over! I already miss it so much. That, by no means, implies that it was easy or even that it went fast(I really hate it when people say that it goes so fast). The days were long and hard and unbearable at times. But, in the midst of all of that, I found real joy in loving and leading our kids through that time. It worked for me and my black and white, right and wrong, justice-oriented, scheduled, controlling self.
Moving into this new phase, I had expectations. That was my first mistake. I expected things that were not realistic. That has led to a lot of my internal struggles. I have had to let go of what I thought and even hoped this phase would look like and be willing to let it be what it truly is. That is so hard for me. I had to let of expecting everyone to participate in everything we do as a family. I have also had to fight really hard to keep our traditions alive for the younger ones. Just because older kids do not want to have Rudolph sandwiches and look at Christmas lights doesn't mean we have to stop doing it. I am determined to still give these things to the younger ones. I value our traditions and what they do of our family. The littles deserve to have those same memories.
I am learning A LOT about myself in all of this. I am having to learn how to embrace this phase despite my disappointments. I love all of my children, and I have to figure out how to show that to them no matter what age they are. It is funny to me to think that I could handle 6 kids, 10 years old and younger 6 years ago, but I can't seem to handle 6 kids, 16 years old and younger. The sacrifices now are different than they were when they were little.
So, all of this to say, blogging has fallen by the wayside. I have 3 children who hardly let me take pics of them, and I absolutely am not allowed to post them on my blog. That limits me. But, once again, I am not going to let that keep me from doing what I value.
I decided rather than agonize over the many posts that need to be written, I would just do two long post(If you are even still reading at this point, I am pretty impressed with your perseverance). I am going to share mostly in pics the last month, but even some things from this fall that I missed. There is a lot to share! Then, I am going to declare 2014 complete! Here is the wrap-up of our year:
Lauren played on a new soccer team this fall, The Lady Anglers.
Doesn't she look thrilled to have her picture made?
Playing on this team with other TCA girls will prepare her as she tries out for the high school team next year!!
This was our view at each of her games. We had fantastic fall weather!
She likes to play forward. She is at the top of this pic with the headband on. Lauren scored 3 goals during the season.
My absolute favorite thing about this team was the chant they would do at the end of each game after praying. They would say, "If we win, we will praise you, if we lose, we will praise you, if we tie, we will praise you. Whatever happens, we will praise you!" It brought tears to my eyes every time they did that. They ended the season with 8 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie.
Sam played fall baseball
He moved up to the Majors level in baseball since he is turning 11. That made it a challenging season for his whole team. They were the youngest in the league.
To me, the sports that we do for our kids are about way more than just the game. It is about teaching them teamwork, character, perseverance and not giving up.
Love his face in this pic
Love his coaches
Coach Monty getting him ready to bat
Thanksgiving day '14
The younger kids made turkeys, with Abby's help and direction, for our table decorations.
This, right here, is a turkey holding a turkey
A whole flock of turkeys
It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without my Starbuck treat while I cook the meal
Our Thanksgiving breakfast of gf and regular sausage balls and monkey bread
Abby prepared the table
Time for the feast
After Thanksgiving, it was time to decorate for Christmas
This was all I could get from Lauren
Abby wasn't much different
Cody watched us while eating pancakes
This is my little lady helping with the ornaments
I love that she is playing with the nativity sets
The kids' tree
My and Rick's tree
There were many activities in December. We did our Christmas baking. I let the kids decide if they wanted to participate or not. Cody and Sam opted out. One more chance for me to "Let it Go..."
Lauren made fudge and peanut butter balls
Abby made peppermint bark and no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies
Isaiah made gf and regular peppermint snowball cookies
Laila helped make sugar cookies
A special friend sent us the Ann Voskamp "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent book.
Isaiah, Laila and I did it throughout the month. That became a special time with them.
We headed out one night to look at Christmas lights. The weather was snowy.
We started with a stop at Starbucks ! Thanks, Papa and Grammy, for the gift card!
We headed to a local church.
The roads were slick, and I was very nervous
Afterwards we looked at some homes that had lights to music. At the very last neighborhood, we slid into a curb. It messed up our truck. Over $800 later and it was fixed. Merry Christmas to us!
Rick and I had the pastor/elder Christmas party to attend. It is a privilege to journey alongside each of these families in ministry and life.
Laila's class made gingerbread houses
The kids' school had a dress-up day for Christmas. Isaiah was the only one who participated. He came downstairs that morning declaring, "You can call me Mr. Big Bucks."
Lauren had a Christmas choir concert
We went to Panera for dinner beforehand
I see this almost daily in our house. Laila lines her babies up the stairs. They all also sleep in the bed with her at night.
Abby decorated the bacon grease for Christmas. This girl can make anything look festive.
The holidays would not be complete without our Life Group Christmas party
My view one morning
We had a lovely visit with Mrs. Randhawa.
We missed having you, KJ!
We had some super cold days
Laila and I went on a date to see "Annie." The first thing she said when she saw Annie was, "Mommy, she looks like me!" We loved it!
A week before Christmas was Isaiah's 8th Bday.
He woke up to a hash brown and sausage breakfast
A Birthday hug from his "little" sister
That day was Pioneer Day at School
I took him a special lunch from Panda Express
Ms. Julie was able to join us for his Spaghetti Birthday Dinner
We had Birthday Cake Ice Cream for his Bday dessert
The next day, he had a laser tag party with some friends
They played some video games
They played 3 rounds of laser tag and had pizza and soda
Big Birthday cookie for a Big Birthday Boy!
WE LOVE YOU, ISAIAH!!
I took Isaiah in for his 8yr. check-up and he had not grown any in the last year, so we have to do regular checks over the next few months. Would you please pray our little guy grows the way he needs to?
Isaiah, your personality is too big to contain in that little body of yours. You have the best smile and the best hugs. You make friends everywhere we go. We actually have to factor in "talking time" for you in our errands because you absolutely must talk to everyone you come in contact with. It is precious and sometimes embarrassing when you ask people really personal questions. You are an open book. There is never any guessing about what you are feeling whether you are happy and yelling with your always outside voice or grumpy and moping with your shoulders hunched over like you lost your best friend. You have become a strong student and a great reader! I love you, buddy and cannot imagine my life without your presence. I thank God every day for making me your mom.