Friday, December 30, 2016

Hopes for 2017

Oh 2016, what a year it has been. I look back and I see so much to be happy about. Just watching our kids grow and change and try new things has made life exciting.  It has been good.  I also look back and the general consensus on 2016 was that it was not a great year.  We experienced some really wonderful things in 2016 but along with that we had some really hard times too.  It's always nice at the end of a year to look back and also look forward.  So with that being said, here are my hopes for 2017! 

Sidenote: For the last couple years, I have composed a post using this format. Sometimes it feels a bit too "honest" but I love being able to look back and see what all we've hoped for and accomplished.  Even if you don't blog, this is a good record to have year to year as you think about the year that has passed and the year to come.

 I love my husband with all my heart.  We celebrated 10 years of marriage this year, with many many more years to celebrate together in our future. It was a milestone worth celebrating and we celebrated it well, including renewing our commitment to one another moving forward. This has not been an easy  year though.  It is not easy to admit that.  We have been forced to be truly real with one another.  We are growing through it. It has shown me that through it all we have a one of a kind friendship on even the toughest of days and a love and commitment strong enough to make it through no matter what.  We've always worked hard to keep our marriage a top priority and that has been no different this year.  Even though we've had a rough time, we're truly in a better place and better people in general than we were a year ago.  We are genuine and happy people, not only as a couple but as individuals.  Our hope for 2017 is to continue the groundwork that we've established this year. and that we will be stronger than ever before by the time 2017 comes to a close. I am confident that this goal will be accomplished because we are already accomplishing it. We move forward with a renewed commitment, stronger love, true honesty and intimacy, and greater happiness than ever before!  

   This has been an amazing year with the kids. Yes, I always have challenges with time management especially as a home school mom.  But I've spent a lot of time this year simplifying life for the better of the kids. It has been hard to let certain fun activities go, but it really has been worth it. The kids needed some down time, as did I.  I think my favorite thing each year is just watching them grow and develop. They're all at a really fun age. To think I love the baby stage so much but I am also really enjoying each stage these kids are in now.  As challenging as parenting 4 kids is, I feel like it may be getting "easier" the older they all get. I can't wait to watch their personalities continue to develop and see their interests grow and develop in the year ahead. It is a blessing and privilege to be their mama!   There is always room for improvement and it seems that every age and phase requires adjustments to our parenting. I of course know I can do a better job. I want to be more present this year with them.  I want to grow in my patience with them.  I want them to always know how dearly loved each one of them is!

Things at the house are going great. It has been a fun year in my opinion as we work more and more on some of the finishing touches.  We completed a few big outdoor projects like putting in a playground for the kids and replacing the shared fence with the neighbors. Inside we completed some smaller projects while also raising a sunken floor and getting new family room and dining room furniture. The inside is looking more and more homey and I am thrilled about that!  In the year ahead we have a few smaller projects to focus on (trim work, continuing the hardwood flooring in the family room, new living room furniture, sprucing up the outside etc) before we move on to start saving for one of the last big purchases for the house - new windows. It's hard to believe that this house still has old windows but hopefully in the next year or two we can take care of that!

Eh, I feel like a failure in this area. I've tried to keep up on working out and doing better but didn't do as well as I would like. Busyness of life won out and just a general burn out after years of working hard.  I've been taking steps to get back in shape and right the ship. I don't want to set any specific resolutions or anything for the year ahead but I do know that overall health and fitness is a huge part of what I am going to be working towards in 2017! 

We had an incredible year of travel with fun places like Whistler, New Orleans, and Jamaica this past year. I love that we get to travel and see new places together. This coming year we aren't exactly sure what the plan is yet, beyond a family trip to Whistler coming up here soon. I may try to tag along with Peter someplace this spring and other than that we are discussing what plans we might want to come up with in the fall, but nothing is set yet! 

We continue our journey on our Total Money Makeover.  You may remember that we took a bit of a detour for our last adoption and have been working hard ever sense to get things completely back on track.  We depleted our savings and had even gone into debt, but in 2015 we paid off that debt and in 2016 we were able to get back to 6 month expenses in savings. That gets us back on track to Baby Step #4 - 15% income to retirement. We're continuing to work hard on this goal but we are also relaxing things just a little bit and focusing on other things too. Financial freedom remains a priority for us but I am also very proud of what we've already accomplished!

     This has been the calmest year for Peter as far as jobs go in awhile and that's a good thing.  There's really nothing much to report. He's hit 8 years in his field and is doing well. It was nice to have a calm year and we always hope for career growth and good things to come in the year ahead.  

This has honestly been one of our more boring years for us. We thrive in chaos and this year has been more calm than we expected, but we may have needed it. I tried to create a bit of chaos by fostering all these puppies, as if homeschooling 3 earlier Elementary kiddos while chasing a toddler isn't chaotic enough.   I look forward to the year ahead as we have exciting hopes and plans. I know there will be tough days and challenges of course but the good always seems to outweigh the bad. I count my blessings!  So farewell to 2016, you presented challenges that caused us to grow and stretch ourselves and our faith.  I am full of HOPE as I look forward to the year ahead.  I know good things are coming!  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 In Review

I've seen 2016 was a hard year for so many, and I have to say it has been a challenging year for us too. I'm not really sad to see it go, but as I take a moment to look back on 2016 we've also had several memories of good to get us through. So here's a photo look back on 2016 for our family. 

We started the year with Malachi's first basketball season 

We also snuck away to the beach for a quick weekend away

Eli turned 5

We celebrated Valentine's Day with our sweet kiddo's!

We got to head up to Seattle for one of our favorite weekends away for the Refresh Conference! 

Peter surprised me with a fantastic weekend away to Whistler for my 30th Birthday! 

And I got to cross something I've always wanted to do off my bucket list! 

We celebrated Easter 

Malachi turned 6 

Sabrina turned 4!

The kids finished another school year, and Malachi graduated Kindergarten! 

I crossed another item off my bucket list by visiting New Orleans! 

I also crossed a few new states of the list with Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and a fun day trip to Pensacola Beach in Florida! 

Then another school year began! 

The kids had a blast as the big summer project was completed! 

We also started a fun journey in fostering puppies, with over 20 coming through our home before the year is out! 

We made lots of fun family memories all summer long! 

And not so fun memories, like our first ER trip with a baby girl and a 106 fever (she had strep and an ear infection. 

Peter turned 30! 

And soon after LB turned 2! 

And we celebrated our first milestone anniversary with 10 years of marriage! 

We also crossed the first child surgery off the list this year, something I don't care to repeat anytime soon. 

ALL the kids finally cooperated for family pictures! 

We had a fun labor day away to Coos Bay with the kiddo's! 

Another soccer season started and the boys were superstars! 

Halloween was adorable! 

And then the crowning jewel of the year as we went on an incredible trip to Jamaica to commemorate that 10th anniversary and renew our vows! 

We also went away for a long weekend to Eagle Crest and had some fun with the kids at the beginning of December. 

And we've had more snow already this year than we knew what to do with, and lots more it seems is in the forecast. 

And last but not least, we had a fun and very busy Christmas! 

Yes, there is still so much to be thankful for in a year that was not my favorite. We've made fantastic memories in some new and fun places and the kids have grown so much and remained healthy.  I think we've proved we can make the most of a cruddy year but I sure look forward to even better times ahead in 2017! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Memories

Christmas is always a fun time of year with kids at the ages ours are.  We all were really looking forward to it and the kids were spoiled ROTTEN by their grandparents this year!  

It started with our Christmas Eve tradition at my grandma's house.

On Christmas morning we were up before dawn assuming our children would be up to join us as they typically are up before us.  Go figure, the parents were up at 5:30 only to have the children sleep until 7:15 on this specific morning.  But we had some nice quiet time together before the sun was even up! 

Then it was Christmas morning fun!

Before long we were joined by Peter's family for Lefsa and presents and games. 

We sent them all on a silly scavenger hunt and got some great pictures!

The biggest surprise of the day was that Rachel's water broke Christmas morning! We were all expecting a Christmas day baby at this point, but miss Matilda held out until after midnight.  We had another busy day after Christmas but we were thrilled to get to see her quickly before the next festivities began! 

And then it was time for my family to come over and celebrate Christmas with us on the 26th! This was the 3rd time our tree was restocked with presents.....

All in all it was a very fun and special Christmas. Us parents are exhausted but I think we've finally found places for all the new toys and are ready to move on and look forward to 2017!