Saturday, December 30, 2017

Hopes for 2018!

 The year falling in the history books was a good year.  I don't take saying that lightly because there have been a few years of late that I was glad to see go.  There was nothing really remarkable about this year, in fact most of my hopes and dreams I wrote down at the beginning of last year remain unmet. But it was still good. I've learned some good lessons this year, to be content during the wait, to accept that God's path for us is always better. We've had health, we've had immense amounts of happiness, we've had abundance. Unmet expectations fall into the distance when I focus on the big picture.

Spiritually speaking this has been a great year.  We've both grown a lot in this area. We finally, after 3 years of back and forth found ourselves set on our "home" church.  We love it, us and the kids look forward to going every week. We've each made sure to prioritize time with God in study, and we've even done some studies together for the betterment of our family. In the year ahead, we would love to connect with a small group at our church and I want to dig in and challenge myself beyond just a surface level devotional but really dig into my Bible more and more.  

Our marriage is in a better place than it has been well, ever. What we once thought was a good marriage, eventually came crashing down. It forced us to grow together in uncomfortable places. This year we continued to rebuild and it has blossomed into a wonderful, intimate, wonderfully real relationship! We've prioritized quality time, letting go of many distractions and just enjoying the moments we have to talk or have fun together. I look forward to another year of good times as we continue to make "us" a priority for the betterment of our family. Our life is simple, but it is good. 

The kids continue to change at a rapid pace. This being parents thing can be challenging and scary. I am afraid every step of the way that I am messing them up, and I probably am. My kids are a wonderful blessing. We continue to grow, pray, stretch ourselves to adapt to meet each of our kids individual needs. Daily they make me see my imperfections and failures. That they are my priority. I hope to continue to teach and direct and have fun with them each day. I want to continue to value quality time with them. We've turned off the tv, unplugged the ipads and we are all better for this!  Most importantly I want them to know they are loved and valued.  

Financially we remain quite blessed and I know that.  We have really put the focus this year on being good stewards of what we have been given. Seeing areas that we have become lazy and righting some mistakes. I am proud of the work we have done to continue our Total Money Makeover. For once we are finishing the year in a really good spot and look forward to the year ahead as we work hard to pay off Peter's car (our last debt besides a mortgage) and continue to grow our retirement savings. Peter's job continues to go well and I remain very blessed that I get to stay home with my children.  

In other fun areas it was simple too. We did conquer a family room makeover on the house and some yard clean up, but we have no extravagant plans for the year ahead. We always have hopes of projects to cross off the list, but no guarantees on where we will get this coming year. I did not meet my goals with my health this past year and for the year ahead I plan to keep it really simple and just try to do the best I can with overall health and fitness for my family. 

We did getaway this year on some fun trips, numerous trips to the beach, a fun family vacation to Whistler and Eagle Crest for Christmas.  A business trip to Chicago for Peter that Malachi and I got to have a blast on.  We always look forward to travel, the year ahead we shall see where it takes us, but we are excited with possibility! 

Simple seems to be the theme of 2017. In a lot of ways it was more simple than I imagined. We like excitement. But simple was good! It allowed us to focus on our little family and building relationships. It allowed me to try some new things like skiing, hiking, and reconnecting with an old passion of playing my piano.  I leave the year behind with peace on where we currently are and that's a great spot to be in. It's okay that life took different turns than I was expecting.  The word I have been feeling on my heart as we look ahead to 2018 is "harvest". I have no idea what shape that will take or if it even means anything but I am willing to reflect on that for awhile and see what it means. I can say that learning to be content this past year has also left me in a place where I have my hands wide open for whatever God has planned for our family in 2018. I look ahead with anticipation! Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Mom and Dad's Year in Review

And now it is Mom's turn, mainly just some of my favorite pictures of the year and a few special moments. 

School has been one of my biggest challenges but also one of my biggest blessings. Homeschooling is no joke and I give serious props to teachers who have 20 plus kids to manage. We are all learning together and when I can look back and see moments like this, I know that we've made the right decision for our family.

Our Valentine's Day was such a sweet time as we celebrated with the kids and Malachi cooked us dinner. Definitely felt the love! 

Being a slower, low key year was a blessing too as we were able to try some new things, for me I started the process of learning how to ski, I hope in the coming years to get even better, I have a lot I still need to improve on, but even attempting Whistler was cool!

Another highlight of Whistler was ziplining. This was our second time on this course so it wasn't scary this time, just lots of fun!

Refresh Conference is always a highlight and we are looking forward to returning here in a couple months!

One of our bigger home projects this year was remodeling the family room and I am really happy with how it turned out. 

Not anything special but just a moment of real life that I love. Especially as an employee says "there's room for another one on the side!"

Easter, a special day as it was also Malachi's 7th Birthday

Spring Skiing at Mt Bachelor. I somehow skied 4 mountains in my very first season! 

New skills for the kids too

My husband and kids were so sweet to make me a big Mother's Day brunch! 

A fun week in Chicago, with Peter and Malachi, and an amazing opportunity to see Hamilton!

And catch up with special friends

Another favorite picture from this year

A fun summer project complete and I loved it, many summer nights enjoyed out there

Another new thing we tried this year was hiking, I'm really excited we did that little gorge hike because the whole area burned badly this year and will probably never look the same. 

We also made some great memories for our 11th anniversary at a special little cabin getaway. We went hiking, saw some places we'd never seen before, fished, and just enjoyed some sweet time with each other. 

We celebrated our 7th "Gotcha Day" Family Day at the beach

More sweet family moments

Had a fun weekend at Great Grandma's in Coos Bay 

This year was a good year! I am thankful and blessed that this year was as good as it was. Always so very much to be thankful for in life. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Our Christmas Away

 This year we made the decision to break away from tradition and do something different for Christmas. Every year we spend a little bit of time debriefing after the holidays have passed, what we enjoyed, what could have gone better, how we want our family time to look like while our kids are still young. It can be a challenge because every holiday comes with expectations and to break away from those expectations can be hurtful and difficult. Ultimately though, we always strive to do what we feel is best for our family. We have some kiddo's who do struggle through the holiday season. It can be a lot as we shuffle through 4-7 Christmas celebrations each year. Our hope was that some family time away would help us all enjoy the season to the fullest.

I cannot even put into words how amazing this trip has been! I do my best to not put expectations on a trip, so I really didn't know how the kids would do, but it really has felt perfect! Our kids have struggled lately with attitudes and I felt that could exasperate over the holidays but instead everyone has been calm and thankful and happy! It has simplified things so much that we've just enjoyed being a family and having fun together which is the best gift of Christmas I could get! We have never felt so relaxed through a Christmas season before!

We've felt blessing after blessing on this trip, from a pass that was closed being opened just before we left, to the snow not falling until the night we got here making the roads safer. There wasn't snow on the ground before and there won't be snow on the ground for much longer with none in the forecast, but we had 3 wonderful days of snow surrounding Christmas! It has been perfect! The kids were thrilled on our first morning here to wake up to snow! 

Vacation vibes

We tried to come up with lots of fun ideas to keep the kids entertained 

Of course the pool is a big hit

My crazy guys!

A really fun Christmas date after the kids were in bed, we get to have some fun too! 

Homemade toaster strudels, this was my first try making them and they will be on the menu again - yum!

Nothing like a warm hot tub after fun in the snow!


This was our first year making our own plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we had a blast planning a menu, watching movies together and playing games!


Santa found us!

Look at that gorgeous Christmas morning out the window! 


The kids loved having the chance to play with their toys most of the day! It was so low key and I feel just what they needed to stay regulated! 

This was our first year attempting Peter's family tradition of Lefsa Christmas morning! It was probably one of my favorite memories of the trip as we cooked together and watched the kids enjoy their toys!

After an afternoon spent opening toys and watching movies and for the first time ever, mama even took a NAP ON CHRISTMAS DAY, we headed over to family's condo. They had come down on Christmas Eve night and my mom had made us a yummy Christmas dinner!

And we ended the evening with some games, Eli our little card shark! 

All in all this is possibly one of the best family trips we have ever taken! It has been just what our family needed to reconnect after some tough weeks of parenting. We are so blessed by this awesome little crew we have and are excited to see all the new year will hold for us!