Monday, December 22, 2014

Make It Monday - Our Christmas Card (And A Birthday!)

First of all, I must say Happy Birthday to our wonderful, fabulous, FIVE year old, Nathan!  Pictures to come of all of his birthday fun! 

Second, now that my Christmas cards are mailed and received by all, I wanted to share them both here!

As I did last year, I found a  Groupon and was able to order a higher end card for very little money.  Like last year, however, it was not easy to make HA!  I didn't realize it until after the fact that I used the same company I said I wouldn't use again for that very reason!  Obviously, I did finally get the photos to work and I love the card.  The top photo of the boys is from camping this summer and is a favorite because it shows them as they are - two very happy, fun-loving boys.  The photo of Darryl and I was taken at my niece's house back in June and, well, I actually like it!  Of course, the bottom two photos are of Josh and Nate - just taken a few weeks back during the huge snowstorm that hit before Thanksgiving.  Gotta love those faces!

Here's our Christmas Letter too - enjoy!

Christmas 2014

Dear Family and Friends

Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday when we were turning the calendar from 1999 to 2000 and there was so much concern about “Y2K”?  Yet, here it is, 2014 . .. I’m not quite sure where the last 14 years went!!  I do know that 2014 went by incredibly fast.  I so enjoy reflecting back on the year and sharing the ups, and yes, even some downs, with all of you.

Our Animals – Our family experienced another change this past year with our dear pets.  In April, Misty, my sweet cat of 19 years, got extremely ill and we lost her.  It was devastating to say the least even though I knew that she was getting weaker and wouldn’t be around for too much longer.  To not have her snuggling in with me or to see her sleeping on top of the fridge was such a sad thing.  I really had no desire to get another cat but sometimes, things happen that we don’t expect.  In July, a friend posted that she had a cat that she needed to find a home for due to her dog trying to use it as a play toy.  Her cat was the exact cat we had discussed getting if we ever got another cat – a full grown, fixed, declawed, fully in-door, male cat.  Added to that, she said we could give him back to her if he didn’t work for us and she gave us everything right down to a huge travel cage for him – all at no cost (and free is always great!).  Well, Harley was a perfect fit for our family.  He is fun, cuddly, loving, playful, and a snuggler.  He will reach out a paw and touch whomever he is sleeping closest too; he loves the boys; doesn’t mind be carried around upside down; and yes, even smacks China upside the head to get her to play with him!  I still miss my sweet Misty but Harley sure is a fabulous cat.   As I just mentioned, we do still have China.  She is still the best dog in the world and we enjoy her so much!  Her age is slowly catching up with her but, if she gets a chance to escape the yard, she will run for her life and “laugh” at us as we chase after her. J She is still very protective of the boys and the boys still love her. 

Our Kids – The boys continue to bring us so much joy, laughter, and happiness.  It seems that each year gets more fun, yet we miss the things that you lose as they get older (ok, not all things like diapers, sleepless nights and baby puke HA!).  Both boys played soccer this year in both the spring and the fall.  We learned that Josh is extremely competitive as he fought for the ball from the very first game; Nate likes the idea OF soccer but playing is not his favorite thing.  We did see a big improvement in their skills between the spring and fall though, and Nate has cleaned off an entire shelf in his room so he has room for all of the trophies he plans to earn in the years to come J  The boys also both learned to ride bikes without training wheels this summer which was a HUGE accomplishment.  We are continuing with homeschool this year – Josh is in Kindergarten and Nate is in Preschool.  The boys love learning at home and just plain love school.  I try to take a day off here or there but both boys beg for work; recently they even took their work to Papa and Nana’s house (my parents) so they wouldn’t miss any days.  Josh continues to try and lead everyone (aka “be in charge”).  One day I had to remind him that I was the parent; not him and someday, when he was adult, he could be in charge.  He then went to his room, sobbing, and saying, “It will take forever until I am big enough to be in charge”. Hahaha  We are working hard to direct him towards being a kind and compassionate leader so he can use those strengths someday to “make friends and influence people”.  He is funny, has a great sense of humor, gets sarcasm, and is constantly asking questions.  He cares deeply and therefore hurts deeply and gets frustrated with lack of perfection. Josh is also a fierce defender of his brother so, well, don’t mess with Nate.  He makes us smile and laugh every day.  Nate has a fantastic imagination and is a great problem solver.  He prefers to find a solution for a problem instead of arguing about it and will have deep conversations with us over everything from how to fix his bed to how we can organize the garage better.  Nate highly dislikes seeing Josh upset over anything so he will try to smooth over situations that arise but, don’t get me wrong, he will also get super angry with his brother when he pushes just a little too far J  Nate is a tender hearted, strong willed, caring, loving little boy.  He keeps us laughing, is always moving, and knows flashing a smile makes everything better. 

The Adults – When we “left” you last year, Darryl had been struggling with some health issues which revolved around some pretty severe back problems.  Those issues continued into 2014.  After a long wait, lots of tests, and trying various things, he had major back surgery at the end of June.  He had a fusion of the L4 and L5 vertebrate.  We had hoped for a quick recovery but that was not the case.  He ended up being off of work for 3 months and still struggles with back, leg and hip pain.  He continues with physical therapy in order to improve the issues yet, at this point, we aren’t sure how much more “recovery” will take place.  We are thankful that he was able to go back to work at Calder City Cab and is able to work full time.  We continue to seek God’s will for other employment that not only would be better for his health but would also provide more for us as a family.  Darryl had to take most of the past year off from the music group he plays guitar in, Alive, but is looking forward to getting back into the group in the coming year.  He was voted in as a Deacon in our church this fall which is something new for him as well.  I must add that despite the surgery and recovery, we were beyond blessed and are so thankful for the simple fact that Darryl got to spend three months home with the boys and I AND that it was during the summer.  The boys simply loved having their dad home every day; they three of them went for 2-3 walks/bike rides (the boys riding!) a day; played games, built Legos and Lincoln Logs, read books, took car rides, went to the park and yes, even watched cartoons together.   I also enjoyed having Darryl home for the summer.  Not only just having him around for adult conversation but just the fact that I could go to the store, run errands, and have extra help during the day was a true blessing.  I am still babysitting for a friend of mine which I enjoy plus it gives the boys great playmates!  I’ve become more involved at church as I’m now serving on the Missions committee, singing on the praise team, playing piano and singing too.  I also had to take a break from singing in the Community Choir due to Darryl’s back/recovery but look forward to returning to it in 2015.  Scrapbooking, reading, and teaching homeschool fill up the rest of my time. 

Our Fun – This past year was pretty “quiet”.  We didn’t get to take a week off for vacation, yet we had Darryl home for months; we didn’t get to take over night hotel stays, yet we did indoor camping, and got to camp in our pop-up in the driveway for fun.  I am thankful though that we did finally make it to Mackinaw in October.  It was something that the boys had been dreaming of since last year.  We surprised them with a three day get away and it was perfection.  The boys had the opportunity to “drive” the Ferry across the lake to Mackinaw Island as well they were taught how to coil the ropes and get the boat ready to dock.  Riding their bikes on the Island was another highlight for them as was several trips across the “Mighty Mac” bridge.  Prior to that, in August, we finally were able to go camping.  The boys l.o.v.e.d it.  They got to ride their bikes all over, play in the dirt, go swimming at the beach, eat ice cream, roast hot dogs and blow glow-in-the-dark bubbles.  Back in June, we were able to make a trip down to Alex and Alicia’s (my niece) for a small family reunion.  It was a lot of fun to laugh and laugh with my family.  Kel, Deb, and Micah had just returned from the mission field – we miss them so much when they are gone and love spending time with them when they are home.  Kel and Deb were able to spend Halloween with us and went Trick-or-Treating with the boys which they all loved. 

I guess that’s all for this year.  For a year that I felt wasn’t filled with much it seems now that it was filled with, well, much!  We are looking forward to 2015 and are excited to see where God leads in the coming year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!