Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Review...What A Year!

Okay, okay, so I'm cheating a little bit with this picture. Technically, if you want to get technical, this was Christmas Eve 2015, but I never posted it (who knows why???), so it is now part of my 2016 year in review. This picture makes me smile. I am (and was) in such awe of how good God is by giving us such a precious gift.

 Third trimester in January! We had just had a huge scare when Levi's heartbeat couldn't be found for thirty seconds or so, and while that does not seem like a very long time, it felt like time had stopped while my whole heart began to crumble. They wanted to monitor me for a while after that, and of course, monkey man was leaping and bouncing within a few minutes. I felt so thankful that afternoon.

In February, Jonah had his wisdom teeth pulled, and then we took our crew- and this bump- to Florida to soak up some much needed sunshine. We met up with my parents and it was one of my very favorite trips ever.

Very first time at Sonic! We had to see what all the fuss was about. And...I'm still not sure. :/ Sorry, don't hate me!

Week 34!!

This was the first time I actually enjoyed being pregnant, and I tried to treasure each and every milestone, thinking that I might miss it one day. And I do.

Love these crazy people!

 Off to see the dolphins! Little did we know that the other people on the boat would prove to be even more entertaining. HaHaHaHa (Endless beer on tap...)

One of my most popular posts to date has been this post about my maternity shoot and taking great looking pictures with a selfie stick.

We had some incidents on the way home, including a flat tire at 4 in the morning, but we made it safe and sound. Next time, we fly! I'd started this quilt the day before we left, because I'm smart like that. I was up before everyone else the morning we finally got back, and I remember sitting on the couch, watching the sun rise up through the woods, enjoying the quiet and stillness, and I finished the quilt. It's one of my most treasured baby things for Levi.

We celebrated Jonah's fifteenth birthday on March 5th, exactly one month from my due date (and Levi's actual birthday, we would later find out).

 My family and friends threw a sweet baby shower for us!

 I remember captioning this "stripes for daaaaaaaays" - I think it still works!

So ready to meet our baby boy!

And here he is!!!
Nameless until 7:25, and he was born at 8:25. ha ha

Such a healing salve for this Mama's wounded heart.
 I couldn't believe that he was finally here.

 Already adored by his big brothers and sister

Oh my goodness, that face! I miss that squishy little face.
I'd also forgotten that he had the red around his eyes from birth.

This was our first spring here and I couldn't wait to get my hands dirty. The previous owners hadn't planted one single thing in the backyard, so it really was the perfect clean slate for me. I can't wait to see this in a few months- those pink roses bloomed profusely all summer long!

Sandy baby toes. I die.

We didn't travel as much this summer as we normally do, but there were still plenty of day trips to the ocean, lakes and mountains.

 Time stood still again when we had to bring Levi to the ER to be treated for pneumonia. We were there just for one day and night- thankfully the meds began to work quickly. I didn't sleep much that night, just laid on that sofa cot thing and prayed for my baby boy and for all the other Moms and Dads in the world who face far greater medical issues with their children. There is nothing worse than watching your child in pain.

 I don't think I ever blogged about the transformation to our downstairs area, but two floors up, operation Switch Rooms for Isabelle and Caleb began. I have been frustrated many times by my desire to be done already, and the fact that I can't really do it all. And, well, I can't really do it all. #truth

 I've also tried to keep up with my fitness goals, so we went on lots and lots of walks this spring, summer and fall. Winters are more challenging since I can't pop him in the stroller and go most days, simply because the snowbanks make the roads so much narrower and I feel pretty unsafe. Maybe we'll try mall walking with the older folks. :)

More switching...

We got new windows right after Levi was born and it made a HUGE difference. Plus, I've been tackling all the trim, so the white on white looks much different and fresh and clean, just how I like it. I finally finished these doors, too. Painting trim is no big deal. Painting doors, though, is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment.

 How on earth did my oldest son turn seventeen in August? We had several pool parties this summer, but this one was my favorite.

 School started and a new normal was forged, if you can call it that. Levi doesn't do much of anything on a schedule, and that's been really hard on me. Another exciting soccer season was underway and I knew it was tradition for the Varsity team to dye their hair Obscene Blond (if that isn't the actual name of the dye, it should be), so I begrudgingly arranged for family portraits. It was eight hundred degrees that day, and my hair had just begun falling out in masses about a week earlier, and I still wasn't happy with certain areas... glad I went for it anyway because I treasure this.

 We met up with extended family on Bill's side at the apple orchard. This look sums up how he felt about it all, ha ha.

 Smooches on the sidelines at soccer games

 Enjoying a pretty walk in the woods

We brought Jonah and Caleb to a Jeremy Camp concert in November and it was so good. We were moved to become a sponsor family that night.

 Another challenge for me this year was finding balance with my shop, Rose & Ruffle. I took a lot of time off in the spring, typically my busiest season, and started taking custom orders again in the fall. If Levi slept (at all) it might not have been so hard, but it was. Everything got finished and mailed off in time for Christmas, though, and I am so grateful. Thank you to my wonderful customers! This flannel nightgown- in different prints and colors- has been my biggest seller.

And then it was Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, two December birthdays, Christmas, and now New Year's Eve! We're celebrating tonight with an eclectic feast, as usual, and playing games and things. I know, super exciting. But one, I'm exhausted. And two, I'm afraid of all the intoxicated people on the road on NYE, so we stay in.

 I really could go on and on about this year and all of the countless ways we've been blessed. We've certainly had our challenges too. For whatever reason, this has been the year of sickness- every time I turn around, someone is coming down with something. Normally I don't get sick very often and I've been down and out at least half a dozen times this year. Ugh. I'm hoping this trend does not continue in the new year. If a cute little guy learned to sleep better, that sure would be great, too.

Most years I'm feeling slightly depressed at the end of a year, not yet ready for the finality of it. Not this year! I'm looking forward to a brand new year, fresh and hopeful and open to any and all possibilities. Happy New Year to you! Thanks for reading and following along!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Levi's First Christmas & Our First as a Family of Seven

Babies - and their doting older siblings - make everything so much more exciting, don't they? I mentioned earlier that this year, despite all the wonderful, amazing blessings we've experienced, I simply wasn't feeling much Christmas spirit until the last few days leading up to the big day. We did have a very nice Christmas, and having our little Levi around to experience yet another first made it all the merrier. Also, my older kids make me so proud sometimes. Their love and generosity towards each other is such a reward in itself, and I'm really thankful for their thoughtful hearts. Now I'll have to remember that sentiment the next time they're driving me bonkers with pointless arguments and such, ha ha!

I was disappointed that our school district kept them at school until Friday afternoon with an early release, so I maaaaay have gotten the older boys dismissed a day or two before. Truthfully, none of us is feeling very well, and the sore throats and headaches all started last week, so I could definitely call it proactive parenting on my part. ;) My teenage sons would be horrified if I were to coin our special outings as dates, but, they were in fact just like dates. And I loved it. Every.Single.Minute.

We also had our annual Christmas cookie decorating at my parent's house, as well as special times with both sides of our family. I'm tempted to lie a bit and declare it all the best Christmas without a care in the world and this and that, but... we have looming bills and car issues and other things that weigh on our minds, and we are a family made up of imperfect people, and absolutely nothing is perfect. Spending all that time together can be trying, especially when you sense favoritism and such, and you know how it hurts your children. Even so, there's an abundance of love and that's what really matters, I suppose.

Here are some of of my favorite photos of our first Christmas as a family of seven!

I may be having just a little bit of fun with photo shoots and adorable subjects...

 Cookie Day at my parents' house

The two cookie artists- they take their decorating very seriously. I can't stand decorating gingerbread men with goopy colors and such, so tacky! But they love it.

Ethan decorated his one cookie before calling it quits. #typical

Elf movie night! We've only had the TV up on the wall for a couple of weeks now, which allowed me to rearrange all the chairs and couch, so it was fun to actually fit on the furniture (mostly...we still need a big sectional I think) for a change. Um, hungry much, Levi? ha ha ha

He is going to be out of control next Christmas!

Sometimes he's not awake when they leave for school, but most morning they do this. Melt my heart.

Random pic, yes, but it's to document the day Ethan and I brought Levi to meet Santa, only because I wouldn't pay $$$ for one of their dumb pictures, he would let Levi come inside the little village. Can you even imagine!?!

So we took this out in the parking lot. I don't think any long term damage has taken place.

Fresh snow!

 Pretty view from my kitchen window.

Levi is generally such a happy little guy. We just love him so much!

But of course, we have our moments. Sorry, little buddy, you're going to kill me for this one when you're older. ha ha

He won't learn to walk until he's three! Never a lack of snuggles and hugs.

Friday morning before heading out to Isabelle's school sing along. This picture is completely unedited- isn't he so scrumptious!!!

My Dad, Grampy, stopped by for a few minutes. Levi is learning how to wave and high five. :)

He was NOT sure he liked sissy's school. Or rather, all the people at school. Not a fan of crowds in general, just like his Mama AND his Daddy.

Total Mom fail- I didn't take one picture at my aunt's Christmas Eve dinner. This is at church, though we had to leave the service early because someone was getting a tad cranky and not afraid to let everyone know it...

All ready for action!

There's something so serene and magical about those quiet moments before everyone is up.

Sneakers taking care of Santa's crumbs. Funny, but eww.

And then it was time for everyone to get up on Christmas morning! Some were more ready than others...

Jonah and I found this Levi's hat, which is a boys size 8-10, but I didn't care. He looks so, so cute in it!

 Blurry because he's always moving :)

I blinked and suddenly my little crew is nearly all grown up. That's a hard thing to accept sometimes.

 And more photo shoot fun. You're welcome. ha ha ha

Another Mom fail- Not even one picture with my parents or my in-laws! Oops. Sometimes it's nice to just be in the moment, but I wish I had taken at least one!

I'm going to keep this blog updated more because I really do rely on it as a scrapbook of sorts. I post a lot of things that I don't put on here over on IG- there's a link on the sidebar if you want to follow along.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, filled with love and hope and laughter!

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