I've been feeling very contemplative lately, like an end-of-the-year post might do me some good. :-)
2011 marked a few big events, the first one that comes to my mind is the conception and loss of our sweet baby. I still think about him daily, and some days are a lot harder than others. It's hard thinking of what should have been, like that I'd soon be entering my third trimester. But, it's also comforting for me to know that we have a little saint in heaven praying for us!
Not to be a downer right off the bat, but two other big events have included loss- the loss of my grandfather in September and the very recent loss of Ryan's uncle. It's been a very hard fall/winter for our families and for us, and we ask that our friends continue to hold our mourning and grieving family members in prayer.
We celebrated this year too- a big FIRST birthday bash for Jack, and a big FIFTH birthday bash for Beth! Luke turned three this year, and he had a small party with a few friends! Ryan and I celebrated our birthdays quietly this year, but I turn the big 3-0 in 2012 and am planning something very awesome and amazing. ;-)
Ryan and I took a trip to Punta Cana in June, and then in August we packed up and drove the kids up to Missouri! Two vacations I won't soon forget because they were both huge ordeals and we made some wonderful memories on both trips!
I officially started homeschooling Beth in September, using a kindergarten curriculum but I am still considering her preschool. She's doing very well, right on track or ahead of everything and she's truly loving every minute. She makes it easy though, I hope we both continue to enjoy it as we enter our second semester of school together!
Ryan's job has remained stable (thank you Lord!) but I took on a new career path and pursued training to become a doula. So far I've attended 6 births and I absolutely love my work! It's been so amazing for families to hire me and include me on such a sacred and intimate moment in their lives, and I feel so honored to attend each birth. I don't think that's a feeling that will ever change since each birth has been unique and amazing in it's own ways. I love it!
One of the biggest personal changes I've experienced this year has been what I'd like to call a "clearing of my head." As I look back on the past several years I feel like I've had a few moments that have been very low, very difficult, and I wonder if I experienced some depression. In retrospect it's easier to see, because now my head feels "clear," for lack of a better word. I am crediting this to the fact that this is the longest I've gone without getting (and staying) pregnant, and I suppose that for my body, I just needed some extra time between babies for my hormones and my body to figure things out. It's really amazing, and I just feel so happy and blessed to be on the upside of things. While Ryan and I do want to add to our family, we're prayerfully considering when we will do so!
I've loved watching my children grow up and turn into "big kids." Jack is now 18 months, and this changes how we operate quite a bit! No longer do I feel like I have to carry a big diaper bag around with me- I keep diapers and wipes in the car if we need them and I don't have to carry around all the extra baby stuff. Beth is becoming more independent and is able to help me out if I need something. It's still hectic and crazy, don't get me wrong! But not having a baby in the mix has made is easier for me.
Toward the beginning of 2011, we dealt with Luke's colon issues and Jack's never-ending rash. Luke still occasionally has problems with constipation but it's not nearly the deal that it used to be, and Jack still occasionally has small patches of irritated skin. I think it's just the way he is, though, just a little guy with sensitive skin. Thank goodness the horrible body rash he battled for a couple of months disappeared with time. Beth had no problem adapting to her gluten-free diet, and over a year later her body is growing just as it should and her health is absolutely perfect.
I thank God for his blessings in 2011, and even for the opportunities we've experienced that have led us closer to him. There are times when we've wanted to scream and yell "WHY?!" but in the end, we know that he doesn't do these things to us, but instead He gives us the strength to become better Christians. And ultimately, trials lead us closer to our life's goal: heaven.
Many prayers for my friends and family in 2012! Please pray for our little family this year!