Wednesday, December 28

The End of 2016

Merry Christmas!
If you're visiting here from our Christmas letter, I invite you to look around at a few previous posts from this past year to catch up on our family!  I didn't write here much this year, and missed a few special occasions I fear, but what I write here serves the purpose of keeping our family's memories in one place.  And I don't mind sharing!

We started 2016 as a family of six and ended it as a family of seven!  In case you missed the news, we welcomed Theo to our family on October 7.  Yes, he was 13 days late, just like his big sister, but I don't hold it against him because he's just so stinking cute!  It has been such a pleasure to welcome him to our family, and the resemblance between him and his siblings has been phenomenal.  He definitely fits in!  He was diagnosed with a VSD only 4 days after birth, but we received good news in early December that his heart appears to be healing on it's own- no doubt due to the faithful prayers of our family and friends.  Thank you for praying for him, would you please continue to pray that it fully heals and won't require surgery?

Ryan has supported me through yet another long pregnancy, been my loyal companion, and is my greatest love.  We celebrated 11 years of marriage in July and he is celebrating 10 years at his workplace this year. He recently had an experience that has lead us to be even more thankful for employment at a company that values its employees.  Ryan spent a lot of time woodworking this year, starting with headboards for the boys, spending a couple of months on a chicken coop, and wrapping it up with some Christmas gifts!  He coached Luke's soccer team again in the spring semester, but we took the fall off so that we could have some free time before Theo was born.  Ryan also founded an LLC with a friend and they are busting into the real estate business in their "free time."  It's been very rewarding for him to work on these side projects- you know Ryan is the kind of guy who likes to stay busy!

I spent the greater part of 2016 gestating another human being. ;-)  We wrapped up our school year in June and I had a delightful summer hosting my sister at our house.  I loved having her in our home as it gave us a chance to reconnect and share life together.  Her presence helped bring me out of a funk I had experienced in my early pregnancy when I just didn't quite feel like myself.  We kept busy all summer, started school a little early in August with the hopes of getting some good work in before Baby came.  Those last few weeks of pregnancy were emotionally and mentally very difficult, but the payoff came when we had a wonderful, peaceful, and QUICK home birth, and discovered we had another son! The whole experience was an answer to my prayers.  I feel like I never had a huge burst of "nesting" energy during his pregnancy, so I have a lot of home projects I hope to find time for next year!

Our family took one big trip to Panama City Beach in Florida for a last-minute Memorial Day weekend getaway, and it was so very beautiful.  While traveling in the car all day isn't my most favorite thing in the world, getting away with just my little family always offers us a chance to reconnect and experience new things together.  This trip was no exception!  We stayed in a nice condominium within walking distance from the beach.  We ate easy meals together, built sand castles, fished and caught crabs, and took a late night walk in the dark on the beach. Those times together are always so joyful because everyone is always so happy to be doing something new!  They are great memories for all of us.

Bethany Grace just turned 10 years old!  She is halfway through her 4th grade year at our home school, and is still an incredible artist.  She's been taking piano lessons all year long and has a natural affinity for music! She loves to sit down at the piano and figure out how to play hymns that we're studying or music that she's learning in choir at co-op, which makes the fine arts side of me so very happy.  She also enjoys creative writing and LOTS of reading!  She has been such an incredible help since Theo has been born; she is a proud big sister to her younger siblings!  After much preparation at home, our Bishop allowed Bethany to be confirmed in May.  This was a big day for her as a young woman!   She loves hanging out with her friends, baking, reading, going to the library, and teasing and taunting her brothers in a sisterly way!  I can see that she has a bit of entrepreneur in her as she's always considering how she can sell her art or coming up with ideas to stock up an Etsy shop!

Luke Michael turned 8 in October and has continued to grow and mature in ways that greatly impress me.  His mind is very logical and goal-oriented; this is a wonderful talent that we are learning how to utilize and mold into gifts for God.  Luke received his First Holy Communion in April and soon after trained to be an altar boy.  In August, Luke started attending 2nd grade at a hybrid school, in which he attends classes on Mondays and Thursdays and we complete his lessons on the other days he is home.  As a high-energy extrovert, he is thriving!  He loves his friends and his teacher, and he loves being able to attend mass more often than any of us.  He still loves Legos and the thrill of figuring out how things work.

Jackson Paul is still my silly, sweet, thoughtful boy that is now officially the "middle child." He can be incredibly wild and crazy or painfully shy and soft-spoken!  He turned 6 in June and had a really fun day picking blueberries and swimming with his uncles at the pool.  Jack is in 1st grade and he loves school.  He is always eager and happy to start his work and always has a wonderful attitude about getting his work done.  He (and Luke) both love being read aloud to, and Jack has also made some wonderful strides toward learning how to read on his own.  He is also a budding artist and is begging to start music lessons of some sort.  Right now he is preparing for his First Holy Communion next spring.  I just love his enthusiasm for everything he wants to do.

At almost 3, Caeli Rose is spirited, silly, imaginative, and soooo cute!  She can easily get lost in play for an hour, loves books, and follows Luke and Jack around like she's just as big as they are. She is still so expressive, telling stories and talking with her hands and hips, and she owns the room.  Her speech has exploded in the past two months, and she loves doing her "work math" alongside the older kids when they are doing their school work.  She loves Finley but always fusses at the cats and chases them away!  She puts her whole spirit into anything she does, I have no doubt she will move mountains one day.

Theodore Augustine Joseph (yes, that's three names!) will be three months young soon.  He is smiling and cooing at everyone and is so close to laughing!  I think he will be rolling over soon, as Caeli did at three months old, because he has some strong abs for an infant!  He sleeps well at night, usually waking up once or twice to nurse and then falling contentedly back to sleep.  His current loves are: his big siblings and anyone who will talk sweetly to him, diaper changes and laying on his changing pad in the bathroom, baths, and nursing.  He currently hates getting out of the bath, and roads that have lots of stop lights (I agree with him on this one).

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