But first . . . My "real" entry for our Christmas letter . . . A few nights ago, Jeff was writing our Christmas letter and asked me what I wanted to include about my year. Let me just say, I love reading friends' Christmas letters, and I like sharing the accomplishments of my kids. It's just that, for me personally, this stage of my life isn't really Christmas card material. There's no tidy list of projects accomplished, goals met, honors received. The most accurate description of my year--of my life-- is "full". Full of children. Full of activities. Full of noise. Full of chaos. Full of beauty. Full of learning. Full of laughter. Full of tears. Full as in "wow, you have your hands full," and full as in "it is with a full heart . . .," and full as in "fullness of the Faith." Even my iPad reminds me each evening that I have "a full day" tomorrow. I'm here to tell you, full is good! It's crazy busy, and sometimes drives me nuts, but it's good! My days and weeks (and now years) are very repetitive in many ways. I do the same dishes, fold the same sheets, drive the same dance runs, teach the same lessons to each new first grader, correct the same misbehavior, etc. The tasks stay the same, but the people--my people--are changing in countless ways each day. They're growing up. Some days, I miss their littler selves. Most days, I rejoice in their new discoveries. That's what I'd say in the Christmas letter, there just isn't enough room.
Now for some GRATITUDE . . . I am absolutely overwhelmed by God's generosity to me and our family in 2013.
ALICE--Best of all, we welcomed our seventh miracle in June. Alice, who is named for my Grandma, is a force of nature and a big time Mama's Girl. I have spent a huge chunk of my year nursing and snuggling this little person, and I wouldn't trade a minute of it.
JEFF--His life makes my life possible. (Those are two halves of a plastic Easter egg that someone put on his head.)
OUR SIX OTHER INCREDIBLE AND UNIQUE CHILDREN--My kids are awesome, hilarious, interesting and fun! I can't imagine life without any one of them. (Finally, a use for all their selfies that have been clogging up my iPhone!)
TIME WITH MY DAD--Our whole family cherishes the time we spend with Grandpa Dave when he comes at Christmas and for our annual trip to the Outer Banks each May. He just left and the kids are already asking how long it will be until they will see him again.
WONDERFUL INLAWS--One example: Jeff's parents celebrated their 50th anniversary this summer. They very generously hosted their children and grandchildren at a resort in the Pocono Mountains on a date that accommodated our kids' camp schedules. Who knew that I would get pregnant after the reservations were confirmed and be due on the middle day day of the trip. I ended up delivering early, so all but the two babies and I were able to attend. Mom and Dad patiently waited until the last minute to know who would be able to go and who wouldn't. Their example of always put family first is an inspiration to me.
GREAT FRIENDS--I am surrounded by a group of the smartest, funniest, and most caring women on this planet. The fact that they can help me laugh on those days when the walls are literally falling down around me is a miracle. I pray that I never take them for granted.
SO MUCH MORE--"It's all good" is a common expression these days, but this year, in this place, it really has been good. And I am truly grateful.
Farewell 2013. Look out 2014, here we come!