It’s the last day of the year and it always comes with a hint of sadness and a bit of reflection for myself. Another year has been written down, in totality, in our family books. The girls each added a higher notch on our family growth ruler, celebrated another birthday, and all of us packed in 365 days of life, building lots of memories along the way.
This year was a good one, but I don’t feel AS sad to see to it go as I have some in years past. That being said, it was a great improvement to 2016, and I feel thankful for a year of some reprieve following that one. Still, it seems too soon that we have gotten to this point, the days flying by much faster than I care for and a big giant pin about to be stuck in the space labeled 2017. Here we are.
Of course I would be remiss in not mentioning that this year was very big for us in one major way. We spent half of the year in ignorant bliss about the direction our family was going and then the other half reeling from the shock that we would be adding in another one, later coming to be known as our fourth girl, Baby Surprise. It seems this year had a very clear demarcation to it: the half of the year BEFORE we found out about Baby Surprise and then the half of the year AFTER. Both good in their own right, just approached AND remembered with different feelings.
That was our biggest news but we also went on two vacations, one long one to Seagrove Beach and the other a mini vacation to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg. I’ve come to realize that when we are singing over our (proverbial) champagne about the memories from each year, vacations are always the highlights for me. So many good feelings surrounding vacations, with memories almost pungent from how real they still feel. I love the way they force you to slow down, leave behind, take it all in, and somehow, always leave differently.
Besides those two vacations, we also went to Indiana three times this summer and said goodbye to N’s grandpa, Grandpa Joe. We had lots of visitors, especially this summer, and have carefully crafted our own perfect guide to the city; including where to eat, what to do with/without kids, and what to see along the way. It’s becoming our home.
We’ve become more established here, in our hometown, and settled into our new normal. This was the year we declared “our grocery store”, “our church”, “our gym”, & “our pool”. We poured a lot of love into our home, some of it via physical labor and some of it via digging into our pockets to pay someone else to do the manual labor for us.
The biggest change to our house we made was our floor/kitchen renovation this spring. We even got kicked out and had to go live with my parents for a week+ while the heavy duty work was being done. Almost a year removed, and I’m still so glad we did it. A huge improvement from what we moved into and certainly more our style.
When you move into a house that’s 15+ years old, there are bound to be some surprises, and we had a few of those as well. But when I look around our house, I don’t see any big gaps anymore. We used to have a non-functional eat-in kitchen because we didn’t have a table that fit there. This year we gained that, among an array of other things you buy/build/borrow to make everything from your old house transition successfully into your new one. It’s still hard for me not to look around and see all the things still left to do, though thankfully this is a list left more in my head and not glaringly obvious when you walk in the door. But such is the case when you live in a house built 15+ years ago: almost everything is due for an update. The bright side to that is that I get to pick these updates to my liking. But still. Almost everything is due for an update. And the way our time and money seem to traditionally work is that not everything gets updated in the same year.
That being said, I hope in 2018, we see a lot less workers in our house. Between this year and the seemingly endless rolling in and out of the sticky, plastic, carpet-protecting, runner at the schoolhouse, I’m tired of turning over my routine to the schedule of others. It’s especially difficult when you have a nursing/napping babe, and I’ll be getting another one of those in about two months.
My greatest wish for 2018 is that it brings more reprieve and peace. That sounds like a crazy wish when you are planning to add in another child (a fourth one at that), and maybe it’s a bit idealized. But there’s a method to my madness.
Though as I said earlier, 2017 wasn’t a rocky year of deep lows, but there are a few negative feelings left over from it. N was very busy. I don’t think busier than he’s ever been (that would go to our first year in the schoolhouse when his job was ultra-demanding, he was taking a labor-intensive class for his doctorate, and we were also undergoing renovations on our house), but because the girls are getting older, it felt like more of a sacrifice at times. Add to that the weariness and sickness of a surprise pregnancy and a super sensitive emotional meter that accompanies each one, and there were many days I barely scraped by with either my nerves, tears, stomach, or mind in tact. We also got sick a lot this year. Unusually so for us.
To cap off the year, MG spent a late night in an ER full of fluish, vomiting, and hacking children to be seen for a badly split open chin (all the way to the bone). Those accidents happen so fast. One minute I was lying on the couch reading a Christmas book to Sib, thinking about how I was going to bed early (*that’s another thing. I think I went to bed around 9pm for most of this year) and savoring the delight of the older girls running around and acting silly around us. The next minute, I was throwing on blue jeans and putting boots on my hysterical 7 year old, trying to explain to her that we weren’t going to call an ambulance to come take her away, but we were headed to the hospital right now.
Seven hours and seven stitches later, she was nearly as good as new, but once again, my nerves were left rattled and my mind wondering, when is there going to be peace in our house again? (ironically or not, she broke out in hives from the medicine used to treat the stitches and spent the last days of 2017 with a puffy face and on steroids. What a month for her!)
Thank goodness for family that lives nearby. Like my mom coming over to stay at the house so N could join me in the ER and help us keep our sanity after going on hour four. She finished cutting and baking the sugar cookies for our planned decorating party the next day and cleaned our kitchen while she waited up into the hours to make sure we got home safely.
Just a reminder that we’ve had some rocky moments this year, but each one has come with a safety net.
To finally circle back around, the word that has been haunting me in this time as I reflect back on 2017 and pray forward to 2018 is peace. I’m not sure if this is a positive peace (like everything is truly going to be okay, even better than imagined) or a negative peace (like this year is going to be turbulent, so find your Peace now and hold onto it for dear life). But I have been constantly reminded of one of the names of Jesus being the Prince of Peace and also coming to this world to bring peace. Either way, I’m clinging to that for now, and will continue to meditate on what it means as this year is slowly unveiled.
I also deeply hope that 2018 is a redemptive year for us. I openly wrote about how I felt some of the joy surrounding Sib’s birth and her first year of life was stolen from us via the massive upheaval in our lives that year, her lateness and consequently my induction, and her scary illness. I had made peace previously with it by saying, well we’ll never have to do any of that ever again. But now that I’m looking down the barrel of another potentially trying but also potentially lovely year, I’m hoping that we get to enjoy, thoroughly enjoy, the fruits of our labor (so to speak), as we add in the final piece to our family puzzle via a sweet, precious newborn (my favorite).
Traditionally, transitions are NOT our sweet spot. This is something we both laugh over and stew over, a bit anxiously at times. But this transition is one we have seen coming from a mile away and that has given us a lot of time to prepare for, and talk over, what we want it to look like, to the best of our ability.
And so, with that, 2017 comes to a close. A fond farewell to you, my friend. I’m thankful for the growth you brought us, the memories I have made with you, and the closeness I have felt to my family inside your bounds. But it is time to cast you off and see what your dear sister has for us as we set sail upon her.
And thank you, as always, for finding your way here time after time, Reader. I will see you on the other side,