Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Wrap-Up

In the way that the Christmas card is limited in space and post, the blog is boundless. Here's our year-end letter, of sorts, for 2016.

What a blur of a year it's been!! This has absolutely been the fastest year of my life. Having a baby two months into 2016 made much of this year a whirlwind of love, laughter, newborn cuddles, baby-wearing, and warmth.

Our hearts grew twofold, more than we could have imagined, as we welcomed this darling boy into our fold. Owen David's made our family complete, full, and endeared each one of us with his scrunchy smile, and expressions that show a glint of his funny, clever, and knowing personality.

Owen was born on February 10, 2016 at 6:11 AM, weighing 8 lbs. 12.8 oz and 21.75 inches long. Our best Valentine's day gift ever, he arrived four days earlier than his holiday due date. We were so thrilled to meet him early. His labor was one of redemption for me and it was absolutely empowering. It was a fully natural, nine hour labor. After less than ten pushes, he entered this world straight into his papa's arms.

Since that day, he's charmed literally everyone he's met. His smile is contagious and his personality endearing. And we are the fortunate souls who get to call him our son and brother.

Somehow he's already ten months old, crawling, waving, cruising furniture, and climbing stairs. His favorite words are "dah" (dog), "mama," & "pa-pa." And his favorite game happens when you are holding him. He loves turning your head to look at his by using his hands or leaning with his face into your line of vision and then smiling SUPER big when he locks eyes with you. It's the sweetest.

Papa's shoulder has become his favorite place to nestle-in, Mama's the apple of his eye, and Ian is his constant companion, playmate, and biggest fan. His placement in this picture is appropriate, one arm on each of the guys and leaning in to Mama. He, in his own way, has knit us into an even tighter family than we were before February 10th, 2016. We are forever changed for the better.
Ian Forrester, somewhat hesitant at first, gallantly stepped into the big brother role about five days after Owen arrived and has never looked back. Ready to bring him his favorite toys, help him, hold him, or interpret his needs or wants, he has amazed us with his love and zeal for being a big bro.

He still attends Parent's Morning Out (PMO), now one morning a week, where he has many friends and is adored by his teachers. While there, Ian enjoys craft time, songs, books, outside time on their wonderful playground, many fine and gross motor activities, and social skills. This year he comes home telling stories about his friends and all of the things they do; far more than last year. It's so fun!

Ian loves to tell stories, recount events from different times in his life, turn everything into song, sing songs, and play with Owen and Leif. If he could do all of those things outside ALL OF THE TIME, he would ;) And we love that about him.

He starts each day asking, "Where are we going to go today?" If we aren't going anywhere, then he wants to know, "Who is going to come to our house today?" He's very social and loves our routine weekly engagements with friends, MOPS, PMO, and church.

But, he also enjoys a nice, slow day at home. Owen still takes morning naps, so we have a special time of Mama-Ian bonding on those days. He chooses the activity and we both enjoy our time. Our huge backyard and the playground down the street also make for nice comfortable days of staying home while still getting outside and being active without pulling our car out of the driveway.

Ian brings such exuberance, intelligence, and athletic prowess into everything he does. He's already giving us a run for our money, as any self-respecting three year old would do, but he brings such delight and joy and energy into our home and hearts.

Jim is in his third and final year of his family medicine residency!!!!!!! This means that come June, he will be officially done with his training. It's been a long seven years are we are thrilled to be at this point. I am so proud of him for working so hard for our dreams and family. We have one more interview trip for a potential job before we start really narrowing down the best fit for his career and our family. It's an exciting time :)

This was his second year on the Blacksburg Rugby team and his team is, so far, undefeated this season. He's really loved the opportunities for fellowship, fitness, and playing an athletic sport again, that have all come with being on this team. It's a great group of guys and they hope to make it to the play-offs again this year! He also played in a few Rugby Sevens tournaments this year and enjoyed the fast-paced and uniqueness of this play, too. Almost daily, you can find Ian and Jim rucking in our living room or in the backyard. A love for rugby runs strong around here, and Ian is always his biggest supporter!

He continues to be passionate about all things permaculture, homesteading, environmentally efficient building, and baking delicious bread and wholesome meals for our family. When he can, he enjoys the occasional woodworking project, working in the garden, and dreaming/planning toward future dreams. Jim is a great father, making time for reading books, playing in the yard, and doing puzzles before getting his own work done, often sacrificing his own sleep. We're blessed to have this man as a husband, father, & best friend.

I still love being at home with our boys. The saying rings true, "The days are long but the years are short." I couldn't agree more. These years are flying; I cannot believe that we already have a three year old and, since this year went the fastest so far, I can only imagine that they will continue to speed by. My constant prayer is to slow down, to be present, and be intentional about making time for what is most important right now: nurturing our lads in these early years.

This year I am the lead coordinator for Mothers of Preschooler Students (MOPS) and it has been a wonderful, challenging, and exciting experience. I am really passionate about mothers having a community where they can feel welcome and accepted, where mamas can be with other moms and admit that motherhood is hard, joyful, exhausting, and rewarding. And where moms can get skills, community, ideas, rejuvenation, and love to help make them a better mama. Every mama needs a tribe. Every person needs a tribe.

My favorite pastimes include meeting a friend for coffee, listening to NPR, going for a long walk or hike, losing myself in/reading a book during naptime in the afternoon (and sometimes drifting off to sleep), playdates with friends, making a well-crafted meal for our family, taking pictures of our life and posting them on Instagram (riverandshore), writing about life on this blog, and enjoying a good laugh with our family.

There's much trepidation as I step into the New Year. My heart is burdened for the world and our country. My constant prayers are for peace. And for love. For reaching out to those who are different and hurting. For taking the time to listen and understand without judgement. There's so much growing and changing that needs to be done. Let it begin with us.

2017 will be a year of some changes for our family-- stay tuned!

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