As we start 2012, I have a whole post brewin' about my personal journey in 2011 and impact that has on how I am starting this new year. But before we move on to that, I want to continue my tradition of doing a year-in-review recap for our family. I am a little late for this "New Year's Eve tradition", but I'm cutting myself some slack. That is harder for me than it sounds.
2011 was a CRAZY year for us, one we will never forget. But it has been full of rich blessings, lots of fun, some super sweet family time and lots and lots of laughter. I am so thankful for 2011!
In January, the highlight was celebrating our sweet Cbug's third birthday. He had a "my favorite things" themed party because he could not decide between Thomas, Toy Story and McQueen. In other January fun: KJ went to a birthday party he was not invited to.
In February it snowed. Twice. The boys loved it. Lou, not so much. We celebrated Valentine's day with our three sweethearts. And RRL and I got to be part of a local news story when we ran a half marathon "with" my brother who was stationed in Afghanistan.
APRILDuring the month of April the shock of our little crew was wearing off and we began settling in to a routine as a party-of-eight. We even took the whole gang camping one night and also enjoyed an afternoon at the museum with Uncle D, who we were so thankful to be welcoming home from deployment. Our continued adjustment got a boost with a bit of break by splitting the team up to celebrate Easter. And just our little team of 5 enjoyed some time at Nonna and Papa J's house where I also got to be part of one of my best friend's wedding day.
At the tail end of April/Beginning of May we were blessed by a weekend away with RRL's sister and her family, who were visiting from Colombia. And we celebrated a long awaited event for one member of our family when KJ FINALLY turned FIVE. We enjoyed celebrating him all day long with festivities he planned, including the cake of his dreams and a super-fun outing with his buddies to Legoland. We finished up the school year, went to KJ's preschool graduation and we were also starting to get a bit of a handle on a day-to-day routine in our house full of preschoolers.
JULYFor the fourth of July, we got to visit Nonna and Papa J again, and were so excited that Uncle M and Aunt S were there, too! The kids loved getting to see Cars 2 with some of their favorite people. We celebrated one of our favorite holidays (Cow Appreciation Day), the five big kids took swimming lessons, and all of the kids got to go bowling for the first time. RRL and I enjoyed an awesome retreat with some new friends and some incredible mentors and I got to go to LA for a quick work trip. We also had one of the hardest weeks of the summer when all 6 kids and I got strep...and RRL escaped with a yucky stomach bug instead. I was busy on the blog in July, sharing about our quite imperfect family, the beginning of my journey through Nehemiah and adventures at the grocery store.
This month was filled with continuing traditions, like Pumpkin Patch pictures with some of our favorite photographers and having soup and grilled cheese on Halloween. We also continued a tradition of NOT carving pumpkins when we made pumpkin people. My kids dressed up like characters from Lou's favorite story, Sleeping Beauty, and we captured one of my favorite pictures EVER of them. We enjoyed our 10th reunion at the Homecoming of our Alma Mater. I celebrated my birthday by helping raise money for Teen Lifeline (thanks so much to many of you that participated in that celebration) and also with a Barbie birthday party (my very first) at our house.
NovemberRRL started the month by taking the boys at midnight to buy Cars2 on DVD, a super fun memory for all three of them. We received the proofs from our most recent family photo shoot by Three. They were INCREDIBLE. A highlight was our little family get-away (in town) to GWL. We also counted our blessings on leaves and turkeys all month and we enjoyed family fun during Thanksgiving with RRL's family at Grammy's house. But not until after RRL and I finished our half-marathon that morning, no small feat for me at 18 weeks pregnant but I really did love getting to run it with him! We found out, at the end of the month, that we were having a BOY! at a super fun gender-reveal party with our family and friends. I also described some of the emotions of expecting our fourth baby.
In December, I finished the journey I started in January, journaling through the book of Nehemiah. We spent the entire month doing a "Christmas countdown" with lots of fun family activities, putting an ornament on our paper tree each night. Highlights from those activities included a pink play dough baby Jesus, visiting GWL with friends for story time, Cbug dressed up as the Baby in our nativity scene, Christmas carolling in our living room to stuffed animals, and a Christmas acrostic as our finale to the fun. The kids had lots of fun at school with their Christmas parties and Christmas show. Some not-so-fun highlights from the month were that the kids and I were in a car accident (everyone is fine) and I almost lost my diamond from my engagement ring (everything is fine now). RRL's family was so blessed with the news that our littlest nephew arrived a few weeks early, but is perfectly healthy and beautiful. We celebrated our family Christmas a little early and then we headed to Nonna and Papa J's house for some fun with a house full of aunts, uncles, grandparents and one grand-dog. So much fun! While we were there, RRL and I celebrated our 10th anniversary by being tourists in my hometown for the day. And through all of that, we tried to be mindful of the true spirit of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, something we treasure all year.