As I reflect on this year I can't help but think just how blessed we have been this year. We have had trials and hard times and scary times but through it all God's plan was bigger and so much better than ours.
We started the year as a family of five. We were healthy and happy and thought we had everything we needed. But God knew we were missing someone. A little someone who would complete our family. We found out at the end of January that we would welcome another baby later in the year. It was a shock to be sure and definitely took some adjusting to and some room rearranging but in September we were so excited to welcome our first BOY! JP has been such a blessing to our family and now, 3 months into his life, I just can't imagine life without him.
We started the year healthy, although I was starting to have some concerns about Emmie's hearing. After a hearing screen at preschool we found out that she couldn't hear out of one ear and could only hear a little out of the other ear. We didn't know what that meant for her future but were so thankful that after having tubes put in and her adenoids taken out she could hear again. She even told us later that she wasn't "stuffy" anymore. We are so thankful that this was discovered before she started kindergarten and we are amazed at her ability to compensate as Paul and I were the only ones who thought something was wrong.
We started the year a food allergy free family and in April our lives were shaken up when Ruthie was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. We later found out that her allergy is more likely to cause an anaphylactic reaction. We feel so blessed that as of yet she has not had an anaphylactic reaction and that God protected her the times she had peanut butter before we knew she had the allergy. (Some hives on her face is the worst reaction she's had.) We are also thankful for the love our big girls have shown Ruthie. They never complained with their peanut butter was taken away (and they ate it twice a day some days!). They have been her champion and protectors and I am beyond proud of them for their understanding.
At the beginning of 2015 I was stressing over where to send Emmie to kindergarten in the fall. We live in a district that has school choice and so you can enter the lottery to go to school you're not zoned for. We have LOTS of wonderful magnet schools we could have gotten in the lottery for and we also have lots of really wonderful elementary schools. I spent all of January dragging Ellie and Ruthie to many schools and did a LOT of praying about what was best for ALL of our children. Even after we got our first choice I still did some second guessing. August came around and we are SO happy with Emmie's school (although I know we would have been very happy with any of our three choices). She is absolutely loving school and has many friends from preschool that are there as well and I love how close her school is to preschool.
We had a big scare this summer when the girls were in bed and Paul and I heard a horrible thud from their room. We know right away that someone had fallen out of the top bunk. In the end Ellie ended up having a fractured wrist and that was it. When we pieced together what happened we were even more thankful for just a fracture. She leaned backwards on a pillow that was over the opening for the ladder and it is very scary to think how bad it could have been if she had landed on her head, neck, or back instead of her arm. Ellie was such a trooper and was so brave through the whole experience. (Emmie on the other hand is just starting to get over the trauma.) Not long after JP was born Ellie injured her arm again. This time it was just a nursemaid's elbow and thankfully the pediatrician could fix it in the office. We're hoping 2016 is nicer to sweet Elllie!
One of the biggest events of 2016 was the flooding in October. We were so, so blessed to not have flooding at our house (and are so thankful for all our friends near and far who checked on us) but we have so may friends who lost everything. We have watched these friends as they have faced the task of rebuilding their lives. We have been amazed at their resilience and their faith in God and their testimony of the amazing ways God protected them. Events like this really remind you that things are just things and can be replaced. It is so hard to sit and watch pictures of the devastation on the news and realize that this isn't some community hundreds of miles away but these are roads I drive on daily that are crumbling and stores that I drive by on a regular basis are under water or collapsing. These are people we know that have lost everything. I still get a knot in my stomach when I see a road caved in or a barricade or when it rains hard and we start getting reports of flooding again. Or when I drive over a river that is out of it's banks. It was hard to explain to Emmie and Ellie what was going on. Emmie is very sensitive to what others are feeling and what's going on around her and we had to take her outside and show her that we were ok. I am so thankful for our safety and the safety of our friends and community. We were so blessed to watch our community pull together and help those in need. And it wasn't just the people in Columbia who came together it was people all over the country. I had friends from all over the country that found ways to give to the community in different ways and there were times their generosity and love for the people who were hurting brought me to tears. Someone in Columbia wrote a blog post (and I so wish I could find it) that said that Columbia's biggest problem after the flooding was that people were too generous. Every time a need was expressed it was met beyond what the relief shelters could handle. What an amazing problem and what a blessing for our community and a reminder that amid all the ugliness in the world today there is also so much good.
One of the things I'm most thankful for this year is water. That sounds funny after lamenting about the flood but perhaps I should specify that I'm thankful for CLEAN water. We had to boil our water for a week (and let me tell you we were super thankful that we had water to boil because so many didn't have water at all) and it was a lot of work. You don't think about all the things you do where you might use just a little bit of water and now you have to remember not to turn the sink on to do that quick rinse but instead you have to use the boiled water. So I am so thankful for my nice clean water!
We are so looking forward to what 2016 has in store for us (hopefully fewer medical bills and more sunshine!) A year ago we never dreamed we would start 2016 as a family of 6 but now we wouldn't want it any other way....we are blessed!
19 hours ago