Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 In Review

As I was looking through some photo files on my computer today I found myself working my way back through the last 12 months.  I was struck by the enormity of all that takes place within the span of one calendar year.  I'm so grateful for photos for without them there are so many life events that would be tucked so deep into the pages of memory that we would never look at them again.  

2015 has been a year of big changes. As I look back I am in awe of this journey called life.  It's so full of the unexpected. When I look at this December I realize that it looks very different than we imagined it would back in January.  Things have taken place that we couldn't possibly have predicted. There have been deep heartaches and life altering decisions. It's been a year of learning about relationships.  Of looking back and realizing that things aren't always as they appear to be.  We've let go of some relationships, rekindled old ones and formed new ones.  There have been many tears shed, so much laughter and more I-love-you-so-much-it-hurts moments that we can count. 

For me, personally, it's been a year of learning to take care of myself.  Around springtime, the demands of normal life, combined with the the not so normal demands of special needs and grief that never ends, began to take a toll on me physically, emotionally and spiritually.  There were signs that warned of needed lifestyle changes. So I've committed to lifestyle changes.  It's a work in progress, but I'm learning.  I'm learning to set boundaries and say "NO" to the expectations of those who've never walked in my shoes. I'm learning to discern between those who are positive influences in my life and those who are not and to embrace the positive  and release the negative.    I've learned over the past year that rest does not come easy for me but it's important for well being, as important as food, water and exercise.  So I'm learning to rest.....really rest.... my body, my mind, my soul.  And in the learning I am beginning to realize that it may very well be the most valuable and life changing lesson that I have ever committed to learning. 

 Here's a look at 2015

We kicked the year off with minor surgery for Kruz. 

While it was still winter, the boys and I, along with my niece, Danielle,  made a trip down to Saint Louis to visit Jamee and Jade. That trip stands out because of a snow storm that we had the misfortune of driving home in. 
Saint Louis
Kruz and I passed the long winter days with regular play dates with my great nieces and nephews.  He learned to play with peers while I fell in love with these little people. 
Making Friends
In February, heartache found a place in our home once more as we were devastated by the death of our brother in law and favorite uncle, Matt. It has reminded us, once more of the frailty of life and the importance of love. 

Due to an insanely busy schedule, Jamee was unable to come home until Easter.  It was good to have all of our children home again and we spent a quiet Easter enjoying glorious weather. 
Don't mess with these two.
So much love it hurts
In early May, Jim and I, with Kruz in tow, flew to Virginia to watch Jamee run her last races in her 11 year running career.  She ended her career with 2nd and 5th places finish in the Atlantic 10 conference and a new record for SLU track and field.  
Her greatest fans

Last Race

Silver Medalists
Late May took us back to Saint Louis to watch Jamee graduate with her bachelors in biology. 
Jamee stayed in Saint Louis to finish her Radiation Therapy Degree.  Jade, after bidding a sad farewell to her new best friends, moved home for the summer. 
Home Away From Home
  Boating:  It's what we do in the summer. It's what we love.
Water fun
Cards.....anywhere, anytime
Boy turned man
Still got it
This was a summer of rain which, of course, meant a summer of mowing, mowing and more mowing.
After the rain.  Daddy and his boy. 
Kruz's walker finally arrived in June.
A whole new world to explore.
This summer granted the beautiful opportunity to spend lots of time with my sweet nieces.  
So much beauty in one place
Fun times. Beautiful memories.
Littlest cousins
Water Fun
Father's Day
My Whole World
As always, the Turkey Festival came to town in June. My heart ached at the awareness that this is likely the last year that we will have the stamina to get Moise on his beloved rides. 
"Please Dad"
Summer also found us camping with great friends.  We take our camper.  They take their new, awesome tent, complete with vestibule that turns to swimming pool in the rain. 
Little Climber
Camping meals always taste better.  
We spent many summer mornings at the table, learning braille. It's his newest reality.
Never give up.  Never. 
The rains  caused many work related delays for Jim so Brock, Brock's friend, Kruz and myself headed for Branson without him.  Not a fan of traveling without him but we made the most of it and still had a great time. 
Cliff Jumping Craziness
The Landing with 2 of my boys
A decision not to send Moise to summer camp made for some great bonding time between my two youngest boys.  They melt my heart. 
Rainy Days
Sunshiny Days

Sometimes we get creative.
I love you them so much it hurts
Hammock Buddies
In August I ran my fifth consecutive St. Jude Tremont to Peoria run.  It becomes more meaningful to me every time I run it. 
St Jude Support
Also in August, we were a welcome family for a young man from Sweden.  Isac stayed with us for about 6 weeks before going to another Tremont host family. 
To America, from Sweden
The start of the 2015 brought myriad emotions as Kruz started early childhood at Tremont Elementary.  We also made the painful decision to move Moise from Tremont to Schramm Educational Center for students with severe disabilities.  And Brock?  He began his senior year of high school.
First Day Ever
First day at a new school
The First of the Last

Homecoming week
Our Last Homecoming
Jade returned to Lindenwood,  her dear friends and a very busy schedule in August.

Jamee was formally pinned as a Radiation Therapist and after passing her Board of Registry exam, she left the city to return to Tremont.  She was excited to be offered a position in Radiation Oncology at OSF Medical Center. After a broken engagement in June, her life looks drastically different than she thought it would but she's learning, once again, that she can do hard things and change isn't always a bad thing.
Jamee Holmes RT (T)
Fall Traditon
Illinois fall was glorious and with Kruz in school for a few hours each morning, I found myself with a  bit of quiet time each day, something I've never had in my life.  I think that I shall never take the quiet for granted.  It truly is a gift. 

Apples, apples and more apples
Fallen Leaves
Having made the decision earlier in the year to hire a part time care giver to help with Moise, Jim and I have enjoyed precious time spent with friends. Friends who've been a part of our life for years and new friends who have us wondering "where they've been all our life?"
Good Friends
Old Friends
New Friends
Jim and I celebrated 25 years together in September.  I am so thankful we chose to do life together.  He's the one I want to grow old with.
And I thought I loved him 25 years ago.  
Fall also brought our final cross country season. It was bittersweet to bid farewell to a sport that has been so vitally important in helping our children become who they are today. 
So proud of who he's becoming. 
Endurance, discipline, sportsmanship
 Moise was crowned homecoming king at his school.  
He's a rock star!!!!
In early December Jade made the very difficult but very wise decision to leave Lindenwood University and the friends she has come to love so dearly to finish her education closer to home.  The year and a half that she spent away from home was a valuable chapter in her life.  She learned much and grew in ways she wouldn't have without leaving for a time.  We're so proud of her ability to lay aside expectation and do what her heart told her was right 
Pursuing Relationships
We stayed close to home during December, enjoying and unhurried quietness so contrary from what is typical this time of year.  We drank too much coffee, ate far more than necessary, kept old traditions, formed new ones and soaked up the presence of my favorite people in all the world.  Of all the gifts, love is the best. 
Christmas morning
Child so loved
New Traditions
We ended the year on an interesting note as a winter ice storm blew in, leaving us with no electrical power or running water for two days.  It wasn't convenient, neither was it earth shattering, but it did make us thankful for modern conveniences. 

In keeping with our holiday theme of quietness, Jim and I spent New Year's Eve at home together with take out Chinese and a good movie.  I admit, we escorted the New Year in from Dreamland and I wouldn't change a thing.  

Happy 2016 and so much love to you all.
God is good, all the time.