As I contemplate the blessings of this past year, I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the joy it gives me. Watching my children grow up into good people is such joy.
A few highlights of the year, in chronological order:
1. Filling our lives with joy and delight, Gideon turned 6 months old in April. This boy is both the center of the world and along for the ride around here.
2. Lillian had planned a great trip to Europe with a friend during the six weeks between college and mission, but the trip fell through. The consolation prize was a fun trip back East with me and Gideon along for company. We saw Boston, Philadelphia, and D.C. Then Gideon and I flew home while Lillian took the train and saw NYC alone.
Gideon was a delight, grinning at everyone we met, and having a baby along reminded me of how wonderful people are. People helped us carry the stroller up subway steps, opened the door for us, gave us their seats, and were simply delighted by Gideon's cute babyness.
People didn't quite know what to make of the three of us. Kids 18.5 years apart just aren't that common. At 40, I still look a little young to be a grandma and back east, first-time moms are often older. I had several people ask if Gideon was my first. Others thought I was the mom but seemed to think Lillian was the nanny or something. Then there were those who complimented Lillian on how cute her baby was. She took it all in stride.
We ate amazing food, admired a bazillion pieces of art, and went to a dozen museums. It was awesome.
2. We took our family pictures for Mother's Day. These will be the last of all of us together for likely three and possibly as many as seven years, as more of my children leave to serve overlapping missions. My heart hurts just writing that, though I am also full of joy at the blessing of having them serve.
3. Sarah rescued an abandoned baby raccoon she named Neville. He was adorable, sweet, made these amazing chatter-purr sounds, and was an awful lot of work, needing kitten formula from a medicine dropper and then small kitten bottle day and night. We were happy to find someone willing to foster him a week later.
4. Gideon was cute, cute, cute all year long. And so was Benji. Two little boys have been a great way to finish off our family.
5. We took an awesome family trip to California in June, going through San Francisco and Santa Cruz before enjoying a family reunion in Monterrey. I will try to pretend I didn't keep thinking the whole trip about how this was our last family trip with everyone all together.
|At the Jelly Belly Factory|
|Some of us went deep-sea fishing and caught some amazing looking fish.|
|This fish was caught by Harmony. Pretty impressive!|
|On our way home, we visited my husband's grandmother, who still lives alone and reads a ton at age 96.|
|She let us draw some flowers on her back fence.|
6. Katie was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in late June. Her brother Joey baptized her. That night, we hosted a farewell party for Lillian and she spoke in Church the next day, sharing a powerful testimony. It was a powerful, emotional, lovely, bittersweet weekend.
7. Lillian attempted to fill her last weeks with good memories. She took Benji to the zoo and he still talks about riding the "baby train" there. She took the twins to the mall to surprise them with ear piercing, though only Allison decided to do it. We all went out to Mona ponds, where Allison caught a ton of crawfish. We celebrated Benji's mid-July birthday two weeks early so Lillian could be part of it.
|Lillian made the cake, of course|
8. And then, on July 2nd, which was also the twins' 14th birthday, Lillian left for the Brazil Missionary training center and the São Paulo South mission. She said goodbye to most of her siblings at home, then Joey and Benji joined her dad and I in taking her to the airport. Joey will leave for his own mission before Lillian comes home, so it will probably be three years until they are together again. And Benji is Lillian's favorite.
There's no way to describe all my feelings about her leaving. I teared up just looking at these pictures again. Nothing will ever be the same for our family, and yet there's nowhere else I would rather her be than serving the Lord full-time. She's experienced so much growth and been part of so many miracles.
|Benji was scared of the parking garage and held his hands over his ears|
9. Sarah got two kittens for her birthday. She named them Harry and Luna.
11. We enjoyed some visitors.
13. We took our family to Idaho for a few days to enjoy McCall, swimming, and jet-skiing. The end of the week, we met my parents and all but one of their descendants (Lillian was missing) for a family reunion commemorating their 50th wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful event. Six married children and their spouses plus thirty-one of the thirty-two grandchildren.
|Sarah makes the cutest dragons, even on vacation|
|(with Lillian photoshopped in)|
14. School started for eight of my kids. Four in high school (senior, sophomore, freshman, freshman), four in elementary (6th, 5th, 3rd, 1st) this year. Two boys at home.
15. In September, Joey and I went for a nice Sunday drive up the Nebo loop and saw a small fire in the distance. We read the next day they were allowing it to burn out. By Friday, it had burned out of control and was threatening homes. For a while, it was the biggest fire in the nation. Miraculously, no homes burned. We Latter-Day Saints know how to pray, I tell you!
16. Gideon learned to walk and then turned one year old in October.
17. We spent a few days in Park City over fall break
18. We enjoyed the lovely fall leaves.
19. Halloween was epic.
21. Eliza turned 12. See above about comment about the speed of life.
22. We were somehow able to pull off a nice Thanksgiving without Lillian's help.
23. I took a quick trip to Meridian, Idaho, to see my parents. I brought the four youngest kids.
24. Christmas was amazing. The absolute best part was the 90 minutes we spent talking with Lillian via Skype. Seeing her face, hearing her laugh, and listening to way she has grown and feeling the light she exhibits was all that this mother could want.
|Any guesses as to the two reasons we moved the couch across the doorway? Hint: They start with B and G|
|One of the best moments of the year!|
Life is so full! We are richly and wonderfully blessed!