Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Look back at our 2014

I can't believe it. I blinked and 2014 has passed us all by. I always enjoy the time between Christmas and the New Year, because I really spend a lot of time thinking about what the past year has brought us, what we have learned, where we have grown, and where we still need improvement. I enjoy daydreaming about our hopes for the next calendar year - and hoping that I feel as blessed in 365 days from now as I do today.

This year was another big year for us. We had a lot going on - so much to keep us busy and happy. We started out in January of this past year celebrating a 3rd and 5th birthday for Kensington and Anslee respectively. We also found out that the baby growing in my tummy would be another sister to complete this crazy crew.

We had our house on the market - and our eye (and an offer) on a 4 bedroom 2 living area house about 6 blocks away from where we currently lived. We were planning on gutting the 4 bedroom home and making it not only the right size, but the right style for our growing family.

When March came around, and I knew I was getting to the bitter end of my pregnancy, and we still had not sold our house (had a couple of offers, but nothing that we could financially make work. We wanted too so badly, but it just would not work out in our favor or the potential buyers favor). We knew we needed a new plan.

I asked Tyler to consider enclosing our tiny back porch (a tad bit less than 80 square feet, to be almost exact.) I realized that should we enclose that area - we could fit a crib and a dresser and our tiny home could accommodate the 6 of us comfortably. After looking at pricing and further considering the alternative (moving - which at this point was really not an alternative seeing as how getting a closing date in time to bring baby home was way less than likely), He said lets go for it. So we did! We only needed to add one wall, finish the ceiling, add a fan and some simple electric work and boom. Wynn has a room. We have so enjoyed our little addition to the house. It does have a huge window, but no closet, so our home is still considered a 3 bedroom. In the future, when it is time to sell our home, we will easily stage this as an in home office or a play room. Its the perfect space for either one of those, and makes our home unique!

This is the last picture I took of the room. It looks so much different even now, as she has a changing pad and a curtain and a few things on her walls. It is small, but so is she, so we are functioning at full capacity - happily.

So the spring was busy with construction and destruction as well. Our little Laynee stuck her poor finger in a door that shut ALL THE WAY while her finger was inside the hinges. She walked away from that incident (and a trip to the ER in Abilene) with 8 stitches.

You can see by the look on my face that I was less than thrilled, scared, and really just so upset because its really just about the worst thing to see such a young babe be so hurt. She was trooper, and has since made a full recovery. Thank you, Jesus!

We enjoyed Easter with our family, and talked to these precious girls about what a gift they are to us. We talked to them about how God gave us the gift of his own son, Jesus, who died - but was risen back to life to save us from ourselves. Their hearts were softened, but not turned. In time the depth of this will sink in, and we will lead them to the one who created them. I am thankful for their innocence, and how they ask questions. I am hopeful for their future salvation. Easter becomes such a special time for us as we get to continue in old traditions and create new ones.

Anslee finished her year at Cross Classical Academy as Pre-K student. The last day, they had a track day, where they finished their running (all year, they were required to run 1/4 2 X's per week) Over the course of the year, by running on this schedule, they would complete a marathon. On this track day, as they concluded the year - they ran their last mile. Anslee actually ran 1.5 miles that day and didnt even blink about it. She is a lover of running and would never stop if allowed to keep going.

Kensington finished up her 2nd year at her Wee Kids school. She had a great year! We loved her teacher, Mrs. Rhonda. Kensington learned so much, and really just had a blast! On their last day, they enjoyed a water day - and it was the best way to wrap up a great year at wee kids for her.

Then...about 1 week after school ended.....

Wednesday, May 28th goes down as the most memorable day of 2014 for Tyler and I. We jumped through hoops (or went through 4 blood transfusions) to get our precious Wynn here - with mommy being healthy. It was a scary birth experience, if I am being honest. I would do it all again to have her, but I am grateful to know that I will not go through that, or anything like it, again in my lifetime. My iron levels were dangerously low, so I needed quite a bit of blood to go through with the c-section. It takes several hours for a transfusion to complete, and I had to have 1 full unit (bag) and being well into the 2nd unit before I could even go back for surgery. Then the doctor needed to finish up at his clinic if I needed to sit there getting blood. Then no one could get a recovery nurse. Where was the anesthesiologist? Did someone need an emergency section before me? Probably. All I know is I sat there, in a torturing amount of anxiousness (do you blame me? I knew the damage that was about to be done to my body. ""shudder"") for 7 hours before I finally saw that angel baby. Then I saw her, and heard her. Her cry was too quiet. So quiet it could barely be heard. I felt funny all of sudden. Doctor? Can I have something for this intense and scary pain? Thank you. All of a sudden I felt like I could fly off the operating table. Did I just have a baby? Ok. Off to recovery.

Tried to nurse baby Wynn. She couldnt breathe, and I was trying to make her eat, She really couldnt get any air then. She was making strange sounds with each "breath" she took in. She was stuggling.

They come in and take her. Tell me I can't nurse for 24 hours because she needed to be on an IV and possibly oxygen. Devestation. Lots and lots and lots of tears. Missing my big girls. Missing them so much. Told we have to stay 5 days in the hospital to monitor her blood sugar. Missing my big girls so much that I can't stop crying. Ive never been so torn up in my life. My girls missed Tyler and I. They would come up to the hospital and cry when they left us. The rest of the time in the hospital I struggled to get her to nurse (once I was allowed to again). You can see the expression on my face is the exact same as the one I have in the picture with Laynee got her stitches. I am worried, and it can't be hidden.We powered through the most difficult days of this year, and came home.  With our Wynn. We have 4 daugthers.

Tyler took off 6 weeks. He was off from May 24th until July 7th. It was the sweetest time for our family out of this year. It was too short lived. It was wonderful all be home together. We were learning so much during this time. We were learning who Wynn was, what our new family was like as a whole, and how to manage our days. Really, we are still learning this today. Her early days were the hardest for me. I continued to struggle with nursing. I had a forceful letdown and an oversupply. She choked, gagged, and gasped for air, and swallowed a TON of air. I tried pumping off a little before each feed - and that seemed to help just a bit. She then ended up have a strong preference for my left side and basically wouldn't eat more than 4 or 6 minutes from my right side - after about 398479534 of trying to get her latched. I had mom friends come over and try to help me feed her. I consulted with 2 different lactation consultants. I fed on demand (hello, do you know me? not my style.) I tried nursing her while I laid on my back to let gravity do its thing. The tears came with each feeding. From both of us. She ended up having a pretty extreme nursing aversion - to where when I would turn her into position to nurse she cried so hard it was silent. She turned away from me, and I was helpless and hopeless. Why is nursing such an easy and beautiful experience for everyone else? I mean, everyone I know who was as committed to nursing as I was - was nursing. What was wrong with me? Why did I get a big fat "F" in nursing on my mommy report card when I did all my homework? After countless tears, prayers, and conversations with tyler, I gave in. I gave her bottles. She hated them, too. Ha. It honestly made me feel a little better - and even now at 7 months old, I can still barely get her to take the bottle without a fight. She isn't human, I tell you. She does not have that innate drive to consume food for fuel. I wish I could say that I am 100% confident that was the best decision, but it still pains me terribly. I had to unfollow all my breastfeeding groups on facebook. I had to delete several breastfeeding apps from my phone. I have to admit that today, I cringe with what I call a "happy" jealousy when I see others nursing their tiny ones. I am so glad for them. Wish I could join them. I know that how you feed a baby doesn't make you a good mom, but how I am supposed to feel when I see breastfeeding propaganda all over my small town on billboards. "Rocket Scientist. Breastfeeding makes babies smarter."  I am not kidding. Its on a billboard I have to look at everytime I am going to our Pedi office. Then one on the way to the mall "World Champion.  Breastfeeding makes your baby stronger." I am an advocate for nursing! Do it! Its the best! But please, don't make mothers like me feel like my child is going to fail in the world of academics and basically struggle with doing anything physically because she wasnt nursed for a year. 3 months into Wynns life, and she was fully weaned. Everyday, I look at her and wish I could nurse her. I also look at her everyday and I am thankful just to have her. Wow. I digressed a lot. Moving on.

Tylers family has a HUGE 4th of July celebration every year. I mean, its the party to be at - there are door prizes, games, FOOD, and great company. This was going to be our Wynn's first trip to Tylers parents house (where the party is every year). We missed. The big girls had just gotten over pink eye, and the day before, Wynn was showing signs of it - thankfully we knew what was happening and caught it early - and it turned out to be a super mild case. We hated to miss it though.

July 18th was a great day this year! Our 1st nephew came into this world! Camden Asher Ruempolhamer was born. So fun to have a baby boy in the picture now! He is 4 months old here!

August came around and before I knew it, we were headed to meet Anslee's teacher. Mrs. Hall is hugging her in this picture, and her teacher aide, Mrs. Jones is right behind them. They are both wonderful and know how to help kindergarteners learn the ways of school days. We are thankful for her. Anslee has had an incredible first semester at school. On Mondays they have school assembly where awards are given, and school announcements are made. The first Monday meeting (Beginning of the 2nd week of school) Anslee got a "WOW!" award for being a good listener.

I was excited, because her being away from me so much was a transition that has been much harder on me than I had originally thought it would be. It made me feel like she was surviving and thriving and calmed me a bit.

Then, every six weeks, each teacher chooses a girl and a boy from their class to be the "star student" for that six weeks. Anslee won this award at the end of the very first six weeks! I was thrilled, and I didnt know she was receiving the award - so I was glad I was able to come to the ceremony!

Now- she is in no way perfect. She has had to move her color from green to yellow 3 times this semester. One time for pushing a little boy. What? Yes, poor little boy was standing next to the girl that Anslee wanted to stand next too, so what did she do? She shoved him. Im sorry, I never knew this girl to be physically agressive....but she was! Then, one time she was not productive with her work time, and was dawdling instead of being efficient, even after being warned, and had to move her color for that. (that sounds more like what Anslee would get in trouble for!). Then, the last time was because her entire group was not doing what they were told, so they all had to move their colors. Never the less, she behaved pretty well, so I am proud of her. I would not say that she has learned any new concepts up to this point. She is right on track with learning, but hasn't learned anything yet that she didn't really already know. I had a parent teacher conference and her teacher was very pleased with where she stood in her understanding what she needed too for her age, and she passed all the TPRI markers without any mistakes (don't ask me what TPRI is, I have no idea. Its a state thing, I guess?). I hoping to see her grow a lot this second semester. Can't believe she is half way to first grade!! She has lost 7 teeth, and her 8th tooth will be gone in the next little bit. Everytime she looses another, I am reminded at how fast they grow and change. Its still hard for me to believe her tiny years at home with me are essentially gone. I just keep praying that the influences other than her daddy and I be of sound mind, and wise, and kind. I pray that they find Jesus and know him. I pray that should SHE be an influence on anyone else, that is what they see in her.

Meanwhile, these two. They started wee kids. This makes Kensingtons 2nd year, and Laynee's first! They have fabulous teachers this year, and are having such a great time. They think they are big because they got back packs, too. They look forward to going every monday and wednesday - and act much better for their teachers than they do for their mother.

Also, I learned to french braid. This was my first attempt. I have vastly improved, with practice - but I have not taken a good picture of my better work. Ill do that sometime, but just trust me for now. I mean, this is a non-negotiable skill to have, right? I have 4 daughters.

September started a new chapter in Tyler's career. He has been going to the border for 7 days (2 days travel, 5 days working 12 hour shifts) to be a "show of force" for all border control issues. There is so much I could say about this little phase of our life, but I'll keep things to myself to be respectful to Tyler's employer, and of the job he really does love. It has been difficult, because he is working way more than usual. He is absent from us, obviously, while down at the border...but when he is here, he is on call so much more - because the others in this area who would normally be on call are all doing THIER rotations on the border, so the hours are more (because he is loosing a LOT of his normally scheduled days off and the call is so much more), and he is away more. I am not the type of wife that does well without her husband. I miss 7pm-10pm with him terribly when he is gone! Those precious hours each night are so special to us! Its our time. The kids are all asleep, and we get to watch our shows and talk about everything under the sun! Its important! This will end - this will end. We also have high hopes for the future of Tyler's career, as he has done so well and has much much much to look forward too! I really could not brag enough or be more proud of this guy.

September 23 of this year was a special day for our family. My Sister in Law Jacy gave birth to her and Brian's first baby. A daughter, named Blakely May Russell. She is gorgeous. She is a genius baby. She socially smiled at me, when she was 3 weeks old. She is perfect in every way and we are beside ourselves to claim her as a family member. And Jacy? Rocking as a mom. We knew she would.

Can I speak for a minute about this beauty? My Kensington. Oh she gave us grief when she was born. If you have ever read this blog you know exactly what I am referring too. She was colic from day 1 until day like 124. It felt like 43987498753945345 days, but friends. This girl. Her 3 - 4 (will be 4 in less than a month) year has been amazing. This girl is filled with imagination and expression. You have not lived until you listen to her (watch her) tell you a story. She is polite. QUICK TO OBEY. happy. LAUGHS at everything. Wants to dress up all day everyday. This girls thinks of others before herself. all. the.time. Every morning, she goes to the refrigerator - goes and gets her and her sisters cups, and asks them which one they want to have and she takes what is left and is thrilled to do that for them. She colors pictures for her sisters 5 of 7 days a week, because she says "it will make her happy, mom.". She melts me. She is a pure pleasure to be around. I am slightly obsessed, and very proud that the Lord is guiding her heart well before she has given her life over to him. And. She is gorgeous - and that is nothing but a bonus, and absolute true reflection of her budding character.

Oh my most precious Laynee girl.She turned 2 years old on July 31 of this year, she is perfectly...2. Whew. This girl is a challenge. Her toddler years have been consistently difficult. Especially this year. 2014 has been a battle year with her. She needs a lot of attention and reigning in. She is one tough little cookie who will make you want to scream and laugh in the same breath. She is quiet, and really really really loud. Trust me, it makes perfect sense. She is a walking tornado. If there is something that will make a mess - she will get to it. She destroys things. She must be watched much more closely than her older sisters needed to be. This year, we have noticed some things about Laynee. She loves to preform and sing. She is not shy when it comes to these things, her sisters - way more timid. She also is SUPER independent and NOT at all patient. She believes she has the development of her sisters - and thinks she can buckle herself in her carseat and screams bloody murder when someone tries to offer some help. Same with getting fully dressed. Do not attempt to give her a hand. She will push you back. She LOVES to say her prayers at night and really loves to sing the ABC song. She recently moved into a toddler bed. She will be potty trained in the next....30 days. Hopefully. I feel excited to share 2015 with Laynee. I think she will begin to feel more a part of the "big girl" club with her sisters as she learns to communicate more effectively,  and play with them more imaginatively. I think she will enjoy this next year and I look forward to seeing her come even more so into who she is!

7 months old and the sweetest, most cooperative, gentle, angel baby that has ever lived. I am not kidding. She is precious. Besides hating to eat, she is the perfect infant. She sleeps on cue. She hit 4 months old and was totally predictable - She has cried like 3 times when being put down for a nap, and she falls asleep within 5 minutes of being laid down. She takes 2 naps 2 hours in length and then a 1 hr to 1.5 hour cat nap in the late afternoon. She will get cranky if she is up past 6:30 pm, and sleeps until 7 am without making a peep. She is a dream to be around during the time she is awake because she is so well rested. Just at the end of this year, she has started to get a bit more clingy to me, but I am good with that. She is still swaddled (I know. She sleeps SOOO well I don't want to mess it up. Ugh. I hate transitions) She has her two front bottom teeth, and is eating one "meal" each day. Thankful she is ours. She came to us almost mid-year, and it started out a little rough - but she has ended this year well. We call her the Moses' grand finale.

December was a big month for me. I went to see a doctor in Houston about my thyroid. I am now being totally treated - and treated VERY well. I am taking a lot of vitamins and supplements and an increasing dose of a non-dessicated Thyroid medication (Armour Thyroid). I am getting healthy and already seeing so much improvement in just 4 short weeks of treatment. My hair is getting so much thicker, and my energy is gaining each day. I am sleeping so so so so so well. I was not before, so I am thrilled that this is improving for me!

Tyler and I celebrated 7 years together on December 9th. He is still an answer to all my prayers since way back when and I am very proud to be serving the Lord, our family, and our friends and community alongside him. Many more beautiful years ahead.

Happy New Year, from our family to yours. I hope that this year you know Jesus better, serve him more, and love those around you well. This is our hope for 2015, and we share that with you!

Maybe one day this year, I will get this tiny blog fixed up to include our biggest blessing of 2014 - our sweet Wynn!

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