Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 Recap - Pics to come!

We rang in the year 2013 living at my parents' house. That night, we celebrated moving back to Michigan and having our son in the year 2012. I didn't think any year could come close to being as wonderful as 2012. After celebrating, I kept feeling surges of relief that we didn't have to leave Michigan like we normally did after the holidays. I was - and am - so, so thrilled to be home for good.

January began with bad news. A job Brian had been offered around Christmas was rescinded when one of the company's projects fell through. Brian went from negotiating vacation time to sending out his resume en masse. To say the least, this was a long and difficult trial for him as the next couple months went by with nothing. It was easy for ME to encourage him to trust God, but Brian is so hard-working and (like most men) identifies so strongly with his work that he felt like a fish flopping around on the sand. God tested him during this time with potential jobs in other states. But Brian knew where we were supposed to be and although that meant we were still in my parents' basement, he stayed the course. This month, Leeward Construction Consulting was born.

In March, Brian was officially hired on at the university. This job has been an answer to prayer in so many, many ways. He is excelling in and enjoying his work, and I am thrilled that he won't be moving from city to city anymore as the projects shift every couple of years. Lord willing, he's there to stay!

In March, my mom and sister and I traveled to New York for my cousin Katie's bridal shower. What a fun weekend that was, eating yummy food and hanging out with our family, and Katie's shower was beautiful. In the meantime, Brian took a quick trip to Montana to visit friends while he waited to begin work at the end of the month. Although we were CONSTANTLY on and Zillow, we planned to begin serious house shopping at the end of April.

A week later, I took a pregnancy test. POSITIVE! I'll never forget running out of the bathroom in my parents' finished basement, which had become our little apartment. Brian was coming down the stairs and I met him with a joyous smile and a few excited hops into the air. "I'm pregnant!" I whispered. He gave a big grin and wrapped me in a hug. Like we had done with the news of William, we prayed and thanked God for our new baby.

A couple days later, I couldn't hold it in any more. We told my parents and siblings. Erin danced around the kitchen with William in his "Big Brother" shirt and Matthew jumped in the air, saying like a total dork, "You did it! You conceived!"

In the middle of April, we experienced one of the most challenging weeks we'd ever faced as the personal injury lawsuit for Brian's eye accident finally went to trial. This was five full days of sitting in a courtroom, having to listen to lies, false accusations, and technicalities preventing evidence from being shown. (I can truthfully say I'll never serve on a jury after seeing how our justice system has been perverted by lawyers. I thank God for our attorney, but I think he is a rare breed.) There were many times I had to leave the courtroom and find an empty room to get on my knees and pray. Friday evening, the jury came back in Brian's favor. We had won! However, our victory took a turn on Monday when we were told that the fight would go on. For eight years, this lawsuit had been a giant question mark we were hoping would be resolved at the trial. That question mark still hangs in the air almost a year later. We will see.

After the trial, it was time to start house-hunting. This exciting endeavor got old FAST. Every weekend and many after-work evenings were spent driving forty minutes out to our search area. We scoured for stale listings that we had overlooked and hopped on new ones fast. After two failed offers, we finally had an accepted offer for our home at the end of May.

At the beginning of May, we traveled to New York again for Katie's wedding. She was the happiest bride I've ever seen, and the wedding itself was lovely. The weather was spectacular and the spring trees were all in bloom. My sister and I were proud to stand up as her bridesmaids.

On the way home from New York, Brian and I stopped with my parents and William at Niagara Falls. We "lost" Brian but found him again. It was a fun day.

The next day was Monday, May 6, the day we lost our little baby. He or she would have been born a little bit before Christmas. I still find myself occasionally weeping for our baby. However, more than anything, I am incredibly thankful for this reminder of God's goodness, for this test of faith and trust, and for the nine weeks I was able to carry our son or daughter. I like to picture my mom's mom holding my baby in Heaven. I was profoundly blessed to be pregnant with that soul.

In May, I celebrated my first Mother's Day and we celebrated William's first birthday! This little guy brings light to our lives in every way imaginable. Even the tough moments bring us to the Lord. He is sweet, happy, and healthy, and of course the most adorable child to have ever existed.

For Memorial Day weekend, we traveled with my family to Pentwater, MI, to stay in the cottage of my brother, Joel's, in-laws. This was a short weekend but will always stay in my mind as a very precious time for our family. I don't know why it was such a balm to our souls, but spending time with Dayna's parents and our family, sightseeing, eating, and playing games, was one of the most refreshing times I had all year.

In June, my sister Erin left for over a month to minister in the Phillippines. We were still staying at my parents' house, and I missed her a ton! William started saying "Auntie" while she was gone, and of course promptly stopped upon her return. Oh well. Erin, I promise he said it!

At the beginning of June, we took a weekend trip to Charlevoix to spend time with Brian's family (and to give MY family a little break as we were STILL living there!) It was a sweet and precious time making memories!

On Monday night, June 17th, William woke up in the middle of the night. As I picked him up out of his crib I suddenly had a feeling I was pregnant again. I smiled to myself and hoped. Wednesday night, I stopped at Rite Aid and bought a pregnancy test, which was positive. My reaction was different than it had been in March. I thanked the Lord but immediately cried with sadness that our December baby was truly gone. I thanked God - with joy and fear - for my now three children. We kept it between the two of us.

On Friday, June 21, I started bleeding again. I texted Brian that it had been "too good to be true". That night I took Will to the park and held him extra long at bedtime. I cried before the Lord that he might be my only one. It had only been two days, and I chalked it up to a faulty test or remaining hormones after the miscarriage.

While Erin was gone, I helped with our church's Vacation Bible School June 24th to the 28th. VBS is always a headache to some degree, but it's far outweighed by seeing the kids' excitement as they learn about the Lord. I love it!

We traveled to Charlevoix to be with Brian's family over the Fourth of July. I felt kind of crummy, nauseous, and tired, but we still had a wonderful weekend as a family.

On July 9, we closed on our house!

I still felt pretty bad mid-July, so I took the second pregnancy test I'd bought in June and - surprise-but-not-really - it was positive. I was all kinds of confused, so I scheduled an appointment with an OB and went for an ultrasound. That day I saw an eight-week-old baby dancing around. I still carry its picture in my wallet from that day, although it's not much more than a tiny bean blur! My bloodwork came back with good numbers. My little one had been there all along, and we trusted the Lord and began looking forward to February 20!

At the end of the month, Brian and I left William overnight for the first time ever as we drove up to Charlevoix to retrieve our stuff from his father's storage building... in order to move it into our house! Although it was a quick weekend of heavy lifting and loading, the time with just the two of us felt like a getaway.

On August 6, we moved into our dream house! I hope we can stay here forever.

That following weekend, we attended Family Camp (church camp) for the first time as members again. It was another one of those precious realizations that we live here now. Thank you, Lord.

On September 7, Brian was powerwashing the second floor of the house when his ladder slipped and he impaled his legs on our rusty, wrought-iron gate. This gate is serious business. I think it's an antique and it is seriously filthy, rusty, solid wrought iron that punctured his legs in several places. I'll never forget hearing the crash, running out to Brian, and hearing him yell to call an ambulance. The memory still gives me chills. I didn't think about it much at the moment, but we talked later about how he could have easily punctured an artery and been dead within minutes - or paralyzed, or seriously laid up for a long, long time. Miraculously, however, the punctures did not damage tendons or main blood vessels. We spent Saturday night in the hospital, he had surgery on Sunday morning, and he elected to come home Sunday evening. He took Monday off of work and returned for a half-day on Tuesday! God was so merciful to us. I have a new measure of gratitude for my husband's life!

On September 20th (don't even ask!) Brian left for a serious mountain elk-hunting trip in Montana with a few friends. His leg was healing well and he had been ANXIOUSLY anticipating this trip all year. So.... why would he miss it?! We missed him terribly as he was gone for 16 days, and we were thrilled when he brought home news that he'd shot an enormous bull elk with his bow!

That trip launched us into 2013 hunting season, which was tremendously rewarding for Brian. God blessed him with being able to hunt a wonderful spot, and he brought home a monster buck as well as a second, very nice eight pointer. He also was able to harvest and butcher a doe as a favor to the folks who own the property on which he was able to hunt.

In October, we had company stay with us for four weekends in a row! Brian's parents made it down for one of them, my parents came for one, I hosted friends during one of them, and my aunt and uncle from NY came down for one as well. We love having company and this was a blast. William soaked up all the attention - that's for sure!

November saw us celebrating our first Thanksgiving in our new house! My immediate family, minus Joel and Dayna, came for too much food yet again. It snowed all day and we had a wonderful time eating and playing games.

At the beginning of December, on an otherwise normal Wednesday night, Brian surprised me with two beautiful necklaces - one a pearl (for our children) and one a diamond (since he "hadn't bought me jewelry in a long time"). This is extraordinarily rare as Brian is not a "gift guy," and I was speechless. (When I told the story to my one friend, who is close to both me and Brian and knows him well, she looked at him in confusion and asked him, "Are you dying?!") I don't expect this to happen for another seven years, but two necklaces in one night should definitely tide me over for much longer than that! I have to mention this in my yearly recap because it was SO one of those moments that you never want to forget. Brian is a faithful, kind, present, diligent, intelligent, and FUN husband and father who gives me something to be thankful about every day. A million pieces of jewelry couldn't equal the gift that I have in his character.

But I still like the necklaces.

In mid-December, my parents took William for a couple of nights while Brian and I took a little trip to Baltimore, MD. He had a work conference on Thursday from 8-4, but the rest of the time we spent driving around the city, trying new restaurants, relaxing in our hotel room, and sightseeing and shopping (we arrived Wednesday evening and didn't leave until Friday evening). I don't know when we'll be able to have a getaway like this again, but it was relaxing to the MAX and was the perfect "babymoon" before Dubs the Second joins us.

Christmas this year was absolutely fantastic. We had a weekend family celebration for the three of us before we headed up to Charlevoix after Christmas Sunday church. We spent several relaxing, wonderful days up north, where William got to play with his two older cousins, watch "ball" with "Papa" in the den, and get spoiled by "Nana" every waking moment. What can I say - Brian's mom spoils EVERYONE! We returned to spend a couple nights with my family for a belated Christmas celebration.

We celebrated New Year's Eve with friends from our church and spent January 1 with my family and relatives from NY. The holiday stretched into New Year's Day as Brian enjoyed his Winter Break (unheard of! who has those?!) and returned to work on the 2nd. That weekend, Snowpocalypse 2014 hit us and he had TWO more snow days on Monday and Tuesday! That was a serious blessing. We caught up on a lot of sleep and shared family time, just the three of us.

This week finds us settling back into "real life".... which for us, means Serious Baby Prep. I doubt I'll go very early, but my gut tells me this baby might not hold out until my due date. (I wouldn't mind if it did, though!) I'm over 34 weeks now, so in three weeks we'll be on official Labor Watch. I've got a lot of stuff to do before then!

I didn't think anything could measure up to the year 2012, but 2013 was definitely a contender! The trials of the year highlighted the sweetness of the (way more abundant) wonderful moments. Each night I go to sleep thinking, "I am profoundly blessed." I said it before, and I'll say it again... I am profoundly blessed.


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