Saturday, January 7, 2017

In the Gentle Evening Breeze: 2016 Year In Review

In the gentle evening breeze
By the whispering shady trees
I will find my sanctuary in the Lord

I feel like I'm finally, finally getting my blogging mojo back. And part of that is making wise decisions with my time. It's helping me to not get burnt out, and not get overwhelmed, and also to actually get more done. All that to say, in years past, these posts have looked different. I included a ton of pictures from my phone and the big camera (I think one year there was an average of ten per month) and I hyperlinked basically every word to reference back to the posts about specific events and occasions. I was about to start uploading pictures and I realized half or more would be ones I used in the slideshow at the end and that's redundant and silly and a waste of my time and everyone else's. Blogging has changed and I doubt anybody has any interest in all that (if they ever did) but more importantly our lives have changed and what used to be a several day process would now probably take me weeks. Mostly importantly, while I certainly still have my compulsions, I'm much more interested in the big picture. I want to hit the highlights here, but if I leave out a big event but do a good job using my words (and the slideshow!) to convey the overall sense of thankfulness and fear and heartache and abundant joy that we experienced this year, that is what is most important to me now.

Last January was a lot like most- we packed up Christmas, I chose my word of the year, and I determined my big goals for the year. It was different, though, and the biggest highlight of the month (and one of the biggest of the year) was finding out that Babykins #3 was a girl. It was tough on Graves at first, but it was an exciting time. It's so sweet to look back over the year and realize she went from Babykins #3 to Sister Baby to (after being in the world for five ours) our Sarah Lamar. Six months from that point and she's gotten a million nicknames- Babes, Sissy, Little Sallie Sunshine- and her personality almost seems too big for a six month old's body. It blows my mind that just a year ago, we didn't even know she was a girl! I also started my Book Buddies placement with the Junior League in January of last year and it turned out to be an amazing project.

In February, Cookie and Conrad visited and Carrie and I met Ashley in Nashville for a weekend. I was SO thrilled I wasn't really sick much at all on the trip. I got super tired and threw up one time but it was nothing like what I had been dealing with- passing out and barfing to an extent that seemed a little excessive for the second trimester. That's also crazy to look back on- it's only been a year, but I've largely forgotten how sick and miserable I was feeling so much of the time. It was a hard, hard Winter.

The kids were able to get outside more in March and they both started another season of soccer and blastball. Peyton coached Graves's team that season and that was really fun. I think he enjoyed it a lot more than he expected. I really struggled to know how much I could and should push myself physically, just in day to day activities. I had never experienced a pregnancy like this one and it wasn't easy, but I tried to maintain some perspective. I could feel Spring in my bones and that's always a good feeling, but especially last year knowing that Spring would bring Summer and Summer would bring our baby!

April was a pretty busy month! I had an interview for a job I was considering for the Fall (which clearly didn't come to fruition) and Peyton and I took a week long "babymoon" to New York. Being in the city brought up so many amazing, and complicated, feelings. But it was also a really precious time with Peyton. I realized what a beautiful work God was doing in our marriage, bringing us to agreement on SO many things, and it gave me a confidence like never before that He has the power to bring us to agreement on the biggest of things and more importantly to bring Peyton back to Himself. The Mockingbird conference probably had a lot to do with this, as well. It was one of the most fun, and in my case one of the most restorative, things we did all year! Annie and Graves had the time of their lives as well, splitting the week between grandparents' houses.

May was our last full month as a family of four and we really enjoyed it. We had the big kids' joint birthday party and it was just a really wonderful celebration with most of our dearest friends. Book Buddies finished up and Peyton picked up quite a few extra shifts to prepare to take all his Fridays off in June so he'd only be working Saturdays and Sundays once Sister Baby got close. At the end of the month, the big kids got to kick of the Summer with the start of their first year ever of swim team, which was so special since the pool has such significance to me and Peyton. I also got a piece of my own writing published on a blog that has meant so much to me these last few years.

June, of course, was largely dominated by the arrival of Sarah Lamar. Those last couple of weeks before she came and especially the few days past my due date, seemed long and hard, but it was also really amazing to actually get done so many of the things I wanted to accomplish before she got here. I remember being so uncomfortable in the heat and also really anxious about not having a doula present at the birth or a named picked for our daughter. It was a really crazy night (really, a few hours), but she made her incredible arrival on June 12th and I just fell in love with her instantly. The hospital stay was magical and we came home and the transition seemed, at first, very effortless. We got sno cones and took her to the pool before she was seven days old. I remember Peyton saying "you take care of her and I'll take care of you", which was one of the kindest things he's ever said to me, and which mostly meant I needed to feed her and he'd make sure I and everyone else was fed.

July was really wonderful in that it was our first full month with Sallie and because I just love Summer. But it was also a LOT. Looking back, I don't think I realized how tough it was on me. Peyton had signed up to work some extra shifts, which seems very counter intuitive with a newborn, but we both wanted to get them out of the way when I was already taking a break from homeschooling and knew I'd want to stick close to home a lot. Well, then he had a bike accident and broke his collar bone. He couldn't even lift the baby or change a diaper for a few weeks. He ended up working all of of the shifts he signed up for after taking one day off and decreasing two of his twelve hour shifts to six hour ones. I was so proud of him. But I got really tired and isolated. More than anything, I got pretty emotionally depleted. I really wasn't expecting that either. I was expecting to be stressed, not sad. In the midst of all that, we had a lot of fun, too, though. We welcomed our Cousin Baby just a few weeks after Sarah Lamar and we took a little overnight trip to Oxford for one of Peyton's extra shifts! It was a BUSY month, clearly.

We started to settle in a bit more in August. We closed down the pool for the Summer; got back into our homeschooling routine and; knowing Granny was nearing the end of this part of the journey, we took weekly trips down to visit her. The biggest thing, though, may have been that I made an honest assessment of my own mental health and decided I need to, at least for the time being, get on some medicine. I felt like I was drowning in sadness and while most of it was a low level kind of depression, I experienced some terrifying emotions. It was an incredibly hard decision for me, but I knew I owed it to myself and my family not to let Sallie's baby days be a fog.

September ended up being one of our most low key months all year, which if you know me, you know means it was one of my favorites =) I started my new Junior League placement at the Grief Center, which would become such an important work to me this Fall. I learned how to really function with three kids and we experienced a little bit of sickness and celebrated Granny's life after she died in late August.

October brought the craziness that is a twelve hundred mile road trip that includes tent/car camping with an infant. I still need to write a full post on that one! Suffice to say, we learned a lot about ourselves and each other on that trip. We also began the month by spending a few days living in my parents' house, taking care of my elderly grandmother, while my parents' were in Nashville helping my sister and brother in law move. I learned a lot from that, too!

I did my Mistletoe shifts in November and did my first purge of baby clothes, which wasn't as emotionally depleting as I expected. Peyton also had his vasectomy, which I thought was going to be hard in all kinds of ways, but it ended up feeling very much like the right timing. A friend's mother died and we went to Alabama for the funeral and spent time with her and her family as well as with Peyton's aunt. It was a good trip, even if it was for a heartbreaking reason.

December was one of the most relaxing ones in recent memory and I loved that. We didn't stress about presents or events and focused mostly on our immediate and extended family and that felt really, really nice. The big kids and I enjoyed Advent at Northside and I realized how much it felt like home and (spoiler for next year's post!) we ended up joining on the first day of 2017. What a way to enter the new year!

He is so faithful to provide those gentle breezes and shady trees, even in the most gale-like years.

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