Merry, merry Christmas, all!
I hope your December days have been merry and bright! I, personally, have cherished every moment of having a lit tree, a carol playing, and a candy cane stirring my hot chocolate. (And it’s still two weeks until Christmas!)
I love sitting down to write our annual Christmas card because it gives me an excuse to look back over the year, revisit the pictures we took, relive the memories we made, and consider the things the Lord has done. Our lives (heck, our kids) looked very different at the start of 2017. This year, we had fewer “notable” things happen in our lives, but somehow the commonplace things felt just as exciting and important anyway. (Insert sappy comment about the joys of parenting young children.) Here are a few of the big and small things that made our 2017 a wonderful trip around the sun:
We spent the month of January preparing for the most notable event of our year. Random projects were wrapped up, freezer meals were made, and Charlotte transitioned out of the nursery and into her new, purple, “big girl” room. We enjoyed a few final adventures as a family of three, and then on February 25, we welcomed Millie Rayne into the wide world.
My labor with Millie was smooth as butter. I was induced at 9 a.m., got an epidural at 2:30 p.m., pushed four times, and was snuggling a baby by 3:57. Praise the Lord for a quick and safe birth! Charlotte took very well to having a little sister, and has enjoyed being as helpful as possible throughout Millie’s first year.
March consisted predominately of getting used to having a newborn around (with the benefit of two weeks of paternity leave for Matt), so we enjoyed having the chance in April to take a break and celebrate our third wedding anniversary in the Amana Colonies. With the warm weather came the start of our summer activities. (Lots of farmers markets. Lots of playgrounds. And as many hikes as time and children would allow.) On one of our date night jaunts in May, Matt managed to find his first, ever morel mushroom! A very proud moment for this Iowan outdoors-man.
June’s arrival brought us to our (much anticipated) family road trip to Wisconsin. Matt and I “managed our expectations” about how much fun we would really have traveling with two under two (Charlotte was 20 months, Millie – 3 months), but our first vacation as a family of four turned out to be an absolute blast! We started out with brief visits to Devil’s Lake and Madison, then settled in for a week in a cabin in the Kettle-Moraine State Forest. Between hikes in the woods, swimming in the lake, day trips to Milwaukee, and visiting Lake Michigan, we kept ourselves busy, entertained, and refreshed. Our big scare of the trip was when Charlotte stepped off the edge of the dock and fell into the lake. We have thanked the Lord over and over that Matt was close by and immediately jumped in after her. She was surprised and scared (as were we!), but otherwise fine. We gave her lots of extra snuggles that day.
Once home from our trip, we had a week to recoup before packing up again to spend the weekend at our church’s annual retreat in Cedar Falls. As always, we had a marvelous and encouraging time with our church family. Charlotte spent countless hours playing on the different inflatables, and Matt and I enjoyed breaking out our hammocks for a little r&r.
In July, Matt was able to join in on a couple of days of RAGBRAI with his dad, sister, and friends. We swam in my mom’s pool as often as possible, and learned dozens of new ways to eat kohlrabi and kale. (Our garden was prolific, but (apparently) only with things that started with “k.”) In August, we enjoyed an afternoon tubing down the whitewater rapids in Manchester, and September’s highlight was a weekend of pool fun (much to Charlotte’s delight) in Rochester with Matt’s family. On Sept. 18, Charlotte turned two! (I know I’m supposed to say “How is that possible?” But, honestly, it felt right. Two suits her.)
October brought with it two new parenting milestones: We made the inevitable transition to a mini-van and we officially potty-trained Charlotte. Before we knew it, it was November and Matt was in Arizona for a work conference. He spent an extra couple of days in the Phoenix area and enjoyed visiting his cousin’s family, doing some extreme hiking, and generally having some extended alone time (which is a rare commodity around the homestead). Upon his return, we took a big step as a family and bought our very first pet: a fish, Bixby the Blue Betta.
That brings us right here to December, enjoying the cheer and anticipation that fills the advent season. Millie is starting to say her first words (both verbally and using sign language). Charlotte is talkative as ever and loves to be helpful around the house. I am counting down the days until our upcoming trip to India! (Matt and I will be traveling there for 10 days in January, while the girls enjoy some quality time with grandparents.) Matt will also be starting school in January (studying to be a Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner), so we are soaking up as much free time as we can before his classes begin.
Otherwise, things here have fallen into a nice little pattern of mealtimes, play dates, naps, and chores. Not such a bad gig (if you don’t mind not getting paid). Like I said before, the commonplace things seem to bring as much excitement and delight for us as the big “happenings.” We thank God every night for His goodness and care in our lives!
His blessings to you in 2018!
Love, the Huethers