So...it's been a while. I had a feeling the fall would be a bit hectic, and I was right. New routines, new jobs, health things, traveling...and now it's almost Christmas. One day, when I'm a real grown up, I'll send Christmas cards. Today is not that day. But I have the advantage of having a blog, and at least a few people who like to read it, so instead, I give you this year's Christmas letter. I've even included a pretty picture if you'd like to print it out and put it on your fridge, or if you want to give it to Grandma who doesn't use the internet. You're welcome.
Do you ever have those moments where you're thinking about something that happened a long time ago, and then realize that 'a long time ago' was actually about 6 weeks ago? I feel like that's been our entire year this year! It's been a really good year...very full. Full of stretching, of growth, of changes.
Jude: For one so small, he's had a big year! He started the year just after his first birthday (Dec. 30th) by starting 'school' in the one-morning/week program at our church's preschool. He LOVES it. While he is much more of an introvert than his brother (in that he actually enjoys a lot of time alone or playing by himself), he really enjoys being around people and has come to love the staff that work in our nursery and preschool. In February he was diagnosed with a histamine intolerance (that's one of those thing that seems forever ago!), and we've spent a lot of our year with him navigating that. Basically, he has a giant list of foods that could send him into a very unpleasant reaction at minimum; a very serious reaction requiring hospitalization at the worst. I feel like we've finally got a pretty good routine down for making and freezing food for him, along with easy snacks throughout the day...just in time for him to start breaking out in hives this month. His 2 year appointment is soon and when we will probably start a lot more allergy testing and food trials. :) Never a dull moment! He almost has all of his teeth (all the praise hands!)...he didn't get his first one until 14 months old and it's been pretty constant since. At just under 2 years of age he's consistently sleeping through the night most nights (emphasis on MOST), and he's in a really stubborn, yet delightful stage. He is full of personality, loves to charm everyone he meets and is possibly the best cuddler I've ever met. He loves all things with wheels and motors - especially lawn mowers and trains. He likes to have time by himself and loves to sit and read books all day long. I absolutely adore watching him learn and figure things out throughout the day; he and I are kindred spirits in a lot of ways and I can honestly say I am loving this stage - temper tantrums and all.
Graham: our "extroverted extrovert". I'm convinced there could never be too many people in Graham's life. He's had a big year too...he's learning to read, going to school 3 days a week now and learning how to navigate the world that is friendship. He has a lot of good friends in our neighborhood and can't wait for the bus to arrive every afternoon, unloading them all from school. If we are unable to be home at that time of day, it's a sad day indeed. He's learning how to be OK on his own, however, and is quite the master lego builder. Star Wars is his jam, and he can play for hours (ok, AN hour) making up all sorts of fantastical worlds. He loves to climb trees, 'fight' the bad guys, regardless of my "let's use words!" encouragement, and says he's never getting married. He still is really into baseball but has shown interest in some other sports as well, so I'm sure that phase will be entering our lives very soon! He has a tender heart and is constantly teaching us about truly loving others...not in spite of who they are, but because of who they are...a person made in the image of God. He still has an FPIES diagnosis but has been displaying some new and different reactions; he ended up in the ER this summer due to one. We have an appointment with a new specialist at UVA in early January, and are praying for some more clarity in how to help him heal. I am constantly amazed, challenged and exhausted by him and wouldn't have it any other way. I am also thankful for coffee.
Alisha: This year has been both long and short, as referenced earlier. It's gone crazy fast in the sense that I can not believe it's December, but so much of it seems like it happened so long ago! The first half of the year was spent a lot on learning how to navigate a new diet for Jude and how to incorporate that into our family. Jim was working on his internship at that time so it gave me something to focus on as well. I've also been enjoying yoga; as our schedule fluctuates I go through spurts of being able to go to class at our local studio and keeping up my practice at home, but it has been such a beneficial addition for me, and I'm working on some fun inversions! I began volunteering near the end of last year with a local organization called The Motherhood Collective. It's a wonderful nonprofit that focuses on 'nurturing the mother to grow the child', by providing much needed education and support. I'm working as their blog editor now and am excited for the year to come! I also have this blog (obviously) which I would like to grow and maybe hone in more as the year progresses...we'll see what the year holds! I began working in Septmeber at our church as the Care Team Coordinator; it's very part-time but I have really enjoyed the opportunities it has given me to get to know some more of our congregation and to utilize my organizational skills. There are some other possibilities in the works for the new year...I think 2017 will be a year of transition for all of us.
Jim: I think he's had the biggest year of us all! After a LOT of hard work, and a lot of time, he finished his Professional Counseling degree this summer! We are so, so proud of him, and I know he's glad to have time to actually read "fun" books again. :) He has completed his residency application and requirements, and should start logging residency hours in January...all 4,000 of them! (these will mostly be through his regular job though) He was able to travel to a number of conferences for personal and professional development; some in VA, one in Washington, D.C. and one in Los Angeles, CA. He loves his job as the Community Awareness Coordinator for HumanKind, and has also enjoyed collaborating with a lot of local agencies and serving on our homelessness prevention board. He's continued running, and while not training quite as hard as last year thanks to his school schedule, still managed to shave some time off his previous best at the VA 10 Miler, along with competing in a large number of shorter races. He has plans to complete a half marathon in the coming year...maybe even a full!
Family: As a family, we've settled into life as a family of four. The boys adore each other; they also adore each other's toys, which results in lots of hugs and lots of fights. We all enjoy doing things outdoors together and have continued caring for our backyard chickens, along with a spring and summer garden. When the weather is nice we like to go for walks on the Blackwater Creek trail or take a picnic to a local park (something we've made more of a habit after our anniversary trip!) Oh, yes! Jim and I took our 10-year anniversary trip to England (London, the Peak District and North Cornwall) and Paris in August. It was amazing, and refreshing and just perfectly timed (and exhausting and fun for Jim's parents, who watched the boys for 10 days!). We can not wait to go back!! The boys both love to travel, thankfully, and as they get older we have lots of plans for family trips; we're heading to Iowa for Christmas in a few days, in fact. We have possible plans for a couple of beach trips, a Florida trip and maaayybe a trip to New York City in the coming year.
Thanks for reading...we hope you have a wonderful Christmas season and are able to enjoy the time with loved ones.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Love, The Meadors