This is our yearly Christmas/New Year Letter. So here we pause, and take a look back at what 2016 held for us:
Our biggest highlights:
January saw our new son Silas still in Ukraine having to celebrate his ninth birthday without us. We’re grateful that we were able to send a cake to him to help him celebrate. We also found out that we would not be able to continue the adoption process until that summer.
In February, Emmie had spinal fusion surgery in her cervical (neck) spine. This was a big highlight in our year since no one knew exactly what would happen or how she would do with it. We praise God that she not only made it through surgery with no complications, but we are now 10 months out and the bones are fusing!
March brought two beautiful kiddos birthdays, Ceili Rain turned 7 and Malachi turned 4. We enjoyed celebrating Easter with our church family. Emmie had her halo removed (after 8 months in it) on March 30th.
April was a much cherished and random “quiet” month if you don’t count the kids’ annual school testing and mom’s weekend away with Tracy. Mark and I celebrated 20 years of dating.
May passed by with Emmie’s 2nd birthday. We had a wonderful beach trip, watched brave pirates, and met some sea lions. We turned in our dossier 2.0. And Mark and I celebrated our 16th year of marriage.
June was another quiet month but news came we would be traveling to Ukraine in July (and later in August). I traveled to Austin, Texas for the NF Forum. Emmie had her final neck brace off on June 10th! Emmie had her sixth MRI and found her UGGHH was stable! We celebrated Josiah’s 9th birthday.
July saw Zoe (her first plane ride and international trip), Mark and I traveling to Ukraine for our “second” first trip. We got to visit with our Silas, sightsee in Kiev and in Vienna. While recovering from jet lag, we managed to celebrate Ace’s 12th birthday and Bryant’s 6th one! And, last, but not least, Mark’s birthday.
August was THE month to have Silas become a permanent part of our family. He became a Character, officially, on August 9th. While Mark was finishing up the paperwork and requirements in Ukraine, Josiah decided life was too boring. He made an unscheduled stop at the hospital to have his appendix removed. We, once again, praise God for our proactive pediatrician. We’re also very thankful that his appendix didn’t burst!
In September, we welcomed home Mark and Silas and began our journey as a family of eleven by attending our church’s annual family camp. We started school pretty soon after and took a break here and there to go to the zoo and talk like a pirate.
October was another “quiet” month and we enjoyed settling in to school, learning to read and being a family.
November was just the opposite of October! We had my birthday (one year closer to 40). Our first NF walk went off without a problem and lots of smiles and laughter. All total, we raised over $7000 for NF Research! Liam started wearing glasses this month. We celebrated Thanksgiving with Papa and Grandmere. Mark and I learned that God had chosen to give us a new addition.
December brought joys, trials, and sadness. We found out early in the month that we were expecting twins but the babies, sadly, did not make it (“not viable” in medical terms). This has been one of the hardest miscarriages (mentally, not physically) yet and I learned later in the month that twin pregnancy losses can sometimes feel harder, even if they are early miscarriages. We rejoiced over Emmie’s spinal fusion successes and UGGHH continuing to behave. We also learned that she has another plexiform in her hip muscle as well as scoliosis. Recently, we have noticed a very small plexiform on her armpit. Also mixed in with all of our news, we mourned the loss of my uncle too close to Christmas and rejoiced in the time we knew him here on earth. Despite the hardships, trials and struggles this month, we have been able to fully rejoice in our Savior’s birth. We are continually reminded that we are not facing these struggles alone because He is always with us. We continue to feel God’s guiding, gentle, and loving hand leading, comforting and sometimes carrying us through.
Looking ahead…we have some fun trips planned for the kids and new experiences for us all (I’m going to be homeschooling a high schooler ya’ll!)! We can not wait to see what the Lord does in and through us this coming year. Yes, with new diagnoses, we are looking at another year of uncertainties and deductibles met too soon as well as meeting new specialists…but we know the Lord has carried us this far and we will continue to walk where He leads. Two things are certain, we’ll continue to raise awareness of NF and also advocate for children who need a home.
**I know that I started out with links and continued on to what I had actually posted. I’m doing my best to get everything up to date. Our months have been very busy since August! For now, we have an easy way to read up on our fun and crazy year.**