But, each day gets easier, and we are looking forward to all 2014 has to offer. Last night we rang in the New Year the same way we do each year. With our best friends, a few pizzas, some drinks, and ice cream sundaes. It is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate as it is incredibly low-stress. No cooking or cleaning to prepare, and all the kids came dressed in jammies (and Missy and I in sweatshirts and yoga pants!). Perfect.
However, before we can look towards 2014, as I have the past two years (2011 and 2012), here is our 2013 year in review...I choose my favorite picture from each month and write a few sentences to document the most notable events.
We kicked off 2013 with our annual trip to the Dells. This year, we extended it a bit and included a couple days with my family. It is amazing to me that we go to the same place every year, and the kids never seem to get bored. All three kids enjoyed time swimming with the cousins and friends, and the adults enjoyed the change of pace. It was during January when we switched Will to a preschool closer to home, cutting back on the amount of daily driving I was doing as well as my stress!
February started with a spur of the moment trip to Minneapolis to surprise Mike's mom for her 60th birthday. The kids were really good and the long car ride went surprisingly well. I was entering my third trimester of pregnancy at this point, and feeling pretty good, though, as usual, anxious to be at the finish line. Charlotte's speech started to take off during this time, and her spoken vocabulary grew at a crazy rate. A couple snow storms and a weekend away for me with some friends rounded out February.
The biggest event in March happened on the first; the birth of Missy's third son Bennett. I have talked about Missy and our relationship with her family throughout my blogging, however, this year she played an even bigger (if possible) role in my life. Our babies were born exactly two months apart, and she has been a huge source of help during Jack's first months of life. I can't tell you how much I look forward to watching our boys grow up together. Also notable in March, Charlotte ditched the crib and we made some room changes to prepare for the arrival of the baby. We moved Charlotte in with Will, a decision that at the time, seemed like a good idea. Six months later we had to rethink this plan though.
|Anxiously awaiting Bennett's arrival!|
Easter was early this year, and spring break came at a time when there was still a sizable amount of snow on the ground, making egg hunts difficult. I was anxiously counting down the last days of my last pregnancy, and enjoying Missy being on maternity leave. We were able to hit the zoo despite the cold temperatures and Charlotte attended a zoo class with her buddy Quinn. Charlotte also had her annual cardiology appointment (where we find out she didn't have to return for THREE years!!), and her first IEP was drafted in preparation for the following school year. Temperatures finally warmed up and we were able to get out and enjoy the weather.
Thankfully, Jack didn't make us wait long into May before making an appearance. My water broke at home on the last day of April, and four hours later, right after midnight he was here. I often say, I should have known based on the first 24 hours of Jack's life what kind of baby he was going to be. He entered this world screaming and didn't stop for the first four hours of his life. All in all, it was a much better birth experience than the last one, but I laugh when I think back at how babies are supposed to be sleepy and hard to wake up the first few days of life. Not Jack. At home a couple days later, we quickly realized adjusting to four kids was not as seamless as one may think. Throw in there some scary health issues for family members close to us, and May turned out to be incredibly long and stressful. We were grateful to have the final piece of our family here, but it was apparent he wasn't going to be that laid back fourth child we ordered. However, we are extremely blessed that all three of the older kids welcome him with open arms and had no problems accepting a new sibling (even one who screamed all the time!).
Missy and I were talking a few weeks ago, and she mentioned something that had happened over the summer. I had absolutely no recollection of what she was talking about. I pride myself on having a good memory, but looking back at June, July, and August, I can honestly say I don't remember much. I was in survival mode. The older two finished school and our crazy summer schedule started. Charlotte continued her once a week therapies, all three older kids took swimming lessons, and Katherine & Will were enrolled in a variety of camps and classes. I juggled all of that with an often inconsolable infant in tow and on an average of 2 hours of sleep a night. Charlotte turned three this month, and we hosted her birthday party at our house on my 33rd birthday, which I would like to report was great fun, but honestly, it wasn't. However, the kids didn't seem to notice the stress level and high level of tension Mike and I felt.
Survival mode continued in July. Jack rewarded us with occasional smiles though, and I went on a dairy free diet in an attempt to help his constant tummy issues (which ended up helping, and 7 months later, I am still living with no ice cream :-0!!). Charlotte surprised us with her incredibly independence in the water, and the two older kids advanced through a few more levels of swimming lessons. We took a trip to central Wisconsin to celebrate Mike's dad's 60th and on the last day of July we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary with dinner sans children; our first date in over 3 months (and it only took three baby-sitters to make it happen).
We tried to fill August with fun summer activities that we hadn't had a chance to experience yet. Beach, zoo, summer night ice cream runs. The kids finished summer summer school and sports camps, and Charlotte said a bittersweet goodbye to her therapists who had worked with her for the past 2 years. We filled out registration forms for school, and Bennett came to stay with us for a couple nights while Missy & Chris celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. We ended the month with our annual trip to up north with my family; this year it wasn't quite as relaxing as usual, Jack was out of sorts and refused to sleep, but the older three kids had a blast.
September brought the first days of school, and finally some relief. With the older two in school full days (2nd grade and kindergarten), and Charlotte in preschool two mornings a week, I finally felt as if I could keep my head above water a bit. Charlotte made things easy for us, her transition to school was smooth, and she continues to love going. Will turned six in mid-September and we skipped the traditional fall birthday bash (we learned our lesson with Charlotte's party in June!!) this month in exchange for each old kid picking a few friends and doing something fun. Will choose to go to a Brewer game, and our sports-loving eldest son had a great time. Jack, though still an awful sleeper and not a fan of ever being put down, started to seem a bit happier.
Birthdays continued this month as Katherine turned eight. She celebrated by having four of her friends spend the night, though the first try had to be postponed as our house was hit with sickness. Charlotte and Mike both endured an awful case of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease and the rest of us seemed to get some sort of virus as well. By the end of the month, everyone was healthy and the kids had a great Halloween. Charlotte enjoyed dressing up, loved trick-or-treating, and had a great time visiting the pumpkin farm with her preschool class.
In early November the kids and I surprised Mike for his birthday and had pictures taken. My parents helped me, thank goodness, and even though it was cold and Jack was crabby, the results were adorable. We took a weekend and switched all the kid's rooms, once again. Charlotte showed us that she isn't one that can handle sharing a room, and the boys needed to move to the biggest room (Katherine's old room) if they were going to have to share. After painting all three rooms, we decided that no matter what, this is the last time we would be doing this (famous last words I am sure...)! Thanksgiving meant time with both of our families, and after listening to Jack scream for over an hour on the way home from Mike's parents, we decided a drive to Disney World will probably never be in our future.
This month I was really able to enjoy our kids. We didn't overbook as we usually do in December. We spent time with family and friends, Mike had some time off at the end of the month, and we made a few day trips for visit relatives. We loved watching the excitement of the older three kids as the experienced different holiday traditions; elf on the shelf, baking Christmas cookies, decorating the Christmas tree, learning new Christmas songs, giving gifts, ...
And there you have it. Another year come and gone. We look forward to what 2014 has in store for us; we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new niece in March, as well as looking forward to a vacation in a few weeks.
Happy New Year everyone!