Two words defined January of 2014: Polar Vortex. Which really just meant that it was really, freakin' cold. So cold that during two different times that month, schools were closed and we spent our days stuck in the house, entertaining ourselves with movies, books, crafts, and games. It was during this month that Charlotte started to give up her nap for good; some days not sleeping at all, and other days after destroying her room we would find her sleeping in the most peculiar places.
The weather in February proved to be just as cold as January, meaning more time inside. Charlotte's preschool has a policy, where they keep the 3-year-olds inside if it is below 20 degrees...I am pretty sure she went out maybe once during January and February. We spent a lot of time at Kate and Bill's; my grams was now living there, and they all appreciated the visits from the kids. We tried to have Charlotte's tonsillectomy at the end of February but sickness delayed it.
Baby Aria, Erin & Paul's 2nd child, was born in early March. Baby whisperer, aka Katherine, was thrilled, as she can't resist snuggling a newborn. Meanwhile at home, Jack was becoming quite the mobile little one. For the first ten months of his life, he preferred to sit in one place (and scream, usually). But over the period of only a few days he learned how to crawl, pull himself up & cruise around furniture, and climb stairs.
Charlotte's tonsils came out in early April, and after 8,000 showings of Frozen and Wreck it Ralph, as well as 40 tons of tater tots (no ice cream and popsicles for this kid!), she was back to her old self. We also took a very impromptu spring break trip to St. Louis with the kids. Mike and I were both surprised at how much fun we had and how easy of a trip it was (anytime you shove 6 people in one small hotel room, especially when one of those people is Jack, you never know what will result).
My little man had his golden birthday on the first day of May. We felt it was a milestone, as we it meant we survived probably the hardest year of our lives. Jack decided to celebrate his birthday by learning how to walk and showing off his new skills at his first birthday party.
A few days after Jack's birthday party, we said goodbye to my grandfather after he lost his fight with cancer. A situation we are becoming all too used to as our grandparents age, though never is easy.
Charlotte wrapped up her first year of school on a high note; she truly had an amazing first year and grew so much in every area. Her teachers were phenomenal and we couldn't have asked for a better start to her formal education.
June = birthdays in our house. Sophie (our 8-year-old black lab), Charlotte, and I all share a birthday week in early June. We celebrated with a party at our house, and Charlotte declared it the "best day ever." The older kids finished school for the year, and our summer routine commenced. Summer school, swim lessons, sports camps, and more, all while enjoying the laid back days and nice weather.
In early July, we spent a weekend up north at Mike's parents celebrating the 4th of July. The kids all loved the small "firework stand" fireworks this year, as well as time outdoors with family.
Towards the end of the month, my grandma fell ill, rather suddenly. She had been fighting a progressive disease for the past three years, and it finally became too much. After an emotionally exhausting week of sitting with Kate and my mom at her bedside in the hospice, my grams left us. There isn't a day that has gone by since that I haven't thought of her. The reminders of her are everywhere, and I have struggled a lot with her passing; as have my kids. She was truly the smartest lady I knew, and we miss her so, so much.
Mike and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on the last day of July. It is amazing to think about what we have been through in our decade of marriage, and I can't imagine surviving it without him by my side. We were able to get away for a night, with hopes of a longer vacation somewhere in the future when Jack isn't quite so needy and dependent on us.
In August, summer school wrapped up and our routine became more relaxed. Mike, Katherine, and Will attended quite a few Brewers baseball games, and we made a few trips to the zoo. We prepared to say goodbye to my grandma in the middle of August with a "Remembering Peg"memorial service. It ended up being a perfect day, and a perfect way to celebrate her life. Our month ended with what I consider probably one of the most laid back days of summer; a trip to a local kiddie theme park with good friends and family.
September always marks the beginning of a new school year; this year Katherine is in 3rd grade, Will is in first, and Charlotte in 4K. They all are having good years thus far, and have a group of amazing teachers which I always appreciate more than you can imagine. Charlotte is in a typical preschool class, at the school she attended last year. She has support from an aide and a special ed teacher at times, and all of her therapy is done in the classroom. She is the only kiddo with a disability in her class, and being surrounded by her typical peers has done wonders for her speech, as well as emotional/social growth.
Will turned seven in early September, the same day we left for a weekend in Minneapolis to celebrate Mike's sister's wedding. Katherine and Charlotte made cute flower girls, and we all had a lot of fun visiting with family. At the end of the month, we had a combined family birthday party for Katherine and Will, as they both choose to have fun friend birthday parties at different times.
Katherine turned nine in mid-October, and the cool weather of fall was quickly upon us. We celebrated in the usual ways; a trip to the pumpkin farm, a corn maze, and other fall traditions. Will spent his weekends playing soccer, and Katherine officially made the decision to take a hiatus from piano and give the swim team a try. Halloween marked the end of October, and for once in all the years we have had children, it was actually mild & nice weather for trick-or-treating (as opposed to rainy, cold, and hail!).
November seemed to go by quickly; our days are filled with the busyness of life. School, homework, and after school activities fill up the days of the kids, while Mike and I are constantly trying to figure out ways to best juggle our own jobs with the needs of our kids. Right before Thanksgiving, for the first time in 4 years, my mom, Kate, Missy, and I were able to get away for a girl's shopping weekend...exactly what we all needed. Thanksgiving rounded our November with celebrations with both sides of the family, and a trip up north.
Oh December, where did you go? I am not sure why, but this year the Christmas season was a blur. For me personally, as well as those closest to me, the Christmas spirit seemed to be missing this year. Maybe because it felt rushed due to Thanksgiving being so late, or because of the craziness of work travel for Mike coupled with lots of activities for kids, and a busy/stressful few weeks of work for me, as well as some illness? Or maybe it is the sadness of spending the first holidays without those we lost this year.
Whatever the reason, I can honestly say, I was happy to take the tree down today. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed the Christmas celebrations with family, but after our string of 5 days of Christmas events and travel to various houses (none of them childproofed, mind you!), we. were. exhausted. I tried, I really tried, to enjoy the "magic of Christmas" through the eyes of our children, but it was hard to sit back and relax when Jack was pulling glass balls off of trees and whipping them across the room. Maybe next year it will be easier?!
Last night, we spent our New Year's Eve as we do every year, with our good friends. Seven kids make things crazy, though, it never feels that crazy. The kids had a great time, as did the adults. I swear I haven't laughed that hard in a long, long time, and it felt good. The older three kids made it up to ring in the New Year with us, and even though Jack isn't feeling the best and was up a ton last night, we are enjoying a quiet New Year's day at home...in a childproofed house ;-).
And that is a wrap. 2014 is now behind us, and the anticipation of 2015 and all it has to bring is strong. A few family trips I am sure will be on the horizon (our annual Dells trip is next week already!), the hope that winter isn't nearly as cruel to us this year so we can get out and enjoy the snow at times, a summer filled with the usually friends and fun, and come September I will put THREE kids on the school bus for full day school, as Charlotte starts Kindergarten. Where does the time go?
Happy New Year everyone!
Edited to add a link to more pictures from our 2014 Flipgram.