I used to do this every year. I would have a several page entry in my journal chronicling the year. Mostly, it was a list of things I had done. Sometimes it was things I had learned. Rarely it was a depressing diatribe wondering where the year had gone. As this is our family Christmas card, this may be all of those things.
The depressing diatribe:
Where HAS this year gone? We had plans to paint the house, and get so many more other things accomplished. Our little Seth turned one in June. Ethan will turn five in a few days. Brian and I celebrated our 8th anniversary at the end of November.
The things we’ve learned this year:
Seth learned to walk. He also learned the sign for please and to say, “thank you.” He is most fond of these things because I’m pretty sure he would be content to eat all day long. His signed please (pulling a hand across the top of your chest) turns to a body thwacking persistence if the food is delayed too much for his liking. (More than 5 seconds usually fits that category.) We have all learned to hide the food we are eating from this child as there will be much clambering and yelling until something is put into what we lovingly refer to as “the little black hole.” It’s tiny, but the gravitational force is impressive.
Ethan learned to conquer several fears this year. He had been terrified in the water last summer if he wasn’t holding on to the side or standing on the steps. This year he learned that the pool can be fun, especially if you have a cool green inner tube that’s “just your size.” He learned some swimming strokes from his daddy — who is, by far, the best swimmer of all of us — and even put his head under the water. He also got up on the high ropes course at DollyWood. He had tried to do something similar last year, but terror won out again. But this year, he even scaled the outside wall of one of the towers. We were so proud of him being willing to try. Oh, and let us not forget that he also learned how to play angry birds.
Brian learned that his body doesn’t bounce back like it used to. Annoying injuries lurk, ready to sink in their teeth once again, until you’ve given your body time to heal. He’s also learned that our little guys won’t stay little forever, and that taking every moment to play is time well spent. Something he is learning, and probably always will be, is how to love his wife. (He told me to put this in here!) Something we are both learning is that marriage is always about coming back together, holding tight to Jesus as we hang on to each other.
I learned that it takes a lot of effort for an almost 40 year old woman to lose weight. I’ve lost twenty, but have forty to go. I am unwisely comparing the process to what I experienced in my twenties. Then, all it took was a little bit of effort, and the pounds melted away. I’ve also learned that the experience of letting go of my almost kindergarten bound child is excruciating. Letting go in general can be excruciating. I believe that God has me in a season of learning to live in peace — what a peaceful heart and life look like. He has shown me the victorious life, the grace filled life, the merciful life, the hopeful life, the faith filled life and a life of love. I suppose peace was next on that list.
What we did this year:
We visited DollyWood in April, as you might have guessed. We also took a Woodlief family vacation in late July to Myrtle Beach. Ethan’s favorite part was the short lazy river that was a part of the hotel. I had two issues with it. One, after a while, I would start to feel a bit seasick for some reason. Two, that darn river tried to drown Seth and I. Okay, it wasn’t the river’s fault. I was attempting to get into a tube with Seth in my arms. As soon as I sat down, the tube bounced us both into the water. It wasn’t deep, but it was moving quickly. I couldn’t get me feet under me and wrenched my shoulder trying to get Seth above water. The whole experience couldn’t have lasted more than 5 or 10 seconds, but it was scary. Seth’s favorite part was the sand — laying in it, eating it, burrowing into it. He actually really hated the ocean, even if he was being held and you were only in it to knee-deep. All four of us had a rip-roaring time on the tall water slide that was a short walk down the beach from us. There was a total America’s Funniest Home Videos moment as heavier, faster Brian took out Ethan because he didn’t get off the slide in time. Legs and arms were flying everywhere.
Seth had an outpatient surgery in August to remove a cyst. The pathology came back clear, as the surgeon was 99% sure that it would, and he recovered from it as only young children can. His scar has healed nicely and doesn’t seem to give him any trouble. I’ll never forget the sickening helplessness of watching the nurse walk away with him into surgery, but he seems just fine.
We all got together again for a Rollins family Thanksgiving. I had my first foray into midnight Black Friday shopping at Target. I really had to make our Christmas dollar stretch this year. Everyone was surprisingly nice, even in a fairly packed store. The line to check out was crazy long, but they had such a good system that it really didn’t take us that long to get out. We also had a wonderful bonfire and gorged ourselves on some most excellent s’mores. The eight grandsons and one grand daughter had a grand time as there was always someone with which to play.
As we look forward to the new year, we are looking at some specific things. Ethan will be starting kindergarten in August. Where, we’re not sure yet, but trust that God will make that clear. Brian and I have also embarked on a couple of projects together that we are very excited about, but have so little time on which to work. We won’t reveal much now, but, hopefully, our next Christmas letter will report more on our new adventure.
God bless us — every one!
Monica, Brian, Ethan and Seth