Wednesday, December 14, 2016

2016 in Review

“Chaos.” This is the word my 15 year old used to describe our family to the counselor. I’d really love to believe that chaos doesn’t describe our family, but it kind of…sometimes…does. We’re a family of 8; going many different directions and always up to something. So chaos it is. I do believe that it’s the good kind of chaos (most of the time).

2016 has been another year of big changes for our family; many of which we hadn’t forseen at the end of last year. It makes me begin to wonder if big changes are in store for us every year.

2016 started off with half of our family having birthdays! It’s a crazy time, but at least the birthday train is downhill from there. The spring flew by, with Mark and I getting to go on a 7 day Caribbean cruise in February. As the weather got hotter, we began to enjoy our backyard oasis, spending lots of time in the pool. But the craziest thing about 2016 was by far—the MOVE. Long story short, we didn’t need to move, but we found a one of a kind, meant for us dream home in June. It had all the space we needed, didn’t need major renovations to make it suited for us, had a pool and was set on a lovely, oak tree filled 1.5 acres. Selling and buying was a crazy whirlwind process, which included seeing the house for the first time one day after I returned from Ethiopia, making an offer on July 4 and staging our house to have it listed in 24 hours. We had to stay with mom and dad for 2 weeks in August, right when school started. Needless to say, we are thankful to have all of that behind us.

We got to swim with dolphins in Cozumel!
Dad, Mark
Mark still works at Austin Regional Clinic, doing computer programming. He is a supervisor and has 3 programmers working for his team. This year was challenging with many transitions, but he still loves his job. We are thankful for how hard he works for our family and how dedicated he is to his job. He leads the boys group, Royal Ambassadors at church and is a handbook leader for our AWANA club. He also serves as a deacon at church. He was amazing at packing our pods so skillfully to be able to move. He and my dad also did most of the unpacking. He’s a great dad, taking kids on bike rides, playing special music with them and doing all the “Honey-Do’s” around the house for me.
Mark and I enjoyed going on the TBRI cruise in February. We learned lots of things about how to better relate with and parent our kids. It was also an amazing time of R&R for us, and we got to connect with other parents with families like ours.

Mom, Shelley
I love dolphins!
I continue to work as the Preschool Coordinator at my church, but in the spring I left the office job. It freed me up to spend extra time with the kids, and it was so nice not to have to do summer around a work schedule. Xavier and I got to return to Ethiopia in June—it was a very different experience for us the second time (I’ll have to share details sometime). This fall, I began subbing in the school district and have really enjoyed being back in classrooms but also having lots of flexibility to have days off for appointments. It also provides lots of variety, and I’ve worked in classrooms I would not have thought I would enjoy. First grade is still my favorite, though!!
He always has an entourage in Ethiopia.
This is Nati, a boy we sponsor. He is super smart!

Xavier is 15 and is a freshman in high school. He is still full of energy and lots of fun to be around. It was so great that he got to return to Alade Genet this summer, because those kids remembered him and were so excited to see him again. Seeing him arm wrestling, trying to have conversations with a language barrier and taking selfies with the other boys are my most cherished memories of our trip. He attends Hays High School and has started theater classes. He has aspirations of becoming a movie star. He also is taking an AP class—Human Geography. So far, it’s kicking his tail, but he continues to give it his best. Plus, I think he really enjoys the content, since he’s a world traveler.

Riley is 14 and also a freshman at Hays High School. This summer and fall, he joined the Varsity marching band. He was reluctant at first, giving up his free time, but now he is sold. He was an alternate, which meant he didn’t march with the whole band. At competitions, he was on the prop crew and really enjoyed that role. He still loves youth group and goes every week. He enjoys helping with kids and was a coach with spring break basketball camp and was a teen helper at Heroes Camp. He and Xavier and Pierce also participate in Breakaway at our church, which is an acting group that performs to music with a black light show. But he’s a typical teenager these days: when at home, he is either sleeping, eating, watching YouTube or playing Battlefront. He is now 5’10” and wearing Adult Medium clothes. We wonder when he will stop growing!!

Pierce is 13 and in 7th grade. He is an avid reader, fixer of things and a puzzlemaster. He continues to do well at school; he even took the ACT test last weekend. He likes playing his trombone, riding his bike and jumping on the trampoline. He was a huge help when we had to disassemble and reassemble our furniture to pack and move. Plus, he is good at cleaning out the pool, a very important job! Pierce joined the youth group this fall, and we can tell he likes it because he is always very animated and loud after Wednesday night church.

Elizabeth is 11 and in 5th grade. This year was a huge year of growth for her as she is becoming a young lady. She and Kendall moved from Elm Grove to Carpenter Hill Elementary after we moved. The girls like to ride the bus (Elizabeth even rides when I sub at her school!). She is mastering math very well this year and continues to work on reading. At home, she loves to be outside exploring and taking care of our property. It’s so nice to have the space for her to do that. She also loves swimming and worked hard on her diving skills this summer. She continues to be creative and loves art projects.

Tyler is 11 and in the 6th grade. He’s a happy boy with a sweet attitude. He also joined the band and plays the saxophone, which a perfect instrument for this soulful boy. The only problem is that our kitty Jewel does not like saxophone practice. She is always running off, looking for the furthest place to hide. He was probably the biggest dissenter of our move because he has so many buddies near our old house. Luckily, they are together at school; he has made some new friends and sees them on Mondays when they stay for Pokemon club. He also enjoys video gaming and jumping on the trampoline.

Kendall is 6 and in first grade this year (my favorite age!!). She loves school so much and is reading, writing and drawing as much as she can. She transitioned easily to the new school, although she still tells me occasionally that she misses those friends and her kinder teacher. We are having such fun reading her stories and phonetic spelling. Her lively attitude comes out even there. She has made some sweet friends in her class; they play with stuffed animals at recess and trade and share toys. I love subbing at her school because she likes to go into the classrooms with me and write my name and a message to the kids in my class before she heads off to class.

Wow!! 2016 was an amazing year, and we have so much to be thankful for!! We have a lovely home that seems so perfect for our family, we have great friends at church and at work and our extended families are so supportive and doing well.
I am really excited to see what 2017 has in store for us. It’ll be our first year with 5 out of 6 in middle or high school, we will have a 16 year old and goodness knows where else it will take us!!
We hope you have had a blessed 2016 and pray for you and yours in 2017.

We love our new house!!

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