As always, another year has blown by and I have to admit that I am sad to see 2017 end. This year was filled with love, memories, and growth. We have learned to cherish those closest to us and cling to every precious moment we have with those we love. It wasn't so long ago that I used to balk at the sweet older women who would tell me to "enjoy every minute of motherhood because it goes by so quickly". Those words would often come at times when my patience was running thin or I was stressed beyond words. However, as it turns out, those sweet women were the wisest of all.
Our family is now bracing for transition as Victoria is in search of the perfect school. That girl has done some amazing things this year! After turning 17, she got her first car, her first job, and began her last year as a high school student. This summer, while we vacationed in New Hampshire, she spent her time on the lake studying for a Future Business Leaders of America national competition that was to be held in California. Her time was well spent as she competed and was named National Champion in Business Communication. Did I mention this was her first year participating in FBLA and that she had never taken a business class? She has really learned to spread her wings and embrace all that life has to offer. She is coaching her 3rd year of Upward basketball with Mike, spends hours volunteering around our community, and maintains her 4.1 GPA. As I have said time and again, this girl is going to do great things, not simply because of her brilliance, but because she has a heart of gold and loves with all her being. She loves people, loves challenges, and is not afraid to reach for the stars! I am beyond thankful to call her my girl.
Ethan is enjoying the perks of being 16. He gets more freedom, later nights, and time in the driver's seat. This boy stays busy and understands the value of hard work and determination. He was fortunate enough to go on several church retreats with the youth group this year; these retreats foster friendship, encourage leadership, and dive deep into God's Word. I am so thankful for these ministries and the passion it evokes in my children. Ethan had a pretty big year with athletics; he ran varsity track, varsity cross country, and is on the HOCO basketball team. He has managed to do this all while maintaining A's in all his classes. I absolutely love his determination! Even though track and cross country were not his favorite sports, he honored his commitment and improved at every race. Ethan decided this year that after high school he wants to head north and attend the Naval Academy. The thought of another child growing up and leaving the proverbial nest makes my stomach tighten, but knowing the amazing things my son is capable of has me beaming! Wherever he goes, I know that God has big plans for him!
My sweet Christian has now entered his teenage years and is thriving! This was his first year playing football for his school and he killed it! On top of keeping straight A's and being an athletic beast, he's started a pet-sitting job on the side. As it turns out, taking care of pets is quite a lucrative job; he's learning the benefits of hard work, money management, and the sweet rewards of dedication. For his birthday, he got his first acoustic guitar. He began teaching himself how to play and is now rocking out on a regular basis. My boy is strong, smart, devoted, and above all has a pure heart. He went on several trips with our church this year that have deepened his faith tremendously. When Christian was 10, he told me he wanted to serve as a missionary one day. Now, at 13, he is talking to his youth pastor and looking ahead to when he can actually fulfill that dream. He has a heart for people and love for God that goes beyond what many teenagers have. He's a keeper for sure!
My not-so-littles celebrated their 9th birthday this year! I don't think I'll ever be able to look at them and not think of them as my "littles". This year, they started 3rd grade, which meant transitioning into the big kid school (3rd-5th grades). They are loving being part of different clubs and participating in school activities. However, the real fun began when the girls realized a harder grade required more discipline with schoolwork. That's been great fun...ha!
Addie remains the family's ultimate crafter and lover of any challenge, whether it be a race or an argument, she likes to win. She is not often satisfied with basic answers; she likes to ask questions and understand every detail of what she is being taught. I just love that about her! She loves reading, writing, playing basketball, and gymnastics. When asked what she wants to do when she grows up, she replies with "everything". Our sweet girl loves fiercely, hurts deeply, and wants everything in life to make sense.
My little Kaitlyn continues to be my snuggle bug; she considers it a personal challenge to see just how close she can get. I could NOT love that any more. She is passionate about all things sporty! When she was smaller, Mike and I were sure she was going to be our "girly-girl" who loved twirly dresses and big bows...not so much. This gal likes her comfy clothes, gymnastics, and basketball. She loves math, science, and is meticulous about everything being in order. Her toys are all organized, her bed is almost always made, and her book bag is kept neat. She may be just one of my most responsible children, even if she is my youngest (by a minute).
As for Mike and I, 2017 has been a great year! With our kiddos being older, we've been able to get away more often. We've been to see the Avett Brothers in concert, the Impractical Jokers, and had countless date nights. Keeping a marriage strong is difficult if you allow life to get in the way. Let's face it, life has a funny way of distracting us from what's most important. I am so thankful that we have both worked very hard toward being intentional and making each other a priority. We are thankful for another year without a deployment! I'm sure there is another on the horizon, but for now we're enjoying being together and living in the present. On a personal note, I will be finishing my degree this year and preparing to enter the workforce. I am so, so, so excited!
While this year has been one of the best for our family, 2018 will undoubtedly bring with it new hopes, new opportunities, and even more room for growth. So I'm ready... bring it on 2018!