Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

New Year's Eve is now upon us and 2012 is waiting in the wings to make its entrance. As we come to the end of 2011, we are each reflecting upon some of the markers on our journey and we here at The Simpson Six are no different. So, come along with us, if you will, to recall some of the events, memories and lessons we've learned in the past 365 days.

2011 started out exponentially better than 2010 ended for our family and aside from the usual bumps along the way, it is ending even better than it began!

A typical scene out our back window in January

January ushered in a cold, snowy winter that kept us home-bound more often than we prefer, but with a new baby, was probably a good thing. We celebrated Christmas in January with Jason's extended family--possibly our new favorite Christmas tradition in recent years. We save our holiday get-together until after the December craziness subsides and have an easy, laid-back time to get together instead of everyone having to hustle and bustle about to the next family dinner. I don't recall who thought up the idea, but they are positively brilliant! Finally, I (Stephanie) started back to providing part-time childcare in January of this year and it has been such a blast to spend my days with not only our little kids, but also with the coolest little pair of brothers I know!

Baby planking

February brought not only more snow, but also ice--and LOTS of ice! Jason was out of school for nearly an entire week straight and then a smattering of other delays and closures due to ice and snow--but mostly ice. We enjoyed a lot of time together, but had to get creative to keep cabin fever from creeping in.

A birthday cake for the birthday girl!

For our family, March starts off Spring in the best possible way--with Lydia's birthday! We had a fun time celebrating as a family at Hollyhock Hill for dinner, and Lydia planned her own Ladybug Picnic theme birthday party, which was fit for our favorite little bug.

Caroline's bunny is looking out the window one rainy April day. We all feel that way, Bunny...

April began very bittersweet for our family. The matriarch of my father's family, my great-grandmother, Grandma Hacker, passed away at the start of the month at the age of 99. While we celebrated a life well-lived, we mourned the loss of her on this side of heaven. We enjoyed a wonderful time with extended family, some of whom I have not seen in 20+ years and Jason had never met--or only once or twice, but with the knowledge that someone was missing. We celebrated Easter together and began looking ahead to sunnier days.

Releasing our butterflies!
Caroline's new glasses

May was a big month for our family. We raised painted lady butterflies from caterpillars and released them at the beginning of the month. School was ending for the summer and Ian began Speech Therapy through First Steps. Caroline got her first pair of glasses and strawberry season began, ushering in the harvest season and several months full of garden-tending, canning and preserving for our family.

Our garden in early June.

In June, Jason returned to the electrical field to work a short-term contract for a local industrial site while the kids and I made jams, preserves, canned fruits and enjoyed that summer had finally arrived. Speaking of summer arriving, on the first day of summer, Jason and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. We've sure packed a lot of life into 8 great years!

Eliza trying to stay cool during the 100* days at camp!

July was a whirlwind of fullness and excitement! Jason finished his commitment to the electrical contractor by the 4th of July, then he built a new (amazing!) patio on the back of our house, we went to Memorial Holiness Camp for a week, and Caroline turned 6!

Back to school--cheese!

In August, Jason and the older girls returned to school and life fell back into our "normal" rhythm (whatever that is?!?). I attended MOPS convention in Nashville, TN with a girlfriend and had a fun weekend to just be me--and not Mom, which was a nice break before heading back into the thick of school and life. We also had our first experience with a small tornado or intense straight-line wind (or Big Bad Wolf, as Ian refers to the incident) that blew the kids' playhouse down!

Caroline cheering on the Eagles

September brought Ian back-to-school. Caroline had her first experience with cheerleading at the varsity football game and as harvest season was winding down we had lots of fun with picking apples at the local orchards and preserving tasty apple treats.

If only these autumn days would last forever...

October brought with it fall in all of its glory, including our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, carving jack-o-lanterns and Halloween.

Aunt Retha giving Caroline and Ian directions to run after "Cousin Bear" in  the backyard at  my mom's house

November is full of life in our home! We started the month off with Jason wrapping up the fall musical at school and celebrating Eliza's birthday--this one her first! We had a fabulous party with family and a few of her favorite friends to celebrate the joy that she has brought to our family during her first, most magical year of life. Ian also turned 3 and had a day fit for a king as he took us all to the Children's Museum for a day as awesome as he is! We wrapped up the month with Thanksgiving and an extended visit with my mom, brother and sister-in-law along with their pug, who the kids affectionately refer to as "Cousin Bear". It was a rich time to spend with them, who we see more rarely.

O come, let us adore him...

December began the Advent season and with it the fullness of experiencing the practice of remembering and waiting for our expected Savior's birth on Christmas day. We did lots of festive activities and learned the meaning behind the rituals of the season along the way. As Christmas arrived, we joined together with family and relished in a time of relaxation and remembrance together.

As the year draws to a close, we look ahead to what the next 12 months might hold. While we have a number of general and specific goals for 2012, both individually and as a family, most boil down to just a few things. In 2012 we hope to:
  • Learn more fully and practice more intentionally what it means to live a life of simplicity
  • Make choices that promote health and wholeness for ourselves, our family and those around us
  • Increase our value of people over things, experience over possession and community over the individual
  • Learn a new hobby or two (the ideas for these are still rattling around...)
  • Find greater joy in the journey--it's not all about the destination. In fact, it's hardly at all about the destination.
At the end of the day, and at the end of 2012, if we can accomplish these goals, I am certain that we'll be able to say that as good as 2012 began, it ended even better.

1 comment:

  1. Quite a wonderful year! And I say amen, and amen.