As I was attempting to sum up our year in a Christmas letter, I realized there was no way I could do it well and still include all the special things I wanted to remember. Cue the bright idea to dust off this old blog and document it so we will never forget it. For those who have not visited our blog, it's just a way for me to document all that goes on in this fast paced, amazingly crazy, blessed life we live. Don't expect a lot of insightful information or amazing transformations. It's all about cherishing the moments for us that God has blessed us with and not forgetting them during this sleep deprived stage we are in.
2015 started out with a bang in KY this year. It was what I would call epic. We had snow that was as close to MN style as I have seen since moving to KY. We had 2 major snow falls that dumped about a foot of snow each time. It was interesting to see a city that's not use to this amount of snow, try to deal with it. First major difference was that they close schools here for 5 days at a time when this kind of snow happens. Second was that the city seemed to have no clue as to where to even put the snow. Blocking your view at most intersections seemed to be a good place, apparently. It seems that no one wanted to consult with me as to how it "should" be done. (Insert sarcastic laugh). Luckily for us, the snow doesn't stick around for months at a time like it does up north. It was gone within about a week and we were able to carry on as normal again. It was a wonderful chance for Myles to get back to his "MN roots", for Ty to be reminded that he is NOT a MN kid, for Natalie to make snow angels, and for Tessa to nearly get frost bite from eating so much snow. Win for all of us!! We are looking forward to what this winter has in store for us!
Nat proved his awesome dad skills once again with some pretty AMAZING "snowballs". It was endless entertainment for the 3 days that they lasted.
A day in the sunshine and snow always make for rosy cheeks and happy faces.
One of the few things we struggle with while living in Kentucky is missing our MN family. We were blessed with a couple of visits from mom and dad this year. It's just too bad the kids weren't excited to see them....said no one ever.
Nat had a pretty busy work schedule this year so I took a solo trip to MN in the spring to see the family for Easter. I was extra blessed when dad offered to drive from Lexington to MN with me and then mom drove back to Kentucky with me. I can never have too many hands on that 14 hour drive. Although we missed Nat GREATLY on this trip, God knew what he was doing when he kept him home because he was able to be home to save us from what could have been a pretty big disaster when our basement flooded. During a crazy 10 inch rainfall our sump just couldn't keep up and Nat was able to get a second pump from a neighbor and keep the water to only about an inch throughout the entire basement. Although it meant he had to haul everything from the basement to the garage to dry, there was very little that we lost besides some old carpet. God is so good and Nat saved the day!
This is the face of a husband telling you that he has the water issue under control.
The joy of life on the farm just can't be topped.
At the end of the day, NOTHING tops being back with daddy!!
Mother's Day 2015~ My greatest accomplishment in this world right here.
The last day of school is always bitter sweet for me. I LOVE summer and I LOVE having my kiddos home with me, where they belong, but it's sad that the end of one grade means they will *hopefully* be moving up to the next grade in 3 short months!!! We were so lucky that both boys had such wonderful,caring teachers who loved on them all year long.
Toasting to the start of summer!!!
Summer vacation is our happy place!
Hiking the nearby trails and peaks is a favorite activity of ours. We loved getting to have grandpa George with us to teach us what he knows about hiking.
We are never at a loss for creativity around here.
A boy and his tractor. I can only imagine the adventures and plans he was making wile driving this little tractor. This is the first "tractor" that we start with on the farm. Who knows what he will graduate to by next summer!
So much fun getting to run with so many of the Zins family members.
Pancake breakfasts with the Clarkes? YES PLEASE!!!
Always fun to get to watch the kids enjoying some of the same activities I used to do as a kid. Even better when I get to do it while hanging out with all 4 of my siblings. (For those who have never seen my siblings...Yes, I am considered on the "taller side" for my family!) (I may get punched for that comment from one of my sisters. Well worth it.)
Fun on the farm.
These two have made great strides in their friendship in the last 6 months. Tessa has gone from feeling threatened by another kiddo her age, to loving her Emma and finding that a partner in crime is a pretty sweet deal. Besties in the making, these two. I am certain that many years of tearing up the farm together are in their future and I could not be more excited about that.
Speaking of tearing up the farm together. I was so lucky to get to spend a couple of days with my cousin, Stacey. Not only do we both have kids who are close in age, we have the exact same order as well, two boys and then two girls. Although the noise level is pretty intense when we get together, the fun is unending and I can't even describe the joy it gives me to see our kids having fun together just like we did as kids. It's also exciting to have someone who understands life with 4 little loves and all the craziness that it brings. I'm pretty sure Stacey does it with a lot more grace than I do, though.
No trip to MN is complete without our time with these two. Pretty sure we could not love them any more!
Semi truck rides with a snack bag are a MUST when on the farm.
I've said it before and i'll say it again, this girl is made for the farm! We sure had fun getting some time on Jenny and Ken's farm. What is better than some time swinging on the hayloft rope?
On of the GREATEST Great aunts in the history of the world right here. My aunt Barb came from Atlanta to MN for a visit and it was while we were there!!!!
Getting to hold my healthy niece and nephew was a pretty phenomenal moment this summer. God is so good!
Apparently Waveryly, NE is the IT place to be for the 4th of July. If you haven't ever been. you should go. Although the town doesn't have a hotel in it, it knows how to throw a party for America!! Between the company and the fireworks, we could NOT have had more fun.
12 years ago I started my first teaching job for this guy. I'm pretty sure NO ONE in the history of the world can compare. He has not changed a bit and I am so very blessed that we still get to see him and his wife.
The fun just never stops with my NE crew. I love how close we are able to remain even though we're no longer teaching together. Even better is that there is a new crew of girls who can grow up a best buddies as well. It makes me heart so happy.
This sweet boy decided that he was ready to ride a bike this summer. He's a strong spirited kiddo and when he decides he's going to do something, he does it right then and there. I'm so proud of him and the little guy he's becoming.
Clearly we felt pretty at home at this place!
Visits from Nana always bring out the big smiles in this crew!
I always love when family says, "Oh we should come visit you in Kentucky." I love it even more when they actually do!!! My cousin Kim came and brought the party. While she was here we got to tour Buffalo Trace distillery and learn about bourbon making. Although, I am not converted in any way to bourbon drinking, it was an awesome adventure spent with one of the best!!
One of the things I love the most about the age our kids are at right now is that their expectations are pretty low. Our "big vacation" this summer was to stay in a cabin at a Jellystone campground for a weekend. You would have thought we went to Disney with the amount of fun our kiddos had. With Nat's crazy work schedule this summer, it was exactly what we needed. Put put golf, water slides, ice cream, and Yogi Bear. What else do you really need? This was a vacation we will all remember for a long time.
Nat's handy man skills never cease to amaze me. He's wanted to build a tree fort for the kids for a long time and this summer we decided was the time to do it. Or, as Nat says, to START it. He has grand plans of adding another fort that connects to this first one down the road, but I'm guessing it will be sooner, rather than later with the amount of fun the kids are having with it.
4 Little Monkeys Sitting In A Tree
One of the greatest changes we had this summer was Nat's job location. He is still working for Point Six Wireless, but he's back to working from home!!!! This was an AMAZING answer to prayer that ONLY GOD could have orchestrated. We had a shed in our backyard that was needing some TLC and somehow, through some creative planning on Nat's part, went from an old storage shed to an amazing office/man cave. We put a lot of sweat and a few tears into it, but there is NOTHING sweeter than having him home so much more!! The shed has electricity, heat/AC, internet, a t.v, and a mini fridge.(This brought it to man cave status) The kids love having him right there to talk to and see the moment they get home from school. I love being able to start our day together with breakfast and seeing him at lunch as well. It has been an amazing blessing that we are so thankful for.
This year brought a BIG change for our kids' schooling. Both of our boys are now going to school at the Lexington Latin School. A lot of prayer and wisdom seeking went into whether or not to send the boys here. It didn't take long into the year to know we had made the best choice for our family. Ty went to preschool at the Latin School last year and is now in Kindergarten and goes two days a week. Myles is in second grade and goes 3 days a week. The extra days they're home we do homework that is assigned by the teachers and then get extra time to be together as a family. It's given me the chance to feel like I'm really using my teaching degree again without having to do all the work of planning a curriculum for homeschooling. We just love everything about it. The boys get to learn scripture as a part of their regular curriculum, they get to pray together, have much smaller class sizes, and we get to be much more involved in their education. My favorite part is the extra time that I get to spend with them. We can't imagine having it any other way now. It just works so perfectly for our family. One big highlight for me was even getting back in the classroom and subbing twice this year. I'm hoping to get to do that many more times.
What could be better than having your Nana come for opening ceremony on your first day of school? Nothing, that's what.
Watching this sweet boy learn to read has been so fun! This was the very first book he read on his own.
Soccer was quite the trip this year. We signed our sweet Natalie up for her first year of soccer because she is so fierce and can keep up with the boys no problem AND she got to play on the same team as Ty. She panicked at her first practice and it took us 3 week of practices to get her ON the field (Not really even playing, just within the white lines of the field!) . We were about ready to give up, but we finally got her out there and she showed everyone the fierceness we always get to see. I'm quite certain they all thought I was crazy trying to get this petite little girl on the field to play with kids twice her size, then she showed them she wasn't some fragile little bird after all. I felt quite relieved. Ty had the best season we could have hoped for and we saw that he's quite the defender just like his daddy was on the field. He scored lots of goals and was a great little leader for his sister. Natalie even scored a goal in her very last game and the joy in her eyes was priceless. They are both excited to play again next season and we are just as excited to cheer them on.
Mom and Dad flew in to run in our favorite 5K race, the CASA Superhero race. We love this race because it's for a great cause as well as being so family friendly. Everyone dresses up in superhero costumes and just has a blast. Some people even WIN their age division. Not mentioning any names or anything, but I sure am proud of this guy. He teaches me so much about pushing myself and doing things "because you can". It was a blast getting to run with him and it never gets old. Looking forward to MANY more years of running right along side of him.
This sweet friend of mine convinced me to join her running group and I will owe her big time for the rest of my life. We have completed 2 half marathons and a 10 mile race together
I Never EVER imagined I would be the kind of person to get up before dawn, on a weekend, to join a group of women for a 10 mile run, but now I can't imagine NOT having these women in my life. So blessed that God put them in my life. The amount of free counseling that happens on these runs is immeasurable. Life is just better with them.
Since we didn't add any children to our lives this year we figured the next best thing was a camper!! We got to do a couple of back yard camp outs in it towards the end of summer and Nat took the older 3 for a weekend camping trip and they were all hooked. Next summer we have big goals to do some major camping, hiking, and exploring with our entire crew!
Our sweet, sassy, strong willed little warrior for God, Tessa, turned 2 this September. I am blown away by the will power and love for God that she has. I have a feeling this one is going to be a pretty unstoppable force as she gets older. Nat and I are already bracing for quite the ride!
Our sweet pixie Natalie turned 4 in October and is just a ray of sunshine in our lives. She basically goes through life floating along and spreading happy dust everywhere she goes. She's so sweet to her Tessa and is best buddies with Tyler. We always say that although she's small, she is mighty.
Halloween's always a blast seeing the kids express themselves. This year we had Darth Vader, a cowboy, Elsa, and Minnie Mouse.
Princess Tea for my favorite little princess.
This handsome boy of ours turned 6 on December 13. This birthday was BIG for me as I've seen such a transformation in Tyler over the last year. Ty has NEVER been shy at home, but in public it was a different story. He was borderline mute. It was painful and it got to the point where it seemed like he was just rude and refusing to talk to people, but he was just that shy. This year he has come out of his shell so much and I'm just so proud of him. I KNOW a lot of that has come from a wonderful school environment where he's in smaller classes and doesn't get lost. We are so thankful for the teachers who love on him and help give him the confidence to thrive. I can't wait to see all that he'll do as he gets older. My mama heart is so proud!
Our sweet Myles will be turning 8 on January 1st, 2016. I find it unbelievable that we will be parents to an 8 year old, but apparently time doesn't stop at my request. Myles is the child who made me think I was a really good parent, only to later realize he was just a really good kid. He is trustworthy and honest and has a heart of gold towards others. This year he transitioned to the Latin School like a champ and is thriving in the classroom. Myles is my most creative kiddo so far who NEEDS his time outside to be alone and just be creative. He loves all things Lego, Star Wars, Minnesota, and farming. He is Tessa's big buddy and will defend her to anyone who makes her unhappy. Nat started Bible Study Fellowship this year and is able to take Myles with him. It is a fun time for them, but even more important is that we all get to do Bible study together. There is nothing I love more than learning about scripture and hearing my kiddos talk about it.
A monumental event happened this year for Nat and I.....We had our 10 year wedding anniversary. It still amazes me to this day that he asked me to marry him, but also that he's been able to put up with me for TEN YEARS!! I know you're all thinking the exact same thing!!! I can still vividly remember sitting on the beach during our honeymoon thinking, we'll totally come back here for our 10 year wedding anniversary. At that time 10 years seemed so far away, and now, 4 kids later, we were crazy excited to find a sitter who could watch the kids so we could go out to dinner for the first time in 6 months! Marriage is not even remotely easy, but we've learned over the last 10 years that if we keep God at the center of it, we will be blessed beyond our dreams. I'd say that's exactly where we are, blessed beyond our wildest dreams. We've been in Kentucky for 6 years now and although I miss my family daily, this has truly become home to us. We have made some amazing new friendships this year as well as strengthening old ones and we truly could not be happier.
We pray that this Christmas you are filled with His holy spirit.
Nat, Laura, Myles (8), Tyler (6), Natalie (4), and Tessa (2)
A "few" more favorite pictures from 2015
This boy can, and does, sleep ANYWHERE!!