I'm sitting here at the end of another year, with the keyboard under my fingertips, wanting to write something meaningful, and here I am, unsure of where these words are really going to take me. This year has been hard, there is no doubt about that, but in the face of each instance of diversity that has come upon us, we have seen miracle upon miracle happen in our lives. One common thought that I find myself having is, "things like this don't happen to people like me". I wish I could write more about my upbringing, and my own personal experiences of growing up in Upstate New York, and maybe those are stories I'll tell at some point, but for now, I'll just say that this life that I'm currently living, is far beyond my wildest dreams of what I ever thought my life would be growing up.
We started off the year with a trip to the neurosurgeon where Em's diagnosis was reduced to syntelencephaly. She has the mildest form of Holoprosencephaly that one can have, and we've gone from simultaneously grieving and celebrating her life to just celebrating. While the uncertainty of her life is still something that crosses my mind, it's not something I think of regularly. I can go days on end where the name of her diagnosis doesn't even cross my mind, and it's a good place to be. Em had a mysterious rash a couple weeks ago, and when talking to another special-needs-mom-friend I commented, "If it's not life threatening, I just don't have the energy to google it anymore". She congratulated me for hitting such a large milestone, and it really does feel like a nice place to be. Even since finding out about her "Perineal Pyrimidal Protrusion", I googled it once, saw a drawn image of what it is, confirmed that it looked like Em's and never read a single word about it. I've certainly come a long way.
Just a few weeks later Jay was heading to the hospital to have a surgery on his crossed eyes. At the time it seemed, and felt like the right thing to do. We were confidant that our doctor was looking out for Jay's best interest, but to tell you the truth, I don't know if I would have made the same choice twice. The surgery wasn't a complete success, and Jay was still having problems with an eye turn. We finally switched doctors and it was revealed that he was actually in need of a significant prescription for his eyes, and he now has his first pair of glasses. We're still working out the kinks to them because sometimes he says he can see better without them, and sometimes he says he sees better with them. It's a learning process that we and his new doctor are working on, but were confident we're on the right path. Jay's new demeanor and lack of anxiety are proof of that.
Around April I felt so over worked, and paired with the lack of sleep from Em, I decided to quit blogging. That was definitely a well needed break, but I missed writing, and the outlet that it provided for me so much that in July, I officially came back to blogging again. Just a month later on Em's birthday, I sewed her a weighted sensory blanket, and she's been sleeping like a champ ever since.
On June 8th we closed on our first home. It was such a long and emotional process after being under contract on two different homes previously, but we feel confident that despite a gas leak, a new hot water heater, and a flooded crawlspace on Em's birthday, this is where we need to be. It has been expensive, and has at times felt like a financial burden for our family, but the Lord has financially blessed us through this blog to provide us with what we need, often to the exact dollar amount.
On August 1st I started homeschooling Jay for Pre-K and things have been going really well. We're about half-way through most of our curriculum. Jay has blown through two different handwriting books, has six Articles of Faith memorized, and can read his way through the first four Bob Books. I have admittedly felt burned out with printing out our weekly confessions of a homeschooling Pre-K program, and have cut our school work down to opening exercises, math (which Jay loves), hand writing, science and social studies once a week, and reading our way through The Magic Tree House series each day. I've loved the one on one time with him this year, but he's expressed a desire to go to school next year, and to ride the bus, and Derek and I both feel it's best to honor that next year as long as the state of Georgia doesn't change it's kindergarten birthday deadline and he makes the cut.
Em started occupational therapy this fall and it's been pretty life changing for her. Since starting, she can now sit unsupported for up to 15-20 minutes at a time when she has interest, and the fact that I can take a picture of my child sitting, basically whenever I want is the greatest thing ever. I love having pictures of this girl sitting, it makes my heart so happy and grateful.
Derek received a promotion at work that has been very helpful to our finances. That paired with joining with friends on a cell phone plan, and cutting out some other unnecessary expenses, we feel like we're on a good financial path for 2017, and are excited for the prospect of putting more than $300 into our savings account each month. Although... Derek may need a new car... So if anyone wants to send us a new car in exchange for review on my blog... we're willing ;)
Most exciting for me this year was launching a new Youtube Channel this last month. I didn't finish my goal of uploading a video each day due to traveling, but I definitely plan on jumping in head first when we get back from traveling in early January. My mind is blown to be at 250+ subscribers already, and I'm hoping that number hits 1,000 come next December.
2017 is going to be a year of big changes for us. Derek will be finishing his MBA program in July, and we're desperately hoping to be able to find a job out west, much closer to family than we are now. My number one pick would be working for Northrop Grumman in Ogden, UT... but for now I'm filing that under, "things like this don't happen to me".
In late January I'll be heading to Phoenix for my first blogging conference and I'm so nervous. I set a goal to do, "one thing that scares me" for 2017, and this is definitely that. The people behind Creativation reached out to me, offering free tickets for the conference, and after booking plane tickets for $150, and a cheap rental car, and crashing with Janssen, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go. I'm nervous, as large events like this are so far out of my comfort zone, but I know it will be good for my personal growth, and hopefully for my blog as well.
Lastly, 2017 is the year both my kids will be starting school, and I'll be finding myself empty nested just a little bit. Em will start the special needs preschool at the same school as Jay starting on her third birthday. She'll start the same time as Jay, but gets out at noon, meaning I'll have five hours to myself each day, and to be honest it scares me.
Derek has repeatedly told me that he has no expectations for what I should do with my time, and that it's totally up to me. Part of me feels like it's perfect timing for me to finish my bachelor's degree, but since I've already gotten 10 semesters of Pell Grants, it would mean paying out of pocket and I'm not sure we can afford that right now. Part of me feels like it's the perfect amount of time for me to spend blogging and getting my own work done each day, and then when the kids get home, I have all my attention to spend on just them. But then there is this other part of me that feels like I need to use that time exercising, or mastering the piano, or reading a thousand books, or volunteering somewhere. I feel uneasy not knowing what our days will look like come July 31st, but I know the Lord will slowly reveal himself, and that those questions will eventually be answered.
Thank you for joining us each day on our journey. Thank you for being so respectful of the circumstances we find ourselves in, and in the way we choose to raise our children. Your kind words to us are so loved and appreciated.