Christmas cards are one of my favorite holiday traditions. I used to write a
sassy fun letter every year, and I’ve taken only a couple of years off here and there, but this year was a little pathetic. We had no family pictures, not even any kid pictures (Instagram will have to suffice), and a bullet list of highlights instead of a letter.
Here’s the letter I should have mailed…but thought it easier to blog instead.
I pray this letter finds you healthy, wealthy, and wise! We’ve had a crazy, adventurous, plot-twisting year, to the point I’m including a package of popcorn with your card so you can snack while you read along with our adventure.
2017 started out the same way 2016 ended. Cold and boring.
In February, I went to Dallas for my client’s event, and began serious work on developing my new business, Anchor VA Network (.com).
Being a virtual assistant is the dream job I never knew I always wanted. I want other mamas to have the same opportunity, so I built a course to teach others how to work from home.
Little Miss turned 7 in March, and the kids and I took a quick-but-special trip to Wyoming so she could celebrate her birthday with her cousins. We also took her to Minneapolis in April to see her favorite musical, Wicked. She is a much-loved Little Miss!
In April, I took a trip to Phoenix for a business conference, during what would have been Harlynn’s 4th birthday. It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 years, and I didn’t want to be in a room full of strangers over what I knew would be an emotional weekend for me. But God showed up in a big way, and that weekend is one of the true highlights of my year. He took care of me while I was there, and made it a meaningful time in honor of Harlynn. At a business conference! I still can’t get over it.
Little Man turned 3 at the end of April, and he will be the first to tell you how big and strong (and fast) he is. He is all boy, all the time. He loves to wrestle instead of sleep, and is showcasing his strength at every available opportunity.
I underwent major surgery in May, and all these months later, I can tell you it was a very good thing. I was recovering for several weeks, however, and wouldn’t have made it through without people caring for us along the way. Thanks to Mom for coming out to take care of me and the kids, and thanks to all who brought meals and to those who took Brent out for guy-time. We have the best people!
Hubs and I celebrated 14 years of marriage in May (well, celebrated might be an exaggeration. I was under the influence of oxycodone and naps), and at this point, we barely remember life before each other. I’m so thankful God gave him such persistence in loving me, because I’d be (more of) a wreck without him.
We also bought a house – I would go so far as to say our dream house – this summer. We wake up thankful every day to live in our #bighouseonalittleprairie in rural Minnesota, on 3/4 of an acre and with an adorable chicken coop already built in the backyard. The 2 1/2 years we spent in the apartment were long and dreadful, but worth it for waiting for this home-sweet-homestead.
While I was in Dallas for another work event in July, Hubs rounded up our people (seriously, we have the best!) and moved everything to our new home, and when I landed in Fargo, we drove out to our new house and I couldn’t have been happier. We love it here – so, so much.
In August, we did something totally radical and uncharacteristic… we started homeschooling. Our first day of school was the day of the solar eclipse, which was awesome, and we’ve been enjoying homeschool since. It’s not without its challenges, but overall, we know we made the right choice for us, and the kids are doing so, so well. All my stereotypes of homeschoolers have been blown to smithereens – homeschool is awesome, and it turns out not all homeschool families are strange. Who knew?
Hubs turned the bit 4-0 in September, and we had a quiet celebration with his new favorite cake. The older we get the harder it is for us to believe how old we are. But he wears it well, and his beard is the studliest thing this side of the Mississippi. He recently had his 7-year anniversary with the bank, and loves his quiet little commute to work each day.
In October, at the last possible weather-forgiving moment, we put in an almost 900-square foot Back-To-Eden garden bed using compost and wood chips (next to a beautiful compost bin setup Hubs built for us). It was some of the hardest work we’d ever done, but we’re prayerful a bountiful harvest over the rest of our time here will be more than worth the effort.
I rounded out one more trip to Dallas in early November, and we ended the month having Thanksgiving at home with our favorite neighbor whom I have adoringly nicknamed “Farmer John”. He is a character I can’t imagine our story being without, and we’re so grateful to have him just across the road from us. It was fitting to have Thanksgiving with him at our table.
Christmas will be quiet this year, but we’ll enjoy it in our new home and hopefully with some soft-falling snow outside.
There were many setbacks, several hurdles and challenges, and lots of tears this year. But there was also much redemption, many answered prayers, fits of laughter, and heartfelt joy.
I pray your year ends better than it began, your dreams are closer to becoming realities, and your faith is stronger than your struggles.
Merry Christmas and happy new year to you.
Love, prayers, and blessings ~
Brent, Val, Haley & Heston
Always remembering Harlynn