2015 proved to be another amazing year with lots of adventures and changes. I thought 2015 would be a fairly tame year. I think maybe tame and my life will never go together. The more I think about that the more I like that. I like chaos. I like change. I like challenges. I love life!
Here are the top ten things or events that changed my life in 2015.
10. Building our first home together.
MJ and I decided late in 2014 to build our “dream house”. It is at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in Johnston in our children’s school district, so about 5 blocks from our other house. I learned a lot through this process. Primarily I learned that it’s impossible to build your perfect house. Inevitably you will screw things up. That’s awesome because you got to make the mistakes, and learning to live with your mistakes is important. I feel like we nailed 95% of the choices and decisions. I’ll take 95% every day of the week. Our house is perfect for a big family, and it feels like home! I am also SUPER happy that we ended the year only owning one house!!!! That’s the first time in over five years that we can say that. Boy…that feels great!
9. Hy Vee delivery
I tell you what. Having your groceries delivered to your home, and brought into your kitchen is the best thing since sliced bread. This has given me back at least one hour a week in time…probably more. Anything that makes my life easier, and gives me more time with my family is a major win! Thank you Hy Vee!!
8. The robotic vacuum Bob
This little guy was an awesome Christmas present!! You push start on him, and he just starts making his way around the house cleaning everything in his path. An added bonus is the fact that the kids are all intrigued by Bob, and follow him around with happy giggles and screams. Child entertainment + self cleaning robot = major score.
7. A trip to Japan with my sister from another mister
Finally Carrie and I were able to complete our girls trip together that we have been talking about for more than 20 years. Some ladies pick Vegas or a beach destination. Not us! We chose Japan to visit another sweet friend. We had such a great time! Japan is beautiful and full of culture and history. We maximized every minute we could. We visited Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. We saw so many amazing and breath taking places. A few of our favorites were the Peace Memorial Park, the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine (the red torri gates), the Philosopher’s Path, sakura (cherry blossoms), the bamboo forest, Ginkaku-ji (zen temple), Gion (Geisha district), and Kinkaku-ji (the golden temple).
We also were able to eat and drink so much great food! We loved all of the sake, sushi, oysters, ramen, yakisoba, sakura ice cream, the Ninja restaurant, bento boxes for breakfast, curry rice, udon, shabu shabu, yakitori, miso soup, omuraisu, korokke, okonomiyaki (I think this was my personal favorite), and takoyaki. It was all so delicious!!
Mostly it was phenomenal to just get to spend that much time with Carrie doing something we both loved. We loved site seeing, shopping (Mikimoto, antique shops, Japanese souvenir shops), eating, drinking, walking, praying, riding bikes….it was all great! It was perfect actually! Then being able to spend a few days with my dear friend Renee and her precious family was just over the top fabulous! Being with Renee and her husband as they began to discuss the possibility of expanding their family through adoption, was a true blessing. I am happy to say that in a few short months they will have their beautiful daughter in their arms. Guess what….their daughter is in the same town (Zhengzhou) as Eve was. I told Renee when MJ and I were there I just felt their daughter was there too! My intuition was right! God is good! Goodness…I want to do it again! Renee and Carrie….are you game?!?!
6. Hong Kong
Adoption is beautiful and amazing, and filled with love and hard work. The adoption trip itself is grueling, emotional, exhausting, tough, and worth it. Every trip we have made we have spent an extra day in Hong Kong. I am so glad we do. Just this one extra day is enough to feel like you have had a vacation, and reenergize us. This time MJ, Kat, Eve, and I packed a ton into a short time. We visited Disneyland, the big buddha, and went into Kowloon to meet friends for dinner. All of the activities soothed our souls, and was so much fun! We even ended up on the Hong Kong news. I LOVE Hong Kong. It is beautiful!
5. Adopting Kat and Eve
I did NOT think at the beginning of this year that we would end the year with 8 amazing, unique, and awesome children. I am so glad we did! The Great Eight fill our days with so much love and laughter and chaos and mess, and we love it all. Now somedays MJ and I are ready for bed by 7:00, but that’s ok. If we are tired it means we are leaving it all on the table, and giving it our all. Kat has added an energetic, positive spirit to our family. Whenever I think I am at my max, I look at Kat and reevaluate. If Kat can leave everything she knows (her friends, her school, her food, her language, her city) for the chance to be apart of a loving and caring family, I can dig a little deeper and give a little more. Her bravery and positive attitude are amazing. To know Kat is to love Kat. Eve has reminded me that love is a choice. It’s a choice that requires a lot of hard work and persistence…and a healthy dose of humor. Eve has come a long way in 3 months, and when we see her amazing smile every bit of everything is so worth it. She is a strong, strong girl, and we can’t wait to see more of her true personality emerge in 2016. MJ and I love love love our family. We chose a crazy life, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
4. ISU Kid Captains
Carsten and Bo being chosen as the ISU Kid Captains was such a tremendous experience. I can’t even adequately put into words how much it meant for our whole family to see Carsten and Bo march out on that field for the coin toss. The ISU players and coaches were all so sweet to the boys. It was an experience I never even dreamed Carsten and Bo would get to experience. I love that life is full of wonderful surprises. I no longer pretend to know what life has in store for us. The potential is endless for all of my children, and we can’t wait to watch what they do with their lives.
My husband is the best. I couldn’t have dreamt for a better partner and best friend in this life. I love him more every single day. Every single day he still surprises me. From being able to say just the right thing to one of the kids to letting me spend precious time with my mom during her recovery to letting me travel to Japan with my best friend. He’s amazing, and takes everything in stride. As long as I have MJ by my side, all will be ok.
2. My mom’s heart attack
A few days after Christmas my mom suffered a massive heart attack, and flatlined on the way to the hospital. Miraculously everything happened right to make it so she is still with us to usher in this new year. Everything from my sister calling her right as the event started to her having her phone with her in the bathroom to the paramedics who brought her back to life to all of us being with her as she was taken to the cath lab to her incredibly skilled cardiologist. We are a very blessed family, and are all fully aware of the miracle.
1. Carsten’s accident
On August 7th after a perfect fun-filled family day at the farm, Carsten had an accident. It was by far the most terrifying incident I have every had in my life. By the grace of God, everything turned out fine. I promised God under a clear, starry night that I would return the miracle he gave me by letting me keep Carsten. I promised Him that when I could be someone else’s miracle I would not hesitate, and I would do whatever it was He needed me to do. That is how precious Kat entered our life. Now I am doubly grateful for the two gifts he gave me in the face of one accident. I vow not to take life for granted. Every moment is a gift, and needs to be appreciated. I also vow to acknowledge and be grateful for the miracles that happen. To deny the miracles are to deny Him.
I am so excited to see what adventures and changes await us in 2016. Along the way, I will maximize every moment I have with all of the people that matter most to me! Thank you to all of our family and friends who make our life richer and filled with love. We love you all!!!
Happy New Year!!!