Monday, December 30, 2013

It's a Beautiful Life--2013 Edition

January--We started this year off just as we finished 2012--with the adoption of one of our beautiful foster babies--the first little girl we have had the honor to love. She is so beautiful and went to a gorgeous family.

Later in the month, Abbey got the flu.  It was awful and she was down for several days and I felt helpless as her asthma kicked into high gear. 

February--Not to be outdone, right after Abbey got over hers, I got the flu as well and was down for about seven days and not back to normal for another five weeks. I returned to the doctor and finally received a steroid shot that helped me progress a little faster. As a chronic pain sufferer, those types of setbacks just take FOREVER from which to recover.  I continued to work and homeschool on a very scaled-back level, but was completely exhausted most days. 

Sadly, this same month Hannah and Adam quietly suffered through a miscarriage, and it just broke my heart. It is so hard to see your babies hurting, even your 23-year-old babies.

March--We did something we have never done before--we went camping for Easter weekend! It was such a fun, fun time away.  We caught fish, laughed, laughed, and laughed some more. We enjoyed old friends and made new ones, and we want to go back every Easter now! We had a beautiful, impromptu worship service right beside Lake Eufaula on Easter Sunday. It was a very special weekend, despite the awful-sleeping beds in that camper of ours!

May--Michael and I became foster parents for the sixth time to a precious baby boy who was so mild-mannered and easy going. I was in love immediately (as always). We enjoyed loving on him for a few short weeks before his adoption in late May. 

Our family got to go on a real vacation for the first time in a long time, so we surprised Abbey with a trip to SeaWorld in Orlando! She was thrilled and definitely in her environment. 

While in Orlando, I worked at a Florida Homeschooling Convention booth for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and got to meet Dean Butler (aka "Almanzo Wilder" from Little House on the Prairie) in person. We had talked business on the phone for several months prior, but it was still very fun to meet him. 

June--Not long after that trip, with much prayer and contemplation, I made a major decision to quit my full-time job with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine as a senior sales rep and Gena Suarez' assistant. While I know it was the right decision for our family, I sure do miss my coworkers and my clients.

Part of my decision to quit TOS stemmed from much prayer and consideration over helping my husband expand our woodworking business, Woodworks by Brooks, to beyond local orders. I began the tedious process of building a website and opening an Etsy store.  
Weeks went by and no orders, nothing. You could hear the crickets chirping. But then one day we heard "Cha-ching"--no, literally, we heard that sound because I had downloaded the Etsy app on my phone and when you make a sale, it goes, "Cha-ching." And once the orders started, they kept coming, and we have been so blessed! We have shipped orders as far away as California and as far north as New Jersey. 

September--Abbey and I began homeschooling her 5th grade year together.  We have been blessed with some REALLY great curriculum, and I love how we have a great routine going on.  I love being her teacher because I am learning so, so much as well. 

Our biggest news of this month was that Hannah and Adam announced they were expecting again.  Hannah was terrified, of course, because of her previous miscarriage, but she got to the doctor early and started monitoring hormone levels early and often. We've never been so excited about morning sickness! :)

October--My middle sister came to visit for two weeks from Houston, and we had so much fun together. My older sister joined us for a few days and hilarity ensued. I love, love my sisters. They absolutely tortured me as a child, but we are the best of friends now and I can't imagine my life without them. 

Michael and I became foster parents for the seventh time to a precious baby boy.  He stole our heart and a few of our brain cells to boot. He had horrible colic and cried. I mean a lot. Like eight hours a day. Despite the challenges, we loved being able to love him and help him every day.  

November--Michael and I became foster parents for the eighth time. That's right--we had two newborn babies at one time. This sweet little baby girl was so fat and so sweet! Oh my goodness, we loved having her in our home.   Both she and Baby "James" were adopted shortly before Thanksgiving and are both thriving and growing well! (But I sure do miss their sweet faces here.) 

December--This month, we found out Hannah and Adam are having a little girl! Oh, so exciting for all of us! I can't wait to spoil another grandchild, who will be named Swayze!!  

Overall, 2013 has been a really, really good year for us, and we do not go a day without thanking and praising God for bringing us to a good place in our lives.  We know that no matter what 2014 may bring, He will never leave us nor forsake us. 

Want a sneak peek into other adventures of some of my homeschooling friends? Well, a few of them have also written posts about remembering real life in 2013. Grab a cup of coffee, and have fun browsing the fun blogs below! 

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  1. I loved reading your post and the photos to! Wishing your family a Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year, Kim! Thank you for reading!

  2. I enjoyed reading through your year.... what a great idea! What struck me as I read your post was how much LOVE you and your husband poured into your children - both your biological children and your many foster children. What a blessing! Happy New Year!

    1. Oh, yes, we love those sweet babies of ours--ALL of them!! Happy New Year! Thank you for reading!

  3. April, I enjoyed reading your post. I'm amazed at how many babies you've fostered and that they've all been adopted. Usually I hear about foster parents having to give the children back to the original parents; how is it that most of yours are adopted?

    1. Clara, We are working with an agency whose job is adoption services for newborns, and our job is to be the transition home from birth mom to forever family. We are certified to foster all ages, but for this time in our lives, we are blessed to be working with this agency. Happy New Year! Thank you for reading and commenting!

  4. Sounds like you had a year full of love and babies. Thank you for sharing and blessing to Hannah and Adam---I hope they have a safe, healthy delivery.


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