Inspiration has not struck in time to get this letter written in a creative fashion as in year’s past, so if I were to sit down and write a legit synopsis of our year without the creative poetry, inserting of Christmas carol titles, favorite children’s books or Disney princesses, this is just tellin’ it like it is:
The first quarter of the year was marked by snot, vomit and “lazy poops” (as Laidy has referred to diarrhea). When we finally crossed the threshold of Spring Break, we breathed a collective sigh of relief and committed to a Staycation to rest. That isn’t to say that very fun and important things didn’t happen January-March, but illnesses would sadly go from one family member to the next as soon as I was able to disinfect and wash everything. Show Choir competitions & Middle School Solo Contests were participated in with rave reviews. The Daddy-Daughter Dance hosted by our church was the highlight of Adelaide’s life and she STILL talks about it at least once a week.
Our Staycation included a visit to Des Moines’ Art Center, library, and some extended alone time for each parent. After the hard push of those first three months of the year, we both needed to recharge our personal batteries, get alone with the Lord, and “right the ship”. Maybe it was the illnesses, intense lack of sleep from a constantly hungry infant, maybe it was an itch in our careers that gave us both a discontented feeling in the pits of our stomachs (and no it wasn’t the stomach flu). Something needed to shift-we just didn’t know what and we were praying for an idea.
Once April & May hit and we were able to get outside, enjoy the ICubs open field day (where we got to explore the locker rooms, announcer’s booth and outfield of the feeder team to World Champions Chicago Cubs), Pella’s Tulip Time festival and Johnston’s Fly A Kite day, change was in the wind. (No pun intended, but it worked well there didn’t it?) I’d had a few meetings with our district’s Superintendent and HR and it turns out, my job in the band department needed to change from a para (teacher associate) position to a certified one. This meant I needed to reapply, re-interview for my job (thankfully, I got it back) and I would be on track to reinstate my license, attend a plethora of meetings, go through the 2-year Mentor Program and be considered a bona fide teacher. As photography summer season ramped up, I received a phone call from my Superintendent, stating that he had me in mind for a new Communications Coordinator position for the school district and asked if I’d be interested. I happily accepted and am now running Norwalk’s social media accounts, helping update the website and taking photos at events in all the district’s schools.
Summer sped by with Show Choir Choreography Camp, the first ever Norwalk Middle School Summer Band Camp, more than 40 photo sessions, and beautiful times with family. My parents were in Iowa all summer TOGETHER for the first time in several years. Mom’s season of taking care of her parents came to an end with Grandma’s passing in 2016 so she was able to join Dad in New Providence. We celebrated Dad’s 85th with a tour of WOOD Magazine since a former Norwalk music parent, Dave Campbell, is its Editor in Chief. Dave is also a fantastic tour guide and he and Dad ended up talking shop in the wood shop for several hours. Mom and I enjoyed some Girls Day Outs to pamper, relax and knock out some projects. Gerard played Ultimate Frisbee with the Des Moines League for the 14th year in a row and while he claims he’s joining the ranks of the “Old Timers”, he still had some great lay-outs, nailed some leaps to score and can still “huck” it the length of the field. He loved showing off his “war wounds” to Laidy after the games.
We traveled to the Quad Cities to see Gerard’s parents, sister and her family. We took the kids to the Maquoketa Caves, built epic furniture/pillow forts, and splashed through the week. At the end of this week, Gerard’s sister Mimi headed to South Korea to meet her birth mom and we stayed in the QC to help watch our niece and nephews. What a pivotal moment in this family’s history to be a part of! After this gathering, we headed to Salt Lake City to stay with my sister and help her host our extended Webeler family (my mom’s side) for a reunion we hadn’t had in over 12 years! All of my cousins, their spouses & children and my mom’s siblings were in attendance save one uncle. Four of the six of us cousins had babies in 2016, so we celebrated with cupcakes for the 1-yr-olds, 4th of July fireworks, Salt Lake Bees baseball, Park City’s Alpine Slide, F-16 flyover and Hill AFB tour, courtesy of my brother-in-law, Eric.
Summer concluded with family bike rides (Loch has yet to love a helmet), a 2-Night Adult-Only Getaway to celebrate our TENTH Anniversary, a family weekend away to Kansas City, ICubs game with my parents, wrapping up of swim lessons and tumbling for Adelaide. With the start of the school year, I’ve enjoyed having flexible mornings, which have allowed me to chaperone Laidy’s field trips to the pumpkin patch, fire department, zoo and occasionally stay for “Circle Time” at the start of her day. As a family, we picked apples and made our own applesauce, were the Berenstain Bears family for Halloween, and jumped in raked leaves. That brings us to Thanksgiving in the QC with Gerard’s parents and looking forward to Christmas in Salt Lake with my sister and parents.
It’s crazy to think that a year ago, we were still waking up multiple times a night, were just introducing "people food" to Lochlyn and he was barely sitting up on his own. He’s now quintupled his birth weight(!), has over a dozen words to his credit (but still prefers to growl), will RUN in circles with Ella, and thoroughly enjoys Laidy’s entertaining spirit. And, praise God, we’re all sleeping through the night!! Adelaide is intensely curious about language, asking how to spell words, sounding out words on her own, recognizing words at sight in books, and enjoys reading both for herself and to Lochlyn. She is showing a lot of growth in understanding of the bigger world around her and we’ve had some insightful and encouraging conversations about Christ, the cross, communion, and prayer. While the stubbornness and emotions of a 4 year old can be challenging at times, her vivacious spirit keeps us laughing with awe and surprise. She loves to dance, sing, and do silly faces, but also LOVES being a big sister and is eager to help out with almost anything regarding her brother.
ALLLLLL of this to say, we wouldn’t have made it through 2017 without the following assistance:
-our wonderful family doctors who worked like the dickens to help us through sickness and then keep us healthy, not to mention providing child care for us on our 2-night anniversary getaway.
-Aunt Katie’s breast milk to help feed Loch. Things went well for he and I together, but the boy can EAT!
-Preschool and Daycare teachers for Adelaide and Lochlyn both-what patience, knowledge, and love they LAVISH on our children!!
-our colleagues and administration in Norwalk Schools. We may be biased, but this is the best district for whom to work, and we are thankful for the opportunities that have turned out beautifully for our family as Gerard starts his 13th year and I, my 11th year teaching.
-our church family in both prayer and moral support. Gerard has stepped into the role of helping with the sound booth during services and I’ve helped dust off the organ’s pipes for a few special music opportunities.
-Our Lord’s help in parenting wisdom, staying unified as a couple, and most importantly, for giving us His Son. We would most certainly be lost without His grace!
This letter comes to you with prayers for a happy, healthy and blessed 2018!
Gerard, Carrie, Adelaide (4), Lochlyn (16mos), and pup, Ella (8)
Photo Credit: Austin Day Photography