Saturday, February 10, 2018

[another one bites the dust]

Like I said, twenty-GREATteen is off to a GREAT start! Especially if your name is Ella Avery Reading! More fun was one of our resolutions and we are over achievers in this family so one thing led to another and then this...
If I'm being honest I'm just as excited as she is!

Something not so great is the continued illness. I'm convinced that there are different germs in every state and we lost our immunity to Arkansas which is why we have all been so SICK! I took this picture because I thought he was so cute. He was SO excited about his fundraiser he wouldn't even let us touch the catalogue. When I went in to check on him before bed I found him like this. So cute! But then I noticed those rosy cheeks and red lips...
 And just a few days later we were in the doctor's office!
 This little one went above and beyond and landed himself a case of pneumonia. And pink eye. AND an ear infection! So extra! I can't deal. Sick babies are the saddest thing in the world. And our refrigerator looks like a pharmacy.
But he has the very best brother and sisters! This was their very best attempt to put a smile back on his face. Do you see what I deal with? haha
It's definitely a circus at my house and Luca is naked half the time.
Love my crazy people! They make life fun!
 That little teeny bopper above is feeling much better and has finished her round of meds. But bring on the mega meltdown every time she see's Milo and Ella talking theirs because she thinks it's hers! OMG toddlerhood. We are definitely in the thick of it.
 Finally this morning these two crashed my Saturday morning snooze fest. Oh well. Snuggle now, sleep later!


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Twenty Gr-EIGHT-teen!!!


The best part of January was celebrating Grandpa's 85th birthday! Two of his favorites...family and fried chicken. Planning many more fishing trips instead of hospital trips this year :)
Work hard, play hard, sleep HARD!
 Silly Milo :)

 Spending the last couple days in January hanging out at home with my sick baby :( Another ear infection and I'm suspecting a funky virus.


 And I'm ending with a flashback of this delicious boy of mine. If I had to pick one single photo that captured everything about him, this would be it! His tender heart, innocence, love of fashion, gorgeous hair with that unruly cowlick in the front, artistic talent, puppy dog eyes filled with wonder and spark (and a little mischief ;)) and his never ending curiosity about all kinds of things. I could go on. I'm just really proud of this boy. He's grown up so much this year and I've learned so much more about him. I love hanging out with him in 2nd grade and seeing him in action every day. I love that he see's the best in others and is always kind. I love that he doesn't notice or care about differences and calls everyone his friend. And I'm relieve to see such a strong boy after a brand new year. He's grown up so much! He's incredible.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

BRRR!

January has been COLD and we've been cooped up inside! With chill factors being in the negatives, we haven't gotten out much which has been kind of nice. We've found ways to have fun though! 
 Saturday morning Jumanji movie with Nana B!
 Don't let this sweet face fool you...she's a wild one! Also, reading People Magazine with mom as her bed time story :) 4th child perks or probs? haha




Sunday, December 31, 2017

Welcome Home 2017

Time for a new hashtag! Wow. 2017. What a year is all I can say! 2017 was...
New
Change
Faith
Fear
Hope
Sacrificial
Hard
Humbling
Exciting
Relieving
Scary
Unknown
Risky
Surprising
We made a big decision...a fast decision. We took a huge leap of faith. We were living on a prayer {best song ever} and you know what? Prayer works.
When we moved to Seattle, we had two kids and a relatively simple life. We moved to Seattle and it was right where God had taken us. Through the years, we added a couple more kids. Our third, Milo, was not a typical baby and had many special needs. Things that are natural and/or easy for most are not as simple for him. It takes a little longer and he has to work a little harder. He is rocking it and is going to be just fine. He works so hard everyday and is so brave! He has overcome so much.  But his infant and toddlerhood was a lot...for him and for all of us. We stayed very close to home for his first two years. Our days were filled with multiple therapies, learning how to support him and working every day helping him adapt to the world and life while trying to be the best for Ella and Luca too. We had wonderful friends, but there are just some things that can't be helped or outsourced. Seattle was too far away for frequent family visits and we knew that when we moved. Our sweet little Ollipop made a surprise appearance. She was our dream baby! I longed for her so much and God just gave her to me in spite of my fear and self proclaimed limitations. Well, obviously she was meant to be. But we added a newborn! Work became increasingly stressful with an unhealthy work environment and a dysfunctional organization and leadership development team. Suddenly it was all too much.
The evolution of our lives in Seattle was big. Towards the end, we were not holding up well. We were tired. When you make such a big move, your kids are finally established, everyone is settled in school, we were established as a family with friends, jobs, doctoral work and life. It's easy to "just keep swimming". That is exactly what we were doing for the last year when we should have been taking a closer look at our lives, our needs and where God was moving us. We were barely hanging on. Waiting for it to get better. So tired and weary. Emotionally and physically spent. We were giving everything we had for what we thought was a hard "season". It wasn't a season...it was our life! After a while we had worn ourselves down to nothing. We weren't doing well. We weren't healthy or happy. Our marriage was struggling. We were just chugging along trying to make the best of things. We were giving it our all but didn't have much to give anymore. Our focus was so narrow on just making it that we were missing the obvious. It was time for a change. It was time to go home! I had longed for home for a solid year! When we took our trip  home the summer before, leaving to go back to Seattle wasn't the same. It was hard to go back. But we did! And we were still waiting to make it through. Well, let me just say, that year was tough. There were many beautiful moments and happy times of course. Olli was born. We had so much fun with our friends. Our holidays with just us as a little family were so special. But still, we were depleted and not thriving. Finally, it all came to a head and you know what? You can't fix an airplane mid-flight. You have to land. So we did.
One night, a very hard night, I made the call. It is time to go. It was probably one of the most difficult nights in our marriage if not the most. Something had to change that very day. We had began talking about the "probably in the future" move talk a couple times. You know after Mike graduates with his doctorate and we do this with the church and when we get this kid through this and............ But that night we knew nothing mattered more than our family and our marriage. Our brokenness and situation became so clear. And for the first time, we really saw it all for what it was.
It was a very emotional night, but in my mind it was final. Mike knew it too. The very next day he called a meeting with the elders and gave his resignation. We called our parents and said we were moving home. They've prayed for our return since we moved to Dallas but this coming out of nowhere was a huge shock of course!
So, it was time. In January of 2017, Mike quit his job, I was a stay at home mom, we had no jobs lined up. We uprooted our kids from school, moved in with Mimi and Pops, started our kids mid year in Van Buren, found new therapists for Milo and began the hard work of rebuilding and starting our new chapter fresh and from the ground up. I'm sure many people thought we were crazy and/or irresponsible. But let me tell you it was the smartest and most responsible decision we had made that year.
Anything could have happened. We were relieved to be home. It felt safe. But the fear of the future was major. We had nothing to bet on. Nothing to plan on. Absolutely no guarantees on how this would turn out or how long it would take to get settled. "Oh my God what did we do" and "have we ruined our kids", was a question we asked ourselves daily. It felt so right at the time and we knew God was in it, but waiting to see how it played out took a lot of strength, faith, trust and SO MUCH sacrifice, love and support from our family. Slowly but surely and little by little, things started falling into place. When dreaming about our new lives back home, we named our perfect jobs, the perfect place to work, our ideal scenarios for job, living, home and kids. We didn't expect it all. We expected to start somewhere and work toward that. God had bigger plans. He had obviously prepared the way long before that night. Now on New Years Eve of 2017, I'm sitting here and telling you all that we made it. Every single prayer and ask that was named was answered...and then some. We were given everything we dared to name and ask. We needed to have it all in place by July. The final "unknowns" fell into place at the very beginning of July. It WAS the right thing to do. That has been confirmed over and over again this past year. The most important part, our kids are happy. We didn't ruin them haha. We are SO IMPRESSED with their ability to endure so much change. They have faced every turn with strength and bravery. They've had to say goodbye to friends twice. They've had to be the new kid at school twice. They had to leave their childhood home, move and move again. One thing I learned about them is that they are so strong. Kids really are so resilient! I have not doubt this built their character and gave them more tools for life and the big wide world. We are just so proud of them.
We are so glad to be home. Do we miss Seattle? Oh yes. More and more every month. That is because it was a beautiful and amazing part of our journey and our life. We basically doubled our family. We grew personally and together so much. So many adventures and times together that has enriched our lives, friendships and our relationship so much. Just like other big life events, it has made us who we are today. We are so proud, grateful and fond of that part of our journey. In some ways, things will never be the same. We wouldn't trade that part of our lives for anything in the world. And just like we always knew we eventually would, we've landed back home in 2017 and are ending it happy, healthy and on our way to thriving again.
So HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! For the Readings, 2017 was a lot of change. It was also the most incredible year. We want to keep it super boring and redundant in 2018. I think we said that last year too, but we are for real this time ;) 2017 was change. Our prayer for 2018 is transformation, growth, normalcy, roots and rebuilding.

Thank you to all who have carried us {and sometimes having to drag us} along the way.

#welcomehome2017


Have a Very Merry Christmas


So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

It's been thrilling to be home for every holiday this year and to not have to pick one...or spend a small fortune to be at just one. One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs is John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Happy Xmas. Yes, its about war. But without trying to sound dramatic it is also the perfect Christmas song for us this year. It was a really hard year. It was also a really good year. But it was hard. So to be home for Christmas with our loved ones {and not just in our dreams!}, celebrating a job well done in 2017 {we actually made it!} and anticipating the New Year is a very special time for us.

Here are our last photos of 2017...my family's tacky sweater party, Christmas morning, bowling, and a few other gems :)











 Prom pose!




















 Santa's cookies...that we forgot to put out...typical for 2017.










 Olli's first dentist appointment!


 This girl is a hoss baby. When no one was looking she'd grab a 10 pound ball and run away!












Merry Christmas!!!