Best of 2016 :: Recap

 My word of the year was:
It was the perfect word for a year where I:
lived without my husband
had my fourth child
bought a new house
& moved five hours away from home

I needed to be gentle, not only with myself, but also with those precious babes of mine.

I started the year VERY pregnant with Carly
I soaked up every last bit of being a "boy mom"
And then Carly was born on January 24th, my brother Dalton's birthday
She came into this world alert and ready to be our sunshine
I was so glad to meet her, knowing she was worth every sacrifice we had made.
Even the brothers agree that a few months of living without daddy was worth having her join our family
I began learning how to parent four kids, all with distinct needs
And I overjoyed, every moment I could, in that sweet daughter of mine
I managed to squeeze our family of six into two rooms at my in-laws house
as Josh finished up his last year teaching in rural Alaska,
using my bed as a changing table.
Some days it was challenging, but mostly it was cozy.
With three big boys, I did a lot of baby wearing, especially during homeschool

We had reunions & goodbyes at the airport
Betcha can't guess which was my favorite ;)
We spent spring break in a beautiful condo at Rockaway Beach,
enjoying our time with Josh home
All three boys were in baseball.
Lots of practices & games, which paid off in proud moments & busy boys!
My niece Annie joined Carly as the other (only!) girl in the family.
She has lit up my sister's life & we all love her so.
We grew our own caterpillars & set them free once they became butterflies
I spent hours on the phone with Josh, deciding to be done living in rural Alaska, sharing my parenting & homeschool struggles with him, and trying to ease some of his loneliness from living alone on the tundra. 
We celebrated our sixteen year dating anniversary,
marking the fact that we've been together half of Josh's life,
who was 16 when we started dating as juniors in high school.
Josh convinced me to buy a new (to us) Honda Odyssey minivan.
I still miss the sportiness of the Pilot, but the Odyssey meets our needs & then some.
It was a fantastic decision.
My sweet cousin Alix married her sweetheart Michael.
Josh and I were her photographers.
It was a beautiful day.
Josh got a job teaching in central Washington (!!!)
and we started house hunting.
Several 5-hour-road-trips later (all through the summer), we found the perfect house!
June 6th, Jack & Logan celebrated their 8th birthday.
They love to run, ride & play all sports.
June 15th Wyatt celebrated his 5th birthday.
He loves creating things with tape & cardboard,
and playing Paw Patrol.
We visited my grandparents one last time before our big move.
I prepared to send this little guy to kindergarten.
After four years of homeschooling, we decided that it was time to send all three big boys to public school.
This little girl kept growing right before our eyes,
rolling over, eating baby food & refusing a binky no matter how I tried!
In August we got keys to our new place, and with the help of EVERYONE around us,
were able to move all our things (plus four small children!) into our very first home!
We love it so much.
As we moved, our thirteenth wedding anniversary came & went.
We celebrated by buying a toilet & various other things at Lowe's.
#homeownership #adulting
Aunt Julie gifted her adoring nephews a trampoline for their newly minted backyard
and I felt compelled to text her "THANK YOU!" every day.
They LOVE that thing!
My sister & her crew came to visit and we went to the water park in town.
It made me so happy to have all those cousins together!
The twins started third grade
(in separate classrooms! eek!)
and Wyatt started kindergarten at our local elementary school.
Josh's parents came to visit and we were so happy to show them our new digs.
Josh was born here, where we live now, so it's a familiar, happy place for his parents.
Josh's parents were amazing to let me (& my crazy children) stay with them for nearly sixteen months May 2015 to August 2016.  We were there so I could grow their twelfth grandbaby safely.  I am so grateful to have had their help, especially once Carly made her debut and things got very challenging for me as a single parent.  What a huge blessing their generosity was to Josh and me and our family.

Once we settled in our new house,
I began cloth diapering Carly to save money, using the cloth diapers I had from Wyatt's babyhood.
Also once we settled in, I got back in the groove of baking & cooking,
including homemade bread & tortillas, which makes all the people in our household very happy!
The transition from homeschool to public school has been really smooth,
and I'm incredibly proud of each one of our boys.
They are all doing really well academically, as well as socially.
One of my favorite parts of our new days as the boys went to school
was walking them to & from campus each day.  
Another fall favorite was discovering Beth Moore's bible studies online.
I love having my morning coffee after dropping the boys at school
while learning more about God & the bible.
During the warm fall afternoons, Josh would come home & play football or basketball with the boys.
Made my mama heart so happy.
We thought things weren't busy enough with four kids,
so we added two kittens to our family.
Meet George & Ramona,
who were born in January like Carly.
I learned to enjoy my one on one time with Carly while her brothers were in school.
She is such a light for our family.
In October I got a terrible phone call informing me that Logan had had a seizure in the cafeteria at school.
I woke Carly from her nap & rushed to the school, where we rode with Logan to the hospital.
Post-seizure testing gave us an all clear for regular activity, and no epilepsy diagnosis.
Our assumption is that a head injury he sustained prior to the seizure gave him a concussion.
That concussion lead to him seizing.  We are so grateful he is alright.
We dealt with many colds & sicknesses with it being the boys' first year in school.
Wyatt was diagnosed with Reactive Airways, which meant lots of nebulizer treatments.
Poor kid!

Josh and I slowly adjusted to living together
after a year apart
in a new house
in a new town
with a new job
and a new normal.
So glad to be "in the groove" now!
This little chicka started crawling and then pulling up on things and finally talking.
Currently she says mama, dada, hi, kitty & more, but only when she wants to!
We came to Vancouver for Halloween weekend to celebrate my nephews' birthdays,
and it was such a fun trip!
We also came over Thanksgiving, and celebrated my birthday.
I am so thankful for my parents this year-- they offered unending support when I was parenting by myself
and have been very generous in helping us with our first year of home ownership.
Thanks mom & dad!
I am still, at the end of this year with four kids, figuring out what works for me.
Meeting all their needs is a constant balancing act, and I don't know if I will ever have it all figured out.
... but I'm doing my best to enjoy them & adjust when necessary.
My sister and I have continued loving having daughters after only boys for so many years.
And the big boys all dote on them.  It's precious as can be!
At Thanksgiving it was sort of hilarious all the things our little family of six was grateful for:
the house
Josh's job
the boys' school
new friends
our health
Carly, our sweet rainbow baby...
There's just so much gratitude to be had!

2016 was a BIG reading year for the Cunningham family.
I myself read 23 books that I kept track of, (thank you Inspired Readers Book Club!)
the twins read countless chapter books (mommy heart bursting!)
and Wyatt has slowly started reading as well.
I love seeing books strewn about the house. It's one mess I happily tolerate.

I have slowly adjusted to life with snow. I know we had snow in Alaska, but I didn't have to go out and function in it! Here I have to drive the kids to school, and get the mail and run my errands, regardless of the weather. It's been a huge adjustment. Luckily I think snow is beautiful and my kids love it, so I tolerate its inconveniences!
Have I mentioned in this post that I LOVE having a daughter to dress up?
Well, I do! And this Christmas was no exception!

May 2017 hold 
as many blessings 
& as much growth 
as 2016 did.

Happy New Year, friends!



Ashley B said...

LOVE this recap! I started a similar post but quickly got overwhelmed trying to pick the right pictures. How can I even choose, haha?!
Prayers for an equally wonderful 2017. xo

alisonroyturner said...

You have had such a monumental year! I started following your blog last year after searching for "Alaska Blogs" (we moved to Fort Wainwright in 2015). I'm so happy to have found it. I hope you have an amazing 2017

Veronica Perry said...

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter! It sounds like you are going to have your hands full, in a good way of course. Your sons are adorable, I cannot believe how much they all look alike! I bet they will be the best big brothers to your new little girl. I hope everything works out well with the moving houses too!