Just hours ago, we said goodbye to twenty fourteen.  I considered whipping up a 2014 reflection post yesterday but I became distracted by the sheer volume of fake tree needles in our family room and made it my mission to remove all things Christmas. A quick recap: this was a year of adjustment for our family. We were barely settled into our new home in a new city when 2014 rolled in. It was a year of learning the ins and outs of a new place and a year of forging new friendships. And for me, it was a year of jumping in with both feet volunteering with school and church. While it became known to me as the year of the color coded calendar, it was also the year that has made me feel more settled than I have felt in a long time. I ended 2014 by falling asleep with Annalise and waking at 11:53 pm, just in time to see the ball drop and watch Taylor Swift be weird on tv.

Today, as I lamented my lack of a funny 2014 relection post, I had a revelation. It was that 2015 is slated to be a Year of Big Things in our house. I’m turning 40 this year. I currently find this to be a minor thing, but ask me again in August. Right now, 40 doesn’t feel like an end or a beginning. It just feels like a reason to say, “Hey! Here’s cake!” I don’t really get the “I’m 40, and now I’m old” mindset. Maybe it’s the fact that during the year I turn 40, Kevin and I will be parenting kids ranging in age from 1-13. Ain’t nobody got time for feeling OLD when there are diapers…and carpool…and school projects…and show and tell…and teething…and a calendar that was full even before the new year arrived. (If this sounds remotely like a complaint, let me assure you that I will mourn the day when my calendar is empty.)

So why is this the Year of Big Things, you ask? Well, let me tell you about what’s going on in the lives of the Mess Makers in 2015.

Braden: Our first born. Currently, our only son. This guy. Guy! He’s not a little kid anymore. He will officially be a teenager in the spring. THIRTEEN! I get teary just typing this. Thirteen means more independence, and thirteen means only five years until college. I don’t know how this happened. It was just yesterday that Kevin and I stayed up half the night trying to get him to sleep. Kevin logged hours of watching middle-of-the-night reruns of Andy Griffith while walking the floors with Braden. I read novel after novel while my arms ached from holding our baby who would only sleep while being held. Now this little bundle is as tall as I am and emerges from bed at 10 am on weekends. He is a phenomenal baseball player, and he will soon begin the spring season on his travel baseball team. This year, he enters his last year of middle school. I can’t even.

Annalise: Our first daughter. Our sensitive little sweetheart. Lover of animals and all things girly. She loves tumbling class and arts & crafts. Her creativity and ability to take recyclables and turn them into art is awesome. She underestimates herself. Annalise will start middle school in the fall. You know the place with big kids who revel in sharing inappropriate information and language because it makes them feel grown up? Yeah, that one.  I had a moment of panic when Braden started middle school, but now that my SECOND child is leaving elementary school, I am having a reality check. She will leave the world of primary colored classrooms and cute die cut shapes marked with her name and the names of her classmates and enter a world that involves changing classrooms, choosing electives, and eventually realizing that boys do exist. I attended my last elementary school party for Annalise in October, where she briefly acknowledged my presence and then ran off to dance with her friends. This from the child who clung to my leg and wailed loudly as I left her at preschool at three years of age. Will I be the one forcing back tears in August?

Waverly: Wild little Waverly. Climber of all things. Challenger of rules (and laws of physics). She keeps us on our toes, and I’m so thankful that God put it on our hearts to have another baby. It was Waverly that made me realize I was never, ever meant to be a mom of just two kids. Two kids…the American dream…boy and girl…easy; predictable; neatly divisible by two parents; divide and conquer…two kids. Three kids brought a level of chaos that crushed the hope of an always-clean house and a realization that it didn’t really matter anyway. Waverly will start kindergarten in the fall. Her fall birthday coupled with two older siblings makes her wise beyond her years. She is book smart, street smart, and crazy intuitive. People have been asking her for two years now if she’s already in kindergarten. Prepare yourselves, kindergarten teachers, this one will charm her way into taking over your classroom, and you won’t even realize it happened. She has been my sidekick for five years, as she was born when the first two were already in full day school. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that SHE is ready for kindergarten. The problem is that I’m not.

Caleb: Our “almost” baby. Across the world. Knowing nothing else but orphanage life. Completely unprepared for his soon to be life with a family, pets, and a full calendar. What does the future hold for you, baby boy? Soon, you will turn a year old, most likely without us. Most likely without celebration. But it will be the last of those for you, sweet boy. Soon your waiting (and ours) will be over. While you go about your daily routine, I watch the phone and check email in hopes that we get news of being one step closer to you. I imagine you playing with your brother and sisters who marvel over your presence. I imagine your bewilderment over the cats that roam our house. I imagine you taking your first wobbly steps in our house (YOUR house) and cheering on your big brother at baseball games. I imagine the girls fighting over who gets to pick out your attire for the day. And I am already thankful for you and how you have molded our hearts for orphans everywhere.

I hope 2015 is our (and your!) best year yet. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for all of us.

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