I've been smothered. Completely covered up. Layer upon layer of activities, responsibilities, parties, packing, traveling, celebrations, not to mention the same-ole-same-ole of housekeeping and family-managing dailies. One by one, two by two it all piled up on me until the only air I could breathe came through a tiny slit called "reality" that reappeared about 3 days ago on the side of the pile. The pile has slowly been disappearing as each layer has been peeled off, and I feel like we are just about back to normal. No more packages arriving, no more planning long days for the kids, no more birthday cakes, no more partying. Over the last month we have celebrated big and lived large. Well, large for us, which means we've had our whole family together non-stop for about 2 weeks. To say it has been glorious would be an understatement. Our normal schedule only allows us a few precious days together at a time. Because of a recent,(stressful, unnecessary, opposition-ladened) change, we were able to have us all together for an extended period of time. Normally, I hate change (except for when I change the furniture around), but this change happened at just the right time for us. The six of us needed to enjoy some life together and we loved it.
Over and over we were blown away by all that we were seeing. Patrick is a master trip-planner, and he put together days of sight seeing that were both fun and educational. Of course a lot of the fun that we had was when we arrived at the hotel and checked out the pool. That was Meredith's favorite part every day. One night, the big girls even swam outside while it was snowing(in Texas!). This was definitely a winter break that we will remember forever.
Once we got home from vacation, we still had celebrating to do as it was New Year's Eve and Michael's birthday. Uncle Martin and Aunt Bunny came into town to help us celebrate both events. With champagne in hand and toasts to a "more relaxing, less stressful, altogether better year", we landed on January 1, 2011 - the day that Michael turned 5. We went to Grandma Lucile and Grandpop's new house to celebrate Michael's birthday and we had a fantastic lunch together in their fancy dining room. We had tractor birthday cake, singing, and more gifts. The following day, we partied it up again with Grandma and Poppop while Michael and Maddie shared the spotlight at our favorite restaurant, Macaroni Grill. We were the nonstop party family, I tell you!
So now that we've put away our party hats and stowed the wrapping paper and tape away we can focus on the New Year that is ahead of us. The year 2010 was a year that had more stress, more opposition and more hardship than we would have ever thought back when it began 12 months ago. However, the book of James in the Bible tells me that these trials will strengthen my faith and THAT is what I found to be true over this past year. As I stare at the blank calendar that is before me, I know that there will be more stress, more change, and there are also more days to walk with God, holding His trustworthy hand. He was loving and faithful last year, and I know that this year He will be the same. He is constant and I can count on that; year after year He is the same. Happy 2011, everyone!!