Merry (Belated) Christmas Everyone!
It has been quite the year for the Harris crew – like every year. Or more accurately, like every year with children.
By far the biggest event we experienced was adding our dear little Larkin to the family in February. She has been a joy, a blessing, a handful, and a head full of curls and mischief. We love her to bits, and she was worth every moment of morning sickness and the work of labor, and the long months of recovery. She has been our first true baby extrovert, and has loved visiting with other people and eating food far earlier than our other two.
While perhaps you’d think that after all of the morning sickness, and long birth recovery, we would have kept things simple. But I was SO happy to be feeling more like myself that I felt it was time to make sure the other two girls (now nine and five) got the opportunities they wanted after a slow year for them.
Both did soccer for the first time this year. Aria, four when she started the program, was absolutely adorable and determined, even when she was feeling nervous. She would put on her “game face” which was fierce, and attack the ball. She also very politely would allow others to take the ball if they so desired (this is what happens when your children are good at sharing!). Elena, our now nine year old, threw herself into a team experience – most of whom had been playing for several years. She buckled down and learned the basics quickly, and really worked hard to put herself out there and learned and improved so much! We are proud of both of them for trying out new things, and being willing to work hard at them. It was truly an inspiration to us.
It also gave their parents a good opportunity to be sport parents (not something we were expecting!). The tension during games is real, people.
They also continued their ballet lessons this year. It’s a small studio and perfect for our girls. They love it! Joel’s mom was a professional ballet dancer, and that has provided extra motivation for them to learn ballet. At the Christmas recital this year, Elena showed so much improvement and grace that she brought a couple of moms to tears as they remembered Joel’s mom, who passed away five years ago. We miss her still.
One of the unexpected things that happened was making a sudden move from the house we were renting. For various reasons, our basement had gotten very moist, causing mold issues. It was hard. We ended up finding a new place to rent and moving in a short period as it was causing some health issues for some of us in the family. It was a very stressful time, having a newborn baby, trying to pack up a house, and having to sort through a lot of moldy stuff while being concerned about the health issues of mold. It was sometimes emotional – we had to throw away the majority of our baby clothes I had saved for Larkin. We had to get rid of the majority of our Christmas stuff as well – including very nice stockings, and a lot of homemade ornaments. As soon as we made the move, I had a health collapse that was likely caused by the stress of the move and mold exposure. It included very sudden adult onset allergies, and chemical sensitivities that caused me to react to just about everything. Someone’s perfume, or the dryer sheets they used on their clothes would cause tears to run down my face, and my neck to start burning. A new fan’s off gassing caused red streaks to appear on my face. I felt like I was going to have to live in a bubble the rest of my life. During that time, our children were mourning the friends and neighbors they left behind.
But if that was the night, dawn started to appear. The community in the building we moved into has been incredibly supportive and kind, and we have made new friends here. Our apartment is small, but adequate. As time marched forward, being out of the house with a mold problem quickly reversed some issues one of my children was having, and my symptoms very slowly started to go away. We are still working on rebuilding my health especially, but great progress has been made (I can now go out in public with hardly ever having a reaction!). While the move was hard in many ways, it was so obvious that it was the right move to make, and we are thankful for that clarity. It has been clear to us that while life can seem to be spiraling into confusion from our perspective, God is gently leading us still.
Yes, there were difficult moments this year when we wondered what the future held, but there were far more moment of joy and thankfulness.
This Christmas we plan to gather around our small, but beautiful Christmas tree to open gifts bought with love for each other. Yes, our stockings may be dollar stockings and not our nice knitted ones from the past, but our love for each other is constant and not something to be taken for granted. My heart is full of thankfulness. And so I can genuinely say,