2017. What a year. Some would say this was the year I lost my mind just a little bit. Some would say this was the year I also found myself just a little bit. 2017 was the year Ryan and I turned 40 – which we each handled very differently. It was the year we made some difficult decisions personally and spiritually. It was the year of growth to say the least. Here is our unofficial Christmas/New Year’s letter – affectionately known as The Ronne Recap.
Me – Mama – Queen Bee.
The year began with Ryan and I realizing we needed to pursue a different kind of help for Lucas than we were receiving through the state. For a number of reasons, which I will explain in great depth someday but not today, we were frustrated with the system and decided to pursue some stability for him with a consistent person and that thought turned into an au pair. The plan was that she would help with Luke, the other kids, cooking, and cleaning. Ryan built an apartment in our barn (it’s so cute), and we began the process of searching for the perfect person. We found her. We loved her. She was wonderful, and she was homesick. She stayed from March through August, leaving two days before I began the most challenging teaching semester I have ever committed to along with a plethora of books I agreed to review, and of course, the blog and my daily obligations as mom of 8. I was juggling way too many things; classes, writing, reviewing books, podcast interviews, opportunities to connect with a few companies on social media, and, of course, the daily grind of being head coordinator of a large family, and trying to live as holistically and simply as possible. My body was also doing weird things now that I was 40. I was googling symptoms almost daily which I was convinced would leave me dead within days. I wasn’t sleeping well because of the whole hormonal shift my body was going through and gaining weight even though I was eating healthier than ever before and exhausted. I was a bit wonky to say the least.
I went way inside myself last November and concluded that I needed to readjust and reevalute. With that reevaultion came the decision that if something came my way: a book to review, an opportunity, whatever it may be, if it wasn’t a “HELL YES!” it had to be a no (thank you Jen Hatmaker for that bit of wisdom). We also made some adjustments in our schedule to accommodate my need for down time/work time/hobby time, and speaking of hobbies, I enjoy (still) baking bread, writing, reading, yoga, walking, cooking, and hiking with the family. I have a few plans for the new year that include co-writing a book with my husband, making YouTube tutorials for Great River Organic Milling Company (find me at jessplusthemess on YouTube), blogging a little more frequently (but don’t get your hopes up), and maybe reviewing a book or two
Ryan – King of the Castle.
Ryan lost his mind a little bit as well because I was losing mine. What’s that saying? “happy wife, happy life” yeah, that probably sums up his issue. He also committed to a tad bit too much because neither one of us can pass up a great deal. We bought a beautiful 100+ year old house in town for next to nothing, full of so much potential, and overflowing with so much work, stripped down to the bare bones, ship lap walls and no electricity and zero dry wall, but did I mention, SO MUCH POTENTIAL, and it will be beautiful soon and it will be a great flip. We also had a great deal drop into our lap in Nashville that we couldn’t pass up, and so we bought that house as well, and he’s had tons of side job opportunities because he’s handy, and he’s good, and he’s reliable (hint, hint, if you have work to be done, he’s your guy). I surprised him on his 40th with a trip to Alaska which was amazing. His hobby’s and interests include watching The Crown (with yours truly), watching any DIY or building off the grid or big fish show, trying all of my new food creations, fishing, and playing ball with the boys when weather permits.
Caleb – Our Numero Uno
Caleb has grown 50 thousand inches in the past year and he’s almost as tall as his tall mother. He also recently acquired his driver’s permit and is officially 10 months away from being a real, live driver. He has $1000 saved for a car which he is feeling pretty good about because we offered to price match whatever our kids save for a car. He’s loving high school, no girlfriend that we’re aware of, loves his baby sister and annoying his younger brother, is a stellar drawer, guitar player, and great over all kid.
Tate – Number Two but not to be outdone by anyone.
Tate is enjoying his last year in middle school before he joins Caleb in the big leagues. He is as social as ever, will talk to anyone, will try to convince everyone, could very likely see the inside of a courtroom someday (as a lawyer, not the other way around), has very little saved for a car (I think he’s banking on Caleb coming through on that one), loves his baby sister, plays video games with his younger brother, no girlfriend that we’re aware of, is always bargaining for more screen time, struggles more with the ruralness of this life because of his very extroverted nature, and is the most persistent person I’ve ever met when he’s trying to obtain something he wants. He is usually found with his nose in a book.
Lucas – One Cool Dude.
Luke has had quite the year. Like I mentioned earlier, we eliminated the state funded help and immediately saw a huge difference in his demeanor. He wasn’t screaming and head banging anymore. He was generally at peace because he didn’t have new people he was constantly trying to acclimate to. He loved the au pair and when she left Ryan and I orchestrated ways for the older kids to earn extra money by helping such as changing his movie out, taking him for a walk, or playing with him in the play room for awhile. It’s worked out well, and the kids love the extra money they’ve been able to earn. We also have a wonderful saint of a friend who comes to our house every other weekend (she lives 2 hours away) to help out with him. We had our eye on a school called the Sheltering Tree Ranch, about 30 minutes from where we live, for over a year now. The school is for disabled children and we’ve gone back and forth with wanting to get Luke involved somehow. They offered to take him in Oct but with my load and the reality that we would have to bring him daily, we could not see how to make it work with our already loaded schedule. We prayed and prayed and ultimately a solution was presented. Lucas and Annabelle (they agreed to take her as well!) would attend two days a week. I would take them and spend the day in town writing, working, and working out. The first day in (yesterday) went very well. Lucas has had zero health issues since moving to TN, and we believe the warmer weather really suits him and also (of course) his mother’s sneaky way of getting nutrients into his body. Hobbies include, cookies, cake, donuts, movies, taking walks (sometimes) and equine therapy.
Mya – The Second Mother.
Mya has also grown 50 thousand inches and now wears my hand me downs (and likes them!) win/win for mom! This kid – wow – she cooks, she bakes home made bread and cinnamon rolls, and brownies, she sews and crochets, she reads and reads and reads, she walks Lucas when he’s hollering, she plays with Luke, and she’s drawn to him in a way that the rest of the kids are not. She often anticipates my need for help faster than her father does and helps in any way possible. Her love tank is full when she’s being helpful (oh, that all my kids were like this!). She’s enjoying 7th grade, has made a few really nice friends, and really seems to have settled into this rural, quiet life well.
Mabel Grace – Spotlight Princess.
Mabel began her first year in Middle school this year, and we were a little nervous. She can hold her own, don’t get me wrong, the girl’s got sass, but she’s little and probably always will be, but she doesn’t seem to be struggling at all. She is a lot her mother, a tiny bit drama, a whole lot of passion, and not much restraint (which will hopefully come with age). She loves dance, piano, yoga, and guest posting on mom’s blog and in my YouTube tutorials.
Joshua Isaac – The Wilderness Guide
Joshua is a smart dude. Really smart. The kid is reading A Monster Calls, and Harry Potter, and any other book he can get his hands on, and he’s in 2nd grade. He falls asleep with a book on his chest almost every single night. He loves the woods and leading the way when we go on family hikes and is the only one who acts interested when Dad points out all of the different animal droppings we encounter. He is smart, a little bit lazy, and loves playing video games with Tate, and every move in his life is geared towards gaining the admiration of his two oldest brothers.
Jada – Girl’s got Tenacity.
Josh and Jada – Jada and Josh – the two of them were inseparable from almost their first year of life. As they grew, they went to preschool together, and then kindergarten, and then first grade and then Josh pulled ahead of her, and her confidence took a beating as she struggled to understand the concept of reading, and after many conversations and prayers, we held her back for another year in 1st grade, and we absolutely did the right thing by her. She is a reading whiz now, her confidence is soaring, and she likes school again. I’ve never met a child who tries so hard. Things don’t come easily for her. From her painful beginnings, life has made her fight, and this kid doesn’t give up. She is determined to do well. She is determined to excel. She is determined to show us all – AND SHE WILL – I have no doubt. She loves to color, read books, play outside (she’s the most tomboyish of our girls), and never combs her hair and looks at me like I’ve asked her to scale Mount Everest when I ask her to.
Annabelle – The Baby
Oh Baby…. And yes, that’s how she refers to herself, “Baby want this or that or whatever” and we all run. Baby, Baby, Baby, and she loves it and her siblings adore her, (too much) and she will be absolutely spoiled rotten not because of her parents (OH NO), her siblings will create that monster, but she is so sweet and she was worth every sleepless night (there were many) and all of the wrinkles, and the 20 pounds still around my waist. She started school yesterday and loved it and her mama loved it and it will be good. She loves to read stories, cook us pretend chicken and fries, and fill my tea cup with her kettle. She used to be a better eater but lately she’s on a bit of a hunger strike since we laid the smack down about sitting at the table to eat. She’s had apple juice only once in her life (on the airplane) and didn’t like it. She prefers water. A girl after my own heart.
That’s it! Good riddance 2017 and welcome 2018! Just keep livin!