Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Letter/Year in Review (in pictures)

I love getting Christmas cards. I really love getting Christmas cards that have family pictures in them. But I especially love getting Christmas letters. I am not particularly adept at keeping in touch with people, so these end-of-year life updates are my favorite.

Unfortunately, I am not very good at sending out my own Christmas letters. Last year, I was on the ball and sent out photo cards, but for various reasons a Christmas card was not feasible this year. I thought about doing an email letter, but I barely read anything that comes to my inbox, and I thought others might be the same. Especially if the email comes at a particularly busy or stressful time. Say.... Christmas? So I decided to take my non-Christmas-card-writing one step further and write my letter here, in my blog. It might seem lazy or impersonal, but this way I'm not cluttering up your email box, your real mailbox, your recycle bin next month, or your trashcan and a landfill if you're (gasp) not into recycling.

Anyway, here is my lazy/eco-friendly/poor girl's Christmas letter (you can choose which you want it to be). It's been an interesting year!

Last year around this time, you might have received a photo card announcing our big news:

Photo credit: Shelby Blevins Photography (for the picture on the card, not the picture of the card)
The anticipation of the baby was preempted by another big life event. In late February, D had surgery to repair the massive hernia caused by the incision from one of his previous surgeries. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of that, although I did get to see CT scan photos of what my husband looks like bisected, so that was pretty cool. In early March, the hernia repair failed and D had another surgery, prolonging his stay in the hospital. (Again, sorry, no pictures of this one). He is now held together by Gortex, which sounds much more impressive than it probably is. On a side note, his doctors and nurses at Hershey Medical Center were absolutely fantastic. I was very impressed with the care he received there.

Spring brought a lot of preparations for transition. In April, I started working my last Outdoor Education season at Black Rock Retreat. It was challenging to stay energetic and focused throughout the day with a growing belly slowing me down, but I was surrounded by wonderful coworkers and friends who were very (VERY) patient with me.

Photo credit: Manda Phillips (not pictured, although she is one of the amazing coworkers mentioned above)
D spent the spring working part-time at the Y and recovering from surgery. I kept working Outdoor Eduction, volunteering with the Teen Moms group at my church, and growing a baby.

Photo credit: Shelby Blevins Photography
Photo credit: Shelby Blevins Photography
On June 1st, two major things happened. It was my last day of work at BRR. It was difficult to leave such a wonderful job, but I came home to exciting news: D accepted a job in Williamsport, PA. He would start in the beginning of July. We had one month to pack, find a place to live, move there, and, oh yeah, have a baby.

My sister came up from Georgia to help with the birth. She brought her oldest son, Isaac (11), and her daughter, Rachel (1 1/2). She was also 7 months pregnant.

Photo Credit: Isaac Robinson
Samantha Dare entered our lives on June 16th, one day before her due date. D and Erin were by my side for the entire experience, and Erin stayed a few extra days to help me get the hang of things. Since then, every day has been an adventure. Samantha is growing so fast, and it is awesome to watch her learn new things every day. At six months old, she is rolling over, sitting up, commando crawling, and rocking back and forth on her hands and knees (I think she'll be crawling in the next few days). She is also babbling up a storm, incredibly curious about everything, and her first tooth is poking through. My father calls her "the baby of many faces."

Photo Credit: Alexandra Wasik

Photo Credit: Esther Kanuchok

We moved to Williamsport on July 1st, when Samantha was only two weeks old. The move went smoothly thanks to the help of many friends and family who helped us move out of our old apartment (pictured below) and move into our new apartment.

Photo Credit: Manda Phillips (who also helped, along with others who are not pictured)
In August, I was able to go down to Georgia to be with my sister during the birth of her 7th child, Gideon. It was an interesting road trip with an 8 week old baby (D had to stay behind in PA), but I am so glad I was able to be there!
Samantha, 2 months, & Gideon, 2 days (Photo Credit: Erin Robinson)
Samantha and all of her Robinson cousins
D started his new job and is staying very busy running the pool at the Y. He also opened an Etsy Shop for his various crafts (RavenShadow Designs) and writing short stories and children's stories. I am blessed to be able to stay home with Samantha, with only having to work a few hours a week (I coach a youth swim club and teach water fitness at the Y). I also opened an Etsy shop for Awesome Cupcake, and the last few weeks have had the opportunity for my cupcakes to be sold at a local coffee shop (Alabaster Coffee Roaster & Tea Company). I am hoping to continue baking and expand Awesome Cupcake locally in the next year.

So, that's our year in review! I am looking forward to the upcoming year. I hope that you and your family had a very Merry Christmas and will have a blessed new year!

Christmas 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Every morning for the past two months, when I walk out of my bedroom, the very first thing I see are all of my plants. They are spending the winter in a little alcove in the hallway to stay warm. Unfortunately, I was a bit late in bringing them in, and they suffered through a few frosts outside. When I brought them in, some were black and limp. There was absolutely no sign of life to them. This included my favorite plant, Cher. 

Before you ask, no, I am not in the habit of naming my plants. The other plants are all " that aloe" or "Cher's babies." But I got Cher from my friend Michelle one summer while working at camp. Cher was a "baby" from her plant (also named Cher), who was a "baby" from her friend's plant (yet another Cher). The idea is to share the plant... hence the name. I've had my Cher now for about six years. She grew huge. I have shared her with many people over the years. And then, I killed her.

Or, so I thought. Suddenly, a few days ago, I woke up in the morning to walk out to this beautiful sight:

Sprouting up from the brown, dry leaves that once were my exuberant plant is new growth! Beautiful, bright green leave bursting through what looked like death. I was just about to toss out the dead plant. For weeks, I would take Samantha over to the plants and we'd pull out as many of the dry leaves as we could (she would then try to eat them, of course). I was hoping to make room for any hint of new growth, but weeks persisted where there was just constant dreariness and death. And then, suddenly, there was life!

I know Christmas is a time when we focus on Christ's birth, and not necessarily His resurrection. But every morning this week, as I've woken up and walked out of my bedroom, I have been greeted with this simple, beautiful reminder of new life. More importantly, of the new life that has been given to me through Christ. Because we have a God who loves us more than we can ever fathom. A God who died for our sins. A God who rose from the dead so we can be reconciled with Him. A God who gave up everything so we can have new life.

I don't know about you, but I have had many times in my life that have seemed black, dry, and dead. Hopeless. Where I was about to give up, and perhaps others were about to give up on me. But God consistently worked to clear all that away, even when I couldn't see it. And now, as a child of a living and loving God, I am full of hope, joy, and new life.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. I hope that the beautiful reality of God's love for you - through Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection - permeates through everything you do this season, and that you, too, are made anew.

"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." - Romans 6:4