Year in Review: 2017 Edition

It is easy to look back at 2017 and remember all the ways that this year was weird, hard, and chaotic. But, I started organizing my yearly photo-books (I make a 8×8 Shutterfly photo-book for every three months.  I intended to make a “yearbook” but let’s be real, I take WAY too many pictures of my children), I was reminded that there was far more joy and I am so thankful for it all.

Here is a recap of our year:

January

IMG_7703

Grandma Kimmy visited and went to the Treasure Island Kite festival.  We also had a visit from Laura and Nick. We rooted the Packer into the play-offs…but there is always next year (haha).

February

IMG_7957

We worked like crazy in December and January, so we took an impromptu trip to Orlando.  We stayed in an awesome suite and watched the Superbowl.  We randomly saw Jeff and Kristen since they were also in Orlando! We survived a few days without Daddy while he was at Keller Williams’ Family Reunion in Las Vegas for Valentine’s Day.  Doug got a new car: a black 4Runner.

March

For the big birthday month, we spent a week at the beach in Venice with Doug’s whole family.  They were all there for Camdon’s first birthday.  Doug celebrated his day at a Ray’s spring training game.  And, Donovan turned three with a Dino party.

April

We celebrated the wedding of Matt and Debbie in Gainesville. Andrew returned home from Bahrain.  And, we loved everything about the Easter season.

May

IMG_0910

For Mother’s Day, I got an awesome garden, so we spent lots of try out in the yard.  Donovan really loved the whole process of digging and watering.  We are so thankful for that huge backyard.  We have spent so many hours playing out there!

June

IMG_1423

My childhood bestie got married and I was thrilled to stand by her side!  Doug and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. Our AC died on Father’s Day and we booked a trip of a lifetime to Iceland and Sweden.

July

Obviously, this is the best month of year!  I celebrated my 31st birthday and we spent our annual week on Anna Maria Island.  This year we bought our own timeshare!

August 

IMG_3009

Right after our week at the beach, Doug told me he wanted me to come see a house. Little did we both know that we would move three weeks later. This month was sheer chaos.  Packing, prepping the new house (it needed WORK), renting our house, and moving.  I’m tired thinking about it all.  We love our new home! And, we loved seeing our dear friends, the Motleys, who visited during the chaos.  Y’all, only good friends (who see you at your most stressed) can come visit you during such a crazy season. As if there wasn’t enough change in our lives, Donovan switched to a new house, new room, new bed (Toddler bed instead of the crib) and started a new school.  Homeslice did not know what hit him.

September

IMG_2830

This month is defined by one word: IRMA. Mic Drop.

OK, but really, so stressful.  We boarded up and traveled to South Carolina and stayed with my dear and very pregnant friend, Sarah.  We also ended up in the same town as my ride-or-die momma friend, Jen.  The photo above is us with the kids at a Chick-fila. Shortly after returning home, we all had the plague and were home sick for about two weeks. My baby sister, Rachel moved to Chicago.

October

We took a trip to Kansas to visit the Motley crew and celebrate Evey’s fourth birthday. We loved the Midwest fun at the farm. We literally finished the Whole30 days before the trip.  The 30 days of the Whole30 might have been the quietest part of our year…go figure. For Halloween, we dressed up as the Wizard of Oz. I was very proud that I was able to sew the boy’s costumes.

November

IMG_3841

I took a trip to Chicago for Leah’s rescheduled (Thanks, Irma) Bachelorette. She got married the next weekend.  It was a beautiful day and I was honored to stand by her side and her Matron on Honor. Sidenote…being the MOH is a ton of work. Other sidenote…I OFFICIALLY have a BROTHER!  Grandma Kimmy came back to help and so did Ashley. Thanksgiving was a wonderful season and we started Christmas early as we prepared for our big trip. PSA: check your passports before you book your trip. If you don’t, just know that Miami does same day issuance, which I do not recommend.

December

IMG_4579

Iceland and Sweden was amazing. I wish we could travel the world everyday. We loved sharing this trip with Grandma and Grandpa DeGroot.  We did not see the Norther Lights and we had very little snow (all that we saw was in this picture), but the kids had a blast and we all had so much fun.  Christmas through the eyes of your children is such a blessing and we enjoyed a beautiful and simple holiday. This year, most of our gifts didn’t fit under a tree because we did them (trip to Europe and our annual sister day). Doug also go a new car: a navy blue 4Runner.

For real estate, we helped 42 families buy or sell this year. And, together we reached our highest production ever!  That is called hustle, my friends.  And, we are forever thankful for our amazing customers, family and friends who chose us to help them.

While this year might look awesome and positive, do not let my recap lead you to believe that it was easy.  We were manic and stressed and tired and sick and crabby so much this year. Looking back, I am grateful for all that we did and everyone that we saw, but I do not recommend it. Be sensible people!  This year we will be saying ‘no’ more. We will be taking care of our family’s health (mental, spiritual, and physical) as our primary goal. We will be simplifying and staying still more often. And, I’m sure there will be adventure and fun, just maybe a little less.  And, that is A-OK with us!

WHEW!  What a year!  We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings us!

With Love,

Jenna

A letter to my boys on Inauguration Day

My dear sweet boys,

Today our country has a new president.  Every four or eight years a new one takes over the leadership of our country.  This year, Donald Trump is our new president and this is the first time you have witnessed this peaceful transfer of power.  While you might not be old enough to remember all that has occurred in electing Mr. Trump, I do want you to learn a few life lessons from this historic day.

Some people are celebrating today, while others are in mourning.  Some people are excited and happy, while others are fearful and scared.  People will always have different feelings.  People will always disagree. No event will ever elicit the same response from all people.  And that is ok.  People are different.  And, that is was makes life special.  Your feelings are always ok because they are your own.  Learning to accept and respect people who feel differently than you is a hard and, sometimes, frustrating thing to do.  You must always try.  People deserve respect even when they do not show you the same.

People will always have different opinions. As you form your own opinions, know that disagreement is natural.  When you meet people with an open mind and listening ears, you will learn. When you listen with empathy and speak with respect, you will gain more understanding and you will grow.  When you hear without listening or speak in a combative nature, you will shut down the opportunity to grow and will only become more rigid in your opinion, as right or wrong as it may be. I encourage you to always seek to learn and grow and pay close attention to the credibility of those sources.

It would be simple if life was reduced to a binary.  Right or wrong and good or bad are not that simple.  As you grow, I hope that we can teach you values and morals that will guide you to follow what we believe to be true.  But, never be foolish enough to think that your view of ‘right’ is true for every person.

We hope that you learn you treat others with kindness.  In both your words and your actions.  As a Christian, you will be asked to love your neighbor, which will be a challenging task sometimes.  People will not always be nice or respectful or kind to you.  Even when you meet them with nothing but kindness.  You will be asked to love them anyway. Not only will we encourage you to love them, we will teach you to show them kindness in return.  That is called integrity and class.

Losing will be part of life.  It isn’t fun.  Sometimes it will really hurt. Disappointment is not fun.  Even when you work your hardest, you may still lose. Winning is not everything.  When you lose you are forced to look at what you did and find ways to improve.  It gives you motivation and it reminds you that winning is not always the outcome.  When you do lose, even when it makes you mad, you must be a good sport.  You must show kindness to those who beat you.  You must not blame others and you must learn from the moment and work towards the future you want.

My boys, you are privileged.  You did not chose your race or your sex or the family that you have been born into.  You will receive advantages based on these characteristics. Whether it is the way you will be treated or the opportunities that you may have or the situations that you will never have to question.  And, although you did not ask to be treated any different, you must always remember that you are.  This might make you feel bad or guilty.  Those feelings are ok.  What you must remember is that “to whom much is given, much will be required.” You do not need to feel guilty but you do need to feel compassion and empathy for others.  You should speak up for others and you should be thoughtful in your words and actions.  And, if you feel called to do more, you should work to dismantle the systems and the prejudice that exists in our society and work to create a better tomorrow.  If that work isn’t what you desire, then at the very least, do not reinforce or condone actions that hurt or marginalize others.

Finally, my sweet boys, I pray that you always find hope.  The future is what you make it.  You have control of your life through your choices and your actions.  Never let factors outside of yourself cause you to feel like you are not in control.  You are not a victim of anything.  Being a victim is a choice.  You always have a choice.  Systems and situations seems so much bigger than us.  And, they are big and complicated.  Always remember that what you focus on expands and when you dwell in the darkness it becomes harder to see the light.

Donald Trump is our president, imperfect and flawed, just like each of us.  His choices and actions may not represent the values or expectations that we have for you.  Being a leader is a hard job.  Some people are more natural in these roles than others.  Some people inspire others and encourage them through their actions and words.  Pay attention to how Mr. Trump behaves and speaks.  Make note of how he makes you and others feel.  Learn from his example.  And, remember, as the president he deserves our respect.  As a person he deserves our love.  But, as a model of who I hope you will become, he is not.  Learn from this loss.  Find hope for tomorrow. And, never allow hate to motivate your life.

We love you, sweet boys.  We pray for you to grow up to be men of character, living lives filled with purpose and love.  We pray for our leader because all leaders need guidance and support.


With Love,

From Me To You