The 2015 Year End Christmas Card Letter

No, I don't have one for 2015 yet. I need a little more time.

No, I don’t have one for 2015 yet. I need a little more time.

Remember how excited I was to see last year end? I wanted to take the 2014 chapter of leaving my beloved Virginia, saying good-bye to all of our friends and family, moving to California, beginning home school, having messed up fingers, the return of the chronic pain, and being a stress machine and burn that chapter in the fire!

No, I’m not being dramatic. 2014 was not my favorite.

2015 was different. It wasn’t easy, but it was abundantly blessed. Home schooling was still hard, but I lowered my blood pressure about it, for sure. We made new friends. We grew in patience, and character, and love for one another.

The boys at the San Diego Zoo, with the sweet baby of one of my college roommates! Good-bye shouldn’t be forever.

–I saw that I can change the character problems in my children by simply working on the character problems in myself. Flip out Mom meant Flip out kids. We turned that around even better than I expected in 2015…..

….which means I met my one major goal of 2015: to chill. No, I know. You may have seen me lose it a time or two. I can be emotional. However, let’s just say if you thought that was bad, you obviously didn’t spend much time with 2014 April.

–My children are sweeter than ever.

–And because they are home constantly, and I figured out that I cannot actually ever “do it all,” I taught them to do more chores.

Oh, and also I hired a part-time nanny. Best decision ever!! Analise comes every single Friday, and she is something I like even better than strict. She is FUN, and the boys love her already. She plays with them. What do I do when she comes? Well, I go to physical therapy, the chiropractor, or doctor appointments….yeah..



–John David is so well pee-trained that he wakes us up in the middle of the night to take him to the potty. Every silver lining has a cloud….



That was Day 1. He wears a helmet now. I promise.

–Daniel, at the tender age of 4, taught himself how to ride a bike, refusing to let us help him.


–Caleb developed a love for playing baseball (Daniel did too.), and they all made so many new friends right on our street, that I still feel like I hardly see them! They spend so much time on their bikes and getting poison oak in the woods.

Don’t worry. We’re taking a long, necessary break from the woods.


Father’s Day Lunch in Destin

–Joshua taught us to remember the poor and helped me so much with his little brothers that he could almost be on the payroll.

road trip with friends

(I realize I look goofy, but you should know that is not uncommon for me.)

–Alan and I both made more friends, and for two sanguines like us that is more important than I know how to explain.


–We had visits with all the grandparents, visits with friends from far away, a trip to LegoLand,a vacation in Florida, and 2 trips to Yosemite.


happy moments

–Alan is now head basketball coach for Joshua and Caleb’s team. That’s right. They finally get to play on the same team.

–Inspiring books were read. People came into our lives who taught us so much that we can never be exactly the same. Don’t you love friends like that?

–I’m telling you, God moved in our lives this year.


–And I feel like I am finally learning to say no to crazy. I’ll never voluntarily sign up for another thing that I don’t have the emotional, physical, and realistic capability to handle.

–So even with the medical problems, the frustrations of unrealistic expectations, and the home-sickness that does not end, 2015 is not a chapter that I close with any eagerness. It is a chapter that I will hide in my heart and think back on for the rest of my life. I only hope that every year could be this rewarding. 

18And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Luke 2:18-20

I hope you all had a year of growth and wonder too. I pray that each of you will have some happy moment from this year to keep in your hearts as we move into 2016. We miss you all so much! Merry Christmas!  


Much Love,

Alan, April, Joshua, Caleb, Daniel, and JD


Christmas, for the Love

for the love of Christmas

Christmas, for the love

Sweet moments of Christmas past

It’s time for my annual, “You can do this Christmas traveling thing” pep talk. Did you know that by January of 2015, we DID have every single one of our 12 suitcases that we had flown with?

I sweated out the traveling, but as usual, it was not so bad. I don’t even think we went to the Emergency Room last Christmas, and we have visited our share of Emergency Rooms on Christmas breaks. Yep, we have visited ERs in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky (or was it Tennessee…or North Carolina?), and Virginia over Christmas vacation.

No, this year is going to be happy, healthy, and bright like last year. I have faith.


“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”   1 John 4:10-11

Tomorrow I’m going to do something that sounds, even to me, a little bit bonkers.

I am going to board an airplane with all four of my boys, ranging in age from 2 to 10, and fly nonstop California to Georgia, for the second time this year, and Alan isn’t joining us until a week later.  When I arrive, my parents will be there to pick us up. Then we will all 6 ride in one mini-van, with a giant wheelchair lift on back, to my parents’ house, 4 hours away from the airport.


Christmas, for the love

Christmas 2012 with grands

The kids are beside themselves with JOY. They can’t wait!


Christmas, 2011

I have mixed feelings, like I do every year. Why do I do this to myself?

For the love. For the love, for the love, for the love.

Christmas, for the love

Daniel and his great-grandma, 2012

Family is the best, because we get to relax. So the kids watch too much t.v. and play too much Wii over Christmas. Go for it, kids. It’s freezing out there, and I want to go lay down.

Mom and Dad fully know that I will sleep every bit as late as John David will allow me to do so. Maybe even 9 AM!!! 10, if I can get away with it. And then I might take a nap again later…

Mom and Dad totally expect my boys to eat them out of house and home, and they are prepared for that. I get texted about 15 grocery questions before our arrival.

Christmas, 2011

Dan and his granddaddy, 2011

For the love. They love us.

Christmas, for the love

Joshua, getting love from his Aunt Ellen

How could you not love a family like ours? We have all the classics! Dad will be sleeping in his recliner, Mom will bake, and the boys will be all excited and running around in circles. I will be walking around, trying to monitor their sugar intake, a fruitless effort at Christmas, really.

Christmas, for the love

2012. The year Amy and I were both pregnant.

Once we finish visiting my parents, we will visit Alan’s family. That’s a much bigger family. We will be sharing a house with TWELVE people there.

Christmas, for the love

11 of the 12.

Mother Teresa said that if we all went home and loved our families, as they are, just loved them for who they are and took care of them, we would not need all the charity organizations.

Love. It is the most powerful force in the universe. You can’t live on this earth and not experience it, because God is here, and He is love.

Christmas, for the love

2009. I’m telling you Caleb was the biggest 2-year-old EVER.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”   1 John 3:18

Christmas, for the love

2014 That’s still my favorite shirt. I gotta be careful not to wear it on picture day..


 2012...I think.

Daniel, and his ridiculously pretty cousin

By the way, last year I was blessed so much by this trip that all of my pain went away from New Year’s until May! I thought my hip and shoulder problems were truly over, I felt so great. I’m hoping for a repeat of that! No pressure or anything!

Whoo-hoo! Let’s do this Christmas thing!


Yes, that’s me. 1982ish.




Stories of Our Boys’ 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

12 days of christmas

A new dishwasher courtesy of housing!!!

(This was life changing, I tell you.)

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a four-year-old that can clip his own nails!

12 days of christmas

YES!! (and a two-year old eating a car…)

On the 3rd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a little boy lifting a Batcave.

12 days of Christmas

Strong man!

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me two little soldiers

12 days of christmas

Remember these uniforms??

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 5 bags of produce!!!

12 days of Christmas

(That’ll last us like 2 days.)

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me ….well…I don’t know what to call this


On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to JD seven little rashes…

12 Days of Christmas

(or 8 or 9 or 10 rashes… This is what Fifth Disease looks like. It’s really just a fancy name for a cold with a rash. You’re welcome for this lesson on childhood illnesses…)

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 8 little teeth marks on a giant block of cheese….


A giant rodent named Daniel broke into the cheese. Notice the teeth marks. Dan has 3 top front teeth. He literally has an extra tooth.


On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 9 black-eye peas


On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 10 cows mooing Christmas songs

12 days of Christmas

Ok. Thankfully, only one.

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 11 presents wrapped by my children.

12 days of Christmas

Dan wrote “Josh”!

12 days of Christmas

“To: Mom = Love Daniel”


On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 Scrabble Junior tiles…

12 days of christmas

to eat for a snack. Yummy!            

Merry Christmas, everyone! Here’s a video for ya. Email subscribers, be sure to click through to the website to see the adorable 20 second movie of JD and his singing cow.








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