Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas letter 2015

I can hardly believe that the end of another year is almost upon us! In my ideal world you would all personally receive a beautiful Christmas card and letter from our family, thanking you for your support and love throughout the year, but sadly time and money don't allow that so this blog will have to suffice.

What a year it has been...

As we were making the long drive to MN yesterday I kept thinking back to this time last Christmas. We were in the very beginnings of our adoption process and I spent the majority of our drive making burlap wreaths.

My heart is filled with such awe this Christmas as the two children that we were dreaming of one day holding this time last year, are now safe, loved like crazy, and getting to experience the magic of Christmas in a family for the very first time. I am also thankful there's no blisters on my hands this year from working tirelessly on fundraising projects. Last year the mountain looked so big, so impossible, but it was nothing compared to the relentless love of our God for His children.

Here is a little update on all us Maxwell's before we close the chapter of another year and excitedly enter a new one.

Ivan Abraham (8) Probably the biggest change for Ivan, besides welcoming his new brother and sister this year has been starting school. It was very difficult for me to put him on that big bus, but school is proving to be a huge blessing to him and to our whole family. You will never meet a child who loves school more!! While the other children try to sleep on his early morning bus ride, he gets on yelling “Good morning!! I go to school today!!” He is in a regular kindergarten class most of his day and then goes to a different room for therapies and to work on specific things. His teachers and therapists all love him and can’t believe what a hard worker he is. His favorite classes are art, computer, and music. He’s learning to write his letters and his name. We could not be more proud of our boy and look forward to new milestones this coming year.

Our cat, Lexi decided to get in our Christmas photos without us noticing.

  Gresham Allister (4) It is very hard to believe this boy has only been with us for such a short time (came home in July). Him and Landon are best friends and Landon refuses to play without him, which can cause some controversy now that Gresham is learning he has his own voice and he doesn’t always want to do what Landon wants. He is a little peanut and only weighed 20 Ibs when we brought him home. He is still tiny, but is starting to put on a little weight and has already grown a couple pants sizes. He really wants to learn whatever he can and constantly asks what things are or what we’re doing. He is soaking up all the information and his English is rapidly expanding. We were overjoyed to find out that his heart is in a very good condition and wont need any interventions any time soon. He will be having surgery on his droopy eyelid this coming Summer, but after that we don’t anticipate anymore surgeries. He is such a sweet and fun little boy. He has added so much to our family and truly now we can't imagine life before our rambunctious "twins".

Landon Anthony (3) And then there’s our Landon. Oh this boy!! It is so fun watching him grow up. His personality just seems to get more exuberant each year. He is our early riser and wakes up each morning with an energy and excitement for the day that is almost too much to stand, (especially before having my morning coffee). He never stops talking and has no concept of what it means to whisper despite how hard we try to teach him. He constructs the most elaborate tracks for his cars and trains, loves doing puzzles, and quizzing/teaching Gresham the names of animals and construction equipment. He is our comedian child and always has Ryan and I laughing. He just loves life and we love life with this crazy little boy!!

EmarieJoy (2) That first pic of our princess didn't make the actual Christmas card this year, but I can't resist including it here because it is one of her favorite faces to make, she was just so happy to get a pretzel haha!! This girl was named appropriately as joy truly does just radiate from her. She mostly goes by Emma now as that is what all her big brothers call her. She has been doing amazing since her heart surgery in November and clearly looks and feels SO much better. She is starting to pull up to standing all by herself and those little legs are getting stronger by the day. She is a total mama's girl, but she loves being silly with her daddy and playing peek-a-boo or getting tickles from her adoring brothers. She knows many signs, but is starting to use words as well. I can't believe how much she has changed in 5 months! She is already starting to lose her babiness and is quickly growing into the little toddler she should be... right in time to take on that big sister title :)

Ryan, me, and baby #5 Ryan is still really enjoying his job at CW structural and has turned into quite the handy man at home. His latest project has been expanding the boys' room and making them bunk beds. I still work at Dunn Bros a couple nights a week, which I love. I'll be taking a break once baby is born, but just until we find our new normal and Ryan feels comfortable putting FIVE kiddos to bed (He is the bedtime master in our home!) We're busy getting everything ready for our new addition to make her entrance in February. If you were to ask me three weeks ago how I was feeling about this pregnancy I would of said it's going too fast, but now at 31 weeks we are all feeling ready for baby girl to come and join our crazy clan.

This past year has not been without it's grueling challenges and shocking surprises, but through it all we have experienced God's presence with us.

Immanuel, "God with us."

That is the reason we celebrate this time of year.

Without that knowledge and belief I truly doubt our family would have survived 2015.

And that is the reason we can look forward to 2016 with hopeful hearts.

I don't know how your year has been. I suspect, like ours, it was a mixture of joyous times and many really hard and long days, but my prayer for each of you who reads this blog would be that you would discover the true depth of Immanuel.

God with us.

Not just as a baby born in a dirty manger, but with us in our everyday messy lives.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!!

Love, the Maxwell's