Friday, December 22, 2023

Happy Holidays


Here we are at the end of December. I have months of life to catch up on here, pictures to share, children's activities tell all about. Admittedly, life has been hectic. 2023 was quite a life changing year. We've been busy living in the moments, which hasn't left much time to go back and recap for my faithful followers. I'll get to it eventually, so I'll only apologize for my tardiness.

We took a break from traveling this year and instead focused on building our life at home and in the community.  We did fit in a couple of trips to Minnesota and a trip to St. Louis (where we totaled yet another Highlander, thus leading us back to minivan life. If you need any tips on handling insurance after an accident and navigating car buying in a terrible market, I'm your gal). It was a huge year of growth for all five of us. Hiking weekends and day trips through Iowa took a backseat to work, community events, school activities, and friends.  I went into this year expecting to take it easy, breathe, and fully immerse myself in every moment. I can say the last goal was the only one we successfully hit. 

Max, age 15. At 6'2, he's now the tallest in the family. He became heavily involved in his school's art program and most recently, theater. He performed in the fall play of The Crucible and a stage reading of The Man Who Came To Dinner. His next feat will be competing in IHSSA this winter. He began a job at the Des Moines Children's Museum over the summer, where he occasionally has to work with mom. His days are quite busy between AP courses, work, theater, painting, and hanging out with friends. 

Harrison, age 13. The big news this week is that H finally hit 5'1. Yes, there's quite a height difference in our family! This fall Harrison made his way back into the dance studio and is enjoying his tap and jazz classes. He likes to gossip and spends a lot of time with friends or on the phone with them. No, actually video calls. He's in his last year of band playing the flute. The last few weeks have been busy with choosing high school courses for next year and career planning. Overall, he's ready to be done with middle school and move onto high school.

Elizabeth, age 11. Middle school called her and she loves nearly every part of it. She's still heavily involved in dance and is currently in tap, ballet, jazz, and lyrical. When she's not dancing, you can find her watching YouTube shorts, playing her clarinet, trying new hairstyles, and putting on make up. She may be the most introverted of the minis and must have time to recharge in between socializing. She's also the most likely to get home from school, throw her back pack, and run out the door to hang out with her friends. 

Matt, we're not mentioning age. Matt is still with Cintas and chose to go back on a route over the summer. He was over his unpredictable schedules. Now, he has most Fridays off and gets to take over carpool duties.

Ashlen, age 39. Ashlen wrote a book, learned to write query letters, decided not to publish and instead made the decision to close her daycare to start a new career path. She left the Board of Directors of the Des Moines Children's Museum after six years and took a job as their Programs and Events Director. It's a place near and dear to her, so the switch from small business owner/daycare provider to wear-all-the-hats person has been a surprisingly easy adjustment. Somewhere in the middle of all that, she started a podcast (Playfully Persistent) with Julie about the Children's Museum. For the first time in her adult life, she owns more dresses and business clothes than she does sweat pants. 

Zeus, age 3; Thor, Athena, and Flora, age 1. This was a hard year for all four furry best friends. We've been battling depressed animals (Zeus) and separation anxiety (Thor and Flora) with all of the changes, but they're managing. Zeus gets extra cuddles and treats, but thoroughly misses his little friends and hiking adventures. Thor is a "mommy's boy" and follows her around everywhere. He also discovered his love for the outdoors and now cries to go outside. Athena is mischievous and Flora is forever the scaredy cat who loves her preferred people (Max, Ashlen, and sometimes Elizabeth). A few weeks ago, Ashlen was watching a video on her phone and a baby in the video started crying. All four animals woke up from their naps and ran to windows and doors, looking alarmed. Zeus and Thor went right to Ashlen and tried to alert her to the crying child. We think they will forever be "daycare animals." All of the changes have hit them the hardest.

As the year draws to a close, I think about all that has happened: the good, the bad, the really bad, the challenging, the fears, the unknowns, and everything I can't remember. They've all been felt, they've all been conquered, and they've all made us better. Thank you to those who add to our lives, who have been in our lives the last year, who played a role in our story. We are lucky and feel the love from each one of you. 

Happy Holidays to all!

The Sheaffers