Top 10 of 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, I've been reflecting on everything that's happened this year. 2016, though not the best year on a global scale, was an extremely life-changing year for me. There were a lot of changes, a lot of adjustments, and a lot of amazing memories.

In chronological order, these are my top ten moments of 2016 (spoiler alert: they all involve my kids):

1.) Becoming A Mom

these were taken about a month after they came to live with us -- they're such babies! *sob*

This one is probably the most obvious. Those of you who have been reading this blog regularly that through the many years I've been struggling with infertility, my biggest dream has been to become a mother. In February, the foster care system made that a reality, when we welcomed Eric and Jeffery into our home, lives, and hearts (well, they were both already in our hearts, and Eric had been in our lives for a few months, but knowing (of) them and waiting for them are definitely an entirely different ballgame from actually having them. Those boys are, without a doubt, the best thing that has ever happened to me.

2.) My First Mother's Day

Despite the fact that I was wallowing in self-pity a bit that day (the linked post explains it in a way that doesn't *entirely* make me sound like a douchecanoe -- I *think*), my first Mother's Day definitely changed me (and Tom gave me a super thoughtful, heartfelt gift that truly symbolizes what our family has become).

3.) Jeffery's Birthday Party

Jeffery's birthday party was a wonderful day that we got to celebrate with many of the people most dear to us, and a special gift from his Uncle Todd (a Kalisto mask) made my baby's face light up in a way I had never seen before (and boy, do I love when those boys smile -- dimples for days!).

4.) The Boys' First Day(s) Of School

These days were actually pretty bittersweet for me. Eric had already been in preschool three mornings a week when we got him, but this year, he is at preschool every afternoon. It hit me that this is his last year of preschool; he'll be in kindergarten next year, and I'm already not ready to handle it. Jeffery's first day pulled some similar emotions out of me; he aged out of First Steps the day before preschool started, and it was a little hard to accept that my baby was all ready to go to preschool like a big boy (it was made even more difficult when we dropped him off, and he turned around and waved us off, saying, "You go now" -- I had been crying the night before, and I definitely cried then!). It's hard watching my boys grow up sometimes, especially because I didn't get to see a significant portion of their lives sometimes, but their first day of school was good, because it served as a reminder of how far they've come and how much they've grown.

5.) Watching The Boys Fall In Love With Toy Story

photo taken by a Disney PhotoPass photographer

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of all things Disney, so it's not a surprise that we watch a lot of Disney films as a family. Though it's not one of my *very* favorites, Tom and I both grew up on Toy Story and love the films, so we made sure the boys saw all three. They really enjoyed them.

It made sense to us, then, to book the Toy Story section of the All-Star Movies Resort when we took the boys to Disney World in September (I've been trying to get a post up about it for weeks, but the trip did NOT get off to a good start, so I've been trying to decide what should be included and what should be cut, for brevity's sake). We ended up arriving at the resort after midnight, but even then, in their half-asleep stupor, they were in awe of the giant Buzz and Woody in the courtyard! Our first ride in the parks ended up being Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (we all rode it twice during the trip, and Eric and I rode it an extra time while Jeffery was sleeping before we left Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party), and of course, they got to meet Buzz Lightyear afterward (unfortunately, we didn't get to meet Woody on that trip, but we hope to next time)! They liked Toy Story before, but they came back LOVING it. Before we even got home, Eric said that he wanted to be Buzz for Halloween; Jeffery wanted to be Woody. So they were. They got Buzz and Woody ornaments for the Christmas tree this year (they got Buzz and Woody t-shirts too, but the Woody shirt hasn't found its way here yet). They have become the cutest little Toy Story fans, and I am more than happy to indulge this love!

6.) Seeing The Boys Meet Mickey Mouse

photo taken by a Disney PhotoPass photographer

It might be cheating to use two different things from our Disney trip, but this was my favorite part of the whole trip. I left the room sobbing happy tears. Jeffery is all about Mickey (his birthday party might have been an indication), but Eric really loves Mickey too. They were both SO excited to meet the main mouse, and they were so thrilled that he was able to talk to them (we met Mickey at the Town Square Theater, where he likes to be chatty)! Jeffery had been saying for weeks that he wanted to do the Hot Dog Dance with Mickey; he asked Mickey to do it, and Mickey not only did it, but sang the song. He was so sweet with them, and they were so happy to get to interact with him. It was amazing for Tom and I too, because we were all meeting Mickey for the first time! It was a very emotional moment, and I'm so blessed that we got to share that with our boys.

7.) Our First Family Trip To The Pumpkin Patch

With a lot of holiday-related activities, we don't know if the boys have ever done them before. For many, we can assume the answer is "no", but we can never be quite sure. One activity that we knew we wanted to share with them was a trip to Exploration Acres, our favorite local pumpkin patch! The boys loved choosing pumpkins, playing in the corn and hay, and going through the corn maze! This is something Tom and I have always enjoyed (well, we usually don't play in the corn and hay), but it was really special to share it with the boys!

8.) Eric's Birthday Party

Eric had been looking forward to his birthday for months. As with Jeffery's birthday, we enjoyed celebrating with loved ones and sharing this important milestone with them. I loved seeing how much he loved the Pokémon party I put together for him, and how much he loved the Megazord we got him!

9.) Adopting The Boys

National Adoption Day is November 19th, but that was on a Saturday this year, so our county celebrated November 17th instead (I'm not sure why they didn't do it the 18th -- maybe they don't do adoptions on Fridays). And that was the day that our boys officially became Greens. It was quick, nerve-wracking, and joyous. We are extremely happy that adoption day is now in the past!

10.) Celebrating Christmas With The Boys

We're just coming off of Christmas, but as busy as it was, it was a magical experience. I live for cheesy Christmas traditions, but Tom has always thought they were lame if you didn't have kids. Well this year, we had kids, so he was doing cheesy things with us! We wrote letters to Santa, decorated gingerbread houses, went to the town Christmas parade, looked at lights, watched many Christmas movies, decorated the tree together, and so much more. We were also able to incorporate the boys into the Christmas Eve traditions that Tom and I have shared in our years together (jammies, which have been a tradition in my family for many years; board games (we normally play scrabble, but this year, we played Hi Ho Cherry-O and Little Dory Goes Home; and The Muppet Christmas Carol).

2016 was a crazy year with a lot of ups and downs, but it's a year that will go down in my personal history as one of my favorites, all because of the two little boys that I love most. I can't wait to see what 2017 has in store!

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