Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: A Big Year in Review

2011. It's a year that I'm positive I will look back on for the rest of my life and remember as a pivotal year in my life.  As the year draws to a close, I've been looking back over it and spending some time reflecting and remembering the good, the bad, the hard, the normal... It's been a big year. So for posterity, a recap of some of the major events of 2011 in our family:


Birthday Celebration: Lucas and Jacob turned 36, and we were all able to celebrate together with a night out eating pizza, bowling, and hitting the video arcade (lots of fun for kids old and young!). This was just one of many, many special times we were able to enjoy while Jacob and Laura were living in Siloam Springs. It was one of the sweetest parts of the year!

Little Rock: Toward the end of January, Lucas, Max, Maggie and I took a weekend trip to Little Rock, where Max and Maggie got to experience their first political rally at the Walk for Life at the state capitol, and Max got to hold some cold hard cash ($250,000!) at the state treasury. We also enjoyed a great visit with our good friends the Breitensteins as well as my grandparents in Malvern.

New Baby(ies)! We announced to the world that we were expecting our third baby, due around August 1st! We also celebrated that Jacob and Laura were expecting their first baby, due just two weeks later!


Snowmaggedon: Siloam Springs experienced record snow fall when we got about two feet of snow in one day! Lucas got stranded at work but managed to hitch and hike home to us, despite the crazy amount of snow. Max and Maggie LOVED playing in the snow! It was cold, folks. Really, really cold.

It's a Boy!: We found out that our new little one was a boy! Max was elated, Maggie was devastated, and Lucas and I were just thankful that he was healthy and on his way! Mom was able to come with me to the ultrasound, which was so special. She really thought it was going to be a girl!

Valentine's Day: We spent Valentine's Day in the hospital with my mom. She had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance on February 12 when she suddenly showed signs of a stroke at home with my Dad. We learned a couple days later that her cancer had spread extensively throughout her brain, and her doctors said there were no more treatment options and sent her home to hospice care.

My mom received this news and the subsequent days with more grace than I could have imagined. In retrospect, I see what a gift she gave us. As was the habit of her life, in the midst of what must have been more difficult for her than I can imagine, she faced it all with humility and grace and courage and dignity. I believe she did this not only by the power of the Holy Spirit and out of a desire to honor God every moment, but also in order to make it all as easy as possible for her family. The whole world could not have contained the respect I had for her in her final days on this earth.

Sacred and Excrutiating: We spent the last two weeks of February and the first two weeks of March caring for my mom as she was dying. These were sweet, sacred, exhausting and excruciating days. I would not have traded those days by her side for anything in this old world. 

I think this is the last picture ever taken of us, just a couple weeks before she died. We were at Mitch's restaurant, Smoke, where she was enjoying two of her greatest joys in life: her entire family together and a gourmet meal.


March 14, 2001: My Mom went home to Jesus.  My dad and brothers and I were gathered around her, and just a few minutes after her death, a loud clap of thunder filled the sky, as if to announce her departure from this universe. I was so thankful to be there with her at the very end. Lucas' Dad and Maria had come from California for the whole week prior to her death to help with Max and Maggie so I could just be with my mom. It's a gift I'll never forget. The next few days after her death were a strange mixture of difficult and relieving. It was such a relief to know that her pain and suffering and battling were finished; that she had finished this race so very well. But the thought of my whole life stretching out in front of me without my mom there to share it was (and is) simply overwhelmingly sad.

Kansas City: Before we knew my mom was entering hospice, some of my dearest friends and I had planned and booked a girls' weekend away in Kansas City. I wasn't sure how it was all going to work out, but God did. Less than two weeks after my mom died, I was away with these dear gals, and it was exactly what I needed. I was able to meet Amy's newest son, and these friends were so tender and caring with me after such a difficult month.


Royal Wedding: Laura, Maggie and I made a little event of the Royal Wedding together. We got up at 4:30 to go to our local English Tea Room to watch the ceremony live. But the Tea Room was packed so we came back home and watched it together. It was a special memory for my own little princess. :-)

3-2-1 Blastoff!: When Lucas heard that NASA was discontinuing the Space Shuttle program, he began planning to take Max on a road trip to Florida to see one of the final shuttle launches at the Kennedy Space Center. At the end of April, Lucas and Max and our good friend Paul set off on their space adventure. After driving right through historic tornadoes in Alabama and getting stranded at a hotel with no electricity or gasoline available for a 50 mile radius, they finally made it to Florida. The shuttle launch ended up being delayed a whole week and they were not able to stay that long, but they did get to visit the shuttle on the launch pad and immerse themselves in all things space for a few days. I know it's an experience Maximus (and Lucas!) will never forget!


On the Move.... AGAIN: With the help of some very selfless family and friends, Lucas and I made our eighth move in eight years of marriage. We now call a beautiful house in Siloam Springs home, and we hope to for many decades to come. We are so thankful for and LOVE our new home that God so generously and miraculously provided for us to buy. And as this completely and utterly exhausted pregnant woman moved the last few boxes from the car to the new garage, I burst into tears and told Lucas, "I never want to move again until I move to Heaven!" May it be so.

Celebrating Baby Sweetie: I had the pure joy of hosting a baby shower for Laura the second week in our brand new home! Celebrating this new little life was one of the things that really kept me smiling on some sad days.

Making Music: My sweet niece Susan and Nephew Jackson performed wonderfully at our little piano recital at the end of our year of piano lessons together! I love these two and have been so thankful for the opportunity to teach them.

Beach or Bust: While we were waist-deep in boxes and packing paper as we were preparing to move, my very wise husband booked us a 5-day getaway to Cancun, Mexico for two weeks after we moved. Coming off some of the most difficult months of my life with my mom's death and a move during my third trimester of pregnancy, this trip was an extravagant gift to me in every way. My dear and also very pregnant sister-in-law Laura kept Max and Maggie for nearly a week so that Lucas and I could go and have the time to truly rest and invest some much-needed time for our marriage after a difficult year. I read three books, sat on the beach, slept A LOT and took time to really stop and cry about my mom for the first time and also mentally and emotionally prepare for bringing a new baby home. I'm not sure I would have made it through the spring without this trip. I believe more firmly than ever that the ocean is good for the soul. Especially for 30-weeks-pregnant souls. And sipping frozen beverages while lounging under grass-topped beach umbrellas can't hurt, either. :-)

Unfortunately, all our photos from our trip were inadvertently sacrificed to a computer malfunction, except for this one of Lucas. We had some really gorgeous ones, but I guess you'll just have to trust me on this one. It was paradise.


I honestly can't remember what we did in June. I guess we unpacked the rest of our house, set up a nursery, did laundry, cooked meals, scrubbed toilets and caught up on all the other normal duties of life.


RICE: Roebucks Initiate Creative Entertainment 2011 in Roswell, New Mexico: Jacob and Laura and Laura's parent's Bill and Polly hosted an off-the-charts awesome friend reunion in their Roswell, NM home over the July 4th holiday weekend. We were thrilled to have my Dad join us for the weekend, and Max and Maggie got to play with some of their favorite little buddies and we grown-ups got to catch up with some of our favorite long-time friends. We were so thankful for all the work the Roebucks and Hartmans did to host the event, and for all the friends who were able to travel from all over the country to be together this summer!

Sisters and Showers: Just a few days after returning from Roswell, several of Lucas' brothers and their wives and his Mom and Tony converged on our new house to enjoy a wonderful family weekend together! Some sweet friends hosted a baby shower for me (Thanks, Allison and Christine!) and timed it so that many of my wonderful sisters-in-law could come, too. For someone who grew up with all boys, I sure am rich in sisterhood these days!

Maggie's Graduation: A couple weeks before Alexander was born, Maggie and I spent a whole day together doing all her favorite things. We called it her graduation from being the baby of the family to being a big sister. We went to the pet store, the book store, had lunch together, had ice cream and saw the movie Winnie the Pooh together. It was such a special day!

Welcome, Alexander James Roebuck!: On July 28th, we welcomed our third child into the world! He weighed 8 lbs. 4 oz and was born at 1:28 p.m. My labor and delivery with him were the smoothest yet, and he hasn't stopped making life as easy as possible for us since day one. He is truly the World's Best Baby. I know I'm his mom and I'm probably biased. But really, he is. The world's. best. baby. Besides a little scare of some extreme weight loss during his first week of life and our subsequent realization that he was not going to be able to be breastfed, we've had a very smooth transition to life as a family of five. Xander is my pure delight, and has been God's grace to me in every possible way for this year. Experiencing new life has been so incredibly important for me during this year of grief.

My mom's sister, Carol, came and spent the two weeks leading up to Alexander's birth with me and was with me during labor. She let me hang onto her while I got the epidural and held my hand throughout the day. I can't tell you what it meant to me to have her there on a day when I was missing my mother so fiercly. I was so grateful.

 Lucas' mom was also such a help! She came and kept Max and Maggie while we were in the hospital and was waiting for us at home when we brought Alexander home from the hospital. I was so thankful for her!
Heat Wave:  It was hot, folks. Really, really hot.

First Day of School: Max started kindergarten about two weeks after Alexander was born. We were thrilled to find out that he would have Mrs. Fox as his teacher, not only because she is a great teacher, but also because she was a good friend of my mom's when they both taught kindergarten at Northside together. We could also hardly believe it when we learned that Max would also be in the same class with his very best friend, Jakin, and also two other friends, Anna and Laura. We could not have asked for a better first school experience for him. It has been everything we prayed for and more! We are thankful! Max is thriving in school, and like his Daddy and his mommy, he loves to write. He received The Respect Award, and we were so proud and thankful for how well he is doing in school.

New High School: We got to attend the dedication of the new Siloam Springs High School, an event that was really important to my Dad. He and his colleagues have worked so hard to make this beautiful facility a reality, and it was fun to share their excitement at the dedication.

 Grandpa and Abuelita Visit: We loved having Lucas' Dad and Maria visit us for a week to meet Alexander and celebrate Max and Maggie's birthdays with a joint birthday fiesta! Max and Maggie got their first bikes.

Welcome, Penelope!: Jacob and Laura's first child was born on August 28- Maggie's 4th birthday! I was literally sobbing with joy at the news of her birth. Lucas wasn't sure if I was going to be OK. After I composed myself a bit, he asked me whether I thought it was strange that I cried harder at the birth of Laura's baby than I had at the birth of my own baby. At that point, I was just too giddy to answer.


Back to Roswell: Once again, my husband proved his super-star husband status by buying me a plane ticket to fly me and Alexander out to see Laura and meet Penelope when she was just two weeks old and Alexander was six weeks old. It was one of the most special few days of my life. Laura's grandma told us we were just like two little girls playing house with our baby dolls.


Settling in: October was pretty low-key. Alexander learned to sleep through the night (yay!), and I turned 32. More laundry, cooking, cleaning, disciplining, baby-caring, etc.

My little package of pure joy for 2011

Surprise!: We planned a surprise birthday party for my dad. It has obviously been an incredibly difficult year for him as well, and it felt so good to bring just a little bit of sunshine his way during some lonely days.

Kansas City: Lucas and I had planned a little getaway to Kansas City and were going to leave Max and Maggie with his mom, but Maggie got sick at the last minute and so we ended up having to change our plans and make it a little family getaway. It ended up being some great family time together. We were also able to swing by Lucas' Mom and Tony's new home in Missouri to visit them. What a gorgeous spot they've found! The kids loved raking leaves with Gramma.


Women's Retreat: I had the joy of leading worship at an overnight women's retreat for our church. It might have been a bit ambitious to do this with a three month old, but I was thrilled to be a part of it, and Alexander was a champ as usual. And the ladies were all very gracious with me as I muddled through. :-)

Denver for Turkey: We took our first major road trip as a family of five to Denver for a Huckaby family Thanksgiving. Joe and Tammy are awesome hosts, and we all had a fabulous time together!


Introducing Xander to Great Mama and Great Papa: I got to make a whirlwind trip to Little Rock to introduce Alexander to my grandparents and also visit my dear friend Janel before she and John move their family to Uganda in a few weeks.

Look Who's Reading!: Maggie surprised us all when she started full-blown reading this month! I knew she was learning certain words here and there, but I was shocked one day when she picked up the package from a cookie mix we were making and began reading the directions to me! I pulled out a few simple readers with her and found that, yes, my four-year-old can read simple words. I'll admit it, I'm the overly-proud parent... but this just makes me so happy! My mom would have LOVED hearing her read. It's so fun to see these second-born kids pick things up so quickly as they learn along with their older siblings!

Dees family Christmas celebration: It was hard without my mom, but we did it.... And even had a really special time in spite of missing her so very much. It felt like a milestone for our family, and I'm glad it's done. It was the last major holiday we had to do without her for the first time.

Christmas with our Little Family: If this photo doesn't make you smile.... well, then you must not be the mom to these kids. At the end of a tough year, I've got these smiling faces to wake up with every single morning, and I'm thankful. It's been a particularly meaningful Christmas for me, as I've had to stop in the midst of grieving my mom and simply be grateful for the hope that Christ brought at His humble birth.

Here we are in all our Christmas morning splendor! Ha!
Maggie said her favorite part of Christmas this year was baking together.
Waking up their Dad: "Time for presents! Time for presents!"

 And that's it, friends. 2011 in a rather large nutshell. I know for sure that I wouldn't have made it through 2011 without all the love and prayer and help from so many of you.

As with so many things this year, I have mixed emotions about closing out 2011. On one hand, I'm just glad we made it... And thankful that God has been so faithful. On the other hand, I sort of hate to say goodbye to the final year that I shared with my mom here on this earth. I know we'll open up 2012 with lots of wonderful things to look forward to, but it makes me sad to think that this will be the first year that my mom will not share any part of our lives. But then I remember that this whole life is just a blip on the radar or eternity, and we'll all be back together soon.

Thank you, friends, for following along as I recapped our year. It's good, free therapy. :-) I hope your 2012 brings many, many good things to your lives!