Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

Loved ones 2011

Well, Christmas is over and I’m just now writing so this is now the New Year Livingston update! I hope everybody had a wonderful time of relaxation, ate lots of junk food, and enjoyed sweet time with family and friends. We have enjoyed ourselves as much as possible with several mostly sick family members and a veritable monsoon that has settled over Mississippi for the past 3 days. I’m ready for sunny skies!

I will attempt to recap our 2011 in a reasonable amount of time. If you know me at all, though, you’ll know I have the gift of gab and that sometimes translates to print. Sorry ‘bout that!

You may recall from last year’s letter that Isaac has been involved in Speed Stacking after being introduced to the sport (yes, it is a sport!) by his PE coach at school. Well, the World Speed Stacking Championship was held in Dallas in April so we decided to take Isaac and let him compete in the open competition that was being held at the same time. It was lots of fun. He did really well for someone who had only been stacking for a couple of months. He came back with a zeal for starting a speed stacking team so with a little help from Eric, Isaac created a Power Point presentation. He pitched the idea to his principal and PE coach at the end of the school year. There are now 2 speed stack clubs at his elementary school: one for 4th graders and one for 5th graders. It’s the highlight of his week. We’ll be having a tournament in Feb. If you’re in the neighborhood, come see! It’s lots of fun to watch. Isaac loves school, has a good group of friends, and is actually looking forward to middle school next year. (I am not, by the way, but I try to maintain a happy face whenever the subject comes up) Isaac has officially attained the height of 5’3”. This is significant because it’s how tall I am. I’m sure he’ll pass me by Spring Break. Sniff, sniff…

Ethan loves life and making folks smile with his dazzling dimples. He is now in 2nd grade and has a wonderful teacher who is absolutely perfect for him. He is playing UPWARD basketball again for the 2nd year in a row and has lots of fun with that. He has been sick for the past 6 weeks or so. Mostly he seems to stay congested in his sinuses but then that causes ear infections which cause him to be miserable. Ethan was on antibiotics for 5 weeks (3 different ones) and while the infection cleared up, the fluid in his ears never went away. This has greatly affected his hearing. According to a hearing test done last week, he has moderate hearing loss in his right ear (typical of one with fluid in there) but severe hearing loss in his left (more than what they expect to see with just fluid). We are so thankful that a sweet friend in our small group from church is also an ENT. She is going to be removing his tonsils and adenoids as well as draining his ears and putting in tubes on January 3rd. Prayers are definitely coveted here. Isaac’s tonsils and adenoids were taken out when he was just a little guy, almost 3. Watching him come out of the anesthesia was not fun. I am hoping that Ethan does beautifully and recovers quickly. Mostly, we want him to stay healthy and be able to hear normally.

Jaylie brought about the biggest milestone for our family in 2011 by starting kindergarten. She was so excited; so ready. I’ll never forget that morning of the first day of school. I was up, fixing breakfast. I heard her door open and her little feet pounding, running across the living room floor. She burst into the kitchen, threw her arms around my legs and said, “Eeeeeeeee!” It was hard to be sad when she was so happy. Her teacher is named Ms. Beasley, which is funny. She is a wonderful first teacher for Jaylie to have and I’m so thankful for her. Jaylie is reading and writing well, which is so awesome. It is so different hearing about a school day from a little girl’s perspective, as opposed to a little boy’s perspective. After 2 years of ballet classes, Jaylie decided to try out gymnastics. We started that in late August. Let’s just say, it didn’t take. She’ll be back in ballet after the new year! I am pleased about this. I was surprised that she didn’t dance at home while she was in gymnastics. It made me a little sad but I never said anything to her. After she said she wasn’t liking gymnastics and we got the ballet stuff worked back out, she dances all the time. There’s just nothing like watching her spontaneously dance because the mood strikes her. It makes my heart happy. Another major thing here lately for her is that she’s stopped sucking her thumb. For someone who has been sucking the same thumb everyday since BEFORE she was born, this was no small feat. The most recent big girl thing she did: pierced ears! She got them pierced just a few days ago. Her hair is now perpetually pulled back into a pony, the better to show off her ears. My little girl…not so little anymore.

Eric is everywhere at Meadowbrook. God continues to expand Eric’s giftedness and show him new ways to use those gifts for the body at Meadowbrook. March 1st marks his 6th anniversary at here which, incidentally, is the same amount of time that he was in the Air Force. It’s so weird to think of it that way. Our family continues to thrive, which is what every parent wants, so we are thankful. Eric is coaching both boys basketball teams this year, which will be fun and crazy. He participated with Isaac at the World Speed Stacking Championship. They entered the Parent/Child doubles event which consisted of Isaac using his left hand and Eric using his right hand as they went through the cycle. It was lots of fun to watch.

I am adjusting to life at home without children to dictate my schedule. It is quite different. For 11 years, while I had a loose schedule, it was more or less dictated by the kids needs (play with me, feed me, make me sleep, help me, hold me, be in the same room with me…) you know how it goes. I truly treasure all of those things and have always been completely and utterly fulfilled having my kids at home. These first few months with Jaylie in school have been quite a change. First of all, I’ve got some commitments that fill my time. I am one of the PTO presidents at Ethan and Jaylie’s school so that right there occupies a great deal of time and energy. I love that though. I love that I can go to their school and see them at work while I am up there contributing my time to help their school experience be the best it can possibly be. I also try to be at Isaac’s school when I can. Next year, I’ll have 3 kids at 3 schools…that makes my head hurt. The other thing is that some of you may not know that I took a part time job at the exact same time that school started. It’s a long story but basically, God is funny and He gives exactly what is needed at the exact right time. I work from home about 8-10 hours a week. I am the Relationship Manager for an online ministry called CrossLink International. I do several things but one of the biggest projects I work on is a massive directory of Restoration Movement churches. (So, if you go to a Church of Christ, and Independent Christian Church, or a Disciples of Christ congregation, you can help me out by checking to see if your church’s information is listed in our directory. If it isn’t, you can add it. If it’s out of date, you can update it. Or, you can let me know and I’ll fix it. Thanks!) Anyway, when you combine a couple of hours of work a day with being at school for events and shopping for groceries, doing laundry, running and keeping the house clean…well, let’s just say I’m not sitting at home twiddling my thumbs. Oh yeah, I have become a runner! I ran my first 5K last April which was a major milestone for me. I’ll run another in Feb. I actually like it this time, which hasn’t been the case in the past. I’m hoping to some day have a runner’s body, but right now, I’m just still in awe that I can run for 30 minutes without having a heart attack or something!

We are happily anticipating 2012 because we are headed to Disney World on February 5! This will be the first time our kids have ever been and we are excited! Next year’s Christmas (or New Year’s) letter will no doubt be filled with excerpts from our experience there.

I hope that you enjoyed 2011 and look forward to 2012 with hope and joy. Truly every day is a gift, a miracle in and of itself. Sometimes I struggle to see the miraculous amidst the common drudgery that I allow my life to become. As a new year begins, I feel myself resolving to be intentional about seeking out these daily miracles. I pray that my heart is always open to seeing them. I know that the LORD is always at work. Praise God for that!

With Love

Eric, Dixie, Isaac, Ethan and Jaylie Livingston