2006 has definitely been a rollercoaster year. It has had some of the most amazing highs and some really hard times, too. Through it all, though, family comes through. We’ve lost friends this year, made a few new ones, and really focused on having better, deeper friendships with the ones who truly care. 2006 brought me new career opportunities. It brought major obstacles spiritually, too. But as I settle in, here, at the end of December, I know that Jen and I and little Peyton are where we were supposed to be – less stressed, more blessed and looking forward to the holidays.
March brought us the most amazing news that we were expecting a baby. It was a time for excitement and anxiousness, not knowing what to expect and not really knowing how to prepare. In our trademark fashion, we winged it. Of course, we had a clue about parenthood – just turns out we’d bought the wrong one… (grin). October arrived and 5 (or was it 7) baby showers later, we were very prepared for the little one’s arrival. I can’t believe how fast 8 months clicked away and in October, Peyton had arrived. And she’s an amazing and beautiful little girl. We couldn’t ask for anything better. She’s strong and loving and has a lot of her mommy’s personality. She’s independent too. She loves her alone time. She’s not a fussy baby – only really cries when she is hungry or overly tired. Oh, and those diapers… Like clockwork, every two days, there’s green and smelly surprise for us. Her mommy and I are very lucky to have such an amazing little girl.
The time with our family has been the best at the end of this year. Peyton brings so much joy everywhere that we bring her. She brings me joy at the end of long days and helps to calm me when things don’t seem right. I know both of our parents count every day a blessing to be with this little one too.
The summer brought a time of soul searching. Jen and I had both promised each other that we’d have to cut back on things once a baby was on the way. We had conveniently forgotten this by summer. Things were happening at church that we didn’t really understand. It had gotten difficult to hear God in all that was happening there. Our weeks had filled with something for church more than half of the nights each week. Things happened and within a couple months of each other, Jen and I both resigned as leaders of our respective teams in the church, but some didn’t get the picture. By July, we’d decided we weren’t returning. It was time for us to focus on our now growing family. That has brought the most difficulty for us this year. We feel divorced from a place we loved and from people we thought truly cared.
A friend had given me and Jen a copy of a book called “Making Room for Life” and through it, I found some comfort and correction. We’ve spent the second half of our year investing in the folks that really matter and reaching out to others we care about. And that has been rewarding. I know that we’ve found better friendships that are reciprocal. We cut out much of the running around and took time to focus on the people around us. By the time the October rolled around, we had slowed our pace a lot and now had time to focus on our baby girl. I’m afraid that if what happened at our church had not happened, our baby girl might have been neglected and we may have ignored her for the fact of our obligations. So in that, we really see something beautiful out of all that happened.
Summer also brought career options. I started a new job which has been a huge and wonderful change for our family. I started at HTC (Horry Telephone – our local telephone cooperative) in July and it has shaped up to be a great place to work. I admire a company that cares so much about its employees, its customers and its community. I’m settling in here now, and I see myself here for a long, long time to come. The move has been challenging and rewarding and the change in salary is definitely a welcome addition. Its brought a new financial stability that I just didn’t have at Coastal. HTC is one of the (if not the) largest IT shops in our area. The data center and systems that I get work with are great. For a geek like me, its a fun place to come today everyday. Plus, HTC is a very family friendly environment. They’ve been amazing to Jen and I with time off, the awesome shower and big gifts they gave. I couldn’t ask for anything better.
And on the topic of jobs, Jen’s job at Horry County Solid Waste Authority continues to progress. She enjoys working with the schools and school age children teaching them about recycling and showing them inventive ways to do it. Her company’s recycling rates continue to grow year of year since she’s joined. And loves everyone she works with out there. They have all been wonderful during the pregnancy and after and look forward to each appearance Peyton makes.
The new job for me has brought more travel – all for training so far. I’ve been to Atlanta a couple times this year and Jen got to accompany to DC for training and spend a week with her parents there. It was a fun time for them to get to see her, belly and all. We also traveled to Charleston for the day for Jen’s birthday. We had a great time at the SC Aquarium and around town.
Our friends have been amazing this year. It has brought reconciliation to some old, abandoned friendships. We also lost some we valued a lot due to the church crap.
With our schedules cleared, we had time to get a whole lot closer to some people we’d known for a while. And what we found has been awesome. We know, without a doubt, that these are friends we’ll take with us for the lifetime. Our friends Tammy and Kendall finally got to move to the farm. We’ve had a wonderful time playing on the farm from time to time this year.
Summer brought good friends of ours from England in town to spend a couple weeks with us. We had a great time with Vicky, John, Freya and Dorothy. I was able to take a week and Jen two, to spend with them enjoying all that our area has to offer. We got to go out and play at the farm one evening, take in Ripley’s Aquarium, Broadway, Barefoot Landing, travel to Wilmington for a day and enjoy the sites there and of course, play at the beach. This was one of many highlights this year.
We had an awesome After da Fourth party again this year at our house. We had a lot of people coming for that too. Had a fun little pre-party and afterparty with Ang and Wombat. They, like us, had left the church and I think we’ve all helped each other through that. We’ve been church shopping with them and Justin and McCall. Still not settled anywhere yet, so we’re just sojourning through places. Justin is helping me with my side business, Zeal, doing some web work. That’s been a welcome help too! And Zeal has done well this year. We’ve had some exciting new projects and we’ve done well for year 2. Year 3 looks like its going to be another good year.
Our friends, Nancy and Rob, built a house this year. It was fun doing drive-bys of it to see how it progressed. We’ve had fun hanging out with them too now that they’re getting settled in. Other friends are building and I think Jen and I are getting a bad reputation for being those drive-by friends. We keep stalking the new houses our friends are building… 🙂
And speaking of new houses, I am writing part of this from Sam’s house in Chesterfield. He decided to move back early this year and has a nice new place there and he’s enjoying time with his family. Its nice to see him, but it was nice to have him just down the road, even though he never called… 🙂 Just kiddin Sam!
Trina and Brett upgraded their car this year… They now have a 4 seater Mustang GT convertible and we’ve enjoyed some breezy evening rides in it already. I know that Jen, Trina and Petyon are looking forward to enjoying the car when summer rolls around – top down and heading to the beach. Brett is getting started with his building sometime soon at the house and that will be fun for them and nice for him to finally have something I know he’s wanted for a long time. Trina got hardwoods in the house this year too – so its been a busy year for them. Its so nice to family so close by us and we count ourselves really lucky to have them.
Thanksgiving rolled around and we enjoyed it with my parents at home this year. We ordered from Cracker Barrel and my cousin Amanda got to join us in the afternoon. We’ve enjoyed seeing her more this year, speaking of family.
Jen’s parents were a huge help this year with the baby. They stayed for the first two weeks to help around the house and help us ease into parenthood. They had come earlier in the year and spent a week with us while Vicky and family were in town as well.
With Christmas fast approaching, we’re looking forward to baby’s first Christmas and things to come in the new year – like walking and talking and all those other things. 2006 has shaped up to be a big year in our lives and we’re grateful for all the good and will hopefully soon forget all the not so good from the year. We’re definitely happier, healthier, but a little less rested. Til next year…