When I used to write a personal blog (about our family's travels, adventures and homeschooling), I would write a recap post about our year on December 31st. I don't think photographers typically do that on their business websites, but I have come to find out I'm not your typical photographer, and I better stay true to myself - different as I feel I am. So why not use my blog here for my personal thoughts and pictures as well as for my client blog posts?
(If you are still thinking about hiring me to document your day, maybe getting to know me better through my personal posts will help you decide if I'm a good fit - or not. (Grin.))
The main reason why I don't have my personal blog anymore is the fact our adventures are so different know. We are no longer traveling the country in our vintage Airstream motorhome, visiting amazing places, and learning along the way. Our quadruplets are now nineteen, and doing very different things - often on their own.
Year 2017 was a different year. A difficult year in many ways. But also a year of new, exciting things - in January 2017 my little business was only six months old, and I was still trying to navigate the new waters of owning a business. Meeting new families, and serving them with photography has brought so much joy and fulfillment to my life. Besides being a wife, mom, sister, daughter, aunt, friend - this is what I am supposed to be doing.
A month in Florida with two quick trips to St. Augustine. An anniversary trip to celebrate our 23 years of marriage, and a photography retreat with friends from Ordinary Miracles Photography club. I had a fun Disney Day in the Life Session and snapped this Mickey's Magic photo, which was included in December's Click Magazine. My photo album is full of beach walk photos.
Our 3-year old started speech therapy.
Middle of February our mini family (not including our older four) flew up to Boston, and continued through New Hampshire to spend a few weeks in Maine. Lots of snow and ice, snowmobiling, sledding, ice skating, family and friends.
Our second youngest turned eleven! Our big kids joined us in Maine for their vacation week. And at the end of their vacation we all flew back to Florida together. A couple of days later I hopped on a train with the little girls and traveled to Virginia to visit my sister for a week. So much fun for all the little cousins!
Easter in Florida, and an unfortunate incident of getting a family photo taken on the beach with a tripod and timer - a burst of wind blew the whole set-up on the sand, and my camera and lens ended up being professionally cleaned by a Nikon certified camera shop ($$$). Of course this happened a few days before a Day in the Life Session, so I ended up purchasing a (much needed) second camera body.
May was a beautiful month in Florida, and we made many trips to the beach, especially first thing in the morning when it was calm enough to swim with the little one, too. Mad school work, as well, so we wouldn't have to do school all summer.
Our little one turned four!
Early June seven of us flew back to New England, and one of our boys stayed back to finish school at IRSC. Two boys graduated from high school and with dual enrollment received their AA degrees from college. Our 11-year old and I finished our school year (whew!).
In Maine we had a lot of work getting our place ready for summer renters, a job we do every year. It's fun, too. We had family come over to help, and we always take time to enjoy games and swimming and lots of baking and cooking.
At the end of our work weeks my husband aka the Captain (name from my old blog) flew back to Florida, and I dropped off our older four at camp in Virginia, and continued to my sister's house. After camp the big kids took a train to Chesapeake as well.
The Captain drove our motorhome to Sky Valley, Georgia, to meet us there, and we celebrated Fourth of July with friends there. So much fun! After Georgia we drove back to Maine for a week (or two?), and had lots of friends join us.
From Maine we split our crew. The Captain took three kids to New Hampshire, and I flew to Finland to see my parents with three of the kids. We celebrated our youngest's Gotcha and Adoption Days in Finland.
The last day of July my parents learned my dad's cancer was back, and had aggressively spread to his stomach and stomach lining, and he was told he doesn't have much time left.
It was so hard to leave my parents, but I told my dad I would be back this year. After Finland we went back to Maine for a last week to start closing up the house. Three big kids flew back to Florida to start school - two at IRSC, and one at a college 45 minutes north of us. And the last big kid took a bus to Boston, and a flight to Virginia where sweet friends picked him up and brought him to his college. Our mini family stopped by to see him two weeks later as we drove our motorhome to my sister's house, and left it there - with a For Sale sign.
In Finland my dad celebrated his 74th birthday.
Spontaneous as we can be, at the Norfolk airport the Captain called Disney and reserved a room for us for a night. From Orlando airport we drove to Disney and spent a wonderful day there before driving back home and our littlest started Pre-School the next day. She started going to school for two full days and a 1/2 day on (most) Fridays. Our second youngest started homeschool 6th grade, using Sonlight curriculum, Math-U-See, Apologia and a local music class, plus an online language arts class.
Our school life was short lived, though, as hurricane Irma threw our whole state of Florida into chaos. Our neighborhood had mandatory evacuations, so we left and joined our friends in Sky Valley, Georgia. Our time there was crazy, wonderful and nerve wracking, as was our trip home dodging felled trees, closed roads, closed gas stations and full hotels. But we made it, and slowly life started getting back to normal. Fortunately our house did not have any damage (unlikely with hurrricane Matthew in 2016).
We found out our littlest has mild hearing loss in both her ears. My dad was not able to tolerate cancer treatments, and we started planning my return to Finland.
October was a busy month with school photos, photo sessions, school, field trips (Seaworld was a huge hit!) and celebrating Halloween with friends at Disney. Our littlest started speech therapy again, and ballet, which she had dreamed of for a long time.
November was super crazy, a blur really, until Thanksgiving. Our son from Virginia came home, and we had a wonderful day together. The next day the Captain drove my littlest and me to the airport, and we flew back to Finland to say goodbye to my dad. My sister joined us a few days later from Virginia.
It was an amazing ten days. The first two days my dad was doing so well I started planning a trip to see him next summer! But then each day he got weaker and weaker, and the day before we left Seinajoki where my parents live, he was admitted to the hospital, and wasn't able to come back home. Saying goodbye to him was one of the hardest times I have lived through. It is amazing how God carried us all through that, too. We all prayed together, and marveled at the peace we felt - yes, this is likely our goodbyes on earth, but we will see again in heaven.
If you would like to see photos from this trip, click here.
Jesus came for my dad on the 14th, and he left this earth with a smile on his face, and my mom by his side. This gives us so much joy in our sadness and sorrow. We know where he is.
The Captain's parents came to be with us in Florida for Christmas, and helped us do a lot of finishing touches from our repairs and remodeling since hurricane Matthew. Our quadruplets turned 19, we celebrated our second youngest's 11th Gotcha Day and Adoption Day, and on my birthday I was given a paddle board (so much fun!). Christmas for me was bittersweet, stripped from a lot of extras, and a day later I was on a plane back to Finland for my dad's funeral.
As I type this, I'm sitting at my childhood home, next to my mom. We had the funeral on the 28th. The rest of the family have all gotten back to their homes (my little sister is almost back to her house). My mom is starting a whole new life, and I am so glad I can be with her for a few more days. Our days together have been clinging to Jesus in our sadness, and trying to navigate all the new. It is so hard. We miss my dad so much.
I appreciate so much all the prayers, notes, cards and messages. And most of all, I am so grateful for all the days I had with my dad. He loved well. He will be so missed. We will see again one day.
I hope as each of you welcome this new year, and think back on the year 2017, you would share my feelings of gratefulness for all the good in this past year, and hope for all the new that our Heavenly Father will bring. If (and when) there are hard days, He will carry us through them, when we let Him.
Happy New Year 2018!