Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 Wrap Up

2014 has been a filled year for the Marsh family. I left out the fun as it has not always been. A hard core resurgence of asthma and a 10 day hospital stay because of said crummy lung function has not been fun. It remains to be a constant daily struggle but, as a family, we try hard not to let it overtake our lives nor define who we are.

This year, we took a great family vacation to Idaho, I got to trade in the trusty old van for a new-to-us Honda Pilot, Hannah successfully started middle school like a champ, Haley turned 9 and has exploded in her math and reading skills, and Travis continues to reach kids in incredible ways as a teacher and a coach.

Never was Travis' passion for kids more needed than this fall. October brought a lot of heartache into our community and into our personal life. The high school that Travis' middle school feeds into had a school shooting. 5 of the 6 students involved, were students that Travis had taught and/or coached. It was a senseless, devastating loss that brought with it weeks of difficulties. We attended memorial services for innocent kids who's only involvement that day was showing up for school - something that shouldn't have to be done. We dealt with the aftermath of knowing and having current siblings of the shooter on Travis' football team. As the high school was closed for a week, Travis had countless students come down to gain some support from a steadfast mentor they've had in their lives. A lifetime of loving on kids through thick and thin accumulated into this experience and God truly held Travis in the palm of His hand while he navigated these uncharted waters. The last football game of the season was scheduled for the week immediately following the event. Not only was it a delicate time in the community and school in general, siblings of victims involved played on the team. After much contemplation and nightly conversations, a decision was made to play - as one close friend to the family said, "Coach, I just need to play some football right now." The game was against a rival school from the same town. Before the game, Travis walked all the way across the field and spoke with the other team saying, "Today, on this field, we're all football players. Don't go easy on us - let's put everything aside and play." Then he brought the whole team over to our side line. He asked each player to find their number from the opposing team, mixed them all up, and had a picture taken.

I don't think I could have been any prouder of the man my husband is than at that moment. He gets kids. He gets life. Life is about relationships. This was one of those forever pivotal moments that I will never forget.

In celebration of Travis' birthday, his family took him to a Husky football game. The four of them grew up cheering for the Dawgs so it was a great full circle for them to re-live the fun and make some new memories in the new stadium.

On December 13th, our sweet, funny, amazing girl turned 9. I can no longer say I have "little kids." For her family gift, Haley decided she'd really like to own some fish. (Actually she really wanted to own a dog but mom's lungs got in the way of this one.) I digress - Daddy and Haley went to the fish store and picked out the coolest glow in the dark fish ever she named "Tinka" and "Tigger" because one is small like a little sheep in a book we love and the other is orange and likes to jump around a lot. She also picked an incredible tank with all the bells and whistles to go along with it. Watching these two little guys have already brought a lot of family enjoyment.

For her birthday party, Haley chose Science as the theme. Instantly, Travis was filled with ideas on how to make this day memorable and amazing. From baking soda/vinegar volcanoes, dry ice turning lemonade into a carbonated drink, and even shooting Mentos out of coke bottles, the mad scientist made it an absolute blast and an event that will not be forgotten for a long time!!

Over the summer, Haley started violin lessons. The afternoon of her birthday, she got to perform in her first recital and did an incredible job.

Ms. Laura Roundy - our fabulous teacher
Per our yearly tradition, the day after Thanksgiving, we got out Christmas tree and decorated the house. For some reason, the girls insisted on dressing up in fancy dresses . . . I never want to forget these precious little moments.

The day school ended for Christmas vacation, the Marsh family packed up the car and headed to Ocean Shores on the Washington coast for 5 days of memory making with A. Bonnie, U. Ryan, cousins Moses, Junie, Simon and Grandma and Grandpa. Although the weather outside was frightful (or exactly to be expected on the WA coast in December), when there was a break from the rain, the kiddos enjoyed running into the ocean becoming soaked and sandy from head to toe.

In the evenings, the kids enjoyed getting cozy in their pjs and watching Christmas movies.

And Uncle Ryan led a few sing-a-longs with beautiful accompanying dances by Juniper.

After an incredible time, we packed the car and headed back home. This time, we added Grandma and Grandpa and all their belongings in the car as well. Hannah was an amazing trouper . . .

We returned home on Christmas Eve with just enough time to lay out some milk and cookies for Santa and get tucked in our beds. The girls always have a slumber party together with strict instructions not to wake up Mom and Dad until 7am . . . this never works but we try every year anyway. At 6:40am (and apparently that was generous as they woken up almost every hour in excitement) the girls came in jumping up and down reminding us it was Christmas. We groggily got out of bed and they scurried down the stairs to discover Santa had left a stocking full of gifts and their very own, long coveted . . .IPODS!!! There were squeals, huge smiles and Haley who said, "I don't even know what to do!" With homemade gluten free cinnamon rolls (that tasted more like dry biscuits - sorry family - I'll try again next year), we spent the rest of the morning exchanging gifts with each other.

After a nice leisurely morning together in our pjs, we filled up the car with presents and headed down to Grandma and Grandpas for Christmas dinner and gift giving. It was fun having spent so much recent time together as the cousins were already warmed up and ready to play. We had an incredible meal, gave and received some very thoughtful things including some old books and purses of Nana's and finished the evening with songs around the piano.

On Saturday, we headed up north for another Christmas celebration with Grandma, Papa, Namies, A. Missy, U. Ben, and Baby James. Although everyone had fun, I think James was the star of the show enjoying opening gifts and being doted upon by every person in the room! Christmas is so much more fun through the eyes of a child.

In celebration of my birthday the end of the month, the girls had grandma slumber parties so Travis and I could rent a stack of movies, order my favorite take-out (Mai Phim Thai food) and sleep in. It was some much needed rest after a busy holiday season and there's no one I would have rather spent it with!

You Again (a story of high school history coming back to bite you was hilarious) The Grand Budapest Hotel (super quirky but I loved it) This is Where I Leave You (siblings coming together after the death of their father - very disappointing) Maze Runner (combo/knock off of The Host, The Hunger Games, and every other teen movie lately - but worse)                                                                                                                  
The Book Thief (amazing incredible book to read and amazing incredible movie to watch) Let's Be Cops (of course it had some inappropriate parts but it was hilarious!!)

When you are smack dab in the middle of paying bills and doing dishes and folding laundry and going to work and doing homework and practicing piano and going to violin lessons and driving to and from school, the days can be oh so long but as 2014 comes to a close and I look back at just how far we've come and how much the girls have grown and all that we've done, the years are oh so short. Wishing you a New Year filled with all that is truly important - family, friends, laughter, love and sharing all the little things that can mean so much.

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