(Note: this post will stay at the top of blog for a while. No guarantees, but scroll down to see any more recent posts.)
Welcome to our annual Top 10! In the world of social media, I still can't believe we haven't used this as a top ten before. Since we share our lives with friends and family near and far via facebook, here are the 10 most important status updates this year, in chronological order.
Immediately upon return from last year’s Christmas festivities, Darin got to work on the loft bed for the girls. This was our solution for getting both girls in a small room, having no arguments about who would get the top bunk, and making space to become foster parents. The loft bed has been well received and we love seeing both our girls cuddled up on their own side, although just this last week Daisy had a nightmare and Dani invited her to spend the rest of the night with her on the right side. Heartwarming.
Darin has really gotten into graphic design at work and at home. He has really enjoyed having a creative outlet where what is in his head can actually come out in a recognizable and useful form and his talents have been tapped both by coworkers and some bartering individuals. You can check out some of his work at westsoundyfc.org, 1280project.org, or deannagemmerphotography.com.
We’ve been foster parents for 10 months now and all but a week of it has been spent with a wonderful little girl who we got straight from the hospital at 3 days old. She has been such a joy to have in our home and has definitely changed how our family and our year have been. Three kids is much more work than two, that’s for sure and there was a lot of great advice given on this post, especially in terms of lowering expectations. But there was one piece of advice from Deanna's cousin that has been frequently cited: "Step 1. Lower expectations. Step 2. Drink wine. Repeat unitl it's time to replace Step 2 with coffee and then eventually loop back to wine." Unfortunately, Deanna doesn't drink coffee, so we think Darin started drinking her share this year!
(Note: we know a lot of you in our circle are very curious about the future of baby Leyla and our family. So are we! Nothing is certain yet, and we would love your prayers for our family as we keep walking this journey of faith day-by-day.)
Another development in Darin’s work this year has been joining the National Juvenile Justice Ministry team. This is a team of people from around the country who help resource and guide the national JJM movement. It was pretty humbling (and exciting) for Darin to have been asked to join this team only a year after he started on staff with YFC. He took two trips to Colorado this year to “geek out on ministry” with his friends on the team.
Dani’s personality has taken on a whole new flavor this year. Not only is she now a big sister, but she understands so much and is so verbal that she comes up with some really hilarious things to say. We actually had a hard time deciding which of the many Dani-quote-posts to use for this top-10. In addition to making us laugh daily, she definitely is a spunky and opinionated kid who keeps us on our toes every day. But she also gives the best hugs, a trait that works in her favor during her naughtiest times. To know this kid is to love her for sure.
Darin has been so blessed to have called the same house home for 28 years. The Lakewood house was a great place for Darin and his siblings to grow up and for our kids to share amazing memories. Due to a series of events, Darin’s mom sold the house this year. It was so hard to leave all of those memories and all the love we shared in that house. It was a great home for a long time and we will miss it dearly. (Here are a few more shots from our last family day at the house.)
August was a busy month for us. Darin took 7 of his kids to YFCamp in Central Oregon, Daisy and Dani went to “Gran Camp” with Darin’s mom, our little one went to respite, and Deanna flew to Albuquerque to visit her parents on the road. Once we were all back together we took a family trip—still sans-baby—to the coast for a camping trip. We got some great pictures and had a great time for sure. Such a blessing.
This post talks about so much. More surprising to both of us than the unfortunate theft (and eventual return) of Deanna’s purse was the way that she wanted to cope with it all. This year Deanna has started running as often as children, schedule, and weather will permit. She ran in two 5K’s and continues to be surprised at how much she enjoys a good run.
Deanna is a very involved domestic engineer. After learning that her Mothers Of PreSchoolers co-coordinator was moving away, Deanna became the sole coordinator for a large MOPS group at a nearby church. She loves this ministry and is excited for the opportunity to pour into it in a big way. Unfortunately with 3 kids and busy schedules something had to give. Deanna quite her 4-year role as a 4H State Ambassador Advisor. It was a hard decision and she misses the teens so much, but looks forward to sometime in the future being able to get involved again.
Daisy is amazing. We are aware of a slight bias on our part, but seriously. She started Kindergarten this year and continues to score at the top of her class. This obviously is also translating out to her creative play in funny ways and we enjoy what she comes up with every day. She is a thoughtful, tender-hearted, justice-loving girl and we are so thankful for this new journey in parenting a school-aged kid.
I hope your year has been as full of blessings as ours has been. Merry Christmas and we hope you all have a wonderful 2013!
Darin, Deanna, Daisy & Dani Gemmer (and baby Leyla too)