Monday, December 20, 2010
Since our last entry was in April, we decided to recap the entire year with an online Christmas Letter. It seems each year is full of challenges, excitement, joy, blessings, trials and pain. 2010 was no different.
The year was kicked off with a last minute trip to Mississippi in early January. We were able to meet and get acquainted with our new son. Due to weather, we ended up being there over 2 weeks. This gave us a time to bond with Isaiah, but was hard to leave Abby home that long. She was quite anxious to meet her little brother and is still quite fond of him. When he's having a tough time, she's good at getting him to laugh and smile.
Soon after in February we celebrated Abigail's 3rd birthday. Dora exploded in our house and we were able to give her some much deserved attention. Abby is quite the busy body and is always keeping us on our toes. She likes to help out when possible and loves time with anybody as she is quite social. Everyone age 2-6 is her "friend" in addition to the imaginary kind.
As in our last post, Isaiah kicked his O2 tank for good in April and hasn't looked back. Other than a few runny nose colds he has been quite healthy. We are quite thankful for wood floors as he has a very touchy gag reflex. He is over 21 lbs and on track with his adjusted age. He has mastered the army crawl and is beginning to climb where possible. Our main concern at this point is getting him through the winter without a chest cold, especially RSV. It's easy to forget he was ever that tiny!
Beginning April 23rd we have a string of tough dates though Aug 28th. It's a season of pain that we are glad to get through. It's mainly the week leading up to the big dates that are the hardest. We will always miss our boys Tony and James and they will never be replaced. Although having a healthy son does bring us healing and great joy. Occasionally we are brought back to bitter sweet memories that will always be with us. As a dear friend advised "It won't get better, but it will get easier". Profound words that we continue to understand.
Most days however are normal and spent enjoying life with our family. In June we were able to have a memorable trip to Island Lake near Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. This lake is full of great memories from Stuart's family and added a big one when he proposed there in July '04. This was our first trip back and it was great to be able to start the tradition with a new generation. We didn't bring a boat but there was much fishing, a bit of swimming, a lot of food and a great time with family and friends. It should be a highlight for years to come.
The fall turned a bit busier with a few different commitments. The church Awana program started again with the school year and Tashia is helping again this year. It's also Abby's first year and she has a blast with her "Cubbie" friends and leaders. It gives Dad and Son a night of male bonding.
In January Stuart accepted a Deacon position at church and in September this involved getting more involved with the worship and music on Sundays. He has kept busy leading worship on Sundays, organizing practices among other items. Also in September he began coordinating and facilitating another year of Financial Peace University classes. He enjoys being involved in both, but is glad that FPU only lasts 13 weeks. It gives us both a chance to share our experiences and how getting a handle on our debt and managing our finances has helped us through our trials and strengthened our marriage.
Late September we went with Stuart's parents down to Lincoln to the SDSU-Nebraska game and also took in the zoo there. Abby still talks about going to the "birdy-zoo" to help them fly. There was a kids exhibit and they had a few small animals and items. There was a dove there and her imagination seems to have expanded that experience.
Isaiah turned one on Oct. 2nd and we were able to celebrate a big milestone for us. Soon after on the 12th we celebrated "Abby Uken" day, which was the day that she officially became a Uken. She hadn't grasped the concept of time yet and thinks quite often that her birthday was yesterday or was tomorrow. We were able to give her another special day to celebrate for the 1st time.
Also in October we made the annual return to Brookings for Hobo Day. It's been a fun family weekend with the parade, football game and pool at the hotels. After missing last year, Stuart ran the 5k again with his brother Mike. Not sure he can keep up the making faster times, but has found getting back into shape is getting harder every year. The plan is to stay in shape... He also ran one in Ida Grove and ran as Uncle Sam with two high school friends in the July 4th race in Springfield.
Soon after Hobo Days, Stuart got to try being Mr. Mom for 2 weeks. Tashia had an emergency appendectomy (are they ever planned?). She was in pain and recovery was slow, but she is back on pace and her husband is a bit more humble, appreciative and understanding because of it.
Finally on November 5th, Isaiah's adoption was finalized. It was basically a formality, but we finally were able to celebrate his forever family day. We are continually amazed on how well our adopted children fit our family. Many times Mom is concerned that they take on too many of Dad's attributes. Abby spontaneously breaks out in silly songs like dad and Isaiah is already dancing to music and banging his hands to the beat.
This Sunday night Tashia helped with the Christmas Program at church and Abby participated for the 1st time. Dad brought the video camera and Abby didn't disappoint. We had a nose pick in the first minute and a few waves and yells at Dad and Isaiah throughout.
Early in the year Tashia was able to spend time at a much deserved scrap booking retreat. This year has been a challenge for her adjusting to raising two little ones full time and keeping this house running smooth. Of course Dad cheated again and used his parents to get through the weekend.
Stuart continues to enjoy working at Midwest Industries. This year he has transitioned more to the manufacturing side of engineering and less on the design side. It's an opportunity that he was interested in when we chose to move to Ida Grove and finds it both challenging and rewarding. He has been involved in a few major projects involving new machinery and process as well as the day to day interaction with fellow employees on the plant floor and support staff. As with most manufacturing 2009 was a tough year for the company, but 2010 was a decent year all things considered and 2011 looks to improve on that.
Looking back this year has been full of memories, hard work and great times with friends and family. We are continually amazed at how God pours his blessings on this family and we are always reminded of His love. Especially from all of your prayers and numerous ways you have all helped us along the way.
We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and look forward to seeing and hearing from you next year.
Stuart, Tashia, Abby and Isaiah