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Happy Holidays!

It’s been quite a year (or two) here in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Picture taken December 2018

We have finally settled into our new lives after a tumultuous transition in 2018. Experiences that made us stronger include: 
  • The loss of Jason’s emergency mental health job (2/1/18)
  • Several delays in the closing of our new home (finally closed (7/18)
  • Sunshine’s nine day stay in the pediatric psychiatric ward (5/18) followed by a lot of intensive in-home therapy and…
  • Sunshine’s enrollment into a full-time day program (6/18)
  • Princess’ enrollment into public school (9/18)
  • Flooding and loss of several items stored in cellar (10/18)
  • Renae’s abnormally high white blood cell count (discovered 11/18)

We’re happy to report that 2019 has been a year of progress and healing for everyone. Our home is now fully furnished and decorated. Renae and Jason’s blog/business is skyrocketing. We’ve even started a Montessori co-op.

Pictures taken January 2019

In 2019 we were able to take two wonderful family vacations, the first to Universal Studios in January 2019.

Pictures taken January 2019

 The second trip was to Williamsburg for a week in July.

Pictures taken July 2019

Jason loves his job at home creating Montessori printables and being Renae’s business partner. When he’s not at the computer he’s cooking, cleaning, and/or caring for kids while Renae fits her work time in. At church he serves as an advisor to the twelve to fourteen-year-old boys.

For Renae, 2019 has been a bit more challenging. She met with a hematologist/cancer specialist in the spring after three blood tests with higher and higher white blood cell counts. There were four hypotheses as to why her counts were off.

1. Severe iron deficiency
2. Inflammation caused by worsening asthma
3. Inflammation caused by trauma
4. A form of blood cancer

Renae decided it was time to work on self-care in big ways. Over the past 8 months she has received an iron injection that sent her into anaphylaxis (and led to a trip to the ER), increased iron intake through diet, received a steroid injection, and increased the dosage of her asthma medication.

She has embraced minimalism more than ever, eliminated stress wherever possible, addressed her anxiety and secondary PTSD (a result of raising two children with trauma), taken mini getaways, practiced meditation, and created a village to help with Sunshine.

Renae’s white blood cell count numbers are FINALLY starting to go down as of her last appointment this month. She can’t wait to see them return to a normal range with continued work in all areas. Self-care is HARD but so important.

Dinomite, 12, is now as tall as Renae and continues to grow. His passion for history, specifically military vehicles and weapons is unmatched. In March he went to Washington D.C. for the first time with Renae (and Bulldozer) visiting all of the memorials and a couple of the Smithsonian museums. It was such a fantastic experience!

Pictures taken March 2019

Dinomite loves music, LEGO, reading, playing video games, and working for the family business to earn money. He continues to homeschool and has thoroughly enjoyed having friends join us a couple times each week.

Bulldozer, 11, is Marvel’s biggest fan. Whether it’s discussing the movies, the music, or the LEGO sets, he knows everything. When he’s not eating, breathing, and sleeping Marvel, he loves playing video games, wrestling with his older brother, making new play lists on Amazon Music Unlimited, and learning all about roller coasters, which is yet another passion.

Pictures taken November 2019

The highlight of Bulldozer’s year was a trip to Universal Studios and Sea World with Renae in November.

Pictures taken November 2019

 Bulldozer lives for theme parks (just like his mom) and finally made the life-long dream of meeting an orca whale up close and personal come true. He communicated with, fed, and played with Shamu.

Pictures taken November 2019

Princess, 10, is homeschooling again. She is doing significantly better without the anxieties associated with peer and teacher relations. We can’t believe how relaxed and content she is at home and just how close she’s become with Renae. Princess loves reading, LEGO, art, and singing. She’s recently shown a huge interest in embroidery and other crafts.

Pictures taken May 2019

At the end of May, Princess and Renae went on a mini vacation to Walt Disney World where they had the time of their lives going on rides, meeting Princesses, eating delicious foods, and watching nighttime movies about the royal family of England.

Sunshine, 8, continues to struggle with managing emotions and at times requires police intervention, but still she is doing the best she’s ever done.

Pictures taken August, September, and October of 2019

Though the events of 2018 were the most traumatic our family has ever gone through, the blessings that have come as a result have been countless. We’ve been so excited to welcome so many wonderful people into our lives who love Sunshine. Just like us, they want her to be the best she can be. These people include her new pediatrician, new psychiatrist, school transport driver, teachers, therapists, respite workers, and more.

Pictures taken December 2019

Sunshine loves stuffed animals, barbies, My Little Pony, LEGO, music, and playing outside. At the beginning of this month the entire family (and respite worker) joined Sunshine for her mini vacation of choice to Great Wolf Lodge and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. Everyone had a wonderful time.

We hope that you have had a wonderful 2019 and that 2020 is even better! We love you and think of you often.

With love,
Jason, Renae, Dinomite, Bulldozer, Princess, and Sunshine

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