Monthly Archives: December 2018

2018: a year in review

Well, we’ve had an eventful year!  I feel like I say that every year, but really, 2018 was cray-cray and packed full of fun, adventure, joyful hellos and sad goodbyes.

What have we been up to?


Trent finished his 11th year teaching, the last of which was at IDEA Judson, where he’s spent the last two years of his teaching career.  He coached youth basketball throughout the spring and then said goodbye in June. 

This year it was a different kind of goodbye.  It wasn’t the “see you in 2.5 months” goodbye, it was an “on to new adventures” goodbye.  Trent has left the teaching world (well, kind of) and has entered into the world of Real Estate!  He is now a licensed Realtor with eXp Realty

If you want to read more about that transition, you can read about it here

While he wasn’t intending to go back to teaching, there was a need and he decided to fill it.  The homeschool co-op that I teach at, Artios Academies, was in need of a pre-k teacher once a week, so Trent volunteered.  So he teaches there one day a week. 

More recently a new job presented itself and so he also works for Foam-It, a foam-insulation company.  It has a lot of crossover to Real Estate and allows him to make a lot of good Real Estate connections.


I have been staying busy at home with the boys, teaching throughout the week and spending time in ministry.  I went from being a mom of a toddler and a teenager (we had our exchange “daughter” Yi-Han with us for half of the year) to being the mom of a preschooler and a newborn!  Yikes! 

In the midst of all of this, I am teaching Spanish classes out of my home on Mondays, I teach at Artios Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and am a group leader at BSF on Wednesdays.  Joining leadership at BSF has been such a huge blessing to me this year!

Our family volunteers at Revolution Church on Sundays and we have continued to lead our small group on Monday nights.  Meanwhile, we are still working for EF High School Exchange Year, placing exchange students all around the US!  All of this keeps us plenty busy!


After spending nearly 10 months with our family, Yi-Han, our foreign exchange student from Taiwan, left us in June to go back to her family.  It was a teary goodbye for all of us. 

We loved having her here with us and it broke our hearts to watch her go.   She really did become like a daughter to us and we had such a great experience with her!  Our family did so many fun things together while she was here and we made many unforgettable memories- bowling, tubing the river, going to a Spurs game and a Missions game, visiting state parks, walking in the largest MLK march in the country, camping, visiting the Botanical Gardens, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, Sea World, Japanese Tea Gardens, the Witte Museum, and the zoo. 

Oh yeah, and she attended her first birth!  She was right there in the middle of things as Levi made his way into the world!  Pretty crazy, huh?!?


Jedi is now THREE!  How does that happen?!?  We celebrated his 3rd birthday with a super hero birthday party

Jedi is no longer a toddler, but a very smart, sassy, STUBBORN and unstoppable preschooler.  He loves LEGOs, superheroes, reading books and watching his “kewo” (Kindle). He talks all the time and his vocabulary grows by the day… also, his favorite question is “why?” WHY?????

He dealt with a lot of changes this year.  In addition to lots of traveling, job changes, funerals, etc., he had to say “goodbye” to his “sister” Yi-Han and “hello” to his new baby brother, Levi.  But watching the two of them together has been so sweet.  He loves “his baby!”


And, last but not least, the newest addition to our family, little Levi!  He made his debut 11 long days after his due date, but his birth was amazing.  He was born at home, right in our living room after a short, 4 hour labor… all 9 pounds, 14 ounces of him!  You can read his birth story here or follow the story through pictures here

We are so blessed by this little guy!  He is so smiley and content (well, at least if momma is holding him).  He is always on the move and he is just a joy to have!


We began the year, kid-free (Nana had Yi-Han and Jedi for the weekend), on the beaches of Cancun for our first EF National Meeting.  We enjoyed an all-expenses paid meeting/”baby-moon” in warm, sunny Mexico!  

I followed that with a cold trip to Minnesota, this time just Jedi and I, as my grandma fell very sick and spent several days in the ICU before passing away in February.  Although it was bittersweet, I can’t tell you how glad I was to have been able to go up and spend her last few days with her.  When she first got sick and was in the hospital, we didn’t know how serious it was.  I debated on whether or not to go, but Trent encouraged me to go and I will never regret that decision.  For anyone who was lucky enough to know my grandma, she was an incredible woman, full of love and laughter, who lived a life of service and, more than anything else, loved the Lord with all her heart.  She was one of my greatest mentors in my faith and in life.  We emailed frequently and I am forever grateful to have her words and constant encouragement for me to look back on. 

This trip was sweet for so many reasons.  My sister Christie was also pregnant and we didn’t think we’d get to see each other before we had our babies.  The time we spent together was sweet. 

Uncle D getting in on the action!

Jedi got to see his cousin Evie and spend some special time with her. 

Jedi and I got to spend some quality time with my grandpa, who passed a little over a month after my grandma did, along with a lot of extended family and friends that I hadn’t seen in a very long time.  

That was the first of FOUR trips to Minnesota this year.  The second was in June for my grandpa Jim’s funeral.  Even though he passed in March, he was cremated, so the family decided to wait until school was out (for the teachers, kids and family that would be traveling).  My grandpa was another person who I treasured deeply.  He was a man of fervent faith; he was funny, smart and creative.  I had the pleasure of reading his memoirs, which I am so grateful he wrote and left behind for all of us. 

This second trip was sweet because I had a little, bitty baby to show off, and I got to meet my nephew Rowan, born only 2 and a half weeks before our Levi. 

Trent was with me for this trip, and the four of us enjoyed being there for Rowan’s baptism as well as for the beautiful summer weather!

The third trip was a blessing.  Each year, my family has a time share up at Breezy Point Resort.  We haven’t been able to go since Jedi was little, so, after two sad, unexpected trips to Minnesota, my mom and dad offered to fly us up for an enjoyable trip.  So in late July, we flew up again.  This time we were able to catch a family reunion and I was able to see some family that I haven’t seen since Trent and I were newly married. 


That was followed by a week up at the lake with my family.  We had a wonderful, relaxing time together and Jedi loved it!

The fourth trip was in October and it was for a very special event, my baby sister’s wedding!!!  We are rarely there in the fall, so we were ready for fall colors and cooler weather.  We enjoyed our time playing in the leaves!!!

However, despite it only being mid-October, it SNOWED while we were there, which led to a fun snowball fight with Grammy.  We were completely unprepared for the cold weather, but Jedi loved it nonetheless. 

The weather was cold and rainy most of the time we were there.  The morning of my sister’s wedding was frigid!!!  Our bridesmaid’s dresses were very cold and poor Jedi was all bundled up over his handsome ring-bearer get-up.  But the wedding was beautiful and I was so honored to be a part of her special day!   We are definitely proud of her and we love her husband Billy!

Our travels this year weren’t limited to Minnesota.  We really wanted to make sure that Yi-Han got to see a couple of other places in Texas before she left (and before Levi came).  So at 37 weeks pregnant, we drove to the coast and spent a few days in Corpus Christi.  We had such a great time at the beach and we also got to kayak and go fishing.  Yi-Han caught her very first fish!

The following weekend, at 38 weeks, we went to Austin.  We’ve made several trips to Austin this year, always stopping to visit our besties (also from China) Heather and Zach.  These guys are the best.  We love them so much.  They hosted us for a weekend while Yi-Han was still with us so that we could show her the sights and sounds of Austin.  We hit up the Texas State Capitol, Graffiti Park, Yi-Han got her first pedicure, and we ate lots of yummy Austin food!  #foodiesforlife

Among other short trips, Trent and I also went back to Austin for their annual murder mystery party.  If anyone knows how to throw a party, these guys sure do!  They always pull out all the stops and this year was no exception!  This year’s theme was “The Grand Gatsby” and grand it was!

Before our second trip up to Minnesota, we went to Dallas to meet up with all of our best friends from China. We were finally together again! Heather and Zach, Trent and I, and Justin and Catherine!!!  Zach and Heather live in Austin (as you have just read), so we see them pretty frequently, but Justin and Cat hadn’t been “home” in three years, so this was a really special time that we were able to spend together.  We were able to celebrate Eli’s 4th birthday and Eli and Jedi were able to meet in person for the first time!

Seeing these friends was an incredible blessing and we had so much fun together. These gals are truly my “soul sisters” and the time we spend together is such a gift. 

My dear friend Catherine is a photographer {Captured by Cat} and she offered to do a little family session for us while we were there, so in addition to getting to see our good friends, we also got some sweet, sweet photos of our (newly evolved) family!

While we were in Dallas, we also had the opportunity to go to LEGOLAND and Sea Life Aquarium.  Jedi is SUPER into LEGOs so that was a fun trip.  It also fell on Father’s Day, and you know that Trent enjoyed himself there too!

On the return trip, we drove through Waco and were able to visit Chip and Joanna Gaines’ silos at Magnolia Market!!!  (HGTV celebrities and my faves!!!)  It was a SUPER hot day, but we still enjoyed a little stop there!

Other notable events:

Other than our travels, the big news this year was attending Trent’s 20 year high school reunion!  We spent a weekend with his old classmates over several events and really enjoyed ourselves and the opportunity to reconnect with old friends. The first night was a family-friendly mixer out at The Well, where we ate, hung out with old friends and watched Jedidiah dance! The second night was downtown- Trent and I got to have a kid-free date-night on the town!

We walked in the MS walk like we do every year for team “I Heart Hallie” (although we weren’t the cover faces for the event posters this year).

I got to attend one of my alma mater’s soccer games while we were in Minnesota this fall.  It brought me back to my “glory days” at Northwestern College (now University of Northwestern, St, Paul), although the campus has changed quite a bit since I graduated in 2007. Even though it was a frigid night, we enjoyed watching them play. Oh, and did I mention, they were division champs this year?!? Go Eagles!

We also want to remember those we lost this year: Earl Cooley II, Betty and James Settle, Marilyn (MeeMaw) Keller, Jamin Matske and our kitty cat- Little Grey.

May they rest in peace and may we someday see them again in eternity!

This year was full of blessings, laughter, tears, and family. Wishing you and yours a happy and prosperous new year! Happy 2019!!!

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Posted by on December 31, 2018 in Uncategorized


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