Jalosky Family Christmas Letter – 2022
Hello, dear family and friends,
I hope this Christmas season brings you comfort and joy as we celebrate the coming of our savior, Jesus. He is the ultimate hope giver. And for those who know him, the knowledge of his coming, his life, and his sacrifice for us is the best gift we can ever have. We’ve certainly been clinging to that hope this year as it has been one of the most difficult years we’ve ever faced.
Hard times draw us closer to the Lord, though. And through that closeness, so much joy and goodness flows. As you read this summary of our year, I hope and pray that you to will draw closer to the Lord – especially this Christmas!
Here we go!
In January, Jonathan and I celebrated 5 wonderful years of marriage. We took a trip all by ourselves to Deep Creek for a few days. We rented a tiny cabin that was just down the road from Swallow Falls. It was so snowy and beautiful! We enjoyed hiking in the snow, a luxurious dinner at Dutch’s at Silvertree, and spent some much needed time alone. Our girls enjoyed their first sleepover together with my parents while we were away and they both have continually talked about the time they slept at Grandma & Grandpa’s house, all through the year.
February came around, and we celebrated Jonathan’s mom’s 60th birthday here at our house with games and ice cream. It was a wonderful time and I am so glad we were able to all be together.
Our girls both celebrated their birthdays in March. Layla turned 2 and Alethea turned 4! We had a Pooh Bear themed party for Layla which she loved. Alethea couldn’t decide what she wanted for her birthday and kept changing her mind with her favorite tv shows and movies. So we had a mermaid, Doc Mcstuffins, and Spidey & His Amazing Friends party. And just a few days later, I celebrated my 29th year of life.
With all of our birthdays being so close together, and my mom’s birthday the day after Alethea’s, I’m usually all partied out, come my birthday. But my family surprised me with a co-birthday party with my mom. My sister Ruby made my favorite Lemon Blueberry Cake! It was so delicious!
We had a lot of sickness from February-May. Every single week, one of us was down with a cold, ear infection, or fever. It made going anywhere or doing anything, VERY difficult. As time continued on, we found out that we all had some pretty severe seasonal allergies mixed in with colds. Alethea had it the worst as she does each spring. Thankfully, I’m finally catching on to this and now I know to start the Claritin in February!
Jonathan had 3 weeks of paid vacation this year and pretty much all of them were a bust. As our first week approached, Alethea came down with some of those pesky symptoms of that ridiculous disease that’s been plaguing the world. Both she and I were sick for what was supposed to be our first week of family vacation, and so we had to stay home. It was rough, but we recovered just fine.
At the end of my 10 days of sickness, my mother-in-law asked me to take her to the hospital because she was getting dizzy all the time and she wanted to finally figure this problem out once and for all. I dropped her off at the emergency room at the end of May and she was in the hospital until the middle of June.
Our second family vacation was quickly approaching, and we were going to spend an entire week with Mom J’s family. They had rented a house in Ligonier hoping that Mom J would be out of the hospital, and we could all spend time with her, celebrating her 60th birthday, with her entire family. On the first morning of vacation, we got the call that she was being released! So, Jonathan and his aunts went to pick her up at the hospital and brought her to our vacation house. We celebrated her birthday twice in two days, as cousins were coming and going. It was a beautiful time we spent together.
On day 3, Mom J ended up back in the hospital and our family vacation was thrown into chaos. However, I’m so thankful for the time we spent together with Jonathan’s family that week. Jonathan was going back and forth to the hospital every day and so it was just me and my girls hanging out with aunts, uncles, and cousins for most of our vacation week. My girls enjoyed swimming in the big pool that was at the house and playing with their cousins that live far away. It was a good way to distract them from being worried about the situation that was occurring.
Our lives only got crazier from then on. Mom J had so many tests and emergency procedures from June-August while she was in the hospital. Jonathan went back and forth to the hospital almost every day after work. I can’t even begin to tell you the toll that it took on him and us all. So much of what was happening was unknown and we’d get emergency phone calls at all times of the day.
In July, Jonathan started having tons of pain in his shoulder after an incident with a water snake at Deep Creek. He rescued our girls by yanking them out of the water as soon as it was spotted. I was way out in the water and had no idea what was going on, and I was unable to help! That sure got my heart pounding. After that happened, we thought Jonathan tore a muscle in his shoulder as he was in so much pain. Thankfully, after seeing an orthopedic surgeon, they determined he had calcific tendinitis, which was treatable! It took about a month, but he finally recovered from the pain and has had minimal issues since then.
I, on the other hand, haven’t quite recovered from the shock of a water snake in Deep Creek Lake. Never in my 29 years have I ever seen one, and I hope I never see one again!
At the end of August, Mom J made the decision to come home with hospice care. She hadn’t seen her granddaughters in months because they weren’t allowed at the hospital. Being home was all she wanted at that point. Her wonderful sisters came, stayed with her, and took care of her every need. Every couple of days, Jonathan would spend the night at his mom’s to help her while one of his aunts went back home for a day or two.
When Mom J came home, she showed a lot of improvement. Actually, she seemed to be doing really well. It shocked everyone who came to see her because she looked great and was getting around so well. Every night that she was home, someone – either family, friends or people from her church, brought dinner for us all. It was the biggest blessing to our family, and we are forever grateful! We were able to have dinner together with her every night until the end.
The last night we had with her, she was suddenly very tired and asked if she could stay in the living room instead of coming to the table. So, we all gathered in the living room for dinner that night. She and Layla were growling back and forth playfully, at each other, and we enjoyed one last dinner together as a family. We knew the end was coming, but she was still alert and doing okay. We didn’t expect what that night brought.
Early on October 6th, in the same hour of the very same day that Jonathan’s dad had passed away 8 years ago, Mom J passed into the everlasting arms of Jesus. She didn’t want to leave us, but she was ready to meet her Savior. We were blessed to have 6 whole weeks with her at home and we made so many memories in that time that we will treasure for years to come.
Jonathan’s birthday was just two days later. We went to the Springs Folk Festival which has been a tradition in my family for many years. Jonathan got himself a loaf of fresh bread and we all got to try the turkey dinner in a cup. Jonathan actually had several birthday parties this year. We had one with my family, one with his Hill family, and he even got to have cheesecake with his mom, from the cheesecake factory, earlier in the week before she passed.
Jonathan and I are no strangers to grief. We’ve lost parents, grandparents, and even our own children, far too soon. The only thing that keeps us going is the hope we have in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without Him, every single loss we’ve had would drag us into utter despair which we probably would not come back from.
We went to New York for thanksgiving to be with Jonathan’s mom’s family. It was the first chance we had to see mom and dad’s headstone after she passed. One of Mom J’s final wishes was that we would put the names of the babies we’ve lost on the back of their headstone. When we went to the cemetery, all the engraving was completed, including Aria & Lindsey’s names on the back.
That brings us to December. I wish I could tell you that we’re finally having a good and peaceful month. But the first week, I ended up in the emergency room. Jonathan and I lost another precious baby this month. And quite frankly, I still haven’t processed it in my mind.
I can’t say this enough, if you don’t know Jesus, please take some time to get to know Him this Christmas! He is everything you could ever want or need. He fills every gap of our heart and soul. He will give you hope when it seems hopeless, comfort when it seems so dark, and joy in the midst of your sorrow. Jesus has changed my life and I hope and pray He will change yours as well!
I’d feel terrible if I didn’t tell you some of the really good things that happened this year too. So, if you’ve read this far, thank you! It’s about to get better.
I photographed 30 sessions + 3 weddings this year in the midst of the chaos, including my sister Emma’s wedding back in May! Crazy enough, I actually surpassed the income I made in my busiest year of 2021, making 2022 the most profitable year of my business, EVER. Thank you all so much for sticking with me this year! My turnaround times were a little longer than usual during the fall due to my circumstances. I so appreciate the patience, care and love everyone has shown for my family.
I announced in October that I am no longer taking on any more traditional wedding days. I have one more big wedding booked in May next year that I am so looking forward to! After that, I will only be taking on 5 elopements or small weddings per year. I will be continuing to focus on family, maternity, and senior sessions! I’m looking forward to slowing down a bit and enjoying more weekends together with my family as my girls grow into beautiful women.
Jonathan and I embarked on a journey to take back our health at the beginning of the year. I lost 32 pounds, and he lost close to 50! Both of us have improved our bloodwork tremendously and of that we are very proud. We still have some things we need to work on, but I couldn’t be happier with the changes we’ve made this year – together!
Even though she’s only 4, Alethea was completely ready for kindergarten this year, so I decided to jump right in. She is doing fantastic! (In fact, she could’ve probably jumped right to first grade, but I didn’t want to get too far ahead. LOL) I am homeschooling her and we are using Masterbooks! It is a faith-based curriculum and Alethea absolutely loves it! She asks to do school every day, even though it’s only meant to be 4 days a week in kindergarten. Then she usually finishes a week’s worth of work in 3 days anyways! Math and science are her favorite. I’m going to start teaching her how to read over the summer next year!
Layla has been learning her letters and sounds right alongside her sister and often shouts out a letter sound before her big sister. Alethea likes the challenge though. And I enjoy watching them learn together!
Layla moved out of her crib this year and did phenomenal with the change! She has never even tried to get out of her bed over the last 8 months, until last week that is. All of a sudden, she’s waking up in the middle of the night and coming into our room to announce that it’s time for me to make her breakfast. Haha. She’s always been the one to continually wake us up in the middle of the night. Maybe one day, we’ll get good rest again.
My girls have grown so much this year, in every way. They wake me up each day. Alethea started making her own breakfast, and occasionally makes Layla hers as well. They’re starting to be good little helpers with cleaning and cooking. They are always playing together and have wonderful imaginations. Every once in a while, it gets them in trouble when they get a little too ambitious. But for the most part, they are fantastic sisters and best friends.
Both girls enjoyed swimming at the lake and the occasional pool this year. Alethea is basically a fish and would swim all day long if she was able. It reminds me of myself when I was a child. Alethea also took up “fishing” this year and looked forward to every time we were near water so she could use her fishing pole she got for her birthday. Her rod has a hookless lure on it so she’s not actually fishing, but I think that’ll change in the near future because she has proven to be excellent at casting and reeling.
Layla is my cuddler. She likes to curl up on my lap and read or watch tv. As of late, she has fallen asleep on me or Jonathan several times during bedtime stories and we think it’s the best thing in the world.
Earlier this year, we decided to get a family membership to Phipps Conservatory as our Zoo membership was ending. It has been so much fun to go as a family and see each flower show throughout the year. We are looking forward to seeing the holiday light show later this week!
Layla likes to tell everyone that she is shy which has only become a problem recently. Our church started up Sunday school again and Layla has refused to go. She comes to class with me each week and sits quietly the entire time. It makes me happy to know that even though she’s not doing fun crafts and hearing kids bible stories, she’s still learning alongside me! It is very clear that my kids listen to what’s going on even when it seems like they’re not paying attention.
Alethea on the other hand, loves Sunday school, and cries if we are ever late or have to miss for any reason. Alethea told us that she trusted in Jesus as her savior on Easter this year, and the way her faith has grown since then is just astounding. God is so good, and we pray that Layla will come to know Jesus as her savior at a young age as well.
As Jonathan and I learn how to parent our girls each day (because it is a process of continual learning for all of us,) we are so thankful for our parents who did such a wonderful job at raising us and teaching us to live in righteousness with the Lord.
The Lord is leading us into some pretty big things for 2023. We still have a lot of logistics to figure out, but there will be more to come on that soon!
Praying that the Lord blesses you this Christmas season and in the new year!
Ellen, Jonathan, Alethea & Layla
Enjoy our family photos by my wonderful sister, Kara Abbey.