I can’t believe it’s here already. What a year it has been. I’m sure you can echo my feelings that 2020 has felt like the longest year of our lives. But even with all the bad things that this year has brought, there was so much good! The Lord has been faithful to us. He has never left us. He has brought us peace and comfort in the worst times.
I can’t imagine living through this year without my Savior’s arms wrapped around me, holding me tight, and letting me know it’ll be okay – that everything will work out because He loves me. I just might not see it yet. I take comfort in that. I find my peace in His saving grace. I continually remember that this earth is only our temporary home. My citizenship is in Heaven with the Lord. I hope and pray you have found peace with God this year! He is the only one who can bring us through this pandemic and into new life. He is the only one who can save us. The Lord is good to those who love Him!
Highlights of Our Year
The beginning of 2020 was so exciting. We were expecting our precious little Layla to make her arrival in March. All the preperations of bringing a new baby into our lives, plus preparing big sister Alethea for life with another baby in the house was so exciting.
Alethea transitioned into a different bedroom and into her toddler bed, very smoothly in February. We kept the nursery almost exactly the same and it has worked out so well!
Also in February, my dad and my brother came over and rerouted some of our duct work to add heat into the girl’s bedrooms! The room Alethea moved into had no registers in it. So it was a very important thing! Layla’s room has a heater on the wall, so she is not completely without heat. But soon, her room will have a register on the main duct from the furnace as well.
Layla came along on March 13 at 39 weeks, after I was induced. It was a very exciting time at the hospital. You can read her birth story here.
With her birth came the state wide shut down. We went into the hospital on the 12th and it was filled with staff and visitors and when we left on the 15th, the hospital was a ghost town. It was really eery.
With a newborn and not knowing anything about Covid yet, we decided to host Alethea’s second birthday party, a week and a half later, on zoom. It was hard. It was disappointing to not be together as a big family. But at that point, we were doing what we thought was best. She still had a great time. Everyone dropped their presents off on our porch and she opened them all. It was a precious time.
Needless to say, 2021 birthdays are going to be different. 😉
I turned 27 a few days later, and we had a beautiful Easter celebration with just the four of us at home.
When our church (Norwin Church of the Nazarene) opened back up in the summer, we were only having outdoor, drive-in style, services. I was asked to play the keyboard so we could have some music outside. I had not played for church since I was a teenager. I was super nervous, but I have taken on the role of church pianist for the last 7 months now! I actually love it. I didn’t think I would, but I do. Of course, I much prefer playing the actual piano inside of the church instead of a keyboard. 🙂
Speaking of piano, we finally got ours tuned this year! Our piano was Jonathan’s dad’s piano and so when we moved into our home 4 years ago, we moved the piano a few blocks down from his mom’s house. It had not been tuned since then and desperately needed it. I found out one of my friends from high school was a piano tuner and she came over and made it sound absolutely glorious. I can now play in our home without us all wanting to pull our hair out. LOL It was that bad before!
Jonathan has continued to work at Shred-It this entire year. They furloughed a lot of employees in the spring, but he was kept on and has stayed healthy this entire year! God has been so good to us with keeping us financially stable through the pandemic and giving us all great health!
We spent many weekends at Deep Creek Lake this year. I intentionally didn’t book many things with my business for this year because I knew it would be a rough transition from one to two kids and my time would be very limited. It was a great call and we were able to relax a lot as a family throughout the summer!
I didn’t photograph any weddings on my own this year, thanks to Covid, but I did assist other photographers at 3 weddings! Being away from my girls for such a long period of time was really tough, especially with breastfeeding. So it ended up being a good thing!
Family sessions really picked up this year. By August, I had maxed out my calendar through the end of the year! This was the first year that I have ever had to turn away people because I was booked solid. It broke my heart, but I am rejoicing in what a great year it ended up being for my business.
Alethea has grown by leaps and bounds this year. She is so smart, speaks so well and so clearly, and has become a wonderful sister to Layla. We were at a doctor visit last week where the doctor asked her who her best friend was, and she said Layla. Made my mama heart so happy to hear that! Alethea is in love with all things Frozen. I never thought I would say that, or even let that happen, but I am here for it! LOL Frozen 2 is definitely her favorite. I find her quoting parts of the movies through out the day, and singing all of the songs – especially the “NorthWind” song. (All is Found) She asks me to sing it to her and Layla all of the time. I know that she thinks she and Layla are Elsa and an Anna. It makes me giggle. I just love it. Especially since Alethea is blonde and Layla is a redhead! Alethea also sings the North Wind song to her dolphin bath toys and puts them to sleep while the tub is draining. It is absolutely precious. I didn’t know she did this because Jonathan usually is helping her with her bath while I put Layla to sleep. But the one day I saw it, I just melted into a puddle. She is so caring and loving. She learned how to say “I love you” in sign language and it is just the absolute best.
Alethea also loves to sing to Layla whenever she is fussy. She goes right up to her and starts a round of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Jesus Loves the Little Children. The amazing part is that it actually works! Layla calms right down for her most of the time!
My sister Amy got married in June this year, and Alethea was her one of her flower girls! She looked so beautiful and adorable in her gold sparkly flower girl dress! The photos from her wedding are from Jackson Signature Photography. 🙂 I may be biased, but the photo of Alethea and I together on the swing my dad made is my absolute favorite.
After the wedding, my brother and two of my cousins who work in the HVAC family business (Eichelberger & Sons), came over and installed our brand new whole house air conditioner! It was a glorious summer inside our house this year! We finally got rid of our pesky, built-in window units that have been a pain since we moved into our home 4 years ago. It has made such a difference in our house!
Layla is our feisty little redhead. I can’t even tell you how much I was able to predict her spirit from when she was in the womb. LOL She is something else! I just love her. It’s been so fun to see how different she would be from Alethea. I find myself saying “Alethea didn’t do this until…” and Jonathan reminding me that’s because Layla is not Alethea. 🙂
At 9 months, Layla is crawling around, standing up and walking around furniture, and very soon will be running around the house – probably chasing our dog, d’Artagnan. They enjoy playing tug of war with each other.
She says Mama and Dada and some other consistent “Baba” and “Nana” maybe for baby and nurse? Not totally sure as the context is never the same. LOL She much prefers eating “big people” food on her own, and has 4 teeth so far!
She’s not the perfect sleeper like Alethea was, (I also figured that would be the case from her womb life) so that has been one of the most difficult parts of having two kids, for me. The sleep deprivation is still going strong. But both of my girls are happy and a whole lot of fun during the day, so that helps.
One of our highlights of the summer was spending a week at Deep Creek and going to some places we haven’t been before as a family. We loved going to Herrington Manor State Park this year. The beach area was hopping and Alethea just LOVED learning to build sand castles for the first time! She loved it so much, that when we went on a mini vacation in November, she thought for sure we were going to the beach to build sand castles again! After attempting to explain that it was way too cold to go to the beach, she was thoroughly confused! Isn’t that what vacation is? Really, we went to visit Jonathan’s grandparents for a few days. They loved meeting Layla and loving on both of the girls. We had a great time. It was cold and snowy there.
Sadly, our most difficult point of the year came in December, just a few weeks ago, when we lost our fourth baby. Only our families had known that we were expecting at that point. Alethea decided that this baby was another sister, so we’ve named her Lindsey Emmanuel. God is still with us, and her name will remind us of that as we grieve the loss of another child.
Heaven is talked about a lot in our home. We lost our first baby, Aria Rose, in May of 2017, and Alethea knows she is in heaven with Jesus. I was scared about telling her that the baby in my belly was now in heaven, but by the grace of God, she understood really well.
I can’t imagine not having the hope that Jesus has given me: The hope of eternal life in heaven with the Lord, and one day meeting my precious little ones that were gone too soon. So as we celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, I hope and pray that you know Him as your own personal savior! The hope of Christ is the best thing in my life! I would be lost without Him.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
Jonathan, Ellen, Alethea, and Layla
And incase you were wondering if taking photos of my own kids was so easy and an all around delightful experience…I’m here to tell you that no one is perfect. 🙂