Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What A Year!

Before I take some time to reflect on my year away, I want to give a big shout out THANK YOU to everyone who donated or helped spread the word about getting Nellie Jo a wheelchair. We are blown away by the generous spirit of our friends and family. Seriously, blown away. And especially thank you, to those of you who don't know us in "in real life", but still gave. You are now like family to us. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. We are getting so very close to our goal, but we still need about $700. Donations can be made here.

I finally finished my schoolwork on Monday and then I collapsed in complete and utter exhaustion. I've spent a good amount of time just thinking about and reflecting on the past nine months. I can't believe I was just on an adventure that I have dreamed and prayed about since I was young. I just can't believe it actually happened. I wish I could tell you each and every story of the amazing things that went on. Of how people helped us along the way. Of the packages I got in the mail. Of the encouraging texts to "just keep going, Jessi." It was not easy, but it was worth it. I thought I would tell you all, through pictures, of some of the highlights of my year.

Even though I was driving back and forth between Utah and Montana every week beginning the end of August, I was somehow magically home for Jack's first day of school. It meant so much for me to see my BIG boy take daddy's hand and confidently go to school.

I was feeling a little down when my birthday landed in the middle of the week and I wouldn't be home with my boys. Thank God for this cutie. My brother-in-law and his wife have an apartment right by the one I rented. They made me this birthday treat and I got some snuggles in with my niece, so that made my 31st birthday a whole lot better. It was so nice having them close by.

I was a TA this year. I helped with the same class both Fall and Spring semesters. I really enjoyed listening in on all the lectures, lecturing a bit myself, and grading all the student's work.
My friend, Julia, came to visit all the way from Germany! We had such a great time checking out the SLC farmer's market, going up the chair lift in Park City, and lots of shopping/eating/coffeeing. I can't believe I met her over 15 years ago on a trip through Europe and we are still friends!
Magically (thanks to a snowstorm), I was able to be around for Halloween. What a gift!

And we were able to squeeze in a family photo shoot. This is just an iPhone snap, but on a whim I called up our photographer and she was available. I love how the photos turned out.

This was my view each morning waiting to catch the shuttle. Oh public transportation, how I loathe you. At least the view was spectacular!

I always got awesome pictures sent from my mom of what Jack was up to. Many times it was of what Cheeks was doing to keep our boy busy. Here he is learning how to scoot down the stairs. I also got lots of Jack/Cheeks taking a nap pictures. They were pretty much inseparable this last year.

I had so much fun in November going to a dress fitting with my beautiful sister-in-law. In fact, I got to tag along on so many fun wedding planning adventures, just because I was in Utah. It was definitely a highlight of my Fall.

Jack's amazing speech therapist always sent me photos of their sessions. I mean seriously. How cute is this? Made my day to get these.

After a dreadful fall wrap up of school (finals are from Satan), my boys came to see me. I love this moment where I met them at the airport, late one night. Jack was so out of it, but he perked up a bit when he realized who he was coming to see!

We loved being in SLC together. Here we are heading to dinner. Family pic in the elevator? Mandatory.

Just married. Most gorgeous bride ever.

The Bennions... together. Love.

Winter brought lots and lots of flying time. In particular, I spent many a very early Monday morning making this trip down south. It was always incredible to see the sun rise. A reminder of a new day.

It was seriously my favorite to run into some of my most favorite people on these flights back and forth. This is Linda. She is just wonderful. I flew so much this winter that I had lots of trips with people I knew. It made the time go by quickly and made me not feel so much like I was living in the airport.

Winter in Utah was hard. I wasn't able to be at home as much. The cure for mild depression? Nails. Very pretty nails.

And getting these, just because. I always loved my every-other-weekend at home during the cold months. The time always rejuvenated me and made me feel like I could tackle another ten days away from my family.

My bro visited from China and I got to see him for one short day. At least Jack got lots of Uncle "Dice" time.

My man came to visit Valentines weekend. At this point, I could finally feel the end in sight. A huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I knew we could make it through this totally different year.

This pretty much sums up our mutual feelings for when I would walk in the door.

My girls came to see me! I can't explain how much it meant that they would fly down to Utah for the weekend. We had the best time. I took them to all my favorites. We talked into the wee hours. Loved every minute of it.

We were so happy to share our story with our hometown. The day the story was in the paper, I was in Utah. My phone practically exploded with all the well wishes. What a fun memory.

Then my mom came to visit. We went to Ikea to get stuff for Jack's big boy room. We had so much fun. We drank bubble tea. We got pedicures. We ate fish tacos. Loved this weekend with my best friend.

I can't tell you how amazing it was to be back in school. Parts of my brain that I thought no longer existed came to life again. It was invigorating to be with fellow scholars working on the things I am passionate about. There were days that I just felt like I was walking on a cloud (except I was walking through campus). A dream come true.

What a year. Here I am, in front of the U.

And now I am HOME.

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Paula Messmer said...

Welcome back to Montana, Jessi. I loved seeing your story in pictures. Am especially fond of the one with you and best friend, "your mommy". What a special time she could go visit you. I am very proud of you for working on your dream, and of Jon for letting your dream come true. Love you! Paula Messmer

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! What an awesome support system you have!